In Short


A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Syria lifts ban on Facebook in 'appeasement' move by Assad

DAMASCUS – Syrian authorities are to lift a five-year ban on Facebook in a move seen as an apparent “appeasement” measure, aimed at staving off unrest in the country following recent political developments in Egypt and Tunisia.

President Bashar al-Assad told the Wall Street Journal last week that he would push through political reforms aimed at initiating municipal elections, granting more power to non- governmental organisations and establishing a new media law. The surprise move follows a failed “day of anger” protest in the Syrian capital, Damascus, last Friday and Saturday.

Crackdowns on internet freedom and fear of retribution was largely blamed for the lack of participation. – (Guardian service)

Immediate trial for Berlusconi sought

MILAN – Prosecutors will today seek an immediate trial for Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of paying for sex with an under- age girl and intervening to have her released from custody. The judge will then have five days to decide, although the deadline could be extended by a few days.

Milan prosecutors allege Mr Berlusconi paid for sex with a Moroccan nightclub dancer known as Ruby while she was under 18, the legal age for prostitution in Italy. – (Reuters)

UK bank levy  rise sparks anger

Britain’s banks have reacted angrily to an increase in the UK levy on their balance sheets, criticising the move as an act of bad faith just ahead of a planned peace deal between the government and lenders.

Bankers and tax experts said the move by chancellor George Osborne yesterday to increase the bank levy by 50 per cent signalled greater unpredictability in the tax regime for companies operating in Britain. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011