21/11/2012 03:19 GMT

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Stained Glass Ceiling

The ten things you need to know on Wednesday 21 November 2012...


Unsurprisingly, the words "church" and "crisis" appear on several front pages this morning.

"Church faces crisis after veto on women bishops," says the Times splash

"Church in crisis as it turns its back on women bishops," declares the Guardian splash

"The Church of England faces its biggest crisis in living memory..." says the standfirst on the front of the Independent.

The Telegraph goes with: "Church's final no to women bishops."

Remember: the majority of the Church of England's synod backed the move but the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Laity had always looked difficult to achieve - and so it proved. The proposal was six votes short of a two-thirds majority (132 in favour to 74 against).

Poor ol' Rowan Williams. His nine-year tenure as the Archbishop of Canterbury ends in an abject failure - and his successor, Justin Welby, begins his term under a cloud; he too backed the move to allow women to become bishops and gave what the Times called "an impassioned speech" in its favour. As the paper's lead editorial puts it, "The Church of England's vote against women bishops does a disservice to half the population and could not be a worse start for the new Archbishop of Canterbury."

CofE rules mean that the Archbishop and co cannot now discuss the issue again for several years. Will it be left to Parliament to get involved in the internal running of Britain's established Church?


So, in the end, it didn't happen. From the Independent front page:

"Hopes that a ceasefire ending the bloody seven-day conflict in the Gaza Strip would be declared last night faded as a deadline passed without an announcement by Egyptian officials. Hamas had said a deal brokered in Cairo would come into force at midnight but Israeli and Palestinian negotiators could not reach an agreement after a day that saw some of the fiercest attacks of the conflict. Israeli warplanes and artillery pounded Gaza, while Hamas and its allies fired dozens of rockets. The con-flict has claimed the lives of at least 139 Palestinians and five Israelis."

Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket attacks continued overnight.

Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to visit the West Bank and Cairo following talks with Israeli leaders; yesterday, she offered her "rock solid" support for Israel's security and its right to self-defence. Good to see the United States acting as an 'honest broker' in the conflict, as usual...


From the Times:

"Thousands of children in England are being raped by men every year, a national inquiry into sexual exploitation claims today. But it faced immediate criticism for failing to address a crime model involving the targeting of white girls by networks of British Pakistani men.

The report by Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children's Commissioner, found that 2,409 children were victims of sex crimes by gangs or groups of men in a 14-month period from 2010 to 2011. A further 16,500 young people displayed high-risk signs of exploitation. "Each year thousands of children in England are raped and abused from as young as 11 by people seeking to humiliate, violate and control them. The impact ... is often devastating," it said. However, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, believes that the report has played down the role of groups of Asian abusers. He had urged Ms Berelowitz not to be swayed by questions of prejudice and to "ask tough questions about cultural background". But she said it was "irresponsible" to focus on data from the report, which shows that Asian men are disproportionately involved in such abuse."

Columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writing "as an Asian woman, feminist, mother, Muslim and lifelong anti-racist", backs Gove and argues in the Daily Mail that "we need clear and honest figures to show how race and ethnicity are linked to these unspeakable crimes."


Ex-UBS trader Kweku Adoboli was jailed yesterday in Britian's biggest-ever bank fraud case. The 28-year-old Ghanaian-born son of a United Nations diplomat gambled away £1.4 billion of UBS' money and was, at one stage, just "one or two gambles" away from bringing down Switzerland's biggest bank with debts of £7.5billion.

"£1.4bn rogue trader sobs as he gets 7yrs," says the Sun headline, which notes how Adeboli claimed in court that his bosses at the bank encouraged him to push the risk limits.

An Independent profile refers to the ex-trader as a "gamblaholic".

Meanwhile, Adoboli's actions have led to UBS announcing, according to the Metro, that "it will cut 10,000 jobs and wind down parts of the investment bank where he worked for eight years."

I can't help but wonder, however: when will we see some more senior figures from the banking world behind bars for their antics in the run-up to the crash?


From the Times:

"Britain has sought to promote a new opposition grouping as a credible alternative to the regime of President Assad by recognising it as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The creation in Qatar last week of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionaries and Opposition Forces was a "major breakthrough", William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs as he announced that Britain was joining France, Turkey and six Gulf states in granting it recognition."

However, as James Harkin notes in the Guardian: "If the Syrians realise they're on their own, that their cheerleaders in the Gulf are merely toying with their indigenous revolt, then their goals might take longer to achieve and have to be less militarily ambitious - but they're more likely to be successful in the long run."


Watch this clip of a very bored cat.


The Telegraph continues its pursuit of those MPs whom the paper believes are continuing to abuse and/or exploit the parliamentary expenses system; this morning, the paper splashes on a "top Tory" in a "secret expenses deal":

"A senior Conservative MP investigating Britain's social care system secretly arranged for the owners of a chain of nursing homes to buy his London flat – – which he now rents back at taxpayers' expense, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Stephen Dorrell, the former health secretary who now chairs the House of Commons health committee, made a £70,000 profit from the controversial deal which has not previously been publicly declared.

... Mr Dorrell said he had not declared the relationship in the register of members' interests because he was not deriving any financial benefit from the arrangement. Mr Dorrell said he was 'perfectly happy to explain it to the committee, there is no financial interest because it's an arm's–length rent.'"


From the Guardian:

"Labour's strong poll lead is softer than it appears, because of swing voters' concerns for the country's finances if Ed Miliband became prime minister, according to new polling conducted by Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative deputy chairman.

Four in 10 of the voters who have switched to Labour since 2010 fear that another Labour government could "spend and borrow more than the country could afford", according to the poll. And 43% of these agree Labour has failed to made clear what it would do to improve things."


"Coulson and Brooks face 'bribery' rap," says the headline in the Mirror, which reports:

"Former Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks are facing charges linked to alleged bribery of public officials.

They are among five people being charged in connection with a probe into alleged corrupt payments to public officials, the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday. Coulson and former News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman, 55, are accused of a conspiracy to pay for information including the contact details of royals."

Guess which paper this morning refuses to report on this story? Yep. You guessed it. The Sun.


Good to see the GOP is starting to face up to its poor showing in the recent US presidential and senate elections; from the Huffington Post:

"Republican losses in the 2012 elections were not a progressive leap for America or a repudiation of conservatives and the Tea Party -- it was just proof the right ran bad candidates, according to two Republican senators with ties to some of races where their side fell short."

Er, ok.


From the FT:

"A luxury golf resort that has gone bust and is being sold at a fraction of its peak value has been chosen as the venue in Northern Ireland for next year's G8 summit of world leaders. The irony of choosing the five-star Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh, which critics claim is an example of the reckless speculation on property that has caused havoc in Ireland, was not lost on anti-austerity campaigners.

'This hotel, like global capitalism, is in administration,' said Eamonn McCann, a prominent civil rights campaigner and socialist activist in Northern Ireland.

'This is not the hotel in The Shining - it is far scarier.

'These world leaders clearly do not know what they are doing. They meet once a year to talk about how their policies are failing,' he told the Financial Times."

David Cameron, prime minister, announced the venue yesterday."


"[You are] the man responsible for the largest trading loss in British banking history." - Mr Justice Keith, speaking to fraudster Kweku Adoboli


From the latest Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 42

Conservatives 33

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 96.


@JDBakewell sympathies to my women priest friends after disastrous Synod vote. God certainly moves in a mysterious way.

@iainmartin1 It was the BBC, now it's the CofE. National institutions now going into meltdown at the rate of two a month.

@ahauslohner IDF just hit right next to us, blew out the windows in our hotel room #Gaza. AP, AFP, Jazeera bldgs also hit tonight


Mary Riddell, writing in the Telegraph, says: "This energy debate threatens to tear the Coalition apart."

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, says: "It's Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves."

Daniel Finkelstein, writing in the Times, says: "Recent accusations of fiddling expenses are quite unjustified. Our parliamentary servants deserve better than this."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol