jueves, 27 de junio de 2013

Fashion brands buckle under rent blow - The Independent

Putin refuses to hand over 'in transit' NSA whistleblower to US - Business Standard

Barack Obama's African tour overshadowed as Nelson Mandela remains in ... - The Independent

Daughter says that legendary leader smiled and opened his eyes when she told him of US President's visit

Three Britons found dead on Costa del Sol - The Times (subscription)

Three members of the same British family were found shot dead today in a Spanish tourist resort.

The bodies of a man, his wife and their daughter, who was believed to be in her 20s, were discovered at their rented home in Mijas on the Costa del Sol. No-one has been formally identified and no arrests have been made.

The Spanish Guardia Civil said it appeared that all three had died from gunshot wounds.

"At the moment we believe that the husband shot his wife and his daughter then committed suicide but this is only an initial theory," a police

Rock on: Thousands armed with tents, sleeping bags descend on UK's ... - The Province

LONDON - The music hasn't started yet, but the race to find the perfect camping spot has already begun.

Thousands of people hauling tents, sleeping bags and beer are descending onto the Glastonbury Festival campsite in southwest England since the gates swung open Wednesday.

The June 26-30 event, one of the world's largest music festivals, is headlined this year by the Rolling Stones, who are celebrating their 50th year together. Other acts include the Arctic Monkeys, Elvis Costello and Kenny Rogers.

Grammy Award-winning band Mumford & Sons say they will still be closing the festival, just weeks after bassist Ted Dwane underwent brain surgery.

Some 135,000 music fans are due to attend the festival, which is returning after taking a break last summer due to the London Olympics.

Wimbledon frowns on Federer's shoes - FOXSports.com

Apparently, what you see above is too colorful for Wimbledon.

According to multiple reports, Roger Federer -- who probably should have a little clout at the All England Club after winning the title seven times -- was asked to change his orange-soled shoes after his first-round match against Victor Hanescu.

Wimbledon is infamous for its strict dress code, calling for predominantly white clothing. Players often test the limits of what is acceptable in the fashion-conscious sport.

Federer seems to have obliged. He came out Wednesday for his second-round match in more traditional white-soled shoes:

(Alastair Grant/AP)

The orange shoes above matched his overall attire, twinged in orange throughout:

(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

miércoles, 26 de junio de 2013

Snowden can fly 'anywhere he wants' - The Australian

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2013 Spending Review: Osborne sets the terms of debate - Financial Times

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2013 Spending Review: Osborne sets the terms of debate
Financial Times
When George Osborne last gave a spending review in 2010, the coalition government was fresh, his cabinet colleagues happily deferred to the young chancellor and Whitehall abounded with spendthrift excesses waiting to be cut.

and more »

Young family's lucky escape after 'meteor shower' pelts their Shrewsbury garden ... - Yahoo! News UK

A mother-of-two told how her young children had a lucky escape - after fragments from a meteor shower rained down in their back garden.

Sarah Marston-Jones was playing outside with Harry, two, and Benjamin, four, when asteroid rocks fell behind her house in Shrewsbury.

The teacher heard a large 'whooshing' sound and a 'cracking' noise as 15 rocks from the meteorite shower blazed through the earth's atmosphere and onto her lawn at 9.30am on Tuesday.

She was forced to rush her two young children off their trampoline to safety indoors as brown and black fragments showered down just inches from where they were playing.

The red-hot rocks, some of which were more than an inch wide, even left a strong burning smell in the family's Shropshire garden.

Experts advised her to check the shards with a magnet as asteroids often contain iron - and she was stunned when it stuck.

Sarah said: 'I don't know if it was some sort of meteor shower or one fragment which cracked on impact, but I turned around and took one step before hearing this whooshing and cracking sound coming through the hedge and tree, and you could hear lots of dropping sounds on the patio.

'There was this really intense burning smell followed by a smell which I can only describe as rotten vegetables.

'I looked under my chair and there was a rock fragment about an inch and a half wide.

'At the time it could have been quite dangerous and even killed one of our children – that's how close it was.'

A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an asteroid or comet - which originated in outer space but survived impact with the Earth's surface.

Although the family were convinced the rocks were from a meteor, Dr Caroline Smith, curator of meteorites at the Natural History Museum,  told the Daily Telegraph she could not be sure they were asteroid fragments.

On average, meteors can speed through the atmosphere at about 30,000 mph (48,280 kph) and reach temperatures of about 1,648 degrees Celsius (3,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

In February this year, a meteorite injured 1,000 people after breaking up over central Russia.

I'll go harder on bankers in next Anglo musical - Paul - Herald.ie

THE writer of Anglo The Musical wants to relaunch the show and go even harder on the main banker characters.

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Dublin playwright Paul Howard has branded the shocking tape revelations as "too grotesque" to play out on stage.

He described the recordings as "disgusting stuff" and accused former Anglo executives of showing "utter contempt" for the Irish public.

"I would like to relaunch the musical. I wanted to go a lot harder in the original version but I wasn't allowed. Even on the first day of Anglo The Musical, we got a letter threatening us with legal action. But certainly if we did it again, I'd like to go harder," he told the Herald.

Mr Howard said he was not surprised at the language used by ex-bankers David Drumm, John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald, as revealed this week by the leaked Anglo tapes.



"I had to imagine the discussions and board meetings these men were having in the days and weeks running up to the bank guarantee for me to write the musical. I had to imagine exactly how they were running Anglo and I think, to be honest, I got it fairly spot on," he said.

"I didn't learn anything new by these tapes in that sense. Having said that, the transcripts of the tapes would make you feel physically ill. The sheer contempt these men had for the Irish people is disgusting. They didn't give a damn about the Irish people," he added.

Mr Howard's musical was staged at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre last November and got top critical reviews.

The musical, created by the Ross O'Carroll Kelly writer, depicts the controversial goings-on of the bank and features real life characters in Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, Angela Merkel and David McWilliams.

Asked whether the Anglo tape revelations could be played out in a future play, Mr Howard told the Herald: "There are some transcripts that are beyond parody. Some things are too grotesque that it's impossible to bring them further in a comic forum. I think this is the case here."

The puppet-based musical, which starred Love/Hate actress Aoibhinn McGinnity and TV presenter Caroline Morahan, got a second stage run at the Olympia Theatre in February.


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Unscathed Murray into Wimbledon third round - The Sun Daily

LONDON (June 27, 2013): Andy Murray emerged unscathed on a day of astonishing injury mayhem at Wimbledon as the world number two eased into the third round with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun.

Murray was never threatened by Lu's lightweight game and the US Open champion breezed through in two hours, in the process avenging an embarrassing defeat against the world number 75 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

While Murray would never admit it publicly, he would also have been pleased with the news from the Wimbledon treatment table, with French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic among the victims of an incredible run of injury withdrawals on Wednesday.

Tsonga and Cilic were Murray's most likely quarter-final opponents, but instead the highest ranked player left in the Scot's quarter is now Russian 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny.

As others were bemoaning the condition of the slippery All England Club courts, Murray kept his head and his footing, hitting 41 winners and serving 11 aces, to set up a last 32 clash with Spanish 32nd seed Tommy Robredo.

"I thought I kept my concentration well on serve and gave him very few opportunities after the first set," Murray said.

"Each game I was putting a lot of pressure on his service games.

"If you can you want to win in three sets. It's been a good start I'll try and keep it going."

Murray made history on Monday when he defeated Germany's Benjamin Becker to become the most successful British man in Grand Slam history as he surpassed Fred Perry's total of 106 matches won at the four majors.

But he has another more significant Perry achievement in his sights however as he bids to end Britain's 77-year wait for a male winner of the Wimbledon singles title and he looks in the mood to do just that after extending his winning run on grass to 13 matches.

Murray has enjoyed a remarkable time since last year's tearful Wimbledon final defeat against Roger Federer, thrashing the Swiss great to win the gold medal at the London Olympics and then beating Novak Djokovic in the US Open final to finally claim his first Grand Slam crown.

The 26-year-old had reached the final of the last three Grand Slams before the recent French Open, which he was forced to miss with a back injury and, yet to drop a set in his opening two matches, few would bet against a fourth successive final appearance.

As the only serious British contender at Wimbledon over the last few years, Murray has grown accustomed to being scheduled on Centre Court, so he could have been forgiving for being a little disorientated when he stepped out on Court One to face Lu.

But, after saving three break points in the fifth game, Murray landed the first break for a 4-2 lead before serving out the first set.

Lu, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2010, had beaten another Briton, James Ward, in the previous round, but his forlorn body language suggested he knew his chances of frustrating the host nation once again were slipping away.

Murray kept the pressure on Lu, unleashing a powerful return of serve that forced a wayward forehand and secured a break in the first game of the second set as the Scot easily moved into a two-set lead.

Even when Lu started hitting out midway through the third set, Murray came up with a pair of stunning winners to subdue the uprising and eventually sealed the win on his third match point. – AFP

BoE says banks would be vulnerable to abrupt rise in global rates - Economic Times

LONDON: The Bank of England warned banks and borrowers on Wednesday they may be vulnerable if there is an abrupt rise in global interest rates which could require lenders to bolster their capital cushions again.

Global bond yields have jumped since U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the U.S. central bank may start to scale back bond purchases later this year.

"The violence of the adjustment over the past fortnight underlined the extent of the search for yield over the past months and the need for the authorities ... to pin down whether or not there are any vulnerable links in the financial system that could jeopardise stability," BoE Deputy Governor Paul Tucker told reporters.

The BoE ordered an investigation into the vulnerability of Britain's financial institutions and a "cohort" of borrowers to higher interest rates, and the findings would be given to its new risk watchdog, the Financial Policy Committee, by September.

"Financial institutions and markets are also vulnerable to an abrupt rise in global interest rates. And some UK borrowers remain highly indebted, which could result in losses for UK banks," the FPC said in a half-yearly report on Britain's banking system.

"Capital can provide some protection from interest rate risks," it said.

As well as causing loans to go sour, higher interest rates could bump up banks' own borrowing costs, the FPC said, adding that around 40 percent of banks' assets would have to be immediately revalued if rates rose abruptly.

The BoE itself is a long way from tightening monetary policy. Tucker reiterated comments made by outgoing Governor Mervyn King on Tuesday that an interest rate hike was not imminent, saying it would only occur once the British economy had reached "escape velocity."

Indeed, a minority of the Bank of England's rate-setters, including King, have been pushing for more bond-buying due to the weak state of Britain's economy.

Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, a forum for central bankers, said banks should prepare themselves for interest rate risks, market volatility and drops in asset prices.

"If they prepare themselves then, when the time comes, the normalisation process would be smoother and easiers," he said.

Also on Wednesday, the British central bank said banks could scale back some of the short-term cash they hold against shocks to encourage more lending to the economy, a change which could release as much as 70 billion pounds in new credit depending on demand, Tucker said.

The 11-member FPC gained legal powers to set capital requirements for banks in April after operating on an interim basis for the previous two years.

Just a week ago it ordered five banks to raise 13 billion pounds ($20 billion) of extra capital.

Privately, bankers complain that higher capital requirements and limits on leverage are hampering their ability to lend, an argument which has been strongly disputed by the BoE.

In its report on Wednesday, the FPC said it saw no contradiction between its calls for higher capital and finance minister George Osborne's request that it heed the impact of its actions on short-term economic growth.

King steps down as governor at the end of this week and will be replaced by former Canadian central bank chief Mark Carney, who many economists expect to advocate a long-term commitment to low interest rates as a way to keep down bond yields.

Rainbow flags flutter as top US court rules federal government must recognise ... - The Independent

Loud cheers went up and rainbow flags fluttered beneath the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington as word came that the justices, in a 5-4 ruling, had struck down as unconstitutional the core provisions of the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act, DOMA, which had defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Some outside the court wept and chanted "THANK YOU" and "USA".

The Court additionally let stand a lower court ruling in California that overturned Proposition 8, a disputed ballot measure passed by voters in 2008 to ban gay marriage.  The California Governor, Jerry Brown, instantly declared that that court ruling nullifying the ban applied statewide and instructed all counties to comply.  Experts predicted that gays would be allowed to marry again in the state in about one month.

Together, the two rulings will give important new momentum to the gay rights movement in the US which has seen a sea-change in public, cultural and political opinion in recent years in its favour, not least the declaration by President Barack Obama last year backing gay marriage for the first time.  Recent polls show over half of Americans now backing same-sex marriage, a near doubling of support in a decade.

That said, the ruling on Prop 8 was a mostly technical and limited one. The Justices stopped far short of sweeping away bans on all the other gay marriage bans that have been passed by over 30 US states in recent years – still a huge swathe of the country, most of it under Republican-led state legislatures or Republican governors. What some have called America's last great civil rights battle is set to rage on. 

Yet by killing off DOMA the Supreme Court, divided though it was, has at least partially reset the national compass on the issue even if it hasn't actually given its blessing to same-sex marriage. Gays whose unions were recognised only inside the borders of a state are now granted that respect by the country as a whole.

On a flight to Senegal aboard Air Force One, Mr Obama issued a statement applauding the evisceration of DOMA by the Court. "This was discrimination enshrined in law.  It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class," he said. "The Supreme Court has righted that wrong."  He earlier expressed his approval with a Twitter posting that included the hash-tag, "#LoveIsLove".  He also spoke via speaker phone from on board his plane with the Prop 8 plaintiffs to offer his congratulations.

Writing the majority DOMA ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the law had imposed "a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states".  He added: "The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, and whose relationship the state has sought to dignify."

The practical consequences are far-reaching. The lifting of DOMA means that the roughly 1,100 federal tax, health and retirement benefits that are automatically granted to straight married couples must now be available to married gays also. It will also profoundly affect the immigration status of those non-American gay people who want to marry US citizens. The picture is not quite clear for couples who may travel to a state that allows gay marriage to tie the knot but then returns to continue living in a state that does not.

The case was originally bought by a New York resident, Edith Windsor, 83 who was received a tax bill of $363,000 when she inherited the goods of her partner of over four decades when she died. The two women had been married in Canada in 2007. No inheritance tax would have applied had she been in a same-sex marriage.  That money must now be refunded to her.

In a dissenting opinion that dripped with dismay, the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority decision "jaw-dropping" and one that smelled of "judicial supremacy".

The $99 Xbox? Ouya Launches - ABC News

This holiday season Microsoft launches its $499 Xbox One and Sony its $399 Playstation 4. It's a big year for gaming fans and, well, a big year for their wallets, especially when you consider that those prices don't include any of the games.

But starting this week there is a new, significantly affordable gaming console on the market, which will sit next to those other hotly anticipated systems on Best Buy and Target shelves later this year.

It's called Ouya (pronounced like Booya, without the B). It costs $99 and it's nothing like the other consoles in terms of price, performance and offerings. And that's the point.

"Ouya is a different type of game console. We wanted to bring gaming back to the television by making it accessible to gamers," Julie Uhrman, the founder of Ouya, told ABC News in an interview. "All the games are free to try, and we allow any developer with the creativity and passion to build a game for the television to do so."

What You Get for $99
Unlike the big clunky Xbox, Wii or Playstation boxes, the Ouya is a small little box, no bigger than other small settop boxes, such as the Apple TV or the Roku. The little vase-shaped device houses the guts of a high-end tablet or smartphone, including an Nvidia quad-core processor and Wi-Fi. There's no CD or Blu-ray drive -- you download the games right to the device.

For $99 you get that box, an HDMI cord to hook it up to your TV and a single, AA-battery-powered controller. Additional controllers will cost $49.95.

The box doesn't only have some of the same parts as your phone, but it also runs the same software as some of those phones. The menus and all the games have been written on top of Google's Android platform. But it's not just a stretched version of the software -- the games and the Ouya software have been created for TVs, Uhrman emphasized.

The whole point of using Android, which is an open platform, was to make Ouya an open console. In fact, the O in Ouya stands for "open" and the A for "accessible." The ya? That stands for fun.

The fun, of course, comes with the games. The console launched on Tuesday with more than 160 games, all of which are free to try. "You shouldn't be gouged by paying $60 for a game if you don't even know if you like it," Uhrman says, taking a knock at the high-priced console games out there. The only requirement of game makers when submitting games to the Ouya store is that playing some part of it must be free.

But, no, you won't find "Halo" or "Call of Duty" or "Madden NFL 13" on Ouya. The new console has attracted a range of game makers with experience making games for the PC and game consoles. It also attracts game makers who have never made a game before.

One game available for the console called "Astronaut Rescue" was created by a father and his 8-year-old son. "His son broke his leg skiing, and the dad was like you aren't going to sit inside all day long and play games, so they decided to build one," Uhrman said.

Joining games like "Astronaut Rescue" are some names that are more familiar to people, such as Sega's "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Final Fantasy" and "You Don't Know Jack." The lack of well-known titles might be a sticking point for many, but the free options might be all it takes to bring users in, say some experts.

"The Ouya is attractive because of the $100 price and its free-to-try games. That alone will give people pause enough to consider picking up one of these consoles even though they don't play the popular games today," Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner, told ABC News.

Tsonga and Azarenka among seven to pull out of Wimbledon - BBC News

Seven players have been forced to pull out of Wimbledon on Wednesday in the most injury-hit second round in the competition's history.

Women's second seed Victoria Azarenka and men's sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were among those who withdrew.

Organisers rejected Azarenka's claims that the courts were of poor quality, describing them as "excellent".

But Maria Sharapova, who lost to Michelle Larcher De Brito on court two, referred to the surface as "dangerous".


"Players these days are more reliant than ever before on traction, especially on hard courts.

"You need to be much gentler and lighter on grass and skip over the surface. You can't be so dependent on pushing off. I think the players are trying to do the same things they do on a hard court and they can't do that on grass.

"Because the bounce is higher these days some of them think, "I'm going to play this like a hard court," and I'm just not sure you can move like that.

"Grass makes you move in a different way to clay and players use completely different muscles and a different technique."

Earlier, Steve Darcis, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round, pulled out with a shoulder problem, while both Marin Cilic and John Isner retired with knee injuries and a left hamstring problem ended Radek Stepanek's campaign.

Yaroslava Shvedova then also withdrew ahead of her second-round match with eighth seed Petra Kvitova, citing an injury to her right arm.

"There have been no changes in the preparation of the courts and as far as we are aware the grass court surface is in excellent condition," the All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club (AELTC) said in a statement.

"In fact we believe that it is drier than last year when the prevailing conditions were cold and wet.

Two-time semi-finalist Azarenka fell heavily during Monday's 6-1 6-2 first-round win over Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal and required lengthy treatment before continuing with heavy strapping on her knee.

"The court was not in a very good condition that day. My opponent fell twice and I fell badly," said Azarenka.

"I don't know if it's the court or the weather. I can't figure it out.

"There is nothing I've done wrong that cost me to just withdraw from Wimbledon."

The statement from AELTC continued: "A grass court is a natural surface and will generally be slightly more lush in the first couple of days.

"Although a number of players have withdrawn injured, only one player has attributed this to slipping over on court."

Tsonga also withdrew with a knee problem while trailing Ernests Gulbis 3-6 6-3 6-3. The number six seed required treatment at the end of the second set but he failed to recover and pulled out at the end of the third.

Darcis, who was scheduled to play Lukasz Kubot of Poland, pulled out before the game could get under way.

"The injury happened against Rafa in the middle of the first set when I fell down," he said.

"A few hours after the Nadal match, I start to feel so much pain, I couldn't sleep that night.

"I saw the physio and the doctor yesterday. They did a good job. It's a little bit better today. But no chance I can play."

Injury forces Isner to retire against Mannarino

Both Isner and Stepanek required treatment during their second-round matches but also failed to recover enough to continue.

American Isner had played just two games of his match against Adrian Mannarino of France when he was forced out with an injury to his left knee.

"I always serve and land on my left leg, like I have done 20 million times playing this game, and this is the first time I just felt this sharp pain," he said.

Stepanek soon followed, trailing one set to love and 5-3 to 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz, when he retired with a hamstring problem.

Cilic made it five withdrawals when he pulled out ahead of his second-round match with Frenchman Kenny De Schepper.

Nelson Mandela: Atmosphere almost festive as South Africans await word on ... - The Province

Pretoria, South Africa — While a rotating roster of Nelson Mandela's closest relatives including his wife, Graca Machel, kept a bedside vigil Wednesday at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital, Pretorians continued to pay their respects in song and poetry before a wall outside that has been adorned with bouquets and prayers for South Africa's first black president, who remained in critical condition 19 days into his fourth extended hospital stay in seven months.

"There is nothing we can do. It is in the hands of Jesus," wailed Florah Nkosi, who was dressed in the modest white and blue uniform of a follower of the Apostolic Church in Zion of South Africa.

In a thin, brave voice the domestic worker, who came to the hospital with an infant whom she cares for in her arms, sang the Tshwana hymn, Ha Le Mpotsa Tshepo Yaka or You Ask for My Faith, before a crowd of South African and foreign journalists from almost every corner of the world.

"I pray to God with all my strength that he will be strong," Nkosi said as she fought back tears. "The nation was destroyed and he rebuilt it by planting the message of the Bible. We must follow the moral ideals that he instilled in us."

None of those who made the pilgrimage to the hospital were happy about Mandela's dire medical situation. But the mood was more upbeat than it was funereal. While many of those who gathered fretted about Mandela's ebbing strength and the pain they assumed he was feeling, this was mixed with joy and a desire to celebrate his life because of the belief he will soon be free of earthly concerns.

Jane Marutle contributed to the almost festive atmosphere by setting up a kitchen to feed journalists, who have spent days and nights sitting across the street from the hospital enduring the chilling South African winter where temperatures range between about 18 C by day and 4 C at night.

"Business is good. They enjoy my cooking," the diplomat's daughter, who used to live in McLean, Virginia, said as she served heaping portions of soup, beef stew, rice and salad for 7 rand or about $7 per serving. "It's profitable and I love cooking. But I do it because I feel for these people, sitting here for three weeks and getting almost no information from the Mandela family or the government."

The family and the government have repeatedly appealed to the media and the public to give the family space during these difficult days "but they have forgotten that it was the international media who kept the world informed about Mandela and the struggle against apartheid," said Marutle, who is a manager for a housing projects for poor South Africans. "They wanted the media's help then and now they want them to go away. This is unfair. It is actually the government and the family who are disturbing things by not being open with the good people of South Africa. We want to know what is actually going with Mandela's health."

In the almost total absence of official information about Mandela's health from either his family or the government, rumours have abounded about his actual condition. The grimmest of the speculation published Tuesday in the Citizen newspaper was that Mandela was on life support and his doctors wanted to know from the family if the ventilator he was said to be using to breathe should be switched off.

The Citizen, which has a mostly black readership, claimed that five different unnamed sources had confirmed Mandela was on a ventilator. He had suffered kidney failure and was also undergoing dialysis every three hours, the newspaper said.

Messages on the hospital wall where many of the media trained their cameras described Mandela as an inspiration to blacks in other African countries. He was an "icon" and a "hero" to those who wished him a speedy recovery, but that recovery seems more unlikely with every passing day.

In a clear sign that Mandela was not expected to live much longer, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, posted a prayer on Facebook after visiting him on Tuesday evening. It said: "Grant him, we pray, a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end."

Like Mandela's illness, almost nothing has been publicly revealed about the shape and timing of the protracted grieving and burial processes that will take place whenever Mandela passes away. It is likely that South Africans will be invited to see Mandela one last time at a football stadium near his longtime home in the black township of Soweto before his body is taken to lie in state at the Union Building in Pretoria where he was sworn in as South Africa's first black president 19 years ago this April.

A state funeral is to take place in the capital with a second funeral ceremony to follow almost immediately in the Eastern Cape where there has apparently been a squabble within the family about exactly where, how and when the Father of the Nation should be buried.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation was said to have conducted rehearsals Tuesday of some of the programming that it plans to broadcast immediately after Mandela's death is announced.

Guilty verdict in Ruby case the least of Berlusconi's problems - National Post

Full Comment's Araminta Wordsworth brings you a daily round-up of quality punditry from across the globe.  Today: It's official – Silvio Berlusconi is a dirty old man who had sex with an underage girl at his infamous bunga-bunga parties.

A court in Milan ruled this week the then-Italian prime minister had also paid the ineffably named Ruby the Heartstealer — a.k.a  Karima El Mahroug, a prostitute of Moroccan origin, who was a minor at the time. In addition, he was convicted of abuse of his office for persuading police to drop theft charges against her.

The three judges (all women) jailed him for seven years and banned him for life from holding public office. This was one year more than the sentence demanded by prosecutors. They also said at least 30 of the Berlusconi witnesses had committed perjury and should be prosecuted.

It was the first time Berlusconi's private behaviour had been censored. The salacious goings-on revealed in court would sink any other politician, but the 76-year-old billionaire and his supporters denounce the verdict as a leftist conspiracy. However, no one expects him to be clapped behind bars soon — appeals in Italy take years, giving him plenty of time to dream up an escape route.

For he has other legal problems. Though Ruby and the bunga-bunga goings-on have garnered the headlines, the guilty verdict in that case is the least of Berlusconi's woes. More threatening is the Mediaset affair, in which he was convicted of tax evasion and barred from office. A final ruling by the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest court, could come as early as this fall. As the BBC's Alan Johnston notes,

[The Ruby] judgment will have no immediate, practical impact. It was only the verdict of a lower court. Appeals against it could go on for years. Even if the sentence was eventually confirmed, a man of Mr. Berlusconi's age would be extremely unlikely to go to prison for crimes like these in Italy.

Much more serious for the former PM is another case that is fast reaching a conclusion. This is an affair in which Mr. Berlusconi has been convicted of tax evasion. And if he cannot get the sentence overturned at a final appeal hearing he will be barred from holding any public office as soon as this autumn. [There]  is intense speculation as to how Mr. Berlusconi will manoeuvre to counter the looming threat.

At Der Spiegel Online, Hans Jurgen Schlamp suggests some ways in which the former PM might avoid justice. 

He is already applying pressure to the Italian government headed by Prime Minister Enrico Letta, a social democrat. The coalition will be finished, he says, unless Letta comes to his aid, because the prime minister will lack a majority without Berlusconi's party, the People of Freedom. If Berlusconi had his way, he would like to see the government enact a small piece of legislation tailored to his situation, of which there were several during his tenure as prime minister, which would employ legal tricks to prevent his ban from politics. But because the leftists are unlikely to support this, there is also a Plan B.

A ban on holding public office by the Court of Cassation would have to be confirmed by the Senate — the second chamber of the Italian parliament, in which Berlusconi has a seat — in a secret vote. This would provide a good opportunity for a sufficient number of leftist senators to anonymously vote "no," thereby saving Berlusconi, as the former prime minister's emissaries have intimated to the coalition partners.

James Walston, a professor at the American University of Rome, sees other  possibilities for evasion. In his blog on Italian politics, he notes,

There are rumours of more desperate measures like putting pressure on President [Giorgio] Napolitano to make [Berlusconi] a life senator though it is not clear how that would be different from being an elected senator as he is at the moment. Or some sort of special immunity law also with Napolitano's complicity. Berlusconi and his supporters have until autumn to work something out.

It is of course, possible, just possible that he will take the conviction on the chin and continue leading from outside Parliament like Beppe Grillo. But somehow, I doubt it.

In a piece for Al Jazeera, Silvia Mazzini proffers an unusual explanation for Berlusconi's survival in Italian politics.

Normally, if someone is found guilty of tax fraud and sexual contact with underage women, that would mean the end of his political career and the beginning of his time in jail. Not in Italy. Even though Berlusconi's party did not win a majority of the vote in the last general and local elections, Berlusconi continues to be the single most influential man in Italian politics.

How is this possible? Peer Steinbruck, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party, thought he knew why: he called Silvio Berlusconi a clown, and Italians highly value humour. As a matter of fact, Berlusconi often expressed his desire to make people laugh and tried to make that happen as much as possible, on occasions appropriate and inappropriate alike.

compiled by Araminta Wordsworth


Gillard Demise Sown in Rudd Coup That Tarnished Trust - Businessweek

The seeds of Julia Gillard's demise were sown the night she became Australia's first female leader in June 2010. Just days after vowing not to challenge Kevin Rudd, the deputy leader ousted him in a backroom party coup.

The removal of Rudd, who swept the Labor party to a landslide win in 2007 after 11 years out of office, allowed the Liberal-National opposition to paint her as untrustworthy. When an election three months later resulted in the first hung parliament since World War II, Gillard, 51, won Greens Party support to form a minority government by breaking a pledge not to introduce a carbon tax. Support in polls never recovered.

Attacks by the Tony Abbott-led coalition helped erode the legitimacy of her office, culminating in a series of sexist and personal remarks in the weeks before her downfall, from inappropriate radio shock-jock comments to students throwing food at her. Her defeat yesterday came hours after she won parliamentary backing for education reforms, adding to legislative accomplishments including increased funding for the disabled that failed to translate into public support.

"Gillard's time as prime minister will be remembered for progressive policy initiatives balanced with a failure to communicate her message," said Andrew Hughes, who conducts political-marketing research at the Australian National University in Canberra. "Her days were numbered when voters, disillusioned with how she won the job and the constant questions over her trustworthiness, turned against her."


In an April 2012 opinion poll, 44 percent of respondents said Gillard was trustworthy, down from 61 percent in a similar survey in 2010, according to Newspoll results published in The Australian newspaper. The same poll showed a smaller deterioration for Abbott, who was deemed trustworthy by 54 percent in April last year compared with 58 percent in 2010. The survey of 1,205 adults had a maximum margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Rudd, 55, didn't fade from the limelight after he was deposed. He became foreign minister before resigning the post in February 2012 to challenge Gillard, a contest he lost. In March, he declined to challenge after Gillard declared the leadership open.

In a fresh caucus ballot yesterday, Rudd was reinstalled as Labor leader, winning 57 votes to Gillard's 45. Gillard told reporters afterward that she wouldn't seek re-election in her seat of Lalor, ending a 15-year parliamentary career.

Rudd's Comeback

Speculation mounted in June that Labor lawmakers would turn to Rudd after he made campaign appearances for colleagues in marginal seats and polls showed Labor would fare better in an election with him at the helm.

"Rudd of course hasn't helped," said Zareh Ghazarian, a politics lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne. "He's always in the public eye, reminding voters about how he was prime minister one day, and when they woke up the next day, Gillard was."

Rudd's return would lift Labor by 11 percentage points in the primary vote to 40 percent, compared with the coalition's 42 percent, according to a Nielsen survey published in Fairfax newspapers June 17. It showed support for Labor under Gillard slid 3 points to 29 percent, versus the opposition's 47 percent.

"The obvious advantage he has as leader when compared to Gillard is he doesn't have Kevin Rudd constantly undermining and backstabbing him," said David Burchell, a professor of humanities at the University of Western Sydney.

Personal Lives

Gillard, who was born in Wales and emigrated to Australia when she was four, faced efforts to undermine her that included a focus on her unmarried status and lack of children. Abbott, 55, has appeared in magazine profiles pictured with his wife Margie and three daughters, a counter-image to Gillard.

"I have faced a minority parliament and I've also faced internal divisions within my political party," Gillard told reporters after losing the ballot yesterday. "It has not been an easy environment to work in. I am pleased that in this environment that wasn't easy I have prevailed to ensure that this country is made stronger and smarter and fairer for the future. I am very proud of what this government has achieved, which will endure for the long term."

For much of her term, Gillard played down suggestions of gender bias. "Australian culture is blokey in some ways, yes, but also egalitarian," she said in a 2011 interview.

'Sexist Views'

That changed last October, when she stood in parliament and labeled Abbott sexist. "The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office," she said. "I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation."

All sides of politics wished Gillard well when she took office as the first female prime minister, Abbott said yesterday. "I was conscious, very conscious as the father of three daughters of just what a milestone in our national life had been achieved," he told parliament.

The gender debate escalated in recent months with news a coalition party fundraiser included a mock menu of dishes like "Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail," with a description that included derogatory sexual comments about her body. The restaurant's owner said the menu was an in-house joke and wasn't circulated at the function.

Perth radio 6PR host Howard Sattler was fired on June 14 after quizzing Gillard about her partner's sexuality because of his previous career as a hairdresser, prompting her to warn that such probing could discourage women from entering public life.

Food Thrown

During public appearances at schools in May to promote her government's commitment to boost education funding, Gillard was hit by sandwiches thrown by students.

Gillard sought to use the gender issue herself at a June 11 fundraiser, where she said the elections would present voters with a "decision about whether, once again, we will banish women's voices from our political life" and said defeat of her government would see abortion become a political plaything. The opposition criticized the speech, and opinion polls that followed showed a slump in male support and limited backing among females.

"Gillard may have misplayed the gender card because polls show she never got any permanent traction with voters from it," said Stephen Stockwell, a political analyst at Brisbane's Griffith University. "If anything, it may have ended up alienating some male voters."

Factory Struggles

Gillard was also undone by Australia's two-speed economy, with the success of the mining industry coming at the expense of manufacturers pummeled by a strong Aussie dollar, which created pockets of Spain-like unemployment in areas that traditionally vote Labor. While that pressure has eased, with the dollar falling more than 10 percent since early April against its U.S. counterpart, it's still about 23 percent higher than its 20-year average.

Voters also turned away from Gillard's party over its inability to halt an influx of refugees arriving by boat, concerned they were gaining easy access to Australian welfare payments.

Hundreds of asylum seekers, often from war-torn Middle Eastern and South Asian nations, have drowned in the waters between Indonesia and Australia under her leadership. Abbott's coalition has pledged it will "stop the boats."

Carbon Tax

Gillard, a former union lawyer, had been betting that big-ticket legislation like the carbon and mining taxes and her education and disability programs would turn the polls in her favor. The week she presented the bill for the nation's first levy on greenhouse-gas emissions in September 2011, she said in an interview her government was "on the right side of history."

Voters didn't agree. In a Newspoll published that month in the Australian, they gave her an approval rating of 23 percent, the lowest of any prime minister in 18 years. Newspoll is 50 percent owned by News Ltd. and 50 percent by Millward Brown Inc., a market-research company.

Gillard was also dogged by a decision to impose a mining tax. Shortly after becoming prime minister she negotiated a 30 percent levy on resource profits with BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP)., Rio Tinto Group and Xstrata Plc. The tax will reap A$1.8 billion less in revenue for the year to June 30 than previously forecast, budget documents showed May 14.

Abbott's Pledges

Abbott, who vows to repeal the mining tax and carbon levy, seized on the shortfall as evidence of the government's failed stewardship of Australia's A$1.45 trillion economy. He was given more ammunition when the government announced in December it was unlikely to deliver on Gillard's promised budget surplus as weaker growth and a strong local currency curbed tax receipts.

Labor's support in areas like Western Sydney has been eroded as the region, where about 10 percent of Australians live, stagnated in the slow lane of the country's two-speed economy. Casualties included book seller Angus & Robertson, founded in 1884, which closed its stores in 2011, and Rosella, a 117-year-old saucemaker that wound up this year.

Ultimately, Gillard was felled by the corrosive effect of poor polling and was unable to overcome the trust issues that ate away at her credibility over three years in office. An April 2012 Newspoll found just 44 percent of voters would describe her as "trustworthy," against 54 percent for Abbott.

"The way she got the prime ministership is not something that is celebrated in Australia," said Monash University's Ghazarian. "The carbon tax has been the other big problem that goes to the issue of trust."

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at jscott14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

Wimbledon 2013: GB's Laura Robson relishing Wimbledon challenge - BBC Sport


  • Venue: All England Club, London
  • Date: 24 June - 7 July

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD Channel, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, plus 10 live streams available on the BBC Sport website, tablet, mobile and connected TV.

Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee tells the West to stop snooping - The Australian

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 7, 8 & 9

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Demand for revival of rail link between Kingham and Cheltenham questioned ... - Witney Gazette

Demand for revival of rail link between Kingham and Cheltenham questioned despite campaign

COUNCILLORS have questioned whether there is sufficient demand to warrant reopening the disused railway line between Kingham and Cheltenham.

Gloucestershire County Council was asked to consider the plan at a council meeting on Wednesday following a Facebook campaign.

Liberal Democrat Dem councillor Paul Hodgkinson said the line would bring a "much-needed west-east public transport link, which is sadly lacking".

But the council's cabinet member for infrastructure, Will Windsor-Clive, a Conservative, said it could cost £300m to £500m to reinstate the 24 miles of track.

He said: "In 2008, proposals to reinstate the Lewes-Uckfield line in Sussex, which is about nine miles in length, were costed at £141m.

"Reinstating the Cheltenham to Kingham line would additionally require substantial new track through both Cheltenham and Bourton-on-the-Water where the old route has been built over, the rebuilding of the Dowdswell viaduct and the recommissioning of the Sandywell Park tunnel.

"I would question whether there is sufficient demand, particularly given it would not provide a faster route to London, to persuade any Government that this is a good investment."

The Facebook group, Reopen the Cheltenham to Kingham Railway Line, has gained 58 "likes".

The line was closed west of Bourton-on-the-Water in 1962, with the section between there and Kingham seeing its last train in 1964.

Star with 3 planets in life-friendly orbits found - China Daily

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A neighbor star has at least six planets in orbit, including three circling at the right distance for water to exist, a condition believed to be necessary for life, scientists said on Tuesday.

Previously, the star known as Gliese 667C was found to be hosting three planets, one of which was located in its so-called "habitable zone" where temperatures could support liquid surface water. That planet and two newly found sibling worlds are bigger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune.

"This is the first time that three such planets have been spotted orbiting in this zone in the same system," astronomer Paul Butler, with the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

Scientists say the discovery of three planets in a star's habitable zone raises the odds of finding Earth-like worlds where conditions might have been suitable for life to evolve.

"Instead of looking at 10 stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and have a high chance of finding several of them," astronomer Rory Barnes, with the University of Washington, said in a statement.

Additional observations of Gliese 667C and a reanalysis of existing data showed it hosts at least six, and possibly, seven planets.

The star is located relatively close to Earth, just 22 light years (129 trillion miles/207 trillion km) away. It is about one-third the size of the sun and the faintest star of a triple star system.

In addition to the three well-positioned "super-Earths," two more planets may orbit on the fringe of the star's habitable zone and also could possibly support life.

The research will be published this week in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Rita Ora's Black-and-White Wear: Jail House Couture or Beetlejuice Chic? - E! Online

Well this is a debate for the ages... Do Rita Ora's Stella McCartney separates look like the prison uniforms of the '20s or Michael Keaton's character costume of the '80s? (second only to Batman, of course).

The colors and stripes scream jail-cell chic, especially with their horizontal orientation. But a truly locked-up look would be much baggier than these tight-fit pants and tube neck top on the "How We Do" singer.

PHOTOS: Check out Rita's daring fashion choices

So then it must be option 2: the infamous Beetlejuice suit. Yes, his was a pinstripe suit, but there's that same element of formal wear to this high design deviation.

And so, we say Tim Burton's creation vs. a cell block costume in the strangest fashion debate that ever was. Post your thoughts in comments!

PHOTOS: See more celebs rocking black-and-white fashions!

How Daniel helped Andrea find her Voice - Irish Independent

A WEE bit of help from Daniel O'Donnell pushed angel-voiced singer Andrea Begley to win The Voice UK.

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The 26-year-old was the shock winner of the talent series last Saturday night but it turns out she has friends in high places.

Donegal native O'Donnell (51) had campaigned for the singer and asked his legions of fans to back Andrea as she is "the niece of a very good friend of mine called Philomena Begley."

It was on June 5, Daniel first told fans on his official website danielodonnell.org; "I'm sure those of you who live in the UK &amp; Ireland are familiar with The Voice UK talent show that is on at the minute on BBC 1.

"There is a really talented young lady who comes from Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland and I would love if you can spare a few minutes to vote for her this Friday night to get her through to next week.

"She is on Team Danny and her name is Andrea Begley. She is the niece of Irish singer Philomena Begley who I have known all through my singing career. I would love if you can help get Andrea further in the competition."

He reiterated: "So don't forget Friday night 7pm Andrea Begley on Team Danny... Let's get her to the next level, Thanks Daniel."

That same day, a similar message was posted on Daniel O'Donnell's official Facebook group.

Daniel was again asking his fans to back Andrea last Thursday, June 20, on his website.

"Andrea Begley needs help with votes to win the Final!", he told fans: "Hi Everyone, Thanks to all of you who voted for Andrea Begley on the Voice UK for the past few weeks. She's through to the final on Saturday night at 7.15pm on BBC 1 so if you can spare a few minutes to vote and help get this talented girl crowned the winner of the Voice UK2013!"

Fellow Northern Irish singer Leah McFall had been the bookies' favourite to top the poll but it was Begley who caused a sensation when she topped the polls in a public vote securing a £500,000 recording contract.

Following the win, Daniel's Facebook said: "I'm delighted to announce that Andrea Begley won the Voice UK tonight, thank you so much to anyone who voted for her."

As seen in The Herald; Herald.ie

Snowden effect: US spies say militants altering methods of communication - Indian Express

Even as US intelligence agencies and their global partners assess potential damage from Edward Snowden's disclosures about surveillance programs, militants have begun responding by altering methods of communication, a change that could make it harder to foil attacks, US officials say.

Intelligence agencies have detected that members of targeted militant organizations, including both Sunni and Shi'ite Islamist groups, have begun altering communications patterns in what was believed to be a direct response to details on eavesdropping leaked by the former US spy agency contractor, two US national security sources said.

The officials said it was too early to tell whether the recent changes in communications methods had caused a loss of critical intelligence or if there was now a greater risk of missing warning signs about future attacks. "You don't know what you lose until after you've lost it," one of the sources said.

Previous dire warnings of leaks causing huge damage to US national security interests have proved overplayed. The leaking of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks in 2010 appears to have had far less impact than Washington initially warned.

And militants changing the way they communicate could actually hinder plots as they resort to different methods to avoid detection.

The charge that Snowden's leaks are causing damage, made by officials speaking on condition of anonymity, comes as the Obama administration mounts a campaign to pressure Russia to extradite him. Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday confirmed Snowden was in the transit area of a Moscow airport, but ruled out handing him to Washington.

The officials declined to specify what changes were spotted among militant groups, fearing that the more details provided on what was known about their behavior the easier it would be for them to adapt.

One US telecommunications expert said privately that the militants' latest adjustments likely included reduced electronic transmissions and more frequent switching of cell phones while they seek new encryption methods.

... contd.

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Spending review: More economic pain whoever wins 2015 general election - The Independent

Privately, senior figures in the three main political parties admitted there would be a lot more "pain" to come, whoever wins the 2015 general election. They acknowledged that the Chancellor's government-wide spending review would be only a staging post on the road to clearing the deficit.

The Coalition needs to set departmental budgets for 2015-16 because that financial year will start a month before the 2015 election. Budgets for the rest of the five-year parliament will have to be addressed by the next government. "The real spending review will happen then," one minister admitted.

Tomorrow Mr Osborne will hint at the challenge ahead by speaking about his long-term plans to keep a lid on the welfare budget, which could mean cutting pensioners' perks such as the winter fuel allowance after the election and raising the age at which people draw  the basic state pension.

Policy Exchange, the centre-right think tank, warned in a report that future governments would have to find £40bn of cuts if spending on the state pension is not capped. Author Matthew Oakley, a former Treasury official, said Mr Osborne must cap the half of government spending that falls outside Whitehall departments' control - the £379bn a year spent mainly on benefits, tax credits and debt interest payments. "It [the cap] has to include the full range of benefits, including pensioner benefits and the state pension," said Mr Oakley. "Without this, any proposed cap would be meaningless and fail to recognise the real drivers of rising costs. It's time for an honest conversation with the public."

Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, which calculates that a further £26bn of cuts will be needed by 2018, said: "The cuts in this spending review are just the next phase of an on-going process - there's a lot more fiscal pain to come in the years to 2018.  Whoever wins  the 2015 election will face deeply unpalatable choices over public finances including tax rises, yet deeper spending cuts or extending the timetable for deficit reduction."

He added: "If the current timetable is pursued, and existing areas of spending protection continued, then the implications for those areas which aren't ring-fenced looks pretty implausible. The already bracing pace of departmental cuts would have to accelerate after 2015 if something else doesn't give."

Alex Henderson, tax partner at PwC, said £40bn of cuts could be needed in the two years after 2015-16. "The temptation to change the plans slightly and raise more tax will be great," he said.

Today Mr Osborne confirmed he would maintain the ring-fencing around the NHS and schools budgets in today's statement. However, other parts of the education budget could be squeezed by £1bn, including further education and the administrative costs of setting up academies and free schools.

The Chancellor told the Commons said his review would set out "the next phase of the economic plan to move Britain from rescue to recovery."  He added: "I will be offering real protection for our National Health Service and to our schools. These are vital public services, they are an investment in our economic future and they are all about doing what we need to do to win that economic race."

Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary, hinted the Government may speed up the introduction of "community budgets" under which public sector services share operations, after accountants Ernst & Young estimated that between £9bn and £20bn could be saved over five years.

Portuguese arrest Irish tourists for watching bingo - Irish Independent

AN Irishman has told how he was among a group of 28 holidaymakers arrested in Portugal simply for watching a game of bingo where the top prize was a tin of biscuits.

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Following an anonymous tip-off of alleged illegal gambling, police in the holiday resort of Albufeira swooped on the busy Yorkshire Tavern pub and arrested customers and the bar's owners.

Under Portugal's strict gambling law, even bingo nights require a licence.

An Irish holiday-home owner, who did not wish to be identified, told the Irish Independent he hadn't even been playing bingo and was enjoying a quiet drink when he was arrested.

"I was having a few drinks and just before I was about to depart the bingo started," he said. "Before I had a chance to leave, the first prize of a line by a 76-year-old man called Gerald was declared. Following that, the GNR (Portuguese police) started visiting tables and taking people's names.

"I was approached by a lady police office who I informed I was not participating but I was told I still had to go to the police station. I was shocked, I couldn't believe it," he said.

He said he and the other customers were held at the station for several hours last Friday night before they were told to appear before a local court on Monday.

Because he was not taking part in the bingo, the Irishman was ordered by the judge to make a €150 donation to a charity or face six weeks in prison. Those who had participated were ordered to pay €300 or face a three-month sentence.


"They said, under Portuguese law, those who participate and those who are on the premises are equally guilty. How could anybody, particularly foreigners, when they are entering a bar or restaurant, know that the premises has the appropriate licence?" he asked.

"My immediate thought was to sell up and move out and never return to Portugal," said the retiree, who owns an apartment in the Algarve.

"I hadn't been to the Yorkshire Tavern for a couple of weeks and I was just unfortunate I was there," he said.

Owner of the Yorkshire Tavern, Marianne Pittaway, said another Irish couple from Munster was taking part in the bingo but they were able to return home before the court hearing.

She said she understood a licence was only necessary when cash prizes were offered.

"It is crazy, an absolute joke. We were playing bingo for biscuits, chocolate and some alcoholic drinks. There was no money exchanged apart from paying for the ticket. The money we make pays for prizes," she told the Irish Independent.

The police's decision to arrest a bar full of customers has raised eyebrows even among the Portuguese. "The Portuguese community think it's ridiculous," said Ms Pittaway.

She said they were told in court that if foreigners come to Portugal they ought to learn the laws of the land. However, she said no one expects to break the law simply by playing or watching bingo.

Irish Independent

Dog buries puppy in Iraq: Why is this video so popular? (+video) - Christian Science Monitor

Dog buries puppy: A video of a dog compassionately burying a puppy in Iraq has gone viral. Why?

By Contributor / June 25, 2013

A video of a dog compassionately burying a dead puppy has gone viral. That the video garners such attention among humans is perhaps a reflection on how we see the world – as much as the how a canine in mourning behaves.

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In the video, whose title translates from Arabic to "dog buries his son in Iraq," a dog gently sniffs the puppy – found in a ditch with empty water bottles – then proceeds to tenderly bury it, nudging with his nose the sand and dirt over the little body. In the background, three men talk inaudibly in Arabic while the dog works and then call out, in English, "thank you very much" as the dog finishes and leaves. 

The video does not give any other information about the scene, such as where exactly it was shot, who took the video, the relationship between the two dogs, or how the puppy died.

The video, posted last week to YouTube, has since gone viral. There's nothing that web audiences like more than animals behaving like people, especially when that animal is replicating our kindest, most selfless practices. Last month, an Oklahoma zoo captured a lion and a puppy "kissing."  Last year, a video of a dog assuming maternal duties for an abandoned kitten also went viral, as did another video of a dog trying to push a dog that a car had just hit and killed out of a road. Other videos of dogs standing sentry at the graves of their owners or crying for deceased animal friends have also made the Internet rounds.

Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize the animal kingdom. But these videos arguably offer a portrait of a moral animal who embodies the best in human behavior.

"Grief is one of the basic emotions dogs experience, just like people, Dr. Sophia Yin, a San Francisco-based veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist, told HealthDay.com. Dogs also feel fear, happiness, sadness, anger, as well as possessiveness.

While dogs do experience emotion, the recognizable behavior through which dogs express that emotion is probably learned from humans, say some scientists. Studies have found that dogs have an extraordinary capacity to learn and mimic human behavior. Two years ago, researchers found that dogs learn from their owner's facial cues to perform good behavior when their owner is watching and to save the misbehavior until their owner's back is turned, like a wised-up child pilfering from the cookie jar.

Does that mean this dog in Iraq learned from its owners how to mourn the loss of a child? We don't know. Certainly, Iraq has been a venue for some of the worst in human behavior in recent years. But the fact that "even dogs" can express compassion is perhaps why we respond so well to such videos: They are encouraging, hopeful reminders that such actions are natural to all beings, including humans.

Sorry we boobed: BBC apologises after Holly Willoughby's plunging dress for ... - Daily Mail

  • Presenter wore a black maxi dress which exposed plenty of cleavage
  • BBC apologises to any viewers who found outfit 'unsuitable'
  • Viewer numbers peaked at 8.7million - up on 6.7million previous week

By Steve Robson


The BBC was forced to apologise after Holly Willoughby's daring dress for the final of The Voice prompted 139 complaints.

The mother-of-two wore a black maxi dress slashed almost to the navel to host the live show, sending viewer figures soaring by two million.

But TV watchdog Ofcom received calls from scores of viewers who felt the cleavage-flashing was not appropriate for a programme shown before the 9pm watershed.

The BBC has apologised to anyone who found the outfit 'unsuitable'.

Taking the plunge: Holly Willoughby shows off some major cleavage in her low-cut dress as she hosts The Voice final

Taking the plunge: Holly Willoughby shows off some major cleavage in her low-cut dress as she hosts The Voice final

Flashing the flesh: As well as her low-cut neckline, Holly was also showing off plenty of leg thanks to the thigh-high split

Flashing the flesh: As well as her low-cut neckline, Holly was also showing off plenty of leg thanks to the thigh-high split

The final of the BBC singing contest, won by  Northern Ireland's Andrea Begley, pulled in 8.7million viewers at its peak - an extra two million compared with the previous week.

But many took to Twitter suggesting Ms Willoughby's attention-grabbing dress was a blatant ploy to boost ratings.

One viewer posted: 'If The Voice wants to boost its ratings, why don't they send out Holly in a bikini?'

Another added: 'It's so obvious the BBC is making Holly Willoughby wear low cut dresses so The Voice can get ratings.'

Yesterday a BBC spokesperson told the Daily Mirror: 'We're sorry if some viewers found Holly's dress to be unsuitable.

'Holly enjoys fashion and we felt the dress she wore was glamorous and wholly appropriate for the occasion.

'We don't believe it would have gone against audience expectations for a TV spectacle such as this.'

Distracting: Holly's cleavage was a hot topic on Twitter as she talked to contestants, including Leah McFall

Distracting: Holly's cleavage was a hot topic on Twitter as she talked to contestants, including Leah McFall

Holly - often nicknamed Holly Willoughbooby - recently admitted she didn't mind the public fixation on her cleavage and had embraced the attention, despite admitting she didn't understand it.

She said: 'I don't mind people fixating on my cleavage and I mainly blame Keith Lemon for bringing it into the main arena so people feel the need to talk about it all the time.

'But it's fine, it's fine - they're only boobs.'

Revealing outfits have previously sparked controversy on The Voice's rival ITV shows. Jennifer Lopez's raunchy performance in a black leotard on Britain's Got Talent prompted more than 100 complaints.

And the 2010 appearance by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera on the X-Factor attracted around 4,500 complaints after their sexually-charged routine.

That prompted Ofcom to issue new guidance to broadcasters to observe the watershed and be mindful of sexual content on 'family shows'

Glamour: Holly teamed her daring dress with large curls and bright red lipstick

Glamour: Holly teamed her daring dress with large curls and bright red lipstick

Stealing the limelight: Some viewers tweeted they couldn't concentrate on the singing because of Holly's outfit

Stealing the limelight: Some viewers tweeted they couldn't concentrate on the singing because of Holly's outfit

Defying gravity: Holly was clearly not wearing a bra under her daring dress

Defying gravity: Holly was clearly not wearing a bra under her daring dress

Complaints: Ofcom receieved 139 complaints in response to Holly's daring dress

Complaints: Ofcom receieved 139 complaints in response to Holly's daring dress

It's the latest social media phenomenon and has just been valued at $800m. But ... - The Independent

The service offered by Evan Spiegel, 22 and Bobby Murphy, 24, the latest darlings of the start-up social media sector, is intentionally fleeting.

Smartphone users send photos or video clips to friends which disappear within ten seconds or less after being viewed, and are supposedly then deleted from servers.

Launched in 2011, teenagers immediately embraced the app as a fun new way to communicate, without leaving a trail of personal information. More than 200 million images are "snapped" globally each day, up from 60 million in February.

The app's "hyper-growth" rate has been compared to the early days of Twitter and Instagram, with users moving beyond the temptation to send sexually explicit images to carefully selected targets.

Whilst Snapchat deals in the ephemeral, the entrepreneurs behind the app are attracting heavyweight backing, despite the start-up having yet to demonstrate a profitable business plan.

Snapchat has raised $60m in its latest round of funding from Institutional Venture Partners, General Catalyst Partners and SV Angel. Michael Lynton, chief executive of Sony Corp US and Sony Pictures Entertainment, will join its board.

With $13.5m of venture capital backing previously secured in February, analysts said Snapchat was now valued at around $800 million, up from $60 million (£39 million) earlier this year.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, is among Snapchat's millions of users. But when Facebook launched a rival disappearing photo-messaging service, Poke, it failed to make a dent in Snapchat, which increased its market share.

Snapchat now has a higher valuation than the $715 million which Facebook paid in cash and stock to acquire the image-sharing service Instagram, which is used to transmit 40 million pictures a day.

Spiegel and Murphy, Stanford "frat boys", developed Snapchat in response to a series of US scandals over politicians caught "sexting". "What if embarrassing photos could instantly expire once viewed?", they asked.

Fellow students weren't impressed with the model the pair presented in a design class so Spiegel quit school two years ago and worked on the app from the dining room of his father's house in Los Angeles.

Rejecting Silicon Valley as a base, the pair located Snapchat, which currently employs 17 staff, in a beach house on Venice Beach, its premises marked by a yellow cartoon ghost on the door.

Just as Facebook's contested origins became the subject of a film, The Social Network, Snapchat's founders now face a legal battle.

In February, former classmate Frank Reginald Brown IV filed a lawsuit against Snapchat and its co-founders, alleging that he came up with the idea and worked on the app but was frozen out after falling out with his friends. The company has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Snapchat now needs to monetise its operation, through in-app purchases and mobile advertising.

Spiegel, who still lives at home with his father, an entertainment lawyer, said: "We've been able to support the growth of Snapchat with minimal overhead. But in order to continue scaling while developing the Snapchat experience, we needed to build a bigger engineering team and figure out how to pay our server bills."

Snapchat is worth its $800 million valuation, argued Dennis Phelps, general partner at Institutional Venture Partners. "Snapchat is clearly a huge success, and we wouldn't have invested unless we believed that it will become a much larger one," he said.

Spiegel has hired the best engineers in the country and aspires to make Snapchat a "multi-billion dollar venture-backed success", Phelps said.

Snapchat would outgrow its teen audience, Phelps predicted. "Facebook spread like wildfire across college campuses long before it gained acceptance with soccer moms," he said.

Snapchat was unique because it offered a "sense of excitement and an urgency of consumption that is rare in this era of information overload," argued Phelps.

Privacy campaigners have warned that images sent through Snapchat may have more permanence than their senders intended. Screen shots can be taken of any image sent through the app, and senders are notified when a recipient does so. The company acknowledged that material deleted from its servers could be recovered "using the right forensic tools".

MTV is using Snapchat to send "cheeky" pictures from the new series of reality show Geordie Shore directly to fans' smartphones, in a marketing tie-in.

Snapchat claims that lewd images form a very small amount of the material shared through the app.


Eight years and 900 million users after Mark Zuckerberg and Harvard buddies created social network, Facebook went public in 2012 with $104bn (£66bn). Bungled offering saw stock lose half of its value three months later.


Farmville social gaming platform founded by Mark Pincus earning $829 million in sales hit peak valuation of $12 billion and went public in 2011. Market capitalisation slumped to $2 billion after customer move away from Facebook games and disastrous $200 million purchase of OMGPOP gaming company.


Micro-blogging service founded by NYU student Jack Dorsey in 2006 now has more than 550 million users and projected to earn $400 million in advertising revenue. Expected to launch IPO next year with valuation at $11 billion.


"Virtual pinboard" website that allows people to group images in themes launched in 2010 now has 50 million users and valuation of $2.5 billion after $100 million investment round. Co-founded by former Google employee Ben Silbermann.


Created by San Francisco developers Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in October 2010, photo and video sharing service was adopted by celebrities and purchased by Facebook in 2012 for $715 million in cash and stock. Currently has 130 million users.