Media Watch 10/1/15

By Rowan Williams

Paris is to receive 500 extra troops as part of increased security measures after three days of terror attacks that left 20 people dead, including three Islamic extremist attackers. Police are now searching for a woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, believed to be the girlfriend of one of the gunmen. Attacks began on Wednesday when two gunmen shot dead 12 people at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, followed by the shooting of a police officer by another gunman on Thursday. All three gunmen were shot dead by police on Friday in two separate hostage situations, though four hostages in a kosher supermarket were killed by one gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, before a police rescue attempt could be made. Some French media have reported that Boumeddiene, Coulibaly’s girlfriend, could now be in Syria. A unity rally is to be held on Sunday, with several European leaders expected to attend. 210,000 people have already taken part in silent marches across France expressing their solidarity with the victims of the shootings and support of free speech. Warnings of further terror attacks against France and Britain have been made by authorities in the wake of the terror attacks.

The Conservative Party’s plans to make strike action more difficult for key public service workers has been met with outrage by trade union leaders. The plans, included in the Conservative Party’s 2015 election manifesto, would make it illegal for workers in health, education, transport and fire services to go on strike without the support of at least 40 percent of their eligible union members. The Conservative Party has claimed that the rules would prevent trade union leaders with political agendas acting without support of their union members; the Trade Union Congress has argued that the rule would effectively end the right to strike during a time of public sector pay cuts.

Hong Kong’s richest man has expressed his strong support for the passing of political reforms relating to the territory’s leadership elections. Li Ka-shing, whose combined wealth is estimated to be £22.1 billion, called for Hong Kong’s lawmakers to pass controversial reforms that require leadership candidates to be pre-screened by Beijing. The proposed reforms, which sparked weeks of protests in Hong Kong in 2014, have been criticised by some lawmakers, who have said they will vote against any reform that does not introduce full democracy. However, Li implored lawmakers to pass the proposed reforms so that a transition to democracy could be made in steps.

The Papers

Saturday’s front pages are dominated by the ending of the two terrorist hostage situations in France on Friday, with the word “bloody” appearing in several papers’ headlines. The Times dubs Friday’s events as “The bloody climax” to a week that saw three Islamic extremists kill 17 people in Paris over three days, including 12 people at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The paper reports that the terror attacks from Wednesday to Friday “were co-ordinated”, and that France is “on alert for further violence.” The Guardian calls Friday’s events “The bloody denouement” after a “day of drama”, noting that French President Francois Hollande has called for “unity” after the “‘nation’s tragedy'”. The Independent refers to the “Bloody end” to the Paris attacks in a “week that stunned France”. The Financial Times opts for neutral language, leading with the headline “Hebdo gunmen killed in shootout” after “three days that convulsed France”. The Daily Telegraph leads with the headline “Paris 9/1: France’s terror nightmare” and features a full-page picture of police evacuating hostages from one hostage site.

British Media on China

On China’s partial banning of Uber-style car sharing apps: private drivers may no longer offer their services through car-sharing apps in China, following an announcement from the Ministry of Transport on Friday. The story was picked up by The Guardian, The Independent, and The Financial Times. The FT reported the story on Wednesday, two days before the official announcement was made, though reports from a conversation with Beijing’s traffic enforcement unit that the crackdown began on January 1. The paper writes that the crackdown “appears to have been set in motion following lobbying efforts by Beijing’s licenced taxi companies”. The Independent, meanwhile, writes that officials have said it was important to “protect citizens from the dangers of unlicenced cabs”. The Guardian writes that the announcement throws up a “new hurdle to Uber’s global expansion”.

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