miércoles, 29 de febrero de 2012

Sacha Baron Cohen Spills Ashes on Ryan Seacrest at Oscars - Slate Magazine (blog)

The Borat actor's latest creation, Admiral General Aladeen from his upcoming movie The Dictator, had bodyguards, promised death to the West (and the Academy), and was carrying an urn containing the ashes of his late fellow dictator and "doubles tennis partner" Kim Jong-il. Cohen proceeded to dump the ashes all over Ryan Seacrest, giving new meaning to the old red carpet chestnut "Who are you wearing?"

Murdoch launches new Sunday tabloid in UK - CBC.ca

Rupert Murdoch's News International says that its new tabloid will be launched next Sunday.

In a letter to staff sent Sunday, News International CEO Tom Mockridge said that The Sun on Sunday would be published for the first time next weekend.

The Sun on Sunday replaces the top-selling News of The World, which was closed in July after revelations that members of its staff had routinely hacked into phones and paid bribes to score exclusives.

The ensuing scandal stunned Britain's establishment and led to dozens of arrests and resignations.

News International is a subsidiary of Murdoch's New York-based News Corp.

Japan Is Pressured to Legalize Gambling - Wall Street Journal

Iran Stops Oil Exports to Britain and France - Slate Magazine

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned in an interview with the BBC that Iran seems to have "increased its willingness to contemplate utterly illegal activities in other parts of the world." Hague said that recent events, including an alleged attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., illustrate "the danger Iran is currently presenting to the peace of the world." Despite this acknowledgment though, both Hague and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey warned against an Israeli attack on Iran, reports the Associated Press.

MP Eric Joyce arrested over assault at House of Commons bar - Telegraph.co.uk

A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police said: "We were called at about 10.50pm to reports of a disturbance at a bar at the House of Commons.

"A man in his 50s was arrested and was taken to a central London police station."

Mr Joyce has had a colourful career, leaving the army in 1999 after criticising the force in a pamphlet for the Fabian Society.

He was later elected for Falkirk West in a by-election.

In 2009, it emerged he was Britain's most expensive member of Parliament after claiming £187,334 in expenses in 2007/08.

Last year, he became the first MP to claim more than £200,000 in expenses in one year.

Jennifer Aniston unveils walk of fame star - Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog)

Jennifer Aniston was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday.

Her "Just Go With It" co-star Adam Sandler and "Wanderlust" cast mates Malin Akerman and Kathryn Hahn were among those saluting the former actress at the ceremony. Aniston's boyfriend and "Wanderlust" co-star, Justin Theroux, and father, actor John Aniston, also looked on.

Unveiling her star, the actress said, "It feels very surreal to be honest. I was born here and it's sort of something you went and saw as a kid and got excited about just walking and seeing the names. To imagine that you're going to be there is really special. It's fun."

The Sun Launches Sunday Edition - Wall Street Journal

Man Survives Two Months in Snow-Covered Car - Slate Magazine

When snowmobilers discovered a car on a deserted road near the north-eastern town of Umea Friday they assumed it was an abandoned vehicle. But when they dug around three feet into the snow they saw 44-year-old Peter Skyllberg lying on the back seat inside a sleeping bag. Skyllberg was so weak he could barely speak but told police he had been in his car without any food since December 19, apparently surviving only by eating snow, reports the Guardian. Photographs from inside the car showing empty food and drink wrappers suggest Skyllberg did have at least some sustenance, notes the BBC.

Merkel Backs Off Plans to Stump for Sarkozy - Wall Street Journal

Sleeping pills may kill you early: Study - Hindustan Times

Taking sleeping pills frequently can increase the risk of premature death more than five-fold a new study has warned.

The study published in the British Medical Journal Open found that patients who even take fewer than 18 pills a year more likely to die early than those not on medication.

The higher the dose the greater the risk. And those on higher doses also have an increased risk of cancer said the researchers at the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California.

The commonly prescribed drugs that may raise such

risks included benzodiazepines newer sedative hypnotics zolpidem zopiclone and zaleplon and barbiturates and antihistamines.

However experts said worried patients should not stop taking the pills but talk to their doctors first the Daily Mail reported.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck welcome baby boy - Boston Herald

JENNIFER GARNER and Ben Affleck welcomed a baby boy yesterday in Santa Monica, Calif., US Weekly and People reported last night. The couple already have two daughters, Violet, 6, and Seraphina, 3. Back in January, Garner told Jay Leno that Ben would be happy no matter the sex of the baby. "I would have thought (he wanted a boy). At first...I really thought so," said Mrs. Affleck. "And then (Ben) kind of said, 'Well, we have girls. We know how to do girls. My girls love me. I'm the big guy in the house.' So, now I'm not sure." Can a Red Sox [team stats] onesie be far behind for Baby Boy Affleck?

New iPad expected at Apple event - London Free Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc is hosting a media event next week where it is expected to unveil the latest version of its popular iPad tablet as it looks to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon Inc.

The invitation-only event will be held on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the same venue Apple used to unveil the last two iPads.

Apple, which sent the invitation to reporters by email on Tuesday, did not divulge details of the event, but just said that "we have something you really have to see. And touch."

The invitation also featured a partial picture of a device resembling the iPad.

Apple launches are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar, scrutinized by fans, investors, the media and industry insiders alike.

The iPad has completely dominated the nascent tablet computer market, but Amazon's Kindle Fire, which sells at half the cost of an iPad, has chipped away at the lower end of the tablet market.

The third iteration of a device that has helped put pressure on demand for traditional laptops and computers is expected to boast a faster, quad-core processor and a higher-definition screen.

Some analysts and industry experts also expect 4G wireless capability, ensuring the iPad remains current as cutting edge broadband technology gains momentum.

Apple iPad tablet sales doubled in the December quarter to 15.43 million units from a year earlier. The company has sold about 55 million iPads since it introduced the device in 2010.

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; editing by Maureen Bavdek and Andre Grenon)

Barclays boss asked to waive his bonus - The Sun

Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott said there was no way the chief executive could justify a reward of up to 2.5million as Barclays plunged into crisis.

Barclays confirmed it was the bank panned by the Treasury for avoiding corporation tax by buying back its own debt at cut-price rates last December.

Treasury officials closed the loophole on Monday.

They also outlawed an even more complex scheme that would have seen Barclays secure a tax credit by moving income around its balance sheet.

Barclays this month revealed annual profits of 5.9BILLION for 2011. At the time the bank admitted it paid a "relatively small amount" of corporation tax in the UK because most profits were from overseas.

It had signed a tax avoidance code in late 2010, and made being a good "corporate citizen" key to last year's strategy. The bonus for Mr Diamond on a 1.35million salary is revealed in days.

But Lord Oakeshott said: "Stephen Hester, chief executive at RBS, gave up his bonus after breaking a promise to lend more. 'Good citizen' Bob should give up his for having his hands in taxpayers' pockets." Exchequer Secretary David Gauke yesterday conceded Barclays had not broken any law but had "taken a substantial reputational hit".

Barclays last night insisted it took its "responsibilities as a corporate citizen very seriously". A spokeswoman said it had voluntarily disclosed the tax schemes to the HMRC. She added: "The treatment was both legal and compliant with the tax code."

Meanwhile, the Financial Ombudsman Service yesterday revealed that Barclays was the most complained about bank in the last six months of 2011 with 11,500 cases brought by consumers. A total of 84 per cent were upheld, compared with an industry average of 72 per cent.

Most complained about financial businesses with number of complaints 1. Barclays, 11,524, 2. MBNA Europe, 9,185, 3. Lloyds TSB, 7,467, 4. Bank of Scotland, 6,082, 5. Santander, 5,439, 6. Capital One (Europe), 5,375, 7. Black Horse, 5,252, 8. HSBC, 4,430, 9. NatWest, 2,737, 10. Nationwide, 2,513.


If Simon's got a spare million quid kicking around, Noel's his - Mirror.co.uk

Yep, Noel Gallagher has said he would be a judge on X Factor for £1million. But being the wisecracking comedian he is (no, really, he's hilarious), it was all a bit of a joke... we think.

"It's about six months' work, innit? I reckon it would have to be a million pounds after tax," he told the Radio Times.

"I say that tongue-in-cheek. I don't really want to do it. But a million pounds for six months' work? That's good money if you can get it. Even I don't earn that much."

Still as arrogant as ever then.

Of course, Simon did actually ask Noel to replace him when he went off to America to launch the show over there because he wanted an "alpha male" to take his seat.

Simon Cowell pulls a funny face as he drink a beer in the back of his car with Jackie St Clair leaving the Arts Club
The. Best. Picture. Ever

"He said, 'Basically [I want] somebody to replace me'," Noel recalled. "And I was like, 'What, you mean have all the kids round my house in the back garden and saying to big lunatics, 'I've made my decision and I can only take three...'

"No, that's not going to happen in my house, the missus would kick off for a start."

Perhaps not quite the alpha male he makes himself out to be then.

Thankfully, Noel didn't take Simon up on his offer and we got to stare at the delicious face of Gary Barlow instead. No offence and everything Noel, but Gazza's just got a hotter smoulder.

Gary Barlow could be returning as an X Factor judge










Romney regains footing, shifts focus to Obama - CNN

Novi, Michigan (CNN) -- As a television broadcast showed Mitt Romney pulling ahead in Michigan's hotly contested primary race, campaign advisers began streaming into the hall where he would speak.

The cheerful group's appearance en masse came minutes before Romney was declared the winner, and underlined his team's confidence after weeks of doubt about his Michigan prospects.

"Just a week ago, the pundits and the pollsters, they were ready to count us out," Romney said in his speech to hundreds of cheering supporters. "We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that's all that counts."

His campaign roared back to life Tuesday night, staving off concerns about the viability of his bid as he bested former Sen. Rick Santorum in the hard-fought battle for Michigan.

Dropping the attacks he has thrust at Santorum in recent speeches, Romney again seized the mantle of presumptive nominee and focused his fire on President Barack Obama.

"We need to have a recovery from this so-called recovery," Romney told the Michigan audience.

Michigan wasn't supposed to be that way. The Massachusetts governor had long been expected to sail to easy victory in the state where he was born and his father served as governor.

But after sweeping a trio of contests in early February, Santorum shot ahead in Michigan state polls and became the latest Republican to present a challenge to Romney's front-runner status.

The two candidates spent days before the primary trading barbs at appearances across the state, with each man accusing the other of lacking conservative credentials.

In recent days, Romney sought to steer the conversation away from the social issues Santorum frequently discussed and back to the economic issues where he is most comfortable.

However, a series of unforced errors dogged the GOP candidate. He made two casual references to his wealth, saying his wife Ann drove "a couple of Cadillacs" and telling The Associated Press he was friends with NASCAR team owners.

In addition, the campaign was widely mocked after Romney gave a long-touted jobs speech at Detroit's Ford Field. Critics said the speech offered little new information and the optics -- 1,200 people sat in neat rows on an enormous field with 65,000 empty seats arcing around them -- had an underwhelming effect.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Romney admitted the remarks had damaged his effort but said he still believed he would become the party's nominee.

That vision seemed more likely Tuesday night.

Syria rebels spirit wounded photographer to safety - San Francisco Chronicle

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Los Angeles Times

Syria rebels spirit wounded photographer to safety
San Francisco Chronicle
Beirut -- A wounded British photographer who had been trapped in the besieged Syrian city of Homs was spirited safely into Lebanon on Tuesday in a risky journey that killed 13 rebels who helped him escape the relentless shelling and gunfire.
China backs international humanitarian aid for SyriaChannel News Asia
Wounded British journalist smuggled from SyriaNewsday
UN estimates Syria's civilian death toll to be 'well over 7500'Globe and Mail
swissinfo.ch -Reuters Africa -Reuters -Los Angeles Times
all 3,509 news articles »

Vote on treaty 'puts it up to Brussels' - Irish Examiner

Vote on treaty 'puts it up to Brussels'

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The referendum on the fiscal compact treaty "puts it up to Brussels" to grant Ireland a cheaper deal on the Anglo bailout, a senior minister has said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday confirmed that the Government would hold a referendum on the treaty following legal advice from the Attorney General.

It comes as the Coalition continues its efforts to secure a deal from the EU and ECB on a cheaper alternative to the promissory note system funding the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide bailout.

That system is scheduled to cost Ireland €47.4bn over the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has been accused of breaking ranks with his party after he refused to state how he intended voting during a TG4 debate yesterday.

One senior minister told the Irish Examiner the decision could work to Ireland's advantage, as the EU and ECB would now be under pressure to deliver a cheaper bailout deal to enhance the chances of a yes vote.

"I think it does work to our advantage," the minister said, adding the referendum "puts it up to Brussels as well" as the Government.

However, the decision to hold a referendum was greeted with disbelief in the EU, with officials fearing it would open a "Pandora's box" of other countries also deciding to hold votes. And there were warnings there would be no agreement on the promissory notes until the treaty was passed.

The aim of the treaty — which has been agreed by 25 of the 27 member states — is to put tighter budget rules and sanctions in place to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

The referendum is set to take place in late May, meaning the referendum on children's rights will be pushed back to October.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore last night pledged that, unlike the situation with the Nice and Lisbon treaties, there would be no second referendum if the fiscal treaty was defeated first time round.

A no vote would not affect Ireland's current troika bailout, but it would mean if Ireland required assistance after that, it would be locked out of the European Stability Mechanism, the EU's future bailout fund.

The treaty requires only 12 of the 17 states using the euro to ratify it.

Mr Kenny will formally sign the treaty on Friday morning at a summit in Brussels, and declared confidence yesterday that the public would "emphatically" endorse it.

"I strongly believe that it is very much in Ireland's national interest that this treaty be approved, as doing so will build on the steady progress the country has made in the past year," he told the Dáil.

a d v e r t i s e m e n t


Boxer Chisora Suspended Over Haye Bust-up - Sky News

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5:56am UK, Wednesday February 29, 2012

Boxer Dereck Chisora has been suspended indefinitely by the WBC after his bust-up with David Haye - and told to attend anger management classes.

The WBC described Chisora's behaviour as "one of the worst" ever by a professional boxer.

Chisora brawled with Haye after losing to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in Munich earlier this month.

World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman, in Mexico, said: "The WBC is absolutely condemning behaviours that are not to be accepted in boxing under any circumstances and will act as soon as it can proceed to impose the fines and sanctions as we consider necessary.

"The WBC is imposing a serious fine (...) and declare an indefinite suspension against fighting again for a WBC title, while demanding Chisora to take an anger management medical treatment, after which his suspension will be reconsidered."

He continued: "Derek Chisora is not going to tarnish the sport for those born in the humblest beds, who become sports heroes of the world to live a life of dignity and pride.

"Chisora, however, as a human being that he is, is going to be strongly invited to enter an anger management rehabilitating programme that hopefully will act in his benefit."

The boxer's promoter Frank Warren told Sky News: "I'm quite sure that Dereck Chisora's legal representatives will have a lot to say about this."

Asked if it signalled the end to Chisora's boxing career, Mr Warren said: "At the end of the day he's got to have a fair hearing... and we'll see what the outcome of that is."

British boxer Dereck Chisora spits water in the face of Vladimir Klitschko

Chisora spits water in the face of Klitschko before their fight

And speaking about the call to anger management, Mr Warren added: "If indeed that needed to be done it would be up to a qualified person to determine it."

Chisora was arrested then released without charge following the incident which started after he confronted his fellow Londoner at the post-fight press conference.

Following the resulting brawl, Chisora shouted threats at his rival, who subsequently left Germany and is wanted for questioning.

The WBC statement made no mention of Haye, who is currently unlicensed.

At the time, Chisora issued a statement in which he admitted his behaviour was "inexcusable", but added: "There were many things that went on behind the scenes that ultimately caused my frustrations to boil over - however, this is of course no excuse."

Following his suspension, Chisora wrote on his Twitter page on Tuesday night: "Song of the evening: 'Me against the world' 2pac."

Roger Waters says Falkland Islands are Argentinian in reported comments - The Guardian

The Falkland Islands should belong to Argentina, the former Pink Floyd bass player Roger Waters is reported as saying in a television interview to be aired in Chile.

Waters has arrived in South America for a major concert tour just as tensions between Argentina and Great Britain over the islands reach their highest pitch since the 1982 Falklands war. Argentina claims the British-held islands as its own, calling them Las Malvinas.

"Roger Waters was categorical: Las Malvinas belong to Argentina," a journalist for the Chilean TVN state channel announced on his Twitter acount after getting an exclusive interview with the rock star on Tuesday. The show airs on Wednesday night on TVN's 24hs news show.

"I am as ashamed as I possibly could be of our colonial past," Waters is reported to have said to TVN journalist Amaro Gómez-Pablos. When asked if the islands are British or Argentinian, Waters reportedly replied: "I think they should be Argentinian."

In a separate press conference in Chile the rock star was more cautious regarding the Falklands dispute, not saying directly who should own them. "Clearly there needs to be a solution to the problem of the varying claims [to the islands] – the claims are so convoluted and so old, going back as they do to the 17th century. It's not a simple situation."

The rock star, who has legions of fans in Argentina, addressed the Falklands dispute in Pink Floyd's 1983 concept album The Final Cut in which the lyrics of the first track say: "Oh Maggie, Maggie, what have we done?" – an apparent reference to Margaret Thatcher's order to sink the Argentinian battleship Belgrano, killing 368 Argentinian sailors.

"My view is that certainly it saved Margaret Thatcher's political career at the time at the cost of a great many Argentine and British lives, which disgusted me then and still does now. I was never a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher," Waters told the press conference in Chile.

Waters arrived on the heels of the American actor Sean Penn, who sparked controversy two weeks ago when he lambasted Britain for what he termed "ludicrous and archaic colonialism" in the Falklands after meeting with President Kirchner in his role as special ambassador for Haiti.

The Argentinian government on Tuesday instructed the country's 20 largest companies to stop importing British products. In a nationally televised speech a day earlier, Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner declared the islands "one of the last remaing colonialist enclaves in the world".

The industry minister Débora Giorgi has instructed companies to replace British imports with alternatives from other countries. Argentina imported products worth an estimated £400m from Britain in 2011.

The virtual import embargo came a day after two British cruise liners were turned away from the Argentine southern tourist port of Ushuaia under a new law in the province of Tierra del Fuego prohibiting all UK-flagged ships from docking there.

After playing in Chile, Waters arrives in Buenos Aires for nine sold-out shows at the River Plate football stadium that get under way next Wednesday. Waters has sold more than 370,000 tickets for the Buenos Aires leg of his The Wall Live tour in South America. Press reports estimate a gross revenue of £19m for the Buenos Aires shows alone.

Dignity in Care report calls for shake-up in staff selection and appraisal - The Guardian

Nurses, doctors and care workers should be recruited as much for their compassion as for their exam results, according to an inquiry into improving the dignity of treatment of elderly people in hospitals and care homes.

A shake-up of the criteria used for selecting and appraising staff should give the same emphasis to their assessed values and capacity to engage with older people as to their formal qualifications, the inquiry recommends. But it stops short of backing any lowering of academic entry bars.

The call is among a raft of proposals by a commission set up jointly by bodies representing NHS organisations and local councils together with a leading charity for older people, following a series of reports and investigations exposing poor care in hospitals and care homes.

A dossier of cases published 12 months ago by the NHS ombudsman found failure to provide "even the most basic standards of care". Later this spring, the conclusions of the Francis inquiry into the breakdown of care at hospitals in mid-Staffordshire is expected to damn the quality of nursing and medical and management supervision.

The draft report of the Commission on Dignity in Care, published on Wednesday, says that improving matters will require nothing short of "fundamental changes to culture, leadership, management, staff development, clinical practice and service delivery".

Sir Keith Pearson, chair of the NHS Confederation, which represents health trusts, said there had been too many cases of failings in care. "We want this report to be a call to arms to the whole health and social care system. We need to work together to earn back public confidence."

The report, which is open to public consultation, urges an end to "command-and-control" NHS management that it says has disempowered frontline staff. It calls on nursing sisters to be given responsibility for everything that happens on their ward and "take the action they deem necessary in the interests of patients", and says that ward teams should have daily discussions on feedback from patients and relatives, with regular reports going up to trust boards.

Residents and their relatives should be involved in the running of care homes, the report says, and a national care quality forum should be set up to investigate all aspects of the staffing of homes, including pay and qualifications, as part of a drive to raise the status of work in the care sector.

Trish Morris-Thompson, NHS London's chief nurse and a member of the commission, said that recruitment and regular career appraisal of staff should consider their values and compassion as much as academic rigour. A pilot scheme involving Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London and the South Bank University nursing course had produced graduates of exceptional quality.

Katherine Fenton, chief nurse at University College London Hospitals foundation trust, said her trust was taking a similar approach, starting with medical consultants, involving assessment of their interaction with patients and group interviews.

The commission insists that many of its recommendations could be implemented at minimal cost. The University Hospitals Birmingham foundation trust, which is singled out for praise in the report, is said to have established a comprehensive "dignity for all" programme with what Morris-Thompson described as "very little resource".

The report, by the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association and charity Age UK, calls on the government to set a more positive tone for debate about the ageing society.

Police probe as mother and child are found dead at family home - Daily Mail

  • Woman named locally as Michelle Weston and her son Leon, 5, were discovered by a family member

By Sarah Bruce

Last updated at 4:36 AM on 29th February 2012

Police launched an investigation last night after a mother and her young son were found dead in an Edinburgh flat.

The woman, named locally as Michelle Weston, and five-year-old Leon were discovered inside their home by a family member at around 5pm.

The emergency services were called to the scene and it is understood that  paramedics tried to revive little Leon but it was too late to save him.

Tragic: Police have launched an investigation after a mother and her young son were found dead in an Edinburgh flat

Tragic: Police have launched an investigation after a mother and her young son were found dead in an Edinburgh flat

Last night, police had cordoned off the cul-de-sac in the rundown Sighthill suburb in the west of the city.

Officers remained tight-lipped on the details of what had happened and would only say they were at a 'very early stage' in their investigation.

It is understood the deaths are being treated as suspicious but officers were waiting for test results to ascertain exactly what happened.

A police spokesman said: 'Police in Edinburgh can confirm they are  currently making inquiries into the deaths of two people in the Sighthill  area of the city.

'Emergency services were called to a house in the Parkhead Grove area late this afternoon where the bodies of a woman and a young child were found.

'The woman is believed to be aged in her thirties and the child is thought to be around five years old.

Shocking: The woman, named locally as Michelle Weston, and Leon, 5, were discovered inside their home by a family member. The police investigation is now continuing at the house

Shocking: The woman, named locally as Michelle Weston, and Leon, 5, were discovered inside their home by a family member. The police investigation is now continuing at the house

'Inquiries are at a very early stage and there is no further information at this time.' 

While detectives launched a major investigation, rumours were rife as  bloggers on one Edinburgh website talked about the tragedy.

One wrote: 'Anybody know what is going on in Parkhead? I was walking through the alleyway that leads into the cul-de-sac and reached the end where it had been cordoned off by the police.

'I had to walk all the way back to get to work. This was at about half past five and they were still there with the bottom of the street closed off at half past eight. When I went past at half past five there were a number of police cars and a few "men in suits" walking about.' 

Another contributor added: 'Such a shame and a waste for the wee one and family.'

Mrs Weston bought the home in Parkhead Grove last year but was brought up in the area. She had recently married.

It is believed she was left grief-stricken after the death of her father, Jim Weir, last month.  

He had been a well-respected prison officer and was very close to his daughter.

An Edinburgh City Council spokesman said: 'We are aware of the police investigation and will provide all the assistance we can.'

The skyline of Sighthill was dominated for decades by high rise tower blocks. The suburb is earmarked for regeneration.

Last year, three multi-storey tower blocks containing 285 homes were demolished to make way for a  housing development for sale and  for rent.

Iran says making nuclear bombs a 'great sin' - Baltimore Sun (blog)

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran, facing growing international pressure over its nuclear program, called for more talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Tuesday and condemned production of atomic weapons as a "great sin."

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful but negotiations with theInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have stalled and Western powers have grown increasingly concerned over the possible military dimensions of Tehran's atomic work.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in a speech to the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said he expected talks to continue and that he was optimistic they would proceed in the right direction.

"I would like to re-emphasize that we do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons, quite the opposite based on the religious decree issued by our supreme leader, the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin," he said.

However many in the Western camp were skeptical, with the IAEA saying no further talks were scheduled, given what Western diplomats have described as Iran's unwillingness to address allegations of military nuclear research.

A report by the IAEA last week said Iran was significantly stepping up its uranium enrichment, a finding that sent oil prices higher on fears tensions between Tehran and the West could escalate into military conflict.

Israel has threatened to launch strikes to prevent Iran getting the bomb, saying Tehran's continued technological progress means it could soon pass into a "zone of immunity."

In high-level meetings between the IAEA and Iran, held in Tehran in January and February, Iranian officials stuck to a refusal to address intelligence reports about covert research relevant to developing nuclear weapons, Western diplomats say.

Salehi, addressing reporters in Geneva, said Iran expected the "dialogue that has started" with the IAEA would continue.

"There was some disagreement on drafting an initial framework that would set the ground for a new roadmap as how to proceed," Salehi said. "We are optimistic that upcoming meetings...will be proceeding hopefully in the right direction."


Laura Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, rejected Salehi's comments, saying they stood in "stark contrast to Iran's failure to comply with its international obligations" regarding its nuclear program.

"Indeed, Iran has moved in the opposite direction by expanding its capacity to enrich uranium to nearly 20 percent and continues to move forward with proscribed enrichment and heavy-water related activities, all in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions," Kennedy told the talks.

Turkey said it was prepared to host talks between Iran and world powers, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying he would speak to his Iranian counterpart next week.

"Latest in April, I guess there will be a meeting in about a month's time. If they prefer to hold it in Turkey we will always host it," he told the state-run TRT Haber television.

In Vienna, where the IAEA is based, one envoy said the lack of progress in getting Tehran to start responding to the suspicions was a clear indication that it is "not serious at all in entering any meaningful negotiation."

Another Vienna-based official familiar with the issue said the IAEA team had asked for Iran's initial position on issues raised by the U.N. agency in a detailed November report that pointed to a possible covert nuclear weapons agenda in Iran.

There were sixty-five paragraphs in the IAEA's report and the Iranian side responded with "sixty-five no's," the official said, making clear that Iran had rejected all information indicating illicit attempts to design a nuclear bomb.

In Geneva, Salehi accused the West of double standards for backing Iran's arch-enemy Israel, the only Middle East state outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and believed to be have the only nuclear arsenal in the region.

"We have clearly stated time and time again there are two alternatives in dealing with the Iranian peaceful nuclear program. One way is engagement, cooperation and interaction. The other is confrontation and conflict," Salehi said.

"Iran is confident of the peaceful nature of its program and has always insisted on the first alternative. When it comes to our relevant rights and obligations, our consistent position is that Iran does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable, legitimate rights."

(Additional reporting by Vincent Fribault and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

Scrap the health bill, GP urges David Cameron - The Guardian

A GP who was an adviser to the health secretary has urged the prime minister to scrap the health and social care bill.

Dr Sam Everington is chair of the clinical commissioning group (CCG) of GPs in Tower Hamlets in east London. Under the NHS shakeup, CCGs will gain control of local health budgets from April next year, taking over from primary care trusts. His CCG is the first to demand that the bill is dropped, although senior doctors believe that others will follow suit.

Until now Everington supported the plan to hand GP consortiums power and money, the main object of the bill. The Bromley-by-Bow surgery in Tower Hamlets where he works, widely admired as an example of innovative good practice to improve patients' care, hosted Andrew Lansley's first speech as health secretary after the 2010 election. In a letter to David Cameron, Everington warns that "your rolling restructuring of the NHS compromises our ability to focus on what really counts" and that improvements to NHS primary care could be made "without the bureaucracy generated by the bill."

While GPs in Tower Hamlets support clinical involvement in commissioning care, "an act of parliament is not needed to make this happen", he said. Cameron should also not mistake GPs' involvement in CCGs, which now cover 95% of England, as backing for them, added Everington. "Your government has interpreted our commitment to our patients as support for the bill. It is not", he said.

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said by insisting the bill was unnecessary to improve primary care, Everington had distilled a belief shared by many GPs. Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the CCG's call was "significant, especially as they [CCGs] were supposed to be at the heart of the government's NHS reforms."

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: "Even doctors who were in the vanguard of Mr Lansley's changes are now deserting him and adding their voice to the Drop the Bill campaign. It is humiliating for the Health Secretary to receive this letter of resignation from the practice where he made his first speech as health secretary."

But the Department of Health brushed off the letter. "GPs in Tower Hamlets, like all GPs, will be able to take these powers to benefit their local patients, and only with the bill can we make clinical commissioning a reality for patients across the country. That is why the NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care — who represent over 11,000 primary care clinicians — support our proposals", said a spokesman.

"Without the bill, doctors and nurses will always run the risk of having their decisions second-guessed by the managers running primary care trusts. The bill cuts out this needless bureaucracy and hands control for care over to those who know their patients best — the doctors and nurses throughout the NHS", he added.

Lansley faced tough questioning in the Commons over a raft of new amendments to the bill being sought by Nick Clegg and Shirley Williams for the Liberal Democrats. The health secretary said that the changes they are seeking would be "significant".

He was responding to an emergency question from Burnham after the coalition government's apparent confusion over the changes announced on Monday by the deputy prime minister.

In an effort to head off a Lib Dem backlash against the bill at the party's spring conference in March, Clegg wrote to his MPs and peers promising important changes to "rule out beyond doubt any threat of a US-style market in the NHS". However the promise of five amendments through the House of Lords was undermined after Downing Street said that the changes were "not significant". Ministers have also said there would be no further changes to the bill.

Burnham challenged Lansley to tell MPs whether the latest changes were "substantial or cosmetic", and whether they had been agreed by the prime minister and health secretary in advance.

"The government appears in complete disarray, or maybe it was... coalition choreography to save face for the deputy prime minister," said Burnham. "The NHS matters too much to leave it to be carved up in cosy coalition deals."

Lansley avoided at least three times answering questions about whether he had been consulted about Clegg's letter. "The point of the letter was to reflect the discussions we have been having," he said in reply to Labour MP Gisela Stuart.

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow qwhose constituency includes Tower Hamlets, challenged Lansley on Everington's letter. "When the very structures he's establishing to advise him are telling him they don't want [anything] to do with this nightmare he's creating, isn't it time to look again and drop the bill?" said Ali.

Lansley replied: "They will use the powers in this bill and they will use them effectively."

Later Burnham also criticised the decision of the backbench business committee of MPs not to debate the e-petition signed by 162,000 people asking for the health bill to be dropped.

E-petitions hosted by the government website are eligible for debate when they are signed by more than 100,000 people.

Pearce makes his mark... but the caretaker's ramshackle build-up has a whiff ... - Daily Mail

By Matt Lawton

Last updated at 11:00 PM on 28th February 2012

As a photograph of Fabio Capello left the building under the arm of a  Wembley handyman on Tuesday, Stuart Pearce went into full England  manager mode.

Never mind that the friendly with Holland could mark his one crack at the top job. Pearce was preparing for this summer's European Championship in the hope that he might yet be in charge, ordering his players to practise penalties having already informed them of certain changes he had made to his Italian predecessor's pre-tournament plans.

Leading his merry men: Stuart Pearce put on quite the show at Wembley

Leading his merry men: Stuart Pearce put on quite the show at Wembley

'Fabio had most of the planning and training-camp details put into place and I've tinkered with that slightly,' he said.

For a former full back whose  distinguished England career was defined by two penalties, spot-kicks amounted to an essential part of Tuesday's training session.

Pearce took up his position on the edge of the area armed with a clipboard that enabled him to take copious notes. Only three of the players missed, Ashley Cole shooting wide before Theo Walcott and Scott  Carson saw their efforts saved.

Juggling act: Pearce still has big decisions to make before the game against Holland

Juggling act: Pearce still has big decisions to make before the game against Holland

The changes to Capello's pre-tournament plans remained something the Football Association were not prepared to confirm, beyond suggesting that Marbella might not now be the destination for a bit of warm-weather training.

But Pearce clearly wanted to give the impression that he is now every inch the man in charge, even  choosing to select the Under 21 side that will meet Belgium in  Middlesbrough this evening.

When it came to the rather more serious business of an encounter with Bert van Marwijk's World Cup finalists, Pearce was not giving much away.

Last week he suggested too much had been made of the England  captaincy issue but the question of who would captain the national team this evening was not one he was willing to answer, even though he says he has made his decision.

If there is a concern about Steven Gerrard after battling through 120 minutes of Carling Cup action on Sunday, it is not apparently shared by the Liverpool midfielder, who wants to start.

Pearce has actually succeeded only in increasing the focus on the captaincy by choosing to wait until 10 o'clock this morning to tell a squad as much in the dark about the team he intends to pick.

With Gerrard and Stewart Downing sitting out the main part of Tuesday's training session and Glen Johnson sidelined by injury, Pearce was working with limited numbers — just as he had been the previous day when those who played on  Sunday also missed the main  session.

It is fair to say this will not be the best prepared England team we have seen — Pearce was not even able to hold an 11-a-side practice match. He was forced to conduct an eight-on-eight game instead.

Spot of bother: Ashley Cole was one of three players to miss a penalty in a shootout

Spot of bother: Ashley Cole was one of three players to miss a penalty in a shootout

Having informed some senior internationals they would not be required for this friendly, Pearce's call-up of defender Joleon Lescott — for the injured Johnson — added to the sense of farce.

At one end of the pitch Pearce took the defenders, working with two back fours. The first had Micah Richards to the right of Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling with Leighton Baines on the left flank. The second saw Smalling on the right, Richards to the right of Phil Jones in the middle and Ashley Cole to the left.

At the other end of the pitch the forwards and midfielders worked under the guidance of Steve Wigley before Pearce organised an eight-a-side game. In orange bibs Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott took up their positions either side of Danny Welbeck in what would be an exciting front three but one that would be just as quick if Ashley Young featured.

Born to lead: Will Steven Gerrard be England captain against Holland?

Born to lead: Will Steven Gerrard be England captain against Holland?

The penalties followed and after that came the series of press conferences, with Joe Hart presented to the media with the insistence that this did not necessarily mean he was skipper.

According to sources on Tuesday night, Gerrard will probably get the nod with Hart taking on the role in the second half.

Gerrard has to play and he has to be captain. Not only is he England's most influential player. He has been unavailable for international duty for more than a year because of injury and he needs to reacquaint himself with some and introduce himself to others in this rapidly changing squad. For a start he has not yet joined Scott Parker in midfield.

On Tuesday Pearce did acknowledge Gerrard's importance. 'As a role model he is as good as it is going to get in this nation,' he said.

Hart, meanwhile, said he was happy just to have a goalkeeping coach, in Ray Clemence, who addressed him by his correct Christian name.

At the 2010 World Cup Franco Tancredi was forever calling him 'John'. 'It makes a nice change,' said Hart, a little red-faced.

Nobody's face was a darker shade of red, however, than that of Pearce. If he seemed relatively calm last week, he appeared rather more intense with kick-off little more than 24 hours away. There was more of an edge to this most  passionate of patriots, his mood familiar to those who have followed him at Under 21 tournaments.

... or will it be the goalkeeper, Joe Hart who dons the armband

... or will it be the goalkeeper, Joe Hart who dons the armband

A little flustered, he referred to John Terry as 'the current captain' before then correcting himself. 'The proudest moment of my career was captaining England,' he then said. 'If I feel that in my heart then I can't take that decision lightly.'

Of utmost importance on Wednesday is the performance of the strikers, in particular Welbeck. With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012 and Darren Bent now a doubt for the tournament with a serious ankle injury, the search intensifies this evening for Rooney's understudy.

'We have to come out of this game with one or two individuals having confirmed that, yes, they can fulfil that role in the team,' he said.

If Pearce manages to do that he would have served his country well.


martes, 28 de febrero de 2012

Becks posts Posh pics to Facebook - The Sun

Posh , 37, is shown pouting with a sexy flicked bob haircut on the cover of French magazine, Madame Figaro.

Wearing a pink retro-print playsuit, the slim fashion designer is then shown lying on her back on a set of steps with her arms resting above her head.

David, 36, comments beside the snaps: "Check out Victoria on the cover of Madame Figaro, she looks great! The shots were taken by talented British Photographer, Greg Williams, hope you like them."

Of course, Goldenballs is just returning the social networking favour. Posh posted pics of David in his H&M undies range to Twitter earlier this month.

She even posed for a cheeky pic appearing to, ahem, cup the Beckham crown jewels in a huge poster for the budget range in New York.

Again, David fired Beck his appreciation on Facebook by posting the pic with the words: "So proud of my wife taking #NYFW by the balls." Well quite.

Football Carlos Tevez Manchester City Reserve Game Return - Sky News

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6:18pm UK, Tuesday February 28, 2012

Carlos Tevez played a half for Manchester City's elite development squad, as he started working his way back toward full match fitness.

It was the striker's first game for the club since he fell out with manager Roberto Mancini, after apparently refusing to warm up in the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich in September.

The match against Preston reserves was played at City's Carrington training ground, behind a net fence, to try to exclude the media.

Tevez played for the first half, and hopes to be available for selection for the Premier League squad within two weeks.

The club has given him a fitness programme to follow and he has also taken part in senior training sessions.

He is not expected to be ready to play in Saturday's home match against Bolton, but could be fit enough for the following weekend's away fixture at Swansea.

In the reserve match, City were beaten 3-1 by Preston.

Pinto's Titanic celeb crush - Independent Online

freida pinto


Actress Freida Pinto

Freida Pinto had a schoolgirl crush on Leonardo DiCaprio.

The 27-year-old star admits the 'J. Edgar' actor was a regular feature of her teenage fantasies.

She said: "As a teenager you have all kinds of dreams. And Leonardo's part of them!"

Now living with real-life boyfriend Dev Patel, 21, - who handpicked her to play his love interest in 'Slumdog Millionaire' - Freida says they like to laugh at their early interviews on YouTube.

She told Esquire magazine: "The two of us are all over the place.

"We're laughing at each other's jokes and they're not funny at all, but we're just encouraging each other.

"Now I've learned all these tricks. Always smile, and look slowly from left to the right. But in 2009, I was new to all of it. It was the 'Alice in Wonderland' effect. Angelina Jolie would walk past and I was, like, 'Seriously?'"

The actress recently stripped off for a nude scene in 'Trishna' - an Indian reworking of 'Tess Of The d'Urbervilles' - although it was not an easy experience.

She said: "It was hard but it was a small crew, and they were good at not making their presence felt.

"They didn't go, 'Quick! She's nearly naked! Get your camera out!'" - Bang Showbiz

Billy Crystal in blackface: What did you think of the Oscar host's ... - National Post

Between J. Lo's nipple and Angelina's right leg, there is much to discuss about Sunday night's Oscar Awards that has nothing to do with the awards themselves. Today, we can add the Academy's budding controversy: Billy Crystal's opening monologue, during which the host appeared briefly in blackface.

Some context: back in the 1980s, when Crystal was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, his Sammy Davis Jr. impression was a mainstay. This impression came with a costume, and that costume included blackface. Skip forward to 2012, when Crystal's Sammy Davis impression makes a brief appearance during a Midnight in Paris sketch (which also featured Justin Bieber — watch it here). Cue outcry. (It certainly didn't help that that sketch was immediately followed by one poking fun at The Help.)

Within moments of Crystal's controversial sketch, the Twitter community slammed the host, with comedian Paul Scheer's tongue-in-cheek criticism among the most quoted:

But what do you think? Was Crystal's sketch offensive? Let us know in the comments!

Apple announces event, iPad 3 launch expected - Newsday

Quick ReadApple announces event March 7 in San Francisco; launch of iPad 3 expected

Photo credit: AP | A student unpacks her new iPad at Burlington High School in Burlington, Mass. (Aug. 23, 2011).

Apple is inviting reporters to an event next Wednesday in San Francisco. An image on the invite showing part of an iPad screen suggests it's to announce a new model.

The company has been widely expected to reveal the third version of the iPad soon, close to the anniversary of the launch of the iPad 2.

The invitation is for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, where Apple holds...

Newsday & ExploreLI are now available at no charge to Newsday 7-day and Optimum Online® subscribers. To continue reading, please log in or register now.

Day of reckoning and "dirty tricks" as Michigan votes - Reuters Africa

By Steve Holland and Sam Youngman

SOUTHFIELD/GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (Reuters) - Mitt Romney accused rival Rick Santorum of dirty tricks for encouraging Democrats to defeat him in Michigan's primary on Tuesday, when voters will determine whether Romney gets a big win or a humiliating defeat in his home state.

Romney, running neck-and-neck with rival Republican presidential candidate Santorum in opinion polls, charged that his opponent was trying to "kidnap" the party's primary process in Michigan by appealing to Democrats to cast their votes in a contest that is open to supporters of both parties.

Romney's father was a popular governor and Romney was born and raised in Michigan. Arizona holds its Republican primary as well on Tuesday, with Romney leading in the polls.

A new poll on Tuesday underscored how the former Massachusetts governor is still viewed with suspicion by conservative Republicans.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Romney had fallen to a new low among the most conservative Americans. He is viewed favourably by just 38 percent among strong conservatives, down 14 percentage points from a week earlier. Sixty percent of that group view Santorum positively.

To boost Santorum, supporters paid for an automated "robocall" to Democrats to encourage members of the other party to vote for the former Pennsylvania senator.

Democrats could tip the close race in Santorum's favour unless there is a big Republican turnout, in a year when the number of Republicans going to the polls has been declining steadily compared to the 2008 campaign.

Romney said the robocall helps make the race unpredictable.   Continued...

MSP package 'cold have exploded' - Belfast Telegraph

A suspicious package sent to former MSP Trish Godman's constituency office could have exploded under the correct circumstances, a court has heard.

Royal Navy bomb disposal expert Chief Petty Officer Lee Yates told the High Court in Glasgow that a liquid inside a plastic bottle within the package had tested positive for the explosive substance tri-acetone tri-peroxide (TATP).

He said the liquid would normally be ignited with a power source such as a battery, but said it could have been triggered by light energy as the envelope was pulled open.

Mr Yates was giving evidence at the trial of Trevor Muirhead, 43, and Neil McKenzie, 42, who deny plotting to murder Celtic manager Neil Lennon, as well as Ms Godman and lawyer Paul McBride QC, who are both supporters of the club, by sending improvised explosive devices to them.

The court heard that prior to the incident, Ms Godman, who was the Labour MSP for the West Renfrewshire constituency, had worn a Celtic top to the Scottish Parliament as a "dare for charity" on the final day before Holyrood was due to dissolve pending the election which followed in May last year.

A package delivered to her office in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, on Monday March 28 sparked the evacuation of the building.

Mr Yates, 48, was asked by advocate depute Tim Niven-Smith if the device had the "general appearance" of an improvised explosive device, to which he replied: "Absolutely. Anyone opening that envelope would get quite a fright I would think."

He went on: "It could have been part of a learning curve. It possibly could have been developed further if it had been allowed to go on. TATP usually comes in crystal format, like sugar.

"It is much more potent like this, putting it through the postal system in that state - it is unlikely it would reach its intended destination. Liquid is added to TATP to make it more stable.

"If it functioned in the way it was intended it could cause serious injury or even death, particularly because it contained nails which would act as shrapnel."

Fuel tax cut 'good for economy' - Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Cutting fuel duty will boost the UK economy by creating many thousands of jobs, campaigners have told the Government.

This forecast was presented to Treasury Minister Chloe Smith when she met members of FairFuelUK which is backed by the RAC and freight organisations.

The prediction was contained in the initial findings of a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The report showed that a cut of 2.5p per litre would create 180,000 jobs in the first year, at no net tax loss.

FairFuelUK said that a bolder 5p cut would cost the Exchequer around 1 billion, a figure likely to be offset by intangible benefits of increased confidence, and which would create another 30,000 jobs. A 2.5p cut will boost GDP by 0.33%.

National spokesman for FairFuelUK Quentin Willson said: "We've been saying this all along and now we can prove it. This conclusively backs up our claim that a cut in fuel duty will boost the economy without harming Treasury revenues. Quite rightly, the Chancellor's priority is on stimulating growth in order to pay down the deficit. Here is a way to do both."

He went on: "The Government now needs to embrace these findings and follow through on the 1p cut they made last year."

The meeting follows the publication of another set of figures - obtained by Tory MP Philip Davies - indicating that in Britain, taxes and duties account for 60% of the price of petrol and 58% for diesel.

After the 30-minute meeting with Ms Smith, Mr Willson emerged to say he had been pleased at the way the minister listened to the group's arguments and that she promised to look at the full report from the Centre for Economics and Business Reserch when it was presented to her on Friday.

Mr Willson said: "She was very interested in what we had to say. This is a virtuous campaign that will benefit everyone in the country. Families are faced with an unsustainable burden thanks to high fuel taxes, and rising world oil prices are only going to make the situation worse.

"We want the Government to rethink the whole fuel tax regime. We were heartened by the fact that the Government asked to see us. I don't think this was political grandstanding. I think they want to help."


'It's a sin': Iran calls on treaty to ban nuclear weapons - RT

Iran, who is suspected by many western nations of secretly developing weapons of mass destruction, has proposed a ban on nuclear weapons, calling their production or possession as "a great sin."

­"The production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin," said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in a speech to the UN-hosted Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday.

He said Iran does not see any glory, pride or power in nuclear weapons, but, "quite the opposite."

Salehi suggested a limited number of options for states worried about Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

"We have clearly stated time and time again that there are two alternatives in dealing with Iran's peaceful nuclear program. One way is engagement, cooperation and interaction. The other is confrontation and conflict," he said.

However, he stressed that Iran is "confident of the peaceful nature of its program,""does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable, legitimate rights."

Iran maintains that it is seeking peaceful cooperation with western countries, despite all allegations and sanctions.

Salehi's comments followed UN nuclear weapons inspectors' two-day visit to Tehran last week. The IAEA's ranking experts, however, remain adamant that Iran is not being sufficiently cooperative in regards to its nuclear program.

That was the conclusion after the IAEA's team was denied access to a key military site in Parchin.

However, Iran's envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltani told RT on Monday that "Iran is not ruling out access to any military sites, including Parchin."

He added that the group's aim was "to discuss the reality and framework for our future work," not to visit nuclear sites.

Commenting on the agency's visit, Salehi said he hopes the dialogue with the IAEA will continue.

Moreover, Salehi accused the West of double standards for its support of Israel, the Middle East's only state outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – and the region's sole possessor of nuclear weapons.

The IAEA suspects that Iran's uranium enrichment program could lead to nuclear weapons production. Iran maintains that its activity is exclusively civilian.

London police lent horse to Rebekah Brooks - New Zealand Herald

London's Metropolitan Police have admitted they had lent a horse to Rebekah Brooks, the former tabloid editor and top aide to Rupert Murdoch who was arrested over the phone-hacking scandal.

As the police force battles claims that it grew too close to Murdoch's British newspaper wing News International, of which Brooks was chief executive, a spokesman said she had provided a "suitable retirement home" for the horse.

"In 2008 a retired (police) horse was loaned to Rebekah Brooks. The horse was subsequently re-housed with a police officer in 2010," the Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said.

He added: "When a police horse reaches the end of its working life, Mounted Branch officers find it a suitable retirement home.

"Whilst responsibility for feeding the animal and paying vet bills passes to the person entrusted to its care at its new home, the horse remains the property of the Metropolitan Police Service."

Brooks's spokesman also confirmed the deal. "It was a charitable deed by Rebekah for a horse that would otherwise have been sent to the knacker's yard," he told AFP.

"It's well known in the horse-riding community that the police require homes for retiring police horses. Rebekah paid for its bills, paid for its food - and obviously rode it."

Brooks is known to be a keen rider, and her husband Charlie is a racehorse trainer.

The flame-haired Murdoch protegee has reportedly been a riding companion to Prime Minister David Cameron, whose constituency home is near Brooks in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, southern England.

The revelation comes a day after a government inquiry into media ethics heard that a Met officer gave Brooks, 43, extensive information on a criminal investigation into phone hacking at Murdoch's News of the World in 2006.

She was editor of the NOTW's sister paper The Sun at the time.

The Leveson Inquiry, set up after the hacking scandal closed the NOTW last July, also heard on Monday that The Sun had a "network of corrupted officials" including police who provided stories for cash.

Robert Jay, a lawyer for the inquiry, said the public were concerned that "the relationship between the police and News International in particular was at best inappropriately close and at worst corrupt."

Brooks, who edited first the NOTW and then The Sun before becoming head of News International in 2009, was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and bribery in July. She quit the chief executive role but denies any wrongdoing.


Yahoo Threatens to Sue Facebook Over Patents - TIME

The escalating war between technology companies over intellectual property has had a number of unfortunate consequences, but perhaps none is sadder than the spectacle of an ailing Internet giant using the threat of patent litigation to extract money from an up-and-coming firm. Yet that appears to be Yahoo's strategy, by demanding that Facebook pay it licensing fees — or else face a potentially costly patent dispute.

Yahoo says it owns patents for as many as 20 technologies that include online advertising, social networking, and messaging, according to The New York Times, which first reported the company's threats against Facebook. Yahoo called Facebook on Monday to inform the booming social network, which could be worth $100 million after its IPO later this spring, that it currently infringes on those patents. As a result, Yahoo demanded that Facebook pay it licensing fees to cover those technologies, or face litigation.

"Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property," Yahoo spokesman said in statement cited by the paper. "We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights."

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Yahoo has had a particularly rocky several months, as the company seeks to turn around a years-long slide that has seen it eclipsed, not only by one-time rival Google, but also by social media upstarts like Facebook and Twitter. Yahoo still has a huge audience, but it no longer commands the respect it once did as an Internet pioneer.

Last September, Carol Bartz was fired as CEO and in January, co-founder Jerry Yang left the company. In February, board chairman Roy Bostock resigned, clearing the way for Yahoo to sell its valuable Asian assets, but those talks have faltered.

Now Yahoo appears to be throwing itself head-first into Silicon Valley's escalating patent wars, which have been particularly heated in the mobile phone space, if not between social networking companies. Apple has been waging a proxy patent battle against Google's Android mobile operating system, targeting one of the search giant's main hardware partners, Samsung.

Indeed, Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility was a way to gain access to 17,000 mobile technology patents, in part to defend against intellectual property attacks from Apple and Microsoft. Both of those companies, meanwhile, are part of a consortium that has agreed pay $4.5 billion to purchase some 6,000 patents from Nortel.

The problem for Yahoo is that no one likes a patent troll, and the company risks further harming its already-battered reputation at a time when it should be focusing its energies on rebuilding its business — not trying to shake-down newer, more successful rivals.

Costa Cruises' liner under tow after fire - Stuff.co.nz


The Costa Allegra cruise ship is under tow to the Seychelles after an engine room fire left it powerless and drifting.

A crippled cruise ship owned by the company whose giant liner was wrecked off Italy last month is being towed by a French tuna boat to the main island in the Seychelles, its owners said overnight (NZ time).

An engine room fire on the Costa Allegra knocked out the ship's main power supply in the Indian Ocean on Monday, leaving it adrift with more than 1000 people on board in waters vulnerable to pirate attacks.

The ship's Italian owner, Costa Cruises, a unit of US cruise line giant Carnival Corp, said a plan to tow it to the nearer island of Desroches had been aborted because it would have been harder to moor and disembark the passengers there.

The Trevignon, a deep sea trawler which sails the oceans for tuna from the Atlantic port of Concarneau, is pulling the Costa Allegra, a vessel many times its size, on a 400-metre cable at a speed of only about six knots, the Trevignon's skipper Alain Dervout told his local French newspaper, Ouest-France.

He was joined overnight (NZ time) by two tugs and a coastguard ship, all from Seychelles, the archipelago's government said. A military aircraft was also flying in support of the operation.

The cruise ship was due to arrive at the Seychelles capital of Victoria on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning (tonight, or tomorrow, NZ time), depending on weather conditions, government spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic said.

"Helicopters will ensure continuous supply of food, comfort items, flashlights in order to mitigate guests' discomfort given the difficult conditions on board," Costa Cruises spokesman Davide Barbano said in a statement.

A team from the Italian coastguard is heading to the Seychelles to investigate the accident, but a spokesman for the agency it would be wrong to make analogies to the Costa Concordia disaster on January 13, in which at least 25 people died and over which a criminal investigation has been launched.

"They are two different situations, totally different conditions, so they are not related accidents," Cosimo Nicastro told Reuters.

Prosecutors in the Italian city of Genoa have opened an investigation into the fire on the Costa Allegra, judicial sources said.

Nicastro said there was no question of the passengers being transferred to other vessels.

"The safest place for the people is on the ship. There is no reason to put them on another ship or a helicopter. They will remain on the Costa Allegra and we will keep monitoring the situation," he said.

An evacuation off Desroches Island would have presented the ship owner and local authorities with a tricky and expensive logistical operation.

The 636 passengers and 413 crew would have had to use the ship's lifeboats to land on the exclusive coral-fringed island, where Britain's Prince William and his then girlfriend, now wife, Kate Middleton, stayed a few years ago.

"Logistics and hotels on the island are not sufficient. It would require ... an immediate transfer from Desroches to Mahe," Barbano, the Costa Cruises spokesman, said.


Seychelles authorities still face a logistical headache finding accommodation in Mahe for all those onboard.

"Right now we are in consultation with the hotels on Mahe to find out how many beds are available. It's a busy time of year," government spokeswoman Janosevic told Reuters.

The giant Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio, killing at least 25 people. Divers and rescue workers are searching for the bodies of seven still missing more than six weeks after the disaster.

The Costa Allegra, at 29,000 tonnes several times smaller than the Concordia, was sailing some 320km southwest of Seychelles when the fire broke out and it sent a distress signal, Costa Cruises said.

The fire was put out and there was light onboard thanks to an emergency battery. But there was no air conditioning to counter tropical temperatures, nor cooking facilities.

The passengers, including four children, are from 25 different nations, with the largest contingents being 127 from France and 126 from Italy. There are 38 Germans, 31 Britons, 13 Canadians and eight Americans on board.

A former British colony with historic ties to France, the islands of Seychelles are home to a little over 80,000 people. The Costa Allegra left Diego Suarez in Madagascar on Saturday and, sailing northeast, had been due to dock on Mahe on Tuesday.

It is being protected by nine members of an anti-piracy unit of the Italian navy, a precaution regularly taken on ships in the Indian Ocean which is prone to attacks by Somali pirates.

"The ship is not in a high-risk area, but we can't be 100 percent sure," said Costa Cruises' Giorgio Moretti.

While yachts have been seized in the past near Seychelles, pirates have yet to successfully hijack a cruise liner in the Indian Ocean.

Shares of Costa Cruises' parent company Carnival were down 29 cents at $29.67 in morning trade in New York.

Costa was accused by some passengers of long delays and a lack of organisation in the evacuation of the Costa Concordia.

That vessel's Italian captain is under house arrest near Naples accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning the ship.

- Reuters

Bin Laden's compound demolished - International News Network

Abbottabad: The security forces along with the local administration on sunday completed demolishing the compound, where Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed by US seals raid on May 2, 2011.

According to residents, the demolition team conducted its work under heavy security which was started to raze the compound Saturday night without giving prior notice. A large team of police and soldiers set up an outer cordon around the compound to keep spectators away.

Since the May 2 incident, the compound was controlled by the security agencies and no one was allowed to enter in the compound.

On the other hand government officials neither confirming nor denying the reports.

Pakistan was outraged and embarrassed by the U.S. raid because it didnt t know about it beforehand and couldnt t stop it.

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