Friday, July 31, 2009

Flying underwear causes power cut !

A power cut which brought part of a Lincolnshire village to a standstill has been blamed on discarded underwear.

More than a dozen houses and a set of traffic lights in Leadenham were affected on Wednesday, with police being called to direct traffic.

Engineers traced the fault and found a thong had short circuited a power line.

It is believed the clothing was carried by a helium balloon from a nearby party. It became lodged in the wires and caused a fault when soaked by rain.

Andrew Barrow, from Central Networks, said: "Flying objects do occasionally cause us problems but in this case it was more risque than risky.

"What we think happened in this case was the offending article was on the line for some time but it was the heavy rain yesterday - wet things conduct electricity - which led to the short circuit."

He added: "The main thing to say here is that if people do see something on the lines, don't try and get them down yourselves, that is when it becomes dangerous."

The finger of suspicion has been pointed at the local polo club's annual ball.

Emma Rose, from Leadenham Polo Club, said: "It may never be proven exactly where this came from but it could have been our party.

"We think it may have been a joke, with someone taking the item from an overnight bag and setting it on its way."


India's family battle over gas!

By Shantanu Guha Ray, Delhi

Anil and Mukesh Ambani
The brothers have been called the 'squabbling siblings'

The world's richest brothers are locking horns yet again - and this time, it is over natural gas.

The latest spat between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, who control India's Reliance group of industries, could turn out to be the most unsavoury yet and hinder efforts to solve the country's chronic energy shortage.

This week, Anil Ambani, the 50-year-old younger brother, described the government as "partisan and biased" towards his elder brother, Mukesh.

At the heart of the latest battle between the siblings is the natural gas that was discovered by Reliance Industries in the Krishna Godavari basin off India's eastern coast in 2002, three years before the brothers parted ways.

The Reliance empire was divided between the two brothers in 2005 after a bitter seven-month feud.

In a family pact vetted and supervised by the brothers' mother in 2005, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) was to supply 28 million cubic meters of gas a day at $2.34 per million units to Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources Limited (RNRL) for 17 years.

This price was lower than $4.20 per million units set by the government in 2006 for all buyers of gas from the basin.

Anil Ambani has not accepted the higher selling price set by the government, citing the agreement with his elder brother.

On 15 June, his company won a case in the Bombay High Court, asking his elder brother's company to honour the family agreement.

Mukesh Ambani has appealed against the judgement in the Supreme Court - the court will hear the dispute on 1 September.

India's oil ministry has also become embroiled in the controversy - federal oil minister Murli Deora has been criticised by Anil Ambani for allegedly siding with his elder brother.

In return, Mr Deora has said gas is a national property and belongs to the people of India - "It really doesn't belong to them [Mukesh and Anil Ambani]," he told reporters.

Power transmission towers in India
India has a huge shortage of energy

The dispute is impeding efforts by the government to harness India's natural gas reserves to help tide over its energy crunch.

Three companies - RIL, the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) - are investing $30bn to produce gas from the Krishna Godavari basin.

All the three companies have discovered gas - and some oil- in three different blocks.

RIL plans to spend $12 billion on producing and transporting the gas across the country while the state-owned ONGC has announced a $3 billion investment.

The Krishna Godavari basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast is described as the North Sea of India due to its immense gas prospects.

The basin is likely to produce 120 million cubic metres per day (mcmd) of gas, four times the gas and 30% cheaper than the gas India would have received through the much-delayed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

Once the entire gas comes on stream, it will have a huge impact on the country's fertiliser and power companies.

India, Asia's third largest oil importer, could easily save at least $20 billion off its surging oil import bill that crossed a whopping $80 billion last year.

Power and fertiliser plant owners, which consume 70% of the available gas in India, are optimistic that the Krishna Godavari basin gas will help them operate at full capacity.

Delhi at night
India's energy needs are soaring

Currently, they mostly operate at 50-60% of their capacity because of inadequate gas.

The fertiliser industry, which has not seen any new investments in the last decade, could increase capacity to 22 million tonnes in two years from the current 20 million tonnes once more gas becomes available. Presently, the industry needs 41 mcmd of gas, but gets only 28 mcmd.

Once the gas from Krishna Godavari basin begins to flow - possibly after 2013 - it can add at least 10,000MW to India's power output. The figure is more than half the country's current peak power deficit.

The World Bank estimates that power shortages deter the development process in India where more than 400 million people lack electricity and supplies fall short of peak demand by 16.6%.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zimbabwe: The price of reconciliation

Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai
Some Zimbabweans remain sceptical about the 'unity' government

By Andrew Harding
BBC News, Harare

As Zimbabwe launches a debate about "national healing" after years of political violence, the country's prime minister has told the BBC that those found responsible for a wave of killings and torture should "not necessarily" be sent to jail.

At the same time, some victims have expressed concern they will never see justice or compensation.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was speaking in Harare where the new unity government has just unveiled an "Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration" or ONHRI.

Mr Tsvangirai, who has himself been severely beaten by members of President Robert Mugabe's security forces, stressed that he was "not just saying - forgive, heal and reconcile".

But he said "justice needs forgiveness… and if we do retributive justice, the danger is that we may slide back" towards violence.

John Nkomo, a senior figure in Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF, and chairman of ONHRI, said that "anyone who has broken the law should be put on trial".

But he also argued against a rush to judgment.

"Yes, people were killed; yes, people fight; yes, they may still be fighting, but… this nation is going through a process and these tensions, unless properly managed, could create more tensions for us and we don't want that."

Emmanuel Chiroto
Emmanuel Chiroto says the people who killed his wife are still at large

None of this seems likely to reassure Emmanuel Chiroto.

One year ago, a group of Zanu-PF militia abducted his wife, Abigail, from their home on the edge of Harare.

Mr Chiroto, an MDC activist, had just been elected the city's deputy mayor. His wife's badly beaten body was found on a roadside soon afterwards.

"I've got the names of six people responsible," said Mr Chiroto, wandering round the ruins of his home, which was firebombed during the attack.

"They live round here. I see them often. But none of them have even been picked up for questioning."

Last week he says he received two threatening phone calls from a male voice saying: "You're forgetting what happened to your wife. Our intention was to kill you."

"We're told things are changing," Mr Chiroto said. "The unity government is in place. But personally I find it very difficult to forgive people who are still boasting about it."

Another MDC activist, Josphat Chidindi, was attacked with an axe on 25 June this year by two men who, he says, were the same Zanu-PF militants who had nearly killed him a year earlier.

His right arm was nearly severed and remains heavily bandaged.

"They wanted to silence me at all costs," he said, dismissing talk of reconciliation in Zimbabwe as "nonsense".

"I want these men to face trial, but I don't think justice will be done as long as Zanu-PF is part of this inclusive government… There is no future to talk about," he said.

Many human rights activists also appear to be sceptical about ONHRI's work.

Maria Mache, from the Crisis Coalition, dismissed it as "a farce".

"We want the perpetrators of violence, those who abducted others, who did so many atrocities in Zimbabwe to be brought to book. We can't talk about reconciliation until there has been transitional justice," she said.



China has 13m abortions each year !

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Child playing in Beijing, China
Many Chinese couples are restricted to just one child

There are 13 million abortions each year in China, according to research published in a Chinese national newspaper.

Researchers believe the real figure could be even higher because there are many abortions at unregistered clinics.

Young single women are most likely to have abortions in a country where there are 20 million births each year.

China imposed strict family planning rules in the 1970s in an attempt to limit the growth of its population.

Many pregnant women who have had their full quota of children have abortions to prevent unwanted births.

This research has been published by the China Daily newspaper.

Other Chinese media outlets have published similar figures, although it was not immediately clear when the research was carried out.

In a front-page story, China Daily said the high number of abortions was "cause for concern", adding that many women who have abortions are single and aged between 20 and 29.

"Sex education needs to be strengthened, with universities and our society giving more guidance," Li Ying, a professor at Peking University, told the newspaper.

An official from China's National Population and Family Planning Commission told the newspaper that most sex education was directed at married couples.

Another official at the commission said the 13m figure was based on its own research and on information gathered from hospitals over the last few years.

China began restricting the number of children each couple can have in 1978. Officials say this has prevented 400 million extra births.

In many cases women are restricted to just one child, although in rural areas some couples can have two children if the first is a girl.

These rules mean abortions are used in some places to ensure the population growth is kept low.

Some women even complain that they are pressured into terminating their pregnancies.



Single malt has £10,000 price tag

Bottle of Glenfiddich 50 Year Old [Pic: John Paul/Glenfiddach Distillery]
The distillery said its 50-year-old single malt was "flawless"

A single malt Scotch whisky is to go on sale for £10,000 a bottle, its distiller has announced.

The Glenfiddich Distillery described the 50-year-old single malt as "the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence".

It will release just 50 bottles every year for the next decade.

They will be sold in selected airports across the world for the next few months, before being made available through a small number of retailers.

The whisky has been kept in two casks in the Banffshire distillery's warehouse for 50 years.

Each hand-blown, numbered bottle will be decorated in Scottish silver and presented in a hand-stitched, leather-bound case.

The bottles will be accompanied by a leather-bound book which details the history of the whisky. It will also have pages for the owner to make their own tasting notes.

Buyers will receive a certificate signed by four of the distillery's long-serving craftsmen.

Peter Gordon, chairman of Glenfiddich distillery owner William Grant & Sons, said the whisky was "flawless".

Mr Gordon, the great-great-grandson of distillery founder William Grant, said: "We're happy to wait as long as we need to - up to 50 years in this instance - to produce the perfect whisky.

"The Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence and epitomises my great-great grandfather's vision of creating the very 'best dram in the valley'.

"Every new year is important when it comes to making exceptional whisky - and Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the ultimate expression of this pioneering foresight."

In 2006 a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest in existence was auctioned in London.

The Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky is said to have been bottled about 150 years ago at the Glenavon Distillery in Banffshire and was bought for £14,850.



Schumacher makes shock F1 return !

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher will make a shock return to Formula 1 to replace injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

The seven-time world champion retired at the end of 2006 but will drive at the European Grand Prix on 23 August.

Ferrari said the 40-year-old will stand in for as long as Massa is sidelined by the serious head injuries he sustained in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.

"For team loyalty reasons I can't ignore this unfortunate situation," said the former Ferrari driver.

His spokesman Sabine Kehm had told the BBC on Tuesday that although Schumacher - who was working as a consultant for Ferrari - was not willing to make a full-time return to F1, he would not rule out standing in for Massa.


And the German racing legend has now decided to come out of retirement and make a sensational return to the sport.

"It is true that the Formula 1 chapter has long been closed for me," added Schumacher, who won five world titles for Ferrari.

"The most important thing first: thank God, all news concerning Felipe is positive and I wish him all the best again.

"This afternoon I met with team principal Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe. "As the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge."

Schumacher has not driven an F1 car since April 2008 and competed in the last of his 249 grands prix in October 2006. And the most successful F1 driver of all time now has slightly more than three weeks to prepare himself for the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

The ban on in-season testing means Schumacher will not be able to turn a wheel of the 2009 specification Ferrari before first practice on Friday 21 August.

1991: Makes F1 debut for Jordan, switches to Benetton
1992: First Grand Prix win (Belgium), finishes third in the championship
1994: Wins first world title with Benetton, winning eight races
1995: Retains world title, winning nine races
1996: Joins Ferrari
1997: Finishes season second but is disqualified from championship
1999: Breaks leg at Silverstone when leading world championship
2000: Ends Ferrari's 21-year wait for a world title, winning nine races
2001: Retains world title, again winning nine races
2002: Quickest ever world title win, with 11 race wins
2003: Breaks Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five world titles
2004: Wins seventh and final world title
2006: Retires at the end of the season
2009: Announces comeback to fill in for injured Felipe Massa

Nevertheless, the team have chosen Schumacher - who won 91 grands prix in a glittering career - ahead of reserve drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer.

"Ferrari intends to entrust Michael Schumacher with Felipe Massa's car for as long as the Brazilian driver is not able to race," read a team statement.

"Michael Schumacher has shown his willingness and in the next few days he will undergo a specific programme of preparation at the end of which it will be possible to confirm his participation in the championship, starting with the European Grand Prix."

There are six more races to go after Valencia, including trips to Belgium, Italy, Singapore and Japan.

Schumacher will undergo an intensive training programme to determine whether he is fit enough to return to the rigours of F1 racing.

Since retiring from the sport, Schumacher has occasionally taken part in motorcycle events but in February he suffered neck and back injuries in a motorbike accident.

Those injuries could affect his ability to drive an F1 car, with huge pressures placed on the neck because of the varying G-forces.

Massa could be out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a fractured skull sustained when a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn hit him on the helmet when he was travelling at more than 160mph during qualifying in Hungary on Saturday.

The Brazilian is set to leave intensive care and is making progress, although there is also concern about damage to his left eye.

Schumacher is close to Massa, who was his team-mate in his final season, and has taken a close interest in the Brazilian's career.

BBC Radio 5 Live F1 commentator David Croft believes Schumacher is coming back partly because of that close relationship.

Schumacher will have huge impact - Jordan

"I think he's coming back because it is to replace Felipe Massa, temporarily. He is very close to Felipe, they've had a great relationship over the years," stated Croft.

"I think it's his way of doing something to help Felipe, and doing something to help Ferrari at the same time, because if you look at the alternatives Ferrari had, they weren't really alternatives.

"Who else is there who could come into Ferrari and hit the ground running, who knows the car, who knows the team, who could give them a podium?

"The European Grand Prix, which was not one we were looking forward to at the start of this year, has now got a real spice to it.

"Lewis Hamilton against Michael Schumacher for the first time ever? Jenson Button up against Michael Schumacher? How will Kimi Raikkonen respond? It's going to be fascinating."




Thirty-four people went to hospital and dozens were treated for sickness after strong perfume was sprayed by a woman in a Texas bank.
Two workers initially complained of having chest pains and headaches.
The bank then announced that anyone who felt ill should leave the building, prompting around 150 people to take up the offer.
Twelve people were taken to hospital by ambulance, after they complained of feeling short of breath and dizzy.
"When the two employees reported their illness to a supervisor, an announcement was made over the building's PA system saying that anyone feeling these symptoms should exit the building," fire department spokesman Kent Worley said, according to a local newspaper report.
Emergency services initially feared that there may have been a leak of carbon monoxide leak but having checked the building, decided that a strong perfume was to blame.
Investigators do not know what kind of perfume was sprayed.



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taser stops armed man at Gatwick !

A man who was spotted carrying a handgun gun has been shot with a Taser stun gun by police at Gatwick Airport.

The man, in his 40s, was disarmed by officers after he arrived at South Terminal in the early hours.

The alarm was raised after a passenger on a bus he boarded in Crawley, West Sussex, saw him with a gun, Sussex Police said.

Gatwick Airport said there was no suggestion that threats had been made to passengers or aircraft.

Sussex Police said the man was arrested and is currently being questioned.

Ch Supt Paul Morrison said: "This incident was dealt with promptly by my officers.

"Such incidents are rare and the speed and professionalism in which it was resolved meant that no-one at the airport was harmed."

Head of security at Gatwick Airport, Geoff Williams, said: "The joint security arrangements between the airport and the police worked effectively to resolve the situation promptly and without injury.

"There is no suggestion, at this stage, that threats were made to passengers or aircraft."

Sussex Police have asked anyone with information about the incident to contact them.



China protests over Uighur tour !

Mrs Kadeer holds up her hands as journalists approach with microphones at Narita airport in Tokyo on Tuesday
Mrs Kadeer's tour, and the publicity it has received, has angered China

China has complained to Australia about the forthcoming visit of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, officials say.

Mrs Kadeer is to attend a film festival in Melbourne next week, and will give a televised speech.

Meanwhile, China summoned Japan's ambassador in Beijing to protest about Mrs Kadeer's visit to Tokyo, where she has met members of the governing party.

China accuses the World Uighur Congress leader of inciting ethnic violence this month that left nearly 200 people dead.

Mrs Kadeer, 62, who lives in exile in the US, denies the allegation.

An Australian official said China had made repeated representations about Mrs Kadeer's visit, and that it had been discussed in both Canberra and Beijing.

In Australia, Mrs Kadeer is to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival, which is screening a documentary about her life, 10 Conditions of Love, on 8 August.

The festival's director, Richard Moore, says a Chinese official had urged him to withdraw the film.

And he told ABC radio that someone had hacked in to the festival's website.

"This little Chinese flag sort of popped up and went ding-da-ding-ding-ding and there was a message on it that said basically they objected to the presence of this film.

"They were a concerned Chinese citizen and Rebiya Kadeer was a terrorist."

A supporter of the Uighur cause holds up a large fan with the slogan "Free Uighur" at Narita airport in Tokyo, 28 July
Mrs Kadeer's supporters greeted her on her arrival in Japan on Tuesday

On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said it had summoned Tokyo's ambassador to demand that the Japanese government "take effective action to stop her anti-China, splittist activities in Japan", Reuters news agency reports.

Earlier in the day, Mrs Kadeer had met members of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the party's headquarters.

She told the Kyodo news agency: "I received the impression that they will not accept China's continued oppression of the Uighurs."

At a news conference, she said that "nearly 10,000 people" disappeared in one night in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region.

"If they are dead, where are their bodies? If they are detained, where are they?"

She was alluding to violence which broke out in Urumqi on 5 July, between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese. The clashes continued for several days.

Other sources put the number of those detained in Urumqi at 1,400.

Japan says it does not expect Mrs Kadeer's visit to affect its relations with China.

A spokesman said she was invited by civil society organisations rather than the government.

Mrs Kadeer says she came to Japan to tell people about what she described as the terrible conditions being endured by the Uighur minority in north-west China.

Many Uighurs there resent the influx of Han Chinese immigrants. They feel economic growth has bypassed them and complain of discrimination and diminished opportunities.



'Don't tell women how to give birth' !

Cathy Warwick
Cathy Warwick
General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives

Newborn baby
Debate rages over how babies should be born

How a woman gives birth provokes strong views, with impassioned arguments for normal births, and for Caesareans.

But in this week's Scrubbing Up health column, Cathy Warwick of the RCM says the most important thing is for women to be able to choose.

The use of technology in birth - such as the development of epidurals for pain relief and Caesarean sections - has long been a cauldron into which divisive and conflicting issues and opinions have been poured.

This is particularly relevant at the moment.

A recent UK study which looked at how and why women chose the birth they did found mothers-to-be preferred to keep an open mind and, as their pregnancy progressed, became increasingly confident in the advice they received from health professionals.

They tended to be more open-minded regarding choice of type of birth at the end of pregnancy.

It seems important to remember that since the 1970s, there has always been a vocal and active lobby against home birth.

Thirty years ago it was virtually impossible to have one in this country, and women and many midwives and doctors have fought actively and hard to challenge this and give women choice.

Women can be left deeply scarred by a birth which may have been physically safe but has ignored the emotional aspect of it

When the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was considering guidance on giving birth in the NHS, the large number of midwives who sent in comments were only too aware of how the home birth option was once again nearly lost.

They had to challenge the appropriateness and interpretation of the evidence being considered on the safety of place of birth.

There is a fundamental question needing to be asked here; why do some doctors and midwives devalue the choice of home birth, despite the lack of evidence against it?

The continued polemic around it also remains uncomfortable.

It has been suggested that many midwives see childbirth as an essential "rite of passage".

The implication is that this is an illogical position in a technological age.

We know however that childbirth is a life-changing experience for all women however it happens, and midwives' and women's groups have worked hard to support the joy of this from every viewpoint.

Water birth
Water births are increasingly popular

We also know that women can be left deeply scarred by a birth which may have been physically safe but has ignored the emotional aspect of it.

The charge that there is a "macho bullying group" directing women towards a less interventionist birth is simply not based on evidence.

What there are though, are midwives fighting for real and informed choice for women.

Labelling midwives and women as members of two groups - either "pro" or "anti" technology - is also not helpful.

Women often change their views on birth during pregnancy, and there are many factors that influence that change.

What we do know is what women want at all times, is good and unbiased information from the health professionals caring for them, so that they can make the appropriate choice about how technology can help them.

One high-profile obstetrician recently relating the birth experience to the advances in agriculture, transport and energy production reminding us alarmingly of the language previously used in the "active management of labour", when women's bodies were viewed as machines that were frequently "inefficient" and in need of acceleration.

It has seemed that the health professionals that care for women today had largely moved on from this strange and controlling discourse, and it's disappointing this may not be the case.

The bottom line here is that what women want is to be able to make a real choice, for the health service to offer them that choice, and for that choice to be based on having all the information needed to make an informed decision.







'No doubt' sunbeds cause cancer !

Woman on a sunbed
Sunbeds emit ultra violet radiation

There is no doubt using a sunbed or sunlamp will raise the risk of skin cancer, say international experts.

Previously, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessed sunbeds and sunlamps as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

But it now says their use is definitively "carcinogenic to humans".

Campaigners believe the move, announced in the journal Lancet Oncology, will increase pressure for tighter industry regulation of sunbed use.


The new assessment puts sunbed use on a par with smoking or exposure to asbestos. However, the Sunbed Association in the UK said there was no proven link between the responsible use of sunbeds and skin cancer.

The IARC is an expert committee that makes recommendations to the World Health Organization.

It made its decision following a review of research which concluded that the risk of melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - was increased by 75% in people who started using sunbeds regularly before the age of 30.

In addition, several studies have linked sunbed use to a raised risk of melanoma of the eye.

The charity Cancer Research UK warned earlier this year that heavy use of sunbeds was largely responsible for the number of Britons being diagnosed with melanoma topping 10,000 a year for the first time.

In the last 30 years, rates of the cancer have more than quadrupled, from 3.4 cases per 100,000 people in 1977 to 14.7 per 100,000 in 2006.

Proposals to ban people under the age of 18 from using sunbeds are under consideration by the government in England.

A similar ban has already been approved in Scotland.

The Sunbed Association (TSA) supports a ban on under-16s, but argues there is no scientific evidence for a ban on young people aged 17 or 18.

Jessica Harris, Cancer Research UK's health information officer said: "The link between sunbeds and skin cancer has been convincingly shown in a number of scientific studies now and so we are very pleased that IARC have upgraded sunbeds to the highest risk category.

"This backs up Cancer Research UK's advice to avoid sunbeds completely for cosmetic purposes. They have no health benefits and we know that they increase the risk of cancer."

Ms Harris called for ministers to implement a ban on under-18s using sunbeds immediately, and to close salons that are not supervised by trained staff.

Kathy Banks, chief executive of the Sunbed Association, said: "The relationship between ultraviolet exposure and an increased risk of developing skin cancer is only likely to arise where over-exposure - burning - has taken place.

"However, research has shown that over 80% of sunbed users are very knowledgeable about the risks associated with over-exposure to ultraviolet and the majority of sunbed users take 20 or less sunbed sessions a year."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Sunbeds can be dangerous - we must ensure that people who use them do so safely. If necessary we will look at new laws to protect young people."



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

England will host 2015 World Cup!

The Webb Ellis Trophy

England have fought off rival bids from South Africa and Italy to win the right to stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

It will be the second time England have hosted the competition, the last time being in 1991.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) also announced that Japan will be hosts for the event in 2019.

The IRB voted 16-10 in favour of rubber-stamping the recommendation from Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) that England and Japan should be named hosts.

The announcement by IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset had been widely expected after RWCL, the IRB-controlled company that oversees the tournaments, last month endorsed England and Japan as the strongest bidders.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) chairman Martyn Thomas called the decision "a relief, and also great joy for England".

1987: New Zealand (co-host with Australia)
1991: England
1995: South Africa
1999: Wales
2003: Australia
2007: France
2011: New Zealand

"We have been trusted with making a great competition and providing a great spectacle, and delivering what the IRB needs in terms of host revenue," said Thomas.

"Australia did an immense job [in 2003], France raised the bar [in 2007] and we have got to raise it again. We have got some very iconic stadia and it will be tremendous for world rugby and immense for participation in England."

The RFU says England will lay on the biggest World Cup to date, generating a surplus at least £60m larger than that of the other bids. It says three million people will watch the games live at stadiums such as Wembley, Anfield, Old Trafford and Twickenham.

The only stadium outside England to host matches will be Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which will stage two quarter-finals and some pool matches.

However, IRB chief executive Mike Miller confirmed England's plan to use the Millennium Stadium must still be ratified by the RWCL board - and that may not happen until next March.


The RFU must make a proposal to the IRB and provide compelling reasons that meet specific criteria that are in the best interests of the game globally for taking matches outside of England.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a "fantastic achievement" to win the bid and congratulated the RFU on their success.

"I'm sure the whole country will want to play their part in making this the most memorable of Rugby World Cups," he added.

The event will form part of what Brown has labelled a "golden decade" of sport in the UK.

"The Rugby World Cup is yet another tremendous event to add to the country's decade of sport and another chance to show our nation's passion for sport and what world class facilities we have to offer. I'm sure it will be a tournament to remember," said Brown.

2010: Ryder Cup, Celtic Manor
2011: Champions League final, Wembley
2012: Olympic Games, London
2013: Rugby League World Cup
2014: Ryder Cup, Gleneagles; Commonwealth Games, Glasgow
2015: Rugby World Cup
2019: Cricket World Cup

2018 Football World Cup

RFU chairman Thomas also offered his condolences to unsuccessful rival bidders South Africa and Italy.

"We have been there before [to France for the 2007 RWC], we know how they are feeling," said Thomas.

South Africa, in particular, were upset at losing out on the recommendation of the RWCL, and had been lobbying hard ahead of Tuesday's meeting.

They had pressed home the fact they had secured government support totalling £130m - £50m more than the tournament fee - compared to the £25m Westminster has made available to the RFU.

England's package is projected to generate £300m for the IRB, who rely on the tournament for 98% of their income.

On top of the £80m tournament fee, the UK market would attract a further £220m in commercial returns from broadcasting, sponsorship and merchandising, which is understood to be at least 20% more than the bids from either South Africa or Italy.

England's Martyn Thomas (L) and Japan's Noboru Mashimo (R)
England's Martyn Thomas (L) and Japan's Noboru Mashimo (R) celebrate the vote result

The IRB hope 2015 will bolster revenues from the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand - which is currently estimated to make an operating loss of between £20-30m.

The extra revenue will then be used as a springboard to take the sport into the emerging market of Japan four years later.

Japan's bid leaders expressed delight at winning Tuesday's vote to stage the 2019 event and become the tournament's first Asian hosts.

They narrowly missed out to New Zealand for the right to stage the event in 2011.

"The God of rugby smiled on us today," said Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) president Yoshiro Mori. "I am filled with emotion to be a part of this historic day for Japan and for rugby around the world.

"Japan has much to offer the rugby World Cup. We have a superb transport system, strong infrastructure and world-class stadiums.

"We are honoured to welcome the global rugby family to our country and for the first time ever to Asia."



Madonna erotic tapes go on sale !

Madonna and Jimi Hendrix
Madonna and Jimi Hendrix items are expected to fetch thousands

Jimi Hendrix's first recording contract and erotic audio tapes sent by Madonna to her former bodyguard have gone on sale in an online memorabilia auction.

Hendrix's contract, which the musician had signed, is expected to fetch up to $250,000 (£151,287).

The tapes, recorded by Madonna in 1992 and 1993, have been estimated to sell for up to $40,000 (£24,205).

Items once belonging to John Lennon and Elvis Presley are also lots in the auction, which runs until 5 August.

The two Madonna cassette tapes each hold 17 minutes of material.

The messages recorded by the singer were left for James Albright, the bodyguard who eventually became her lover.

An intimate home video featuring Madonna, which she also sent him, has an estimated value of up to $14,000 (£8,461).

A life-size prop of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 terminator
A life-size prop of Schwarzenegger's terminator is among the lots

The Gotta Have It! auction house, based in New York, described the video as "very personal and intimate", but refused to say exactly what was on it.

A life-size prop of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 terminator, which was used in various action sequences in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, is also up for sale.

It is expected to fetch between $150,000 (£90,644) to $200,000 (£120,871).

Among the other lots in the auction are Bob Dylan's original 1962 working lyrics for his song A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall, jackets worn by Lennon and jewellery once owned by Presley.



US troops back on patrol in Iraq

US soldier outside Mosul
Despite progress on security, Mosul still looks like a city at war

By Gabriel Gatehouse
BBC News, Mosul

Nearly a month after American troops officially withdrew from urban areas in Iraq, they are quietly going back in again, patrolling the streets of towns and cities where, despite improvements in security, violence remains an everyday occurrence.

By the US military's own reckoning, Mosul and its surrounding region is the most dangerous area in Iraq.

On average they calculate there are four attacks here every day - explosions, shootings, suicide bombings. That is down from six per day in January - progress, of sorts.

Since 30 June, Iraqi forces have been entirely responsible for maintaining security in urban areas. But the Americans want to keep a close eye. So they are maintaining a limited number of joint patrols inside cities like Mosul.

Lt Joel Brown was going into Mosul for the first time since the handover. When he and his platoon were last in the city, they came under attack - a grenade was thrown at their convoy from one of the many narrow alleyways along their route.

"The grenade thrower was right behind that red car," Lt Brown said, pointing out of the window of his armoured Humvee. "It bounced off the Humvee and blew up on the ground."

On the roof of the vehicle, a gunner swept the road from right to left, watching for similar threats. Many of the buildings on the way into town had either been reduced to rubble or were pockmarked by bullets. Six years after the US-led invasion, Mosul still looks like a city at war.

The convoy consisted of five heavily armed vehicles: three American and two Iraqi, one each at the front and back - our escort, required under the terms of the handover agreement.

The Iraqi security forces were maintaining a highly visible presence on the streets of Mosul: checkpoints at almost every corner, watchtowers and more armoured vehicles.

Our destination was a large area of wasteland in the south-west of the city. Officially, the reason for the US patrol was to oversee a project to clear rubbish from the area.

"What we're trying to do is to is get all these wrecked vehicles, trash, get that all moved out of here," Lt Brown said. "It'll help stimulate the economy as well as accomplish a major project here in the west side of Mosul."

There was plenty to do. An open sewer ran along the street, as goats and geese nosed around in the rubbish, discarded shoes, bottles and plastic bags. A dog with three legs barked mournfully as it sat in the blazing sun outside a house built of concrete breeze-blocks.

But Lt Brown and the roughly 130,000 other US troops still stationed in Iraq are more than just heavily armed garbage men. In Mosul, the threat of violence is never far off.

Suddenly a shot rang out from the direction of a sandbagged watchtower at the end of the street. A warning shot, Lt Brown said, fired by one of the Iraqis manning a checkpoint.

No one was injured in the shooting, but the Americans didn't stay to find what had prompted it.

The patrol was attracting increasingly unfriendly-looking attention from many of the local residents in the area, unused by now to the presence of US forces in town. So they got back in their Humvees and headed back to base.

Following the handover, patrols to monitor reconstruction projects are a good way for the Americans to get their boots, eyes and ears back on the ground inside the cities.

But there are new rules in place - they have to ask for permission and an escort from the local Iraqi security forces.

Lt Gen Majed Abbas, Iraqi police
Lt Gen Abbas negotiates the details of a convoy from a position of strength

Co-operation is not always smooth, involving patient persuasion and impassioned gesticulation - plenty of head-scratching, the comparing of maps and a little bargaining.

"How many vehicles do you have?" Lt Gen Majed Abbas of the Iraqi Police Force asked Lt Brown before they set off. When he was told they had four, he told the Americans could bring only three. One would have to be left behind.

The whole process took place with the help of interpreters, and the traditional glasses of sweet black tea.

Everyone was friendly, but the Iraqis were clearly keen to emphasise that they were now in charge.

The smaller towns and villages just a few kilometres south of Mosul present a different picture from the city itself. Here US troops are freer in their movements, though they still bring an Iraqi escort when they go out on patrol.

In one such village, Cpt Brian Panaro and his men were soon surrounded by local children, asking for their watches and sunglasses. The problems people complain about here are often not matters of security, but of infrastructure - dirty water, bad roads, no jobs.

Ali Mustafa, an elderly man dressed in white, was sitting on the doorstep of his home.

Cpt Brian Panero, US Army, with Iraqi policeman
Joint patrols in Mosul are now relatively rare compared to before the end of June

"The Americans invaded our country," he said, "so they should be responsible for these things too, not just security."

But in a little over two years' time, the Americans don't want to be responsible for any of it. They want out.

"The Iraqi police have come a long way since the beginning of our deployment here," Capt Panaro said. "Their proficiency, their ability to get the job done, is going to work me out of a job, which is good, which I'm looking forward to."

Many of the soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Marez, the US military's main camp outside Mosul, are effectively out of a job already, confined to barracks.

Joint patrols in cities like Mosul are relatively rare compared to what they were before 30 June. If the Pentagon has its way, they will soon cease altogether.

As the Americans shift their attentions towards Afghanistan, they are hoping that the security gains they've achieved in Iraq will hold once they do finally pack up and leave.



Policeman takes 'big cat' video

Pc Swallow has no doubt that the creature he spotted was a big cat

An off-duty Ministry of Defence police dog handler has taken a video of what he claims is a panther-sized big cat.

Pc Chris Swallow was helping a friend with their garden in Helensburgh, Argyll, when he spotted the black creature on a nearby railway line.

The officer, who is stationed at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde, said the cat was as big as a Labrador dog.

Big cats have been reported in the area in the past, with several sightings of the so-called Coulport Cougar.

Pc Swallow said he saw the animal on 30 June while working in the garden at Kildonan Drive, Helensburgh. He could tell it was not a Labrador, as he first thought, because of the way it was walking, and because its tail was about twice the length that a dog's would have been.

He said: "My friend's house is next to the West Highland Line and at one point I looked down and saw what I first thought was a black Labrador on the tracks.

"There were trains coming and going throughout the day and I was a bit concerned, but when I looked again I saw that the animal wasn't moving the way I expected a dog to.

"It was then I realised that what I was seeing was a big cat and I shouted on my friend to come and have a look. We were stunned."

After running to his car to grab his camera phone, Pc Swallow stood on the rail bridge at Winston Road and got a still photo and a couple of minutes of footage of the animal moving up the railway line.

Pc Chris Swallow and alsation Smokey
Pc Swallow is a dog handler with the Ministry of Defence

He added: "It was remarkable. I've heard stories about creatures like this moving about the countryside, but never really believed them before. Looking back at the video I don't think there's any doubt that it's a big cat."

The Coulport Cougar was first reported in June 2004. The creature was described as being tan and prowling the woods and hills around Loch Long, Portincaple, Whistlefield and next to the Coulport access road.

However, another creature, described as being black in colour, was also spotted at the nearby Garelochhead Training Camp, leading some people to believe that there may also have been a panther in the area.

John Belshaw, pest control officer at the Faslane naval base, said he had spoken to people in the past who had been "quite shaken" by seeing a big cat cross the road in front of them during the night.

Mr Belshaw said: "I have had a look at Chris's footage and have to say that I do not believe it is a domestic cat or a dog.

"At one point in the video it seems to walk on the railway line and a dog simply wouldn't have had the balance to do this.

"Also, you can tell from the size of the track that it is much larger than a house cat."

There have been regular reports of big cat sightings across the UK, leading to speculation that they may have escaped from a private zoo or collection.

Shaun Stevens, a researcher with the Big Cats in Britain group, said: "We have regular sightings reported every year of large black cats in the Helensburgh area and it appears to be a favourite haunt of these animals.

"In Argyll, I probably get to hear of maybe 20 or 30 sightings in a year. In the UK we get a sighting practically every day."

Mr Stevens said he believed the cats could be a hybrid species, or possible an entirely new species.

"I myself have photographed a black hybrid cat of over 3.5ft in length," he said.

"Knowing the width of the rail tracks in Chris's video is 4ft 8.5in, the animal photographed by him is clearly in excess of 4ft and as such is certainly not a domestic cat.

"Initial first impressions are very exciting, as I think this could be one of the best pieces of footage of a big cat in the UK ever."



MoD seeks to cut soldiers' payout!

British troops in Afghanistan
There have been 191 British fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001

The Ministry of Defence will go to the Court of Appeal later to try to significantly reduce the compensation awarded to two injured soldiers.

One, who was shot in the leg in Iraq, received £46,000, while the other, injured in training, got £28,750.

Both had their payouts increased due to complications, but the MoD is arguing that they should only be compensated for their "original injuries".

The stance has attracted criticism amid mounting casualties in Afghanistan.

The court appeal comes after two more soldiers were killed in Helmand province, bringing the total number of UK fatalities since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 191.

Military officials said on Monday that the first phase of a major offensive - Operation Panther's Claw - had been completed in Helmand.

The injured soldiers were initially awarded £9,250 and £8,250 respectively, but they appealed to a tribunal to have those sums increased.

Both men argued they had suffered a number of subsequent health problems during their treatment and that these should not be regarded as separate from their original injuries.

Three judges agreed with them and increased their compensation, but the MoD is now seeking to overturn that ruling.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson was severely hurt in Afghanistan

It claims it is trying "to clarify an earlier judgment about how the armed forces compensation scheme is administered, and to protect the key principle of the scheme: the most compensation for the most seriously injured".

A review of the compensation scheme is currently being carried out by the MoD following a number of appeals from, or on behalf of, former servicemen.

One of the most high-profile came from the mother of Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lost both legs and suffered severe brain damage in Afghanistan.

Initially he received just £152,000, but following widespread criticism that was increased.

The MoD points out that it has doubled the maximum lump sum payment to £570,000 for the most severely injured soldiers, in addition to an index-linked monthly income for life.

But the BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says that, with more badly-injured soldiers surviving than ever before thanks to improved medical treatment, the Court of Appeal's decision could have wider implications.

Last week, former prime minister Sir John Major said the current system of armed forces compensation "does not adequately address lifelong disability and, particularly, disabling mental conditions".




A woman died after living on a diet of soup and water, an inquest has heard.
Helen Anderson, 26, weighed 9st 2lb when she was found dead by her mother at her home in Shelley Avenue, Cleadon Park, South Shields, in April.
She had lost almost six stone after dieting to lose weight she put on as a side effect of medication.
South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney recorded a verdict of accidental death and said he was certain she had no intention to cause herself harm.
The inquest in South Shields heard Miss Anderson's body was so starved of sugar it began to eat into its own fat reserves.
It caused a metabolic chemical reaction called ketoacidosis, which eventually killed her.

Mr Carney said: "This phenomenon - this poison if you like - which developed within her body was made by her body itself.
"It arises as a result of the body reacting to a lack of sugar within itself and that was in part a consequence of the intensive diet with which Helen was attempting to balance her weight.
"The sad truth of the matter is there has been a development within her body, a natural phenomena, which has set up this poisoning of her body's system and has led to her death.
"It is a problem which can develop very rapidly and without the individual appreciating the consequences."
Miss Anderson, who was 5ft 9ins, had been 15st but weighed 9st 2lb when she died and was at the lower end of the Body Mass Index scale.



Monday, July 27, 2009

Iced coffees 'a meal in a drink' !

Drinking Starbucks in the sun
For every Starbucks's Venti Dark Berry Mocha Frappuchino....

Some iced coffees being sold on the high street contain as many calories as a hot dinner, a cancer charity warns.

The chief offender had 561 calories, others contained more than 450, and the majority had in excess of 200.

It is the combination of sugar, full-fat milk and cream which appears to push some of the cool coffees into the upper echelons of the calorie scale.

The World Cancer Research Fund, which identified the drinks' calories, noted healthier versions were available.

The "venti" or largest version of Starbucks' Dark Berry Mocha Frappuccino, a limited offer for the summer, contains 561 calories - more than a quarter, WCRF notes, of a woman's daily calorie intake.

A Big Mac, which is listed as having 492 calories could have had one of these, and even a few fries

Take away the whipped cream and it has 457 calories. The smallest version, without whipped cream, provided 288.

But even some options with skimmed milk are high in calories. At Caffe Nero, the skimmed version of a Double Chocolate Frappe and a Mocha Frappe Latte contain 452 calories, WCRF said.

Costa Coffee's summer offerings are rather more modest but may still contain more calories than a chocolate bar. The Massimo Coffee Frescato contains 332 calories, while the primo-size, the smallest available, just under 200.

WCRF said it was highlighting calorie content, because after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight "is the most important thing you can do to help prevent cancer".

In fact it suggests people should become as lean as possible without being underweight.

Earlier this year it estimated that 19,000 cancers a year in the UK could be prevented if people lost their excess weight.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Science Programme Manager for WCRF, said: "The fact that there is an iced coffee on the market with over a quarter of a woman's daily calorie allowance is alarming.

"This is the amount of calories you might expect to have in an evening meal, not in a drink.

"As a general rule, if you want to have a coffee, go for an unsweetened version with skimmed or semi skimmed milk as this is likely to contain fewer calories. It is also worth steering clear of ones that contain lots of cream or sugary fruit syrups as these tend to be higher in calories."

A spokesperson from Starbucks said its Dark Berry Mocha Frappuccino was only one "of over 87,000 beverage variations".

It noted these others included an ordinary coffee, containing four calories, an iced Americano, containing 11 calories, an iced caffe latte with skimmed milk, containing 68 calories "to more indulgent options on offer which our customers may choose from time to time".

In a statement, Costa said it took "the nutritional balance of all its food and drink very seriously.

"Currently we provide a nutritional breakdown for consumers on packaging. Full nutritional analysis of all our food and drink products is also available in all of our stores and on the Costa website.

"Costa seeks to provide customers with a choice of products across its drink and sandwich range, meeting all key health trends; allowing them to choose healthy options if they so wish."

Caffe Nero was not available for comment.



Thousands strike in South Africa!

Worker march in central Johannesburg
Striking workers are demanding a 15% wage increase

Central Johannesburg has been brought to a halt as hundreds of South African workers marched as part of a strike to demand higher wages.

Many commuters were stranded because buses failed to run. Rubbish has also not been collected.

About 150,000 workers in the country have stopped work. Unions say most public services are disrupted.

Analysts say the strikes and recent unrest are the first major challenges for new President Jacob Zuma.

He has called for understanding from workers, but the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says crowd-pleasing promises he made during his election campaign are proving hard to keep.

Our correspondent says a pledge to create 500,000 new jobs has already been retracted.

In recent weeks, there have been violent protests over the lack of housing, water and electricity in the poorest townships.

Dale Forbes, from the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), said most members had gone on strike from 0700 (0500 GMT).

He said he was confident the public was backing the strike.

South African residents of Balfour run during riots with police on July 22, 2009
Townships residents have been protesting at the lack of basic services

"They want to see dramatic improvements in service delivery - which must start with improvements in the conditions of the workers," he said.

Services such as Johannesburg's Metro Bus service are not operational.

The Metro Police who are in charge of traffic policing in the country's major cities are also taking part in the strike.

Members of Samwu and other unions walked out after being denied a 15% wage increase. They rejected an offer of 11.5%.

The country has already faced a major strike by construction workers, which threatened stadiums being built for next year's football World Cup.

That strike was ended earlier this month after workers and employers agreed a 12% pay rise.

Mr Zuma took power in May after an election campaign in which he pledged to ease poverty.

He was supported by the main union federation, Cosatu, and the South African Communist Party which wanted a change in the previous administration's economic policies, which they said were too pro-business.

However, South Africa has since entered its first recession in 17 years, making it more difficult for Mr Zuma to increase state spending.



Injured Massa no longer critical !

Felipe Massa is attended to by F1 medical officer Gary Hartstein
Felipe Massa is attended to by F1 medical officer Gary Hartstein

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa's condition is "severe but not critical" after surgery on his fractured skull.

Surgeon Robert Veres said Massa, 28, suffered damage to his left eye when he was hit by a spring from Ruben Barrichello's car in Hungary.

"He has suffered some damage to the eye. We don't know if he'll be able to race again. It's too early to say about his future," added Veres.

"But the immediate life-threatening condition has been averted."

Massa is able to communicate "actively" and move his hands and legs but cannot speak.

A Ferrari spokesman said: "Felipe had a quiet night. He is OK, and he is due to have another CT scan today (Monday)."

A Hungarian hospital spokesman said they are "optimistic" that a "slow recovery is beginning".

"He's woken up [from sedation] more often and is able to communicate actively," added Istvan Bocskai, a spokesman for the Hungarian defence ministry, which administers the Budapest hospital where Massa is being treated.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo flew to the AEK military hospital on Monday to be at Massa's bedside, alongside the driver's father, mother and pregnant wife, who have all flown in from Brazil.

Di Montezemelo staged a joint news conference with Massa's doctors and said the team were focused on their driver's recovery, and not on considering any possible replacements.

"For us, the first priority is to find out Felipe's recovery progress and situation he is a very important member of the Ferrari family not just the Ferrari team.

"First we will find out the situation with Felipe and then we will see and we will think, without pressure.

"Only at that moment will we make a decision and if we have to take a decision we will make a good decision."

Massa was injured when a spring from fellow Brazilian Barrichello's car struck his helmet during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver then hitting a tyre wall.

Following Kimi Raikkonen's second-place finish at the Hungaroring on Sunday, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali dedicated the result to Massa.

Massa's engineer reflects on crash (UK only)

"At this time all our thoughts are with him and his family, and I think this sentiment also applies to those who are close to him and to fans all over the world," said Domenicali.

"We got the best result we were capable of but please allow me on behalf of everyone at Ferrari to send our best wishes to Felipe. We love you and we are all thinking of you."

Race winner Lewis Hamilton extended his goodwill to Massa following the Briton's first victory of the season.

"Maybe I can speak for all the drivers but Saturday was quite a sad day and we missed Felipe," said the defending world champion.

"I'm just glad the surgery went well and we're just going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

"He's got a child coming, so he needs to get back into top shape so when he's finally a dad he can do the job well."


After being struck on the helmet by the 1kg spring from Barrichello's car, Massa's feet are believed to have come to rest on both the throttle and brake and his car ploughed head-on into a tyre wall at about 125mph.

Massa was swiftly attended to by trackside medics before being taken to the circuit's medical centre, after which he was airlifted to hospital.

Meanwhile, Barrichello revealed his thoughts were with Massa, even during the race.

Barrichello reassured by Massa's doctors

He conceded: "I would love to see him because he is a friend, not just because the spring came from my car.

"It is for the fact that I know he would have done the same for me. But at the same time I have to think of my kids, of my family, and to be there for them, so it is a bit of an emotional moment.

"It is burning a little bit in my stomach, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking of him in the the middle of the race."

Massa's accident came days after Formula Two driver Henry Surtees, 18, was killed in what was described as a freak accident during a race at Brands Hatch.

The son of motorsport legend John Surtees was struck by a wheel that flew off a competitor's car.

Barrichello has led the calls for more stringent safety measures to be looked into. Referring to Surtees, the veteran refused to believe the two incidents were coincidental.

"I honestly don't believe in coincidences in life," he said on Saturday. "Things happen for a reason and I think this is the second message.

The Legend that is PhilSlocombe

"Imola [where Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger died in 1994] was a message and the cars were improved. Unfortunately, we lost a boy [Surtees], which is tremendously sad.

"It is not a coincidence something happened right now. In the Grand Prix Drivers' Association we talked quite a lot about it yesterday - and something needs to be done. Absolutely.

Button and Barrichello's team boss Ross Brawn said the team are still investigating why the spring came loose from the car.

"We had a problem with the back of the car and we are still investigating," explained Brawn.

"We haven't had the piece back from [motorsport governing body] the FIA yet so once we get it back we can understand what occurred.

"It's the first time we've really had a problem with the car as it has been so reliable."



Lumley greeted as 'daughter of Nepal'

By Joanna Jolly
BBC News in Nepal

A high profile campaign led by the actress Joanna Lumley in May won many Gurkha veterans the right to settle in the UK.

The case was followed keenly by their families in Nepal as the BBC found out when the actress arrived in Kathmandu.

Joanna Lumley surrounded by Nepalis
Joanna Lumley found herself mobbed by Nepalis and swathed in scarves

Joanna Lumley's visit to Nepal was originally intended to be a private affair.

But such was the level of gratitude towards the former model and actress, her imminent arrival in Kathmandu fast became the main event in town.

"We're so excited to meet her, she's been so good to us," said Sorala Thapa, 42, wife of a former Gurkha soldier who was one of hundreds of Nepalis travelling to Kathmandu's airport to welcome Joanna Lumley.

Sorala arrived with forty other Gurkha wives, all wearing traditional green saris bearing the Gurkha emblem of two crossed Khukuri knives.

As they waited for Ms Lumley's plane to touch down, they handed out placards bearing the slogans "daughter of Nepal", "goddess" and "thank you".

Prem Rai, chairman of the United British Gurkha Ex-Servicemen Association Nepal, said: "Gurkha wives and Gurkha widows are especially grateful to Joanna.

"They can now qualify for British settlement visas."

But Mr Rai said all Nepalese people were thankful for what she has done for the Gurkhas.

"We are very pleased to welcome her in Nepal," he said.

Gurkha veteran with sign
Elderly Gurkha veterans were among the throng

Many of those who turned up were elderly. As monsoon rain showers swept across the airport car park, they waited patiently, placards and flags in hand.

Finally Ms Lumley emerged from the terminal building. Flanked by Peter Carroll, the Liberal Democrat councillor who began the Gurkha Justice Campaign, she looked delighted to see the crowds waiting to meet her.

Leaders of the Gurkha ex-servicemen organizations draped orange garlands and traditional white khata scarves - usually given as a token of love - around her shoulders.

But, as Ms Lumley moved slowly past lines of well-wishers, the Nepalese press pack broke through the barriers and surrounded her.

The result was chaos as local police pushed back cameramen and photographers as everyone tried to get a shot of the actress.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, it's extremely sweet and warm," said Ms Lumley as her minders pushed her through the mob.

"Quite close contact," she added with a smile.

Undeterred by the scrum surrounding Ms Lumley, small and elderly former Gurkhas attempted to break through the crowd to reach her.

Despite their size and their age, they did surprisingly well - many of them managing to get close enough to drape more scarves around her neck.

Joanna Lumley addressing the crowd
The actress gave a speech shielded from the crowd by a car door

Using a car doorway as a platform, Ms Lumley was finally able to stand above the mob and deliver an impromptu speech.

"I want to thank you so much for your warm welcome," she said.

"I want to say the time-honoured cry, Ayo Gorkhali!"

On Monday the actress is scheduled to meet the Nepalese president and prime minister before addressing a crowd of former Gurkhas at Kathmandu's city hall.

"Everybody will be there to meet her," said 53-year-old Gyanendra Rai, a Falklands veteran who will be one the first to benefit from Ms Lumley's campaign to secure UK settlement rights for Gurkha ex-servicemen.

"We don't have any word to describe her, because she's like an original goddess for the Gurkhas. So we'll heartily welcome her to Kathmandu.

"It is a homecoming for her," he said.