As he celebrates his 80th birthday, Sir Tom Jones has said he will keep singing "as long as there's breath in my body". Sir Tom, who grew up in Pontypridd, enjoyed huge commercial success with hits including It's Not Unusual, What's New Pussycat? and Kiss.
He became one of the world's biggest stars, with his live Las Vegas performances earning the admiration of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
The Welsh legend, who was born on 7 June 1940, said he did not mind growing old because "the memories are tremendous" – writes Henry St George.
video courtesy of coto.pops music
Another man also with tremendous memories of Sir Tom’s career is the owner and publisher of EU Reporter, Colin Stevens
In 1979 Stevens was a senior entertainment producer with HTV Wales in Cardiff and produced all the company’s Tom Jones Specials for ITV network.
Tom Jones had been a tax exile for 10 years in the USA, living in Beverly Hills and regularly appearing at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas.
Stevens had a feeling that once the ten-year tax exile was ended Tom would want to perform again in the UK. So, he made an approach to Tom’s manager, the legendary Gordon Mills who also managed Englebert Humperdinck and Gilbert O’Sullivan.
“I was incredibly cheeky” said Stevens. “I found out that Gordon would flying in from Beverly Hills to set things up for Tom’s first UK tour for 10 years and managed to get a 5-minute meeting with him.
It was over lunch at the 5-star Connaught Hotel, opposite the offices of MAM, Gordon’s record company.
There was around 20 people around the lunch table, the top of the entertainment industry and a former Miss World, but somehow, I found myself sat next to Gordon.
When the waiter brought the menus Gordon Mills sent him away, saying that everyone was to have sausage and mash, something he could not get in LA!
We all had to wait thirty minutes whilst the hotel sent a taxi to find and buy sausages!”
The story becomes more surreal, says Stevens. “I knew I had beaten all the major companies to get to talk to Tom’s manager first, but I also knew there was no way HTV could afford to pay the same as the major networks. In fact, I had no idea what I could offer, I was thinking on my feet!”
It was only at the end of lunch that Tom’s manager turned to Stevens and asked what he could offer.
“I just said “I cannot afford whatever fee Tom will want, but if after 10 years exile, if he decides to first perform in Wales rather than in London, then just think of the publicity!”
There was a silence, nothing more was said until the end of the lunch. Then just as Tom’s manager was leaving, he turned to Stevens and said “I am flying back to LA tomorrow on Concorde. If you can provide me with a tin of Welsh cakes to give to Tom, we have a deal.”
“I telephoned my wife in Cardiff and persuaded her to start baking.” said Stevens.
“They were couriered to me in London the next day and I managed to deliver the tin of Welsh cakes to Tom’s manager before he left on Concorde.”
“As Concorde took off, I received a message left by Tom’s manager to look at that days Daily Mail newspaper. I opened it to read the headline “Giant Killer HTV steals Tom Jones from under Network’s nose for a tin of Welsh Cakes”. At than moment Gordon Mills taught me the value of PR” says Stevens.
Stevens went on to be invited to meet Tom at his home in Beverly Hills, travel in Tom’s private plane to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, produce two documentaries and two ITV Christmas Specials with Tom Jones before moving into news production and becoming editor of news related programmes, run his own PR company, and eventually set up a European news network which owns London Globe, EU Reporter and a host of other titles.
Throughout his career, Tom Jones has constantly reinvented himself, moving from pop, rock and country to gospel, soul, and blues and then on to electronic and dance music.
In parallel, Stevens has also reinvented himself, moving from TV producer, PR executive to owner and publisher of Globe News and EU Reporter.
It must be something in the Brains beer that they both like to drink in Wales!
Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro
Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.
President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”
The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi.
European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.
Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.
European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case
The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.
In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.
The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.
The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.
Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.
For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.
The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.
Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.
A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.
Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation
On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.
At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.
The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.
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