martes, 30 de noviembre de 2010

Science should find aliens, halt cancer: UK survey - Reuters

LONDON | Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:42am EST

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Nearly half of Britons believe in aliens and almost 80 percent say cancer is the disease which most needs a vaccine, a poll by one of the world's oldest scientific institutions showed on Tuesday.

Britain's Royal Society found that 66 percent of respondents to a survey to mark its 350th anniversary said that disease control and eradication should be a top priority for science.

Around 53 percent said they would like science to enable them to extend their lifespan.

Royal Society President Martin Rees said the lives of modern humans are hugely different from those of our ancestors because of the scientific advances made since the society was founded in 1660, when science was in its infancy.

"Science is an unending quest for understanding and over the coming 350 years our appetite for discovery could see us develop a cure for cancer, a solution to climate change, and even discover extra-terrestrial life," he said in a statement.

In terms of developing new vaccinations - after cancer, preventing HIV/AIDS was seen as important for 60 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed and with malaria 37 percent.

"There can be no better way to celebrate the Royal Society's 350th anniversary than to look to the future of science, built on the foundations of today's cutting-edge research," Rees said.

Nearly half of people in Britain (44 percent) believe in the existence of aliens, according to the poll.

Over a third think scientists should be actively searching for and attempting to make contact with aliens, a figure that rises to 46 percent for male respondents. However, fewer than one in 10 people believe that space exploration should be a top priority for the scientific community.

After health issues, climate change was the next highest priority for the public with a third of those questioned considering it important. This figure rises to 44 percent among 18 to 24-year-olds, suggesting that younger generations are more in tune with the threat of global warming.

As the curtain falls on the 350th anniversary year, the Royal Society is publishing "Science sees further," a new report examining the most pressing issues facing the world today and asks what the future of science will hold.

Launched on Tuesday, it includes chapters on whether we are alone in the universe, how we can manage the increasing demands on our planet's resources, and whether science can save the lives of millions with new vaccines.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato; Editing by Steve Addison)

Blunkett: Use technology to try McKinnon - ZDNet UK

Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon should be tried in the US via video link to the UK, former home secretary David Blunkett has urged.

The US and the UK should agree terms whereby McKinnon can be tried in the US while using technology to allow McKinnon to stay in the UK, Blunkett told the Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday. The committee was hearing evidence into the extradition treaty that the UK has with the US. The treaty has widely been criticised, including by a number of MPs, as being unbalanced in favour of the US.

"I think it a good idea to explore whether if the US insists it holds a US case in a US jurisdiction, we might be able to use new technologies to get round health aspects," Blunkett said.

McKinnon's legal team insist that the self-confessed hacker of military systems, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, is at risk of suicide should he be extradited to the US. McKinnon has said that he broke into the systems looking for evidence of UFOs, and he denies causing damage worth $700,000 (£450,000), as alleged by US authorities.

Blunkett said that while McKinnon's mental health needs to be taken into consideration, the US should have the option to try him on its own soil.

"One of the main issues with Gary McKinnon is the impact of any removal from the country because of his health," Blunkett told ZDNet UK. "There are arguments that the case could have been dealt with in a different way. We should either give him the chance to make his case here, or have him removed."

The MP for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough added that the extradition treaty needs to be revisited to take into account advances in technology. "In an internet world, we don't have traditional boundaries," he said. "In the cyberworld, extraterritorial actions have an effect."

McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner said that the idea of a trial via video link is a possibility worth exploring, but insisted that however the case is resolved, it should not involve the London resident setting foot on US soil.

Following an eight-year legal battle, McKinnon's extradition is on hold while his lawyers and the Home Office discuss the appointment of a psychiatrist to evaluate his risk of suicide.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown tried to set up a deal to allow McKinnon serve any sentence in the UK in a 2009 meeting with US ambassador Louis Susman, according to Wikileaks documents published by the Guardian on Tuesday. The deal was rejected.

Susman had been invited to appear before the home affairs select committee, but had declined, committee chairman Keith Vaz said on Tuesday.

The case should be dealt with in British court, according to Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights group Liberty, which has held a rally in support of McKinnon. "All of the alleged hacking took place in a UK jurisdiction, and [McKinnon] is a very vulnerable man," the human rights campaigner told ZDNet UK.

That position was echoed by Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother. "The Americans have been so intransigent," said Sharp. "I'm not convinced Gary would get a fair trial over there."

Palace backs prince after leak - BBC News

Buckingham Palace sources have supported the Duke of York after he was criticised for making comments about a government probe into an arms deal.

His comments about the Serious Fraud Office were included in a leaked US diplomatic memo published on the website Wikileaks.

The memo said he described officials as having the "idiocy of almost scuttling" a deal between BAE and Saudi Arabia.

A source said it was "clear that the duke feels passionately" for his role.

The duke is the UK's special representative for international trade and investment.

"The duke works very hard on behalf of British business," a source told the Press Association.

However, Business Secretary Vince Cable called on Andrew not to comment on government policy matters.

Mr Cable said: "That is not a matter for Prince Andrew; that's a matter for the government."

However, he praised Prince Andrew for his voluntary role as trade envoy.

The memo was written in October 2008 by the US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Tatiana Gfoeller, after a business lunch.

Under the sub-heading "Rude language a la British", she wrote that "[Prince Andrew] railed at British anti-corruption investigators, who had had the 'idiocy' of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia".

"Start Quote

We have all in the past cracked jokes which were misinterpreted and he is no exception"

End Quote Vince Cable Business Secretary

She said the prince also criticised Guardian journalists - "who poke their noses everywhere" - for investigating the deal.

In 2006 the SFO dropped the investigation into BAE after it was decided that national security was at risk. It had been investigating a giant 1980s arms deal BAE secured from Saudi Arabia.

At the time, the Saudi royal family was deeply concerned about the idea that the investigators might try to open up their Swiss bank accounts.

Mr Cable, speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, said: "It would be helpful not to comment on policy matters of that kind, but [the duke's] contribution is a very positive one and I want to encourage him to continue to make it."

He added: "He is not a government appointee. He voluntarily goes around the world trying to help British companies promote exports and jobs in Britain.

"I value that. I've seen him in action and he does a very good job. I would just make it absolutely clear that we regard bribery overseas as illegal and unacceptable.

"We certainly don't condone overseas bribery and indeed the legislation has recently been toughened."

French comment

The duke, according to the leaked memo, used a comment from a fellow diner at a business lunch about corrupt practices in Kyrgyzstan to mock France.

The ambassador's memo read: "At this point the Duke of York laughed uproariously, saying that: 'All of this sounds exactly like France.'"

Mr Cable said: "We have all in the past cracked jokes which were misinterpreted and he is no exception."

In the leaked message, Ms Gfoeller recounts details of a brunch in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek with British and Canadian businesspeople.

Ms Gfoeller said Prince Andrew told her that the UK, Western Europe and the US were now "back in the thick of playing the Great Game" - a reference to the 19th Century struggle between the British and Russian Empires for control of Central Asia.

"More animated than ever, he stated cockily 'and this time we aim to win'," she wrote.

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the prince's comments were "unwise" but he added: "Anyone who is in public life in the modern world has to take into account that even remarks they make in a private context may end up on the public table. It was very unwise remarks to make."

'Gran Turismo 5' Review - Reinventing The Wheels - (blog)

Gran Tursimo 5

For years, fans of racing sims have had a particularly strange conundrum. Their entire world has essentially been boiled down into two titles, the "Gran Turismo" series and the "Forza Mortorsport" line, but one of those (the former) has been so exceptional that nobody really minds. The best racing sim series out there returns with "Gran Turismo 5," the title's first entry in six years after a parade of near-disasters as well as its first PS3 exclusive and the first to feature a number of new licenses (including NASCAR, a clear nod to American racing enthusiasts for what is otherwise a very Euro-centric game). But is "Gran Turismo 5" merely a "Madden"-esque roster upgrade (more cars and more tracks) or does it reinvent the wheel?

The Basics

"Gran Turismo 5" is all about numbers. After six years, they've delivered over 1,000 cars, 26 locations and 71 tracks (not including the endless possibilities for customization for both cars and tracks). The premise is simple (just go faster than your opponents), but the path to get to top speed is full of careful planning and sharp driving.

The Highs

More Cars Than Jay Leno
You know how fighting games can seem a little bit tedious once you've taken each of the warriors for a test drive and found you don't really like any of them? That sort of scenario is an absolute impossibility in "Gran Turismo 5." Sure, it's a bit of a marketing ploy, but let's face it: the game features over 1,000 cars. That's four digits. And we're not talking about a single Ferrari in two hundred different color shades — these are unique vehicles. If you can dream up a vehicle, it probably already exists in "Gran Turismo 5." I played for eight solid hours and only managed to get behind the wheel of a fraction of the rides in the game. I wouldn't be shocked if the Homer was in there somewhere. Seriously, it's a lot of cars.

Karting Is My Business (And Business Is Good)
"Gran Turismo 5" doesn't offer very much for beginners (more on that below), but the new kart racing option is both an easier entry point and exceptionally fun. It's not quite "Super Mario Kart" (nobody is throwing around turtle shells), but it has that level of playfulness. It's especially thrilling online, where up to 32 karts can compete on one track (compared to only 16 for standard cars).

The Physics Of Physics
"Gran Turismo" has always had excellent physics, but "Gran Turismo 5" really steps it up.The new damage system is the most realistic I've ever seen, as every minor nick, scratch and even bit of dirt will show up on your vehicle. The car will also degrade internally, as you can feel the brakes weakening and the tires shifting as you race. It's a staggering level of realism that is sometimes disarming, but for hardcore gearheads it's a dream come true.

The Lows

The Learning Curve
By now, it should be taken as a given that the "Gran Turismo" series doesn't care whether or not you are used to the controls (which, while sharp, can take a lot of practice to get properly comfortable). There's no real way to ease into the single player mode — you just have to dive headlong into the racing world with your entry-level Nissan and hope that you don't roll it too badly. Progress is steady but slow, and certain tracks — in fact, certain portions of tracks — will frustrate newbies to no end. It's hard to tell exactly what it takes for the comfort level to click, but it requires more patience than with most every other game in your collection (except maybe "Gran Turismo 4").

The Verdict

"Gran Turismo 5" is not for everybody. Despite the flashiness of this iteration, it's still a driving sim at heart, with all the requisite hang-ups that come along with the genre (anybody raised on arcade racers like the "Burnout" series or the re-jiggered "Need For Speed" line will likely be confused and frustrated by the painfully realistic physics). But if you're a veteran of the genre or have the patience to dive deep into virtual driving, then "Gran Turismo 5" is your "Citizen Kane." It's the racing sim by which all other racing sims will be judged, and they will perpetually pale in comparison. Almost overwhelming in its depth, "Gran Turismo 5" should keep players experimenting, building, challenging and reinventing their experience until we finally get those flying cars promised to us in "Back to the Future Part 2."

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Google search investigation sparked by complaint from British site - The Guardian

Google page
The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google's business practices after complaints that the global internet company abuses its dominance of online search. Photograph: Internet / Alamy/Alamy

A tiny British shopping comparison site has triggered an investigation by the European Commission into whether Google is abusing its monopoly position by deliberately lowering rivals' sites in its search results.

The European Commission announced today that it will carry out an investigation into Google's business practices – the first such in the world and one certain to be watched with interest.

The case could take years to be decided but could lead to Google facing billions of euros in fines, and strict regulations about how it can lay out its search results, especially when they include its own services. Fines can reach 10% of revenue, which would amount to $2.4bn (£1.54bn) based on the company's 2009 earnings figures.

The investigation follows complaints by three companies – Foundem, a British price comparison site; Microsoft-owned Ciao; and the French legal search engine – that links to their services appear too low on Google's general search results. They also noted that when Google offers similar services – such as online price comparison – it puts its own links higher on the sponsored search results that companies have to pay for.

"We're very pleased the commission has taken this important step, but we're not surprised," said Shivaun Raff, chief executive and co-founder of Bracknell-based Foundem. "European law says that if you have a dominant position in a market, you have a special responsibility to behave in a way that doesn't crush competition in the market."

Microsoft and Intel have already discovered that the commission takes a far harder line on abuse of monopoly than its US counterpart, the department of justice (DoJ): both have suffered fines of more than €1bn for monopoly practices in Europe, while in 2001 the DoJ relaxed a September 2000 ruling that Microsoft should be split up into two companies.

For Google, which has grown rapidly from a standing start in 1997, the commission's probe poses the first real challenge to its dominance in search, where it has up to 90% of searches in almost every market worldwide, except China and Russia.

Google responded robustly to the claims. "We built Google for users, not websites, and the nature of ranking is that some websites will be unhappy with where they rank. Those sites have complained and even sued us over the years, but in all cases there were compelling reasons why their sites were ranked poorly by our algorithms. For example, Foundem, one of the sites that has complained publicly and to the European Commission, duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites, and we have consistently informed webmasters that our algorithms disadvantage duplicate sites."

Raff insisted that Google is leveraging its power in search to boost the position of its other properties, such as maps and video, which would constitute a potentially illegal abuse of dominance in one field to gain share in another.

However, American commentators backed Google. Danny Sullivan, of the analysis company Search Engine Land, said that the complaint about favouritism made no sense.

"Google is a search engine," Sullivan said. "A search engine's job is to point you to destination sites that have the information you are seeking, not to send you to other search engines. Getting upset that Google doesn't point to other search engines is like getting upset that the New York Times doesn't simply have headlines followed by a single paragraph of text that says 'read about this story in the Wall Street Journal'."

Joseph Lampel, professor of strategy and innovation at Cass Business School, suggested that the investigation was "probably inevitable" after the EC's examination of Microsoft: "Any company so dominant in a sector is always going to face criticisms from some of the smaller players. However, the case against Google is much more technically subtle than the Microsoft investigation. It is the equivalant of a retailer having 70% of the UK market and displaying its own branded goods on eye-level shelves while relegating other brands to lower shelves where they are less likely to be noticed by consumers."

Raff suggested that the case could open the door to a DoJ investigation in due course. "We have spoken to the DoJ in spring this year in Washington," she said. "They were very interested." The EC has notified the US department of justice of its investigation, which is likely to take "at least a few months".

Meanwhile, Google is reportedly in talks to buy Groupon, an online discount service, in a deal worth up to $6bn according to reports in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal's All Things Daily blog. The price would be twice as high as its previous largest, of the advertising system DoubleClick in 2008 for $3.2bn.

Groupon, a two-year-old startup based in Chicago, offers daily local bargains ranging from yoga classes to discounts from national retailers. Neither company has commented on the rumours, which began circulating at the weekend. The deal would reportedly include $5.3bn in cash and $700m in earnout payments. Google is thought to want Groupon for its strong local connections, which would strengthen its ability to target adverts to locations.

Only one of the PIIGS matters. S is for Spain. - CNNMoney By Paul R. La Monica, assistant managing editor

NEW YORK ( -- The market has been referring to the problem nations in Europe all year as the PIIGS. But maybe it should be the piigS.

Excuse my brief lapse into a quasi-ee cummings style of writing. But there is a reason for it. While concerns about the five most troubled countries in Europe are valid, the country that really matters most is Spain.

Investors have been extremely nervous about the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Three of the five PIIGS countries -- Portugal, Ireland and Greece -- have gotten the most attention. Italy is a worry as well.

But some experts said that the market may be able to deal with more problems in any of those four nations as long as they don't spread to Spain.

"The global economy likely can absorb defaults in Ireland and Greece. The global economy can probably deal with Portugal as well," said Dr. Robert Shapiro, chairman of Sonceon, an economic advisory firm in Washington. "But then you get to Spain. It's the ninth largest economy in the world."

Shapiro, who served as Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in President Clinton's administration, said the big fear is that a default in Spain could significantly hurt German and French banks since they hold more than $600 billion in Spanish debt, a large chunk.

And that could create a scenario similar to the Wall Street meltdown of 2008.

"A default in Spain would endanger French and German banks and that would have serious consequences for U.S. financial institutions because they all have counterparty risk," Shapiro said. "Just as Lehman Brothers spread to Europe, a European banking crisis would spread to the United States."

If only success in the world of sports translated into economic might. With Rafael Nadal winning three of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments and Spain's soccer squad claiming the World Cup, it would be unfortunate if 2010 also turned out to be the year that Spain doomed the global economy to another downturn.

Fortunately, Shapiro does not think that a Lehman or Bear Stearns-like collapse for Spain and European banks is that likely. But he doesn't think the threat of a meltdown should be dismissed either, pegging the odds of this worst-case scenario at about 15% to 20%.

Jeffrey Roach, chief economist and investment committee chair with Horizon Investments in Charlotte, N.C., also said that the problems in Spain bear watching.

He said investors should not be surprised that Portugal and Ireland could face problems with their debt loads. The worry though is that so much is still unknown about how deep Spain's problems are.

"The story has yet to be played out. The concern is the extent of the risks spread out in Spain," Roach said. "The markets may be surprised if the effects are much broader than what was experienced in the U.S. We all know that Spain, like the U.S., had an unusual housing bubble."

Roach added that Germany will play a key role in determining what happens to the rest of the continent.

"Germany is the only country with the strength to keep the eurozone together and the euro afloat," Roach said. "We need to see Germany remain committed to fiscal responsibility. Once Germany leads the way other nations will follow."

That sounds good on the surface. But there are fears about whether Germany actually has the wherewithal or desire to continue supporting its weaker brethren. There has been some chatter lately that Germany might want to consider leaving the euro behind and bringing back the mark.

One fund manager worries that could have a disastrous impact on the continent.

"The euro can survive but there needs to be a cohesive strategy. If Germany is talking about the euro as if it cannot be sustained, that's a worrisome risk," said Nainesh Shah, senior securities analyst with Roosevelt Investments in New York.

Shah said that he's not overly concerned about Germany defecting from the eurozone. But he conceded that his firm's Roosevelt Multi-Cap Fund, which has the flexibility to invest in all markets around the world, has only two holdings based in Europe.

"We are not significantly worried. But are we uncomfortable with Europe? Yes," Shah said.

So for now, the euro continues to drop against the dollar, despite the Federal Reserve's best efforts to weaken the greenback with its second round of quantitative easing.

Shapiro said there is a chance for Europe to avoid creating another global credit nightmare. But it has to be nimble and more proactive.

"This could be a train wreck in slow motion," Shapiro said. "There is no quick solution here. What can the EU do? Our own government made enormous errors by ignoring worst-case scenarios. The EU needs to hold the line at Ireland and Portugal."

The problem is that investors don't seem to have faith that the EU can do that.

- The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.  To top of page

Releasing, reporting, or dumping? - The Economist (blog)

MY FREEDOM-LOVING colleague is absolutely right to defend the institution of WikiLeaks, and in case my earlier post was unclear, let me re-emphasise that I think we're all better off having an institution where leakers can anonymously submit important information, have it verified and get it published if it checks out. I certainly don't think Julian Assange should be prosecuted for doing this (his alleged personal behaviour is a separate and irrelevant issue). But I think the current dump of diplomatic cables is basically a poor editorial decision. I think the format of "document dumps" is an attempt to evade the very idea that the organisation is making editorial decisions, to make it merely a neutral throughput for leaked information. But I don't think that works. I think it's clear that the institution of WikiLeaks needs to recognise that it is making editorial decisions, and that those decisions need to take place in a fashion at least as transparent as WikiLeaks would like corporate and governing institutions to be. Basically, I think WikiLeaks needs an ethical review board.

Before getting more deeply into this, let me note a couple of concerns floating around today about WikiLeaks. Matthew Yglesias makes the trenchant point that when Peter King, the representative from New York, absurdly suggests WikiLeaks be labeled a "terrorist organisation", he's demonstrating that this situation has the potential to upset current protections of freedom of the press: "Currently the rule is that it's illegal to be the guy with legal access to classified information who passes it on to outsiders, but once you receive the leak you're free to do what you want with it." If Mr Assange is going to be prosecuted or put on an extra-legal enemies list for doing the same thing the New York Times did with the Pentagon Papers, we're in real trouble.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum notes that while he instinctively found the dumping of diplomatic cables troubling, he had no such immediate qualms about WikiLeaks' forthcoming dump of the internal communications of a major bank. This, in turn, troubles him about his own instincts: what justifies the difference in attitude? One could obviously hazard that markets should theoretically be most efficient if everyone has access to perfect information while no such rule holds true for international relations. But I'm interested to see how Mr Drum thinks this issue out.

Getting back to my colleague's post, I think I'd start with his example of a worthy bit from the document dump:

(D)rawing on the documents made available by WikiLeaks, the ACLU reports that the Bush administration "pressured Germany not to prosecute CIA officers responsible for the kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture of German national Khaled El-Masri", a terrorism suspect dumped in Albania once the CIA determined it had nabbed a nobody. I consider kidnapping and torture serious crimes, and I think it's interesting indeed if the United States government applied pressure to foreign governments to ensure complicity in the cover-up of it agents' abuses.

I think this is important too. It's not a bit surprising. And it's probably not going to change anyone's attitudes: people who think the CIA should be doing this sort of thing will be glad America stuck up for its officers, while people like my colleague and myself who think this is scandalous will be angry that the United States government is trying to undermine the rule of law. Nevertheless, it's very important to have documentary substantiation that the diplomatic pressure occurred. I'm glad this particular cable is out there.

My objection, again, is to the idea of releasing this sort of material on a wholesale rather than retail basis. Let's put it this way: some diplomatic cables from United States embassies will have concerned American interventions on behalf of dissidents in authoritarian countries. Release of such cables would endanger any future such American intervention, since authoritarian governments would fear that concessions to secret American requests would eventually embarrass them if the requests were made public. They might endanger the dissidents themselves, or their families. And they might also endanger dissident movements by lending credence to the idea that the movements were American-backed or -controlled. Obviously, releasing this sort of secret cable would be a terrible idea, and I'm sure Julian Assange and WikiLeaks wouldn't do it.

Which is to say that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are making some editorial decisions about what kinds of cables they will and won't release. What is the basis for those editorial decisions? Who makes them? This is the only passage I could find on the WikiLeaks site addressing such concerns:

As the media organisation has grown and developed, WikiLeaks been developing and improving a harm minimisation procedure. We do not censor our news, but from time to time we may remove or significantly delay the publication of some identifying details from original documents to protect life and limb of innocent people.

That's not sufficient. I think WikiLeaks is an important organisation that's doing something the world needs. But like other human-rights and humanitarian organisations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, it needs to lay down some clear, public ethical guidelines about how and why it does what it does. And it needs to bring in a board of directors of people from a wide range of countries, backgrounds and institutions to review the organisation's conduct on ethical and other grounds. For example, here's Human Rights Watch's board of directors. HRW deals with information that's every bit as secret and potentially damaging as the material WikiLeaks gets. But I trust the way they handle it, in part because I know who they are. Who's WikiLeaks? Besides Mr Assange, I don't know, and they're not really telling. Do you know? If so, start a wiki about it.

(Photo credit: AFP)

Ireland's troubles, Lord Young, and a happy royal couple -

Let us look forward to welcoming visitors from distant lands to an international event that will bring more money into the country than it will cost.

They might, one day, be our king and queen. Praise them, celebrate them and pray for the strength, wisdom and courage they will need.

Their lives of duty under constant scrutiny will be tough. As they start on this journey together, let us just be happy that they are happy.

Chris Trollope, Leybourne, Kent

SIR – How nice to see pictures of Prince William's fiancée taking his arm, and his managing to walk and sit beside her without adopting the juvenile habit of holding hands so beloved of our politicians when they are photographed.

The couple's mutual affection is apparent without overt demonstration.

Sean Putnam, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

SIR – As the father of three daughters in their twenties, I would like to say how grateful I am to the Middleton family for taking on this unenviable burden.

Robin Lane, Devizes, Wiltshire

SIR – In welcoming the engagement (Leading article, Issue 1,009), you say they will be "fitting recipients of the royal baton". This rather pointedly ignores the next recipient of the royal baton: the Prince of Wales.

It has grown customary to overlook the contribution Prince Charles makes to this country. I cannot be alone in looking forward to his coronation.

Kevin Mann, Goodwood, West Sussex

SIR – Reading the article "Treat Kate with more respect than my mother" (report, Issue 1,009), three things spring to mind that might help William not to worry.

First, how much media attention to royals is too much is not up to him. Second, he isn't the heir to the throne – his father is, and last, his mother courted media attention when it suited her. Kate might be more careful. But, as my wife reminds me, I mustn't be nasty because he's just a laddie.

Alex Aitken, Kingston, Ontario

SIR – Rather than having Prince William and his fiancée sell the photographic rights to their wedding to a magazine to pay for the cost of it, may I suggest that an appeal be opened to which royalists can contribute.

Don Roberts, Prenton, Wirral

SIR - There has been inevitable speculation about the dukedom likely to be bestowed on Prince William upon his forthcoming marriage.

Although there are a number of old royal dukedoms, does this wedding not offer a great opportunity for the Queen to strengthen the royal ties with the Commonwealth by making the Prince the Duke of Montreal, after a city that straddles Anglophone and Francophone Canada?

Were Prince Harry created Duke of Sydney and each Prince also created earls of cities in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea (or perhaps Jamaica), the largest Commonwealth realms would receive the recognition they have long deserved.

There is no constitutional reason why this could not be done. Although titles of nobility are forbidden in Canada, royal dukedoms have the status of courtesy titles in all Commonwealth realms.

Francis Hoar, London EC4

Ireland's troubles

SIR – Ireland is in dire economic straits (report, Issue 1,009) and yet the key stabiliser of currency devaluation is denied to it, so we are transfusing blood to a patient with an open wound.

Equally worrying are the other areas where EU members are bound in handcuffs. Whether it is the erosion of liberties under the European arrest warrant, the inability to secure our own trade agreements, or economically damaging regulations such as the 48-hour working week, the EU binds its members together in an uncomfortable marriage and denies its members freedom of action, preventing democratic governance.

European integration is surely at an end. Ireland should leave the euro, EU powers should be repatriated, and European nations should co-operate sensibly as friends, following an amicable divorce from unhappy political marriage.

Harry Aldridge, Horsham, West Sussex

SIR – After all those years of struggle to gain independence from Britain, Ireland now faces the loss of sovereignty to the European Central Bank. Even sadder is that the country did not see this coming.

It seems so obvious that a common currency will work only with central political and economic control. This we see from the head of the IMF who has reportedly demanded that a central independent body be created, to "end narrow national interests".

It was for just such "narrow national interests" that the Irish fought all those years ago.

Terry Lloyd, Darley Abbey, Derbyshire

SIR – Would it not be wonderful if the Irish had held their nerve and defended their own country, saying thank you very much but we will sort out our own problems.

Corry Lilley, West Wittering, West Sussex

SIR – When I ran our small family business, had someone approached me with a sorry tale that he had taken a very risky gamble which had gone seriously wrong, leaving him on the verge of bankruptcy, then proposed I handed over a large sum of money to enable him to continue buying my products, I would have given him very short shrift indeed.

Ireland took a very risky gamble by scrapping its own currency to join the euro, which has now left it almost destitute. Despite this, we are told by our Government that we have to give the Irish a large sum of our money so that they can continue to trade with us.

Did I have the wrong business policy?

Derek Bennett, Walsall, Staffordshire

SIR – It is enlightening that "friend in need" was the term that George Osborne used for what in reality are insolvent Irish banks, to be bailed out in part by the British taxpayer in an effort to protect the interest of formerly insolvent British banks – banks that were bailed out by the self-same British taxpayers!

How long before the British banks need another dose of bail-out medicine?

Martin Clarke, Killingworth, Northumberland

Lord Young's truth

SIR – While many of Lord Young's comments were crass (report, Issue 1,009), it is to his credit that he now recognises them as such.

Low interest rates subsidise credit-crazed households while suppressing the return on deposits. My 94-year-old mother-in-law's savings, which include the equity from the sale of her home, are being whittled away by inflation – despite also being made to pay almost £4,000 a month for her residential care from them.

Paul Harrison, Chelmsford, Essex

SIR – Lord Young has resigned for making statements that in many cases are true. I am concerned that hard advice will not be forthcoming in future if the thinker is to be held to account by the thought police.

Sarah Robinson, Winchester

SIR – I recently tried to book a table for afternoon tea in Manchester, only to discover that at least five of the top hotels were fully booked. This was on a day when Manchester United were playing at home, with 70,000 tickets sold at an average of £40 each.

I can't help agreeing with Lord Young.

Kate Holloway, Sale, Cheshire

These letters were originally published in the Telegraph Weekly World Edition

Email your letters to

X Factor 2010: Wagner blames Louis Walsh saying 'The songs were too fast' - Daily Mail

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:19 PM on 30th November 2010

Wagner Carrilho has insisted his exit from the X Factor has nothing to do with his talent – and everything to do with his mentor.

The 54-year-old Brazilian was voted out by the judges after a sing-off with Mary Byrne on Sunday.

But although they had repeatedly criticised his novelty act performances, Wagner said the problem really lay with Louis Walsh.

Artistic differences: Wagner blames Louis Walsh for his exit from the show

Artistic differences: Wagner blames Louis Walsh for his exit from the show

'The trouble was Louis gave me fast songs in English so I had tremendous difficulty learning the lyrics.

'My main language is Portuguese so because of that and the schedule of the show I didn't have enough time to rehearse and practise.

'English isn't my first language, I struggled.'

Wagner performed Creep by Radiohead on Saturday night's show, but despite winning some praise, he was voted off the show the next day.

And although he had stayed in the competition beyond other arguably more talented contestants such as Aiden Grimshaw, he said: 'The songs that can really show my voice like La Fortuna and The Wonder Of You and Creep, I sang them well because I can connect with the emotion. Songs like She Bangs, I can't feel that.'

Creep: Wagner enjoyed his stab at Radiohead but not his Elvis task

Creep: Wagner enjoyed his stab at Radiohead but not his Elvis task

The full interview with Wagner is in the new issue of X magazine, on sale now

The full interview with Wagner is in the new issue of X magazine, on sale now

When asked to name the worst song Walsh gave him, Wagner chose the Elvis classic Viva Las Vegas.

'It was fast and meaningless. I didn't want to sing some of the lyrics either: "I am the devil with love to spare".

'I don't like the devil. I don't like evil. I don't like what the devil stands for.'

His lowest moments were singing Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell 'out of time' and when he 'got Viva Las Vegas in the wrong key', he added.

'There were some bad times.'

Walsh said: 'Wagner was great to work with and I hope he now makes a lot of money.'

• Wagner was speaking to X Magazine, out now.

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.


Actually, I suspect the bad songs kept him in longer- it was the fact he was so awful that got as many people voting for him in their bid to get one up on Simon Cowell. If he'd been just another average contestant, no novelty factor, he'd likely have left earlier, as whilst he was surprisingly in tune with the likes of Creep, he isn't better than the others also in the competition.
He'll likely earn a bit anyway. I'm still betting on a cheesy Christmas single! He's perfect for the likes of those.

He genuinely sung his final song really well. He has a point folks.

I can't think of any reason whatsoever why Louis would deliberately sabotage one of his own acts. Wagner couldn't sing. He was extremely lucky to get as far as he did.

One word SIMON, some more, production around Sy-co, Sony, America so on and so forth. I hate the naivity of people, thinking sportmen, artist, politicians, business men and contestants cannot be sabotaged with people they are working with, it happens and it happnens very well.
- Lee, London England, 30/11/2010 17:11

So Louis was deliberately sabotaging Wagner? To what end then? If he was, it hasn't achieved anything so I don't understand your point.

Wait..Wagner didn't think he was ACTUALLY going to win, did he?


Wagner may have been entertaining but he could not sing..
His exit was nothing to do with song choice.
Come on Wagner dont be a poor loser!
Had it not been for the publics attempt to upstage the show you would have been voted out weeks ago....

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

domingo, 28 de noviembre de 2010

Skipper of stranded submarine relieved of command - ITN NEWS

The commander of a nuclear submarine that become stuck on a shingle bank off ...

South Korea Issues Alert on Yeonpyeong Island - Wall Street Journal

YEONPYEONG, South Korea -- Military authorities ordered people on this island into bomb shelters for a brief period Sunday morning, five days after it was attacked by North Korean artillery.


Deal on Ireland's €85B bailout could come Sunday - Jerusalem Post

An Irish government minister has said he expects an agreement within the next 24 hours on an EU-IMF bailout loan for Ireland worth approximately €85 billion ($115 billion), but he rejected reports that the aid could come with a punitively high interest rate.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said Saturday that all sides in the 10-day-old financial rescue talks in Dublin want at least "an outline agreement" before markets open Monday.

Ireland has been priced out of bond markets and needs a loan to fund its annual deficits and its cash-strapped banks. But many analysts doubt that the country will be able to afford the repayments on an international bailout unless the interest rates are low.

World Champion South Africa Defeats England 21-11 in Rugby Test Match - Bloomberg

World Champion South Africa beat England 21-11 in an international rugby Test match at Twickenham Stadium in London.

Willem Alberts and Lwazi Mvovo scored tries in the second half as South Africa won its seventh straight Test over England. Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion to become the Springboks' second-highest scorer in Tests with 320 points.

Ben Foden scored a try and Toby Flood kicked two penalty goals for England, which conclued its autumn Test series with two wins and two losses. South Africa ended its European tour with three wins and one loss.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bob Bensch at

50000 people protest in Dublin against Irish cuts - BBC News

Cargo plane crashes in Karachi, eight dead - Hindustan Times

A cargo plane crashed near Pakistan's Karachi airport early Sunday, killing all eight crew members on board, Geo TV reported. The Russian-made plane IL-76 crashed around 1:45 a.m. and immediately caught fire. The aircraft crashed near Dalmiya road in Gulshan-i-Jamal area which is close to a naval colony and the southern command of Pakistani air force.

Spokesman of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Pervez Jeorge told Dawn TV: "The Sudan-bound plane crashed two minutes after taking off from Karachi terminal. The pilot did not report any fault before the crash."

The nationalities of the deceased passengers were not known.

Residents said the engine of the aircraft caught fire and it came down on an under-construction building.

Nearly a month ago, a small aircraft crashed in Karachi killing all 12 people on board while in July, an airblue flight taking off from Karachi crashed in Margalla hills near Islamabad, killing around 130 people.

'Don't be Grinches' councils told - BBC News

Councils are being urged to celebrate the "Christian basis" of Christmas.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said "politically correct Grinches" should not be allowed to obscure the fact the festival marks Christ's birth.

He said festivals like "Winterval" - which combined secular and inter-faith elements in 1990s Birmingham - should be consigned to history's "dustbin".

It was not in authorities' interests to "play Scrooge" by cutting back on festivities to save cash, he added.

Instead, he encouraged them to draw shoppers in to town centres and enjoy the financial benefits of packed car parks.

"Shoppers want to see Christmas lights, Christmas trees, carol services and nativity scenes, and councils should not hesitate in supporting them," he said.

"We should actively celebrate the Christian basis of Christmas, and not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalise Christianity and the importance of the birth of Christ.

"The war on Christmas is over, and the likes of Winterval, [and other alternative names for Christmas festivities] Winter Lights and Luminous deserve to be in the dustbin of history."

Royal wedding: Being best man is a team sport for Prince William's chums -

"When you know you have to give a best man speech, I always say, never drink more than two glasses of champagne before you give your speech," he says at the Spear's Wealth Management Awards, at the Saatchi Gallery.

"Once you have three, you will think you are being funny when you are not, as I have learnt to my detriment in the past."

Van Cutsem's own wedding, at Chester Cathedral in October 2004, which was attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, played a significant role in the recent history of the Royal family.

When, to her dismay, Camilla Parker Bowles read in Mandrake that Royal protocol meant she would be unable to sit beside the Prince of Wales at van Cutsem's marriage to Lady Tamara Grosvenor she told the heir to the throne she was no longer prepared to accept her unmarried status. Four months later, their engagement was announced.

William was an usher at the wedding of Lady Tamara, who is the Duke of Westminster's eldest daughter.

At Westminster Abbey, and at the subsequent reception, van Cutsem, 37, who is one of Charles's godsons, could be joined as a 'supporter' by Thomas van Straubenzee.

He has been pals with William since they met at Ludgrove prep school and accompanied him on his first official tour, to the Antipodes.

China must be 'fairer' - Straits Times

SEOUL - CHINA must take 'a fairer and more responsible stance' in its dealings with North and South Korea, Seoul's president told a visiting senior Chinese official Sunday, according to his office.

Mr Lee, at a meeting with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, 'requested China to make a contribution to achieving peace on the Korean peninsula with a fairer and more responsible stance in its relations with the two Koreas', the presidential office said in a statement.

China, the North's sole major ally, has failed so far to join other world powers in condemning last week's deadly North Korean bombardment of a South Korean border island.

The shelling, the first of a civilian area in the South since the 1950-53 war, killed two civilians and two marines and set numerous homes ablaze.

Mr Dai 'conveyed a message from the Chinese leadership and Lee also conveyed his own message to the Chinese leadership", the statement said.

Mr Lee said Seoul 'has tolerated the North's constant provocations since the Korean War but would respond strongly if the North makes a additional provocation", it added. -- AFP

Read also:
NKorea warns of consequences
SKorea, US ignore warning
NKorea deploys missiles

Senior NKorea official to visit China

Pirate Bay co-founders lose appeal -

"The appeals court, like the district court, finds that the service Pirate Bay has facilitated illegal file sharing in a way which is punishable for those who carried out the service," the court said in a statement.

The court reduced Neij's sentence to 10 months, Sunde's to eight and Lundstrom's to four. A fourth man, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, was ill and could not take part in proceedings, it said.

Despite the court case, the website is still functioning. On its website, Pirate Bay says that it is now run by a different organisation and is registered in the Seychelles.

A U.S. court in October shut down another popular file sharing website, LimeWire.

The Pirate Party, a political party which grew out of a movement of people sympathetic to file sharing and which has one seat in the European Parliament, criticised the court's ruling.

"This case was politically motivated from the start and (the problem) must be solved politically," Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told reporters.

"This doesn't mean anything for The Pirate Bay and it doesn't mean anything for similar sites. File sharing is increasing every day and the only thing this means is that more and more people will try to hide what they are doing on the internet."

Industries bodies said they were pleased with the ruling and called for action to shut down the website.

"Today's judgment confirms the illegality of The Pirate Bay and the seriousness of the crimes of those involved," Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, which represents the recorded music industry worldwide, said in a statement.

"It is now time for The Pirate Bay, whose operators have twice been convicted in court, to close. We now look to governments and ISPs (internet service providers) to take note of this judgment, do the responsible thing and take the necessary steps to get The Pirate Bay shut down."

Big freeze will go on 'for weeks' -

Gritters were out in force to clear main roads yesterday but conditions on minor roads in many areas were described as "treacherous".

Police in the worst-hit areas warned motorists to drive only if their journeys were "absolutely essential" as the disruption caused by the earliest widespread snow for 17 years continued.

A spokesman for Northumbria police said: "Anyone going outside should consider whether their journey is critical and if they must venture out should dress appropriately."

Ice brought chaos to roads in the worst-hit areas. The ambulance service for the East of England reported cars slipping and sliding into ditches, lampposts, fences and fields.

The AA said it expected to have dealt with more than 12,000 breakdowns by the end of the day, a 40 per cent increase on a normal Saturday in November.

A spokesman said: "There are lots of flat batteries and lots of people failing to get out of the driveway.

"Ice is causing a lot of problems. People have to remember to keep their speeds down and leave a bigger gap between themselves and the car in front."

The worst-affected areas were around Newcastle, mid and north Wales, Norwich, Leeds and Bradford, he added.

Up to 12 ins of snow fell in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear yesterday, mostly in coastal areas, and several more inches are expected today.

In Cumbria, where Carlisle had several inches of snow, police said no roads had been closed but warned motorists to take extra care.

Trawscoed in Wales saw the mercury dip to minus 10.2C, while Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands recorded minus 8.2C, and Glasgow minus 3.5C.

In England, Chesham in Buckinghamshire was among the coldest places at minus 7C and the temperature in Preston, Lancs, fell to minus 5.8C.

On Friday dozens of schools in Scotland, Northumberland, East and North Yorkshire and Wales were closed.

Thames Water has offered its meter readers and maintenance engineers the use of "anti-skate overshoes", with studs on the soles, to prevent slips.

A spokesman said: "It's icy out there right now, which causes more burst pipes and you can't fix pipes if you're floundering around like Bambi on ice."

But while police warned motorists to make only essential journeys, the snow brought joy to many children.

In Darlington, Rick Rayner, 45, took his daughter Grace sledging in Green Park. "I have never known snow to come so early," he said.

"Usually you have to wait until after Christmas to go sledging, but Christmas has come early for Grace this year."

Skiers in Scotland were also happy. At Cairngorm Mountain resort near Aviemore in the Highlands around 1,500 people took to the slopes.

A spokeswoman said: "We've had a super day. It's an excellent start to the season as it's still very early in the winter."

100000 public sector jobs set to win reprieve from Treasury - The Guardian

Ireland's financial woes
Chancellor George Osborne will respond to the OBR's figures in his autumn statement tomorrow. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

Around 100,000 public sector workers could see their jobs saved following the Treasury's shift away from Whitehall spending reductions to deeper cuts in welfare payments, the government's new spending watchdog is expected to reveal tomorrow.

Plans to cut almost 500,000 jobs across the public sector over the next five years could be revised to 400,000 after ministers balked at making unprecedented cuts in departmental budgets.

The forecast is believed to feature in the Office for Budget Responsibility's assessment of last month's comprehensive spending review.

Ernst & Young Item Club analysts said fears among public sector workers could be partially offset by tougher measures to reduce welfare spending. It said additional welfare reforms would enable the chancellor, George Osborne, to bolster departmental budgets by an extra £11bn by 2014/15.

The chancellor will respond to the OBR's revised figures in his autumn statement tomorrow. They are expected to trigger a bitter war of words between Osborne and shadow Treasury spokesman Alan Johnson about the effects of austerity plans on the UK's growth prospects. Johnson will argue growth could be jeopardised by the cuts and their impact on unemployment. The chancellor will also come under fire from critics concerned the Treasury lacks a plan to avoid the effects of the debt crisis engulfing Ireland and Portugal.

Osborne will claim the government's austerity plan has prevented the UK from losing its AAA credit rating, kept interest rates low and maintained growth. He will warn that the economy faces a bumpy ride, but is expected to face down critics concerned that cuts in public spending and higher taxes could increase unemployment and halt growth.

The OBR, an independent watchdog set up by the coalition government shortly after it came to power in May, will publish updated growth and borrowing forecasts that will provide the fiscal framework for the government's next budget in March. Its updated assessment is likely to be positive: since its last forecasts in June, GDP growth has been stronger and tax receipts higher than predicted.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show the UK enjoyed its best six-month performance in a decade between April and September, helping corporate tax revenues rise on the same period last year. Based on these figures the OBR is likely to raise its 2010 growth forecast from 1.2% to around 1.7%, and say borrowing this fiscal year could come in slightly below the £149bn it was expecting.

However, the OBR's longer-term growth projections are considered by many economists to be on the optimistic side and are unlikely to be revised up. Its current 2011 GDP growth forecast of 2.3% is above the consensus forecast of 1.9%, and its forecasts of 2.8% for 2012 and 2.9% 2013 are similarly upbeat.

Adam Lent, chief economist at the TUC, said he hoped the chancellor would be circumspect about growth prospects. "It is bizarre that the chancellor can stand up in parliament and be so certain about the economy's prospects in 2011. The OBR concedes it only has a 40% chance of getting within one percentage point of its central forecast, which doesn't discount a double-dip recession."


World champions South Africa gave England a painful reminder of how far they are from regaining rugby's ultimate crown.

Beaten by Scotland last week, the Springboks rolled up as supposed fodder for England's rebirth as a world force.

Victory would have shot Martin Johnson's men up to second in the world rankings.

Instead, they were put back in their place by a team superior in the physical battles and the art of winning Test matches - in England's case, seven defeats by the Boks in a row.

Ben Foden grabbed a last-gasp interception try to warm a frozen crowd, but it was too little, too late.

Johnson (below) said: "That was a big and brutal Test match where we lost guys to injury and where we had moments to regret, such as declining to kick for goal and then finding our advantage had gone.

"After the recent games, this is a bitter pill to swallow. But a lot of the guys were facing the Boks for the first time and matched them in battle.

"They took their chances better than we did, but we will stick together and be the better for this series when we get together for the Six Nations."

Skipper Lewis Moody added: "The better team won but we are bitterly disappointed. It is so annoying. We made too many mistakes, conceded too many stupid penalties.'' Springbok captain Victor Matfield said: ''We should have won in Scotland and we have won here on merit. We had England under pressure a lot of the game."

Toby Flood opened England's account with a sixth-minute penalty after great work by Nick Easter and Tom Croft reduced the Boks' ranks to panic.

Wing Chris Ashton needed three minutes treatment after clattering into Matfield, cracking his head on the lock's hip-bone. Despite resembling Bambi on ice when he stood up, Ashton was left on.

Morne Steyn equalised with a penalty after 10 minutes when referee George Clancy penalised Andrew Sheridan for collapsing a scrum.

But Flood edged England back in front, only for them to come under heavy fire with two try-scoring chances butchered by the visitors.

Ben Youngs was the hero for the second, denying Matfield who was over the line and poised to score.

Trouble brewed when Croft was helped off with what looked like a serious arm injury, replaced by South African-born Hendre Fourie.

South Africa's pressure was rewarded when Steyn was handed another shot at goal, but his penalty attempt clipped the left-hand post and flew wide.

It was the same tale of woe for the Boks on the half-hour when centre Francois Steyn's penalty from near halfway smacked against the same post and rebounded into Mike Tindall's arms.

Flood was helped off in the 34th minute, still suffering from an accidental collision earlier and was replaced by Charlie Hodgson.

South Africa were deservedly level two minutes later when Morne Steyn punished England's indiscipline with his second successful penalty.

And he made it three, two minutes after the break when Tindall was caught offside.

The roof, creaking all afternoon, fell in on England in the 59th minute.

Another lineout drive ended when Gio Aplon armed Willem Alberts, who smashed his way over.

This was a baffling scenario because the England of recent weeks had disappeared, replaced by the scuffling, error-prone outfit of 12 months ago.

England had plenty of opportunities, pinning the Boks back for what proved spells of utter frustration, a combination of poor passing and even worse finishing.

And it was game over in the 70th minute when Ashton and Simon Shaw both missed Lwazi Mvovo, who scooted home for his first Test try, Steyn converting.

Foden's late effort was mere consolation for England.

Five-star Berbatov stunned by goal spree - ABC Online

Updated November 28, 2010 15:29:00

Pressure's off ... Berbatov hadn't scored since September 19 against Liverpool. (file photo)

Pressure's off ... Berbatov hadn't scored since September 19 against Liverpool. (file photo) (Getty Images: Alex Livesey)

Dimitar Berbatov says even he was surprised with his amazing five-goal haul, as Manchester United humiliated Blackburn Rovers 7-1 at Old Trafford.

Berbatov was virtually unplayable against a woeful Rovers side and he gave United the lead after just 72 seconds.

A Park Ji-Sung finish and a further Berbatov strike gave United a 3-0 half-time advantage before they piled on the misery even further after the interval.

The Bulgarian grabbed his hat-trick after just one minute of the second half, finishing off a move he had started as he thrashed Nani's cross home before Nani then made it 5-0 as he also netted just 90 seconds later.

Berbatov soon had his fourth as a Park shot was blocked but the rebound fortuitously fell to the striker as he powered in from close range before then grabbing his fifth, and United's seventh, as his narrow angled finish beat the dive of Ryan Nelsen and goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Chris Samba grabbed a late consolation for Rovers but their humiliation was complete as Berbatov became just the fourth player since the inception of the Premier League to score five goals in one encounter following in the footsteps of Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe.

"I don't think anybody could have guessed the scoreline," Berbatov said.

"It was a great team performance. In the end I'm pleased with the performance and the goals I scored, personally I was very impressed with myself.

"I've scored five before but it was a long time ago back home. To do it in the Premier League when only four other players have done it, to stand next to Shearer and Andy Cole is a great honour."

Berbatov had not scored for United since scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool on September 19, but his five goals sent him to the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

He admits that his barren run had started to cause him sleepless nights, so he was delighted to help United put pressure on title rivals Chelsea.

"I was a little bit worried," Berbatov said.

"When you are a striker people tend to only look at the goals you score.

"For me, it is more about how I play, the assists I give, how I link with other players but today I scored so I am very pleased.

"We are now in a great position. We are wanting to stay top of the table.

"I know there is a long way to go but with the squad we have, the players we have, if we play like this, I think we will stay top."

Rovers barely got their foot on the ball and Berbatov could have made it 8-1 but for a great save from Robinson in the dying seconds.

"It won't be an easy one to forget but it's one we will have to try and put behind us," Rovers manager Sam Allardyce said.

"We were completely outplayed from the 72nd second onwards. I'm disappointed with the way the team has gone under but I have to give credit about how ruthless United were.

"They never gave up and kept exposing our weakness and our players couldn't cope with it.

"From my point of view I need a fully committed team who wants to do that but unfortunately we didn't have the desire to do that."


Tags: sport, football, english-premier-league, united-kingdom, england

First posted November 28, 2010 15:10:00

Simon -

Simon Cowell yesterday branded Cheryl Cole "mad" and "vain" and claimed her acts would be better off if HE was in charge of them.

In yet another stinging attack on his fellow judge, the X Factor boss said Cheryl doesn't bring out the best in her acts.

Talking about Cher, Simon revealed: "When she gets criticised by me it's like she has been shot, and she is genuinely devastated and upset for 24 hours. Everyone thinks she looks up to Cheryl - but she looks up to me.

"Cheryl sees something of herself in Cher - it's vanity! Some might even say narcissism!" Simon says Cheryl was playing it too safe with Cher last week by putting her on a staircase, dressed in a nightie, and getting her to sing the John Lennon ballad Imagine. It could "ruin her chances of making the final", he said.

"You have got to take a risk with this girl. You have to trust she has enough young fans who would vote for her. Don't do a traditional safe X Factor song - do something that's her, because if she fakes it, she'll be out."

He says Cheryl isn't a good mentor to Rebecca, adding: "Rebecca's not a whimpering puppy. She's got steel in her. She genuinely wants to win. She argues passionately about the songs and the way she wants to do them. If her personality isn't coming across, it's Cheryl's fault. It's Cheryl's job. Or maybe Rebecca switches to me for a week, I'll get her personality out!" On Cheryl's third act, Katie, he said: "I think it's girls who dislike her, not guys. Like in schools, for some reason people turn against one person if they annoy them. I think whatever happens with our Katie she will have a career."

He said he liked Katie's drastic new haircut. "She was like, 'I'll cut off maybe you'll like this person.' I thought it was ballsy."

Simon claimed that Cheryl had copied the trademark military salute she has given fans throughout this series from him.

He says: "I did it on American Idol and it just demonstrates exactly what I thought was true. That before she came on the show she would spend hours and hours looking at me on the internet. She has now taken it and copied it. I'm going to find the footage and prove she is copying it. And I want it back!" Last night - at the beginning X of the show - smirking Cowell grabbed Cheryl's hand to stop her saluting... before doing it himself.

Simon also accuses Cheryl of being "mad".

"The slogan this year was 'embrace the madness'. Cheryl says she can't work out if she is embracing it or actually going mad. It's a fine line - but Cheryl has always been mad! If you look into Cheryl's eyes you will see total madness! She was always fighting it but it was always there ready to come out. I've had the most bonkers conversations with Cheryl."

Simon's comments will stun Cheryl, who has said she is "sick and tired" of this year's show. And they will further increase speculation that their previously close relationship has come apart.

After Cheryl, 27, joined the show three years ago she became Simon's closest ally and the pair have often spoken of their fondness for each other. But that friendship seems to have soured lately. A fortnight ago Simon, 51, called her "a brat" and now he is questioning her ability as a mentor.

Rubbing more salt in the wound, he even talks about his admiration for Cheryl's rival judge Dannii. "If I had to choose a mentor other than myself, if I was a contestant, I'd want to be mentored by Dannii," he said.

But Louis Walsh gets both barrels from Simon too. "Louis doesn't listen to his tracks, doesn't care, hasn't got a clue and all he does is tell them to cry," said Simon. "That's his idea of mentoring. Unfortunately, it's working."

He also mocked Louis' hair, saying: "His hair has gone purple - lavender actually. He calls that maintenance. No, Louis... you have purple hair. Who's that woman who used to be in Coronation Street? Violet - he's turned into Violet Carson! (actress who played Ena Sharples) The hair. The look. Even the personality."

All the X Factor news and goss in your special pullout


LISA BUCKINGHAM: Energy firms finally have a foe to fear as their watchdog ... - Daily Mail

By Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday Financial Editor
Last updated at 10:32 PM on 27th November 2010

To be the target of more hatred than the banks takes some doing. Yet according to a recent consumer confidence poll, energy companies have managed to achieve it.

And as their watchdog Ofgem launches yet another inquiry into pricing and fairness, it is crucial the outcome is more satisfactory and comprehensible to consumers than past efforts have been.

We all know  -  the energy companies have softened us up for it  -  that our fuel bills are going to rise by a significant amount to help them invest in green initiatives such as building wind farms and nuclear plants.

A burning gas hob

Money to burn: 'We're all in this together' is a mantra from the energy firms

'We're all in this together' is a mantra they've been spouting for some time.

But they have done little to dispel accusations that customers' bills rise disproportionately in response to increases in what they have to pay on the wholesale market.

Now that energy suppliers have been forced to produce meaningful accounts, Ofgem is able to see what they pay for their wholesale supplies and when. That in turn allows the regulator to determine whether consumer charges are appropriate.

A quick look at the first set of figures has led Ofgem to conclude that the real level of profit per customer has ballooned from 65 to 90 since September.

Despite threatening noises from the Conservatives when they were in opposition, Ofgem has survived the bonfire of the quangos.

Baring its teeth for the first time, the watchdog is also making clear that it is wholly dissatisfied with the foot-dragging on recommendations following its last review of the industry a couple of years ago in terms of mis-selling and treating customers fairly.

Ofgem, which plans to complete this review by March, should now be prepared to punish unacceptable and laggardly behaviour with exemplary fines.

We all know we are in for some painful increases in our gas and electricity bills.

But unless we have confidence that the regulator will keep the industry in line, we can have no confidence that we are paying for improved investment rather than simply lining the pockets of Big Energy.

It was my credit card used for the initial online purchase, though the hooded duffel cardigan in charcoal  -  not being quite my style  -  was actually delivered addressed to my daughter.

And hot on the heels of the ontrend knitwear,  -  the online operation of Littlewoods  -  followed up with a statement of account and an 'overall credit limit' of 600 addressed not to me but to my child who is under 18.

'Spread the cost of your shopping with Very Account,' it said enticingly, accompanied by a glossy brochure explaining just how easy it was to buy loads of stuff, even when you don't have any money.

Clearly, as my youngest is still at school and has only the (far too generous) monthly stipend I allow her, she has no credit record worth talking about. And £600 of free money was beyond her wildest dreams.

The APR (a phrase beyond her comprehension as personal finance lessons don't appear to have hit her school) was a shocking 49.9 per cent. Once explained, though, she could fully grasp a stupendous ripoff when she saw one.

How utterly cynical of Littlewoods, now rebranded as Shop Direct, to target young people in the runup to Christmas with the lure of apparently free money and the ugly punch of one of the highest interest rates around.

This may not be quite in the league of, which charges an astonishing 2,689 per cent, though at least it points out that this is 'a very large amount of interest'.

But even by the usurious standards of most credit and store cards, Very seems to be in a class of its own.

Insurance giant Prudential last week parted company with communications director Stephen Whitehead after the gargantuan mauling the company received following its disastrous and aborted attempt to acquire AIA in Asia.

This plan was, of course, devised by chief executive Tidjane Thiam and chairman Harvey McGrath  -  both of whom, for the time being, remain in the saddle.

Those with long memories might, however, recall the Pru's last big fallout with shareholders after a failed US bid.

Then, communications chief Geraldine Davies was sacrificed, but that did not satisfy the gods of the markets for long  -  chief executive Jonathan Bloomer was forced out shortly after.


James Anderson was left to ponder the cruelty of cricket after two lbw incidents left England staring down the Ashes barrel in the first Test here.

Anderson produced his best ever spell in Australia with the new ball on the third day, but luck deserted the Lancashire paceman.

Aussie pair Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin took full advantage with hundreds that gave them a massive and potentially matchwinning first innings lead of 221.

The agony began after just three overs on the third day when Anderson had an lbw appeal against Hussey given only for it to be correctly overturned by the review system when the ball was seen to have pitched millimetres outside leg stump. But the key moment came four overs later with Hussey, who went on to compile a magnificent 195, on 85.

Anderson trapped him bang in front but umpire Aleem Dar ruled not out, apparently believing the two noises clearly audible meant the Aussie star had got an inside edge.

England were unable to challenge the decision as they had no referrals left.

But replays confirmed that there was no inside edge and the two noises were the ball hitting front and back pad.

Until either the players learn not to gamble with their reviews in the heat of the moment and use it only for howlers, or it is taken out of their hands altogether, the system will remain flawed. agreed said: "hour of the the of Test ever "With and Broad bowling Anderson and pace partner Stuart Broad were like showered with praise for their luckless spell, but that was little consolation as England contemplated a desperate battle to prevent them going 1-0 down in the series.

Former Australian spinner Shane Warne said: "It is hard to see what Anderson needs to do to get a wicket, he is bowling out of his skin, and he's getting no luck."

Out in the middle, Haddin so tough "It Test and we a bit of luck to get through it. Only when we were through it did we start to think about putting on as many runs as we possibly could to put us in a good position."

Hussey and Haddin added a record-breaking 307 for the sixth wicket as Australia somehow crawled out of the mire to finish their innings on 481.

It is on these kind of performances that Australia have built a proud history of not losing an Ashes series at home in 24 years and it would be sour grapes to blame it all on the good fortune they had on Saturday morning.

Their dominance comes from the skill and character to make sure they get a big first innings total by hook or by crook and it is a lesson that England have yet to learn out here.

In 26 Test matches England have made more than 400 in their first innings just twice, while this was the 13th time that the Aussies had done it and at times it was brutal.

Steve Finn provided the day's rare highlight for the travelling England faithful by grabbing 6-125 on his Ashes debut.

But just as Peter Such's 6-67 was overshadowed by Shane Warne's ball of the century at Old Trafford in 1993, so this one was spoiled by a batting master class. "I enjoyed the wicket bits," said Finn. "But it was a tough day of Test cricket for us. I picked up the wickets but I was the least consistent bowler and I'm aware of that.

"The Aussie pair played really well, they rode their luck and survived the tough times, but that's what it takes to score hundreds like that in Test cricket."

After Anderson's two moments of lbw hell, England's day went downhill as catches were dropped, by Alastair Cook and then Anderson himself, and runs were piled on with hungry relish.

It wasn't until after tea and with a lead of 190 that they finally made the breakthrough with Graeme Swann persuading Haddin to edge the spinner to Paul Collingwood at slip.

Finn then steamrollered the Aussie tailenders, using the short ball well, and even drawing Hussey into a false shot to have him caught in the deep.

His spell of four wickets for 19 runs in 29 balls wrapped things up and would have brought a smile to Andy Flower's face back at the team hotel where he was recovering from having a melanoma on his face surgically removed.

There was just time for Andrew Strauss to survive a referral after shouldering arms to the first ball of the innings.


Australia v ENGLAND:

England 1st inns: 260 (I R Bell 76, A N Cook 67; P M Siddle 6-54).

Second innings A J Strauss not out 11 A N Cook not out Extras (lb1, nb1) 2 Total (0 wkts, 15 ovs) 19

Australia: 1st inns (Overnight: 220-5

(Hussey 81 not, Katich 50): M E K Hussey c Cook b Finn 195

B J Haddin c Collingwood b Swann 136 M G Johnson b Finn X J Doherty c Cook b Finn 16

P M Siddle c Swann b Finn B W Hilfenhaus not out Extras (b4, lb12, w4, nb1) 21 Total (158.4 overs) 481

Bowling: Anderson 37-13-99-2; Broad 33-7-72-0; Swann 43-5-128-2; Finn 33.4-1-125-6; Collingwood 12-1-41-0.

Follow Daily Mirror cricket correspondent Dean Wilson on Twitter at CricketMirror

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sábado, 27 de noviembre de 2010

Portland Police Say Threat Was Real, But Public Not In Danger - Baltimore Sun (blog)

The Portland Police department gives credit to the FBI for making sure that 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud was stopped before he could carry out a terror attack.

Agents arrest Mohamud in downtown Portland as he thought he was detonating a van packed with powerful explosives. His target was a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

What Mohamud didn't know is that the men he was with were Federal Agents and the van had been rigged to look like a bomb, but didn't have live detonators.  As soon as Mohamud dialed the cell phone number he thought would ignite the bomb, he was arrested.

Mayor Sam Adams said, "A smart federal, state and local law enforcement investigation caught a criminal tonight bent on mass destruction and murder in our city." "The bomb was a fake but the criminal who tried to detonate it was real.  My deepest thanks to the local teams at the United States Department of Justice, FBI, Portland Police Bureau, and other local agencies who were instrumental in protecting our community."

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Oregon State Police, the Corvallis Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, and the Portland Police Bureau.

Mohamud was booked into the Multnomah County Jail and is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Portland on Monday. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Mohamud's photo is available at the Multnomah County Jail website, According to the website, Mohamud is 6'1" 130lbs.