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Energy regulator fines seen as a 'cost of doing business'

A new energy regulator would be charged with producing an annual scorecard for energy suppliers, reporting on the company's performance and identifying any possible areas of concern, Labour has announced.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint Credit: PA

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint said: "The public have a right to be treated fairly by energy companies. Where firms fail to meet these standards, there must be tough and decisive action. Too often energy companies seem to view the regulator's fines as a cost of doing business - not as a warning to get their act together.

"Of course consumers must be compensated - but if energy companies persist in mistreating their customers they must know their licence could be on the line."

Labour plans energy crackdown through new regulator

A Labour government would give a new energy regulator the power to revoke energy companies' licences to help protect the interests of the public, the party announced today.

Labour plans energy crackdown though new regulator
Labour plans energy crackdown though new regulator Credit: PA

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint accused the Government of presiding over a "broken energy market" and said Labour would hand a tough new regulator the capability to cancel energy companies' licences where there were repeated instances of the most "serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers".

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, she claimed, showed energy companies had continued to "mistreat their customers" and face another 16 probes into mis-selling, poor customer service and other bad practice, despite Ofgem issuing 30 fines, totalling more than £87 million since 2001.

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Fellow hostage accuses US and UK of 'taking risks'

Nicolas Henin (C), former French hostage and journalist pictured after his release
Nicolas Henin (C), former French hostage and journalist pictured after his release Credit: Reuters

A French journalist, who was held hostage with James Foley in Syria and subsequently released, has accused the US and UK of failing to "negotiate" over hostages.

Nicolas Henin, who was taken hostage in Syria in June 2013, and released the following April told the BBC: "Many countries actually do negotiate, what they negotiate I do not know...And some countries like America but also like the UK do not negotiate. They put their people at risk."

Government outlines recent UK aid in northern Iraq

Justine Greening announced £8 million in new assistance for those displaced in Iraq on 8 August.
Justine Greening announced £8 million in new assistance for those displaced in Iraq on 8 August. Credit: DFID

The UK has so far committed £13 million in new assistance in response to the crisis in Iraq. Here is what has been provided for 200,000 displaced Iraqis:

  • £5 million aid for Iraq was announced in June while another £8 million package was announced on August 8.
  • Two DFID-chartered Airbus cargo flights landed in Erbil on the night of August 19 carrying 45 tonnes of high nutrition emergency food from the World Food Programme (WFP) and 515 family-sized tents.
  • 8,000 kitchen sets which include cutlery, cooking pots, plates, frying pans, cups and wooden spoons to Erbil were delivered on August 16.
  • The RAF has also made seven successful air drops of UK aid over Mount Sinjar including w9,420 water purification containers, 1,056 solar lanterns, and 1,008 shelter kits.

Suicide tourism numbers 'double in four years'

Suicide tourism is on the rise, experts said after they found that the number of people travelling to Switzerland to take their own lives had doubled in four years.

One in five people who travelled to Zurich for assistedsuicide between 2008 and 2012 were from the UK, researchers found.

Suicide tourism numbers 'double in four years'
Suicide tourism numbers 'double in four years' Credit: GAETAN BALLY/Keystone Switzerland/Press Association Images

Experts from the University of Zurich analysed data from the Zurich Institute of Legal Medicine database on assisted suicide of non-Swiss residents during the five year period.

They looked at 611 cases from 31 countries around the world - 126 of which were people from Britain. Their paper, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that in 2008 there were 123 cases of suicide tourism, while there were 172 cases reported in 2012.

Nigeria confirms doctor's death who treated Ebola

Nigeria has confirmed that a senior doctor who treated the country's first known Ebola patient had died of the disease herself.

All of Nigeria's reported cases have been people who had direct contact with a Liberian-American man who was already infected when he arrived in the country. Speaking at a conference, Dr Jide Idris said:

Yesterday, we recorded the death of the senior consultant endocrinologist of the First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, Lagos, Dr Stella Sade Ameyo Adadevoh.

She it was who took the initiative to intimate the Ministry concerning the index case (first patient), the Liberian-American Mister Patrick Sawyer, and substantially to her credit the moderate containment achieved we owe to her and her colleagues

– Dr Jide Idris, Lagos State Health Commissioner

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US 'never intended to disclose' Syria operation

The White House intended to keep its attempted rescue mission in Syria of hostages held captive by the Islamic State secret, one spokesman has said.

According to the Associated Press, only when details of the operation were leaked by administration officials, the White House decided to comment.

We never intended to disclose this operation. An overriding concern for the safety of the hostages and for operational security made it imperative that we preserve as much secrecy as possible.

We only went public today when it was clear a number of media outlets were preparing to report on the operation and that we would have no choice but to acknowledge it.

– Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman

Police 'suspended over Ferguson protester kill threat'

Security forces detain a demonstrator during a protest
Security forces detain a demonstrator during a protest against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown Credit: Reuters

A St. Louis police officer was suspended indefinitely for pointing his rifle at a demonstrator in Ferguson, Missouri, and threatening to kill him during protests over the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, according to NBC News.

The incident occurred late Tuesday and was captured on video by protesters. Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the St. Louis County police, confirmed that the officer, who was not identified but is with the St. Ann Police Department, pointed a semi-automatic assault rifle at a peaceful protester "after a verbal exchange."

'Sufficient intelligence' in Syria hostage operation

The US Government believed they had "sufficient intelligence" to carry out an operation in Syria, in an attempt rescue hostages, according to a federal prosecutor.

Lisa Monaco was cited by Pentagon spokeswoman Marie Harf that President Obama had authorised the operation.

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Lisa Monaco: USG had what we believed was sufficient intelligence; when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorized operation

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Monaco: President could not be prouder of US forces who carried out this mission & intel & diplo professionals who supported their efforts.

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