jueves, 30 de junio de 2011

Snake lover killed by one of his 24 king cobras - Telegraph.co.uk

He added: "I was very unhappy with some of the imported snakes as they were dehydrated and covered in parasites.

"Back in the early 1980s, breeding snakes was a rare event but there was a handful of enthusiasts in the UK and USA making headway and we shared what we learnt. King cobras are cannibalistic snakes. To get a pair together without cannibalism is difficult. You need to get the female in with the male without her showing signs of aggression."

During the interview, Mr Yeomans insisted that the snakes posed no threat to him, although he admitted he had been bitten twice before.

He said: "These king cobras know I provide them with food and fresh water so they're not going to go out of their way to do harm to me when I do no harm to them whatsoever. People say I'm mad but it's better than saying that you're bad and everything I do is good. My life is about the conservation of the king cobra."

His fascination with the king cobra came after studying it in its natural environment.

He founded the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in India in 2005, a centre dedicated to the conservation of the snake and its habitat.

The king cobra is one of the most dangerous snakes to inhabit the forests of Asia and is reputed to be able to kill an elephant.

Arsenal defender Gaël Clichy set to seal £7m move to Manchester City - The Guardian

Gaël Clichy looks set to follow Cesc Fábregas out of Arsenal, with the left-back close to sealing a £7m move to Manchester City. In what will come as another blow to the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, it is understood that the French defender will complete a move to Eastlands once he passes a medical and agrees personal terms.

The 25-year-old, with only a year left on his current contract, was also a target for Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

The City manager, Roberto Mancini, targeted a new left-back having been unconvinced by Wayne Bridge and the £16m signing Aleksandar Kolarov, who failed to impress in his first season after joining from Lazio.

Wenger is already facing the prospect of losing his captain Fábregas to Barcelona after the Catalan club made a second bid of £35m this week, while Samir Nasri is a target for Manchester United. City, contrary to speculation, are not understood to be preparing a rival offer for Nasri.

On Thursday, Milan ruled themselves out of signing Fábregas, the Italian champions having expressed an interest in acquiring the 24-year-old's services earlier this summer. But Rossoneri vice-president Adriano Galliani told the club's official website: "Fábregas will not join us because he will join a different club."

Emergency law planned to reverse court bail ruling - Reuters UK

LONDON | Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:11pm BST

LONDON (Reuters) - The government will introduce emergency legislation to overturn a court ruling that would force police to charge or release suspects within four days of their arrest, policing minister Nick Herbert told parliament on Thursday.

Setting up a clash with the judiciary, Herbert said the judgement would leave police with "one hand tied behind their backs" and affected around 80,000 suspects on police bail.

The High Court ruling overturned the system whereby police free suspects on bail for extended periods while an investigation continues. The judgement means the clock will be ticking on a 96-hour limit to bring charges even when a suspect is out on police bail.

"In some cases it will mean that suspects who would normally be released on bail are detained for longer," Herbert said, adding that many police forces did not have enough cells to hold all the suspects.

"In other cases, it risks impeding the police to such an extent that the investigation will have to be stopped because the detention time has run out."

Herbert said senior police officers intended to challenge the judgement, which stems from the case of a murder suspect in Manchester, at the Supreme Court.

However, the minister said the government could not afford to wait for the outcome of that ruling.

"We will urgently bring forward emergency legislation to overturn the ruling," he said.

"That emergency legislation will clarify the position and provide assurance that the police can continue to operate on the basis on which they have been operating for many years."

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Steve Addison)

Carolyn Bourne's Emails To Future Daughter-In-Law Heidi Withers Go Viral - Huffington Post

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.

If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.

Please, for your own good, for Freddie's sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.

Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms.

You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.

You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.

You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.

No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)

If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

How to invite your pals to Google+ right now - CNET (blog)

A lot of people want to get in on the beta test of Google+, Google's new social-networking service. If you're one of the folks in the in-crowd, there's something you can do to get your friends on board right now.

And it's not as obvious as clicking an "invite friends" button to invite them directly. Google opened up that possibility last night but then shut it down after a fleeting moment because of what Google's Vic Gundotra called "insane demand."

Instead, you have to use a built-in e-mail option for Google+ that happens to have a viral marketing component. Here are the steps.

First, figure out who you'll send invitations to. If they're already in your Gmail address book or another Google service, you're a step ahead. If not, there's some cutting and pasting in your future.

For friends whose e-mails are already in your Gmail address book or otherwise discoverable in Google+'s Circles section, add them to a special circle you created for G+ invitees. If they're not in your contacts, just hold onto their addresses for now.

Next, start a new Google+ message, the equivalent of a Facebook update message or a Twitter tweet. In it, type an invitation message with an expectations-lowering caution. Here's what I've been saying: "This message serves as an invite to Google+. Google throttles the signup rate, though, so it may not work at first. If not, try again later."

A look at the way to invite people to Google+ without a direct invitation option.

A look at the way to invite people to Google+ without a direct invitation option.

(Credit: Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Next, address the message. Clear out any existing circles, then add your Google+ invitee circle. If you have individual e-mail addresses, now's the time for pasting: click on the "+Add more people" words below the message box and paste in the addresses. You'll have to click on each one to register it as you go.

Last, click the "share" button. That's it!

Prince Harry and his new girlfriend Florence Brudenell-Bruce are cousins ... - Mirror.co.uk

Florence Brudenell-Bruce attends the Ralph Lauren Wimbledon Party on June 21 (Pic: Getty Images) Florence Brudenell-Bruce

Florence Brudenell-Bruce: See model linked to Prince Harry in daft balloon ad

Florence Brudenell-Bruce: Pictures of the model linked to Prince Harry

PRINCE Harry and his new girlfriend are cousins.

Harry, 26, has been on "one or two" secret dates with posh lingerie model Florence Brudenell-Bruce, her friends have confirmed.

But a family tree has shown the pair are distant eighth cousins. Florence, 25 – an old flame of Formula One racer Jenson Button – is also related to Harry's step-mum Camilla and his late mother, Diana Princess of Wales.

Florence was snapped just three days ago at a Gucci party (Pic: Getty Images)

Florence attending the 15th Anniversary Party for Vogue in February earlier this year (Pic: Getty Images)

It is understood Harry has been driven to Florence's £2.5million home in Notting Hill, West London, for late-night meetings. But both have insisted to friends that it is NOT a romance. Harry is said to have ended his on-off relationship with Chelsy Davy while model Florence – who wants to make it as an actress – is also single.

With old flame Jenson Button in Januray 2008 (Pic: Getty Images)

A pal of Florence said: "They have met one or two times for dates, but it's nothing serious. They're just having a bit of fun. She's very focused on her career. But who knows where it might go?" Florence's "secret" dates with Harry appear to have been common knowledge in royal circles.

She has also appeared in an advert for bookmaker Paddy Power

A mystery punter went into a bookies near St James's Palace last week and placed a £10 bet on the pair getting married. They got odds of 25/1, which have now been slashed to 6/4.

Still, Harry and Florence are in good company. His gran The Queen is a third cousin of husband Prince Philip.

It's a Sharapova-Kvitova Wimbledon Final - San Francisco Chronicle (blog)

It's a Sharapova-Kvitova Wimbledon Final

I was thinking back to 2004 as I watched Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon semifinals today. She was 17 years old, with a natural grace and sense of confidence, and she was astoundingly well-versed in English. Watching her on the outside courts during her early matches, it wasn't difficult to forecast a champion in the making. Then she went out on Wimbledon's final Saturday and beat Serena Williams for her first major title.

Now, seven years later, she's back in the final after a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sabine Lisicki. The German got off to a 3-0 start, largely because Sharapova was serving so poorly (13 double-faults for the day), but this was her first Grand Slam final and I don't feel she was emotionally prepared for the occasion, especially with the formidable Sharapova on the other side of the net.

Major credit to Lisicki for getting this far, after being such an emotional mess just last month in the French Open. Her first-serve velocity readings were only slightly less than Roger Federer's during his quarterfinal loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. She pounded her groundstrokes and showed remarkable touch. But she couldn't get her drop shot to work consistently against Sharapova, thus losing a potentially reliable weapon.

I think Sharapova is going to lose Saturday's final to Petra Kvitova, who outlasted Victoria Azarenka today, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Nothing against Sharapova, probably the biggest fighter on tour, but she can't keep serving like this and win a major. Not even the one she cherishes above all others. Kvitova is a special player, a clear-headed lefty who absolutely crushes the ball and serves huge when she's on. There won't be a lot of variety in this match. Just two players hitting out for all they're worth. It will be a terrific outcome either way, and let's hope it's a solid, three-set conflict.

Posted By: Bruce Jenkins (Email) | June 30 2011 at 10:34 AM

Sony announces its Vaio Z laptop and Power Media Dock - Inquirer

JAPANESE ELECTRONICS FIRM Sony has announced its Vaio Z laptop to rival Apple's Macbook Air and a Power Media Dock expansion unit.

The Z laptop is the latest in Sony's Vaio lineup and is both lighter and thinner than the Macbook Air. It is only 16.65mm thin and weighs just 1.2kg compared to the Macbook Air's 17mm and 1.32kg.


We spoke to James Sproston, product specialist at Sony who said, "It's almost a rival to the Macbook Pro too because of the power and it's aimed at the geeky technology enthusiast who will want to show off the specifications to their mates."

As well as being thin and light, the Vaio Z packs a punch in its specifications. It will have an Intel Sandy Bridge 2.7GHz Core i7 processor that can run at 3.4GHz with Turbo Boost.

It will also have 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 256GB solid state drive. The laptop will have a 13.1in anti-reflective screen with 1600x900 resolution.

Graphics on the Vaio Z will be driven by an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU and the operating system pre-loaded will be 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.

Other features include WiFi, optional 3G, a 1.3MP webcam, HDMI, a backlit keyboard and a button-less touchpad.

Sony said, "All-new VAIO Z takes cutting-edge styling by Sony to new extremes, with a 'full flat' body and display lid that are crafted in tough, ultra-light carbon fibre. At just below 1.2kg and 16.65mm slim, the new VAIO Z is the perfect partner for business travellers who demand ultimate power with less to carry."

Sony touts a battery life of 7 hours that it claims can be extended to 14 hours by using a lithium polymer 'sheet battery' that we saw on the Vaio S series.

The sheet battery can be attached whilst the laptop is powered on and can be charged separately. Sony told us that the battery will cost around £200 and it weighs 680g.


The Power Media Dock connects to the Vaio Z laptop with an optical cable and has a useful optical drive. Sony said, "Featuring high-speed I/O data transfer based on the architecture codenamed 'Light Peak', Power Media Dock boosts graphics performance while adding numerous extra connectivity options."

It has an AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card with 1GB of VRAM that is capable of supporting up to 4 monitors, including the laptop screen. It can output 1920x1080 resolution via HDMI and VGA outputs and has USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.

Sony said the Vaio Z will be available at the end of July. We popped down to Sony's briefing for the laptop today and found out that it will cost around £2,000 for the laptop and dock. µ

Indestructible TDSS botnet is spotted - Inquirer

LOCK DOWN YOUR COMPUTERS and hide your womenfolk and kids, there is a new botnet in town and it sounds like the worst one yet.

According to the Russian security pros at Kaspersky the botnet, which it's given the name TDSS, is particularly sophisticated, and thus it represents a particularly significant threat.

"The malware detected by Kaspersky Anti-Virus as TDSS is the most sophisticated threat today," reports the firm in a new warning about the botnet.

"TDSS uses a range of methods to evade signature, heuristic, and proactive detection, and uses encryption to facilitate communication between its bots and the botnet command and control center. TDSS also has a powerful rootkit component, which allows it to conceal the presence of any other types of malware in the system."

The botnet's name has changed since it first appeared in 2008 as TDL, and so have its capabilities. Kaspersky said that it was sold in late 2010 and has since reappeared along with a new way of doing business.

"The changes in TDL-4 affected practically all components of the malware and its activity on the web to some extent or other. Affiliates receive between $20 to $200 for every 1,000 installations of TDL, depending on the location of the victim computer," said the security firm.

"Affiliates can use any installation method they choose. Most often, TDL is planted on adult content sites, bootleg websites, and video and file storage services. The malware writers extended the program functionality, changed the algorithm used to encrypt the communication protocol between bots and the botnet command and control servers."

This adds up to a botnet that is "essentially indestructible", it explained, and it's protected against attacks from competitors, and more importantly, anti-virus software.

More than four million infected PCs could make up the botnet, according to Kaspersky, and around a third of these are thought to be in the US. The estimated value of this pool of infected computers is put at £155,000. The UK is thought to have around five per cent of the affected machines.

Perhaps most alarmingly, the incredibly high number of infected computers, actually over 4.5 million of them by now, only started appearing over the last three months, showing that this indestructible botnet is as fast spreading as it is powerful.

Or, as powerful as we think it is. Over at Guidance Software, another security firm, there are also warnings, but they are less 'tin foil hat'.

"This latest example will do nothing to allay fears amongst those still relying on traditional firewalls and antivirus methods to protect their systems, since it's ever apparent that these measures are not enough to combat the problem," said Frank Coggrave, general manager at Guidance.

"What needs to be remembered is that today's attacks are not 'indestructible' but they are very good at hiding, so just like a doctor wouldn't use a sticking plaster over something that requires an invasive operation, AV solutions cannot penetrate the modern threat landscape. Only a forensic approach can successfully uncover today's concealed threats." Good advice, we think. µ

Race on for biggest jackpot - The Sun

TOMORROW'S EuroMillions jackpot is a bank-busting 136MILLION - the biggest ever in the UK.

If one lucky punter scoops the prize, it will smash the 113million record set by an anonymous British ticketholder last October.

The winner will shoot straight into 513th place on the Rich List with more cash than film stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, musicians and Premier League footballers.

Camelot are expecting ticket sales to exceed two million per hour tomorrow as players try to get their hands on the impressive windfall.

The staggering jackpot also breaks the previous record of a 126million for a EuroMillions draw in February 2006, which was won by one Portuguese and two French ticket holders.

A National Lottery spokesman said: "This is amazing news. If a single ticket-holder were to win they would soar to the top of the exclusive National Lottery Rich List."

The jackpot is so big because no one guessed the EuroMillions' five main numbers and two Lucky Star numbers yesterday.

So the prize has now rolled over to tomorrow, with an estimated 136million up for grabs.

The spokesman added: "Needless to say the champagne is on ice and we hope to be creating lots more UK winners in the draw."

The winner would be placed in the Rich List between Eric Clapton (125million) and Tom Jones (140million).

They would also be worth more than Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow (48million), Daniel Radcliffe (48million) and Ricky Gervais (32million) put together.

A jackpot winner wanting to splash the cash could buy a 250ft super yacht, just like the one owned by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, which has its own sauna and helipad and costs around 78million.

The money could also buy 27 Diamond Rose iPhone 4s, which are made with rose gold and set with 500 diamonds and cost 5million.

Car fans could snap up every one of the 77 Aston Martin One-77s ever made - at 1.2million the most expensive cars in the world that can reach 200mph.

Alternatively, they could buy 4,184 houses in Burnley, Lancs, which is one of the cheapest places to buy property in the UK. We told this week how a two-up two-down there recently sold for just 10,000.

The jackpot would enable you to buy 1,133 bottles of the priciest bottle of bubbly in history. The 120,000 'Midas' of Armand De Brignac was sprayed in a London club earlier this week by mega-rich gambler Don Johnson.

It could even buy you all the tickets for this and next year's men's final at Wimbledon and you would still have 34million change.

If no one matches all five main numbers and two Lucky Star numbers to win the jackpot, then it will roll to the next draw on Tuesday 5 July.

News of the mega-prize comes after another lottery player came forward to claim winnings of 1,158,038.

The ticket for the Saturday June 11 draw was bought in the Barnsley area of South Yorkshire.

A National Lottery spokesman said: "It would have been awful if the ticket-holder had missed out on this substantial and life-changing amount of money. We would like to remind all National Lottery players to check their tickets every time they play".

Two more 1million prizes have gone unclaimed from the draw on June 7, when 15 millionaires were created in the EuroMillions Millionaire Super Raffle.

One ticket was bought in Stockport, Cheshire, and the other in Cannock Chase, Staffs.

There is also another seven-figure prize outstanding for a winner who bought a ticket in Plymouth, Devon, in January.

Hundreds Of Thousands Join Pension Strikes - Sky News

6:49pm UK, Thursday June 30, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have gone on strike with many joining rallies in protest over Government reforms to their pensions.

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Schools, airports, job centres, courts, libraries, museums and tax offices faced disruption as up to 600,000 people joined the industrial action.

Unions said as many as 20,000 marched in London, with thousands more protesting in other cities around the UK.

They are demonstrating against proposals which unions say would mean more work and higher contributions for a lower pension.

The Government has questioned the numbers taking part, but one of the four unions involved - the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) - said today's strike has been the the best-supported ever.

Live Sky News Tweets: Public Sector Strikes

The Cabinet Office said figures gathered from every Government department showed more than 75% of civil servants were not on strike.

It added fewer than 100,000 civil service workers were on strike - around a fifth of the total workforce.

But the PCS union, which includes police support and border staff, claimed its numbers suggested 84% of its members have gone on strike.

The Metropolitan police said nine out of ten of the force's 999 callers failed to turn up for work, with officers drafted in from other duties to make up the numbers.

:: Public vs Private: Who gets the best pension?

Schools bore the brunt of the 24-hour walkout as members of three teaching unions staged walkouts.

The Department for Education said more than 11,000 out of 21,500 state schools in England were affected.

In total there were 5,679 schools closed, with nearly 5,000 partially closed. In Wales more than half the 1,800 schools were closed or partially shut.

The National Union of Teachers says 80% of schools in England and Wales have been affected.

Protesters in Newcastle during one-day strike against pension changes

Protesters join the protest march through Newcastle

Marches have been largely good-natured, although Sky News witnessed police remove about 10 youths dressed in black hoodies from a rally in central London.

Police in the capital said 30 people had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, breach of the peace and drugs offences.

One police officer and six members of the public were injured. Four arrests in Brighton were linked to a protest there.

The Government has criticised the strikes, with Prime Minister David Cameron describing the action as "wrong".

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said people needed to wake up to the stark economic realities.

:: Statistics show UK pensions bill 'is affordable'

"Those who say pensions are affordable should also say which hospitals to shut down to subsidise their pensions," he said.

"People are living longer, so should work longer."

But general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, said the Government was not playing fair with the cuts.

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"I'm a firm believer of negotiations and as I've said, I hope we're going to be able to resolve this through negotiations - without the need for further industrial action," he told Sky News.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government was "not seeking to be at loggerheads with the unions".

"I think it's a real shame there are strikes because there are talks ongoing between the Government and the trade unions," he said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has also criticised the mass walkout, saying it was "wrong" - but again accused the Government of "reckless" behaviour.

This action will have a wider impact on the economy as businesses lose productivity - something the economy simply can not afford.

Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry

Teacher Angela White told Sky News that while she understands cuts are needed, they should be less severe.

"We're not saying we don't want to take a hit - we understand people are being squeezed," she said.

"What we are saying is, please negotiate and not do all these things at once to us."

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Up to 6,000 people joined the pensions protest in Newcastle, a union leader said, and around 1,500 gathered in the centre of Sheffield. A major protest has also taken place in Manchester.

The UK Border Agency warned passengers travelling into Britain would face delays at ports and airports as passport officers join the strike.

Heathrow Airport and the PCS said 70% of border staff at the airport were striking.

Downing Street said there had been "minimal impact" on the public.

"Our border controls are in place and JobCentres and pension offices are open for business," said a spokeswoman.

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Special needs teacher Mark Baker, from Rochdale, said a pension of £18,500 that he had expected to receive when he retired at 60 would be cut to £13,500 under Government proposals.

Mr Baker, a regional official for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, insisted the organisation was moderate but added: "There must be something serious if a union that doesn't strike is taking strike action."

The British Chambers of Commerce said the stoppage would result in tens of thousands of parents having to take a day off work to look after their children.

:: Unions insists public sector workers are facing an unprecedented attack on pensions

'Hungry' 7.5ft Boa constrictor on the loose prompts warning to keep children ... - Daily Mail

  • Snake called Diva has not eaten for three weeks and is 'due a feed'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 3:57 PM on 30th June 2011

A 'hungry and unfriendly' Boa constrictor is on the loose, prompting a warning to parents today to keep children and pets indoors.

The 7.5ft snake, called Diva, which squeezes its prey to death, has not eaten for three weeks and was due for a feed when it escaped in Ipswich, Suffolk.

Police admitted they 'cannot rule out a danger to the public' as they launch an urgent search for it after it escaped yesterday.

On the loose: Police are hunting for Diva, this 7ft boa constrictor which escaped from a house in Ipswich, Suffolk

On the loose: Police are hunting for Diva, this 7.5ft Boa constrictor which escaped from a house in Ipswich, Suffolk

The nocturnal female snake eats small mammals and when hungry will climb trees and pounce on its prey.

It disappeared from a home just 50m from a primary school, which was running four classes for 70 children despite the teaching strike today.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said that although Diva is not venomous she may bite if approached and warned anyone who spots her to dial 999.

She said: 'The owner describes the snake as unfriendly, and it might bite if approached. However, it is not venomous.

'The snake is nocturnal and is likely to hunt at night and will bask in the warm grass or on rocks in the sun during the day.

'It will hide for example under sheds when not hunting or warming. She was last fed about three weeks ago and is due a feed.

'Suffolk Police cannot rule out a risk to the public and residents are advised to keep children and pets indoors.

On the loose: Snake escaped from this cul-de-sac in Ipswich close to a playing field and a primary school

On the loose: Snake escaped from this cul-de-sac in Ipswich close to a playing field and a primary school

'However, our understanding is that this snake will only feed on small animals such as mice and rats.

'It is possible the breeding season could have encouraged the Boa constrictor to go out hunting.

'The owner has searched her house and when she realised it had got out did the right thing and contacted police.


Boa constrictors are powerful snakes and stealthy hunters. They travel at only 1mph.

They live in tropical climates throughout most of Central and South America, where they hunt at night.

The Boa's hunting technique is generally to ambush prey.

The bigger it gets, the bigger its preferred prey becomes. It may start out eating mice and other small rodents. As it grows, it can handle big iguanas and wild pigs.

They snakes are not venomous. Instead, boas grab and hold onto their prey with small, hooked teeth, wrap around the victim and squeeze them to death.

It swallows its prey whole and food is digested by strong stomach acids.

Boas will generally weigh more than 45kg and grow to about 13ft. The longest boa constrictor ever found was 18ft.

In the wild, a Boa constrictor generally lives for 20 to 30 years.
There are sometimes hunted them for their skins.

'She is quite knowledgeable about snakes and felt she had a duty of care to let police know.'

The warning to more than 127,000 people living in Ipswich comes as thousands of children are at home because of teacher strikes.

Diva was last seen at 6am on Wednesday and reported missing at 7pm. It escaped from a house in a cul-de-sac of 28 houses near playing fields.

Neighbour Alexander Drummond, 59, said: 'We're right next to a school and I reckon if I were a Boa constrictor I'd be looking to hide out in the playing fields.

'There's plenty of grass and concrete it can hide under. I'm not too afraid of a Boa.

'If I see it I'll smack it over the head with something. If that doesn't work then I'm a fast runner.'

Diva is described as 7.5ft long, dark and light brown patterned, with creamy white spots on her back, and a reddish brown mark at the end of her tail.

South American Boa constrictors can grow up to 16ft in length and can live for up to 30 years.

Anyone who spots the snake should not approach it, interfere with it or harm it but ring 999 immediately.

If possible, they should keep the snake in sight, but from a safe distance until the police arrive.

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.

I actually have 50 Boa Constrictors at present and I love them. All you people who think they are vile need to rethink and get a bit more educated in the area of snakes. Just because it hasn't fed for three weeks doesn't mean it wants to. Snakes can go a year without feeding sometimes. Look at Royal Pythons for example, they are known for their fasting habits. And like someone has already said, HUMAN'S would be able to walk faster than it can move so don't worry about it. This snake will only be agressive if people provoke it so if everyone just leaves it alone (apart from the person whos snake it is) then it should be fine. I really hope that people who do see it DO NOT KILL it as she is lovely and it would just prove how ignorant the human race is about snakes. It always comes down to ignorance in the UK. ALWAYS. They are beautiful creatures. JUST LEAVE THEM BE!!!!

Jennifer- And the rest of you who are downvoting Miss Spider. Your fear is misplaced. Boa and Pythons are totally different from venomous snakes. They are generally gentle and docile and not a threat to anyone. A dog is FAR more of a threat.You can walk faster than a boa can move, for goodness sakes. Your distain and ignorance of nature saddens me. I have a python, i call it the lap-dog-snake. Because it will sit on my lap for hours being perfectly happy. It has never even hissed in its entire life. Much less bit anyone. Feel free to be frightened of venomous snakes. They move fast because they dont need muscular bodies (dont need to constrict) and theyre way more aggressive as they HAVE VENOM. But boas and pythons are just legless lizards. Theyre no more threatening than an extra long bratwurst. And theyre beautiful creatures. And you would want to kill it? Typical destructive human ignorance. Be proud of yourself. The exact same ignorance wiped out the Indians y'know.

This is what happens when nutters bring Reptiles,like this into the Country.The rest of us suffer-when it escapes!

how daft the poor thing is proberly terrified! i have found that people in the area are very quick to get hysterical about it, its a snake for gods sake!! if a dog was on the loose hungry and traumatised it would attack and do far more damage then a snake would. to be honest im sick of people hearing a negative story about a snake and moaning or declaring all snakes as vile and disgusting. well i happen to think chihuahuas are vile and disgusting having been attcked by one but then i guess its not really an issue as it never made it to a newspaper. my point is its a pet it is no more dangerous then any other large pet have some respect for the people as a pet is like a family member to some and right now theirs is missing - miss spider, ipswich, 30/6/2011 15:53 Exactly, so thanks for also dishing out the insults - my chihuahua is far from vile or disgusting !

This is a fantastic pet to have and a lot safer than any dog FACT !!!!.....Not one human death in the world for these pets and there are thouands of them in the u.k so please dont be so stupid please .peace.

The snake's owner will try to wriggle out of any responsibilty if someone is attacked.

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

Pippa Middleton, beau back on - USA Today

Manchester United to bid £20m for Samir Nasri - Belfast Telegraph

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Manchester United are getting ready to splash the cash again - this time on one of their main rival's best players.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson appears to be convinced he can overcome Arsenal's resolve towards keeping Samir Nasri - and will attempt to capitalise on the French midfielder's contractual impasse with a speculative 20m offer.

As far as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is concerned, Nasri is not for sale - and ostensibly his price is the same 40m that Arsenal would want for Cesc Fabregas - because the London club want him out of Ferguson's reach.

But United, who are believed to have already held initial discussions through intermediaries of Nasri, have yet to test how Arsenal will respond to a 20m offer for a player who is out of contract next summer and thus worth probably half that sum.

United's only option now is to make an offer.

Meanwhile, new United goalkeeper David de Gea has signed a five-year deal after arriving from Atletico Madrid.

The Spain Under 21 international, who is United's third signing of the summer, has set his sights on filling the void left by Edwin van der Sar's retirement.

"In my opinion Edwin was the best goalkeeper in the world when he was at United," said de Gea.

"I hope to emulate him and spend a great number of years here.

"Hopefully I will equal or even surpass the performance and contribution he made to the club."

'Mentally tough De Gea can exceed Van der Sar' - The Independent

His former coach at Atletico says he is the 'complete keeper' who won't be fazed by £18m move to United

By Pete Jenson in Barcelona

David de Gea has drawn comparisons with Edwin van der Sar


David de Gea has drawn comparisons with Edwin van der Sar

    Ministers urged to back care review - Belfast Telegraph

    Thursday, 30 June 2011

    The man heading the Government's review of the social care system has appealed to ministers not to ignore his blueprint for reform and kick it "into the long grass".

    Economist Andrew Dilnot said that his commission's report - due to be published next week - represented a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to change a system that was broken.

    His intervention came after Health Minister Paul Burstow warned that reaction to the report - which says that "all but the poorest" will have to fund their own care - may be "lukewarm at best".

    Writing in The Times, Mr Dilnot said that the need for fundamental change was "urgent" if growing numbers of elderly people were not to suffer.

    "Social care must be about more than just keeping people barely alive," he wrote. "It's about helping people to be part of the community, giving them greater peace of mind and opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. To ignore this problem any longer is to dismiss people's rights to all these things.

    "We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fix this. We must not allow this to become yet another attempt at change that gets kicked into the long grass. If we do, it is the most vulnerable in our society who will suffer."

    Mr Dilnot was appointed by ministers to draw up plans for a new system in July last year, as part of the agreement struck between the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

    Under the current arrangements anyone with assets of 23,250 or more is not entitled to any state help with the cost of a care home place. Thousands are forced to sell their homes every year as a result.

    The commission is expected to recommend a more generous means test for social care, and a "care cap" of around 50,000 before the state steps in to pick up costs.

    However, speaking to healthcare experts at the King's Fund think tank, Mr Burstow made clear its proposals came "with a price tag" and that it would be the "last word" on the issue. "If funding reform is to be secured during this Parliament it will require give and take," he said. "It demands recognition of the times we are in, and the fact that the deficit casts a long shadow."

    Tennis: Quiet, Please! Wimbledon Day 9 - New Zealand Herald

    Roger Federer made a shock exit at the hands of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wimbledon day nine, when he looked to be cruising towards yet another semifinal.

    The Fed Express was in full flow in the opening exchanges and snatched the first two sets. Federer had never lost a Grand Slam match after being two sets up, but Tsonga roared back with frightening power to make the match one of the shortest five-set quarterfinals played at the Championships. The Muhammad Ali look-alike delivered the knockout blow to the six-time champion with just over three hours played.

    If Federer is to match Pete Sampras' record of seven Wimbledon titles, he will have to do it after his 30th birthday. The last time someone achieved that feat was in 1975, when 32-year-old Arthur Ashe defeated Jimmy Connors.

    There were no other casualties for the 'awesome foursome'. The world's media was waiting for Rafael Nadal to sink Mardy Fish and open up a world of angling-related puns. He did just that, and reaffirmed his status as favourite for the title.

    Pippa Middleton popped into Centre Court today and took her place amongst the fans, having not been an invited guest of the Royal Box.

    Andy Murray coolly eased past Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. His mother's infatuation with Lopez has been well documented and Murray is doing his best to make sure she shares in the embarrassment.

    Leading into the game he said: "If I win she'll shower me with praise - but if he wins she will just shower him!"

    Judy Murray will be thrilled that he son faces another Spaniard, Nadal, in the semis. Watch this space because if Murray wins, Britain is going to go ballistic.

    Novak Djokovic put his poodle problems behind him and survived a brief scare to put Aussie teen Bernard Tomic back in his place, winning in four sets. If he beats Tsonga on Friday, he'll overtake Rafael Nadal as the world No 1.

    Kiwi Marina Erakovic might have been knocked out of the women's draw last week, but she's still going strong in the doubles with Tamarine Tanasugarn. The pair faced the American combo of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the quarterfinals, and came from a set down to win 13-11 in the third.

    Huber is somewhat of a doubles veteran at Wimbledon, and a feisty one at that. It's a good thing Erakovic avoided anything like this.


    By Chris Chang

    Controversial British court ruling could play havoc with criminal investigations - Toronto Star

    The Greater Manchester Police are appealing a recent court ruling involving bail that it believes could play havoc with criminal investigations, not only in Manchester, but right across England and Wales.

    "This is an unprecedented police issue, the full implications of which are still being assessed," Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney wrote in a statement emailed to the Star.

    "This ruling affects how police forces nationally deal with people in custody . . . We have made all our staff aware of the ruling and what impact, if any, it will have on their day-to-day duties."

    The ruling, which was issued on May 19, puts an end to a British police practice of releasing suspects on "police bail" and then calling them back for further questioning weeks or in some cases months later. Police in England and Wales have bailed 80,000 suspects, some of whom are being investigated for "serious" crimes.

    Previously, suspects were allowed to be kept in police custody for 24 hours, but when there was a more serious offence a police superintendent could extend the period by 12 more hours. And if more time was needed to investigate, the police could apply to a court to extend that for up to 96 hours.

    In real terms, that has meant over the past 20 years that the clock on that 96 hours could be stopped by police at any time and a suspect could then be released.

    If the police wanted to restart the clock and re-question the suspect, they could do so at any time – even weeks and months later, according to a spokesman in the British Home Office.

    But the High Court ruling will mean that the police now have only four days in a row – or 96 hours consecutively – to investigate and charge a suspect, or that suspect must be released. They can only be re-arrested if new evidence becomes available.

    The ruling has caused consternation and confusion among police ranks across Britain, report the Guardian, The Independent and the Daily Mail.

    For its part, Scotland Yard would not comment on the ruling, redirecting the Star's queries to the Home Office. In a statement emailed to the Star a Home Office spokesman said: "We are extremely disappointed by the High Court's ruling.

    "We remain strongly of the view that the police need the appropriate powers to detain arrested persons in order to investigate crime and to protect the public.

    "We will ensure all necessary measures are taken to ensure those powers are available."

    The decision involves the case of Paul Hookway, a murder suspect who was arrested at 12:40 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2010. A police superintendent granted permission for him to be detained for up to 36 hours for questioning, but he was released on bail after about 28 hours.

    Five months later, police applied to the courts to extend the period of detention from 36 hours to the maximum 96.

    But a district judge refused the application, saying the 96 hours had expired several months before. That decision was upheld by the High Court.

    To stem the outcries Britain's Home Secretary says she is now considering emergency legislation to deal with the controversial decision. The Home Office is now consulting legal experts and police on the full implications of the ruling in preparation for drafting legislation.

    Computer games put on hold as tennis takes over - Herald Scotland

    IT is one of the most eagerly awaited match-ups in world sport.

    No, not Andy Murray versus Rafael Nadal at tennis on Centre Court, but Murray and his old Sanchez-Casal buddy Dani Vallverdu against Nadal and Juan Monaco on a football simulator the next time they are near a PlayStation.

    The trash talking ahead of tomorrow's Wimbledon semi-final began in earnest when both men conceded that computer games had formed the basis of their friendship, but offered differing opinions about their respective abilities.

    The world No.1 was first into the interview room, having shown little sign of his apparent foot problem in making short work of Mardy Fish by a 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 scoreline.

    "Normally we play PlayStation when we are in the same hotels in a tournament," said Nadal, who was never in trouble against the American and has a 4-2 head-to-head record in grand slams against the Scot. "Now he really doesn't want to play more. He has lost the last few times. Seriously, that's true. He has lost almost every time. He played with his friend Dani against Monaco and me, and we won."

    The Scot was having none of this and got some cyber sledging of his own in. "Rafa actually isn't very good at PlayStation," claimed Murray. "His partner is very good. He plays with Juan Monaco, and Juan Monaco is very good. As a team, they play very well.

    "We always play with their rules," the Scot added. "We play with one camera view and they play with a different one. But we always play with their one. They play with Inter Milan, so we're not allowed to play with Inter Milan, even though they're the best team in the game. Once the game starts, you're not allowed to make substitutions.

    "I did play them once with our camera view and we won, but that's the only time we got a chance to play them. But come Friday, obviously all that stuff is irrelevant. You just need to put friendships and stuff to one side and play."

    That was certainly no problem for Novak Djokovic and Bernard Tomic out on Court No.1. The 18-year-old Tomic, who had 2001 finalists Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter in his box as he attempted to become the youngest man since Boris Becker in 1986 to reach the semi-finals, has been a friend and practice partner of the Serbian ever since they played an exhibition match in Kooyong last year.

    But this was hardly a training exercise for the world No.2, who raced away with the first set 6-2 but could not shake off the qualifier. Tomic levelled at one-set all and was a break to the good in the third before the Serb's superior fitness told. He would break twice more in the third and fourth sets, but Tomic had laid a marker down for the future.

    Instead of Roger Federer – the only man to beat him this calendar year – Djokovic faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a man who has a winning 5-2 record against him. But the Serb is in another semi-finals and feels there is still more to come.

    "I think I can play better than I did today," he said. "Lets say the performance against [Michael] Llodra was great, against [Marcos] Baghdatis not so great. I have been kind of up and down. Hopefully, now it is going to go back up."

    After $35 million sale, MySpace is now an advertiser's space - Christian Science Monitor

    Remember what Myspace used to be like back in the day? It was an insanely popular, extremely innovative social network, purchased for almost $600 million by Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the team over at News Corp. And then Facebook picked up some steam, gathered a membership of over 750 million, and generally left Myspace in a big cloud of dust.

    Skip to next paragraph

    Cue corporate shake-ups, lay-offs, and general discontent. (Cue, too, a name change: Eagle-eyed readers will remember that Myspace used to be MySpace – capital M, capital S.) Today comes the news – courtesy of Kara Swisher over at All Things D – that Myspace is being sold to Specific Media, an online ad firm, for a relatively paltry $35 million.

    "The price is well below the $100 million that News Corp. had been hoping for and a chasm away from Myspace's one-time billion valuation," Swisher writes. "The deal includes a halfing of Myspace's staff of 400, as well as other cost cuts. It's likely Myspace CEO Mike Jones and other top staff will remain only for an interim period." So: more layoffs, more corporate shake-ups, and probably more general discontent.

    So what went wrong? Well, a combination of things went wrong, the biggest of those things being Facebook. Facebook gained cache and MySpace lost it; Facebook proved more adept at evolving its infrastructure, and MySpace did not. For a while, it looked like MySpace might thrive as a music and concert site – in 2009, MySpace acquired music discovery tool iLike – but Facebook expanded into that arena, too, allowing bands to create big, dynamic pages.

    MySpace has steadily lost users: According to ComScore, there were 157.2 million US visitors to Facebook in the month of May, compared to only 34.9 million for MySpace. In January of this year, MySpace announced that it would cut nearly half its staff in an effort to make the site profitable again. Those lay-offs came on top of the 420 MySpace employees laid off the year before.

    Shadow play: Who's that Labour frontbencher? - The Independent

    One in four people thinks Ed Miliband is his elder brother David. A similar proportion of voters believe that David is actually Ed. Nine months into his leadership of the Labour Party, the findings of the ComRes survey for The Independent do not paint a flattering picture for Ed Miliband, as he steps up his efforts to convince the people that he is a prime minister-in-waiting.

    Click HERE to view Labour test graphic (118 kb)

    Other members of his Shadow Cabinet are even more anonymous. The only good news is for Ed Balls, the combative shadow chancellor who stood against the Milibands for the Labour leadership last year, and who appears to have made more of an impact on the electorate than the two brothers. He was correctly identified by 68 per cent of the 2,000 voters who were shown photographs of eight senior Labour figures and asked to put one of five names to their face. Ed Miliband was named accurately by 64 per cent of those questioned but 23 per cent thought he was his brother David. David was identified by 61 per cent but 26 per cent thought he was his brother.

    The other five Shadow Cabinet figures tested by ComRes were recognised by only three or four in 10 voters, suggesting that the Opposition team is struggling to be noticed and many Shadow Cabinet members remain in the shadows.

    The poll was taken after Ed Miliband announced his intention to scrap the elections to the Shadow Cabinet among Labour MPs held every two years. If approved, his shake-up will allow him to appoint whoever he wants to his top team rather than be made to work with those MPs who have lobbied for support among the party's backbenchers.

    His allies hope that the change will sharpen the Shadow Cabinet's performance by allowing him to include Labour's "new generation" so frontbenchers can spend their time attacking the government rather than currying favour with Labour backbenchers in the hope of winning votes in the open popularity contest.

    Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, may be seen as a possible leader in Labour circles but the public does not yet view her in the same light. Unlike her husband Mr Balls, only one in three (33 per cent) voters polled could identify her from her photograph.

    Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, regarded by Labour colleagues as one of the party's best performers since last year's election, appears to be even less well-known. Only 30 per cent recognised him. Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, fared a little better, being recognised by four in 10 (40 per cent) of those questioned.

    The poll was less encouraging for the shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy. More people (30 per cent) named him as Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, than himself (25 per cent) and 19 per cent thought he was John Healey, Labour's health spokesman.

    Meg Hillier, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, suffered a similar fate: 30 per cent thought she was Caroline Flint, the party's local government spokeswoman, and only 19 per cent identified her accurately. The same proportion thought she was Angela Eagle, a Labour Treasury spokeswoman, 17 per cent thought she was Ms Cooper and 15 per cent Tessa Jowell, the party's spokeswoman on Cabinet Office matters.

    Surprisingly, Conservative supporters seem more aware of Labour frontbenchers than Labour's own supporters. Of the eight Labour faces shown to voters by ComRes, only Mr Khan was better known among Labour than Tory voters.

    Ed Miliband was named accurately by 64 per cent of Tory voters and 63 per cent of Labour supporters; the figures for his brother were 70 per cent and 66 per cent respectively. Mr Balls was recognised by 78 per cent of Tory voters and 70 per cent of Labour backers.

    Labour MPs will vote on Ed Miliband's plans to scrap the Shadow Cabinet elections next Tuesday. Some MPs have accused him of returning to the control freakery associated with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown but the move is likely to be approve. It would then need the go-ahead by Labour's national executive committee and its annual conference in September.

    The change would allow Ed Miliband to recall his brother to the Shadow Cabinet if David decided to return to frontline politics before the next general election. But allies say David believes he made the right decision by returning to the backbenches after his narrow defeat by his younger brother last September. If the ComRes findings are right, a return to the Shadow Cabinet by David might only add to the confusion in the voters' minds about which Miliband is running the party.

    ComRes interviewed 2,059 GB adults online between 24-26 June. Data were weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comres.co.uk

    Anything you can do, Sis: Pippa now rivals Kate in selling power as £129 red ... - Daily Mail

    By Tamara Abraham

    Last updated at 2:07 AM on 30th June 2011

    Pippa Middleton loves her favourite red dress so much, she's worn it two days running. And it seems we love it too, as it has now sold out across the UK.

    Hobbs NW3's Wyldes shift was a bargain at just 89, reduced in the summer sales from 129, but once the Duchess of Cambridge's sister was seen wearing it for both a shopping trip on Tuesday and Wimbledon yesterday, the retailer's website was slammed with orders.

    For the lucky few that managed to get their hands on one of the frocks, which has military-style buttons at the shoulders and pocket, it promises to serve them well.

    Retail royalty: Pippa Middleton's Hobbs NW3 dress sold out after she wore it twice in the past two days - for a shopping trip on Tuesday (left), and again for Wimbledon yesterday with boyfriend Alex Loudon (right)

    The 27-year-old proved just how versatile the dress is, teaming it with flats for a trip to Russell & Bromley on the King's Road, then ramping up the style factor the following day with tan espadrille wedges and sunglasses.

    Versatile: The bright red shift, which was on sale for 89, can be dressed up or down

    Versatile: The bright red shift, which was on sale for 89, can be dressed up or down

    With such a bright hue, it is important to keep the accessories simple, and Miss Middleton did just that.

    On both occasions she wore simple gold hoop earrings and carried one of her trusty Modalu bags - which, incidentally, also sold out when she was spotted carrying one after the Royal Wedding.

    The consumer reaction to Pippa's clothing is beginning to mirror that of her sister's.

    Almost everything Catherine has worn since her engagement has sparked a similar response, and Reiss has even had to reissue old stock due to customer demand. 

    But while the High Street's mass-market appeal helps us identify with the glamorous siblings, they are wise to use high-end designers from time-to-time as well.

    Alice Temperley, who designed the emerald green gown that Miss Middleton wore to her sister's evening wedding reception, has said that despite customer demand, it was a one-off piece and she will not be making replicas.

    She told the Daily Telegraph: 'We'd made it specifically for her and I wasn't going to start trying to capitalise on that.'

    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.

    I'm stunned that women rush to buy anything that Kate wears. I'm stunned and shocked that women rush to buy anything her sister wears as well. I simply can't believe it......

    Great thanks a lot. Reiss and Hobbs have been favourites of mine for years. They make stylish, well cut, good value, durable clothes that can be worn in the office or whilst out socialising. I am now going to have find an alternative, lest people think I am a trying to be a Middleton sister. No offence to either of these ladies who both appear very nice, but I don't want anyone to think I am a clone!

    Boring girl. Boring dress. Boring sheep with no fashion sense

    Average-looking over-priced dress on hard-faced social-climbing female, and worn two days running without being washed or cleaned - yuk!. "Pippa" gives me the pip.

    Sigh! I wish my sister married a Prince too. I would be getting so much attention without doing anything in life!

    This girl is average. Why the big fuss?

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


    Who is striking today and why?

    Members of the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Public & Commercial Services union (PCS) and the University & College Union (UCU) will be on strike today. They claim the UK Government wants their members to "pay more, work longer and get less in retirement".

    How big an impact will this have?

    Schools and colleges will either shut or have to cope with a minimum of staff as teachers and lecturers head for the picket line. But anywhere that civil servants work will be affected, such as JobCentres, tax and benefit offices, the Newport passport office and many other Government operations.

    Why is there such anger?

    Unions are unhappy the Government has changed the way pensions are increased in line with inflation each year so that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used and not the Retail Price Index (RPI).

    What's the difference?

    The CPI excludes housing costs and the unions claim this means "pensions would be worth less and members losing tens of thousands of pounds in retirement". A judicial review is due to be heard on the switch in the autumn.

    Are the changes that bad?

    The unions say the new arrangements will deliver "20%-50% less than the current pension scheme for a full career in public service".

    Plus, they claim that workers will have to pay more to get a worse deal, arguing that a headteacher might have to pay an extra £164 a month. They loathe the ending of final salary schemes and also fear that the pension age will climb to 68.

    Is the Westminster coalition rattled?

    The Prime Minister claims there are widespread misconceptions.

    He said yesterday in the Commons: "Just to put this beyond doubt, when people who are currently in a final salary scheme get the accrued benefits, they will be based on their final salary; not their final salary now or when the reforms go through, but the final salary when they retire. As so much myth and misinformation has been put around by some in the trade unions, it is important to put that on the record here in the House."

    This is a moment in the spotlight for union leaders, but do the rank and file members support going on strike?

    Among those who took part in the ballots, there is overwhelming support. It is backed by 61% of PCS workers, 83% of those in the ATL, 92% of NUT members, and 72% of UCU members in FE colleges and 76% at "post-1992" universities.

    I can understand why the unions are upset and members are so annoyed, but do they have any positive ideas about how Britain can climb out of its financial hole?

    As it happens, Andy Richards, President of the Welsh TUC and Welsh regional secretary of Unite, the country's largest trade union, is expected to unveil an alternative economic programme in Cardiff today.

    What will this involve?

    It's expected the measures will include collecting the "missing tax billions" from the banks, multinational companies, and rich individuals by closing the "loopholes and avoidance scams".

    Anger may be focused on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government in London, but will things get hairy for Labour's Carwyn Jones as First Minister?

    The Welsh Government is so keen to avoid this it uses capital letters in its most recent statement on the subject: "Let's be clear, the unions are NOT in dispute with the Welsh Government – it is a UK-wide pay dispute over pension arrangements."

    So are Labour ministers in Cardiff on the side of the strikers?

    They are certainly not on the side of the UK Government.

    A spokesman said: "With a two-year pay freeze, rising fuel costs, inflation at 5%, the threat of redundancy, it's clear that public sector workers are facing a particularly tough time at the moment. It is also clear that these proposals will have a particular impact on women, who make up the majority of low-paid public sector workers. It's fair to say that the UK Government's response last week was provocative and unhelpful."

    Do strikes have a place in the modern world of work?

    This is a matter of debate, but Fabio Grech, partner at the Welsh law firm Berry Smith, said: "There has been much debate over whether the right to strike should or should not be removed, certainly as far as essential services are concerned. Leaving aside that such proposals wouldn't fly without industrial action of an unprecedented scale, many would argue that there's no more persuasive means of bringing the parties to the negotiating table."

    Will this be the end of the strikes or can we expect more action?

    Picket lines could become a much more familiar sight across Wales. Larger unions, which have millions of members, are planning to strike in October.

    Margaret Thatcher came into power in 1979 after the Labour Government was hit by repeated strikes. Will this dash Ed Miliband's chances of election?

    The Labour leader was accused by the Prime Minister of being in the "pocket of the unions" – but middle-cass public sector workers were at the heart of the New Labour revolution in the 1990s and many of them may be alarmed by the cuts and swing behind Mr Miliband in 2015.

    He is no supporter of today's action and said the strikes were a "mistake" and a "sign of failure on both sides". He urged both sides to get around the negotiating table.

    Is the UK getting more militant as it tires of austerity?

    Today's strikes have become a lightning rod for disaffection. Lindsey German, national convener for the Stop the War group, said: "The same people who tell us that the country 'can't afford' to pay pensions or provide public services have now entered into their third major war in 10 years – with no end in sight."

    Is this a good day to pop to the Assembly in Cardiff Bay and have a look around?

    No. For health and safety reasons, the Senedd and the Pierhead will be closed all day.

    So are AMs having a day off?

    Not officially. T Hywel, the big red brick building next door to the Senedd where AMs have their offices, will remain open.

    How many people be able to attend the protest rallies if they have to look after children who would normally be in school?

    The unions aim to make these family-friendly affairs.

    There will be refreshments and face- painting in Cardiff; a picnic in the park with music and children's games and more face-painting in Llandrindod Wells, and balloons and even a brass band in Merthyr Tydfil.

    Google+ Users Want App Store, Facebook Data Imports - PC Magazine

    What's next for the new Google+ social network? If Google acts on its users' requests, the ability to export data from Facebook to Google+ might be one, as well as an app store.

    And one user already acted on his own request: a Chrome extension to export Google+ Stream posts to Facebook and Twitter.

    Announced Tuesday, Google's Google+ takes on Facebook in form and function. With LinkedIn serving as a social network for jobs, PCMag.com's hands-on found Google+ to be a social network for geeks, chock full of new features and social options.

    Even Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has joined Google+, although his profile page has just one update: a change to his profile picture. Larry Page also has a single public post, but Sergey Brin has yet to publicly announce himself on Google+.

    Within Google+, any comments attached to a public post are themselves public, and early users attached enthusiastic comments to two posts from Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, with congratulations and feature requests. Google currently is conducting a "field trial" of the service, with a full rollout at a future date.

    Until then, users posted a number of questions and feature requests.

    Facebookoff tool?

    Perhaps the most interesting suggestion was offered by Mehdi Sharifzadeh, who said, "I want my facebookOff tool NOW!"

    In Oct. 2010, Facebook offered a tool to offload data from its site, called Download My Data. An analysis of the feature by InsideFacebook.com notes that it includes wall posts, photos, movies, and names of contacts (without their contact information), all contained within a ZIP file and matched against an index file. Theoretically, the data could be matched and uploaded to Google+. However, commenters also claimed that the feature either didn't work or was incredibly slow, requiring days to process.

    Invites, invites, invites

    Not surprisingly, Google+ users wanted to add their friends as well. But they also realized that a social network doesn't just need users, it needs their digital lives, as well: photos, videos, and opinions stored on Facebook and elsewhere.

    "Very cool product, but the content is all still on other networks... please open up invites soon so we can spread them around and get our near and dear ones signed on here!" Hrishikesh Diwan wrote.

    "I second the invite thing," Alejandro Nijamkin, a software engineer at Google working on the Google+ Android app. "People will probably stop visiting after a while if they can't have more people to share with."

    An app store

    It's hard to believe that Google wouldn't have something in the works here, although it's difficult to know if this would something along the lines of a Google Chrome extension or a more formal app store. Keep in mind that although Google has a Chrome Web Store, but that marketplace seems to have much more of a lowe profile than, say, the Android Market, where apps are much more central to the mobile experience.

    "Hope you'll put in some OpenSocial goodness in the future," Sebastian Mauer wrote. "Extendability via apps is crucial if you're really trying to compete with the 'ol fb ;)"

    And then, of course, there's something like Zynga. Farmville on Google+? It's a long way off, even if it's technically feasible.

    What's the fate of Google Buzz?

    François Bacconnet posted an as-yet unanswered question: "But how Google+ and Buzz stay side by side? Will they be merged?"

    It seems likely that Google Buzz, which was immediately criticized for privacy missteps, will end up being folded into Google+. On the other hand, as other commenters pointed out, those that adopted Google Buzz should be rewarded.

    "Yeah, it was a successful roll out anyway you look at it - because you invited people like me who would have told you in no uncertain terms if it wasn't," Rob Gordon, an app developer, wrote. "Now go invite everyone who has been active on Buzz - they suffered more then you could possibly know, and are your most loyal users."

    Integration across other Google properties

    Yang Guo chimed in with some additional thoughts.

    "Think about all the stuff that can be integrated!
    - Calendar: event hosting
    - Translate: auto translate posts from your foreign-language friends (though probably won't happen that much, with circles and all)
    - Mail: connect mail to posts on Google+ limited to only one person?
    - Reader: I can already follow people that keep Google+ updated with their blog entries. Would be cool to have reader content flow into my Google+ stream"

    An API

    This suggestion, from Karl Asman, is undoubtedly in the works.


    We may have already seen this. Pull out a contact from your Circle, and a red "-1" icon appears. But the ability to "dis-" or "un-" like a person or post has been missing from Facebook, and it may or may not show up on Google+.

    Data granularity

    So far, as some have noted, Google+ is more of a one-way street, where people can be followed without their explicit permission. It's a different relationship than Facebook, where "friends" are accepted by both parties.

    "It seems a shame there's no way to post messages so they are categorised, but ALSO public," Oliver Comes noted. "I tweet in 3 main subject areas, but no-one is interested in all of them, so I have three Twitter accounts so people can choose which "part" of me to follow. It seems Google+ doesn't solve this problem :( i.e. posts have to be public and seen by everyone, or to circles and only visible to people I have added (like Facebook does)."

    Iterate, iterate, iterate

    Google's new unofficial mantra of late (like Microsoft's use of innovation) seems to be "iterate," or the ability to quickly roll out updates and new versions of existing code. Several Google engineers expressed enthusiasm for Google+ (G+), and rolled up their sleeves.

    "I second Bin's comment," Balaji Srinivasan wrote. "Best day since I joined Google. I am thrilled at all the progress we have made and am looking forward to some kick-ass quick iterations in the coming weeks."

    For more from Mark, follow him on Twitter @MarkHachman.

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