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Carla Buzasi

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The Week That Was: £££s in Headlines

Posted: 24/03/2013 00:15

What do you reckon George Osborne is regretting most about the past week? The loopholes in the latest Budget, or his decision to join Twitter a few hours before he presented it?

Twitter isn't exactly the most welcoming of destinations for public figures - it's not exactly the friendliest of places for anyone with more than about 43 followers - but jump on in and you never know, the water might be warm... or shark infested if you're the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

If you were feeling in the tiniest bit victimized this week, take just six seconds to browse the memes devoted to Georgie's first Twitter pic and I guarantee you'll feel a whole lot better about yourself.

For those worse off since the Budget, that might be the quick-click way of discovering a silver lining to the latest financial figures.

Still, Osborne had an eye on the headlines and, from a quick straw poll around friends since, the penny off beer and guaranteed deposits on homes seems to have hit home, even if the small print hasn't.

Even before the government had the Budget to contend with, there was its hastily scrambled-together compromise between the party leaders, enabling it to to push through a Royal Charter designed to bring the British press under control.

The late hour the deal was actually struck meant Monday's front pages were by and large obsolete by the time anyone read them. Maybe that should have been the wake-up call so clearly needed for those in power: 'press' no longer means a printing press and pages of newsprint.

Cameron got that message loud and clear when the questions started raining down on Monday morning. What exactly did 'news-related material' mean? Literally, that's an awful lot of publishers, including bed-room bloggers, social media sites and news aggregation sites.

No problem, Dowing Street clarified. Personal bloggers, special interest magazines and scientific publications weren't covered... shame the old-media editors had turned their back on the deal in the meantime.

By and large the old guard were cautiously accepting of the deal on Monday (the Guardian's Alan Rusbridger said, "We welcome the fact that there has been cross-party agreement. The regulatory settlement is by and large a fair one, with compromises on all sides. We retain grave reservations about the proposed legislation on exemplary damages. The agreed terms are not ideal but after two years of inquiry and debate we finally have the prospect of what the public wants - a robust regulator that is independent of both press and politics. It's a big improvement on what went before.") However, as the week wore on, the tide appeared to be shifting, with very few editors able to confirm whether they would or would not be signing up.

At the time of typing, it looks like it'll be an Independent-only regulatory body, with the rest of the British media and its lawyers facing up to the 'exemplary damages' we're hearing so much about.

Amidst the wrangling about press control, let us not forget no one is stopping us shouting from the top of our voices about injustices in the rest of the world. Top of the things to scream about this week is the unbelievable reaction to a 19-year-old Tunisian girl posting a topless photo of herself on Facebook.

Going by the name Amina, the girl at the center of the controversy is now facing calls to be stoned to death after posting one picture, which had the words 'f*ck your morals' scrawled across her chest, and another with 'My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone's honour' in Arabic on another, on the Femen-Tunisian Facebook page.

Tunisian newspaper Kapitalis quoted the Wahabi Salafi preacher Almi Adel, who heads the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, saying: "The young lady should be punished according to sharia, with 80 to 100 lashes, but [because of] the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves be stoned to death.

"Her act could bring about an epidemic. It could be contagious and give ideas to other women. It is therefore necessary to isolate [the incident]. I wish her to be healed."

Supporters are fighting back, with Richard Dawkins calling for a day of action to support Amina and tens of thousands signing a petition demanding those who threatened Amina to be prosecuted themselves.

We might not support the latest Budget, we might not agree with government's plans for press regulation, but no one is silencing our opposition to it, and for that we should be thankful... and doing everything in our power to support those, like Amina, who don't have those rights.

 

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