- Ukrainian riot police surround Kiev protesters
Action comes just hours after EU's Lady Ashton held meeting with Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych
Several thousand Ukrainian riot police gathered in the early hours of Wednesday morning around Independence Square in central Kiev, where protesters have been demonstrating against the government's decision to pull out of negotiations on a trade pact with the European Union.
Police amassed on all sides of the square housing the protest camp which has been the centre of protests that have gripped Kiev for the past two weeks, just a few hours after the EU's top foreign policy representative Lady Ashton had met Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych. Ashton had also been due to meet three opposition leaders who have been leading the protests, including the heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko.
On the north side of the square, several hundred riot police rushed a barricade that has been in place for 10 days.
A priest brandishing a cross walked towards the lines of police but was pushed back as protest leaders announced from the main stage that it was a peaceful protest and called on police to stop their assault. As the mobilisation continued, a religious service was held on the stage with hundreds of protesters chanting. "Tomorrow there will be a million of us."
Witnesses told Reuters that a singer on a stage in the centre of Independence Square urged police not to carry out their orders and not to harm the protesters.
Some protesters held their mobile phones in the air like candles and sang the national anthem.
Earlier, Yanukovych had promised to restart work on an association and free-trade agreement with the European Union, as he sought to quell the protests. He said a delegation would travel to Brussels on Wednesday and suggested the pact he pulled out of last month could be signed in the spring if Ukraine was given better financial conditions.
Yanukovych pulled out of the deal amid pressure from Russia, which wants Ukraine to join its rival Customs Union. Russia is believed to have offered its cash-strapped neighbour financial support and reduced gas prices. "We want to achieve conditions that satisfy Ukraine, Ukrainian producers, the Ukrainian people," said Yanukovych on Tuesday during a televised roundtable discussion with his three predecessors.
Moscow and Brussels have accused each other of putting unacceptable pressure on Kiev. Russia's parliament issued a statement on Tuesday criticising western politicians for openly supporting the protesters in Kiev.
Ashton visited Independence Square, which has been turned into a protest encampment with log fires, food stalls and a stage blaring pop music and speeches from opposition leaders.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a member of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party, led Ashton away amid a media scrum and through a police line to waiting cars in which they left for a meeting.
"The most important thing is that all the European leaders to come here have supported not the opposition or political parties but the people on the square," he said.
During the roundtable talk, Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, criticised the actions of riot police. "When people are causing disorder, riot police officers should arrest them and take them away, but never beat them. Or even worse, do it in front of cameras," he said.
Yanukovych interrupted him and said: "When they started to attack the riot police, they got their response." He did, however, say that some of those arrested in the clashes should be released.
Kiev's biggest protest since the 2004 Orange Revolution took place on Sunday when hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets and a small group tore down a statue of Lenin and hacked it to pieces with hammers.
- US congressional leaders unveil two-year budget deal
Democrat and Republican negotiators reach two-year budget deal to fix federal spending at $1.012tn
- Uruguay legalises production and sale of cannabis
Government experiment reaches new heights as it attempts to regulate marijuana business and find alternative to war on drugs
The world's most far-reaching cannabis law has been passed by the Uruguayan parliament, opening the way for the state to regulate the production, distribution, sale and consumption of the planet's favourite illegal drug.
The law, effective from next year, will: allow registered users to buy up to 40g of marijuana a month from a chemist's; registered growers to keep up to six plants; and cannabis clubs to have up to 45 members and cultivate as many as 99 plants.
A government-run cannabis institute will set the price – initially likely to be close to the current black market rate of $1 a gramme – and monitor the impact of the programme, which aims to bring the industry under state control and push illegal traffickers out of business.
Julio Bango, one of the politicians who helped draft the bill, said it would probably be four months until the first harvest of legal cannabis, by which time the government would have a licensing system in place. "We know this has generated an international debate and we hope it brings another element to discussions about a model [the war on drugs] that has totally failed and that has generated the opposite results from what it set out to achieve."
Before the passage of the bill, president José Mujica called on the international community to assist in what he admitted was an experiment aimed at finding an alternative to the deadly and unsuccessful war on drugs.
"We are asking the world to help us with this experience, which will allow the adoption of a social and political experiment to face a serious problem – drug trafficking," he said earlier this month. "The effects of drug trafficking are worse than those of the drugs themselves."
If the results of the law prove negative, Mujica has said it could be rescinded. The current illegal market in Uruguay is estimated to be worth $30m (£18m) a year, according to Martin Fernández, a lawyer working for the Association of Cannabis Studies, who says one in five Uruguayans have tried marijuana. The government estimates 115,000 people are regular users.
Consumption of marijuana has been permitted for many years in Uruguay – one of Latin America's most tolerant nations – but production and sales are prohibited and largely run by gangs who smuggle drugs in from Paraguay.
The government is taking a political risk by trying to regulate the business – a move not supported by most voters. Opposition politicians have demanded a referendum.
"Public perception, reflected in public opinion polls, is that this measure is the wrong way to address a serious problem," Gerardo Amarilla of the National party said.
Drug rehab workers have mixed views about the likely risks and benefits. Nancy Alonso, a psychologists who runs an addiction treatment centre, believes the law will create social and health problems.
"Marijuana is highly addictive. It's 15 times more carcinogenic than tobacco. It produces psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and – for big consumers – schizophrenia," she said. "As a healthcare agent, I think the social harm will be huge."
However, staff at the government-funded Ciudadela treatment centre are more upbeat. "I think the law is a positive step," said Pablo Anzalone, a programme co-ordinator. "State regulation will reduce problematic consumption. We also hope that it will generate more money for us and other treatment centres."
Growers were ecstatic that their pastime will no longer get them thrown in jail. To celebrate, several planned what they called "a final march with illegal cannabis" through the streets of Montevideo.
Marcelo Vazquez said he now had the opportunity to fulfil an ambition. "It's a utopia," he said. "I want to work, pay taxes and grow cannabis for clubs, for medicine, for whatever."
Juan Guano, who runs a small shop selling growbags, heat lamps and books on cannabis cultivation, said he expected his market to expand. More hopefully, he predicted the measure could help Uruguayan and world society.
"Uruguay doesn't need to prove anything to anyone, but obviously the outside world will be watching how this works. We are not regulating marijuana with the aim of encouraging others to follow our lead, we are doing it because this is what we need as a society. But one possible positive is that, if things go well, other countries in the region could take this as a model for marijuana regulation."
Additional reporting by Mauricio Rabuffetti in Montevideo
- Royal phonebooks 'found at News of the World reporter's house'
Old Bailey told that 15 royal phone directories were found by police when they searched Clive Goodman's home
Police took more than five years to warn Buckingham Palace that confidential directories with the royal family's private phone numbers had been found in the home of the News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman, the Old Bailey heard on Tuesday.
The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that a total of 15 royal phone directories were found by police in August 2006 when they arrested Goodman and searched his home in Putney, south west London and it was not until January 2012 that Palace officials were informed. Since then, the number of directories in circulation had been "dramatically reduced".
The disclosure came as the Crown began to present its case that Clive Goodman and his former editor, Andy Coulson, conspired to commit misconduct in public office by agreeing to pay Palace police officers to supply the directories. Both deny the charge. The evidence opened a door on the private world of Palace life.
The jury heard that among those whose numbers were listed in the directories were the Keeper of the Privy Purse, The Lord Warden of the Stannaries, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, gentleman ushers, extra gentleman ushers and the Swan Warden who proved to be a professor in Oxford.
Michelle Light, head of telephony for the royal family at Buckingham Palace, told the court that some 1,200 copies of a directory containing 2,000 phone numbers for royal staff would be produced by the Palace's in-house printer.Seven of these with various dates were found in Goodman's home. Light said she was not informed of this until January 2012.
Jonathan Spencer, deputy controller of The Lord Chamberlain's office, said that some 900 copies of a "Green Book", containing private numbers for the royal family and senior staff, would also be produced by the Palace printer. Each of these was marked "Restricted Document" on the front cover with a request that it "should be kept in a safe place and not shown to unauthorised persons. On receipt, please destroy your previous edition."
They were not classified as secret, he said, but they were confidential. "We would never send it to an unauthorised person, nor would we want it to be in the possession of such a person."
Eight Green Books, dated between August 1988 and October 2002, were found in Goodman's home. Spencer said he was not told of this until November 2012.
Since being informed by police, he told the court, the Lord Chamblerlain had decided the Green Book should no longer be sent to external staff and sent only in smaller numbers to internal staff. "We have decided to reduce the distribution dramatically right across the piece," he said.
One of the directories with staff extension numbers which was found at Goodman's house was discovered to be carrying the fingerprint of a retired officer, Michael Godfrey, who told the court that he had often worked with a porter on the tradesman's entrance of Windsor Castle, known as The Side Door, and that on night shifts, when the porter was not there, he would have used the directory to check on visitors' credentials.
One of the Green Books found at Goodman's home was found to carry the indented imprint of the signature of a second retired officer, Gregory Gillham, who had worked as a protection sergeant at Buckingham Palace. before becoming head of police operations at Kensington Palace.
He said the Green Book was kept secure, he would not expect to find one lying around, and that he would dispose of an old one by tearing it into quarters and throwing them into a confidential waste sack. "I worked for the royal household for a long time," he said. "The protection of the royal family was paramount."
It was not suggested that either officer had supplied Goodman with any directory. The trial continues.
- Access to best teaching is down to luck, says Ofsted
Inspectors hail inner-cities and say bad schools can be found in affluent areas
The uneven quality of schools across the country means England is a nation divided into "lucky and unlucky children" in terms of access to high-quality teaching, and poverty is no longer a predictor of educational failure, the head of Ofsted will argue today .
Launching his annual report card, the chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, will hail reforms to inner-city education in London, Manchester and Newcastle. He will say some of the least fortunate pupils are going to poorly performing schools in the relatively affluent home counties and the east of England.
The Ofsted chief is expected to say that in effect an "educational lottery" consigns children in some parts of the country to study in substandard schools.
Wilshaw, the former head of an academy in Hackney, east London, will say: "Children from similar backgrounds with similar abilities but who are born in different regions and attend different schools end up with widely different prospects because the quality of their education is not consistently good."
Ofsted's data is to show that seven of the best performing local authorities are in London, with the likes of Tower Hamlets in the East End boasting schools that have all been judged to be outstanding or good by Ofsted's inspectors
But in contrast, Wilshaw will say that the "unluckiest children" are those poorer children living in relatively affluent areas, including parts of the home counties as well as counties such as Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. East Anglia is to be picked out as home to the worst-performing primary schools in the country.
Improvements have been seen among deprived children from every minority ethnic group in recent years according to Ofsted, but that progress has been sluggish in schools dominated by working-class white children.
Despite that, the man responsible for overseeing the inspection and grading of England's thousands of state schools will present an optimistic picture of education in England, saying that the "battle against mediocrity" is gradually being won. Nearly eight out of 10 state schools are now judged good or outstanding – the highest proportion in Ofsted's 21-year history – which Wilshaw will attribute to better teaching and leadership in schools.
The chief inspector will argue that a tougher inspection regime has driven the improvement. "Coasting schools now know that mediocre standards will no longer be tolerated," Wilshaw is to say.
But Wilshaw's view places him at odds with that of the Department for Education, which attributes recent improvement to reforms initiated by the government.
A DfE spokesman said: "The government's reforms are already raising standards but there is still more to do. We are especially targeting areas where there are long-term problems, and recruiting new sponsors. It is vital that all children get a first-class education – wherever they live and whatever their background. The pupil premium is giving extra money to the poorest pupils to narrow the attainment gap between them and their better-off peers."
The chief inspector will also warn of poor discipline in the classroom, calling it "a culture of casual acceptance of low-level disruption and poor attitudes to learning. The sort of culture that is a million miles away from the sort of cultures we see in some of the high-performing Asian countries."
Ofsted's figures suggest as many as 700,000 pupils attend schools where behaviour needs to improve. "Unless this changes, teachers will struggle to create an environment in which all children learn well," Wilshaw is to say.
Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said that school improvement required highly trained teachers to boost learning and discipline.
"Unqualified teachers lack the training to manage classroom disruption. It's a scandal that [David] Cameron is allowing unqualified teachers into classrooms on a permanent basis, damaging education. Labour would end this watering down of standards, insisting all teachers are qualified," Hunt said.
The DfE spokemsan said the department agreed with this part of Wilshaw's remarks: "Bad classroom behaviour is hugely disruptive to children's education. It means teachers can't teach and pupils can't learn. That is why a key part of our reforms is restoring discipline in schools and why we have strengthened teachers' powers to put them back in charge."
Teachers are now able to search pupils for prohibited items and more easily remove disruptive pupils, the DfE said.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said Ofsted's annual report blames school leaders for poor discipline, despite Wilshaw himself recently blaming poor teaching. "The public will be right to question whether Ofsted makes it up as it goes along," she said.
Keates said Ofsted's tougher system of inspections had created a climate of fear among teachers. "No other education system, including those often cited as high performing and fast improving by ministers, has resorted to use of such crude approaches to holding schools to public account for their work as those in place in England."
Tower Hamlets, which is to be praised by Ofsted for its achievements, is described as having some of the best urban schools in the world, according to a new report that charts the local authority's transformation.
In 1997 Tower Hamlets schools were rated as the worst in the country. But the report – backed by the local authority and written by Professor Chris Husbands and others from the Institute of Education – says that their improvement since then is "a genuinely exceptional achievement, worth celebrating, worth understanding but, above all, worth learning from".
- Woman in Leeds dies after dog attack
Pitbull and Staffordshire bull terrier were seized after inflicting serious bite injuries on 27-year-old woman on Monday
A 27-year-old woman who was attacked by two dogs at her home in Leeds died on Tuesday night from her injuries.
Emma Bennett suffered serious bite injuries from two dogs, believed to be an American pit bull and a Staffordshire bull terrier, at the property in Dawlish Avenue, Osmondthorpe, at around 2.20pm on Monday.
One dog, which was able to leave the three-storey building, was caught nearby while the other was safely removed in an operation involving armed police.
A local resident told the Yorkshire Evening Post that more than a dozen police officers responded to the incident in the east of the city, adding: "They were definitely dangerous dogs.
"There must have been about 15 police officers and it was just quite crazy.
"The dog seemed to be loose for ages and there were two cars that blocked the street off. I was just shocked and saw her in the back of the ambulance and paramedics were pounding on her heart."
There were suggestions that the dogs, who lived with Bennett, may have turned on her after she suffered an epileptic fit.
A neighbour said: "I got a call when I was shopping that they had cordoned the whole street off.
"I heard rumours there was a vicious dog attack after someone had broken into a home but it turned out it was Emma who got attacked by her own dog.
"We'd heard that a few weeks back the pitbull started getting really nasty with her because she is epileptic. If she had a seizure and she was on her own he didn't like it.
"I think she has had a fit and the pitbull's got hold of her – that's the only thing I can think of. Apparently it wanted to go for her whenever she was having a fit."
A West Yorkshire police spokesman said on Tuesday night: "Two dogs were seized following the incident and police inquiries remain ongoing this evening.
"Officers would like to speak to anybody who has information about the incident and the dogs involved in it.
"Anyone who has information should contact protective services at West Yorkshire police on 101."
Earlier, the force said the injured woman was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment.
Officers responded to reports that a woman was "in distress" at the address in Dawlish Avenue.
The force added: "One dog which got loose from the property was contained by officers in Back Dawlish Road and recovered. Another was safely removed from the address a short time later."