Top Story – Lost in paradise –
The season premiere of Lost draws more than 10,000 fans greeted to Waikiki beach. Fans started queuing up 12 hours before the event hoping to get a glimpse of actors Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim and Michael Emerson. Sitting on beach towels and lawn chairs, they watched the episode that kicks off the sixth and final season of the castaway drama. See trailer below.
Brangelina back as a single ?
They were rumoured to have consulted lawyers over custody of their six children and dividing their £205million fortune. But last night, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie proved they were still very much an item as they attended the Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles. While declining to pose together on the red carpet at the star-studded bash, the couple were seen being ‘extremely affectionate’ as they mingled with their peers. [Daily Mail]
UN to discuss Air Traffic Control for outer space –
An international air traffic control for outer space should be set up to prevent damage to satellites and spacecraft orbiting the Earth, according to proposal to be discussed at the United Nations next week. There are thought to be more than 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 4 inches across racing around the Earth at high speeds, while there are more than 500,000 bigger than a postage stamp. The number of particles smaller than this are thought to exceed tens of millions. Despite their relatively small size, most are travelling faster than 15,600mph and at these speeds a fleck of paint could do as much damage as a .22-calibre rifle bullet. [Daily Telegraph]
Treo the dog awarded animal VC –
A heroic military dog is to be honoured with the animal version of the Victoria Cross. Treo, an eight-year-old black Labrador, saved countless lives in Afghanistan last year by locating hidden roadside bombs. The search dog twice saved soldiers and civilians from catastrophe while out on patrol in Helmand province by sniffing out explosives which had been wired together in a daisy chain and hidden in the path. The medal was created by leading veterinary charity the PDSA and is recognised as the highest award an animal can receive for conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving in military conflict. (See List of the Day for human honours) [Daily Telegraph]
Cat owners ‘more educated than dog owners’ –
Cats have long been thought to be cleverer than dogs – and now it seems the same is true of their owners. People with cats are more likely to have university degrees than those with dogs, according to a scientific survey of pet ownership. The study also revealed that the combined cat and dog population of Britain is more than 20.8 million – 50 per cent higher than previously thought. Researchers at the University of Bristol say that the superior intelligence of cat owners is unlikely to be caused by their exposure to the famously cunning and selfish pets. Rather, more educated people tend to work longer hours and choose a pet to fit their lifestyles. Unlike dogs, cats require no walking and can manage with little human company.[Daily Telegraph]
Sydney siege ends –
The siege in the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney is ended by Australian troops storming the building. The gunman, Man Haron Monis, and two of his hostages are killed.
Christmas back on in Delhi –
Delhi University has reversed the decision to rename Christmas Day ‘Good Governance Day’ by organising seminars and competitions on oratory.
But now, after a mass of complaints, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has asked colleges to organise the function without disturbing Christmas Day celebrations.
Unethical appeal –
FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia has lost his appeal against a statement by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert on his report into bidding for the World Cups had contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions”. The appeal has been declared inadmissible by FIFA’s appeals committee, who said Eckert’s statement was not a legally-binding decision and therefore could not be appealed against.
US and Cuba talking again –
After 53 years of diplomatic estrangement, diplomatic relationships between the US and Cuba have been re-established. The deal was aided by a personal appeal from Pope Francis, who persuaded Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, to agree to the freeing of the American aid worker Alan P. Gross. The pope, officials said, acted as a “guarantor” that both sides would live up to the terms of a deal reached in secret. Alan P. Gross
Smelling the money –
Fragrances from stars such as Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Jay Z are outselling established fragrance brands such as Hugo Boss and Gucci in some UK stores. Britney’s perfumes outsell DKNY by three to one at UK store Superdrug, and Hugo Boss by two to one. Jay Z’s Gold is the best selling celebrity fragrance. Britney Spears
Interview cancelled –
“The Interview” the film that is possibly the catalyst in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal has had its Christmas Day release cancelled after major cinema chains decided not to screen it in the US.
Michael Garcia resigns from FIFA –
Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia has quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Garcia said he lost confidence in the independence of judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, an ethics committee colleague after his report was summarised.
Tough to chew –
Netflix is to release a documentary film in 2015 which affirms that Michael Rockefeller, the youngest son of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was eaten by cannibals in New Guinea in 1961.
Tornado chaos in south USA –
At least five tornadoes were reported in the southern United States, leading to four deaths and fifty people injured. The twisters also caused massive damage to homes, commercial buildings and vehicles. Mississippi was among the worst hit. If the tornadoes are confirmed, it will be the deadliest December tornado outbreak since 1953. [The Weather Channel]
Who’s the daddy? –
A Cuban man convicted of spying in the US and committed to a double life sentence in 1998 has become a father a month after his release. Gerardo Hernandez, who was released last month by the US as part of a diplomatic thaw with Cuba, requested to have his wife artificially inseminated with his sperm while he was still in jail.
Imran bowled over –
Sportsman-turned-politician Imran Khan has married his fiance, Reham, at a small wedding ceremony at his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. Khan was Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain, playing for the Pakistani cricket team from 1971 to 1992 and leading them to victory at the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
Team Wiggo launched –
Former Tour de France champion and Sky Team member Sir Bradley Wiggins launches his own cycling team to help preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The four-time Olympic champion will try to break the individual world hour record as part of his build-up to Rio2016. Team Wiggins will operate independently of British Cycling but the governing body has given its backing to the team. Bradley Wiggins
App designers golden year –
Apple revealed today that app developers earned more than $10 billion in revenue in 2014, partly due to a 50 percent rise in billings. The App Store has grown to 1.4 million apps since launching in 2008, with 725,000 designed for the iPad.
Russia says drivers must not have ‘sex disorders’ –
The Russian government is tightening medical controls for drivers because the country “has too many road accidents”. Transsexual and transgender people are among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences and fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as “mental disorders” now barring people from driving.
Job for life but don’t turn up –
A.K. Verma, an executive engineer at the Central Public Works Department, India, was fired after last appearing for work in December 1990. Even after an inquiry found him guilty of “wilful absence from duty” in 1992, it took another 22 years and the intervention of a cabinet minister to remove him, the government said.
More than three million take part in French unity rallies –
Huge crowds have taken part in a rally in Paris to commemorate the 17 people who died in gun attacks in the city in 3 days of attacks earlier in the week. More than 40 world leaders joined the start of the unity march, linking arms in an act of solidarity and an estimated 1.6 million marched in the capital. The rally was led by relatives of the victims of last week’s attacks and began at the Place de la Republique. The French government said the rally turnout was the highest on record.
Boyhood wins Golden Globe Awards –
At the Golden Globe ceremony “Boyhood” won best drama movie with Patricia Arquette getting best supporting actress in the film.
Winners of all categories at the bottom of the post. Patricia Arquette
Actress Anita Ekberg dies –
The actress Anita Ekberg,has died aged 83. A former Miss Sweden, she was branded a “sex goddess” for her performance in Federico Fellini’s 1960 movie La Dolce Vita. The scene where Ekberg walks through the waters of Rome’s Trevi Fountain in a black strapless dress is considered one of cinema’s most iconic scenes. A quote attibuted to her in her later years is: “I don’t know if paradise or hell exist, but I’m sure hell is more groovy.”
First woman president in Croatia –
In elections in Croatia, opposition challenger Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has become the first female president of the country. The voting was extremely close with Grabar-Kitarovic receiving more than 50% of the vote for her Croatian Democratic Union party, with more than 49% for Ivo Josipovic who had been president since 2010. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Pope takes Mass with 6 million people –
Pope Francis finishes his tour of the Philippines giving Mass in front of an estimated 6 million people in Rizal Park in the capital Manila. This appears to be a record attendance for a papal event eclipsing the 5 million who saw Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995.
AB de Villers gets fastest ODI ton –
A new record for the fastest 100 in a one-day international (ODI) by South Africa batsman AB de Villiers who hit a century off 31 balls during an innings of 149 against the West Indies in Johannesburg. Including 8 fours and 10 sixes to beat the previous ODI record of 36 balls by New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson against West Indies on January 1st 2015 but doesn’t match Chris Gayle’s 100 from 30 balls in the Indian Premier League on April 23rd 2013. See List of the Day below.
Vonn’s record causes Tiger to lose a tooth –
American skier Lindsey Vonn (@lindseyvonn) has won her 63rd World Cup downhill title with a win in the super-G race in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy overtaking the record set by Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell over 35 years ago. Vonn’s boyfriend is golfer Tiger Woods who surprised her by being at the podium after the event. In the media scrum to get pictures of the skier a hand-held camera knocked out one of Wood’s front teeth. She celebrated with this tweet: Lindsey Vonn
Cricket World Cup 2015: Australia crush New Zealand in final –
Australia overwhelmed New Zealand to win the World Cup for a fifth time at an ecstatic Melbourne Cricket Ground. New Zealand lost influential captain Brendon McCullum to the fifth ball of the match and were bowled out for 183. Grant Elliott resisted with 83, while Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner shared eight wickets. Australia rarely looked troubled, sealing a seven-wicket win in 33.1 overs, with captain Michael Clarke scoring 74 and Steve Smith 56 not out. [BBC]
Jess Glynne scores UK number one –
Jess Glynne has topped the UK singles chart for the first time as a solo artist with her track Hold My Hand. The 25-year-old Londoner got two number ones last year as a guest vocalist on Clean Bandit’s Rather Be and Route 94’s My Love. “To get a number one in my own name is one of the most insane feelings,” she said. The singer outsold her nearest rival, James Bay’s Hold Back the River, by 40,000 copies. (See video of the day) [BBC]
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton to shock Malaysia win –
Sebastian Vettel took a sensational maiden victory for Ferrari as he won a straight fight with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Vettel, who joined Ferrari this year as Fernando Alonso’s replacement, won a strategic battle as Mercedes struggled with tyres in the tropical heat. Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg was third from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who fought back from an early puncture. [BBC] Sebastian Vettel
Android peeing on Apple logo spotted on Google Maps –
Rivalry between Google and Apple has always been fierce, but now Google Maps appears to have been emblazoned with the image of the Android mascot urinating on an Apple logo. The image, discovered by a Hacker News user, appears on a patch of land just south of the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, at coordinates 33°30’52.5″N 73°03’33.2″E. The origin of the image is unclear. Some have suggested it could be Google’s idea of an Easter Egg (hidden joke), while others claim it was added by a user. The image is most likely a result of a user abusing Map Maker, the tool that allows users to contribute to Google Maps. One Hacker News user claims to have tracked down the culprit – a user called nitricboy. [Daily Telegraph]
Native American actors walk off Adam Sandler film set over ‘insults’ –
Nearly a dozen Native American actors have walked off the set of a Hollywood film starring Adam Sandler complaining that the script was offensive to their culture. The actors had been hired to take part in filming of The Ridiculous Six, a satirical Western based on The Magnificent Seven. They said the script, which was co-written by Sandler, included offensive names for female Native American characters such as “No Bra”. [Daily Telegraph] Adam Sandler
Drop Dead Sexy –
During this year’s Spring Festival holidays, a man surnamed Zhang watched a strip show somewhere he didn’t expect, at a funeral in his hometown in Cheng’an county, Hebei Province. “Two strippers wearing revealing clothes danced on a stage at a public square in our village at night on February 15. They first danced passionately and then took off their clothes piece by piece. Behind them, an electronic screen was displaying a picture of the deceased with elegiac couplets on either side.”Behind the stripper, an electronic screen hung from a backdrop showed a picture of the deceased. Text at the bottom of the screen read, “we offer profound condolences for the death of Mr Chang.” Zhang said that the show cost 3,000 yuan ($480) as it was held during the Spring Festival holidays, saying that the shows are cheaper at other times of the year. During the performance, the host also announced to the public that the show was sponsored by Chang’s daughter, “as a way to show off his large family,” said Zhang. [Global Times]
‘Embryologic twin’ tumour discovered in student’s brain –
Doctors in California have removed a tumour they have described as an “embryologic twin” deep inside the brain of a young woman. Yamini Karanam, 26, a PhD student in Indiana, had been experiencing difficulties with drowsiness, reading and concentration. The discovery was made when doctors performed a newly-developed form of surgery to remove the tumour. The growth, known as a teratoma, had bone and hair. Ms Karanam, a student at Indiana University, jokingly described the tumour to KNBC, a California TV station, as her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years”. [BBC]
Video of the Day –
Five Stages of Watching A Marvel Movie – HISHE Features: OnlyLeigh
One Direction, Robert Pattinson help out in first Red Nose Day in America –
One Direction, Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Pattinson were among British stars who helped raise money for the first Red Nose Day in America.
The three-hour TV show opened with a monologue from host Seth Meyers. He announced his plans to trump the UK version of the fund-raising marathon.
“I don’t want the British doing anything in front of the cameras,” said the late night talk show host. “They are famously terrible actors so they are all working backstage.” Cameras cut to Simon Cowell in the director’s chair, Orlando Bloom at the sound board, Naomi Campbell operating a camera, Sir Ian McKellen working the teleprompter, Cumberbatch struggling with cue cards and Dame Helen Mirren making tea. Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne was left with the task of wishing people good luck while Pattinson struggled with valet parking and crashed the first car given to him.[BBC]
Highlight of the night was Cold Play creating a musical version of Game of Thrones with many of the cast appearing including John Snow (Kit Harrington). See Video of the Day. Kit Harrington
Thousands of new words added to Scrabble dictionary –
Thousands of new words – including slang terms lolz, shizzle and obvs – have been added to the latest Scrabble word list, its publisher has said.
About 6,500 words have been added to the latest Collins Scrabble Word List, including a number of slang terms used on social media and in text messages. New words include twerking, emoji, bezzy and ridic – short for ridiculous. One the highest scoring new entries is quinzhee – an Inuit snow shelter – which scores 29 Scrabble points. Other new words now acceptable in the board game include onesie, devo – short for devolution – vape, and shootie, meaning a fashionable shoe that covers the ankle. [BBC]
Kim Jong-un’s ‘brat pack’ brother jets in to London for Eric Clapton concert –
Kim Jong-chol, allegedly passed over as heir to the North Korea regime because he has a weak character, was seen entering the Royal Albert Hall with a female companion and wearing a leather jacket. Wearing a leather jacket, T-shirt and sunglasses, Kim Jong-chol was caught on film by a camera crew from Japan’s TBS channel entering the venue with an unidentified woman. South Korean media reported that Kim was staying at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel and was scheduled to board a flight from London to Moscow on Friday. Rooms at the hotel cost up to £2,184 a night. Mr Kim, 33, was passed over by his father, Kim Jong-il, as heir to the North Korean regime because he has a weak character, according to South Korean intelligence reports. To compensate, he has taken on the mantle of the unofficial leader of the North’s “brat pack” of children of the regime’s elite.[Daily Telegraph]
Video of the Day –
Red Nose Day – Game of Thrones, Coldplay’s New Musical (Episode Highlight)
Sir Christopher Lee death announced –
In one of his final interviews, Sir Christopher Lee declared his intention never to retire. “When I die, I want to die with my boots on,” he said.
The actor remained true to his word. He was preparing for his latest film role – a drama called The 11th, co-starring Uma Thurman – when he died on Sunday morning [June 7, 2015] at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Sir Christopher was one of the greats of the 20th century, but his career hit new heights in the last 15 years of his life. He will be best remembered by those of a certain age for playing Count Dracula in his Hammer Horror days, but to younger film fans he was a star of two of the biggest franchises ever made: Saruman in Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in Star Wars. [Daily Telegraph] He appeared in over 200 films (See List of the Day) Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015)
Female scientists post ‘distractingly sexy’ photos –
Female scientists have been sharing “distractingly sexy” photos of themselves after a feminist website encouraged them to respond to comments by a Nobel laureate. Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt was roundly criticised when he detailed his thoughts about the “trouble with girls” at a conference of science journalists. “Three things happen when they are in the lab,” he said, “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.” He said his comments were meant to be “light-hearted, ironic comment”, but whatever the intention, it went over like a heavy metallic dirigible in a field with some widely acknowledged gender issues. Hunt has now resigned from his position at University College London. On Thursday the hashtag #DistractinglySexy began taking off, with more than 10,000 tweets in a matter of hours. [BBC Trending] See Top Twitter Trends (UK)
Video of the Day –
Saruman the White – from Lord of the Rings [from Youtube]
List of the Day –
Sir Christopher Lee film appearances (including voiceovers) [List from Wikipedia]
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip towards the Ashkelon region fell short and did not land in Israel with Palestinian sources indicating it may have hit a house. There were no immediate reports of injuries, or claims of responsibility. (Times of Israel)
Federal Interior Ministry of Pakistan has sealed the offices of the NGO Save the Children in Pakistan and issued order for its foreign staff to leave the country within 15 days on account of the NGO’s anti-Pakistan activities. (Express Tribune).
Philae comet lander wakes up, says European Space Agency –
The European Space Agency (Esa) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth. Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the Sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC’s science correspondent Jonathan Amos. An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, “Hello Earth! Can you hear me?” On its blog, Esa said Philae had contacted Earth, via Rosetta, for 85 seconds on Saturday in the first contact since going into hibernation in November. Artist’s impression of the Philae lander
Jurassic World takes $511m in record opening weekend –
The fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park series has become the first film to take more than $500m at the box office on its opening weekend. Jurassic World was the most popular screening in all 66 countries where it was released. The film made $204.6m (£131.4m) in the US, according to the firm Exhibitor Relations. It took $100m in China and $29.6m (£19m) in the UK and Ireland as part of the record global total of $511.8m. The Universal Pictures release had the second-highest grossing opening weekend in the US. The record is held by Marvel’s The Avengers, which took $207.4m in 2012. [BBC] See Video of the Day
Video of the Day –
Jurassic World – Official Global Trailer
List of the Day –
Biggest Worldwide film openings since 2002 [from Wikipedia]
South Korea spy kills himself amid hacking scandal –
An employee of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) spying agency has been found dead in his car after apparently taking his own life on a mountain road, police say. His death comes as a scandal over phone-hacking gathers pace. The man left a suicide note admitting that he had deleted important information about the hacking. It has emerged that mobile phones were tracked and monitored just before the presidential election in 2012. [BBC]
North Korean elections – not too close to call –
Worker’s Party expected to fare well in polls this Sunday with only one name on ballot paper and punishment for anyone who fails to endorse Kim Jong-un’s policies. To indicate support for the approved candidate, the voter goes into a booth and carries out his democratic duty. Anyone who does not agree with the name on the ballot paper must go to a different booth and cross out the candidate’s name. With the every move closely scrutinised, it would be an act of extreme bravery in a nation that is not known for tolerating dissenting voices for that to happen. [Daily Telegraph] Kim Jong-un (sketch)
Bratz are back after Barbie owner fails to kill franchise –
After almost a decade of a back-and-forth legal battle between Mattel and Bratz-owner MGA, the spunky dolls are back and ready to take on an already weak Barbie. Years before toys of Frozen characters knocked Barbie off her perennial perch, a gaggle of ethnically-diverse fashionistas known as Bratz temporarily toppled the word-famous doll – and now they’re back after winning a protracted legal battle with Barbie-owner Mattel.
Bratz, which first came to market in 2001, is relaunching this weekend with a revamped look, an extra character and new range of accessories in an attempt to regain its place at the top of toytown. [Daily Telegraph]
In a failed suicide blast, a security guard intercepted a suicide bomber clad in female clothing attempting to enter Quetta’s Hazara town, who then detonated their device that contained 6 to 7 Kg of explosive material, killing themselves and the guard. (Dawn).
Windows 10 launch: Microsoft releases new operating system –
Microsoft starts rolling out its new operating system, Windows 10, to customers around the world today, with members of its ‘Insider’ programme being the first to receive the free upgrade. Following a hostile reception to Windows 8, which launched in 2012 and introduced the concept of ‘live tiles’ for touch-based computing, Microsoft decided to bypass Windows 9 and jump straight to Windows 10, combining what it describes as the “best elements” of Windows 7 and Windows 8. Live tiles still feature in Windows 10, offering shortcuts to the user’s favourite applications, but are far less obtrusive than in Windows 8. Microsoft has also brought back the Start menu from Windows 7, allowing users to browse through a list of their most-used programs. [Daily Telegraph] See List of the Day
Gerard Depardieu banned from Ukraine for supporting Russia over Crimea –
Gerard Depardieu has been banned from Ukraine for five years for making public comments suggesting he supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The Ukrainian Security Service, the country’s main successor agency to the KGB, said the 66-year old French film star had been added to a blacklist of public figures considered hostile to Ukraine in its on-going confrontation with Russia. “The SBU has decided to ban Mr Depardieu for 5 years on the recommendation of the ministry of culture,” agency spokesman Elena Gitlyanskaya said. [Daily Telegraph] Gerard Depardieu
Video of the Day –
1 Man + 12 Hairstyles
List of the Day –
Windows Operating Systems history [from Wikipedia]
Malik Ishaq, leader of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is killed during a shootout in which supporters of the group ambushed a prisoner convoy. The shootout killed 13 of the attackers, injured six police officers, and also killed two of Ishaq’s sons. (New York Times)
Disasters and accidents
The Wragg Fire in Northern California continues to burn at 80% containment with over 6,991 acres being destroyed and mandatory evacuations.(KQED)
Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez announce divorce after two years of marriage –
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry and her French actor husband, Olivier Martinez, said on Tuesday they are divorcing after two years of marriage. It is the third divorce for Berry, 49, who has a two-year-old son with Martinez. The couple cited irreconcilable differences, according to celebrity website TMZ.com. Berry in 2002 became the only black actress to win an Academy Award for a lead role, clinching the Oscar for her performance in Monster’s Ball. [Daily Telegraph] Halle Berry
Darth Vader supporter Chewbacca arrested in Ukraine –
It’s a sentence we never thought we’d write, but here goes: Chewbacca has been arrested in Ukraine after police say they caught him campaigning for Darth Vader. A candidate, using the identity of the Star Wars Sith Lord has been running in local elections in the city of Odessa. It’s claimed the man dressed as Chewbacca had broken election day rules by campaigning on voting day. It’s being reported Chewbacca was fined the equivalent of a fiver. He’d arrived at a polling station along with the candidate when police stepped in. [BBC]
A Yemeni hospital in Saada run by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is destroyed by several Saudi-led coalition airstrikes overnight. The director of the hospital, Ali Mughli, reported “The air raids resulted in the destruction of the entire hospital with all that was inside – devices and medical supplies – and the moderate wounding of several people”. Another airstrike hit a nearby girls school and damaged several civilian homes according to local media. UNICEF said the Saada hospital was the 39th health center hit in Yemen since March. The Saudi-led coalition denies that its planes had hit the hospital. (Reuters)
United States Defense SecretaryAshton Carter says the U.S. will begin “direct action on the ground” against the ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against the militants remains elusive. The U.S. has done some special operations raids in Syria, e.g., last week’s rescue operation with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to free hostages held by ISIL. Carter also said the U.S. would intensify the air campaign against ISIL with heavier airstrikes and will focus on Raqqa, the group’s declared capital in Syria. (NBC News)(Al Jazeera)(AP via Boston Globe)
A Libyan helicopter carrying cash for a local bank on the way out and returning to Tripoli with passengers is shot down near the coastal Almaya area west of the capital city, killing at least 14 of its 23 passengers including senior officers Hosein Bodaya and Duhain Al-Rammah, officials with Libya’s Dawn militias. (AP via ABC News)(BBC)(UPI)
The Taliban, which effectively controls some of the worst-affected areas across multiple provinces, urged charity organizations not to hold back in delivering aid to Afghan victims of the quake, saying militants in the affected areas were ordered to provide “complete help.” (Reuters)(Daily Star)
Winning tickets in the nearly $1.6-billion Powerball lottery were sold in California, Florida and Tennessee, officials said on Thursday, leaving at least three people to split the record-setting jackpot. California Lottery officials confirmed that the winning six numbers had been purchased at a convenience store outside Los Angeles, as well as at locations in Florida and Tennessee. The identity of the winners was not yet known. Lottery officials said it could be several hours before it is known whether there are other winners in the 44 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. territories where Powerball is played. In Chino Hills, a suburb east of Los Angeles, crowds descended on a 7-Eleven store where the winning ticket had been bought, snapping pictures and congratulating staff. The store will receive a $1-million bonus for selling the ticket. The odds of picking a winning combination were 1 in 292 million. [Daily Mail]
Three winning Powerball lottery tickets are sold in the U.S. states of California, Florida, and Tennessee. Each will share the estimated jackpot of US $1.6 billion dollars, the largest lottery jackpot in world history. (ABC News)
Subtropical Storm Alex is located 785 miles (1,260 km) south-southwest of the Azores. Alex is one of just four tropical or subtropical storms to occur in January since 1851, the first year records were kept. The hurricane season begins on June 1 of each year. Alex is expected to hit the Azores on Friday with average rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches. (The Washington Post)(NHC)
North Korea claims to invent ‘alcohol which doesn’t give you hangover’ –
They already claim to have cured cancer, Aids and Ebola with a miracle drug produced from ginseng root.
Now North Korean scientists seem to have scaled new heights of greatness with their latest invention – a special blend of liquor which doesn’t give you a hangover. According to the state-controlled newspaper Pyongyang Times, the drink also relies on ginseng root for its medicinal qualities and has been hailed as a “national scientific and technological hit.” The recipe replaces sugar with burnt rice, supposedly eliminating the liquor’s bitter taste along with any risks of a hangover. The drink “is suave and causes no hangovers”, claimed the Pyongyang Times piece, which was entitled: “Liquor wins quality medal for preserving national smack.” It is the latest in a string of outlandish claims made by North Korea’s state media, which once congratulated its supreme commander for learning to drive at the age of three. [Daily Telegraph]
Twitter down in global outage –
Twitter went offline on Tuesday morning for users of both its website and mobile apps. Visitors to the social network were met with a “Something is technically wrong” message on a blue background. Twitter’s status page said: “Some users are currently experiencing problems accessing Twitter. We are aware of the issue and are working towards a resolution.” “Something is technically wrong,” a notice on the Twitter website said. “Thanks for noticing – we’re going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon.” At around 10am service resumed as usual, although was down again shortly before midday and at various times over Tuesday afternoon. [Daily Telegraph] The social network later said an “internal code change” had led to the problem, which lasted six hours 10 minutes. “We reverted the change, which fixed the issue,” it added. Twitter error page
Bill Murray hurled fans phones of a rooftop –
Bill Murray is accused of going all Naomi Campbell on some fans who tried to take his photo in the tranquil seaside town of Carmel, CA … and now cops are investigating. Bill was hanging out at the Vesuvio rooftop lounge, a popular watering hole for celebs playing in the annual Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tourney. It’s going on now, and Bill is playing. The owner of the restaurant, Scott Pepe, tells us Bill wasn’t drinking … he just got really pissed when a few patrons got starstruck and took his pic. The fans were pretty obvious, with flashes going off only 10 feet away from Bill, according to Scott. He says Bill got so angry he got up and chucked their phones off the 2nd story rooftop. Police spoke to the star of Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day but decided not to press charges. Instead, the owners of the phones were happy to be compensated. [TMZ] Bill Murray
Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2016/02/12/bill-murray-throws-phones-carmel-restaurant/#ixzz40F2rItkn This painting is ‘too obscene’ for Facebook –
This image is of the painting Ice Cream which was created in 1964 by one of the world’s first pop artists, Evelyne Axell. It was uploaded last week by the Philadelphia Museum of Art however censors removed it shortly afterwards. The museum says Facebook told them it shows “excessive amounts of skin or suggestive content”. Far from obscene, experts at the museum described the painting as “challenging typical standards by showing women…and their playful characteristics”. [BBC Newsbeat] Phila Museum of Art tweet
Italian parliament bar clamps down on bill-dodging –
The bar inside Italy’s lower house of parliament has deployed “receipt inspectors” to ensure that MPs pay their bills, it’s reported. The establishment at Palazzo Montecitorio, home to the Chamber of Deputies, has lost a significant chunk of revenue because some politicians have been failing to settle up, Corriere della Sera reports. The company that took over running the bar last year noticed that takings were 30% lower than expected. Staff have now been told that customers must pay for their order and show their receipt to the barista before actually being served any refreshments – something that is done in some Italian bars. They’ll be backed up by a team of receipt-checkers, whose job will involve being “discreet, but inflexible”, observing patrons and intervening if anyone fails to pay up, the paper says. [BBC] Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome
Spain’s Princess Cristina denies role in tax fraud at ‘trusted’ husband’s company –
Princess Cristina of Spain denied any involvement in tax fraud on Thursday when she gave evidence in the first criminal trial held in the country with members of the royal family among the accused. King Felipe’s sister said that she had been completely unaware of the business operations at a company she owned jointly with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who is accused of a series of crimes including embezzlement of public funds and money laundering. Asked by her defence lawyer why she became the co-proprietor of the company called Aizoon, Princess Cristina it had been Mr Urdangarin’s idea and she had agreed: “Out of trust. He asked me and I accepted.” The 50-year-old princess, who has been stripped of her aristocratic title of Duchess of Palma by King Felipe, said that Aizoon existed “to channel my husband’s income”. “He was the administrator and he took the decisions”, she added. The public prosecutor has requested a 19.5-year jail sentence for Mr Urdangarin, who, along with his business partner, is accused of diverting €4.5 million of public money from a non-profit organisation to private accounts. [Daily Telegraph] Infanta Cristina Duchess of Palma de Mallorca
Video of the Day –
KEN BLOCK’S GYMKHANA EIGHT: ULTIMATE EXOTIC PLAYGROUND; DUBAI
A nationwide power outage hits Syria. The Syrian government says shortly before the power outage, militants had hit part of a power-generating station with rockets in the city of Hama, though it hasn’t said whether this damage was linked to the nationwide outage. Also, it isn’t clear how many people are affected by the power outage as many cities outside of the government’s control already weren’t being served by the government-run power grid. (CNN)
At least 31 people are killed in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, when a bus, with a blown front tire, switches lanes and slams into an oncoming public transport minibus. (AP ia Fox News)
A riot at a prison in Guyana‘s capital Georgetown leaves at least 16 people dead. The riot began when inmates angered by a search that led to the confiscation of mobile phones set fires in one part of the prison. (Reuters)
Paris St-Germain score 9 as they win French title –
Paris St-Germain were crowned French champions with two months to spare as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four in a 9-0 demolition of bottom side Troyes. Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot put them 3-0 up inside 19 minutes before Ibrahimovic struck three within 10 minutes in the second half. Matthieu Saunier scored an own goal and Cavani made it 8-0 before Ibrahimovic added his fourth. [BBC]
Paris St-Germain won the league with 62 days and eight games to spare, a record for any of Europe’s ‘big five’ domestic leagues.
In 115 appearances in Ligue 1, Zlatan Ibrahimovic now has 102 goals and 35 assists.
This win was the sixth time this season that PSG have scored four goals or more in a Ligue 1 game.
This title is PSG’s sixth overall and their fourth in a row
Europe’s largest floating solar farm to open –
The biggest floating solar farm in Europe is being constructed on a reservoir. More than 23,000 solar photovoltaic panels are being laid on the surface of the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The farm, which will be the size of eight football pitches, is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity in a year. The energy will be used to part power a nearby water treatment works. Thames Water said construction of the solar farm, which is about eight miles (13 km) from Heathrow airport, will be completed by the end of March. The floating pontoon will be 57,500 sq m in size. [BBC]
The United States Food and Drug Administration announces it has relaxed its official requirements regarding the use of the abortion drug Mifeprex (RU-486). The current guidelines were based on 1990s medical evidence. Changes include reducing the number of physician visits required by abortion-seeking women, reducing drug dosage, and allowing women to take the drug for three weeks longer — now a total of 70 days. (UPI)
Mexico City, facing the capital’s worst air-quality crisis in over a decade, issues a temporary order that all cars remain idle one day a week. Today, authorities report a pollution index of 108 (bad) after low readings during Holy Week. Vehicles will also be forced from the roads one Saturday a month. The measure will begin next Tuesday, April 5, and run until Thursday, June 30, 2016. Starting July 1, improved technology will be in place at smog-check centers where all vehicles must be tested every six months. (AP via Fox News)
A Larnaca, Cyprus, court orders that 59-year-old Seif Eddin Mustafa, who was arrested by Cypriot police yesterday, remain in local police custody for eight days to assist Cyprus’s own investigation. Mustafa faces charges of hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping, and threats to commit violence. It’s unclear if Mustafa had any explosives; the bomb belt he wore was fake, and officials are waiting for testing results on unidentified liquids found among his possessions. (AP via The Daily Courier)
The opposition plans to generate a recall referendum that would ask voters if President Maduro should be removed from office. The Constitution states a recall referendum can be held once the president has served half of his six-year term (Maduro became President on April 19, 2013) and at least 20 percent of registered voters sign the petition. (UPI²)
New Zealand record cocaine seizure in horse’s head –
New Zealand police say they have made their biggest ever seizure of cocaine, hidden inside a novel kind of drug mule. They intercepted the $10m (£7.6m) worth of cocaine inside a huge diamante-encrusted statue of a horse’s head. The shipment of 35kg (77lb) bricks was air-freighted from Mexico to the city of Auckland in May. An American and two Mexicans were arrested over the weekend following a six-week investigation. The horse’s head weighed 365kg and was 1m (3ft) tall, the New Zealand Herald reported. “This is a significant win for New Zealand,” said Det Supt Virginia Le Bas. “We should proud to have detected it at the earliest of stages.” [BBC]
Rescue workings in Russia‘s Irkutsk Oblast discover the remains of a Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane which went missing last Friday after going on a firefighting mission. Six people have been killed in the crash.(Reuters)
The European Union warns Switzerland that it will lose access to its single market if it goes through with its plan to impose restrictions on the free movement of EU citizens. In a referendum held back in February 9, 2014, Swiss voters approved limiting the movement of economic migrants from the EU in the country. Current laws allow migrants to enter Switzerland without visas. (The Guardian)
Recruitment agency criticised for job ads specifying bra size –
A recruitment agency has been criticised for advertising jobs only for “attractive women”, as well as specifying bra size. Matching Models in London describes itself as “an international temp agency for beautiful and talented people”. It advertised for a personal assistant with “a classic look, brown long hair with b-c cup”. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called it “appalling, unlawful and demeaning to women”. The agency’s founder Nathalie Jansen said: “Our clients are important to us – and looks are important.” Another job advert on the agency’s website asks a “sexy female driver” to drive a Porsche Cayenne two days a week for between £40,000 and £50,000-a-year for a Knightsbridge-based businessman and polo team owner. [BBC]
Hurricane Matthew: At least 100 people killed in Haiti devastation –
Hurricane Matthew has left at least 108 people dead in Haiti, the country’s interior minister says. Some 50 people were reported to have died in the southern town of Roche-a-Bateau alone. New images from remote and cut off areas in the south-west of the country show scenes of devastation. The hurricane has again been upgraded to a Category Four storm, the second highest hurricane classification, as it heads for the US state of Florida. [BBC]
A truck rams into a group of Israeli soldiers in a deliberate attack in East Jerusalem, killing four and wounding 21. The perpetrator was previously convicted of terrorism and was jailed for 10 years. (CNN)(The Guardian)