House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax

House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax

The Press Association-House prices have recorded their strongest quarterly rise in three years in a further sign that efforts...

Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain

Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain

AFP-Despite pledging to pay millions of pounds in extra tax in Britain, Starbucks faces a battle to restore its reputation...

UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001'

UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001' UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001'

AFP-Swiss banking giant UBS, which last week was slapped with $1.5 billion in fines for manipulating global interest rates,...

No clean bill of health for MoD

No clean bill of health for MoD No clean bill of health for MoD

Auditors have refused to give the Ministry of Defence's accounts a clean bill of health for the sixth year running. The Press...

Britain storms out of recession but cautious on outlook

Britain storms out of recession but cautious on outlook
  AFP- Britain powered out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s after its economy returned to growth in the...

Virgin Media gets Olympics lift

Virgin Media gets Olympics lift
  The Press Association- Olympic champions Mo Farah and Usain Bolt helped Virgin Media deliver its biggest quarterly increase...

Bank of England divided over QE

Bank of England divided over QE
  The Press Association-Bank of England policymakers are divided over the benefits of pumping more emergency cash into the economy...

Germany's Schaeuble confident of go-ahead for eurozone pacts

Germany's Schaeuble confident of go-ahead for eurozone pacts
  AFP- Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday he was confident the country's top court will not block the...

Adnams gets boost from new beers

Adnams gets boost from new beers
  The Press Association- Brewer Adnams has toasted higher profits after a range of new beers helped it cope with "the most...

HSBC hid $16 bn in Iran transactions: US Senate report

HSBC hid $16 bn in Iran transactions: US Senate report
  AFP-Global banking giant HSBC and its US affiliate concealed more than $16 billion in sensitive transactions to Iran, violating...

German finance minister calls for stronger EU

German finance minister calls for stronger EU
  AFP-German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called for EU member states to hand more powers to the European Union in "major...

Services sector growth welcomed

Services sector growth welcomed
  The Press Association-A run of dire economic data that has spooked the UK's recovery hopes has been halted with a decent performance...

Payday lender Wonga plans flotation

Payday lender Wonga plans flotation
  The Press Association- Payday lender Wonga is reported to be considering a US stock market flotation that could value the business...

UK recession deepens as official GDP shrinks

UK recession deepens as official GDP shrinks
AFP-Britain's recession is worse than previously thought, as revised official figures showed on Thursday that the economy shrank...

Marks & Spencer profits plunge 19%, slashes target

Marks & Spencer profits plunge 19%, slashes target
  AFP-British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer on Tuesday announced a drop in annual profits in a "challenging economic...


'Dither and delay' warning on HS2

'Dither and delay' warning on HS2 'Dither and delay' warning on HS2

The Press Associtaion-High speed rail between London and Birmingham might not be achieved in the 2020s because of...

Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest

Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest

The Press Association-An MP has voiced his concerns about the plight of a British national who was imprisoned while...

Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles

Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles

AP - The Louvre Museum is used to dealing with antiquities: Nearly all of its thousands of works of art date to 1848...

French Concordia survivors get €2m payout

French Concordia survivors get €2m payout French Concordia survivors get €2m payout

AFP- The owner of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that ran aground off northwest Italy in January has paid more...

Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins

Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins

(Relaxnews) - Hotel prices in the Windy City soared by 23 percent this month, according to new research by Trivago. Chicago...


Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo

Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo

The decision to Sebastian Vettel’s new partner probably falls between Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner...

Mercedes plans new assault on Vettel: Infrared trick and louvers

Mercedes plans new assault on Vettel: Infrared trick and louvers
  Three long years of Silver Arrow lurched past the targets. There was nothing: a measly victory in 58 races. This year it runs better already clear:...

Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season

Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season

AFP-Barcelona suffered their first La Liga defeat of the season on Saturday when they slumped to a shock 3-2 loss at Real Sociedad. Barcelona...

Wiggins may target Tour defence after all

Wiggins may target Tour defence after all Wiggins may target Tour defence after all

AFP-Bradley Wiggins says he is likely to defend his Tour de France title after all next year despite previously nominating the Giro d'Italia as...

Messi in light training after injury scare

Messi in light training after injury scare Messi in light training after injury scare

AFP-Barcelona star Lionel Messi took part in light training on Thursday after being stretchered off with a knee injury during the 0-0 draw at home...

Benitez tiptoes onto Chelsea tightrope

Benitez tiptoes onto Chelsea tightrope Benitez tiptoes onto Chelsea tightrope

AFP- Freshly appointed as Chelsea's latest interim coach, Rafael Benitez could be forgiven for wondering whether he has accepted a poisoned chalice. The...

McIlroy makes late charge at Singapore Open

McIlroy makes late charge at Singapore Open
  AFP-World number one Rory McIlroy made a late charge up the leaderboard but still trailed Denmark's Thomas Bjorn by five shots after a marathon day...

Tower of Polish power knocks down Murray in Paris

Tower of Polish power knocks down Murray in Paris
  AFP- Towering Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz upset Andy Murray 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 on Thursday to complete the early exit of the elite from...

Chelsea rage at referee's 'inappropriate language'

Chelsea rage at referee's 'inappropriate language'
  AFP- Chelsea have filed a complaint over "inappropriate language" allegedly used by referee Mark Clattenburg towards their players during their...

Suspended Olympic badminton players appeal

Suspended Olympic badminton players appeal
  AFP-Four South Korean badminton players who were suspended for trying to throw matches at the London Olympics have appealed their penalties, the...


Family hails Afghan soldier 'hero' PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 September 2012 17:14


The Press Association-A soldier who died from wounds suffered in a shooting incident in Afghanistan has been described by his family as their "guardian angel" and "hero".

Captain James Townley, 29, from the Corps of Royal Engineers, died in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan from wounds sustained while serving at forward operating base Shawqat on Friday.

His family said in a statement: "James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother. He was devoted to his girlfriend, Helen.

"He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.

"James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts." (photo by Gia_82)

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Captain Townley's death was not thought to be the result of hostile action, though an investigation into the circumstances was continuing.

Capt Townley's death comes after 38-year-old Sergeant Jonathan Kups, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, (Reme) died on Friday at Camp Bastion.

Russia issues visa ban warning PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 September 2012 22:37


The Press Association-Russia has warned Britain it will respond tit-for-tat if London imposes any travel restrictions on Russian officials.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow has asked London about a Sunday Times report claiming that British authorities had compiled a list of 60 Russian officials who could be denied entry over their alleged involvement in the prison death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

He added if the report is true, Russia will "respond in line with diplomatic practice".

Jailed ex-PM Tymoshenko loses Ukraine appeal PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:47


AFP- Ukraine's high court on Wednesday upheld former premier Yulia Tymoshenko's jailing on abuse of power, in a ruling set to further upset its ties with Western powers that view the case as political.

About a hundred supporters of the 2004 Orange Revolution leader rallied in the 51-year-old's defence as Ukraine's highest judicial body agreed that she had no authority to seal a controversial gas deal with Russia in 2009.

"The judicial panel found no grounds for the appeal," judge Olexander Elfimov told the court after a lower court rejected her appeal on December 23, based on the claim that the case was politically motivated.

The rejection marks the end of Tymoshenko's domestic legal recourse and clears the way for her to take her full case to the European Court of Human Rights -- a move the defence had been kept from making by months of judicial delays.

The Strasbourg court opened hearings on Tuesday into whether Tymoshenko's pre-trial detention was politically motivated and whether her prison conditions had violated her basic rights.

Her probe was launched shortly after President Viktor Yanukovych narrowly beat his rival in a bitter 2010 presidential ballot whose outcome Tymoshenko -- backed by Ukrainian nationalists who seek closer EU ties -- initially refused to accept.

But the European court had no legal authority to rule on the merits of the conviction and seven-year jail sentence until all avenues had been exhausted in Ukraine.

Tymoshenko's defence said it expected victory in Strasbourg but continued resistance to Western pressure inside Ukraine itself.


"Your court is the only hope of Mrs. Tymoshenko," her lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko told the Strasbourg hearing before it went into private deliberations.

But even a positive European court verdict may still not see Tymoshenko's release because she faces a brand new set of tax evasion and embezzlement charges that may keep her in jail for years to come.

The fiery and divisive figure's case -- viewed with increasing dispassion by Ukrainians who have grown tired of their leaders' incessant internal squabbles -- has been watched closely by both the European Union and Washington.

EU leaders have made the release of Tymoshenko and her other jailed allies a condition for Ukraine being given preliminary backing to eventual membership in the 27-nation bloc.


US denies 'wild' Assange claims of witch-hunt PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:58


AFP-The United States denied Julian Assange's "wild assertions" that it has launched a witch-hunt for the WikiLeaks founder, who was holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition.

The Australian-born hacktivist rallied supporters Sunday from the balcony of the embassy, accusing the United States of pursuing him after his website angered Washington by publishing a trove of sensitive diplomatic cables.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the United States had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange, who is wanted for questioning by Sweden on allegations of rape and molestation.

"He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us when in fact his issue with the government of the United Kingdom has to do with whether he's going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, it has to do with charges of sexual misconduct," Nuland told reporters.

"He is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the real issue, which is whether he's going to face justice in Sweden," she told reporters.

"That case has nothing to do with us. It's a matter between the UK, Sweden and now Ecuador has inserted itself," she said.

Nuland, in an exchange with reporters, later clarified that Assange was not charged in Sweden but was wanted for questioning. Two female WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden have accused Assange of the sexual misconduct.

Assange says that the accusations are politically motivated and that he would eventually be extradited to the United States. He says the sex was consensual.

"I ask President (Barack) Obama to do the right thing -- the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks," the 41-year-old Australian told some 200 supporters and hordes of journalists from the embassy balcony.

Assange has spent two months inside the embassy, which occupies a small part of a red-brick mansion block in an upscale section of London. British authorities could arrest him if he steps outside.

Nuland, in line with previous US statements, declined comment on the scope of US prosecution over WikiLeaks. A military court is trying Bradley Manning, a young soldier suspected of leaking the documents to the activist website.

Assange called for the United States to release Manning, saying he was being treated harshly in detention.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Ernesto Mendez, in March said that Manning had been subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading" conditions including prolonged detention. A previous State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, resigned last year after criticizing Manning's treatment.

Lords reform plans slated by peers PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 June 2012 14:57


The Press Association- Peers have lined up to launch a fresh assault on Nick Clegg's plans for House of Lords reform, with one ex-minister saying the proposals published this week were already "doomed" and another claiming they were as unpopular as the poll tax. Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Fowler said he would oppose the plans and predicted the majority of his colleagues would also fail to support the Deputy Prime Minister's flagship constitutional reforms.

The legislation, driven by Mr Clegg and central to the Liberal Democrats' agenda in the coalition, would introduce an 80% elected Upper House and slim membership down from 800 to 450.

It would finally complete the removal of hereditary peers from the Second Chamber and introduce the first elected members in tranches of 120 at each of the next three general elections, with the process of change completed by 2025.

Elected members would serve for a single 15-year term and would be able to claim a £300 daily allowance for attendance, but unlike the present arrangements that sum would be taxed (photo by The British Monarchy).

But Lord Fowler, who served as a Cabinet minister in the Thatcher administration, said the proposals were as unpopular as the decision to introduce the community charge or "poll tax" as it became known.

"Not since we introduced the community charge has the political and public response been so unequivocal," he told the House of Lords.

Assange seeks political asylum PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 22:41


AFP-WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London seeking political asylum, sources told the Press Association.

He walked into the embassy, in London's Knightsbridge district, and asked for asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration.

The dramatic move followed a long-running legal bid by Mr Assange, 40, to halt his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations.

The UK Supreme Court decided on May 30 that extradition was lawful and could go ahead.

But Mr Assange was given time to consider the judgment.

The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture.

Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated.

A man speaking from the embassy said over the telephone that Mr Assange had arrived at the embassy and was requesting political asylum.

PM 'agrees euro crisis hitting UK' PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 June 2012 16:14


Press Association-Prime Minister David Cameron backs the Chancellor's assessment that problems in the eurozone are holding back Britain's economic recovery, Downing Street has said.

George Osborne has faced criticism from some Conservative MPs over his claim on Sunday that UK recovery was being "killed off by the crisis on our doorstep".

He was accused by backbenchers of making excuses for Britain's "awful" performance instead of taking action to revive the economy by cutting regulation and scrapping the 3p rise in petrol taxes planned for the autumn.

David Ruffley, a member of the Commons Treasury Committee, said that "eurozone meltdown" should not be used "as an alibi for no growth in the UK", while Douglas Carswell wrote on his blog: "It is not the eurozone crisis that we should blame for our awful economic performance, but the almost total absence of domestic economic reform."

Asked whether Mr Cameron shared the concerns voiced by critics of the Chancellor, a Downing Street spokeswoman told reporters: "He would agree with the Chancellor, which is why it is so important that we see a resolution of the problems in the eurozone."

Markets around the world responded positively to the 100 billion bailout for Spain's banks agreed over the weekend, with a 2% jump in the FTSE 100 index reflecting similar gains in Asia.

The Downing Street spokeswoman stressed that there would be no UK contribution to the bailout.

Queen Elizabeth II attends jubilee church service PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 15:10


AFP-Queen Elizabeth II attended Tuesday a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral in London at the climax of her diamond jubilee celebrations, but without her husband who remains in hospital.

Royals, churchmen, politicians and the cream of British society were packed into the pews beneath the iconic dome of the 17th-century cathedral in central London for the pomp-filled hour-long service.

But Prince Philip, 90, who has been at the queen's side for almost every official event of her 60-year reign, was missing the service after being taken to hospital on Monday with a bladder infection.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, sat beside the 86-year-old monarch in the front row of the cathedral nave, instead of Philip.

A lady-in-waiting accompanied the queen as she was driven in a state Bentley from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's, accompanied by a police motorcycle outrider and two security vehicles.


Beacons and concert to mark British queen's jubilee PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 June 2012 15:48


AFP-A chain of almost 4,200 beacons began to flare across the globe on Monday to mark Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee, with the last to be lit by the monarch at a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace.

The first beacon to celebrate 60 years of the queen's reign was set ablaze at Marlborough in New Zealand, followed by lightings at 10:00 pm local time in other Commonwealth countries.

The queen will light the final beacon in a chain of more than 4,200 at a spectacular evening concert in front of Buckingham Palace, with Elton John, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, and Stevie Wonder set to perform.

The musical extravaganza comes on the third of four days of celebrations to mark the jubilee, following a 1,000-boat pageant with the royal family on the River Thames on Sunday.

Elton John said he was "thrilled" to be performing, and hoped the jubilee would mark the "beginning of an incredible summer for Britain" ahead of the Olympic Games which open in London on July 27.

Organisers promise an "imaginative" use of the palace, with 1980s ska stars Madness booked to sing their hit song "Our House" from the roof.

But the focus of the 12,000-strong crowd and of the millions of television viewers worldwide will be on a circular stage around the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of the palace.

Other performers at the event, which will feature a charity single co-written for the occasion by Take That's Gary Barlow and musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, include Jessie J, Robbie Williams and boy band JLS.

The organisers have refused to rule out that Prince Harry will play tambourine during a performance of the official song, called "Sing".

Before the concert, some 10,000 concert-goers who won tickets in a ballot will also attend a picnic in the grounds of Buckingham Palace overseen by Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal.

Their picnic hampers include tea-smoked Scottish salmon, a chilled "country garden" soup made with plum tomatoes, mint and cucumber, cheese and biscuits, cupcakes, and strawberry crumble crunch.

The kits also include plastic ponchos in case of rain -- which should not be needed as the gloomy weather is expected to clear up in time for the concert, though they would have come in handy during Sunday's rain-sodden river pageant.

More than a million people braved the bad weather to see the water pageant move down the Thames through the heart of London, the main event in four days of festivities and the biggest spectacle on the river in 350 years.


Britain's queen to lead giant jubilee river pageant PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 June 2012 09:58


AFP-Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sails on a royal barge down the River Thames Sunday as part of a huge pageant marking her diamond jubilee, in one of the biggest events of its kind in London's history.

The flotilla of more than 1,000 boats is the high water mark of the national celebrations for the 86-year-old monarch's 60th year on the throne but the event also poses formidable security challenges.

More than one million revellers are expected to line the streets to see the the extravaganza of steam boats and tugs, speed boats and historic vessels in the first pageant on this scale on London's river since 1662.

Dunkirk "little ships" that evacuated British forces from Europe in World War II and a Chinese dragon boat are among the vessels which will accompany the queen and other royals on the 11-kilometre (seven-mile) journey.

Forecasters said wet weather was now expected for the pageant, which starts at 1300 GMT and is expected to last four hours, with fears that heavy rain which hit the city overnight could turn the event into a wash-out.

Britons have also planned more than 9,500 street parties for Sunday.

A four-day national jubilee holiday kicked off on Saturday with the queen indulging in her love of horse racing at the famed Epsom Derby horse race, where she was greeted by cheering, flag-waving crowds.

Army paratroopers swooped from the sky ahead of her arrival with husband Prince Philip, 90, and other members of the royal family, who saw favourite Camelot win Britain's richest race.

A huge red, white and blue Union flag was projected onto Buckingham Palace on Saturday night, and even the huge London Eye ferris wheel on the Thames was illuminated in the national colors.

The celebrations take place as the royal family enjoys its highest support for decades. That is especially so for the queen, who is only the second British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee, after queen Victoria in 1897.

The river pageant on Sunday is by far the most complex part of the festivities, and is effectively doubling up as a security rehearsal for the London Olympics that open on July 27.

Some 190 boats will sail alongside the pageant to handle security and respond to any emergencies, while around 5,500 police and 7,000 volunteers will be on standby.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, as well as Prince William, his wife Catherine and his brother Prince Harry, are joining the queen and Prince Philip on the sumptuous red and gold royal barge.

The queen held the position of Lord High Admiral in the Royal Navy from 1964 until 2011, when she handed the title over to Philip.

Music ranging from the national anthem and chiming bells, to Bollywood tunes and the famous James Bond theme will blare from boats and the Thames flood barrier will be closed to ensure calm waters.

Traffic will be barred from seven of the 14 London bridges that the flotilla passes beneath (photo-Mikepaws).

Organisers have not been able to hold a full dress rehearsal but insist there is only a minimal risk of a crash between the boats, which include several that are more than a hundred years old.


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