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December 28 2011 - January 3 2012
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituariesPAGES 22-23 & 26
Leveson Inquiry Piers Morgan suggests Heather Mills leaked own voicemail
WORLD NEWS P14
Falklands shipping sanctions Ex-Royal Navy chief urges Britain to send nuclear submarine
Yuletide No1 Forces sweethearts who are ruining Simon Cowell’s Christmas
Welcome to Christmas Town A tiny corner of America famous for being a Scrooge-free zone
28 7 30 34 38 45
Bonus Ball 6
There were no winners of Wednesday’s £2.5m jackpot. The Telegraph went to press early because of the Christmas break and could not carry the results from Saturday’s draw. Our apologies.
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Emergency services inspect the damage after a huge car bomb was detonated in Baghdad
By Richard Spencer MORE than 70 people were killed last Thursday in a wave of bombings across Baghdad as Iraq plunged towards unfettered sectarian conflict within days of the departure of American troops.
At least 16 separate blasts struck mostly Shia neighbourhoods of the city, though some Sunni areas were also hit. The attacks ranged from “sticky bombs” — a bomb stuck to the side of a vehicle — to fully loaded car bombs, some doubled up to ensure emergency crews were caught by the second blast, a common tactic of Sunni insurgents.
Officials said that 72 people had been confirmed dead, and 217 injured, with the figures expected to rise.
Political leaders immediately connected the attacks to an angry breakdown last week in the relationship between Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister, and the country’s most senior Sunni figures.
“The timing of these crimes and the places where they were carried out confirm to all the political nature of the targets,” Mr Maliki said in a statement last Thursday night, suggesting they were a revenge attack and hinting they had political support. “The criminals and those who stand behind them will not succeed in changing events or the political process, or in escaping punishment.”
The worst single incident was a suicide attack near a government anti-corruption office in which a stolen ambulance packed with explosives was detonated by its driver, sending debris into the grounds of a nearby kindergarten. Police said 23 people were killed, including five investigators from the office.
A string of three explosions killed 18 people at a construction site in central Baghdad. The series of attacks was the most lethal since August and the second worst this year.
Major Gen Qassim Atta, the Baghdad security spokesman, said: “They didn’t target any vital institutions or security positions. They targeted children’s schools, day workers, the anti-corruption agency.”
President George W Bush’s “surge”, combined with a tactic of using militant Sunni groups against the even more violent local al-Qaeda network, brought the intense violence of 2006-07 under some sort of control by 2008.
Elections last year, which ended in an uneasy coalition government, were supposed to cement the truce between Sunni and Shia politicians and gangs loyal to them.
By agreement, the prime minister was to be Shia, the president Kurdish and the vice-president Sunni.
The irony of the Iraq war was that the minority Sunnis, who had most to lose from the fall of Saddam Hussein, were left with most to fear from the US departure and the prime political position left to Shia parties.
After the final pull-out of American troops two weeks ago, Mr Maliki moved quickly to assert control.
Sectarian divisions: Page 15 Shashank Joshi: Page 21
By Robert Winnett AIRLINES, travel companies and retailers are to be banned from charging fees when people pay by credit or debit cards, ministers announced last week.
Customers are being charged as much as £12 to use their cards when they pay, though the transactions cost as little as 20p to process.
In some cases, the surcharges are higher than the value of the item being purchased.
A Treasury minister said people were “sick” of being “ripped off” by the hidden charges. Legislation would be introduced by the end of next year.
Mark Hoban, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said consumers should be able to shop around. “They have a right to understand the charges they may incur up front and not be hit through a hidden, last-minute payment surcharge,” he said.
“We’re leading the way in Europe by stopping this practice. Consumers are sick of the rip-off culture and we are determined to do what we can to end it.”
Over the past few years, card surcharges have risen sharply particularly among low-cost airlines, who were among the first to bring in the levies. The cost of booking a Ryanair return flight with a debit card has risen 15-fold to
£12 since 2004. The charges have now spread to many other areas including cinema tickets, utility bills, holidays and even some government departments. The DVLA and HM Revenue and Customs charge extra for credit card payments.
Consumer experts say Toyota levied a £75 fee to buy a car with a credit card. The fees are believed to cost consumers hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
In many cases, the charge is only disclosed during the closing stages of the booking process, making it difficult for consumers to compare prices. Ministers intervened after Which?, the consumer watchdog, complained about the fees to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the regulator.
In June, the OFT found that the fees were detrimental to consumers and proposed that firms should be more open about the levies.
Earlier last week, the OFT ordered banks to stop charging consumers so-called foreign exchange fees when they use their bank cards abroad.
Banks had been accused of “charging customers for the privilege of taking money out of their own account”.
The move could save consumers millions of pounds a year.
However, the ban on credit card fees is expected to be vigorously opposed.
Continued from page 1
Mrs Hodge has been especially critical of the fact that HMRC had done deals with business that are not available to ordinary people.
Last year 1.4 million people were sent backdated tax demands totalling almost £4 billion after problems with the PAYE system. The taxman has also sought to raise extra revenues by clamping down on any tax avoidance by workers.
The revenue claimed that the committee’s report is “based on partial information, inaccurate opinion and some misunderstanding of facts”.
A spokesman said the conclusions were “risible given that we’re bringing in more money than ever before”.
“Senior HMRC officials sought to be co-operative by providing as much information as possible within the legal constraints of taxpayer confidentiality,” said the spokesman.
The report also warns that HMRC may be ill-equipped to deal with changes to child benefit as complex alterations to the system come into force.
The changes to the benefit will be administered by HMRC from 2013.