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Friday, 27 January 2012

Bad Weather Hits Search For Concordia Missing

Divers have been blasting holes inside the stricken steel-hulled liner to help them look for those unaccounted for.

The disaster earlier this month has so far claimed 16 lives with at least another 16 people missing.

On Tuesday, the body of a woman was discovered after divers managed to enter a submerged section on the third floor deck of the Concordia.

The victim was found with a life jacket and her body was taken to a mortuary on the mainland.

The ship, carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, ran aground and capsized on January 13 after the captain veered from his approved course.

Work on pumping out 500,000 gallons of heavy duty diesel from the wreckage of the stricken vessel has now begun.

The £5m operation to remove the fuel from the ship's 13 double bottomed tanks and ten single bottom tanks is expected to last between four and six weeks.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently under house arrest after he steered his 114,000-ton ship onto rocks close to the island of Giglio allegedly in a ''sail by'' salute to impress a crew member.

His wife, Fabiola Russo, has defended her husband, saying: "He is not a monster" - and she spoke out as calls increased for prosecutors to widen their probe into the disaster.

In an interview with glossy Italian weekly magazine Oggi, Fabiola said there was a witch-hunt against her husband, who is under investigation for multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a ship wreck.

Fabiola, who lives with Schettino and their 17-year-old daughter in Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, said: "My husband is not a monster. He was always the go-to guy for the crew.

"I am the wife of a seaman, so I am used to doing things on my own. I tackle situations and I resolve them.

"This is a witch-hunt, everyone is out to get my husband. The media has made out he is to blame. He loves ships, he knows all about them and has never stopped studying them, to learn what they are capable of and what their limits are.

"He didn't stop at just sailing ships. That's why for his crew he was always the go-to man, a maestro. He is decisive, stable and lucid, he analyses situations, understands them and then acts.

"At times Francesco seems arrogant because he puts himself above the people he is speaking to and often tells them to shut up. He wasn't in charge of the Concordia by chance, he knows how to do his job but sometimes even those who know how to do their job can make mistakes - that's if he did make a mistake."

Fabiola also revealed how they had once been fined for sailing too close to the shore in their sailing boat and added: "What we really like is canoeing and to row together you need to be in harmony and my husband and I are."

She spoke out as Beniamino Deidda, the prosecutor general of Tuscany, the Italian region Giglio is in, called for attention in the investigation to also focus on the Concordia's owners Costa Cruises.

He said: "For the time being the main focus of attention is the captain, who, it has been shown, was tragically inadequate. But who chose him?

"The lifeboats did not lower properly, the crew didn't know what to do, they were unprepared in dealing with an emergency, wrong orders were given, such as being told to return to cabins.

"The confusion that has emerged shows that there was an incredible lack of attention to safety procedures. Safety should have been rehearsed beforehand. You cannot blame all of this carelessness on the conduct of the captain. That's why this investigation cannot exclude others."

MPs Turn Their Fire On 'Grotesque' Defence Cuts

The Commons defence committee questioned whether the terms on offer were "fair or appropriate" and dismissed Ministry of Defence explanations of the "shocking" difference.

Insufficient attention had been given to retraining soldiers, sailors and airmen for roles the military faced shortages in, it suggested.

Around two in five of 2,860 servicemen and women laid off late last year in the first phase of a huge reduction in manning levels were made compulsorily redundant.

In order to avoid distorting the structure of the armed forces, making them too top-heavy in the future, they need to go on recruiting people at the bottom even while they're thinning out the numbers further up the ranks.

Philip Hammond explains why the armed forces is still recruiting

In contrast, the first two tranches of redundancies in civilian staff - set to total 15,000 over several years - were all done on a voluntary basis, the committee heard.

The MoD's senior civil servant, permanent secretary Ursula Brennan, said that was partly because civil servants were more "flexible" while the armed forces tended to have "specific trades".

Defence minister Andrew Robathan pointed out in the Commons that the armed forces had been "less forthcoming" with applications for voluntary redundancy than civilian staff.

Both were condemned by the committee as inadequate explanations.

"The argument that civilians are flexibly employable whereas the military are not runs contrary to our experience of the breadth of the military training we have witnessed on operations," it said.

"The MoD should set out what opportunities and encouragement it gives to those in the armed forces who face compulsory redundancy to retrain, especially into 'pinch point' trades.

"For military redundancies to be compulsory in 40% of cases, yet for civilian redundancies to be compulsory in none, is so grotesque that it requires an exceptionally persuasive reason.

"We are not persuaded by either of the two reasons we have been given."

A second tranche of military redundancies were announced this month under the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) intended to help plug the £38bn black hole in the defence budget.

Up to 2,900 members of the Army, 1,000 members of the Royal Air Force and 300 members of the Royal Navy, including military top brass, were told they were losing their jobs.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "The select committee's report is simply wrong in what it says on military redundancies.

"Every opportunity is being given for military personnel to retrain either for alternative roles in the Armed Forces or in civilian life, but the simple fact is we have to tackle the massive deficit we inherited from Labour and the huge black hole in the defence budget."

He told Sky News the redundancies were "regrettable" but he did not believe they deserved the term "grotesquely unfair".

Asked why there continue to be recruitment adverts, Mr Hammond admitted it was "counter-intuitive".

But it is vital the armed forces continue to get more staff into the junior ranks even while they "thin out" the number of jobs at the top, he said.

O2 Investigates Mobile Web Privacy Claims

Whenever a mobile user accesses a website from their phone they share information about that device with the site.

It usually includes the web browser and the model of phone being used to allow the website to display its information in a way that suits your device.

However, O2's mobile network in the UK is also apparently including the phone number of some users in the data.

Malicious websites could use the information to target users with spam texts or scams.

Twitter user @lewispeckover set up a website where users can check if they maybe affected and many reported their numbers were in the HTTP header data.

Web journalist Rhys Griffith tweeted: "Not very impressed and will certainly think twice about renewing with @O2 in the future."

While Niall Rogers said: "Will be making a complaint to the Information Commissioner. Clear breach of Data protection act - not happy."

The Information Commissioner's Office said the issue reported was a breach of the Data Protection Act and privacy laws.

In a statement, data protection watchdog: "When people visit a website via their mobile phone they would not expect their number to be made available to that website.

"We will now speak to O2 to remind them of their data breach notification obligations, and to better understand what has happened, before we decide how to proceed."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Obama Pledges To Build 'An Economy To Last'

In a speech to both houses of Congress, carried live at prime time on all of the US television networks, Mr Obama outlined the battleground for this year’s presidential election.

The address is the President's annual opportunity to outline his vision of the nation's future to the American people.

But there was a definite campaign feel about his hour-long address.

Mr Obama faces a tough battle to secure a second term in the White House and he took a direct swipe at one of his rivals for the job.

The President called on the country's richest to pay a bigger share of their income in tax - a day after Mitt Romney confirmed he paid around 15% a year.

"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by," he said.

"Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

"What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them."

He went on to lay out what he said was a "blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values".

He also criticised those on Capitol Hill he believes have blocked progress.

He said: "As long as I'm President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum.

Mr Obama greeted congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

"But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place."

It prompted a stinging official Republican response from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

He said: "No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favour with some Americans by castigating others.

"As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat.

"If we drift, quarrelling and paralysed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category."

Mr Romney released a video called The Real State of the Union which featured him speaking in front of a banner reading: "Obama is not working."

He hit back at what Mr Obama had to say. "The real problem is that he seems to think that America is on the right track. That idea is very foreign to people here."

There was an emotional moment when Mr Obama greeted congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from injuries sustained in a shooting rampage last year and about to step down from Congress.

The President delivered tough words on Syria and Iran in covering a broad range of topics and paid tribute to America's armed forces.

He said: "America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they are talking about."

Mr Obama will embark on a three-day, five-state tour later to sell his message to the American people.

"Let's never forget - millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same," he said.

"It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."

PM Calls For Reform Of Human Rights Court

At a speech in Strasbourg, David Cameron will use the UK's presidency of the Council of Europe to push for change.

He has clashed with the European court over a number of issues including the deportation of criminals and whether prisoners should be allowed to vote.

However, all 47 countries must sign up to the reforms if they are to be enacted.

The Prime Minister is expected to say: "The Court should be free to deal with the most serious violations of human rights; it should not be swamped with an endless backlog of cases.

"The Court should ensure that the right to individual petition counts; it should not act as a small claims court.

"And the Court should hold us all to account; it should not undermine its own reputation by going over national decisions where it does not need to."

The European Court currently has a backlog of 150,000 cases. Last year 950 decisions were made on British applications but only eight resulted in a violation.

Downing Street sources told Sky News there is broad agreement on the problem, but the 47 countries of the Council of Europe now need to agree on the solution.

They admit this will be difficult, saying "we don't underestimate the scale of the challenge".

David Cameron will set out his vision of a reformed Court by saying: "This is the right moment for reform - reforms that are practical, sensible and that enhance the reputation of the Court. So we are looking to improve the efficiency of the Court.

"New rules could enable it to focus more efficiently and transparently on the most important cases.

"We want to improve the procedures for nominating judges. The Assembly needs consistently strong shortlists from which to elect judges - and clear guidelines on national selection procedures could help with that.

"And we are hoping to get consensus on strengthening subsidiarity - the principle that where possible, final decisions should be made nationally."

It is disappointing to hear senior British politicians lending their voices to criticisms more frequently heard in the popular press, often based on a misunderstanding of the court's role and history and of the legal issues at stake.

ECHR judge Sir Nicolas Bratza QC

The speech will be welcomed by Conservative backbenchers who want a renegotiation of Britain's relationship with Europe.

Liberal Democrats are also believed to agree the court needs reforming - although they support the European Convention of Human Rights.

In Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told MPs they could count on Lib Dem support, adding: "If you are a defender of human rights then you want to see this court working properly."

Mr Cameron will also emphasise his commitment to human rights: "Human rights is a cause that runs deep in the British heart and long in British history…It was that same spirit that led to the abolition of slavery, that drove the battle against tyranny in two World Wars and that inspired Winston Churchill to promise that the end of the 'world struggle' would see the 'enthronement of human rights'.

"These beliefs have animated the British people for centuries - and they animate us today."

Ahead of the speech, the court's top judge Sir Nicolas Bratza QC hit out at the Prime Minister.

Writing in The Independent, he said: "It is disappointing to hear senior British politicians lending their voices to criticisms more frequently heard in the popular press, often based on a misunderstanding of the court's role and history and of the legal issues at stake."

He said it was "particularly unfortunate" that the prisoner voting issue "has been used as the springboard for a sustained attack on the court and has led to repeated calls for the granting of powers of Parliament to override judgments of the court against the UK, and even for the withdrawal of the UK from the [Human Rights] convention".

PMQs: Cameron Accused Of 'Smug Complacency'

The Prime Minister denied the claim by Labour leader Ed Miliband during their weekly clash in the Commons.

He said the latest official figures - which show the economy shrank by 0.2% between October and December - were due to the "overhang" of the deficit and the eurozone crisis.

There is "not one ounce of complacency" on the Government benches, he told MPs.

"This is the year we have to take further action to get our economy moving, but the most important thing is to have a credible plan to get on top of the deficit which has given us the lowest interest rates for over a hundred years," he said.

The Labour leader chose the economy and health as the focus of his questions

He was responding to Mr Miliband's remark that both he and Chancellor George Osborne were a "byword" for smug complacency.

The Labour leader also pressed the Prime Minister on the coalition's Health and Social Care bill, claiming it still does not have the support of health professionals.

"This is a bill nobody wants. It's opposed by the doctors, the nurses and the patients," he said, adding Mr Cameron should "put aside your pride" and scrap it altogether.

But the Prime Minister hit back by saying thousands of GPs across the country support the Government's plans and are already putting them into practice.

Backbench MPs used the session as a chance to raise a host of other issues including the Government's defeat in the Lords on the planned benefit cap and Scottish independence.

The Commons clash followed opinion polls suggesting the Labour leader's personal ratings are at their lowest level.

Recession Looms As UK Economy Shrinks By 0.2%

It is the first quarter of negative growth for a year and the fall was slightly more than expected.

The contraction in Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced) marks a sharp slowdown on the 0.6% rise in the previous three months of 2011, and fuels fears of a double-dip recession.

If this figure is not revised upwards and there is another contraction in the first quarter of 2012, the UK will be plunged back into recession.

Negative growth in the final three months of last year was driven by a 0.9% fall in manufacturing, a 4.1% drop in electricity and gas production as the warm weather caused people to turn down heating, and a 0.5% fall in the construction sector.

Output in the service industry remained flat and government contracts were up by 0.4%.

GDP over the whole of 2011 grew by 0.9%, compared with growth of 2.1% in 2010.

Continuing problems in the eurozone have been significantly hampering growth.

Unemployment also recently hit a 17-year high.

The fourth-quarter decline leaves Chancellor George Osborne open to fresh criticism that his austerity measures are choking off the economy.

But Mr Osborne insisted he would stick to his plans.

He added: "These are disappointing figures about what happened to the economy at the end of last year but they are not entirely unexpected because of what's happening in the world and what's happening in the eurozone crisis.

"And they are similar to what our independent forecaster predicted in November.

"Now Britain has substantial economic problems, debt built up over the past 10 years, and we are dealing with those, but the truth is that dealing with those problems is made more difficult by the situation in the eurozone."

The growth figures reinforce expectations that the Bank of England will inject more cash into the economy next month in an attempt to stimulate growth.

The bank's governor, Sir Mervyn King, has said that the UK faced an "arduous, long and uneven" road to recovery.

Mr King has so far resisted calls for another round of quantitative easing but negative growth will intensify the pressure.

James Knightley, an economist at ING Bank, said the GDP figures pointed to further economic gloom.

"Unfortunately, UK economic activity is likely to get worse before it gets better with a technical recession likely to be confirmed by GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2012.

"With such economic uncertainty, firms are reluctant to invest and hire so it is difficult to see where any growth will come from in the next couple of quarters."

But he said he is more optimistic about the second half of 2012, when falling inflation will help ease the squeeze on consumers' spending power, which has been behind much of the recent weakness in the economy.

Pressure on the BoE for another round of quantitative easing is increasing

The GDP figures follow data from the Office for National Statistics which showed that UK debt surpassed the £1trn barrier for the first time.

The International Monetary Fund has also downgraded its global outlook for growth.

The IMF's forecast for UK growth this year was cut by 1% to 0.6% - although Britain is still expected to outperform Germany and France.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Salmond Launching Independence Ballot Plan

He will re-affirm his intention to hold a ballot in the autumn of 2014 in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood.

Afterwards, he is scheduled to host a news conference inside Edinburgh Castle.

The SNP leader is not expected to name an exact date but he will announce his intention to hold the referendum on a Saturday in a bid to maximise voting numbers.

He will also indicate he is prepared to compromise on the involvement of the Electoral Commission as the ballot 'referee', as long as it reports to the Scottish Parliament.

I want the Scottish Government paper to have a clear acknowledgement that a legal referendum is in the interests of the Scottish people and that the two Governments should work together to achieve that.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore

The Commission's involvement is one of the conditions sought by the UK Government in offering Holyrood the legal authority to hold a binding referendum.

Westminster is also resisting the lowering of the voting age to include 16 and 17-year-olds, in accordance with the SNP's wish.

It has also insisted that there should be only one question on the ballot paper - independence, yes or no - and has called for the ballot to be held as soon as possible.

Mr Salmond has rejected the UK Government's offer and dismissed its claim that a referendum without Westminster's consent would be illegal.

In publishing his 'consultation' document, he will open the door to the prospect of 'devo-max'.

It has yet to be fully defined but is, essentially, a souped-up version of devolution that would make Scotland all but independent, with full fiscal autonomy.

Prior to the publication of his consultation document, a spokesperson for Scotland's First Minister told Sky News: "Scotland is moving forward and we look forward to the great debate that lies ahead.

"The Scottish Government and people across Scotland believe that we can and will make a compelling case for independence - with the powers we need to build an economically successful and socially-just nation.

"While others disagree, we do come together on the democratic principle that it is a decision for Scotland to make. And the referendum must also be made in Scotland."

Today's launch comes two weeks after the UK Government published a consultation of its own.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will meet Alex Salmond in Edinburgh on Friday to discuss the way forward.

That meeting will be followed by talks between Mr Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Alex Salmond has an opportunity today to clear up all the confusion and give some certainty over this historic referendum.

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont

Mr Moore told Sky News: "I want the Scottish Government paper to have a clear acknowledgement that a legal referendum is in the interests of the Scottish people and that the two Governments should work together to achieve that.

"I also hope they will confirm that they support a simple yes-no question on independence. That is what people expect.

"I also hope that if the Scottish Government continue to put forward their preference of Autumn 2014 for a referendum, that they will justify why they want three more years of delay and economic uncertainty."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont told Sky News: "Alex Salmond has an opportunity today to clear up all the confusion and give some certainty over this historic referendum.

"The people of Scotland deserve a clear, decisive result - that means the SNP reaffirming its commitment to asking a single, unambiguous yes or no question."

Of the issues on which there may be compromise, the number of questions on the ballot paper is, perhaps, the least likely.

While Alex Salmond's unionist opponents acknowledge that the SNP's victory at the last Holyrood election gave it a mandate to conduct a referendum on independence, they insist it wasn't a mandate to ask anything else.

TV Psychic Paedophile Found Hanged In Prison

Martin Smith was jailed in the UK last year after sexually abusing his victim from when she was seven years old.

A Prison Service spokesman said the 46-year-old, who was serving a 16-year sentence, was found hanging by staff at HMP Manchester on Monday at about 6.30pm. Staff attempted to revive him but he was confirmed dead at 7pm.

The independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will be launching an investigation.

Smith's children Rebecca, five, and Daniel, 11 months, were found dead in a hotel on the Costa Brava in May 2010.

Their mother, Lianne Smith, 43, is awaiting trial in Spain accused of their murder.

Lianne Smith is accused of killing her daughter Rebecca and son Daniel

Former Butlins entertainer Smith, who appeared as a guest psychic on Living TV's Most Haunted, was found guilty in December 2010 of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault between May 1995 and May 2004.

Liverpool Crown Court heard at the time how he would attempt to hypnotise, hit and bully his young female victim, who is now in her 20s, to get her to comply.

Smith, originally from North Shields, had regular access to the victim.

The couple, who shared a surname but were not married, fled the UK in December 2007 after Smith was accused of sex attacks on the girl.

He was extradited back to the UK. Days later his partner was accused of smothering the children with a plastic bag.

No date has been set for Lianne Smith's trial in Spain.

US Raid Frees Two Hostages Held In Somalia

US Navy Seals (Sea, Air and Land Teams) flew into central Somalia's Galmudug region by helicopter to launch the pre-dawn raid on the kidnappers' base, according to local officials.

American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Thisted, who worked for the Danish Refugee Council Demining Group, were unharmed and flown to safety, their employer said.

Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being.

President Barack Obama

Mohamed Ahmed Alim, the president of the semi-autonomous region, told Reuters news agency that nine suspected pirates were killed and five injured during the rescue operation.

"About 12 US helicopters are now at Galkayo. We thank the US. Pirates have spoilt the whole region's peace and ethics. They are mafia," he said.

US President Barack Obama was apparently overheard congratulating defence secretary Leon Panetta on the successful rescue as he entered the House of Representatives to give his State of the Union speech.

"Leon. Good job tonight. Good job tonight," Mr Obama said. He did not mention the rescue during his speech.

In a later statement, Mr Obama said: "As commander-in-chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.

"Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being."

US aircraft are believed to have flown into Galkayo before launching the raid

A number of nations, including the US, with naval vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden off Somalia have intervened to rescue hostages held by the pirates at sea, but it unusual for a rescue operation to be launched inside the country.

However, the US and France both have military bases in nearby Djibouti.

The Danish Refugee Council had been trying to secure the freedom of Ms Buchanan and Mr Thisted, who were seized by gunmen on October 25, through local elders.

However, the timing of the raid may have been made more urgent by a medical condition.

"One of the hostages has a disease that was very serious and that had to be solved," Danish foreign minister Villy Soevndal told Denmark's TV2 channel.

Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous regions for aid workers and some pirate gangs have branched out to kidnappings.

Pirates are also believed to be behind the abduction of an American-German writer Michael Scott Moore, who was seized on Saturday in Galmudug, the region where the pirate ports of Hobyo and Haradheere are located.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Grim undies shot led me to shed 5 stone, now I'll show YOU how – Says Jennifer Ellison: TV star reveals her fat-busting exercise secrets

Now the lads' mag favourite has shed FIVE STONE and dropped from a size 18 to a trim size eight.

The former Brookside actress knew she had to take action after getting herself snapped in her underwear just a couple of weeks after son Bobby, now 22 months old, was born.

She says: "I had these pictures taken hoping they'd be an incentive to lose the weight ? but I couldn't bear looking at them.

"Then I came across them on my computer months later and couldn't believe how gross I looked.

"I look like I'm still pregnant. I know your stomach doesn't go down straight away after giving birth but mine was so rounded. It was ridiculous."

Jennifer enlisted the help of celebrity personal trainer Elia Siaperas, who got her back in shape using interval training.

Jennifer says: "I did get really out of breath to begin with but my fitness improved really quickly and the weight fell off. It was hard work but once you get dedicated that is half the battle.

"Now I've lost the weight I plan to keep training between three and four times a week for around an hour. I really have the bug. I just love it."

The star is so proud of her new shape that she is now launching her own exercise DVD.

She says: "It's one of my greatest achievements. It worked for me so I am sure it will work for others ? and I can't wait to hear the feedback."

Here, she reveals some of her top fat-busting exercises.

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

LEGS wide apart, take one dumbbell and stretch the arm up above the head.

THEN lunge down to the opposite ankle, keeping the legs straight. Repeat eight times each side. Good for bum, legs, tum and bingo wings.

PLACE rolled up towel on the floor in front of you. Then adopt a deep squat position. Push up with the heels and jump over towel. Repeat for a set of eight. Build up to five sets.

Jennifer says: "We use weights to make the exercise a bit tougher and more effective. This is our starter routine for those people who haven't exercised for a while but it's still tough enough to burn a lot of fat."

Nicki says: "This 20-minute easy-to-follow routine includes a seven-minute warm-up and series of short, sharp intervals of intense exercise which will get the body raiding its fat stores right from the start."

LEFT: Half lunge forward on one leg and take alternate punches to the front with the right then left arm, holding the other arm in a "guard" position.

Repeat for 20 seconds as quickly as possible. Pause and repeat for five sets. Great for fat-burning as well as toning the arms.

RIGHT: Kick out to the left, foot flat heel forward, repeat on the right side. Build up to five sets of 30 seconds. Great for firming the bum and thighs as well as blasting off fat.

Jennifer says: "How could I not love this when my hubby's a boxer?

Nicki says: "Move on to this workout when you need to burn more fat."

Lunge forward on the right leg with weights at shoulder height. Jump in the air, pushing weights above the head. Land on the left leg in a forward lunge. Repeat the whole move on the other side in a continuous motion. Repeat four times on each side.

Move from all fours into the "superman" pose with opposite arm to leg raised, below. Holding the stomach muscles firm, move the raised arm and leg from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock. Then hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do four on each side.

Jennifer says: "This workout really did it for me when I was stuck trying to lose that last stone."

Nicki says: "This Plyometric 20-minute routine is the most intense on the DVD ? but it produces the most dramatic results."

Adopt the plank position, resting on elbows with back flat. Move left foot out and in, repeat on the right and alternate for 1min. Rest and repeat three times. Fab all-over body toner, good for stomach.

Lie on the floor with knees bent. Keeping the small of the back in contact with the floor, curl the shoulders off the floor, with hands behind the head. Repeat for ten, build up to 10 sets. Great for stomach.

Here's to a year of cheer: The Sun's forward planner for a fun-packed 2012, including the Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and European Championship

Highlights include the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee lighting up our lives, as well as England's footballers going for glory in the European Championship.

LEE PRICE and ANDREW SNELL pick the events to look forward to in a fun-packed year.

13 Steven Spielberg's movie War Horse is released. Based on the Michael Morpurgo book, it is hotly tipped to clean up at the Oscars.

23 Chinese New Year marks the start of the Year Of The Dragon, with festivities planned across the UK.

30 Sexy New Yorker Lana Del Rey finally delivers her hotly anticipated album Born To Die.

7 The world marks the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.

12 The Baftas are held at London's Royal Opera House to celebrate the best of film and television.

13 Noel Gallagher's post-Oasis band High Flying Birds kick off their UK tour in Manchester.

21 Brit Awards held at London's 02 Arena, hosted by James Corden. The Sun's food critic Alex James will be performing at the event with Blur bandmates as they collect the Outstanding Contribution award.

25 X Factor tours UK with arena shows starting in Manchester and ending in Cardiff on April 6.

26 Carling Cup final at Wembley.

26 The 84th Oscars at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

29 Leap Day.

3 Proposed date for David Haye's return to boxing. He is in negotiations to fight WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko, whose brother Wladimir beat Haye last year.

3 The first ever World Pasty Championships will be held at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

10 International Day of Awesomeness to coincide with Chuck Norris's birthday. The martial arts legend turns 72 this year.

23-25 Sport Relief.

26 Leona Lewis releases her third album, Glass Heart.

TBC Madonna's new album is also set for release in March.

14 The Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool ? with a nation of punters taking on the bookies.

21 UK Championship winner Judd Trump is one of the hot favourites as the boys head to Sheffield's famous Crucible Theatre for the World Snooker Championship.

22 Get your running shoes on ? it's the London Marathon. Thousands will take on the 26-mile and 385-yard course, many for charity.

5 The 131st FA Cup final, at Wembley.

9 The Europa League final at National Stadium in Bucharest, Romania.

17-21 England's cricketers take on the West Indies at Lord's in the first of three Test matches.

18 Opening of Sacha Baron Cohen's movie The Dictator.

19 Champions League final at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. Arsenal or Chelsea may be there.

25 Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reunite for Men In Black III ? 15 years after the release of the first film.

29 Coldplay start their arena tour in Coventry.

1 Cotswold Olimpick Games in Chipping Campden, Gloucs ? reviving the spirit of Ancient Greece ? celebrates its 400th anniversary.

2 Celebrations start for the Diamond Jubilee extended Bank Holiday weekend. The pageant on June 3 will see a flotilla of up to 1,000 boats on the Thames. There is a concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4.

4 Cheese-rolling festival sees daredevils race down Cooper's Hill, Gloucs, chasing an 8lb cheese.

8-10 Heavy metal rock festival Download at Donington Park, Leics, celebrates its tenth birthday with headline sets from The Prodigy, Metallica and the original line-up of Black Sabbath.

11 England kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against France. Ireland begin their campaign a day earlier.

15 Game two as Fabio Capello's men take on Sweden.

19 Final group game for England as they face Ukraine. Wayne Rooney is available after his ban.

21 London 2012 Festival until September 9, with hundreds of things to see, from comedy and music to art and fashion.

23/24 Potential quarter-final dates should England reach the knockout stages of Euro 2012.

25 The beginning of Wimbledon 2012. Once again, British hopes of a tennis champ rest squarely on Andy Murray's shoulders, though Laura Robson could spring a few surprises.

28 Euro 2012 semi-final.

30 The Tour de France begins in Liege, Belgium. British cycle star Mark Cavendish will be looking to retain the highly prized green jersey for sprinters.

1 Euro 2012 final.

4 Eagerly awaited release of The Amazing Spider-Man. Brit Andrew Garfield takes on the role of Peter Parker.

8 Rihanna plays her only UK show of the year with a headlining slot at the Barclaycard Wireless Festival in London's Hyde Park.

15-22 Golf's Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Lancs. Our stars ? including world No1 Luke Donald, US Open winner Rory McIlroy and reigning champ Darren Clarke ? will have high hopes.

20 The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale, hits UK cinemas.

27 The opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

5 In case you need an excuse to nip down to the pub on a summer evening, just say you are celebrating International Beer Day.

5 The showpiece event of the Olympics ? the men's 100m final.

22 TV funnyman Michael McIntyre takes to the road with his biggest tour ever. The comic will travel to 11 cities and perform 58 shows by December 3.

TBC The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to tour Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Malaysia and Singapore as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

19 Shiver your timbers and break out the rum for International Talk Like A Pirate Day. It is celebrated in more than 40 countries, with many fans dressing up for the occasion.

21 Elton John is set to headline an event to celebrate International Peace Day, with organisers campaigning for a global truce.

25 Golf's Ryder Cup tees off. The weekend takes place in Medinah, Illinois, with Europe ? led by captain Jose Maria Olazabal for the first time ? looking to retain the cup.

14 World Conker Championships.

24 Analogue TV signal ends. The digital switch-over will be complete, with Northern Ireland the last place to be disconnected from the 80-year-old transmission technology.

26 New James Bond movie Skyfall premieres in London with Daniel Craig in his third 007 outing.

1-30 Movember kicks off again, with blokes all over the world growing a moustache to raise awareness about men's health issues.

6 Presidential election in the US, with Barack Obama standing for a second term in the White House.

24 International Buy Nothing Day, a global protest against consumerism encouraging people not to spend.

14 The Hobbit movie is released. The Lord Of The Rings prequel stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom ? among others ? return.

21 The end of the world ? at least according to some conspiracy theorists. The date marks the end of the 5,125-year Mayan calendar, which some say can only mean doom.

TBC: You've only just seen the back of them but you can already look forward to the finals of next year's X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Honours for wealthy party donors 'look bad', watchdog warns

Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, spoke after four millionaire Tory donors were controversially handed awards in the New Year's Honours list.

There were knighthoods for hedge fund manager Paul Ruddock and package holiday boss Doug Ellis, and CBEs for investment banker James Lupton and building tycoon James Wates.

Together they have given more than ?1 million to the Tory party.

Sir Christopher wants "big money" donations banned so the honours are not brought into "disrepute". He said: "It implies corruption even when there isn't any."

The watchdog also wants a ?10,000 cap on individual donations.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher blasted the honours list, saying: "When millions of families are struggling to get by, it's the Tories' friends in the City who get the rewards." Two major Labour donors were also honoured.

I'll take gold for this lot... and the woman who saved my life

TINY margins are what the Olympics and Paralympics are all about.

A millimetre here, a split-second there ? these are the differences between medal winner and also-ran.

But any British athlete who experiences success this summer will owe a great deal to a dedicated team of unsung heroes pushing them on to achieve these tiny margins.

For GB wheelchair basketball star Simon Munn, 43, this means the coaches, physios, mechanics and nutritionists.

But he is also indebted to a woman who helped him bridge the gap between life and death in 1990.

Simon was walking home after a night out when disaster struck.

Simon said: "I took a short cut across the railway track. I got my foot trapped in the last set of tracks... and waited for a train to take it off.

WITH the New Year upon us, the Olympics countdown really gets underway

"I only had to wait a few minutes ? probably about five ? to watch the train take my foot off.

"It took all my strength to crawl the long way to get to the side of the road and try to flag down a car.

"Finally a pizza delivery driver pulled over and he waved down a lady motorist. She used a golf club she had and the pizza guy's belt to make a tourniquet to stem the blood flow. She probably saved my life."

Simon later learned that by the time the ambulance arrived he had less than two pints of blood left in his body. The norm is eight.

A few years later, by which time Simon had played for GB in his first Paralympics, he found the bar where the woman was working.

He said: "I didn't recognise her when I walked in, but she knew it was me straight away and came over. It was just something I wanted to do. I wanted to say thank you."

Simon has gone on to play for wheelchair basketball teams throughout the UK and in Italy. London will be his SIXTH Paralympics, with one silver and two bronze medals already to his name.

Simon, a full-time player, said: "It would be interesting to know what the lady thinks about my Olympic career. Hopefully she'd feel she'd had an important part to play in it."

Injured Simon, who played football before his accident, was badgered to watch wheelchair basketball by his hospital physio, who was married to a former GB player.

He said: "I didn't class myself as disabled. I wasn't interested in some game for disabled people.

"But I saw guys knocked out of their wheelchairs as they fought for the ball. Halfway through I had stopped seeing the wheelchairs.

"I just saw the sport and knew it was for me. I fell in love with it."

Simon now lives in Brighton with girlfriend Michelle Hooker, daughter Terri, 17, and two-year-old son Henri. He plays for the Capital team in London and spends three weeks out of every four involved in tournaments in the UK and abroad.

The training is gruelling. One endurance session involves him and his team-mates repeatedly dragging weight-laden sledges behind their wheelchairs on a race track.

Simon said: "Training can be more intense than for able-bodied athletes. They can do one day working on their top half, then the next work on their bottom half.

"With wheelchair athletes it's all upper body, so any rest is crucial."

Taking gold at his home Paralympics would be the pinnacle of Simon's career. If the team do win a medal, there sadly won't be room on the podium for all the people who have helped get them there.

It will be down to the likes of Murray Treseder, head coach for the GB wheelchair basketball team, to the experts at RGK, led by boss Russel Simms, who provide Simon with his ?4,000-plus Interceptor Extreme titanium-frame wheelchair.

And to the anonymous lady in Milton Keynes who made the greatest difference of all.

Is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley losing her bloom?

The Victoria's Secret model seemed to have lost her famous curves as she stepped out in a tiny blue and white bikini at a Miami hotel.

She was enjoying a romantic holiday with 44-year-old boyfriend Jason Statham, who was on a break from filming Parker with Jennifer Lopez.

And, on the day that most of us are wondering how to shed the pounds we gained at Christmas, her skimpy swimsuit showed her figure was even more slender than usual.

The British-born model, 24, began dating action man Jason in April 2010 and she recently bought an apartment in New York to share with him.

With Jason filming The Expendables 2 in Bulgaria and China, as well as Parker, they've struggled to spend time together in recent months.

And they have been making up for lost time by kissing and cuddling round the pool at the swanky hotel.

Things are looking Rosie for their relationship in 2012.

JLS tee up plenty of clubbing: The boyband have put their days of pulling women in clubs behind them in favour of the golf course

The band have put their days of pulling women in London's West End clubs behind them in favour of the golf course.

They've become hooked on the sport and are determined to get a single figure handicap this year.

JB said: "We've taken up golf as a hobby and we're really getting on it.

"We are all kind of a similar standard, except for Oritse who hasn't picked it up yet.

"Aston probably has the best drive, Marvin has the best short game and my 'inbetween' shots are quite good.

"But the game takes time so when we get better we'll get a handicap and all that sort of stuff."

It's quite surprising JB is giving golf a bash given the footie and rugby stinkers he had when he was young.

He said: "I used to play rugby when I was at school and I lost in the final of a tournament to a side we had beaten in the normal season.

"I threw the second-place medal on the floor, I was really bad.

"And I used to play football in scouts. I was in goal and in a final there were sudden-death penalties.

"The ball went underneath my body into the goal. I don't know what got into me but I burst out crying."

There might be tears at the Bizarre Masters later this year when the boys battle it out for celebrity golf glory.

The stakes are high ? they are the only band in the country who would actually wear the McMatalan Tartan winners' blazers on a night out.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Lady Gaga's 'blood' bath riddle

The singer is at the centre of a riddle after workers at London's posh Intercontinental Hotel said she left a tub in her suite filled with claret liquid.

One housekeeper claimed the singer was "bathing in blood as part of a Satanic ritual".

She told website Truthquake: "Lady Gaga left large amounts of blood in the suite during a stay this summer. The incident was reported to the concierge, who was told to put it out of her mind."

An insider added: "All of the hotel's staff are convinced she was bathing in it or, at the very least, using it as part of one of her new costumes or weird stage routines."

Gaga, whose hits last year included The Edge Of Glory, was probably just washing off the fake stuff she uses on stage.

She could have taken the plug out though.

Lara Pulver: Benedict Cumberbatch asked me to whip him firmly

The actress who played dominatrix Irene Adler in Sunday's episode, told TV Biz: "Benedict said, 'It's all right, Lara, you can hit me harder.

"I was like, 'Oh can I now, Benedict Cumberbatch?'

"Imagine how many whips I am going to receive in the post now!"

And she jokes that Benedict's co-star Martin Freeman ? who plays Dr Watson ? was nothing but trouble during the scene when she confronted the pair naked.

She says the Office actor was even nicknamed Martin Freehands for his over-attentiveness to her as they filmed.

Lara ? who has starred in True Blood and Spooks ? said: "Martin is always naughty. 'Martin Freehands' is so true.

"He was like, 'Oh, there she is. She's naked and there's her arse crack and off we go... ' "

Getting naked ... Lara Pulver and Benedict Cumberbatch

Lara had to hide her nerves to strip for the role as the sex worker with a brain to rival Sherlock's and a BlackBerry full of dangerous secrets.

She admitted: "I have never felt so vulnerable in my whole life and in feeling that vulnerability it unleashed an inner power.

"I thought, 'OK, I'm naked, I'm exposing everything, you can't hide behind Spanx, you can't hide behind a dress.' It's like, 'I'm completely naked, what of it?'

"There is something about being a woman and being naked that's great and I thought, 'Let's just celebrate that'.

"Martin was naked in Love Actually. Benedict is always naked ? he was naked on stage in Frankenstein ? so I was just joining the club.

"It was like, 'Let's all just get nude and do Hair The Musical!"

Man charged with Anuj Bidve's murder called 'Psycho'

Kiaran Stapleton, 20, was handcuffed as he was led into the dock with four armed cops stationed in the courtroom.

When he was asked for his name, he brazenly replied: "Psycho. Psycho Stapleton."

The clerk to the court said: "I've got Kiaran here."

Stapleton ? flanked by two cops and wearing a grey Nike T-shirt and grey jogging bottoms ? did not respond.

Prosecutor Ben Southam then told Manchester Magistrates' Court: "He appears charged with murder. That's a matter that can only be dealt with at the crown court.

"He will be sent to Manchester Crown Court in due course."

Stapleton, of Salford, was remanded in custody for 24 hours. There was no application for bail.

Anuj, 23, died after being shot once in the head at point-blank range at 1.30am on Boxing Day in Salford.

The Lancaster University post-graduate student ? who arrived from India just three months ago ? had been visiting the Manchester area over Christmas with eight pals.

The apparently motiveless killing generated shock and anger, especially in Pune, India, where Anuj's family only learned about it via Facebook.

Last night friends of the student held a candlelit vigil near the British Embassy in New Delhi, India.

And more than 400 people paid tribute at a memorial service for him last night at the scene of the shooting in Salford.

Anuj's father Subhash has been critical of the way the British and Indian authorities have handled the case. Yesterday Greater Manchester Police said that two officers had gone to India.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: "We felt it was important to make personal contact with the family. We need to explain to them in person where we are up to in the investigation."

THE man accused of Boxing Day murder gives his name as 'Psycho Stapleton'

Man City transfer news: AC Milan eye Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli

The Italian club want to sign Tevez and also have their eye on a summer swoop for Balotelli.

To get the ?45million needed, the cash-strapped Italian giants must sell Brazilian front man Pato.

Paris St Germain are in pole position to land the 22-year-old but the news will have put Chelsea on red alert.

New PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti tried to sign Pato while he was at the Blues and owner Roman Abramovich is a great admirer.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has insisted there are currently no talks with PSG over Pato's future but he did not say the striker was not for sale.

Galliani insisted Tevez has told City he only wants to join Milan, though reports in Italy suggest cross-town rivals Inter are still in the hunt.

Galliani said: "The negotiations are very much alive.

"Manchester insist on a loan with an obligation to buy and we insist on a loan with the right to buy."

Milan want to pay City ?20m for Tevez but over equal annual payments.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Man United keeper crisis: David De Gea insists he'll come good

And the ?17.8million summer signing reckons he can go on to eclipse Edwin van der Sar's achievements.

The Dutchman won 11 trophies at Old Trafford before De Gea, 21, arrived from Atletico Madrid to replace him this term.

But De Gea has committed a series of howlers ? including gifting Grant Hanley a shock winner for Blackburn on Saturday.

The new boy has let in 26 goals in 19 games while big rival Anders Lindegaard has kept six clean sheets in a row.

But De Gea said: "Hopefully, I'll equal or even surpass the performance and contribution Edwin made."

The Spaniard let a long-range shot from Manchester City's Edin Dzeko squirm under him on his United debut at Wembley in the Community Shield.

But he seemed to have got mistakes out of his system before his Rovers ricket.

He said: "Let's face it, all keepers make mistakes once in a while, and none of us like it when we do.

"Errors happen but I've gone on to be more confident.The style of play here is more physical and as a goalkeeper you've got to be right on it."

Boss Alex Ferguson has confirmed Wayne Rooney will be back in the side to face Newcastle tomorrow.

The striker was dropped for the Blackburn match and fined a week's wages over his lacklustre showing in training after a night out last week.

But Fergie said: "Wayne will be available.

"We had a few training sessions and he missed a few.

"You've got to be fit to play in this league. You can't miss training sessions."

STRIKER Josh King, 19, will return to Old Trafford having played just twice in an injury-hit loan spell with German side Borussia Monchengladbach.

Murder probe launched after body found on Queen's Sandringham estate

Police announced the grim twist to the investigation after human remains were found on New Year's Day.

Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry said cops are examining cold cases nationwide for potential links.

Mr Fry said: "We are at the very early stages of the investigation and it could be a complex inquiry.

"The body had been there for some time.

"The circumstances suggest this is a murder case and we are looking at missing persons reports and cold cases both locally and nationwide."

The body was spotted by a member of the public out walking, just hours after the royals attended their traditional church service.

Police immediately sealed off an area of woodland.

The estate, near King's Lynn, Norfolk, covers a massive 20,500 acres.

The Queen, 85, was seen riding her horse there only yesterday. She was still in residence last night with Prince Philip, 90, who is recovering from his heart op.

The royals spent Christmas at Sandringham.

Police last night said: "Detectives from Norfolk Constabulary have launched an investigation following the discovery of human remains in an area of woodland at Anmer, near King's Lynn.

"The remains were found by a member of the public who reported the incident to police on Sunday January 1 shortly after 4pm.

"The area has been sealed off and a detailed search is currently being carried out."

Buckingham Palace said it had no comment to make as it was "a matter for Norfolk police".

NHS treats Brits hurt by beds, dogs..and volcanoes

A staggering 24,453 people were treated after falling out of BED.

Another 12,301 suffered a foreign body "in the eye or orifice" ? while seven were hurt by VOLCANIC eruptions. Ice and snow claimed 14,631 victims over the year ? down from 18,996 in 2009-10.

The full list of bizarre injuries was logged by the NHS Information Centre.

It emerged as figures showed that hospitals were deluged with nearly half a million extra patients last year.

There were 17.3million treatments overall in 2010-11 ? a rise of 464,000 on the previous year.

Patient visits have soared by more than 40 per cent over the past decade, from 12.3million in 2000-01.

Animals were also a major cause of injury, with 6,097 victims of dog attacks and 24 bitten by RATS.

Fireworks claimed 158 victims, 156 people were treated after being crushed in a crowd and 1,968 were scalded by hot drinks.

Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who sits on the health select committee, said the figures demonstrated the huge pressures on the NHS.

He said: "Whilst the Government is increasing health spending and whilst waiting times have remained stable, we cannot ignore these pressures."

No Match Of The Day for bikini babe Danielle Lineker

The 32-year-old showed off her winning figure while on a break with her Match of the Day presenter husband Gary, 51, on a Caribbean island.

The couple, who wed in September 2009, are taking a break on the upmarket isle of St Barts.

The former French colony is the destination of choice for the world's jet-setting elite.

And incredibly wealthy Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich invited many of them to his annual New Year's Eve party there over the weekend.

Movie moguls Harvey Weinstein and George Lucas rubbed shoulders with music executive Russell Simmons.

His 70-acre estate also played host to fashion designer Marc Jacobs and The Sun's owner Rupert Murdoch.

It's unknown whether pundit Gary ? who was seen holding his hands in prayer on the golden sands ? also attended the bash.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Olympics countdown: Victoria Pendleton hopes streets are paved with gold

Britain's cycling golden girl poses on the yellow brick road dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz as she begins her Olympic journey.

Pendleton, 31, wants another medal ? or three ? to add to her Beijing gold and there is no place like home to win them.

If her dreams really do come true, Pendleton could top the podium in the individual sprint, team sprint and keirin.

She said: "The training is very similar for all three so, if my form is good and I'm going well, it would be crazy not to give them all a shot.

"I do them in a much shorter, compact programme at the World Championships and I have won all three in the past, so I know it is possible."

Pendleton took time out from her schedule to offer some advice to women whose New Year's resolution is to lose weight.

She added: "The secret to a healthy lifestyle is not crash diets, marathons or cutting out whole food groups."

Pakistan v England: Andrew Strauss spells out fix fears

England's captain made the confession as his Test squad left for their timebomb tour against Pakistan.

He says he cannot be sure the imprisonment of three Pakistani players has eradicated the problem.

The decision by Pakistan to include in their Test squad three stars mentioned in the spot-fixing trial has tossed fuel on the fire.

Strauss said: "No, I don't think it's possible to say cricket is clean. There's more awareness about possible fixing but it's a hard thing to eradicate completely.

"Policing it is very tough and there's a huge responsibility on administrators and players to make sure that anything untoward is reported and acted upon. It's an odd thing to see fellow cricketers in prison but, hopefully, it sent out a very strong message that there's no place for that sort of thing in cricket."

The match-fixing row in 2010 erupted following an undercover sting by the News of the World.

The one-day series which followed the infamous Lord's Test was one of the most bitter in recent years.

But Strauss will tell his players not to get involved in personal vendettas. He added: "I don't think any good can come from churning it all up again."

Pete Doherty buys crack pipes

The Babyshambles rocker is not interested in a 50 per cent discount at DFS. He went to an antiques fair in Paris and bought... five crack pipes.

The collectors' items were all from the 1930s, when they were used for lab experiments.

But what former junkie Pete wanted to know from the stallholder was whether the pipes still worked. A source said: "He loved them and said he would take them all ? then asked the guy if the pipes could still be used to smoke with.

"Pete had a stunning girl on his arm who looked the spit of Kate Moss and he was very friendly, polite and funny."

So much so, he even posed for pictures with the antiques dealer and fans.

The French police must have been on their caf? au lait and baguette break.

QPR 1 Norwich 2: Joey Barton 'con' rap for Bradley Johnson

The QPR skipper saw red for a headbutt in the 36th minute.

Ref Neil Swarbrick did not see the clash but dismissed Barton on the advice of his assistant David Richardson.

Rangers were leading 1-0 at the time but their 10 men went down 2-1.

Barton tweeted after the match: "Well feel for the officials, they've been conned. Linesman definitely never saw it, all he seen was Johnson's reaction.

"My head doesn't move forward at all. Ridiculous decision ? seen 25 replays."

QPR boss Neil Warnock blasted: "Who says cheats don't prosper? Bradley has conned him and we feel we have run over a few black cats.

"He has not been headbutted at all. Not in a million years.

"To go back like he did and then check his nose for blood was a disgrace.

"It's getting a fellow pro sent off. He should be done by the FA."

But Johnson had the last word at the world darts final at Alexandra Palace, with a sign saying 'Barton your breath stinks.'

NEIL WARNOCK says Bradley Johnson conned ref to get Barton sent off

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Queen's Diamonds Jubilee exhibition

The display, the focal point of the palace's 2012 summer opening, will include many of the monarch's most cherished jewels, some of which are shown here.

Many of the pieces that will be on display at the Palace have undergone transformations through the ages - having been re-cut or used in new settings depending on the fashion or the preferences of the queens or princesses who used them.

Among them is an 1893 tiara given to Her Majesty as a wedding present by her gran Queen Mary.

The display will also chart the link between diamonds and monarchs over 200 years.

Historic pieces such as Queen Victoria's recognisable miniature personal crown which measures just 9cm by 10cm but contains nearly 1,200 diamonds will also be on view.

So the exhibition is bound to be a shining example of British history.

RAF in terror swoop on 2 plane spotters at Odiham in Hampshire

They were waved through a military checkpoint and began taking pictures of helicopters.

It took top brass ten minutes to twig the security breach as salesmen Max Awad, 30, and Addison Bridet, 29, snapped away at Chinooks and a Lynx.

An armed response team was scrambled at RAF Odiham, Hants, to take them down.

Last night Max, from Basingstoke, said: "We had no idea we'd done anything wrong. At the checkpoint there were loads of cars being let in. I presumed they were having some sort of open day.

"I'm a massive plane enthusiast so I said, 'Come on, let's go and have a look'.

"We drove up to three helicopters on their landing pads. We got very excited and got out to take pictures.

"Suddenly I realised it wasn't an open day ? there were no refreshment stalls. Then all hell broke loose. There were armed guards running everywhere and a tannoy blaring, 'emergency, emergency, breach of code'."

The pair were locked up for three hours and interrogated before being released.

The MoD said: "Security was not compromised."

Ramires tells Roman Abramovich: Stick with Andre Villas-Boas

The Brazilian hit the opener in yesterday's 2-1 win at Wolves and led some of his team-mates to the dugout to celebrate with Villas-Boas.

AVB is under pressure to turn Chelsea's season around and put the heat on pacesetters Manchester City and Manchester United.

spacerBut all is clearly still not well in the camp with news of the boss' astonishing treatment of match-winner Frank Lampard after the Molineux triumph.

The Portuguese came in for flak from the club's fans after a shock 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday.

He was also excluded as a group of players organised a secret Chinese meal for departing striker Nicolas Anelka, who was banned from the club's Christmas party.

But midfielder Ramires says Russian owner Abramovich would be wrong not to support him.

He said: "If Andre leaves, someone else will come ? and if it keeps going on like that, we won't get anywhere.

"The players know what Andre has done for the club.

"It's an injustice to make the manager the one who's responsible for everything that happens with a team.

"He's doing what he can until the players go on the pitch.

"From that moment, it's not up to him, it's not for him to run or compete for a ball.

"This is all part of the period of adaptation. We're trying to do what he wants but, unfortunately, there are times when we won't win.

"We're not playing badly. We have to go on the pitch with a seriousness and desire to win until the end."

Villas-Boas was surprised by the way his players came over to him after Ramires' goal.

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS claims Chelsea deserved all three points at Molineux

He said: "It's just their way of showing unity.

"I didn't know they were going to do that but it was good to find the strength of character after the negative criticism we have had.

"Wolves made us fight for it in an extremely exciting game and now we want to avoid going back to those negative periods by getting points and avoiding incompetence.

"Our results away from home have been better because we are more tranquil and there is less anxiety then when we play at Stamford Bridge.

"If we can go on a winning streak of five or six games, maybe we can be fighting for the league again. But, first, we have to find that consistency."

Ramires, 24, insists the Blues must forget about the glory days under Jose Mourinho and allow AVB, who arrived this summer, to make his own mark.

He added: "We can't cling on to something that was years ago.

"It's not by chance that Andre won three trophies last year with Porto.

"The way he treats the players is unique. He treats everyone equally, regardless of who they are or how famous they are.

"Every day he speaks to individual players and tries to help solve problems. It's hard to find someone like that.

"He talks and listens to what players say. That makes a difference. He's all smiles and likes to joke around.

"As a person, he's extraordinary and he's also admirable as a coach. My football has grown a lot with his arrival.

"This is the best spell of my career. He has everything to do well at Chelsea, as he's one of the best in the world."

Villas-Boas admitted his midfielder Lampard could have been sent off for a 24th-minute foul on Adam Hammill, which was punished by a yellow card.

Lampard added: "My heart was in my mouth. There was no malice but I might have been a bit lucky.

"I said sorry straight away to Hammill."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy refused to blame that incident for his team's late defeat.

He fumed: "We can't do anything about decisions but we can defend the ball into our box.

"I'm absolutely livid at conceding a goal like that. If we defend the bleeding cross ? it wouldn't have happened.

"It was professional suicide."

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Rihanna wants a tweetheart: Bajan star is on the lookout for a boyfriend as part of her New Year's Resolution

Ditching the fags may take a bit of work ? the other two she should have nailed by February.

New Year's Eve didn't deliver for the star in the men department.

Despite being at P Diddy's posh bash in Miami, and wearing a see-through dress which flashed her nipple ring, she ended up snogging her mate, later tweeting the message.

The singer reckons there's no better time to quit smoking after finishing her gruelling world tour.

A source said: "She thinks it's a good time to do it as she has some down time. She'll be able to dedicate even more time to working out as she's worried she'll pile on weight once she stops.

"As for the men, she's always on the lookout but she's pretty fussy."

Her aim to make more money is a no-brainer ? she rakes it in.

No wonder her management rolled over when she said she wanted to extend her holiday in Barbados by a week or so.

Rather than her having to jet back to New York to hit the studio later this week, her label Def Jam are flying 16 top songwriters and producers over to the Caribbean for a "writing camp" with the Bajan star.

That's a meeting where rum would come in handy. A drink that cures everything except alcoholism, according to wise man Johnny Vaughan.

Sad Lana song is a Rey of happiness

It tells of how overjoyed she was to be living with her boyfriend ? even though he was constantly fiddling with his console.

Lana, real name Lizzie Grant, said: "I would come home and watch him play video games. I never joined in as I'd get killed straight away. It was just about us being together in the same room."

Lana says her first album, out next month, is a "dark love story seen through hopeful eyes". It tells of her troubled affairs.

There's got to be something seriously wrong with a bloke if he'd rather play games and leave Lana twiddling her thumbs.

Simon Cowell snaps up Alesha Dixon for Britain's Got Talent

The BBC was left reeling by Alesha's decision to join the ITV1 show's judging panel.

It was dubbed an act of revenge by Cowell after Strictly's ratings victory over the mogul's other TV show, The X Factor.

Cowell ? who was snapped with fans on a beach in Barbados yesterday ? said he wanted to "change the perception" of BGT by making it "younger and better".

The 52-year-old will return to the judging panel full time alongside Amanda Holden, 40, and new signing David Walliams.

He said: "I love Alesha. She's feisty, opinionated and knows what it's like to be a competitor and judge. She is going to bring a lot to the table.

"And I'm delighted David is joining. He thinks he can do a better job than the people there before so it will be fun. I think he's terrified!"

The last time the show had four judges ended in disaster. Cowell axed Kelly Brook after just a few days in 2009 insisting "BGT just doesn't work with four people".

His full time return follows pressure from ITV who saw The X Factor and BGT slip in the ratings without him.

He has only judged the final week of the last two series after declaring he was "bored" of sitting through the auditions.

But he said yesterday: "I miss the British public, and I miss judging them. I've worked in America all this year but now I've got itchy feet again.

"I want to find the next generation of talent. Different and new acts, younger and better talent.

"I want to change the perception of the show. I think there's a notion that all we want is older people who sing opera."

Former Mis-Teeq singer Alesha, 33, who won Strictly in 2007 before becoming a judge, said yesterday: "I'm delighted to be joining the panel on BGT. It's a fantastic show and I'm very excited."

Little Britain star David, 40, added: "I am so thrilled to be the new Cheryl Cole."

The move threw a lifeline to former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips.

Arlene, 68 ? who was replaced by Alesha three years ago amid an ageism row ? said: "I will be gathering my thoughts and I will certainly have some things to say."

Cowell also announced he will put up ?250,000 of his own cash to double the prize to ?500,000. The winner will also perform at the Royal Variety Performance.

Stormy weather batters Britain

The latest round of unsettled weather added more misery to the January blues as people returned to work after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The bad weather meant some East Coast main line trains between London and Scotland had to start and terminate at Newcastle upon Tyne.

Also, buses had to replace trains on some East Coast services between London and Harrogate and Hull.

And the QEII Bridge on the M25 between Essex and Kent was closed due to gale-force winds.

In Northern Ireland 105mph winds hit Malin Head in Co Donegal.

While at Great Dun Fell in the Pennines gusts of 106mph were recorded.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings across many regions of the UK.

Forecasters told those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to be prepared, while localised flooding and a marked drop in temperature was expected for parts of Wales and north-west England.

Scotland was braced for the harshest weather conditions ? the Met Office has issued warnings for both snow and high winds.

Parts of Wales saw gusts of more than 90mph in the early hours, with gusts of 93mph hitting Aberdaron in North Wales.

Billy Payne, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Much of Wales and south-west England have had gusts of over 60mph this morning.

"As low pressure comes in, central and south Scotland will bear the brunt of the winds today. We will see gusts of 70mph to 80mph, even 85mph in places."

He warned of "heavy rain, stormy winds and severe gales with damaging gusts", but said the rain should clear most parts of the country by this afternoon.

Mr Payne added: "The rain will probably hang on nearer Scotland, leading to hill snow.

"Upland areas of the north and west may see couple of inches of rain. It will cause ponding of water on the roads."

SEVERE warnings issued as storms with 85mph winds batter country

Weather experts predicted a marked drop in temperature yesterday, with the unusually mild conditions that prevailed over Christmas and the New Year making way for more seasonal mercury readings.

Issuing a yellow warning for strong winds and heavy rain, the Met Office said: "A spell of wet and very windy weather will affect the UK during Tuesday."

People were warned of "the possibility of disruption" to travel due to strong winds this morning in most parts and during the afternoon across north-eastern Scotland.

The Met Office added: "A spell of heavy rain will also affect many regions, with a risk of localised flooding over parts of Wales and north-west England."

In the South West, the Environment Agency has "yellow" flood alerts active on 21 rivers from Cornwall to Wiltshire.

The Tamar Bridge, which spans the river between Devon and Cornwall, has been closed to high-sided vehicles because of strong winds.

First Great Western rail services between Truro and Penzance are being affected by an obstruction blocking "all lines".

The Port of Dover in Kent have announced that it has closed due to strong winds of Force 11 in the English Channel.

A spokesman said passengers should contact their operator before setting out to the port.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sun City's six stock picks for 2012... to wallop 2011

Now it's time to fight back as we stick our necks out and select the "Super Six" stocks for 2012.

And we're confident that in 12 months' time you'll be raising a glass to DIAGEO ? home to Johnnie Walker and other leading tipples. Experts fear a volatile year for stock markets given the ongoing chaos in Europe and the storm hammering the high street in the UK.

We've opted for a mix of big names, medium-sized firms and riskier bets ? and are confident we will bounce back to form. But remember, if unsure about investing in any of our picks, you should consult an adviser.


THE world's biggest spirits group had a rocky start to the credit crunch as people cut back on going out.

But the home to JOHNNIE WALKER, SMIRNOFF and GUINNESS is now firing on all cylinders.

There are signs of a recovery in the "super premium" markets in the US and Diageo is cleaning up in Asia and Latin America. Emerging markets now represent 40 per cent of all Diageo's sales.

Analysts believe upcoming results will show Diageo has generated ?2billion of cash over 2011-12, signalling higher dividends. Banks are falling over themselves to lend to the company.

Stockbrokers believe the shares could hit 1650p or more. Cheers!

THIS is the year that will make or break oil explorer Rockhopper.

The researchers have hit black gold off the coast of the Falklands and the "Sea Lion" discovery holds an estimated 1.3billion barrels of crude.

This year is all about enticing one of the industry's big guns to invest and develop the project.

The signs are encouraging. BP is among those rumoured to be taking an interest. So is CAIRN ENERGY.

In March we get a "competent persons" report on the size and value of the discovery, which could be another trigger for the shares. Political concerns will weigh as Argentina fumes over the exploration campaign but Sea Lion is potentially world class.

ONE of two minnows to follow in 2012. Victoria Oil & Gas passed a huge milestone at the end of last year by producing the first gas from its onshore Logbaba field in Cameroon.

More gas sales agreements from the field are likely to be signed in the coming months, bringing in yet more revenue.

VOG also plans a drilling campaign in Siberia after picking up the West Medvezhye exploration block in the Yamal Peninsula ? one of the most prolific gas regions in the world.

It's a risky stock, not least because of the perils of doing business in Russia, but some analysts believe the share price could double in the next 12 months.

WITH Armageddon still a possibility in Europe, it's critical to plug for a "defensive stock".

And in times of volatility, investing in a pharmaceutical giant is like parking ten defenders in front of the goal on a football pitch.

Under chief exec Andrew Witty, Glaxo has worked wonders. It has a number of big selling drugs such as asthma treatment Advair, has settled a ream of US lawsuits, is well placed in emerging markets but is also putting more emphasis on reliable consumer health brands such as Lucozade and Sensodyne toothpaste.

A Sun City pick in 2009, it's now time to head back to one of the UK's biggest companies.

MOBILE phones ? what would you do without them?

Well, this Slough-based tech specialist provides mobile phone giants with the hi-tech gear needed to test handsets and networks as they're built.

With 4G on the horizon it's primed and ready to cash in on the smartphone revolution transforming our daily lives.

Half-year results revealed a 69 per cent rise in profits with nearly 50 per cent of income coming from testing 4G handsets ? and contracts in both the US and the Far East.

Work on 2G and 3G handsets is also rising as companies check the compatibility of their new designs with older generation kit.

Anite also provides software for travel firms moving more of their work online. 2012 should be a banner year for this company.

OESOPHAGEAL Doppler Monitoring (ODM) hardly trips off the tongue but it's at the heart of this little healthcare company.

Deltex has developed the CardioQ-ODM to measure blood flow during surgery through a low-frequency probe. It's less invasive so reduces recovery times.

NHS spending watchdog NICE recommended the product in 2010.

Last month, the NHS chief exec suggested the health service use ODM-guided "fluid management" during surgery. The US and France are also showing an interest. As the endorsements grow, so does Deltex's huge potential.

This was my toughest role ever – speaking at 100mph like Sherlock Holmes was hard, hard graft says Benedict Cumberbatch

In fact, the actor says delivering the sleuth's dazzling, lightning-fast speeches of deduction was more exhausting than any other role he has taken on.

Benedict confessed: "Every deduction is hard. It's always a painful process. There are all the details. It's like a stream of consciousness of incredibly condensed information.

"He just goes at 100 miles an hour and it's a huge speed to rush it out.

"It's just hard, it's hard graft ? there's no other word for it."

Benedict goes over and over the Sherlock script before filming to try to get the detective's warp-speed delivery right.

He smiles: "I practise at home, there is a lot of midnight oil burned."

It all leaves him jealous of co-star Martin Freeman, whose character, Holmes' sidekick Watson, has far more laidback speech pattern AND who can remember a script after reading it once.

He said: "I'm not saying Martin has an easy job because what he does is with scalpel precision and he works incredibly hard.

"But he has a photographic memory, he looks at the lines in the morning and it's learned, that's it.

"I can't. And if I fall behind or if I'm having difficulty getting something in, it's really hard. Hats off to him for putting up with me."

But the guys' efforts have paid off ? the much-loved BBC1 drama returned to screens on Sunday and triumphed in the ratings with an astonishing 9.6million viewers. That's two million up on the original 2010 Sherlock series.

The breakneck dialogue by writer Stephen Moffat was just one of the hurdles Benedict, Office star Martin and the rest of the cast had to cope with.

Filming on the three-part series in London in August had to be suspended for a whole day after rioters attacked the set on location.

Benedict revealed: "They picked up a bit of rigging and were hitting the side of the bowser, this fire engine-like machine.

"They thought it was some part of the establishment ? but it's actually just an old pump engine that spews out water to wet down streets or give a rain effect. I think it spooked people, and we had to cancel a day's filming until it all settled.

"I went home and watched London burn, which made me very angry.

"God knows I've been blessed, having come from a privileged background ? but for people to pull themselves out of those situations, work so hard and then have their neighbourhoods and livelihoods completely trampled on really upset me."

Filming scenes set in winter during the summer also proved tough for the Londoner, who also stars in the Steven Spielberg movie War Horse, which reaches UK cinemas next week.

Benedict, 35, recalled: "It's harder than films because in a way you are constrained by time and budget.

"You are playing winter when its summer so heat was a huge problem, all the time it was like 'F***ing hell', pulling coats off, running outside to get some fresh air, air conditioning units blowing in our eyeballs because it was absurdly hot.

"It's meant to be Christmas, Martin's got that beautiful woolly jumper on and I'm swishing around in a coat and scarf and its 38 degrees Celcius!" Then there was the whipping he underwent in Sunday's episode at the hands of a lesbian dominatrix played by Lara Pulver.

Benedict told TV Biz: "Lara went for it, it was really painful, I actually had welts on my arm.

"I don't know how people get pleasure out of that kind of thing, I genuinely don't. I know I was on a set but I did wonder, 'What is it that puts people in that mindset?'"

Ironically, Benedict had come from the set of the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where he played Peter Guillam in the thriller full of sexual secrets.

He said: "The secret sex lives, including my character's being a homosexual but playing someone incredibly straight in the workplace ? there is that element in that world.

"I sort of understand the psychology but, thankfully, I also don't have that appetite or that need. I've had my moment with it!"

Benedict ? who stripped naked in a stage production of Frankenstein last year ? was also impressed by Lara's nerve in a scene when she had to go completely starkers.

He said: "It wasn't the first scene we did, thank God, but she just went for it. It takes someone to have real chutzpah to go ahead and do that as an actress. I applaud that.

"It's a very brave thing to do. I don't know a single actress that is completely happy with their body, I don't know many women who are, or men that are. Maybe Peter Andre!"

Next Sunday's episode of the double Bafta-winning series is written by its co-creator Mark Gattis, of The League Of Gentlemen fame.

It retells with a modern twist one of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous Sherlock stories ? the one featuring the Hound Of The Baskervilles.

The final part of the trilogy is based on The Final Problem ? and Benedict is tight-lipped on whether the detective will survive. Conan Doyle killed off the sleuth in the original tale but brought him back to life in a later story.

So whether the series will ? or can ? return for a third series is another unsolved mystery.

Benedict said of the hit: "It's been fantastic, the variety of work and the people that I have got to meet.

"I'm sure it will keep going ? you saw the affection it holds, that was insane. It will be buoyed up by that.

"But where we will take it next, whether we can after what happens at the end of the next series, who knows?"

Benedict's parents are also actors. His mum, Wanda Ventham, played Cassandra's mother in Only Fools And Horses. Dad Timothy Carlton was in sitcoms including Next Of Kin. He spent a gap year teaching English in a Tibetan monastery. Benedict dated Thick Of It actress Olivia Poulet for ten years before they split up last March. He is now seeing designer Anna Jones. The shy actor gets around on a moped with a helmet to avoid being recognised near his home in Hampstead, north London. He is the voice of dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson's upcoming film The Hobbit, in which Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins.

Wayne Rooney row: Ian Wright says Alex Ferguson has played it perfectly

Not for the first time, at a crucial part of the season, the Manchester United manager has given a key player an almighty boot up the a**e.

I reckon Wayne Rooney will now bounce back with at least a goal against Newcastle in the Premier League tomorrow night before scoring again to help knock Manchester City out of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Despite not actually breaking a curfew, Fergie is clearly unhappy Rooney went out at night and then trained badly the next day.

This episode involving three United players ? Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson were also there ? was clearly unacceptable for Fergie and true to form, he has acted swiftly.

What the Old Trafford manager has done is send a clear message out to the team, particularly the younger lads, in terms of the standards that have to be met.

We have seen many times before, most notably with Roy Keane and David Beckham, that Ferguson is afraid of absolutely no one.

You could argue that in terms of the team, the decision to drop Rooney did not work as a depleted United still lost 3-2 at home to Blackburn.

But I think for Rooney, it will make a difference and he will return more focused.

In the past, Rooney has always done well in pressurised situations and I expect him to play well over the next few weeks.

Yet to deliver for United you need to be bang on form.

To perform at your very highest level, you have to train well ? and it was Fergie's view that this wasn't the case for Rooney on that specific day.

This incident is yet another example that the modern player has to be so careful when socialising.

Ferguson seems to have eyes and ears all over the North West and if a player dines out ? even if he behaves himself ? then Ferguson will know about it.

If you are unconvincing in training the next day, then you have had it.

George Graham was very similar when I was at Arsenal.

Say I went out with Tony Adams and Kevin Campbell, the manager would even have known which drinks we'd ordered let alone our actual location.

While some people like seeing a famous footballer out during the evening, there'll always be one or two people who will get the hump. They are the people players have to worry about.

It seems the contract dispute between Rooney and Ferguson was a far bigger problem than this latest issue.

Equally, though, Rooney has to remind himself that when a player takes on Ferguson ? as we have seen in the past ? there will only be one winner.

And it won't be the player.

Ferguson has other problems, though, as Saturday's shock defeat proved.

The goalkeeping situation is a weird one as Anders Lindergaard has played seven times for United this term and incredibly, has managed six clean sheets. That is some record for any keeper.

Meanwhile, David de Gea is having a few problems yet Fergie knows if he drops the player now, it could completely destroy his confidence.This is why the clash against Newcastle is such a crucial one and United need to win.

And they will have been particularly frustrated on Sunday as they watched City lose at Sunderland ? that made the defeat to Blackburn even more painful.

Meanwhile, I want to give a special mention to Rovers manager Steve Kean.

I was delighted for him after the win at United ? although yesterday's disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Stoke will once again put him under the spotlight.

But I think the criticism he has received from the club's fans has been absolutely disgraceful.

No manager should have to put up with this and many of the Blackburn supporters have embarrassed themselves.

Yet those fans with the banners have now put themselves in a position where they cannot back down.

However, I'd like to see them show some guts and stop their protests before getting behind their team ? and the manager.

Otherwise, they could face a very long few months.

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall at darts final

Zara, 30, quaffed champers as she joked around with rugby ace hubby Mike, 33.

He made her laugh by donning a beard, sunglasses and trilby hat "disguise" before holding up a "180" sign at the Alexandra Palace in North London.

The pair watched from the VIP area as Adrian Lewis, 26, beat Andy Hamilton, 44, to retain his PDC world darts crown, scoring eleven 180s.

Royle Family star Ralf Little, 31, held up a sign saying: "Mike Tindall is behind me!! Wow!"

David Williams, of event sponsor Ladbrokes, said: "Mark and Zara are big darts fans. The crowd held up signs asking how Prince Philip is."

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