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Journalists' guide to the big stories of the week ahead

A journalists' guide to the week ahead provided by Foresight News.

Foreign Secretary William Hague attends a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, and Syria is likely to dominate. President Bashar Al-Assad has only ramped up the brutal campaign against rebels since the recent vetoing of two UN Security Council resolutions by Russia and China and Hague has already said that the Council hopes to agree 'further measures' against the regime at Monday's meeting.  Also expect discussion on Egypt, the Middle East peace process and recent developments in the Southern Caucasus and Serbia / Kosovo to feature.

Monday sees the German Parliament vote on the latest €130bn Greek bailout, which would involve the effective write-off of significant amounts of Greek debt. The deal to prop up the eurozone followed frantic late night talks earlier this month, and while the Bundestag vote is set to approve the deal, popular German disquiet over the spiralling costs of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) may make life difficult for Chancellor Merkel. The Dutch Parliament is expected to hold its vote on the bailout either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Singer Charlotte Church is up at the High Court Monday after last week agreeing to settle her claim against the News of the World over alleged phone hacking. The star follows Steve 'classic intercourse' Coogan and former master of the dark arts Alastair Campbell in settling her case, after initially refusing to take the News International dollar. Her case was due to go to trial today, but today's hearing will now take the form of a much more agreeable costs hearing.

Media navel gazers rejoice! After a whole two weeks without exposure to Robert Jay QC's finely trimmed beard, the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics gets going again. Car insurance salesman, former Deputy PM and sometime-pugilist John Prescott is set to appear as the Inquiry moves on to module two, which explores the relationships between the press and police. With the recent arrest of Sun journalists over alleged payments to police, module two couldn't be timelier.

It's all kicking off down under as Australian politics faces a Monday that will probably make the long-running Blair-Brown spat of the nineties and noughties look like a teddy bear's picnic on Islington Green. MPs return to Parliament amid allegations of serious infighting in the ruling Labor Party, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a 'put up or shut up'leadership ballot for 10am. The ballot follows the resignation last week of Foreign Minister and former PM Kevin Rudd, who himself was ousted by Gillard in the heady days of June 2010. Both have pledged to retreat to backbench politics in the event of defeat in the ballot.

Despite dark Downing Street mutterings, embattled Health Secretary Andrew Lansley still hasn't been taken outside and shot, and will in fact be speaking at Tuesday's Local Government Association Public Health conference. Lansley has riled up much of the medical profession for his don't-call-it-a-top-down-reorganisation of the NHS and his latest public appearance should give hacks plenty of opportunity to repeat tired jokes about the reforms being in intensive care, on life support and needing emergency surgery.

Meanwhile Lansley's ever-popular Health and Social Care bill continues its passage through Parliament with readings in the Lords on Monday and Wednesday this week. Wednesday's reading deals with the section on competition in the NHS; there are likely to be at least three more days of debate in the Upper House, which leaves plenty of opportunity for more embarrassing defeats for the Government.

With the Spring Budget looming, expect to see and hear a lot more of George Osborne's favourite back seat driver Ed Balls as he chips in with suggestions for how to fill the Red Box on March 21. On Wednesday Balls delivers a speech to the Mile End Group think tank called 'Being Shadow Chancellor' which, from the man who brought you 'I cry at the Antiques Roadshow', is sure to be full of fascinating insight.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable rolls up his sleeves for a debate on Wednesday on the impact of the Government's immigration policies on the UK's higher education sector, which have been claimed in some quarters to be harmful. Squaring up to Dr Cable are TV's Keith Vaz MP, Migration Observatory director Dr Martin Ruhs, and Aston University vice-chancellor Julia King.

In Norway the psychiatric examination of Ander Behring Breivik, who admitted to carrying out the July 22, 2011 Olso bombing and shootings on Utoya island, is set to begin on Wednesday. A report released last year declared him to be insane and unfit to stand trial; this examination is due to last four weeks and psychiatrists will deliver their report before the start of Breivik's April 16 trial.

Piccadilly corner shop Fortnum & Mason will be occupied by a decidedly more respectable rabble on Thursday when The Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge and their respective entourages arrive for a visit. The day out will be the first time the three Royals have carried out official duties together.

On Friday EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy leads heads of state and government from the European Union in signing the treaty on fiscal stability which was agreed at the December 9, 2011 Council meeting. Agreed, that is, by everyone except fearless veto-wielder David Cameron, who recently had support from an unlikely source and will be joined by Petr Necas and the Czech Republic on the outside looking in.

Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce are up for their first crown court appearance at Southwark on Friday where they again face allegations that they perverted the course of justice in a penalty points snafu in 2003. Neither has yet entered a plea.

Nightclubber extraordinaire Prince Harry begins an overseas tour of the Caribbean on Friday as part of his grandmother's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Harry's first port of call is Belize, where a street party is on the agenda; he moves on to the Bahamas on Saturday and then Jamaica next week before landing in Brazil on March 9. Look out Rio.

Voters go to the polls in Iran on Friday for elections to the country's Majlis, where in 2008 parties loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won 195 seats after the second round of voting, with reformist candidates taking 51 seats. The elections mark the first test of Ahmadinejad's popularity in the wake of the disputed 2009 presidential election and amid an escalation in hawkish rhetoric over the country's controversial nuclear programme.

Stop the War Coalition holds its annual national conference in London on Saturday, with the usual suspects including Tony Been, George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn set to join convenor Lindsey German in firing up the crowd.

The International Football Association Board descends upon glamorous Bagshot on Saturday for its AGM and a discussion on the testing of goal-line technology. This all comes two years too late for England, who, with the benefit of a camera on the goal-line in Bloemfontein last June, could have turned an embarrassing 4-1 shellacking by Germany into a much more respectable 4-2.

Presidential elections take place in Russia on Sunday, with iron man Vladimir Putin seeking a third, non-consecutive term after a four-year interregnum in which his former protégé Dmitry Medvedev was in charge. Despite an outbreak of opposition in recent weeks and protests over December's allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections, Putin remains ahead in the polls ahead of Sunday's vote and last week staged a triumphant rally at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.


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