BBC news 2011-07-12

BBC News with David Austin

The media empire of the tycoon Rupert Murdoch is under growing pressure after a day of further revelations in Britain about the behaviour of its journalists. First, it was alleged that the News of the World newspaper may have bribed a police protection officer to get private contact details of the British royal family. Then came claims that other News International publications unlawfully obtained private information about the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This report from Naomi Grimley.

More details emerge by the hour about suspect journalistic methods. Gordon Brown is the latest public figure to learn he may have been a target. It's alleged private medical records relating to his family were accessed by the Sun newspaper in 2006. There are also claims that Sunday Times pretended to be Mr Brown in order to get details from his bank. And there are even more revelations concerning the News of the World. One suggests that a royal protection officer was paid by the paper to supply high-level royal contact numbers in what may have been a major breach of palace security.

The British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told parliament that Mr Murdoch's bid to take over Britain's richest broadcaster BSkyB will be referred to the competition authorities. Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Mr Murdoch to reconsider the proposed multibillion-dollar takeover.

"Rupert Murdoch is now in town in London, seeking to sort things out. And I would simply say to him look how people feel about this, look how the country has reacted with revulsion to the revelations. So do the decent and sensible thing, and reconsider, think again about your bid for BSkyB."

The US embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus has been attacked by crowds loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Owen Bennett-Jones reports.

An official of the US embassy in Damascus said the embassy was attacked by a mob and sustained physical damage. No personnel were injured. The official said that the Syrian government had given assurances that it would provide protection but was slow in responding to the incident. The official added that the real story in Syria was not the attack on the US embassy, but the fact that the Syrian authorities continue to imprison, torture and kill citizens because they want to protest.

The French embassy also came under attack. Three members of staff were reported to have been wounded.

Nato has intensified its air strikes on the forces of the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi attacking the rebel-held city of Misrata. On Sunday, Nato struck more than 20 times at targets to the south and west of the city, including rocket launchers, tanks and artillery. Rebel commanders in Misrata have for weeks been urging Nato to carry out more air strikes, saying that their lack of action has been costing lives.

World News from the BBC

The defence minister and the head of the army in Cyprus have both resigned after huge explosions at a munitions dump killed at least 12 people. The blasts at a Greek Cypriot naval base were blamed on a bush fire igniting containers of explosives that had been confiscated from a ship in 2009. Tabitha Morgan reports from Cyprus.

The blast that destroyed both the navy base and much of the island's largest power station has proven to be a major blow to Cyprus's military in every way. The commander of the Cypriot navy and of the military base itself were killed in the explosion. The government as a whole will now come under intense pressure to explain why a vast consignment of explosives from a ship impounded en route to Syria from Iran has been left untouched for two years.

The first war crimes trial of a commander of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army has opened in the northern town of Gulu. The middle-ranking commander Thomas Kwoyelo is being charged with 53 counts, including wilful killing and hostage-taking. Mr Kwoyelo is accused of leading raids on villages between 1992 and 2005, killing and abducting civilians. He denies the charges.

Workers from the world's biggest copper mining company Codelco in Chile have held their first strike in nearly 20 years. They are protesting against plans by the centre-right government of President Sebastian Pinera to cut jobs and benefits at the state-run company. Union leaders say they fear the plan could lead to the privatisation of Codelco.

China's richest and most populous province has asked the central government to relax the law that restricts most families to one child. Guangdong, in the southeast, wants to lead an experimental project that will allow more families to have a second child. Officials are concerned that the province's population is already aging rapidly because of a low birthrate. Officials suggest it'll be a long time before the one-child policy is dropped nationwide.

BBC News.