POLITICS
29/10/2013 04:37 GMT | Updated 29/10/2013 04:40 GMT

Mehdi's Morning Memo: 'Tough Measures' For Newspapers

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 29 October 2013...

1) FEINSTEIN BLASTS NSA

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, hammered the National Security Agency Monday over reports it spied on foreign leaders and allies, and revealed that President Barack Obama said he would halt such eavesdropping.

The Huffington Post reports a senior administration official denied the White House was stopping programs aimed at allies. A source close to Feinstein insisted the California lawmaker had been informed by Obama that spying on friendly leaders would cease.

Saying that she is "totally opposed" to eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly governments and wants a complete review of U.S. intelligence activities, Feinstein, who had been a staunch defender of the NSA since former agency contractor Edward Snowden began leaking documents detailing its secret activities, came down hard on the spy agency.

2) 'TOUGHER MEASURES'

David Cameron has indicated the government may try and use "tougher measures" against The Guardian to prevent it from publishing further revelations about the activities of British intelligence agencies. The prime minister told the Commons yesterday that newspapers should use "judgement and common sense" when deciding to publish material. "I don't want to have to use injunctions or D-Notices or the other tougher measures. I think its much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility," he said.

But he added: "If they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act."

3) DAMP AND COLD

Britain's children are living in cold, cramped homes, infested with damp and mould, because parents cannot afford to keep them warm, according to new research. The Children's Society study, based on a poll of around 2,000 10-17-year-olds, reveals the stark conditions faced by youngsters living in poverty in the UK.

According to The Guardian of those who said that their families are "not well off at all", around 53% said that they do not have enough space, while a similar proportion admitted that their homes were much, or a bit, colder than they would have liked last winter. Just over one in four (26%) said that their home was damp or mouldy.

More than half of all poor children in the UK are living in homes that are too cold, and around a quarter said their home suffered from damp or mould, a survey published by the Children's Society indicates.

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4) MPS TURN UP THE HEAT ON BIG SIX

Directors from the "Big Six" energy companies face a grilling today over inflation-busting price hikes that are set to leave three in ten households struggling to afford heating this winter. Centrica-owned British Gas, EDF, RWE npower, SSE, E.ON and ScottishPower have all been summoned to appear before the Energy and Climate Change select committee to account for their pricing polices.

They are expected to be given a rough ride by MPs after Ofgem analysis showed that while the increases announced so far this autumn by some of the companies have averaged 9.1%, wholesale prices have risen by 1.7% - adding just £10 to the average household bill of £600.

5) HS2 CONSENSUS CRACKING?

The HS2 rail link could eventually stretch into Scotland, ministers will suggest this week as they try to restore support for the project, reports The Daily Telegraph. The prospect of a Scottish link will be raised as ministers try to keep Labour and rebellious Conservatives on side, amid growing doubts about the £42  billion rail scheme.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin acknowledged the project would become "more difficult" if Ed Miliband decided to drop his support for the new line. But he insisted it was necessary to increase capacity and rejected criticisms, including those from Lord Mandelson, that it would suck investment away from the North rather than the opposite.

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@DMiliband And I learnt that CIA also stands for Culinary Institute of America...couldn't make it up #gsinnovators

@tnewtondunn "Last time I saw Peter Mandelson, he was on a high speed train in Brussels," reveals Patrick McLaughlin on #bbcr4today.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Patrick Cockburn in The Independent: As Syria disintegrates, so too does Iraq

Steve Richards in The Independent: HS2: The train now departing... needs to reach its destination

Hugo Rifkind in The Times: Apartheid still thrives today – by gender

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