domingo, 28 de julio de 2013

'Brave' public hailed after seizing gun-wielding failed robber - The Independent

The man reportedly ran through a pub, chased by bank security and other members of the public

Murder suspect hands himself in to armed police - The Times (subscription)

A wanted man suspected of murdering his ex-girlfriend has handed himself in to armed police after almost a month on the run.

Michael Cope was arrested by firearms officers who went to a house in Leigh, Greater Manchester, after receiving a phone call at 11.55pm yesterday informing them that he was there.

Mr Cope, 28, is thought to have evaded police by sleeping rough and using his knowledge of the canal towpaths between Salford and Leigh.

He was wanted in connection with the murder of Linzi Ashton, a 25-year-old mother of two, whose body was found with multiple "sustained and

Barnaby Jack, one of world's best known computer hackers, dies suddenly at 35 -

Mr Jack was a so-called "white hat" hacker who used his great skills to help companies improve their security.

Black Hat organisers said they would not replace Jack's session at the conference, saying the hour would be left vacant for to commemorate his life and work.

"Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed.", said Mr Jack's most recent employer, the cybersecurity consulting firm IOActive Inc, said on Twitter, adding that Mr Jack was a "visionary" whose work had saved lives.

Even an arm of the US government paid tribute to Mr Jack for his work on medical devices.

"The work that Barnaby Jack and others have done to highlight some of these vulnerabilities has contributed importantly to progress in the field," said William Maisel, deputy director for science at the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"He was passionate about finding security bugs before the bad guys," added longtime security industry executive Stuart McClure, who gave Mr Jack one of his first jobs and also had worked with him at Intel Corp's McAfee, a computer security company.

"He was one of those people who was put on this earth to find vulnerabilities that can be exploited in a malicious way to hurt people," Mr McClure said.

AVB refuses to deny Bale is demanding Real move - Irish Independent

Spanish giants Real are understood to have to lodged a formal bid of €60 million for the 24 year-old, with reports in Spain suggesting that the player is determined to move to the Bernabeu as a result of alleged 'broken promises' by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Bale sat out Tottenham's 6-0 victory against South China in the Barclays Asia Trophy due to a muscle strain injury that also forced him to miss the midweek defeat against Sunderland in the same tournament.

And when asked after the game to clarify the situation about the Wales international, and whether a bid had been received, Villas-Boas repeatedly failed to shed light on the player's future.

"I don't want to comment on anything like that," the Tottenham manager said. "I cannot speak about anything."

When asked whether Bale had asked to leave the club, Villa-Boas added: "I cannot speak about this."

Although Manchester United are also keen to sign Bale, with manager David Moyes willing to compete with Real for the player, Real are understood to be the player's favoured option should he leave Tottenham.

Bale, meanwhile, is due to return to full training on Wednesday and could figure in Tottenham's friendly against Monaco next Saturday.

sábado, 27 de julio de 2013

Seven killed in Florida apartment rampage - TVNZ

A tenant went on a shooting rampage at a Florida apartment building, killing six people before a SWAT team killed him and rescued two neighbours he was holding hostage on Saturday (local time), police said.

The hostages were unharmed, police in the Miami suburb of Hialeah said.

The standoff began on Friday evening during an argument between the gunman and the husband and wife who ran the apartment complex. Their bodies were among the six found after the SWAT team moved in on Saturday morning, police said.

The gunman lived in a fourth-floor apartment with his mother and may have been facing eviction, police and neighbours said.

The landlords, 78-year-old Italo Pisciotti and 68-year-old Samira Pisciotti, went to the unit to discuss a problem with the gunman, who opened fire and killed them both, their daughter, Shamira Pisciotti, told the Miami Herald.

The gunmen went to another apartment in the building and shot dead a man and woman and their teenage daughter, and fired from a balcony at a man walking into a building across the street, killing him as well.

The shooter then barricaded himself inside a fifth-floor apartment where he took two neighbours hostage, investigators said. Negotiators made contact with him during the night and the SWAT team swarmed in after the talks broke down about 2 am (local time).

At some point during the melee, the gunman set his apartment on fire, leaving the ceiling and hallway charred and setting off sprinklers that soaked part of the building. His mother collapsed and was taken to a hospital, police said.

The apartment complex in the blue-collar, mostly Hispanic community housed about 90 families.

Twitter's inadequate action over rape threats is itself an abuse - The Guardian

For anyone who appreciates and uses social media free speech should be inviolable. That includes ensuring abuses of that freedom do not infringe on the ability of anyone to exercise it. To challenge, call out, parody or criticise someone is to practise freedom of speech.

To threaten them with rape is not.

There is no freedom to be recognised in the sustained attacks on Caroline Criado-Perez, on Twitter, following the success of her campaign to retain women on banknotes. Women in public life – whether politicians, actresses, writers, musicians or academics – face a barrage of sexualised, misogynistic messages. Complain and the cry goes up that we should go back to the kitchen if we can't take the heat of social media.

Twitter tell me we should simply block those who "offend us", as though a rape threat is matter of bad manners, not criminal behaviour. When you push them, as I did, they say report it to the police who can "accurately" assess a threat, implying victims may be overreacting. New legislation passed last year gave prosecutors powers to address cyber harassment, yet this casual attitude to the safety of the majority of their users – 53% of Twitter account holders are female – show how little attention companies themselves are paying to helping end violence against women.

This behaviour is nothing to do with technology and everything to do with inequality. If Twitter didn't exist such individuals would find another way to try to shut down the voices of those they despise. So the seriousness of this cannot be underestimated. Some tweets could be the escalation of aggression that can spill out offline. Others reflect a world in which men all too often can – and do – get to determine what matters about women. None are about sexual arousal.

We don't just need a strong response from those who profit from our custom as users of platforms such as Twitter or are there to enforce public order. Projects such as everydaysexism show how these platforms can help change this culture. Men react with surprise to the extent of passive-aggressive sexism exposed. Women express relief it's not just them who feel threatened.

That both have stood up for Caroline show this isn't a "women's" issue. It's a human rights issue.

This is about more than making Twitter somewhere fun for everyone to enjoy. If we want a world where everyone can live hassle-free, then everyday expressions of inequalities need to be confronted– not least as they help ease the big inequalities.

Casual denigration in the workplace makes pay gaps seem somehow more inevitable. Lewd aggression online can numb what should be a burning shock and revulsion at the physical violence faced by women offline. Wanting an end to this doesn't mean policing relationships between the sexes or shutting down Twitter. It's about seeking a world in which everyone can achieve their potential.

It is not for us to learn to cope with this abuse, but for those involved to change their behaviour. That requires not just asking users to stand up. Women deserve a better response that addresses these evolving ways in which technology is used to harass and distress. Its time for us all to act to take back Twitter.

Stella Creasy is MP for Walthamstow

Bing introduces pop-up warning people they are searching for child porn -

Microsoft search engine Bing has introduced a "pop-up" warning to tell UK users they are searching for illegal child abuse images.

Searches for the inappropriate material will trigger the Bing Notification Platform message warning.

The pop-up tells browsers the content they are looking for is against the law and provides a link to a counselling service.

It is triggered by search terms on a list provided by the The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

Prime Minister David Cameron this week threatened to impose tough new laws on internet giants if they fail to blacklist key search terms for horrific images by October as part a crackdown on online porn .

A Microsoft spokesman said: "If someone in the UK tries to use search terms on Bing which can only indicate they are looking for illegal child abuse content, they will activate the Bing Notification Platform which will produce an on-screen notification telling them that child abuse content is illegal.

"The notification will also contain a link to who will be able to provide them with counselling.

"Due to the unique and sensitive nature of child abuse and child exploitation, Microsoft has been, and remains, a strong proponent of proactive action in reasonable and scalable ways by the technology industry in the fight against technology-facilitated child exploitation.

"The Bing Notification Platform is just one way in which Microsoft is working to tackle the scourge of online child abuse content.

"In addition, we have teams dedicated globally to abuse reporting on our services and the development of new innovations to combat child exploitation more broadly."

Microsoft said it already has a policy of removing links to illegal content as soon as possible.

Andy Baker, CEOP's deputy chief executive, welcomed the creation of the device but said it was the first step towards blocking access to the illegal images and videos, and protect children.

He called on the industry to "take ownership" of the problem.

"While the Bing project isn't the whole solution, I hope it goes some way to making those who are curious about searching for indecent images think again," he said.

"As part of our day-to-day work at CEOP we monitor the behaviour of offenders, including how they search for indecent images and the kind of language they use, which puts us in a good position to provide industry with a list of search terms as also outlined by the Prime Minister in his speech on Tuesday.

"Anything which prevents people accessing indecent images of children and stops more children from being harmed, can only be a good thing but much more is needed and the industry must play their part and take ownership of this problem."

Research by Experian last December showed that Bing had a 4.99% share of the UK search engine market, which is dominated by Google and its 88.3% market share.

A Google spokesman said: "Child abuse imagery is illegal and we have a zero tolerance policy to it.

"We use purpose built technology and work with child safety organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results.

"We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material."

Amanda Bynes' Parents Fear She May Hurt Herself - Sky News

Amanda Bynes's parents are deeply concerned the troubled actress may hurt herself or others unless they can take control of her medical care and finances, court documents say.

Lynn and Rick Bynes' petition to a Los Angeles judge cited her public incidents of disturbing behaviour, including several arrests.

And it also revealed the former child star has stated fears she is being watched by smoke detectors and devices in the dashboard of her car.

The pair have asked a court to grant them legal control over her personal and financial matters.

Bynes, 27, is currently under involuntary psychiatric care in hospital after she allegedly started a small blaze with petrol in the driveway of a Los Angeles home.

She was seen with her trousers on fire at the scene last Monday and police concluded she should be detained and evaluated for her own safety.

Bynes' parents said: "We are deeply concerned that Amanda poses a substantial risk to herself, to others, and to property based on recent events in her life."

But judge Glen Reiser has postponed a ruling on their application for temporary conservatorship until August 9.

This is because the 27-year-old star will be held for the next two weeks - extended from 72 hours last Thursday - and the judge said he first wanted a personal "dialogue" with the actress.

Conservatorship is where a court declares an individual unable to take care of legal matters and appoints another individual, known as a conservator, to do so.

Amanda Bynes in court
Ms Bynes has appeared in wigs at a number of court appearances

The former Nickelodeon actress has had several recent run-ins with police.

In December, she resolved a hit-and-run case after settling out of court with other drivers and last year she was charged with driving whilst disqualified after she was banned following two further hit-and-run cases.

In May this year she was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, reckless endangerment and attempted tampering with physical evidence after she allegedly threw a bong out of her apartment window in front of police.

She also pleaded not guilty to drink driving in a separate case.

Bynes has repeatedly turned up for her court appearances in coloured wigs, adding to concern about her activity.

She was one of the biggest actors on children's TV in the 2000s and later won four consecutive Kid's Choice Awards for best television actress, the first for her role in children's comedy show All That and the others for The Amanda Show.

Bynes, who grew up in Thousand Oaks, also appeared in the films Hairspray, Big Fat Liar and What A Girl Wants.

Before her career began to decline she also starred in several television films.

Pop singer Britney Spears was placed under conservatorship in 2008 following a personal meltdown and divorce.

Her father and lawyer remain in control of her legal and financial affairs.

Her father and lawyer remain in control of her legal and financial affairs.

Brussels offers UK firms £1000 cash 'bribes' to hire foreign workers - Daily Mail

  • Business Minister Matthew Hancock said firms have a duty to hire Britons
  • Said filling vacancies with well-trained foreign workers was an 'easy option'
  • Employers receive up to 870 for every EU citizen from outside the UK
  • Firms can recruit up to 20 foreign workers a year through the EU scheme

By Jason Groves, Chief Political Correspondent


Brussels is offering British firms cash 'bribes' of almost 1,000 a time to take on foreign workers.

Thousands of youngsters are also being offered payments totalling more than 1,100 to take a job in Britain under the European Commission scheme.

The extraordinary initiative appears to directly undermine Government efforts to persuade firms to take on British workers as the recovery takes hold.

In an interview with the Daily Mail yesterday the Business Minister Matthew Hancock said firms had a duty to hire Britons rather than taking the 'easy option' of filling vacancies with well-trained foreign workers.

The joint initiative between British JobCentres and the European Commission offer incentives including 870 for every EU citizen employed by a UK firm and a grant of 260 for applicants to travel to Britain for an interview

The joint initiative between British JobCentres and the European Commission offer incentives including 870 for every EU citizen employed by a UK firm and a grant of 260 for applicants to travel to Britain for an interview

Firms taking on non-UK workers qualify for a payment from Brussels worth up to 870 for every EU citizen they employ, to help pay for English lessons and other training.

Employers can recruit up to 20 foreign workers a year through the EU scheme, which is run with the co-operation of British JobCentres.

Jobless youngsters across Europe can qualify for a grant of 260 to travel to Britain for an interview.

If they land the job they also qualify for an 870 grant to help with the costs of moving to this country.

Yesterday more than 800,000 UK jobs were being advertised through the scheme – more than half the total across Europe.

These incentives come at a time when more than half of vacancies in the UK are filled by foreigners.

It is not known how many have taken advantage of the EU scheme. A UK Independence Party source said the EU was effectively 'bribing' firms to take foreign workers.

Party leader Nigel Farage said the initiative was 'utterly reprehensible' at a time when youth unemployment in this country stands at nearly one million.

He added: 'With two and a half million people unemployed in the UK, of which 958,000 are under 25, every job vacancy counts.

'Yet here we have the EU, which we already grossly overfund, advertising our jobs to people outside the UK and even giving them the upper hand by offering financial support to get interviews here and move here. We are essentially paying the EU to give away British jobs.'

Business Minister Matthew Hancock (left) criticised UK firms for taking the 'easy option'. UKIP leader Nigel Farage added fuel to the fire by saying unemployment can't be improved while the UK is a member of the EU

The EU scheme, which was launched last year, is known as EURES, and is designed to help ease the EU's chronic youth unemployment problem.

The UK provides about 13 per cent of the scheme's budget.

Jobs on offer include a wide range of relatively low-skilled vacancies, such as shop work and jobs in the construction industry.

In contrast with Britain, France is advertising 48,330 vacancies, Italy 12,193 and Denmark just 197.

The scheme is open to all young EU nationals aged 18 to 30 and could attract thousands of youngsters to Britain from struggling southern European countries which have unemployment rates up to three times as high as the UK's, such as Spain, Greece and Portugal.

Mr Hancock yesterday said it is 'companies' social duty, to look at employing locally first'.

But Mr Farage said the revelations about the Brussels scheme gave the lie to Government claims that immigration could be controlled while remaining in the EU.

He added: 'For the minister to blame British businesses when he is taxing them in order to send the money to Brussels to fund foreign jobseekers to compete with British workers is so unfair as to be outrageous.

'We have said from the start we simply cannot improve unemployment in the UK while being a member of the EU.'

An EU spokesman stressed that British youngsters were able to use the scheme to access jobs elsewhere in Europe.


Posters warning illegal immigrants to 'go home or face arrest' have persuaded just one foreigner to leave.

An Indian citizen has started the process of voluntary repatriation after spotting the signs, which have been on display in six London boroughs over the past few days.

The Home Office yesterday insisted the campaign had started well and that hotline staff had fielded a number of calls.

The Lib Dems have called the posters offensive and UKIP leader Nigel Farage said they were a 'nasty' gimmick.

The comments below have not been moderated.

You get what you vote for and people voted for Labour for 13 years who implemented so much of Brussels demands and staffed the civil service full of pro-EU apparatchiks. - Thanatos , London, United Kingdom, 27/7/2013 17:13 And the Tory's are carrying on, they are both as bad as each other. They are all traitors to the people of this once proud and respected nation. Vote UKIP, let us get out of the EU and start the fight back to being a decent democratic country


Well they couldn't get us fighting in combat so they are trying to destroy a once Great Country through blackmail and bribery. Oh boy, you have no chance with the weaklings who currently represent you in Parliament. If these people had a been alive in 1914 and 1940 Britain would have surrendered with white flags. - AcrossthePond, ex pat, United States, 27/7/2013 19:11 If ignorance and stupidity would hurt you would be screaming all day.

Al999,Portsmouth 17:43.DM why don't you do the decent thing?E mail me and state that honest comments are not required!!=====================And while you are at it DM please e mail me with the same message.Or have you been instructed by 'certain people' not to print them if they are too near the truth?

Cameron"s bosses in EU are doing this ,so its OK .makes you sick what is going on.

Isn't it great to see what THEY do with YOUR money. - FsASTSyd1, St.Neots, United Kingdom, 27/7/2013 18:04 Bloody Nora ! You are not even paying your full membership money, do you ?

How much will they give me to move elswhere? A winter job on the Costa Del Sol would be nice

I am sick to death of the EU dictating to us, enough is enough now this is beyond a sick joke!!

Out of the EU now. Vote UKIP.

Why am i not surprised to read this typical EU trying to kill british workers off. Your fault Labour!

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

100 schools stripped of 'outstanding' rating - The Times (subscription)

More than 100 schools have been stripped of their top Ofsted rating since tougher inspection rules were introduced.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's chief inspector, tightened the rules to restrict the highest grade of "outstanding" to schools where this was matched by the quality of teaching.

New figures published by Ofsted showed that since last autumn, when the new rules took effect, Ofsted had reinspected 155 schools previously rated as outstanding but where the teaching was marked lower by inspectors.

Only 44 of these schools retained their top rating and were judged outstanding, two were declared inadequate, nine were found to

Spain train crash driver cried 'he wanted to die' - Zee News

Spain train crash driver cried `he wanted to die` Washington: Francisco Jose Garzon, the driver of the Spanish train that crashed due to high-speed and killed 80 people, said that he had screwed it up and he wanted to die, while refusing to cooperate in the police investigations.

Fox News reports that Garzon's reckless comments were picked up from the train's black box recorder claiming that the driver knew that the train was going to derail.

He reportedly said to his bosses that he was going at 190 kmh and he was going to derail, realising the passenger train was going too fast on the curve, the report added.

Spain train crash driver cried `he wanted to die`

According to the report, Garzon has been accused of recklessness in connection with the disaster.

The speed limit at the crash bend is 49mph, but the train was running just double the speed, the report added.

Spain train crash driver cried `he wanted to die`

Earlier, Garzon had boasted of his 124mph speeds on Facebook and was arrested by police after the tragedy in which 80 passengers were dead and 30 critically injured.


Did Halliburton cut a good deal with Justice? - Washington Post

But investors on Friday shrugged off that admission. After the announcement Friday of a share buyback program of up to $3.3 billion, Halliburton's stock closed at $45.98, up 3.7 percent.

And the terms of the company's settlement with Justice also could be viewed less harshly:

?Halliburton will pay the maximum fine for a misdemeanor, but the $200,000 is equal to just under four minutes' revenue for the company.

?The company will pay $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment might be considered tax deductible since the foundation, a conservation grant-making organization created by Congress in 1984, is a nonprofit group.

?The "cementing technology director" who instructed two colleagues to destroy computer simulations that would have been evidence in the investigation of the oil spill has retained his anonymity and continues to work for the company, officials said. That, some legal experts say, undercuts whatever deterrent the case might have against future misdeeds.

"Given the scale of the harm caused by the oil spill, it seems surprising that the government would accept a plea to a relatively minor charge," said J. Kelly Strader, a law professor at Southwestern Law School. Destruction of evidence often leads to multiple felony counts, he said, including obstruction of justice, as it did in the case of Enron's market ma­nipu­la­tion a decade ago.

Halliburton said Justice agreed to not pursue any charges beyond the misdemeanor in return for cooperation. And its fine and payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is tiny compared with settlements made earlier by TransOcean and BP.

Justice could still pursue criminal charges against individuals involved in destroying evidence, but company spokeswoman Susie McMichael said, "We have no reason to believe that the DOJ intends prosecution of any of them."

Strader said that if Halliburton's cooperation leads to criminal charges against others "then the plea to a relatively minor crime might make sense from the government's perspective." If not, "then this looks like a slap on the wrist that would do little to deter such obstructive behavior in the future," he said.

"One might read this as a deterrent in the reverse sense, in that it strongly encourages future corporate defendants to admit guilt, make separate unconditional payouts and cooperate like crazy, with the 'carrot' being a mere misdemeanor conviction," said Robert Weisberg, law professor and director of Stanford Law School's criminal justice center.

Mourinho 'calm' over Rooney - New Straits Times

STILL THINKING: As Lukaku shines in Indonesia

CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho said he was "calm" over his high-stakes bid for Wayne Rooney after emerging star Romelu Lukaku burnished his growing reputation with another two goals in Jakarta.

Mourinho indicated there had been no new offer for Rooney after Manchester United rejected an initial bid. But he also said Chelsea were sticking by their decision not to target any other players.

"No," said Mourinho, after Chelsea's 8-1 hammering of Indonesia All-Stars late on Thursday, when asked if there had been movement on the transfer situation.

"In this moment we have what you know... that bid that was public and official, and after that nothing else and we are calm, as we told you. We are calm because we are happy with what we have."

The Portuguese manager has much riding on the Rooney bid with Chelsea looking at no other players after the signings of Germany forward Andre Schurrle, 22, Holland midfielder Marco van Ginkel, 20, and veteran Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, 40.

But he has also been boosted by the return from loan spells of 22-year-old Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne -- currently nursing a knee injury -- and powerhouse striker Lukaku, who has bagged four goals on Chelsea's three-game Asian tour.

Lukaku, who struck the winner from the penalty spot in Bangkok, and was also on target in Kuala Lumpur, added a close-range header and side-footed finish on Thursday to press his claims for regular first team football next season.

Mourinho said erratic, STG50 million (RM250 million) Spanish striker Fernando Torres should be pleased to have competition for a starting spot from the imposing Lukaku, even without Rooney in the squad.

"I think Fernando should be happy because we have competition on the team and I think it's good for everybody in every position," he said.

"So Fernando, I think he will be pleased because for some time at Chelsea he was basically the young striker, after that it was Demba Ba, arriving in January... and now we have three strikers."

He added that veteran England midfielder Frank Lampard would resume training next week after an Achilles injury as Chelsea head for four more pre-season games in the United States.

Chelsea won the Premier League twice during Mourinho's first spell in charge and they are seen as a serious threat to title-holders Manchester United and 2012 winners Manchester City, who are both blooding new managers.

And Mourinho will hope to steal a march on United by racking up a three-point lead before they meet on Aug 26, after scheduling arrangements handed Chelsea two home games at the start of the season to the champions' one match, away to Swansea.

"I'm never too worried with the fixtures with the calendar, when you play, when you play at home, when you play away, when you play against a rival," Mourinho said.

"I'm not worried about it. We just start against Hull City, we will try to win and after that comes (Aston) Villa, Man United... match after match and we'll see what happens." AFP

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku celebrates a goal against Indonesia on Thursday. Chelsea won 8-1. AFP pic

Egypt crisis: Deadly clashes at pro-Morsi Cairo protest - BBC News

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville: "We've heard that there have been fatalities"

Violent clashes have broken out in the Egyptian capital Cairo where defiant supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi are staging a sit-in protest.

Running battles are taking place around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville at the scene.

He says there is blood on the streets and it is clear a number of people have died. Medics report at least 16 deaths.

Early on Saturday, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim vowed to end the sit-in at the mosque.

He said local residents had complained about the encampment and that the protest would be "brought to an end soon and in a legal manner".

Overnight, huge rallies were held by supporters and opponents of Mr Morsi.

Many thousands occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square in support of the army, which removed Mr Morsi from office earlier this month.

Army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had urged people to take to the streets to give the military a mandate for its intervention.

Our correspondent says automatic gunfire can still be heard and the area around the mosque is being hit by barrages of tear gas.

Security forces, joined by anti-Morsi demonstrators, appear to be forcing protesters closer to the mosque and ambulances are taking people to nearby hospitals, he adds.

Most wounds appear to be from buckshot and CS gas canisters, he says, but there are reports of live fire.

There are conflicting reports of the number of deaths.

A doctor in a field hospital at the scene told the Associated Press news agency that at least 16 Morsi supporters had been killed, although the agency later reported the number had risen to 38.

The Muslim Brotherhood - which backs Mr Morsi - told Reuters that 31 people had died.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad told Reuters: "They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill."

There has also been violence in Egypt's second city of Alexandria, where at least five people were killed late on Friday in clashes between rival factions, state media reported.

Morsi charged

Since Mr Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, was ousted on 3 July, dozens of people have died in violent protests.

Mr Morsi has now been formally accused of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and has strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

He is alleged to have plotted attacks on jails in the 2011 uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Morsi and several Muslim Brotherhood leaders were freed during a breakout at a Cairo prison in January 2011.

Mr Morsi is to be questioned for an initial 15-day period, a judicial order said.

The order issued on Friday was the first official statement on Mr Morsi's legal status since he was overthrown and placed in custody at an undisclosed location.

lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

Costa Concordia officers sentenced for cruise ship disaster - Irish Times

An Italian court gave five officers from the Costa Concordia jail sentences for their role in the cruise ship disaster in which 32 people died, leaving the captain, Francesco Schettino, as the only person still on trial.

The court agreed to plea bargains for the five, who got sentences of between 18 months and two years 10 months for charges of multiple manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck, in exchange for pleading guilty and avoiding a lengthy trial.

None are likely to go to jail as the sentences under two years are suspended, and the longer sentences may be appealed or replaced with community service, judicial sources said.


Downton doctor's wife killed in rail horror - The Sun

ACTRESS Briony McRoberts has died after being hit by a Tube train, it emerged yesterday.

The 56-year-old TV star was married to Downton Abbey actor David Robb, 65.

Briony appeared in Scottish drama Take The High Road for nine years and also starred in Taggart and EastEnders.

Her body was found at Fulham Broadway station just after 8.30am on Wednesday, near her West London home.

Her agent Katie Threlfall said the "vibrant" actress had taken her own life. She added: "It's a terrible loss.

"Nobody had any idea it was going to happen. Her husband is deeply shocked.

She was a wonderful woman who had troubles and she'll be missed."

Briony also appeared on The Bill and Heartbeat.

There are grown men dressed as tigers following Tiger Woods - USA TODAY

Glyn Kirk/AFP
Glyn Kirk/AFP

Tiger Woods is in contention for his 15th major victory this weekend, and earned a share of the lead at Muirfield after just two holes of work Saturday. Although Woods is paired with English favorite Lee Westwood, Tiger's got plenty of support, particularly from this group of fellows.

PHOTOS: Click "Next" below to look back at Tiger's career

Italian motorcycle racer Andrea Antonelli dies in Moscow crash - Los Angeles Times

Antonelli, 25, raced in the supersport division of high-speed motorcycles. He crashed on the opening lap of Sunday's race in rainy weather and was struck by another rider, according to media reports.

Antonelli "was immediately taken to an ambulance where the medical staff worked to resuscitate him," FIM World Championship said in a news release. "Despite their efforts, Andrea sadly succumbed to his injuries at 2:10 p.m. local time."

Race organizers then canceled the race and other remaining events scheduled Sunday.

Antonelli raced a Kawasaki motorcycle for Team Go Eleven of Italy.


Jordan Farmar says he belong son the Lakers

Expect Lakers to provide grins rather than glory

Lakers' Jim Buss puts his odds on Kobe Bryant coming back early

Syria conflict in stalemate, David Cameron says - BBC News

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BBC News

Syria conflict in stalemate, David Cameron says
BBC News
The Assad government may have got "stronger" in recent months, but more can be done to help Syria's opposition forces, David Cameron has said.

and more »

Batman/Superman teamup movie coming in 2015 - USA TODAY

A film starring the Flash and a potentially all-star Justice League project to follow.


SAN DIEGO --Start your drooling, fanboys and fangirls, and get ready for lots of Batarangs and heat vision. Batman and Superman will soon be teaming up on a big screen near you.

At a Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con Saturday, the studio announced that Henry Cavill, the star of this summer's Man of Steel, will reprise the role of Superman in a sequel that will also feature Batman.

Man of Steel director Zack Snyder will act in the same capacity for the follow-up, expected in 2015.

No casting for Batman was mentioned but Snyder teased that the Gotham City hero's relationship with Superman in Frank Miller's seminal 1980s comic The Dark Knight Returns will inform aspects of Man of Steel 2.

domingo, 21 de julio de 2013

Paul Gascoigne faces assault charges - The Guardian

Paul Gascoigne, the former England and Tottenham Hotspur footballer, was charged with two counts of common assault and one of being drunk and disorderly.

Gascoigne, 46, was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) officers in Stevenage, Hertfordshire on 4 July. He will appear in court next month in connection with an incident at a railway station.

Gascoigne, who starred for England at the Italia 90 World Cup and Euro 96 tournament in England, has had well-documented battle with alcoholism since retiring from the game.

He was charged after answering bail on Sunday morning and will appear before magistrates in Stevenage on 5 August.

Baljit Ubhey, the Thames and Chiltern chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Following a BTP investigation, a file was forwarded to us to consider whether any criminal charges could be brought against the 46-year-old man.

"Having carefully reviewed all of the available evidence, Thames and Chiltern CPS authorised officers from BTP to charge the man with common assault and being drunk and disorderly.

"The charges are in relation to an incident at Stevenage rail station on the evening of Thursday 4 July. The decision to charge was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors."

Gascoigne, who lives in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, was arrested at around 10.30pm on July 4 and later released on bail.

The midfielder had an injury-blighted career which also saw him play for Newcastle, Lazio, Rangers, Everton and Middlesbrough.

He played 57 times for England, scoring 10 goals, including a memorable strike against Scotland at Wembley during Euro 96.

Gascoigne spent a month in an Arizona rehabilitation centre earlier this year, his fifth stint of treatment for his drinking problem, after friends including the Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans paid for his trip.

It followed a public breakdown during a question and answer session at an event in Northampton in January. After returning to the UK he blamed boredom for his drinking, saying that he could not guarantee he would not relapse.

Gascoigne's problems with alcohol first appeared while he was playing for Middlesbrough in 1998, when he was admitted to the Priory hospital shortly after his divorce from wife Sheryl.

Ian Chappell advises Michael Clarke to move up batting order to save Australia ... - Daily News & Analysis

Former Australian Test captain Ian Chappell has advised current skipper Michael Clarke to move back up the order to restore some substance to the batting that has seen a carnage in the second Ashes Test at Lord's.

According to, the latest batting failure however, followed a brilliant bowling performance by Ryan Harris and some imaginative captaincy from Clarke, whose judicious early use of Shane Watson put sacked coach Mickey Arthur's damages claim in perspective and also succeeded in obtaining a breakthrough.

Stating that the only place the Clarke-Watson relationship needs to work is on the field, Chappell said that Clarke was at his gambling, instinctive best when he used Steve Smith as a partnership breaker when the England innings was rebuilding, adding that the success of the move should convince Smith that he cannot afford to abandon his bowling.

However, Chappell denigrated Clarke's move to his favoured No. 5 spot as nonsensical despite the figures, saying that he needed to shield the team by batting at three and cannot afford to protect himself by batting at five, like he did when former captain Ricky Ponting was at three and Michael Hussey was at six.

Stating that it is harder to mount a comeback from lower in the order against England bowling, especially with brittle batsmanship, Chappell further said that Clarke should be aware that one mistake could be fatal and have an adverse effect on his stroke play, adding that until an extended trial, the odd innings are no proof that Clarke cannot succeed at No.3.

According to Chappell, Clarke has to apply the mindset of being a strong willed and a successful captain while batting up the order and backed him to take on the crucial challenge with the help of Harris and Peter Siddle.

Although Chappell refused to compare Clarke with Australian legend Sir Donald Bradman, he, however, praised Clarke for being the only batsman in the current squad to amass a triple century and multiple double centuries, adding that even though promoting himself to No.3 is a risk, it may be Australia's only chance to bring back the urn.

Stating that Australia is headed for another deficit due to a batting collapse, Chappell further said that unless the batsmen muster up some fortitude or reincarnate Bradman, the urn would remain in storage close by the scene of their latest carnage.

Belgium's king: To be or not to be? - Deutsche Welle

Belgium's King Albert has abdiacted, passing on the crown to his oldest son. His departure after 20 years on the throne comes as Belgium considers reducing the role of the king or even abolishing the monarchy altogether. Pressure now lies on Philippe to restore the royal family's image as a beacon of stability in the country.

But there's one question: Is he ready to face this task? Some royal watchers have their doubts.

Shy and timid

"One of Philippe's biggest problems is his communication skills," said Steven Samyn of Belgian daily newspaper De Morgen. Prince Philippe isn't the most popular member of the country's royal family: "He is a rather shy, timid person who lacks a bit of natural spontaneity. When he sees a camera, he gets kind of tense. So the images we see and quotes we hear are never very natural."

The future heir to the throne is aware of his standing and has sought to change his image in recent years. Attempts to depict the father of four as a family man have helped somewhat. In May, the prince even participated in a running race in Brussels to mingle with the public and show another, more personal side.

But improving his public image seems the lesser of Philippe's problems. The royal family recently involved in several major scandals, including an alleged attempt by Queen Paola to dodge inheritance taxes.

Belgian politicians have also been urging a reform of the monarchy, according to Samyn. "A lot of political parties, especially in the Flemish-speaking part of the country, want to change the role of the monarchy; they want a more symbolic, ceremonial king," he said.

Future responsibilities

Some politicians, Samyn noted, aren't eager to have a new king - especially Prince Philippe - at what they consider to be a crucial period in Belgium's history. Due to cultural and linguistic splits within the country, Belgium was unable to form a governing coalition for about a year and a half in 2010 and 2011.

But many of the country's French-speaking residents, he added, view the monarchy as one of the last institutions that can hold the nation together.

Since Albert announced his abdication, political parties have seized the opportunity to debate the role and responsibilities of the future king.

Although abolishing the monarchy has never been on the agenda, calls to completey cut the political responsibilities of the Belgian king have won support from several parties, including the Greens.

"Some parties want to go very far and end the monarchy," said Stefaan Van Hecke, chairman of the Greens political parliament in parliament. "Others say, 'OK, we can keep it, but it shouldn't have political power anymore.'"

Van Hecke believes many Belgians still want the monarchy, and he also questions what the alternative could be.

Plenty of jokes

Van Hecke asked if Belgium would prefer a president instead. "And if we elect a president, who would be the president: a Dutch-speaking or a French-speaking person?" This would be a difficult choice, he said. "Maybe Belgium is not the country to have a president and maybe it's better to have a king."

Within the debate, the royal family is also frequently the butt of jokes. Among them: that the Belgian national football team does more for Belgian cohesion than its monarchy.

Following Philippe's coronation, the question remains as to whether the future king will be able to play his role as a symbol of national unity, according to Samyn.

"If you have a strong figure as a king, you can really keep the country more or less together," he said. Some defenders of Belgium's unity, however, are worried that Prince Philippe could be a weak king, he added.

At a time when political tensions are boiling in the country, Philippe clearly has his work cut out.

Mosque bombing suspect arrested over 'terrorist' murder of pensioner - The Guardian

Police said on Sunday they are treating the murder of an Asian man near a mosque as a terrorist attack, and have arrested a man already being held over an alleged terror bombing campaign against Muslims.

Mohammed Saleem, 82, was stabbed to death in April as he walked the few hundred yards from a Birmingham mosque to his home with the aid of a stick.

Counter-terrorism detectives arrested a 25-year-old man on Saturday in connection with the murder, which they described as a "further act of terrorism".

He is one of two Ukrainian men who were arrested on Thursday over a series of three bomb attacks in a month on mosques in the West Midlands.

Saleem was stabbed three times in the back at 10.10pm on 29 April in the Small Heath area of Birmingham. Images taken from CCTV in the aftermath of the attack showed a white male wearing a cap running away and detectives said a racial motive was a line of inquiry.

Saleem's funeral, delayed because of the police investigation, was attended by more than 5,000 people.

After the arrests for bomb attacks against mosques in Walsall on 21 June and Tipton on 12 July, police discovered a third explosion had taken place on 28 June close to Wolverhampton Central mosque.

On Saturday police said one of the two men arrested had also been arrested on suspicion of Saleem's murder.

Officers who were put on 12-hour shifts last week amid fears the bombers could strike again, a move the force itself described as extraordinary, have returned to working normal eight-hour shifts.

The investigation is being led by Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who said: "The murder of Mohammed Saleem now forms part of the wider West Midlands counter-terrorism unit investigation."

Detectives continue to examine if the murder of Saleem and the subsequent attacks against the mosques are linked.

They are also investigating whether those arrested had links to any groups, such as far-right violent extremists, in the UK or abroad. The men are believed to have only been in Britain for months, based at a Small Heath software company on a work placement. Its premises were searched by police who are understood to be investigating if there are any more devices or bomb-making material.

The Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, said: "I welcome the news that an arrest has been made in connection with the murder of Mr Saleem, a much-loved member of our community.

"Although nothing can bring him back, the fact that a significant step has been taken towards getting justice for Mr Saleem will be a comfort to his family and the community in Small Heath.

"It is shocking that Mr Saleem's brutal murder may have occurred as an act of terrorism – and it is vital that the community continues to support the police as they progress their investigations."

Warrants to hold the two men for a further seven days under counter-terrorism laws were granted on Saturday by City of Westminster magistrates.

Shortly after Saleem's death, one of his daughters, Shazia Khan, said the attack was "a premeditated, brutal attack, pre-planned, intended to kill".

She added: "I cannot see him having any enemies being so full of hate to do this to him. He was an old man. He had no other agenda in his life. We just cannot understand it.

"We have to walk past where he was killed and we can visualise it – we have to live with that for the rest of our lives."

Reports: Woman killed riding coaster identified - USA TODAY

Witness says woman expressed concern that she was not secured correctly in her seat.


Police have ruled out foul play as local media identified the woman who fell to her death while riding a 14-story roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, Texas.

The Dallas Morning News and local TV station WFAA said the family of the woman who died has identified her as Rosy Esparza of Dallas. Relatives told the Dallas Morning News the accident occurred on her first visit to Six Flags Over Texas.

Arlington Police Sgt. Christopher Cook told the Associated Press there appears to have been no foul play in Friday's death.

Police say the Texas Department of Insurance, which approves amusement rides, is involved in investigating the accident. The Star Telegram in Fort Worth reported the coaster will remain closed until the end of the in-house investigation.

Park spokeswoman Sharon Parker confirmed that a woman died while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster — the tallest steel-hybrid coaster in the world — but did not specify how she was killed. However, witnesses told local media outlets that the woman fell.

John Putman told the Star-Telegram that he was in line awaiting his turn on the ride when the car from which the woman fell returned to the ground. Putman said a man and woman got out.

"They were screaming, 'My mom! My mom! Let us out, we need to go get her!' " Putman said.

Carmen Brown of Arlington was waiting in line as the victim was being secured in for the ride. She told The Dallas Morning News the woman had expressed concern to a park employee that she was not secured correctly in her seat.

"He was basically nonchalant," Brown said. "He was, like, 'As long as you heard it click, you're fine.' Hers was the only one that went down once, and she didn't feel safe. But they let her still get on the ride."

She said the victim fell out of the ride as it made a sudden maneuver.

"The lady basically tumbled over," she said. "We heard her screaming. We were, like, 'Did she just fall?'"

Contributing: Natalie DiBlasio; The Associated Press


US drops unarmed bombs on Great Barrier Reef - USA TODAY


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Two American fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong, the U.S. Navy said, angering environmentalists.

The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard each jettisoned an inert practice bomb and an unarmed laser-guided explosive bomb into the World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state on Tuesday, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement Saturday.

The four bombs, weighing a total 1.8 metric tons (4,000 pounds), were dropped into more than 50 meters (164 feet) of water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef, the statement said. None exploded.

The jets from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had intended to drop the ordnances on the Townshend Island bombing range, but aborted the mission when controllers reported the area was not clear of hazards.

The pilots conducted the emergency jettison because they were low on fuel and could not land with their bomb load, the Navy said.

The emergency happened on the second day of the biennial joint training exercise Talisman Saber, which brings together 28,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel over three weeks.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were working with Australian authorities to investigate the incident, the Navy said.

A 7th Fleet spokesman did not immediately respond on Sunday when asked by email whether the dumping posed any environmental risk.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters, the influential Greens party's spokeswoman on the Great Barrier Reef, described the dumping of bombs in such an environmentally sensitive area as "outrageous" and said it should not be allowed.

"Have we gone completely mad?" she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?"

Graeme Dunstan, who is among the environmentalists and anti-war activists demonstrating against the joint exercises, said the mishap proved that the U.S. military could not be trusted to protect the environment.

"How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time? Get real," Dunstan said from the Queensland coastal town of Yeppoon, near where the war games are taking place.

The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest network of coral structures, is rich in marine life and stretches more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) along Australia's northeast coast.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Japan election: Abe 'wins key upper house vote' - BBC News

Shinzo Abe: "This is going to be a good cycle to be felt by our people"

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a majority in the upper house, exit polls suggest.

His Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner New Komeito were set to get at least 71 of the 121 seats being contested, broadcaster NHK projected.

This would give him control of both houses of parliament for the first time in six years.

Mr Abe said the expected result was an endorsement of his economic reforms, as he seeks to end long-term stagnation.

The deadlock in parliament has been seen as a key factor in Japan's recent "revolving door" of prime ministers.

Official results are not expected until Monday.

But the exit poll suggested Mr Abe's coalition would control 130 seats in the 242-seat upper house. Half the seats were being contested in Sunday's election.

The result is being seen as a vote of confidence in Mr Abe, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

He has the power - the question is whether he has the will, too, says our correspondent.

Media reports said voter turnout was lower than in the last upper house election, in 2010.

Search for stability

Mr Abe said his party's economic policies were having a positive impact.


The result may have been expected, but this is still a big and significant victory for Japan's ruling party and Prime Minster Shinzo Abe.

Mr Abe came to power last December vowing to drag Japan out of 20 years of stagnation. He launched a risky and aggressive stimulus plan designed to push down the value of the Japanese Yen, and boost exports.

It appears to be working. But now comes the hard part. To keep Japan growing Mr Abe must implement painful and unpopular structural reforms, raise taxes and open Japan's economy to more competition.

Today's election victory will give him the power to do so. The question is whether he has the will.

"Our economic policy is right. This is what I have said and I expect the support of our people," he said.

"These policies are contributing to the economy already and further improvement is needed, including wage increases, more consumption, more investments."

Japan's upper chamber, while not as powerful as the lower house, is able to block legislation introduced by the government.

Opposition parties have had enough combined seats to control the upper chamber in recent years, leading to what has become known as a "twisted parliament".

This has resulted in factionalism and multiple changes of prime minister.

"We need political stability to carry out policies," Mr Abe said ahead of the vote.

Mr Abe, 58, has relatively strong public support for his proposals for economic reform, which seek to revive the economy, stagnant for two decades.

Since his coalition government came to power, the economy has grown by 4% and the stock market by more than 40%.

His first two measures involved a big injection of cash by the Bank of Japan and a major boost in government spending.

But he now faces the task of driving through difficult structural changes to the economy.

Trade barriers need to come down, taxes will need to rise and large parts of the economy will have to be deregulated.

One of the decisions he will have to make later this year is whether to raise sales tax next April from 5% to 8% to help reduce Japan's national debt.

Mr Abe is also considering whether to cut Japan's 36% corporate tax to spur growth and open up the power industry, currently controlled by regional monopolies.

And his government is keen to join a free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), being negotiated by 11 countries.

Mr Abe is also thought likely to endorse several controversial policies beyond the economy.

These include restarting Japan's nuclear reactors - something many in Japan are opposed to.

A possible revision of Japan's pacifist constitution, especially a section which prohibits the use of force in international disputes except for self-defence, may also be a priority. But correspondents say pursuing nationalistic policies may cause tension with neighbouring countries.

Tributes pour in after Mel Smith dies at 60 - The Independent

Smith, 60, who suffered poor health for a number of years, was found dead on Friday morning at his north London home, his agent Michael Foster confirmed.

A larger-than-life figure, known for his lugubrious, hangdog expression, Smith's breakthrough came when he joined Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and Griff Rhys Jones in the topical series Not The Nine O'Clock News, which became a cult BBC hit in the early 80s.

He then formed a hugely successful double act with Jones, in the sketch series Alas Smith and Jones, a screen partnership which lasted for 10 series over 16 years.

A writer, producer and theatre director, Smith also directed six feature films, including The Tall Guy and Bean, starring Rowan Atkinson as the silent comic character.

The independent production company TalkBack Productions, which Smith and Rhys Jones formed in 1981, also spawned hit television series including I'm Alan Partridge and was sold for £62 million in 2000.

Smith admitted that he suffered from depression and battled an addiction to painkillers, ending up in hospital in 1999 with severe stomach ulcers.

He appeared pale and slurred his words during an appearance on an edition of Celebrity Mastermind and was treated for a virulent throat infection in 2009.

Smith's screen appearances became scarce in recent years. His last role was a hotel manager in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC2 drama series Dancing On The Edge earlier this year.

Griff Rhys Jones led the tributes, describing Smith as "a force for life" to everybody who met him.  His comedy partner was "a gentleman and a scholar, a gambler and a wit. We are all in a state of shock. We have lost a very, very dear friend."

Smith attended Oxford University while Jones was at Cambridge and the pair first became known to each other while performing at the Edinburgh fringe. Jones added: "I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent. We probably enjoyed ourselves far too much, but we had a rollercoaster of a ride along the way. He was a very generous and supportive actor"

John Lloyd, the Not The Nine O'Clock News producer said his friend had been ill for some time. "Mel did an extraordinary thing - he taught us all how to make comedy natural," he told the BBC. "Mel was a very kind person and open to new ideas. He would always take on a part in Not… if the others didn't want to do it."

Lloyd added that Smith "liked a drink" and recalled their last lunch together, which began at Claridge's at 12.30pm and ended at 9pm when Gordon Ramsay joined them for coffee.

Stephen Fry tweeted: "Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny & wonderful to know."

Graham Linehan, the Father Ted co-writer, said he was "very sad" to hear the news. "He and Griff gave Arthur (Mathews, Father Ted co-creator) and I our break. Was always so kind and generous to us."

Chris Langham, an original member of the Not the Nine O'Clock News team who, while preparing for a comedy about a psychiatrist, was convicted of downloading obscene images of children, said last night: "Mel was one of the people who really stood up for me when I was having difficulties. He was a funny guy who did naturally what it took many people a great deal of hard work to achieve. He had a gift for comedy and was also a really kind man. What more do you want? It's a really sad loss."

BBC director general Tony Hall said: "Mel Smith's contribution to British comedy cannot be overstated. On screen he helped to define a new style of comedy from the late 1970s that continues to influence people to this day."

Matt Lucas, of Little Britain fame added on Twitter: "So sad to hear about the passing of the great Mel Smith. Brilliant writer, actor and director and a lovely man too."

Smith was described as having "extraordinary natural talent" by Peter Fincham, director of television at ITV.

Mr Fincham, who became agent to Smith and Jones as well as their business partner at Talkback, said: "He had had extraordinary natural talent with the rare gift of wearing it lightly. Mel and Griff were one of the great comedy acts and it's hard to imagine that one of them is no longer with us."

In a statement released on behalf of Smith's wife Pam, Mr Foster said: "Mel Smith, comedian and writer, died on Friday aged 60, from a heart attack at his home in north west London."

News of the London-born Smith's death was first revealed on Saturday afternoon by the Australian novelist Kathy Lette who tweeted: "R.I.P. Mel Smith. Sorry to bring sad and bad news, but  apparently he died from heart attack in his sleep."

'Mel was a force for life': Griff Rhys Jones' tribute to Mel Smith

"I still can't believe this has happened. To everybody who ever met him, Mel was a force for life. He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible.

"He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent.

"We probably enjoyed ourselves far too much, but we had a rollercoaster of a ride along the way. Terrific business. Fantastic fun, making shows. Huge parties and crazy times. And Mel was always ready to be supportive. Nobody could have been easier to work with.

"We never had an argument about which part we should play or how we were going to do something. We never had an argument, in fact. We loved performing together. He was a very generous and supportive actor. We had a good deal of fun.

"Mel was not a pressure person. He was a gentleman and a scholar, a gambler and a wit. And he was a brilliant actor. But he never took himself or the business too seriously. We are all in a state of shock. We have lost a very, very dear friend."