viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012

Australian entertainer questioned by Scotland Yard as Savile sex case widens - Herald Sun

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 7, 8 & 9

  1. Open the Internet Browser
  2. Click Tools> Internet Options>Privacy>Advanced
  3. Check Override automatic cookie handling
  4. For First-party Cookies and Third-party Cookies click Accept
  5. Click OK and OK

Enabling Cookies in Firefox

  1. Open the Firefox browser
  2. Click Tools>Options>Privacy<Use custom settings for history
  3. Check Accept cookies from sites
  4. Check Accept third party cookies
  5. Select Keep until: they expire
  6. Click OK

Enabling Cookies in Google Chrome

  1. Open the Google Chrome browser
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  3. Check Allow local data to be set
  4. Uncheck Block third-party cookies from being set
  5. Uncheck Clear cookies
  6. Close all

Enabling Cookies in Mobile Safari (iPhone, iPad)

  1. Go to the Home screen by pressing the Home button or by unlocking your phone/iPad
  2. Select the Settings icon.
  3. Select Safari from the settings menu.
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  5. Select 'from visited' from the accept cookies menu.
  6. Press the home button to return the the iPhone home screen.
  7. Select the Safari icon to return to Safari.
  8. Before the cookie settings change will take effect, Safari must restart. To restart Safari press and hold the Home button (for around five seconds) until the iPhone/iPad display goes blank and the home screen appears.
  9. Select the Safari icon to return to Safari.

Kiss Me, Kate theatre review: Cracking Kate's on the move - Daily Mail

By Quentin Letts


A big hit at Chichester in the summer — I gave it five stars — Kiss Me, Kate, starring the heavenly Hannah Waddingham opened this week at London's Old Vic.

The 1948 musical comedy builds a cheerfully farcical plot round Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, inserting Hollywood gags and Cole Porter showstoppers.

It also has Ms Waddingham — a bodice-burster built like Boudica — as Lilli Vanessi, a grumpy film star reduced to a rep production of Shrew The Musical in Baltimore.

Hannah Waddingham in Kiss Me, Kate which opened this week at London's Old Vic

Big hit: Hannah Waddingham in Kiss Me, Kate which opened this week at London's Old Vic

Her co-star in this codpiece epic is ex-husband Fred (Alex Bourne), whom she still loves. The burly Bourne looks like he could have stepped out of a silent-movie era Robin Hood.

Disaster unfolds, of course, but Fred flashes insistent smiles at his audience — even while giving Lilli's bottom a spanking.

Add two terrific mobsters (David Burt and Clive Rowe) and a touching denouement, and you have a night of leggy gallops.

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Monty Python stars in court over 'Spamalot' profits -

Three members of the Monty Python British comedy troupe were in court in London on Friday for the opening of a lawsuit over the profits from a spin-off of one of their greatest hits, the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones arrived together and sat at the back of a small, modern courtroom to listen to opening arguments in the case. All three are expected to give evidence next week.

The Pythons are at odds with Mark Forstater, the producer of the "Holy Grail", who says he has not received his fair share of profits from "Spamalot", a spin-off musical.

Inspired by the original film, the musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has enjoyed a successful run in Britain too. Idle wrote the lyrics and collaborated on most of the music.

Forstater, an American based in Britain, says that under a 1974 agreement between him and the Pythons, he is entitled to one-seventh of profits derived from "Holy Grail" and any merchandise or spin-offs (MSO).

His lawyer, Tom Weisselberg, told the court that for the purposes of profit-sharing, it had been agreed in 1974 that Forstater was "the seventh Python".

"Spamalot is a spin-off from the film and has been a huge international commercial success," Weisselberg said in his opening argument.

He said that Forstater had been receiving his seventh of the profits from "Holy Grail" until 2005, when the Pythons had unilaterally reduced his share to one-fourteenth.

In court, Forstater sat with his lawyer, with the Pythons behind him. They did not talk. The Pythons listened with serious faces and exchanged occasional whispers.

Forstater told Reuters outside the courtroom he had tried to resolve the dispute with the five surviving Pythons: Idle, Palin, Jones, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, but that talks had failed.

He said the amount he believed he was owed in relation to Spamalot was 250,000 pounds.

The three Pythons present in court declined to comment on the case. Palin told Reuters he was there to observe and would "do my bit in court when the time comes". The trial is scheduled to last four to five days.

Microsoft's Surface Windows 8 Pro: Far too expensive to be a hit - Computerworld (blog)

If Microsoft hopes to make inroads in the tablet market, it's going about it in a very odd way: Pricing its products too high to gain much market share. The latest instance is the just-announced prices for the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet, at $899 for a 64 GB version and $999 for the 128 GB version.

Panos Panay, General Manager of Microsoft Surface, announced the pricing on the Official Microsoft Blog. He also announced that the Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available in January.

Those Surface prices, by the way, don't tell the true cost of the Surface models. Prices don't include a Touch Cover or Type Cover, which cost at least $120. So that puts the prices at $1019 for the 64 GB version and $1119 for the 128 GB version.

You can buy an iPad for $499 (with 16 GB only; it costs $599 for the 32 GB model, and $699 for the 64 GB model.) So why would you want to pay more than $1,000 for a Surface tablet?

The answer is that you wouldn't. At these prices, Surface Windows 8 Pro tablets are clearly aimed at enterprises, not the consumer market. And some analysts believe that Microsoft set the prices so high not in order to sell a lot of them, but to allow its competitor's prices to seem like bargains, and so help them sell plenty of those.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, told Computerworld:

"The Surface Pro pricing leaves room for device makers to come down in price without compromising margins too much. This is an enterprise play, not a consumer play, at least for now."

One benefit of the Surface Windows 8 Pro over the RT-based Surface is that because it runs Window 8 rather than RT, it will run desktop apps, which the RT-based Surface won't do. But at more than $1,000 that's a steep price to pay. Enterprises can an buy Windows 8 notebooks or even ultrabooks for less money.

There's another problem with aiming the Surface Pro at the enterprise market: Enterprises aren't particularly keen on Windows 8 at the moment because it breaks so significantly with past versions of Windows. And in a BYOD world, there's no reason to choose a Windows-based tablet over an iPad.

The upshot? Because of its pricing, I don't expect the Surface Pro to be a winner.

Kate Middleton plays field hockey with new hairstyle, still might be pregnant - National Post

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Is she or isn't she? It's so difficult for the average subject of the Commonwealth to discern, isn't it?

Just a day after stepping out and touching her belly enough to get the entertainment "press" buzzing about how much belly touching it takes before a full baby bump appears (that's where babies come from in the U.K. these days, don't you know), there was the Duchess of Cambridge, at her Alma Mater of St. Andrew's, looking splendid in tartan, and, well, moving around like a woman who if she does have a bun in the oven, doesn't seem to mind the idea of a bit of jostling. She even gave a speech in which she revealed that long before she was known as Duchess, or even just Kate, that girl the Prince follows around to nightclubs, she was called Squeak, after her guinea pig. Cute.

Her Highness continued to sport her much ballyhooed new hairstyle, which seemed a perfect fit for the dramatic lateral motions of field hockey. After the abrupt about-face she made with her locks earlier this week, we expect to be monitoring the situation on an hourly basis until such time as there are further non-hair developments (i.e. more belly touching. Or less). In the meantime, here's a gallery of the woman who may or may not be holding a Royal heir in her womb. Although if she is, you have to wonder if high heeled boots are really the best choice for field hockey. After all, healthy ankles can come in handy when a woman is with child. Or not.

Convicted paedophile wins High Court fight to have Facebook page monitoring ... - Daily Mail

  • High Court judge Mr Justice McCloskey found that the man, whose identity cannot be revealed, had his human rights breached
  • The judge sitting in Northern Ireland has given Facebook 72 hours to take the page down

By Anthony Bond


Facebook has been ordered to remove a page which monitors paedophiles following a legal challenge by a convicted sex offender.

High Court judge Mr Justice McCloskey found that the man, whose identity cannot be revealed, had his human rights breached.

The judge sitting in Northern Ireland has given Facebook 72 hours to take the page down.

Law: Facebook is considering its next move after a Northern Ireland court ordered the removal of a page monitoring paedophiles

Judgement: Facebook is considering its next move after a Northern Ireland court ordered the removal of a page monitoring paedophiles

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: 'We are considering our next steps in light of the court judgment and we have nothing further to add at this stage.'

The man, known only as XY, started legal proceedings against the social networking site after discovering his photograph and threatening comments were posted on the page.

More than 5,000 people have liked the page entitled 'Keeping our kids safe from predators'.

Some of the latest posts were written after Lord Justice McCloskey made his ruling.

Order: The judge sitting in Northern Ireland has given Facebook 72 hours to take the page down. Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured

Order: The judge sitting in Northern Ireland has given Facebook 72 hours to take the page down. Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured

One read: 'Can facebook not step in here and fight this battle 4 us..... what the point of having a social netwok (sic) if we can post facts on people especially wen its 2 keep our kids safe....... Come on Mark Zuckerberg we need your help..... plz plz plz.....'

Another wrote: 'Let down a bag full :( no justice at all......Not only me but every victim of sex abuse every kid in the land....... This is what we get for trying 2 protect our kids.'

Facebook is understood to have removed the man's photo and comments made about him but his legal team insisted that the page should be shut down.

This evening it appears the page has already disappeared from the social networking site.

Following Palestinian UN bid, Israel okays construction of 3000 new West Bank ... - Montreal Gazette

JERUSALEM - Israel approved the construction of 3,000 homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a government official said Friday, in what appeared to be a defiant response to the Palestinians' successful United Nations recognition bid.

The Palestinians strongly condemned the announcement and repeated their refusal to start peace negotiations while building continued. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently poised for re-election and insisting that any negotiations begin without preconditions, prospects for peace appear to be going into deep freeze.

The unusually large building plan came a day after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to accept "Palestine" in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as a non-member observer state, setting off jubilant celebrations among Palestinians.

Israel fiercely objected to the UN upgrade, saying peace could only come from direct negotiations and unilateral moves would harm that prospect. The Palestinians said the UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war was an attempt to salvage a possible peace deal and could bolster talks.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israeli while settlement construction continues in occupied territories, saying Israel's settlement expansion on war-won land was making a partition deal increasingly difficult.

Prior to word of the Israeli decision, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh insisted that position hadn't changed, saying settlement building "is not just illegal, it's against the resolution."

More than 500,000 Israelis have moved to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since Israel capturing those territories and Gaza in 1967. Israel unilaterally withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005.

Netanyahu says negotiations must begin without preconditions.

The Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the sensitive issue publicly, said Israel also decided to begin preliminary work in other areas of the West Bank, including the charged E-1 corridor that connects Jerusalem with the settlement bloc of Maaleh Adumim.

Construction there would place a major obstacle for Palestinian statehood by cutting off east Jerusalem from the West Bank and plans there had previously blocked by the Bush administration for that reason.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli announcement, saying Israel was "defying the whole international community and insisting on destroying the two-state solution."

He said the Palestinian leadership was studying its options.

Danny Seidemann, a lawyer for Ir Amim, an Israeli group that supports coexistence in Jerusalem, said construction did not appear imminent and there was "quite a lot of drama" in the Israeli announcement.

"There an element of sticking it to the Palestinians," he said, before adding that plans in E-1 were not only a blow to the Palestinians but to the Americans who oppose them too. "E-1 is the judgment day weapons."

Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group, called the Israeli decision "collective punishment" and called on Israel to retract its move.

"Israel should have understood by now that such behaviour ... will no longer be tolerated by the international community," said Yesh Din's Executive Director Haim Erlich.

Earlier this month, Israel said it was pushing forward construction of 1,200 new homes in Jewish settlements, in an apparent warning to the Palestinians to rethink their UN plan. Israel fears the Palestinians will use their upgraded status to confront Israel in international bodies and extort it to make concessions.

In recent days, though, Israel had appeared to step back from its initial threats of harsh retaliation.

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the onetime chief negotiator with the Palestinians, also slammed the decision.

"The decision at the UN on a Palestinian state is bad for Israel and so is Netanyahu's response," said Livni, who this week launched a new opposition party. "The decision to build thousands of housing units as punishment to the Palestinians only punishes Israel ... the unnecessary statement only isolates Israel further."

The results of the UN vote were a foregone conclusion, given the sympathies of nearly all member states. Only nine states opposed the bid, including Israel and the United States, while 138 supported it. Unlike the more powerful UN Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, and the resolution to raise the Palestinian status only required a majority vote for approval.

The vote granted Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Netanyahu opposes a full pullback to the 1967 lines.

The Palestinians turned to the UN after two decades of on-again, off-again talks.

Netanyahu dismissed the UN vote as meaningless and accused Abbas of delivering a "defamatory and venomous" UN speech "full of mendacious propaganda" against Israel.


Laub contributed from Ramallah, West Bank.

Liberal Democrats by-election result is 'worst ever by a major political party' -

"A combination of eighth place and barely two per cent of the vote in Rotherham is the worst single performance by a major party in any by election on record.

"In the Northern towns and cities the Lib Dems replaced the Tories two decades ago. They are now being replaced in those areas by a combination of minor parties and disinterest."

Labour won 46.25 per cent of the vote, while Ukip came second with 21.79 per cent, followed by BNP on 8.46 per cent and Respect on 8.34 per cent.

The Tories came fifth with 5.42 per cent, the English Democrats got 3.3 per cent of the vote, the Indepedent candidate received 2.73 per cent, while the Liberal Democrats won just 2.11 per cent of the vote.

The collapse of the Lib Dems' vote came as evidence strengthened that the party has lost its place as the political repository for the traditional protest vote to Ukip.

Ukip came second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, and finished third in Croydon North. Labour won all three, while the Tories also did badly, being pushed into fifth place in Rotherham.

Mr Hayward, a former Tory MP, said the low turnout – fewer than three in 10 voters bothered to cast their ballot – aggravated the result for the Tories and the Lib Dems.

He said: "The very low turnouts in the by elections with bad results in particular for the Liberal Democrats reflect a growing anti establishment mood of the electorate.

"Even the Labour party cannot be over happy with a vote share in Rotherham which only barely increased on 2010."

Writing for, Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, said that the LibDems had "hit a brick wall" from which it was hard to see how they might recover.

He said: "Not only is their by-election performance risible, but their national vote share in opinion polls is hovering at around 10 per cent, or less than half what they achieved in the 2010 General Election.

"They are also faring worse than their Coalition partners in local government representation: Liberal Democrat councillor numbers peaked in 2008 and are now at their lowest tally than at any time in their 24-year history."

Mr Hawkins added that it was "hard to see how they can recover the support of voters who saw them as a palatable alternative to one of the two big parties. That honour is going increasingly to Ukip, for whom every by-election is now a test of momentum."

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, added that there were now real fears that the Lib Dems could be left with as few as 15 seats after the next general election, expected in 2015 if the party's vote share fell to 11 per cent.

Ukip's leader Nigel Farage said the strong showing was part of a trend, starting with coming third at the Corby by-election earlier this month.

Nigel Farage claimed that his party had finished a "very strong third" well in a string of recent elections because they were offering a "real alternative" to voters.

"What you can say over the last six months is that we have established ourselves, now, currently as the third force in British politics," he told BBC Radio 4's the World at One programme.

Asked if he could "really say that", he replied: "Well, we have beaten the Lib Dems in all forms of elections over the course of this year. That is where we are.

"We are clearly and consistently above the Lib Dems in the opinion polls. There is an upward trend. I think the UKIP message is resonating with voters and not just Tory voters either.

"There are plenty of voters, particularly in the North of England coming to us from Labour and the Lib Dems."

He said since 2010 there had been a "huge rise in our poll rating". He said the Conservatives were "paranoid" about his party and were failing to secure votes across the country.

Mr Farage went on to say that, although it could be described as a protest vote, he believed it was Ukip's policies that were connecting with people. if you want to call it a protest vote you can and I must say there is quite a lot to protest about.

"But actually what you find is the reason people are voting with Ukip is we're connecting with people – they agree with us.

"When we say 'the open door immigration from eastern Europe is irresponsible and causing unemployment at a time when we can least afford it and what we ought to do is return to a sensible work permit system', people vote for it.

"Is that a protest? Well, it might be … but it could be they're voting Ukip because they see us offering positive policy solutions."

Liberal Demoract party sources pointed out that while no other major party has ever come eighth in a by-election, Labour in the 1997 by-election in Winchester polled just 1.7 per cent - the lowest vote share of any major party in a by election.

Aides to Mr Clegg – who did not visit any of the battle grounds before polling day - shrugged off the bad result, insisting that the Lib Dems were suffering more because they were in Government and lacked the resources to fight the by-election properly.

Leveson leaves the field as the tackles fly in - The Guardian

No sooner had Lord Justice Leveson cleared David Cameron of offering commercial favours to News International in return for political support than the prime minister put himself at risk of the exact same charge again by rushing to spike Leveson's central proposal of statutory underpinning for independent press self-regulation.

Some of this renewed scepticism is the prime minister's own fault. Cameron has made some mistakes. He should not have told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme that he would implement Leveson so long as it was not "bonkers". In some of the many meetings with victims' families, he should have made it clearer that he was opposed to intervention by statute in principle, something he only revealed in the Commons on Thursday. Finally, he should not have allowed his culture secretary, Maria Miller, to suggest she would co-operate with other parties in drafting a media regulation bill, but only to prove Lord Leveson's ideas are unworkable.

The apparent U-turns leave Cameron open to the cynical charge that he has been underhand and that the motivation for his actions is still about power.

Downing Street insists that perception is unfair, just as Leveson showed it was unfair to think that the former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Cameron were in a deal to hand News Corp a majority shareholding in BSkyB in return for political support.

But Downing Street also knows the perception puts pressure on Cameron to show that he is going to put the squeeze on the newspaper industry, forcing it to improve on its previous failed attempts at self-regulation – and on the proposal put forward by Lord Hunt that Leveson tore apart.

Cameron's aides insist he is genuinely shocked at the intrusiveness of some tabloids, and wants reform. He also thought it unwise of the education secretary, Michael Gove, to tweak the nose of Lord Justice Leveson in the run-up to publication. "It was bad politics and bad manners," said one Tory MP.

So Miller is calling in representatives of the newspaper industry on Tuesday for a round-table discussion in which she will tell them to pull their fingers out. No 10 insists that Cameron has not withdrawn his threat of stiffer action if the press fail within a limited period of time to implement radical proposals for a reform of self-regulation.

It was a point Miller underlined when she said: "What Lord Leveson has made clear is that the current Hunt model has some significant flaws and I would agree with him on that. What we need to see now is the press coming forward and I think the press need to be under no illusions if that isn't forthcoming then we would have to take further action."

Hunt, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, promised that the industry was prepared to come up with something more radical. Cameron wants fines, front-page apologies and editors held to account.

But in some ways two parallel pieces of work are going to be going on at the same time. The press industry will be seeking to prove it they can produce a model of self-regulation that meets the Leveson principles, as Cameron demands.

Simultaneously, cross-party discussions will be under way to see if a workable draft bill to underpin this regulation can be drawn up, and make it permanent. Cameron spelt out his fears about this draft bill. "Once we start writing a piece of legislation that backs up the independent regulator," he said, "we have to write into legislation what its composition is, what are its powers, what is its make-up, and we find pretty soon I would worry – that we have a piece of law that is really a piece of press regulatory law."

But the Liberal Democrats insisted they would not allow this drafting process to be used to arrive at a pre-determined outcome that such legislation is unworkable. A Lib Dem official, in a sideswipe at their coalition colleagues, said: "The statement that this bill is being drafted to show that it will not work does not reflect the position agreed by all three party leaders in the talks on Thursday.

"And the Liberal Democrats in government will ensure that the bill is drafted in good faith. We owe that to the public and the victims."

For the Liberal Democrats there is also politics at stake. It was a huge moment for Nick Clegg to ask the Speaker to be able to make a separate statement in the Commons, because he was revealing the fissure in the coalition.

Lord Strathclyde, the Conservative leader of the Lords, said such a separate statement from ministers in the same government had not been been made by a coalition member since the 30s.

Clegg tried to play down the significance of making the statement, saying coalition government leads to "anomalies, glitches and innovations in this venerable place", but he added intriguingly: "I suspect it will be repeated quite a lot in the future."

Indeed Lord Ashdown, a former Liberal Democrat leader, suggested that in areas outside the coalition agreement, such as newspaper regulation, Clegg could now use this precedent to differentiate himself more. Ashdown told the Guardian: "Being such nice fellows, our natural habit is the pre-emptive compromise. The coalition is teaching us some new habits." With the party coming eighth in Rotherham, and only two years to the next election, many in the party crave differentiation. But Clegg is in practice now working to try to persuade Cameron to compromise. He said: "If we all immediately start digging trenches and digging our heels in the worst of all outcomes will happen which is nothing that will happen at all."

One idea floated is for the government to put forward a draft bill in the next parliamentary session, possibly not advanced as a government bill.

Clegg is also clear in his mind as a liberal that Leveson made a legitimate case for the law to ensure independent regulation is effective. He pointed out that Leveson himself had said the system of incentives – the carrots and sticks he is offering the press so that they all join in the new system – would not work without law. Secondly, changing the law is the only way to give assurance that the new independent regulator is not just independent for a few months or years, but for ever.

Cameron, by contrast, came close to saying in the Commons on Thursday that he will oppose on principle any statutory intervention in the media.

Leveson tried in his report repeatedly to address this argument. On page 67 he pointed out: "There are many forms of statute law which already restrict the activities of the press, whether in terms of their organisation, competition or activities, up to and including what it may be lawful to publish. Not every statutory restriction possible will be proportionate and justifiable. But to contend that no statutory reform could be so is to push the argument far beyond any reasonable statement of principle. Ultimately there is no necessary connection between statutory underpinning of a regulatory system on the one hand and state censorship on the other, nor in my view is there some sort of slippery slope gliding from the first to the second."

But, sadly, Leveson having put the ball into the court of parliament has left the field of play. It is down to the politicians and the press to find an answer.

First look: Apple's pretty iTunes 11's a speed demon - Computerworld (blog)

Apple [AAPL] introduced iTunes 11 yesterday, a significant revision to what is arguably its most important slice of software, given the service has approximately 400 million potential users.

[ABOVE: Eddy Cue's iTunes 11 intro in September.]

Pretty speed demon

There's been lots written on the refined user interface and Apple's move to introduce visual improvements to the way you navigate through your content. You do need to spend a little time getting to understand the new interface, many of the things you might have done with the old version of iTunes are hidden away in the current version, while also being more logically arranged.

Apple iTunes is much faster

[ABOVE: The new MiniPlayer does more than it seems.]

The MiniPlayer is much better and lets you do almost anything you might wish to do in the full screen application. In use it shows you the title and artist of the song you're playing, but mouse across it and you're given access to a series of controls, including a search tool.

I've seldom used MiniPlayer in the past, but the added functions in iTunes 11 should change that.

The depth of thought that's gone into the release is evidenced by the software's ability to colour coordinate track listings to match the cover of which album you happen to be listening to, which makes it feel a little like you're looking at the digital equivalent of a CD collection.

While the visual and user interface changes are impressive, for me the biggest deal in the release is just how much faster it feels when navigating through a huge (c.15,000-track) music collection.

The software justifies its own installation by these performance improvements -- the only delays I've come across is on those occasions when I've had to download a missing track via iCloud and iTunes Match. Overall iTunes seems far less bloated and much more responsive than before.

Apple's iTunes 11 first look

[ABOVE: An example of the way albums appear when you play them. Backround colour changes to match that of the selected album.]

A few pros and cons

The Genius feature isn't as easy to find in the top window, to enable creation of a Genius playlist from your current track you now need to click on the right-facing arrow that appears when you mouse over the track name. Doing so raises several options: Star Ratings; Play Next; three Genius options; Go to iTunes Store and add to Playlist, among others.

I've seen some people complain that they now need to create playlists if they want to show the bit rate of songs, which isn't the case. In 'Songs' view you can navigate to View>View Options in the top menu bar; in this view you get lots of choices, including the capacity to show Bit Rate in the song listing. In most cases those elements some users might have grown to enjoy are still there, ready to be re-enabled through adroit use of commands available in the View menu.

One relatively obvious feature that appears to be missing is the capacity to play an album when you mouse over the album artwork. It's hard to speculate on why this might be missing, but it makes so much sense to include this ability I can't help but expect to see it appear inside a future software update.

I do feel the loss of CoverFlow is compensated for by the many more visual tricks you use to wade through your collection, but it might have been nice to make an exception to this when you work in album view with the currently playing album appearing across so much of the window (above). This could be a personal thing but I'd quite like to cherry pick album tracks while also scrolling through the rest of my collection.

The Play/Up Next feature merits a little explanation. This lets you create an on-the-fly playlist, determining which song follows which during playback. You access the feature as shown in the image below.

There's two options, 'Play Next' and 'Add to Play Next'. You use the first to identify a selected track, album, playlist, genre or artist as the next to play. To add even more tracks, albums, playlists, genres or artists to the list you then use the 'Add To Play Next' button. There's an excellent and far more in-depth explanation to help you use this tool right here.

The improvements aren't confined to music: there's a significant change when dealing with TV shows and movie purchases, principally that you can now stream these forms of content without re-downloading them to your computer, which should save you precious disk space, particularly when using space-limited systems such as the MacBook Air.

Apple iTunes 11 UpNext feature

[ABOVE: Some of the tools available via the Now Playing bar.]

A little speculation

Some may notice the appearance of a new dedicated 'Radio' button near the top of the iTunes browser. This is interesting because in recent years radio has seemed a poor relative to the rest of the media offerings inside iTunes -- and still do:

  • The default collection of stations is hardly ever updated and the playback interference remains more or less the same.
  • The listings aren't accurate -- BBC Radio 6 Music is described as: "Classic concerts and sessions from the BBC's vast music store." Which it isn't, as this is the broadcaster's best alternative music channel.

At least one analyst believes the elevation of iTunes' Radio offering could emerge to be a placeholder for the company's much-anticipated move to launch its own streaming radio service to compete with Pandora and/or Spotify.

" Apple's iTunes 11 has made the current generation "Radio" product far more prominent, adding it to the horizontal feature bar that runs across the top of the screen. While the service underlying that Radio button is unappealing to most consumers today, we believe the radio service can easily be updated to incorporate the functionality we envisioned in our October 2012 blog post, click here. We continue to believe an iRadio product is critical for Apple to create a local advertising/commerce strategy, tying together Maps, Passbook, Siri and a new music service (which we are calling iRadio for now)," writes BTIG analyst, Richard Greenfield.

Summing up:

Improvements in visual navigation and a more logical arrangement of tools are good, but for me the biggest positive within iTunes 11 remains its vastly improved performance on all three Macs I've tested it on, including a relatively ancient five-year-old MacBook.

It seems Apple's decision to delay the release for a month has paid off. Perhaps Apple's listened to recent criticism that it has introduced new software before it is ready (Maps?) and chosen to get back to shipping software products only when they're ready. You'd imagine that with near 400 million potential users any major bugs or criticisms would have emerged by now, but the only bug reports I've come across include some complaints the AirPlay button isn't always active on every system and claims of missing artwork, neither of which I've experienced.

The upshot?

Faster, slicker and prettier, iTunes 11 goes a long, long way toward shrugging off previous complaints at its performance. I'm sure more cautious users may delay installation for a few days pending the emergence of any major faults, but in the absence of such reports, this is a must-have upgrade. I'm really, really pleased at how much more responsive it seems to have become.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.

Live Updates 2: Protesters gather for anti-Morsi demonstrations - Ahram Online

21:00 That's all for Ahram Online's live updates today. You can read the first part of the day's coverage here.

20:40 Back to Tahrir Square, where Ahram Online correspondent Osman El-Sharnoubi is talking to demonstrators.

Adel Rabie, a member of the Higher Council of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, comments:

"If the declaration is not withdrawn we will call for civil disobedience. As for the constitution, we will call for a no vote if it is is put to referendum."

"How can we pass a constitution written in the absence of representatives of 80 per cent of Egyptians - workers and farmers?" he asked.

20:35 The Constitution Party is calling for Cairo University students to march from the university in Giza to Tahrir Square on Saturday at 2pm, protesting the president's Constitutional Declaration, according to the party's Facebook page. The Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafist parties will be holding their demonstration in support of Morsi's decree on the same day, in front of Cairo University where the student march is planned to depart from.

20:30 The National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition groups and figures formed last Saturday to counter Morsi's Constitutional Declaration (including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Free Egyptians Party, the Wafd Party, the Nasserist Coalition, among others) are currently meeting at the headquarters of the liberal Wafd to discuss their response to recent events regarding the Constitutional Declaration and the constitution-drafting process.

20:20 Ahram Online's Sara Rashidi reports that the square is very crowded, the mood is upbeat, with drums being played loudly and lots of cheers and clapping from the crowd.

20:10 Privately-owned newspaper Al-Watan has reported that the house of Saad El-Husseini, who is the governor of Kafr El-Sheikh and a Muslim Brotherhood member, was attacked today. The house, which is in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, not in neighbouring Kafr El-Sheikh, was attacked by protesters who threw rocks at the building, the paper reported.

20:00 Outside the capital, some pro-Brotherhood demonstrations have reportedly been taking place.

The northern coastal city of Damietta saw a pro-Morsi rally today organised by the Brotherhood, reported the Al-Ahram Arabic news website. The rally marched from Ezbet El-Lahm Mosque, chanting "Stand fast, president" according to the site.

An Ahram Online correspondent reported that Beni Suef also saw a pro-Morsi demonstration of more than a thousand in one of the governorate's districts on Friday. There was also a mass demonstration in support of the president on Thursday, organised by all local Islamist factions, which numbered more than ten thousand.

19:45 Sara Rashidi has also been talking to protesters in the square about the ongoing problems of sexual harassment and assault. One volunteer anti-harassment guard, Amr Rico, told her he had encountered several incidents today.

Mona Prince, a professor at Suez University, told Rashidi that she didn't feel that sexual harassment in the square was bad today or on Tuesday, although she was very happy to see that there are now volunteer security initiatives protecting women from harassment.

19:30 In Tahrir, Ahram Online reporter Sarah Rashidi spoke to Ali Ismail, the owner of a management consultancy firm in his 60s, who told her that his main fear is Egypt becoming a religious state like Iran.

"This is the first time in my 61 years that I have come to Tahrir to demonstrate. We have always been the gate between East and West, and now we are becoming a fascist state," he said.

"What is happening is a shame. I will come tomorrow too I have nothing to lose; I'm 61 and I'm willing to die."

19:15 Several members of the April 6 Youth Movement in President Morsi's home governorate of Sharqiya have gathered at Morsi's house chanting "Down with the president."

Security forces are at the scene but have not interfered with the protesters, given their small numbers and the non-violent nature of the demonstration, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.

The protesters also chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood.

19:10 After speaking to the masses in Tahrir and announcing that he will be sleeping in the square overnight, Mohamed ElBaradei further denounced the president's decree via Twitter.

"The president & his constituent assembly are currently staging a coup against democracy. Regime legitimacy fast eroding," said ElBaradei.

19:05 Ahram Online reporters in Tahrir say that the square is less full than on Tuesday.

19:00 The imam of Sidi Gaber Mosque in Alexandria, Hassan Abdel-Baseer, has resigned from his position, complaining in a statement that he has been facing pressure from the Ministry of Religious Endowments to support President Mohamed Morsi's Constitutional Declaration in his speeches.

Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported that Abdel-Baseer read his statement in front of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and loyalists at the mosque on Friday, while they were demonstrating in support of the declaration.

The sheikh announced that he had received instructions from the ministry to urge people who come and pray at his mosque to support the president's decision, a demand which he refused. He further condemned the instructions as being similar to those given to imams by the former regime.

Abdel-Baseer was attacked by Brotherhood supporters at the mosque and was forced to leave, Al-Ahram reported. Muslim Brotherhood member Talaat Fahmy then took the pulpit, urging people not to believe Abdel-Baseer, claiming that he was a member of the state security apparatus and was instructed to make such statements.

18:50 Human Rights Watch released a report slamming the constitution for not protecting human rights. Ahram Online journalist Bel Trew caught up with HRW's Egypt Director Heba Morayef.

"If you look at the freedom of expression section of the constitution, it is worse than the [Mubarak-era] 1971 constitution," she commented.

"The article which worries me the most is Article 71, a provision which says that 'every rights article in the Rights Chapter is subject to conforming with Chapter 1' which is on state and society. The language of Chapter 1 is full of very broad terms, such as the state has to maintain 'moral behaviour' and guarantee the 'true nature of the Egyptian family' - you could use any of this vague language to negate any part of the Rights chapter."

"The language on women in the current constitution now will not stop regression in legislation for women's rights - the constitution sets a worrying precedent linguistically and technically."

"For example, in 2009 the State Council ruled that they didn't want women to work at the body; this was overturned by the Constitutional Court, who were able to say, because of the non-discriminatory provision in the Constitution, that you couldn't prevent women from assuming these roles."

"In the current constitution, it doesn't specifically say you cannot discriminate on the grounds of gender; therefore it would be harder to push through the Constitutional Court's verdict. The language instead says that women must balance their work and family life - it makes these battles more difficult."

"Article 11 says that you cannot 'insult an individual' - what does this mean? One of the biggest problems today is prosecuting people on the grounds of insulting the judiciary, or insulting the president or insulting the army - anything can be interpreted as an 'insult'."

18:40 Earlier in the day, Ahram Online's Bel Trew spoke to senior adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party, Gehad El-Haddad.

"The constitution is extremely balanced - it walks a fine line between right and left and the end result is satisfying for the majority. We were expecting more but it's a big step forward. I have some concerns with the document - for example, we want the decentralised management of the state on a municipality level which is not yet stated clearly in the constitution," he commented.

"However, my analysis is that it removes 50 per cent of the powers that the president had in the 1971 constitution and balances it with the power of the parliament."

In response to a Human Rights Watch report criticising the lack of key articles protecting human rights, El-Haddad said that there are grey areas, as nations have different perspectives on what is acceptable or not, and the constitution reflects Egypt's culture.

"The constitution is not a single document that suits all nations in the world but is tailored to the country's own specificity."

ElBaradei's criticism of the national charter was unfounded according to El-Haddad, sayinng that the liberal figure was discussing articles that don't actually exist. The opposition figure had earlier said that the constitution belonged in the "garbage can of history."

"At the end of the day, the constitution was passed by a two-thirds majority, which is pretty unanimous. When there is a parliament in place, there can be amendments made the constitution as was done in France and the US.

The constitution in my mind is one of the most successful initiatives during Morsi's presidency. It is very sad for me to see this political bickering from opposition figures, which is against finalising the transition of Egypt."

18:35 Ahram Online reporter Bassem Abou El-Abbas spoke to former leading Muslim Brotherhood member Kamal El-Helbawi.

"Even if the Muslim Brotherhood manage to gather big numbers at their protests tomorrow, the heart of the ones in Tahrir [today] will give them the will to fight," said El-Helbawi.

18:30  Singer Ramy Essam, famous for performing revolutionary songs in Tahrir Square during the revolution in 2011, is in the square now, singing on the stage.

18:25 Al-Ahram's Arabic news website has reported that the general assembly of the State Council has recommended that Morsi's legal advisor, Judge Mohamed Fouad Gadalla, and members of the group Judges for Egypt, have their names removed from the Judges' Club list, a symbolic move that would not have an impact on the judges' work.

'Judges for Egypt' have recently voiced their support for the president's constitutional declaration.

18:15 Egyptian Islamist cleric, Sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, is supporting the project of the constitution.

"Egypt has never witnessed a constitution like this at any point in time," he stated during Friday prayers in Doha.

"What has been achieved is great and the people have the last word by either accepting or rejecting it."

"The constitution contains values and principles of freedom and justice, which is all that Egyptians need, in all aspects."

"Over time we can make additions to the constitution; this will be over the years. We cannot achieve everything at once. That is why we are persisting and we are optimistic about this constitution."

"People should not withdraw from the Constituent Assembly, since withdrawal will not lead to a result."

He also stated, regarding the president's interview on Thursday evening: "What President Morsi said was absolutely just and righteous. People have the right to oppose, but they don't have the right to fight."

18:05 Egyptian Communist Party leader Moustafa El-Gamal says that the party is in the square today to topple President Morsi.

"The constitutional decree and Constituent Assembly are illegitimate and we are most concerned that the constitution does not protect social justice," he told reporter Sarah Rashidi.

18:00 Ahram Online's Sara Rashidi speaks to Heba, an unveiled woman in her mid-30s, who describes herself as a former "sofa party" supporter, or politically-indifferent.

"I came from Alexandria to tell Morsi...I didn't elect you and I don't approve of you. You made a constitution in 48 hours and you're changing everything for the worse. Women are scared now of not wearing the veil...Now we have ignorant people writing our constitution - they should talk to our brains, not through ignorant religious talk...This constitution is a shame to Egypt."

17:55 In Egypt's Nile Delta, around four thousand Beheira residents, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party, took to the streets to voice their support for Morsi's constitutional decree, according to Ahram's Arabic news website.

Forming human chains and holding pictures of the president, the protesters chanted: "Oh president, keep moving on, millions are following you."

It was reported earlier that several hundred had been protesting against the president and his controversial decree in the city.

17:45 Mohamed ElBaradei spoke on the stage in Tahrir as crowds cheered loudly, repeating the famous phrase: "The people want the downfall of the regime," says Ahram Online's Osman Sharnoubi, reporting from the square.

ElBaradei added that: "It is necessary to go back to the stage before the declaration. We say the current draft constitution is illegitimate...We hold Morsi fully responsible for the state of division and civil strife the country may experience."

Founder of pro-democracy movement Kefaya, George Ishaq, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website in Tahrir that he will be participating in the overnight sit-in with other political figures like ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa. He also announced a general strike, to start on Tuesday if the president does not back down, starting with various satellite channels which will cease transmission and newspapers that will not publish their daily editions.

17:40 Famous football player and former parliamentary candidate for the moderate Islamist Wasat Party list, Nader El-Sayed, speaks in Tahrir Square, pointing out the large numbers of Egyptian flags displayed and commenting:

"This is because all Egyptians are comparison it will be hard to see the veiled and the unveiled next to each other in tomorrow's protest [organised by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties] at Cairo University."

Meanwhile in Upper Egypt's Qena, hundreds of Salafists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood are protesting in Manshia Square.

"These marches are for saving sharia law," Ammar Hanafi, spokesperson of the Brotherhood in Qena, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

17:35 Political groups in the city of Ismalia, on the Suez Canal, organised an anti-Morsi rally through the city. Marchers chanted "No to the Brotherhood constitution," and "Down with the rule of the Brotherhood Supreme Guide."

Among those who participated in the rally are the liberal Wafd Party and the Constitution Party, as well as the Nasserist Karama Party, the Popular Socialist Coalition and the 6 April Youth Movement.

17:30  Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei takes to Tahrir Square's main stage. Meanwhile, the news announced by stage speaker that ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa will sleep over in the square is met with applause and cheers by the 1000s-strong crowd.

17:15 We're back in Tahrir Square, where clashes between protesters and police are still ongoing on the periphery by Simon Bolivor Square and the Corniche.

Early this morning security forces built another concrete barricade by the US embassy, walling in the area. Khaled Mahmoud, a field doctor in the square told Ahram Online journalist Sarah Rashidi that they are in urgent need of medical supplies.

"Most of the injuries are caused by glass and stones," said Mahmoud.

Meanwhile back in Tahrir Square, Soheir, a teacher wearing the niqab (the full face veil) told an Ahram Online reporter she is against Morsi's decree and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Breaking the stereotype of ultra-conservative Muslims supporting Islamist political groups, Soheir says that she supported Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the presidential elections run-offs against Mohamed Morsi.

Her husband, Atef, agreed with her, saying that "if Morsi doesn't change the constitution then he must go."

17:10 Welcome to the second part of Ahram Online's live coverage of a day of protests against President Mohamed Morsi's constitutional declaration. You can find the first part here.

Protesters are also opposing the draft constitution, which was finalised by the controversial Constituent Assembly in the early hours of this morning. Opposition groups argue that Morsi's recent moves have shored up his own power and moved Egypt closer to dictatorship, while presidential supporters argue that the measures are temporary and necessary for Egypt's transition – and that the majority of Egyptians support the president.

So far this morning, protests have been taking place in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the Nile Delta cities of Damanhour and Mahalla, and in Alexandria, while pro-Morsi rallies have been reported in Wadi El-Gedid, Minya and Assiut in Upper Egypt.

Short link:


Surface Pro gets priced -

Microsoft announced on Thursday that its Surface Pro, a version of its new tablet aimed at business users, would be available in January starting at $899 for US customers.

The Surface Pro will be powered by an Intel processor and have a full version of the new Windows 8 operating system, which is designed with both PCs and tablets in mind.

"It's a full PC AND a tablet," said a blog post from Microsoft's Panos Panay.

"And all this in a PC that will weigh less than two pounds and be less than 14 millimeters thick. We are excited about both Surface with Windows RT and Surface with Windows 8 Pro."

Microsoft started selling the Surface last month in a version aimed at consumers with a mobile-style processor and a tweaked version of its new operating system called Windows RT. It pricing was roughly in line the the iPad, the top-selling tablet.

The Surface Pro will be more expensive, and is apparently aimed at corporate users and those seeking a laptop replacement. The least expensive version with 64 gigabytes of memory will sell for $899, not including the touch cover with keyboard. A 128 GB version will start at $999.

"Surface with Windows 8 Pro uses the same familiar elegant design principles as Surface with Windows RT," Panay said.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer has described the iPad challenger -- complete with a built-in stand and ultra thin covers which double as keyboards in a range of colors -- as a tablet that "works and plays."

Cracking Kate's on the move - Daily Mail

By Quentin Letts


A big hit at Chichester in the summer — I gave it five stars — Kiss Me, Kate, starring the heavenly Hannah Waddingham opened this week at London's Old Vic.

The 1948 musical comedy builds a cheerfully farcical plot round Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, inserting Hollywood gags and Cole Porter showstoppers.

It also has Ms Waddingham — a bodice-burster built like Boudica — as Lilli Vanessi, a grumpy film star reduced to a rep production of Shrew The Musical in Baltimore.

Hannah Waddingham in Kiss Me, Kate which opened this week at London's Old Vic

Big hit: Hannah Waddingham in Kiss Me, Kate which opened this week at London's Old Vic

Her co-star in this codpiece epic is ex-husband Fred (Alex Bourne), whom she still loves. The burly Bourne looks like he could have stepped out of a silent-movie era Robin Hood.

Disaster unfolds, of course, but Fred flashes insistent smiles at his audience — even while giving Lilli's bottom a spanking.

Add two terrific mobsters (David Burt and Clive Rowe) and a touching denouement, and you have a night of leggy gallops.

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SAS sniper cleared of pistol possession charges - Irish Independent

AN SAS sniper jailed for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition has thanked the public after winning an appeal and walking free.

Father-of-two Sgt Danny Nightingale (37) who lives near Crewe, Cheshire, said he had been "humbled" by public reaction to his plight.

He had been sentenced to 18 months' military detention earlier this month by a judge sitting in a military court after admitting illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

But three appeal judges concluded that the sentence was too harsh, after a hearing at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.

They cut the term to 12 months, said it should be suspended, and ordered Sgt Nightingale's release.

Judges heard that the gun had been a gift from Iraqi special forces soldiers Sgt Nightingale had trained.

They were told that Sgt Nightingale planned to have the weapon decommissioned and keep it as a trophy.

And they heard that Sgt Nightingale, who has suffered medical problems that affected his memory, appeared to have put the gun in a cupboard in his army accommodation in Hereford on a "very hectic day" when preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Judges heard that more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Sgt Nightingale to be freed after his wife Sally (38) and other family members launched a campaign.

Sgt Nightingale said that the level of public support had been "humbling" as he hugged Mrs Nightingale after being released.

"Thank you to the great British public," he said. "They have been absolutely wonderful in their support.

"It has just been extremely humbling. Very, very humbling."

Mrs Nightingale said: "It can only be good for all the troops out there fighting to see justice has been done."

- Brian Farmer London

Irish Independent

Egyptian Panel Approves Draft Constitution - Voice of America

An Islamist-dominated panel has approved Egypt's new draft constitution that must now be voted on in a nationwide referendum.  

The panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, has retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The group hastily rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until until early Friday.

The assembly moved up the vote in order to pass the draft before Sunday, when Egypt's highest judicial power is expected to rule on whether to dissolve the panel.

??Over the past few days, about 30 liberal and Christian members pulled out of the panel to protest what they called the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to President Mohamed Morsi.

The Egyptian leader caused a political uproar last week when he granted himself sweeping new powers that bar the judiciary from challenging his decisions. Mr. Morsi told state television Thursday the decree will end immediately after people vote on the constitution.

Egyptians angered by the president's power grab have protested for more than a week. Two people have been killed and hundreds injured in the nationwide demonstrations.

Egyptians continued protests in Tahrir Square against Mr. Morsi for a seventh straight day Thursday, accusing him of assuming dictatorial powers. Clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police launching tear gas canisters continued.

Opposition leaders said they planned to hold more marches Friday, and the Muslim Brotherhood has called a rival nationwide demonstration in support of the edict Saturday.

Meanwhile, the constitutional court vowed to resist what it characterized as an attempt by Mr. Morsi to undermine the court system. Egypt's highest courts went on strike Wednesday in protest of the president's decrees, vowing to stop their work until the constitutional court rules on Mr. Morsi's order granting himself immunity from judicial review.

Mr. Morsi is expected to put the draft constitution to a public referendum as early as mid-December.

Watch related video of anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Square


Studying The Risk Of Robots - Forbes

Cambridge, England. A bucolic university town framed by grand cathedral spires with an angelic boy's choir, the river Cam meanders through the verdant pastures and perfectly manicured lawns and park. Boys with straw boaters, girls with floaty dresses peddle their no-speed bicycles with books teetering from the baskets.

It's all about students and a place of learning. But tucked away in this peaceful town is the University of Cambridge's Center for the Study for Existential Risk (CESR).

And what the CESR is concerned with is the rapid developments in human technology that they believe might pose, extinction-level risks to our species – meaning us humans.

The Cambridge project is looking at the threats that could emerge from progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI), developments in biotech and artificial life including nanotechnology. For the case of AI, Huw Price and Jaan Tallinn, founders of the project, referenced US Mathematician and sci-fi author Vernor Vinge in a recent article about whether there will ever be computers as smart as people, to which Vinge replied: "Yes, but only briefly".

He meant that once computers get to this level, there's nothing to prevent them getting a lot further very rapidly. Vinge christened this sudden explosion of intelligence the "technological singularity", and thought that it was unlikely to be good news, from a human point of view — The Conversation, August 6 ,2012

Vinge added that as robots and computers become smarter than humans, we could find ourselves at the mercy of "machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don't include us".

So, enter the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk, a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist and a software entrepreneur,  wants to create a multi-disciplinary research center dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks around the spread of robotic technology.

In the coming months CESR will develop it's first prospectus on what's headed our way. Instead of friend of foe or Saxon or Celt, maybe we will say, Cyborg or Human.

Palestine at the UN: All eyes on the observer state - Al-Arabiya

It was always a foregone conclusion that the U.N. General Assembly would vote overwhelmingly in favour of upgrading Palestine's status to non-member observer state. The 138 'yes' votes to only nine opposed was not just a stark barometer of international sympathy for the Palestinian cause, but also of Israel's isolation, and the limits of U.S. pressure.

Among those against the upgrade were such heavyweights as the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama. The Czech Republic was the only European state in opposition - nothing short of a diplomatic disaster for Israel, given its strong relations with others on the continent such as Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Poland.

So the vote was the easy bit. Now what? There are many sceptics on both sides who say this is a purely symbolic move that changes nothing on the ground. However, if it was as simple as that, there would not have been such ferocious American and Israeli lobbying. Whether the sceptics are proven right depends largely on what the Palestinian Authority does - if anything - with this bolstered legitimacy.

The upgrade enables the Palestinians to join various U.N. agencies, and most importantly, the International Criminal Court. It remains to be seen how many and which agencies they will join, and how beneficial these memberships will be.

However, it is the prospect of legal action against the occupation at the ICC that has most rattled Israel and its allies. Indeed, Britain said it would only support the upgrade if the Palestinians promised not to join the court. As such, its abstention can be seen as positive, a sign that this condition was rejected, for had the PA caved in this regard, it would have rendered the entire enterprise pointless.

Palestinian officials have, however, said that joining the ICC need not happen straight away. This is potentially a shrewd move. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he would be ready and willing to resume talks immediately after the UN vote. The implied threat of joining the ICC may be a means of twisting Israeli and American arms at the negotiating table.

However, it is unlikely that talks will even resume, let alone make progress, because Israel rejects Abbas's insistence that it stop settlement expansion on Palestinian land prior to negotiations. Even if talks took place, they would be doomed to failure given Israel's belligerence on all the final-status issues, particularly under a government that is described as the most extremist in Israel's history.

Abbas could then approach the ICC having shown the world that he had exhausted all other options. In a game of diplomatic chess, this is a possible check mate. No doubt the U.S. and Israel will do all they can to force the PA away from the court, but having raised so much hope and defied so much pressure thus far, it may not be able to withstand the popular backlash that would arise if it backed down.

(Sharif Nashashibi is a London-based writer and Arab commentator. @sharifnash.)

Syria cut off from internet -

Syria has been cut off from the internet, technology companies which monitor web traffic reported on Thursday, as the US government blamed the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad for the move.

Akamai, a firm which monitors global traffic, said traffic stopped from 10.26pm GMT, and that this supports the observation from another IT firm, Renesys, "that Syria is effectively off the internet".

Renesys said in a blog posting that its monitoring showed "Syria's international internet connectivity shut down".

Renesys chief technology officer James Cowie said: "Looking closely at the continuing internet blackout in Syria, we can see that trace routes into Syria are failing, exactly as one would expect for a major outage."

Cowie said in a blog posting that "there are a few Syrian networks that are still connected to the internet... but the originator of the routes is actually Tata Communications. These are potentially offshore, rather than domestic, and perhaps not subject to whatever kill switch was thrown today within Syria."

He added that the functioning networks "were implicated in the delivery of malware targeting Syrian activists in May of this year."

The French-based monitoring firm Cedexis also reported that traffic was down, and a spokesperson told AFP that "it appears to be a voluntary cut" of IP traffic.

US officials blamed Assad for the shutdown as he cracks down on rebels in the war-wracked country.

"Obviously, we condemn this latest assault on the Syrian people's ability to express themselves and communicate with each other and it just, again, speaks to the kind of desperation of the regime as it tries to cling to power," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

Nuland added, however, that some 2000 communications sets supplied to the opposition rebels over the past months as part of a US non-lethal assistance programme were not affected by the blackout.

"They are all designed to be independent from and able to circumvent the Syrian domestic network, precisely for the reason of keeping them safe, keeping them secure from regime tampering, regime listening, regime interruption," she said.

According to activists, sudden communication cuts regularly occur before major military offensives.

Earlier, activists in Syria said internet and mobile telephone communications were cut in the capital Damascus, and land lines were barely functioning.

An activist in the embattled Eastern Ghouta region east of the capital told AFP that only satellite internet connections were operating in the area.

The Local Coordination Committees, a leading network of activists on the ground, said "communications and internet service have been cut in most parts of Damascus and its suburbs, raising fears that the criminal Syrian regime is up to something."

It said landline and mobile services were cut throughout the central provinces of Homs and Hama, in Daraa and Suweida provinces in the south, in Tartus province on the coast, and in some cities in Deir Ezzor and Raqa provinces in the east.

Official news agency SANA also saw its feed interrupted at midday.

Amnesty International said on Twitter that the reports of the internet shutdown were "very disturbing".

In early 2011, Egypt's then president Hosni Mubarak cut his 80 million people off from the web before his regime was toppled by activists.

Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move two days after anti-Mubarak protests began.

The shutdown in Egypt was the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind, experts said at the time.

Ecclestone blasts Vettel row as 'joke' - Capital FM Kenya

LONDON, England November 30 – Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday blasted the controversy surrounding world champion Sebastian Vettel's Brazilian Grand Prix overtaking manoeuvre as a "joke".

Ferrari had contacted Formula One's governing body, the FIA, concerning the move by the Red Bull driver during last weekend's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix that won him a third successive title.

There had been speculation that the manoeuvre could have been illegal and, if so, Vettel could have been sanctioned and thereby stripped of his title in favour of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who missed out on the championship by just three points.

But Formula One ringmaster Ecclestone said it was a shame that the climax to the season had been overshadowed by the row.

"It's a shame because everything had gone so well," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"It was a super race, a super championship. Now everyone is talking about this. The problem is that no-one knows what is going on."

Earlier Thursday, the respected Autosport magazine said there was "no doubt" at the FIA that Vettel had overtaken legitimately on lap four of the race because a green flag had already been displayed in the yellow flag sector, allowing drivers to resume passing.

No team had asked for a review of the incident, it added.

"In the rules and regs normally you have to protest," added Ecclestone.

"They (Ferrari) missed that time. Then there is the fact that a green flag was shown, which nobody seems to dispute. It's a complete joke. What they are saying in that letter is wrong. I don't think there needs to be any action taken. It's completely and utterly wrong."

On Wednesday, footage emerged on YouTube which appeared to show Vettel, the youngest triple world champion in history, overtaking Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne under yellow flags.

Overtaking under caution is outlawed and is usually punished with a drive-through penalty.

But in cases where the infringement is not spotted, the sanction is a 20-second penalty handed out retrospectively.

Vettel was sixth in Sunday's rain-lashed race, while double world champion Alonso was second behind McLaren's Jenson Button.

Ferrari said they had wanted the FIA to clarify the rules.

"Ferrari asked, by means of a letter, for a clarification from FIA regarding VET's (Vettel's) overtaking move on VER (Vergne) during lap 4 of the Brazilian GP," the Italian team said on its Twitter account @insideferrari.

Vettel's victory had already been overshadowed by claims from Ferrari that Alonso should have been crowned champion, pointing to controversial races in Belgium and Japan to support their argument.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Alonso paid a heavy price for first lap exits in Belgium and Japan where he was shunted out of contention by Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.

The Italian giants had been further aggrieved when Vettel, accused of blocking Alonso in qualifying in Japan before going on to win the race, escaped with just a reprimand.

Vettel refused to get involved in a war of words although he did allude to his rivals' controversial decision in Texas to change the gearbox on Felipe Massa's Ferrari in order to allow Alonso to enjoy a starting advantage on the grid.

"A lot of people tried to play dirty tricks but we did not get distracted by that and kept going our way and all the guys gave a big push right to the end," Vettel said.

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Labour scores by-elections hat-trick, but Ukip can celebrate more - The Independent

But the celebrations were maybe bigger at the UK Independence Party, which took second place in the two northern seats and recorded its best ever by-election result in Rotherham, where its candidate secured 21.8% of the vote.

It was a dismal night for both coalition parties, with Conservatives slumping to fourth in Middlesbrough and fifth in Rotherham.

The Liberal Democrats held onto third place behind Ukip in Middlesbrough, but finished fourth and lost its deposit in Croydon and suffered a woeful eighth place in Rotherham, where its candidate Michael Beckett lost his deposit and limped in behind not only Labour, Ukip, the British National Party, Respect and the Conservatives but also the English Democrats and an Independent.

For Ukip leader Nigel Farage, the results marked "big progress" just a fortnight after his party recorded its previous best by-election result of 14.3% in Corby.

His party was boosted in Rotherham by the controversy which blew up during the by-election campaign when social workers removed three children from foster parents because the couple were members of Ukip.

In Middlesbrough, the eurosceptic party moved up from sixth position in the 2010 general election to second with 11.8% of votes.

"Whichever way you look at it, Ukip is on the rise," said Mr Farage.

Speaking after her victory, Rotherham's new Labour MP Sarah Champion urged the Government to get the town "back to work".

"I've never stood for election before but when I see the damage David Cameron is doing to Rotherham I cannot stand and watch," she said.

Yesterday's by-elections in Middlesbrough and Croydon North were triggered by the deaths of long-serving Labour MPs Sir Stuart Bell and Malcolm Wicks, and by the resignation of Rotherham's Denis MacShane in the wake of a highly critical report on the former Labour MP's parliamentary expenses.

Ms Champion's campaign was also hit by a row with party activists who favoured a local councillor as candidate.

But she secured a comfortable majority of 5,218 on a turnout of 33.6% to become the first female MP for a South Yorkshire seat which has been Labour since 1933. Her 24.5% margin of victory was little reduced from the 27.9% recorded by Mr MacShane in the general election.

In Middlesbrough, Labour's Andy McDonald enjoyed a massive 48.7% margin of victory over Ukip's Richard Elvin, well up on Sir Stuart's 26% lead in 2010.

The result saw a collapse in support for both coalition parties, which between them took 35% of votes in the Teesside town in 2010 but just 16% today.

Mr McDonald, a solicitor who was born in Middlesbrough and served on the local council, said the result was a message to the coalition from "working families who are having their budgets squeezed, young people who are struggling to find their first job and the millions ignored by this Tory-led Government which thinks the priority is to cut tax for millionaires".

In Croydon North, Labour's Steve Reed scooped a comfortable 47.9% lead - well up on the 31.9% enjoyed by Mr Wicks in 2010 - and finished with 15,898 votes, ahead of Tory Andy Stranack on 4,137.

Mr Reed said the people of the constituency, in suburban south London had sent a "clear message" to the Prime Minister.

"David Cameron needs to listen," he said. "People are hurting because his economic policies are not working. He must change course on the economy."

Turnout in all three polls was relatively depressed, at 33.6% in Rotherham, 25.9% in Middlesbrough and 26.4% in Croydon North, but did not sink to the lows of under 20% seen in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections earlier this month.

Labour MP Toby Perkins said today's results indicate Nick Clegg's party is heading for "extinction" unless it leaves the coalition.

In a message on Twitter, the Chesterfield MP said the Rotherham result was a "huge rejection of Tory and Lib Dem record", adding: "Have Lib Dems seriously come eighth in Rotherham by-election? They must pull out of this damaging coalition or face extinction - simple."

Mr Farage later said: "This is Ukip's most impressive result in Westminster elections so far.

"Jane Collins' 21% in Rotherham was our best ever score and this is backed up by 11% in Middlesbrough and coming third in Croydon North. This follows our stunning result in Corby a few weeks ago.

"The political establishment is just going to have to wake up to the fact that Ukip is here and here to stay as a significant and rising mainstream part of British politics."


Leveson: David Cameron and Nick Clegg at odds over plans - BBC News

David Cameron: "I'm not convinced... that statute is necessary"

David Cameron has backed the principles behind Lord Justice Leveson's recommendation for a tougher regulatory body for the press.

But he says he has "serious concerns and misgivings" over bringing in laws to underpin any new body.

In a first for the coalition, deputy PM Nick Clegg spoke after the PM and disagreed, saying such a watchdog was both "proportionate and workable".

Labour called the report "measured" and backed its conclusions "unequivocally".

Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband met for the first in a series of cross-party talks, following the Commons debate.

A senior Labour source said Mr Cameron had agreed, during the 30 minute negotiations, to ask the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to draft a bill to implement Lord Justice Leveson's recommendation.

'Real test'

The source added that Labour would push for a Commons vote on implementing the recommendation in principle by the end of January. There is set to be a full Commons debate on Leveson on Monday.

In his 2,000-page report, Lord Justice Leveson said the press must create a new and tough regulator but it had to be backed by legislation to ensure it was effective.

He said the press had failed to properly regulate itself in the past, but he believed the law could be used to "validate" a new body.

Mr Cameron told MPs that legislation backing a regulatory body could "cross the Rubicon" by writing elements of press regulation into the law for the first time.

"The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians, whether today or some time in the future, to impose regulation and obligations on the press, something Lord Justice Leveson himself wishes to avoid," he said.

"I believe there may be alternative options for putting in place incentives providing reassurance to the public and ensuring the Leveson principles of regulation are put in place, and these options should be explored."

The prime minister said the press should be given a "limited period of time" to put a new system in place.

"While no one wants to see full statutory regulation, the status quo is not an option," he warned.

He added: "The real test is not whether this body is backed by statute or not.

"The real test is: Can it fine newspapers? Can it call editors to account? Can it get front page apologies?

"That's what people want to know and that's what we need to deliver."

'Compelling case'

However, the deputy prime minister, who gave a separate statement to MPs, said he disagreed with Mr Cameron and was prepared to back the regulatory system set out by Leveson.

"I understand the entirely legitimate reasons why some members of this House are wary of using legislation," he said.

"I have thought long and hard about this. I'm a liberal, I don't make laws for the sake of it - and certainly not when it comes to the press.

"Indeed, when I gave my own evidence to the inquiry, I made the point that, if we could create a rigorous, independent system of regulation which covers all of the major players, without any changes to the law, of course we should.

Nick Clegg: "I'm impatient for reform"

"But no one has yet come up with a way of doing that.

"Lord Justice Leveson has considered these issues at length. He has found that changing the law is the only way to guarantee a system of self-regulation which seeks to cover all of the press."

Mr Clegg did raise concerns about the report's recommendations on data protection and the suggestion that it should be Ofcom - which regulates the broadcast media - which independently verifies the new press watchdog.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party "unequivocally endorse both the principles set out and his (Leveson's) central recommendations".

He said: "After 70 years and seven reports which have gone nowhere, now is the time to act.

"The case is compelling. The evidence is overwhelming.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust."