Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Wife found Gary Speed's body, inquest hears


Wales football manager Gary Speed was found hanged at his home by his wife, an inquest was told today. The 42-year-old father-of-two was found dead at his Cheshire home on Sunday morning. Detective Inspector Peter Lawless, of Cheshire Police, told Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg that Speed's body was found by his wife Louise just before 7am. He said there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances and a post mortem examination found Speed's death was caused by hanging. Mr Rheinberg said: "I adjourn this inquest until January 30, 2012. The inquest will be heard in Warrington and will commence at 2pm." There was a huge media presence at the inquest in Warrington but members of Speed's family did not attend. The coroner asked the media to "respect the privacy" of Speed's family. Earlier today Welsh Assembly Members observed a minute's silence in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, while flags continue to fly at half mast outside the Welsh Assembly buildings Ty Hywel and the Senedd. Speaking on behalf of the footballer's widow, Louise, and the family, Speed's agent and best man at his wedding Hayden Evans said last night they had been "overwhelmed" with messages of support and condolence. Tributes to the former Leeds United, Everton and Newcastle United midfielder, also poured in from a host of public and sporting figures, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron said: "I know he meant an enormous amount to people and people feel very, very sad on his behalf and on his family's behalf." The Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said the organisation had received messages from UEFA and FIFA, with the Welsh flag at FIFA House in Zurich flying at half-mast. Mr Ford said: "He was such a great person and he is such a loss." Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, one of the brightest talents in Speed's Wales side, said it was a "massive shock". "It is a tragedy, everyone still can't get their head around it and all our condolences go out to his family and his kids. It is a hard time," Bale told tottenhamhotspur.com. Supporters have left scarves, football shirts and flowers across several football stadiums - including Everton's Goodison Park, Leeds United's Elland Road, Newcastle United's St James' Park and The Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales played their home games. The FAW has opened a book of condolences at its offices in Cardiff allowing fans to express their feelings about Speed's death.

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Saturday, 26 November 2011

TWO families are rejoicing after two men held in a Spanish prison were set free after four-and-a-half months


Kyle Thain, 24, and James Harris, 29, have been released on bail from Font Calent jail in Alicante.

This has left family members and friends overwhelmed – and they haven’t given up hope of getting them back to Britain for Christmas.

Kyle’s brother Jay, 29, said: “This is the best I have felt in a long while. It’'s amazing news.”

Sharon Harris, 56, Kyle’s mother, and husband Dave, 58, sold their Southend home to help fund the legal fight.

Yesterday, £8,000 was transferred to Spain for each of the lads’ bail.

Kyle of Sandringham Road, Southend, and James, of Pelham Road, Southend, have been held without charge since July 8. They are accused of attempted murder after two men were stabbed during a bar brawl near Alicante, close to where they were staying on a lads’ weekend away. They were arrested as they went to board the flight home.

The two pals have always maintained their innocence and insist they did not even set foot in the bar where the violence took place. Their families are convinced there has been a terrible case of mistaken identity.

Kyle and James are now due to leave prison today once funds have cleared. Jay and Sharon will fly out tomorrow where they will be reunited with Kyle and James who will stay with James’s mother Kate Burgess who has been in Spain since their arrest.

The decision on bail was finally made after a judge was presented with evidence that has been available all along.

Jay said a previous solicitor had told a judge that Kyle and James had pictures of them at their apartment around the time of the bar fight.

The new solicitor apparently put the time and date stamped pictures in front of the judge and said they convinced him it was sufficient evidence to at least release Kyle and James from jail.

A previous bail application in September was denied earlier this month and Kyle’s mum Sharon said she was beginning to prepare for Christmas being a “non-event”.

But now the two families are looking forward to trying to clear the names of Kyle and James once and for all.

Jay, also of Sandringham Road, added: “This is a really positive step in the right direction.

“The aim is to try and get them bail to the UK and to continue fighting for the case to be dropped completely.”

Since Kyle and James were arrested family and friends in south Essex have rallied in support with fundraising events netting thousands of pounds for the legal fight.

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Spanish savings bank directors suspected of fraud


Spanish savings bank has fired two directors and is investigating two former executives for allegedly syphoning off €20 million ($26.5 million) into secret pension funds, the bank said Saturday. The board of directors of Caixa Penedes bank had "required the departure" of its president, Ricard Pages, and director general Manuel Troyano. It said both men had agreed to leave, the bank said in a statement. The decision comes after state prosecutor for the northeastern region of Catalonia, Teresa Compte, said her office was investigating all four on suspicion of involvement in illegal activity. Regional newspaper La Vanguardia said the case was the first time prosecutors had investigated senior executives for "criminal responsibility" in their handling of a savings bank. The prosecutor named the other two former executives as Joan Caellas and Jaume Jorba. Caixa Penedes along with partners Cajamurcia, CajaGRANADA and SA NOSTRA owns Banco Mare Nostrum, S.A. (BMN). The group received €916 million ($1.21 billion) in restructuring aid from the Bank of Spain's Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB). The fund was set up to aid institutions meet higher reserve requirements and is aimed at strengthening their finances and quelling fears that Spain might be Europe's next country to need a bailout. Caixa Penedes said its board "disapproved of the content, method, lack of transparency, unusual nature and disproportionate size" of the remuneration package the four directors had helped themselves to. The pension funds were set up in another institution without the knowledge of Caixa Penedes's board. Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, spokesman for trade union Comisiones Obreras said that if the money could be recovered it could help offset the €45 million ($59.53 million) in wage bill savings BMN had recently said it would seek from its work force. He said many BMN employees are members of Comisiones Obreras. The investigation comes as Spain is burdened with an unemployment rate of 21.5 percent — nearly 5 million people out of work — the eurozone's highest. The country's borrowing costs have also risen to an almost unsustainable level of 7 percent interest rate on 10-year bonds. An auction of 12- and 18-month bonds last week also went badly, with Spain forced to offer very high interest rates to investors.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

A woman claiming to be the ex-wife of Colonel Gaddafi's captured son Saif al-Islam has emerged in Ukraine with extraordinary stories alleging domestic violence and womanising.

Nadia, a blue-eyed brunette claims to have met him when she worked as a stripper in a top Moscow nightclub, and says she is currently in hiding, fearing for her life.

She claimed that as she prepared for marriage to Saif, she had to fly to Paris to have an operation to 'restore' her virginity. '

'The doctor proved my innocence in the presence of Saif's aunt. Then I embraced Islam,' she added.

'I tried to have a normal family, but Saif wanted to live as a single man with lovers and orgies,' she said in a Ukrainian newspaper interview.

While there is no proof of her claim of have married and divorced Saif after two years, her claim appears to be taken seriously in Russia and Ukraine.

If she is who she says, she could be a key witness at his trial whether it is in Libya or under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

One aspect of his trial is likely to be his alleged friendship with a number of prominent British figures, including Prince Andrew, Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson.

High life: Nadia claims playboy Saif loved luxury and money and was a womaniser. He is pictured here at the Viennese Opera Ball in 2006

High life: Nadia claims playboy Saif loved luxury and money and was a womaniser. He is pictured here at the Viennese Opera Ball in 2006

'Our house looked like more as bordello: a lot of his friends and a lot of women,' she said.

'We got married under religious traditions, I embraced Islam for that, but nobody treated me as the mistress of the house.

'There was no respect at all. My husband tried to make me a submissive Eastern woman, and I couldn't stand that attitude.



'That broke me, ate me from inside. And what's more important, Saif took drugs and he couldn't control himself when he was under narcotics.




'He had certain sexual perversions in sex, for example, he liked to do it in public. I understood that we couldn't live together.'

Nadia, who is believed to be 29, claimed that their relationship ended after a furious row in a restaurant which culminated with him beating her and throwing her out of a window but she miraculously survived.

She claimed she was in a coma for 47 days, and that Gaddafi - who acknowledged her but never started a conversation with her - was outraged by his son's behaviour.

Gaddafi was known to have employed Ukrainian nurses in his medical team, but until now it was not known his second son has a wife from the former Soviet country.

Arrested: Sair al-Islam Gaddafi sitting with his captors in Obari airport on Saturday

Arrested: Sair al-Islam Gaddafi sitting with his captors in Obari airport on Saturday

Of Gaddafi himself she said: 'About me being in hospital, he was in a fury. He kicked Saif away to the desert. It could spoil the reputation of the family that was already not so clean.'

She left Libya and returned to Moscow. 'The last time he came was in 2008, and he suggested that we lived together again ~ but I was cold to him by that time.'

Nadia said she was working in Moscow until 2010 but a mutual friend then told her to disappear or she could face danger.

She claimed that Saif could not have replaced his father. 'He was afraid of his father, as of fire. And Gaddafi, I think, despised him for internal weaknesses.'

The fall: Saif al-Islam sits after his capture, with his fingers wrapped in bandages and his legs covered with a blanket, at an undisclosed location

The fall: Saif al-Islam sits after his capture, with his fingers wrapped in bandages and his legs covered with a blanket, at an undisclosed location

Playboy Saif loved luxury and money. She said: 'He was cheating on me all the time.'

Nadia - it is not known if this is her real name - is apparently in hiding in the Crimea where she says she is fearful of his enemies. 'I don't know any secrets, but still I'm scared,' she said.

She claims not to be rich but for Saif 'it was all in a day's work to spend $20,000 (USD) at a restaurant.

'When we separated I had only luxurious earrings which I managed to sell for $1million. I lived in Moscow on this money. Now almost nothing is left.'

Her most recent interview was with Ukrainian paper Respubika. It was made shortly before his capture.

'I thought Saif would turn my life into an Eastern fairytale,' she said. 'It didn't work.'

Saif panel


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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Biker Killing Was a Mistake


Chatting peacefully on the floor of a Nevada casino, a senior Hells Angels leader and a 27-year veteran of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang thought they had negotiated a truce between competing members who'd been itching for a fight at a weekend long biker festival. "Everything is going to be all right," the Vagos member recalls his rival telling him. "He said, 'I'm getting too old for this.' And I said, 'I'm getting too old for this too.'" An hour later, a brawl erupted and a shootout ensued, killing one of the highest-ranking Hells Angels in the country and wounding two Vagos members. More violence has followed the melee at the hotel-casino in Sparks on Sept. 23, but the longtime Vagos member told a grand jury in Reno earlier this month that the deadly gun battle was not part of some assassination plot or formal declaration of war. Rather, he testified under the condition of confidentiality that it was the result of the unauthorized behavior of a drunken, fellow Vagos — a loud-mouthed, loose cannon nicknamed "Jabbers" who provoked the fight that led to the fatal shooting. "Jabbers has a big mouth. He's always had a big mouth," said the witness, who described himself as being in the "higher echelon'" of Vagos leadership "before this event." Jabbers, whose real name is Gary Stuart Rudnick, was the vice president of the Vagos Los Angeles chapter but since has been kicked out of the club, according to the confidential witness. He's one of three men indicted on murder charges in the killing of Jeffrey "Jethro'" Pettigrew, the late president of the Hells Angels San Jose chapter. Rudnick had refused to back down even after national Vagos officers were summoned and talks with Hells Angels' leaders had calmed the volatile situation shortly after 10 p.m., the grand jury witness said. "This was diffused by national," he said. "The national (leaders) went down there and talked to them. Everything was worked out, there was no problems." But about an hour later, Rudnick again was taunting Pettigrew, who the witness said "in the Hells Angels world is one of the most important guys in the United States." Finally, he said Pettigrew had enough and punched Rudnick in the face, touching off a series of fights that led to the gunfire. "All hell broke loose," the witness testified. "Just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam." Another Vagos, Ernesto Gonzalez, is accused of shooting Pettigrew four times in the back and is being held without bail on an open murder charge. Rudnick and Cesar Villagrana, a Hells Angel member accused of shooting two Vagos that night, face second-degree murder charges for their role in the fracas. "There were so many shots, shots going off through this whole melee," the witness said. "I'm surprised a citizen didn't get shot because anyone could have walked around the corner or walked out of the bathroom and got shot." The 278-page transcript entered into the court record earlier this week offers a look at the mayhem in the jam-packed Nugget hotel-casino shortly before midnight on Sept. 23 — much of it captured on the casino's 448 security cameras. Investigators later retrieved dozens of shell casings and bullets — one lodged in a slot machine, others in bar stools, a card table and a metal poker chip holder.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Murder trial begins for two Hells Angels, five others


two full-patch Hells Angels, made their first appearance in a Vancouver courtroom Monday for the June beating death of Kelowna resident Dain Phillips. The men - Hells Angels members Robert Thomas and Norm Cocks - as well as Cocks' father Robert, Anson Schell, Thomas Vaughan and brothers Daniel and Matthew McRae were charged with second-degree murder two weeks after the fatal assault on Phillips on June 12. They made their initial appearances in Kelowna Provincial Court, where five of the accused were released on bail. But Crown prosecutors have decided to proceed by way of direct indictment, meaning the case goes straight to B.C. Supreme Court without a preliminary hearing at the Provincial Court level. And prosecutors have moved the case to Vancouver, where the accused appeared Monday in a new high-security courtroom built for an unrelated gang murder case. Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the decision to move the case to the Lower Mainland was made "given the number of the accused, the number of counsel involved and the demands the case would place on court resources in Kelowna." There is a ban on publication of evidence and submissions in the case. Justice Arne Silverman put the matter over until Dec. 19, with a tentative start date for the eight-month trial sometime in January 2013. Thomas, 46, and Norm Cocks, 31, appeared wearing red prison garb from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, where they remain in custody. The others - Dan McRae, 21, Matt McRae, 19, Schell, 19, Vaughan, 22 and Robert Cocks, 53 - arrived with relatives and supporters, each being directed to seats behind bulletproof Plexiglas. No one from Phillips's family attended Monday. The Vancouver Sun earlier reported that Phillips, a married father of three, tried to intervene peacefully in a dispute two of his sons were having with a pair of brothers with whom they had attended Rutland secondary. When Phillips drove to a meeting place on McCurdy Road in the early evening of June 12, he was attacked by a group of men who had arrived in two separate vehicles. He died later in hospital. Insp. Pat Fogarty, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said after the arrests that Phillips was trying to resolve the problem when he was savagely attacked. The elder Cocks is president of a Hells Angels puppet club called the Throttle Lockers, while the four youngest accused were described by police as gang associates. The case is believed to be the first in the 28-year-history of the Hells Angels in B.C. where a club member has been charged with murder.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Latin Kings charged in Texas slaying


Fifteen members of the Almighty Latin Kings have been indicted for alleged roles in 19 murders, including slayings of juveniles and a pregnant woman. One of the murders was in Big Spring, Texas, according to the indictment, made public Friday. The murders were done to control gang territory and further their illegal activities, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The indictment also alleges that two Chicago police officers robbed people for the gang, sometimes while in uniform, the Sun-Times reported. Several Latin King members already had been convicted in connection with a 2008 drive-by shooting in Big Spring where six people were shot with an AK-47.  The victims included a woman who was 26 weeks pregnant at the time. She and another victim died of their wounds, the department reported.

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Devastating report into the failures of police and care agencies to protect teenage girls who have been groomed, raped and sold by male gangs, most of whom are Asian.

The mother of one teenager from Leeds, who attempted suicide after a gang rape, said her daughter was the victim of a 'broken system.'

'Everyone failed her,' she told The Times. 'There was no sharing of information. 

'They (police) had the names and knew where they (abusers) worked yet the men who did this have never once been arrested or spoken to by the police.'

West Yorkshire Police vowed to look again at the case to see if 'there is evidence that can help bring evil men to book'.

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls
Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Children's charity Barnardos has been calling on the Government to take action on child exploitation since January with its Cut Them Free campaign.




Other caregivers have also suggested that political sensitivities are to blame for a near paralysis of the systems designed to keep children safe.


A silhouette of a teenage girl on white background with a mobile phone

Like most little girls, Josie lived for horses. She had an exemplary school record with 100 per cent attendance rate.

But at 13, the teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, was given a laptop and quickly became addicted to Facebook.

Her father was then warned his daughter was spending a lot of time with older Asian men.

One even told the father he would 'slit his throat' when he answered the phone to him.

From there it got worse. Josie started disappearing overnight and began drinking. 

Yet, when her father locked his daughter in her room to protect her, it was he who got into trouble with the police for false imprisonment.

He told The Times he has since collected every scrap of evidence to prove his daughter is being sexually exploited by gangs.

'The police kept saying that they're waiting until Josie realises it's wrong,' he said.

'Is that really the best they can do?


Rear view of a woman silhouetted against window light.

When the father of 14-year-old Charlotte looked at his daughter's Facebook profile, he discovered 'loads of male, Asian friends.'

Concerned, he started to restrict his daughter's activities. The teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, then went to live with her mother.

He tracked down all the names and addresses of her friends he believed were involved and passed them on to police.

Meanwhile her school was reporting Charlotte had begun arriving looking 'dirty and extremely thin'. 

She was going missing for days at a time, according to agency notes.

By October last year she 'admitted she has slept with different Asian males.'

The police told Charlotte's father they hoped to take action against the men.

That was 17 months ago and he is still waiting.

'There's no will to deal with this issue in Keighley' he said.

'What chance have these kids got if that's the attitude of the police?'

There is a culture 'which assumes that once a girl gets to 14 she's beyond hope of intervention - it's too late,' a source told The Times.

Police and care agencies often say that they cannot take action against suspects without the victim's co-operation. 

However, a 2008 protocol established by the force and West Yorkshire's five local authorities states: 'Adults involved in child sexual exploitation... should be treated as child sex abusers and subjected to the full rigour of the criminal law.'


A pregnant woman silhouetted against a set of blinds.

Nicola is the only case in six who was groomed by a gang of white men. 

The abuse began when she was 12 after a visit to Leeds from her family home in Bradford.

Nicola had thought they were 'really nice people' but by 13 she was doing drugs - 'everything but heroin'.

She was raped twice. The first time she was 'drugged up to the eyeballs' and remembers being dragged into a bedroom and gang raped.

Afterwards her mother took Nicola to the police station, only to be told that 'we don't deal with that here'.

In desperation Nicola's mother took her daughter to New Zealand and away from the gang.

She let her return four months later. 

Nicola did return to her old haunts but discovered it wasn't really what she wanted.

'I used to think it was so exciting,' she told The Times. 'But after New Zealand, it was like seeing them with another pair of eyes.'

She hasn't been back since.

Children's minister, Tim Loughton, suggested two weeks ago that the plan will call on councils to act with a 'much greater urgency' to identify victims of sexual exploitation while taking 'robust action against those who commit these appalling crimes.'

As well as the gang rape case of the girl in Leeds, five new cases have been highlighted by The Times' investigation.

No one has been prosecuted for sex exploitation in any of them. Only one of the girls in the six cases had been in care. 

One was groomed by white students, but in all the other cases, the perpetrators were Asian, mostly of Pakistani origin.

This pattern of abuse at the hands of male Asian gangs in the West Yorkshire area has been highlighted before, but never formally acknowledged.  

In January the Asian ringleaders of a gang in Derby, who brought a ‘reign of terror’ to a city’s streets, targeting and grooming young girls for horrific sexual abuse, were jailed.

Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

A DfE spokesman refused to reveal the contents of the National Action Plan but said: 'We are publishing an action plan this week and that will draw on work around the country to prevent sexual exploitation, identify those at risk and support victims.

'It will address the challenge of securing prosecutions and the need for robust action against perpetrators.

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Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it. So runs the slogan. Would you


Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it. So runs the slogan. Would you? Here's interim (that's reassuring) chief executive Sam Weihagen doing his safe-as-houses routine: "It's business as usual. We are trading within all our covenants. We have all the protection in place like any other travel company, and customers should not worry at all." Well, not quite like any other travel company. Thomas Cook of course holds an Air Travel Organisers' Licence from the Civil Aviation Authority which means customers should get their money back in the event of calamity. But the simple fear of being stranded a week after passengers of Austria's Comtel Air had to bribe pilots with £20,000 just to return to Birmingham is bound to unsettle would-be customers. There's a circle at work here and it is vicious. Given the choice between a similarly priced holiday with Thomas Cook or, say, Thomson, why would you risk the former? To counteract this, Thomas Cook might have to slash prices. That will eat into margins, cut profits and put banking covenants at risk. It might very quickly find it needs to borrow even more money. The company insists: "This is a robust business that has a strong future". We'll see.

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Police were in dark over foreign axe killer living in UK


COPS did not know an East European axe murderer was living in the UK until he caused a killer car crash, a court heard yesterday. Intars Pless, 34, hacked through a friend's throat in his native Latvia, then moved to Britain after he got out of jail. But Lincoln Crown Court heard police can only check a foreign national's record if they break the law here. So Pless's horrific crime came to light only after he drove into moped rider Valentina Planciunene, 37, while over twice the limit. Stuart Lody, prosecuting, told the court: "On the night of Valentine's Day he decided it would be a perfectly good idea to drink a very large quantity of whisky. Surprised "He and a friend spent a considerable period of time drinking whisky and driving around. "During the driving he was possibly drinking whisky as well. An empty whisky bottle was found in the boot of the car. "At the time of the collision he was heavily under the influence of alcohol. His ability to drive would have been severely impaired." Pless was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving after the jury heard he left her dead in the road in Wyberton Fen, Lincs. He was told he faces a long jail term. The judge also called for his deportation.

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Thomas Cook is running low on cash and has begun talks with its banks

Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook planes parked at Munich airport last year. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Thomas Cook is running low on cash and has begun talks with its banks, in an effort to increase its borrowings to tide it over the slow Christmas season.

Shares in the tour operator fell by more than three quarters on Tuesday morning after it admitted that trading has "deteriorated" in recent months. It is now seeking to borrow more in the short term, and has postponed the publication of its financial results until the talks are concluded.

Shares in the company, which abruptly lost its chief executive three months ago, tumbled by more than 75% to 9.3p at one stage.

Tour operators tend to run low on cash in the slower winter months, but even so, the news stunned the City. Only last month, Thomas Cook said it had agreed a further £100m in short-term funding from its banks explicitly for the winter lull.

A spokeswoman said that discussions with banks were merely a "prudent" and "pro-active" move. Thomas Cook still has cash in the bank, she said, but wants to be prepared for any unexpected shocks over Christmas. All customer orders are protected by the ATOL protection scheme and equivalent programmes, she added. "Thomas Cook still has cash on the balance sheet, but because conditions have deteriorated further [since October], particularly around trading, some of that extra funding has been used up. Thomas Cook feels it needs more headroom to be prudent," she said.

Interim CEO Sam Weihagen added: "It's business as usual. We are trading within all out business, and financial, covenants, we have all the protection in place like any other travel company, and customers should not worry at all."

The company is seeking roughly £100m more in its latest talks. It made the decision to renew talks with banks on financing after realising the scale of the recent downturn in an internal trading update meeting yesterday.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Chicago cops accused of working for Latin Kings held without bond


Two Chicago police officers accused of committing armed robberies at the will of alleged Latin King members were ordered held without bond Monday. Alex Guerrero, 41, and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, were the ones in handcuffs Monday afternoon, appearing before a federal judge in orange Porter County jumpsuits. The duo were named in a 46-page indictment unsealed Friday that alleges a racketeering conspiracy among fifteen Latin King gang members or associates. Guerrero's attorney, Kevin Milner, fought for his client to be on home detention. He said his clients' parents offered to put up their $175,000 Chicago home for their son's pretrial release. "For Mr. Guerrero to violate his bond, his parents would be on the street homeless," Milner said. "I've known Mr. Guerrero for 15 years. He would rather slit his wrists than do that to his parents." Milner claimed there was no evidence against Guerrero, and that the father of six had no criminal record. According to the indictment, Guerrero and Martinez Jr., committed armed robberies of drug dealers in Illinois and Indiana while in uniform and under the guise of performing legitimate police operations. They allegedly turned over the drugs and money to the Latin Kings in exchange for about $10,000 in kickbacks. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick argued that Guerrero and Martinez were dangers to the community after using Chicago police vehicles, service weapons and uniforms to rob people at gunpoint. Nozick also said Guerrero was a flight risk, as his wife has family in Mexico and he faces up to life in prison.  Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich ordered Guerrero held without bond. Milner said they were disappointed with the decision, and that his client would be sitting in jail for at least a year pending trial for a crime he did not commit.  "I don't know who will give him that year back," Milner said. Martinez Jr., did not contest being held pending trial.

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Police on the Costa del Sol were yesterday hunting a gang who stole £1million of cocaine from a warehouse where authorities held seized drugs before destroying them.

Police on the Costa del Sol were yesterday hunting a gang who stole £1million of cocaine from a warehouse where authorities held seized drugs before destroying them.

The thieves used laser equipment to cut through the metal doors of the store in the docks at Malaga, the capital of the southern Spanish holiday coast. 

They struck when there were no security guards on duty and  it had been left to the paramilitary Civil Guard to watch the building.

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck


Drugs seized by police and customs are stored there for tests to be carried-out before the courts issue orders to destroy them.

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Prison for man who left €5,000 bill at Marbella hotel


A MAN has been sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay a bill of more than €5,438 at a luxury Marbella hotel. He had been staying at the Marbella Club on the Golden Mile for a week in September 2003 and during the stay, used different services which amounted to €5,438, which he left without paying. The hotel made a formal complaint but the trial wasn’t held until this year mainly due to difficulties locating the man. He admitted that he has stayed at the hotel but had refused to pay the bill because he thought it excessive for the services he had received. His lawyer maintained that he attempted to reach an agreement with the hotel, which the manager claims that he had shown no intention of paying, and that until the day of the trial, when he handed in €3,349, he hadn’t received any money from him. The judge considered that the man had intended to commit fraud and he was sentenced to two years in prison and the payment of the bill plus interests. He appealed, and Malaga Provincial Court, although maintaining that he intended to commit fraud, reduced the sentence by one year because he had attempted to repair some of the damage by bringing a large part of the money he owed to the trial to give to the hotel.

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Gang targets wealthy diners


Diners at some of the city's most popular restaurants had their credit card details stolen by waiters working for gangs, who targeted customers with American Express black cards, then spent millions of dollars on expensive clothes and vintage wine, it is alleged. The cards of wealthy customers at Smith & Wollensky, the Capital Grille and Wolfgang's Steakhouse restaurants were allegedly "skimmed" and used to buy Rolex watches, Jimmy Choo shoes and Chanel handbags. Almost 30 people have been charged with crimes, including racketeering, conspiracy and grand larceny, after the alleged fraud ring was broken by police in Manhattan. Seven waiters at the restaurants are alleged by prosecutors to have been recruited by Luis Damian "D.J." Jacas, the 41-year-old alleged ringleader, and equipped with card-copying devices. They were instructed to focus on customers with premium credit cards, including the American Express black card, so that expensive purchases would not trigger alerts to customers. "The thieves were very selective, waiting until they were handed cards with extremely high or unlimited credit," said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance.

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Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart supermarket fortune and the the 10th richest woman in the United States, opened a spectacular fine art museum in her home town

Moshe Safdie
Architect Moshe Safdie looks out of a window next to a large red untitled magnifying disk sculpture by artist Fred Eversley at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Photograph: Danny Johnston/AP

When Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart supermarket fortune and the the 10th richest woman in the United States, opened a spectacular fine art museum in her home town, she might have expected plaudits and gratitude. It hasn't quite worked out that way.

The long-awaited opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum for American Art in Walton's home town of Bentonville, Arkansas, has provoked mixed reactions. Some have celebrated the unveiling of a significant new private art institution, but many have criticised the decision to spend $1.4bn of company and family foundation money as the retail colossus cuts back its workers' benefits.

Protesters at the museum have informally joined forces with the Occupy Wall Street camps across the US and point to growing ties between the Occupy movement and established trade unions.

The museum, which opened last weekend and features a survey of American art from Benjamin West to Georgia O'Keefe, from Norman Rockwell to Andy Warhol, and from Joan Mitchell to Walton Ford, has also come under criticism from within the art establishment for both inflating values and buying masterpieces from impoverished art institutions without giving local institutions a chance to match Walton's offer.

While historians point out that this is little different from 19th-century robber barons such as Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie amassing vast collections of European art and bringing it to America, the prospect of hundreds of masterpieces in rural Bentonville, two hours' drive from Tulsa, is still controversial.

Walton, at 62 the youngest of Walmart founder Sam Walton's four children, started buying specifically for the project in 2005. The Moshe Safdie-designed institution, which sits in 120 acres of dogwood trees and trails minutes from downtown Bentonville, already has 440 works on display and 800 in storage.

"We set market records for very few pieces that we purchased," says curator, David Houston. "But there is latent criticism from an east coast elite that bringing a famous painting like Thomas Eakins's [$68m] Gross Clinic to Arkansas is itself an act of cultural vandalism. We're bringing art to the public, but it's a different kind of public, and there are social and political connotations to that."

In the week since Crystal Bridges opened, it has already seen 5,000 registered visitors. "Sheer curiosity and hunger for an institution like this bears out Alice Walton's vision," Houston says.

Ben Waxman, spokesman for the union-affiliated Making Change@Walmart, said: "Opening a huge, opulent museum in the middle of nowhere while the company is cutting health insurance for its employees is troubling. It sends the message Wal-Mart doesn't care about them."

The issues of wealth distribution that have brought art into conflict with the labour movement at Crystal Bridges have also been on display at Sotheby's during the billion-dollar modern, impressionist and contemporary sales earlier this month in New York.

Since August, when Sotheby's dismissed 43 unionised art handlers, its salesrooms have been besieged by Teamsters union members, bearing an inflatable rat and a fat cat banker with a cigar in one hand and throttled worker in the other. "The company is having its most profitable year in 267 years and they locked us out in the middle of our contract," said Teamsters member Phil Cortero. "Sotheby's represents the richest people in the world. When you lose your shirt down on Wall Street you come and hock your stuff here."

Increasingly, the Teamsters are joined by Occupy Museum activists, chanting "We are the 99%!" They protest that the multimillion dollar art handled by auction houses is used to maintain and transfer the wealth of the 1%.

Outside Christie's, which is not involved in the dispute, Los Angeles property developer Eli Broad, one of America's wealthiest men, confirmed as much to the New York Times. "People would rather have art than gold or paper," he said.

OWS Labor Outreach member Mike Friedman said that Occupy had no problem with the art itself. "But at a time when we're seeing cutbacks in health and education spending, we're seeing the transfer of wealth by way of tax cuts and subsidies to an elite who use excesses of that transfer to buy these magnificent works of art."

With the end of the Zuccotti Park sit-in, Occupy says it plans to initiate focused protests against cultural institutions associated with big Wall Street donors. It has singled out Lincoln Center, home to the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and New York fashion week, which is financially supported by Tea Party funder David Koch.

Back at Crystal Bridges, Houston argues that it will take years to see the full effect of how the Walton family has used its wealth. The family foundation is active in a whole variety of charitable activities, many of them educational, he says. "Their intent is not to create a shrine to an individual or even a family. Their goal is to create a tremendous cultural resource in this part of the world."

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Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hollywood star Natalie Wood was screaming for help as she drowned

Hollywood star Natalie Wood  was screaming for help as she drowned, according to a witness whose account has never been disclosed.

Retired stockbroker Marilyn Wayne has told The Mail on Sunday she tried to report the star’s ‘last desperate cries for help’ but was ignored.

Los Angeles police last week said ‘substantial new evidence’ has led them to reopen their investigation into the death 30 years ago this week. 

Mystery: Natalie drowned after a row while drinking with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken

Mystery: Natalie drowned after a row while drinking with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken

The West Side Story actress’s drowning off the coast of California was ruled accidental at the time. Now a police source has described Wood’s husband, Hart-To-Hart star Robert Wagner, now 81, as ‘a person of interest’ in the case. 

Wagner – who was on his yacht Splendour with his wife and her alleged lover, Oscar-winner Christopher Walken, on the fateful night – has always maintained Wood, 43, accidentally slipped and drowned as she drunkenly tried to tie up a dinghy against the boat.  


Wayne, 68, believes new statements from her and Dennis Davern, skipper of the Splendour, had triggered the latest police probe.

She said: ‘I have been waiting for years for them to take my account seriously but they would never listen.’

Wayne was on a nearby boat with a boyfriend called John on the night of November 28, 1981.

In a sworn statement submitted to the LA Sheriff’s department, Wayne said: ‘My cabin window was open. A woman’s voice, crying for help, awakened John and awakened me, “Help me, someone please help me, I’m drowning”, we heard repeatedly.’

Wayne said John turned on their yacht’s beam light but they couldn’t see anything. Wayne claims she called the harbour patrol officer ‘but no one answered’ and the local sheriff’s office, who told her a helicopter would be sent. But it did not come. 

She also claims to have heard a man’s slurred voice from the direction of the Splendour saying: ‘Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.’ 

Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner (left) on their boat Splendour , with captain Dennis Davern (right), whose revelations have helped re-open the case into Ms Wood's death

Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner (left) on their boat Splendour, with captain Dennis Davern (right), just weeks before she died

‘Not long after that the cries for help subsided,’ she recalled.

It was only when Wayne gave an account of her story to a U.S. TV crew for a programme scheduled to air next week, that she was asked to give a statement to police.

Wayne’s account matches that of Davern who says he was ‘coerced’ by Wagner’s lawyer into backing Wagner’s story of an accidental drowning after the death.

Davern’s police statement describes a night of heavy drinking that ended in a furious row between Wagner and Wood after Walken had retired to bed.

Emotional: IN a television interview, Lana Wood said her sister was terrified of water

Emotional: In a television interview, Lana Wood said her sister was terrified of water

Wood's sister has claimed the actress was so scared of water that she would never have tried to get into a dinghy voluntarily before she drowned.

The coroner's ruling, based on accounts from the actress's husband Robert Wagner, outlined how she had fallen into the sea after attempting to secure the small boat, but that finding should not be believed, Lana Wood said.

Wood had developed a deep-rooted fear of water ever since her mother warned her as a child that she would meet her death by drowning in 'dark water', Lana Wood told TMZ.

She said: 'It gave Natalie a great fear. She hated the water, she wouldn't even go into her own pool at home.'

Coroner's officials at the time wrote that Ms Wood was 'possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.'

Lana Wood, also an actress best known for her part in Diamonds Are Forever, had never believed that her sister would have tried to sail herself at night, even after drinking for several hours.

The 65-year-old also claimed that the actress's husband left her to drown on the night of her tragic death.

In an emotional interview Lana Wood said that when Natalie was in the water, Wagner, who she calls RJ, had forbidden the captain from helping her and said: 'Leave her there, teach her a lesson'.

Speaking to TMZ, she claimed Dennis Davern, captain of the Splendour yacht from which Ms Wood fell and drowned in 1981, told her what Wagner had said.  

Lana told TMZ: 'He (Dennis) said that everyone was quite drunk and that a fight broke out and that Natalie was in the water and he and RJ did nothing to pull her out.

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Mystery: The yacht 'Splendour' was pictured today moored in a harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii after investigators reopened the case into the mysterious death of Natalie Wood

Lana Wood\nRef 68417ES\nCredit Eddie sanderson/scopefeatures.com

Seeking the truth:  Lana Wood, right, said she never believed Wagner's story about how her sister Natalie, far left, died and believes only Wagner can give her the truth

'He said, and this is a direct quote from what Dennis told me: 'Leave her there, teach her a lesson'.'

In her interview she also claimed that the captain told her Wagner called his attorney before he alerted the Coastguard to the incident. 

The revelations come as the police confirmed today that they will reopen the investigation into the death and said they may use new DNA technology after receiving 'credible and substantial information'.

They said, until they find evidence to say otherwise, Natalie Wood's death will still be ruled as an accidental drowning.

The sheriff said at this point her actor-husband Wagner is not a suspect.

One of the key witnesses in the reopening of the investigation is Mr Davern, who police confirmed they would interview.

Mr Davern has blamed Ms Wood's husband for the death,  claiming that - at the behest of Wagner - they did not do enough to find Ms Wood, after he advised against calling coastguards for four hours.

When asked if he thought Wagner was responsible for Ms Wood's death, he said: 'Yes, I would say so.'

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Bee Gee Robin Gibb Fighting Liver Cancer


Bee Gee Robin Gibb, who has been increasingly frail in recent months, has been diagnosed as suffering from liver cancer. The 61-year-old learned he had the disease several months ago, but the news only emerged this week when he was rushed to hospital. He is reported to have spent five hours in hospital in Oxford on Tuesday before being allowed home, and his brother and bandmate Barry is reported to have flown to see him - along with his 91-year-old mother Barbara. A source told The Mirror: "Robin is not good and there is a lot of concern for him. You can use your wealth to call in the best experts but sometimes no amount of fame, prestige and money can change things when it comes to cancer. "But Robin is a strong character, he is a fighter and has been encouraged by all the online messages from his fans. Dwina is doing everything ­possible and hasn’t left his side. "There will be difficult times ahead but Robin will never give up and his loving family will make sure he has everything he needs. There is ­frustration because Robin has always looked after himself. He doesn’t drink, eats well and exercises daily."

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Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine close to a military barracks on the paradise island of Reunion, a new post-mortem has confirmed.

A second examination of the body of the Kent man revealed he had been sexually assaulted prior to being beaten about the head and knifed in the stomach. 

The first bungled autopsy put his death down to an accident. 

As revealed by MailOnline yesterday, his family believe his murder was covered up to protect tourism there, which accounts for 70per cent of GDP.

A team of British detectives is due to arrive on the island to assist investigations, sources indicated at the weekend. 

On the night of his death on November 9, Mr Davies had been out drinking in St Denis, the capital of Reunion, with two sailors who were serving on board the Cyprus-registered MV Atlantic Trader.

Mr Davies, 33, was employed on the container ship as a guard against Somali pirates who regularly prey on ships in the Indian ocean.

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shiny Audis and BMWs that still line the narrow streets of Benalup are a reminder that this Andalucían country town once boasted the greatest number of luxury cars per head in the south-western province of Cádiz.

Benalup Street Andalucia Spain
 Photograph: Tracey Fahy /Alamy

The shiny Audis and BMWs that still line the narrow streets of Benalup are a reminder that this Andalucían country town once boasted the greatest number of luxury cars per head in the south-western province of Cádiz.

These days this charming place, set bull-rearing countryside inland from Gibraltar, holds a different kind of record: not only the worst unemployment rate in the country, but the worst in Europe.

"I don't know whether they can fix this," said 19-year-old Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, one of hundreds of young people who dropped out of school and now drift between part-time work, training courses and the dole queue. "I've picked asparagus and worked in a packing factory, but the jobs never last. The future is screwed."

"Everyone our age is out of work," agreed Nora Pérez, 22, as she waited for the hearse bringing her grandmother to her funeral in the picturesque square of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. "My father went to Germany when he was young. Our generation may emigrate as well. Some of my friends have already left."

A grey-bearded, bespectacled man grins from a campaign poster overlooking the tiny ornamental gardens and bandstand on San Juan Street and calls on the people of Benalup to "sign up to change". He is Mariano Rajoy, the conservative People's party (PP) leader set to become Spain's prime minister at the general election on Sunday.

Rajoy will inherit a country in crisis. Growth is zero and unemployment has hit 23%. In Cádiz province, one in three is jobless. In Benalup 1,500 adults are without work. In a country where 46% of the under-25s cannot find employment, Benalup's unqualified youngsters are getting desperate.

"Many got into debt when times were good, buying houses and cars and starting families," says Ricardo Jiménez, who runs the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas. "Families are very close and help one another out, but we already help 80 families and more come every month. Some are asking for help to feed their babies," he said. That means almost 5% of the town needs church handouts.

Others are handed money by the town hall or given whatever jobs local politicians can invent. "If we have to dig a ditch we do it by hand, rather than with a digger, because that way we employ more people," said councillor Manuel Moguel.

When Luis Moreno, 23, left school five years ago there was no need to worry about finding a job. All you had to do was walk on to a building site. "It was very simple," he says.

Now he receives €526 (£450) a month to attend a training course designed to turn a dozen locals into graphic designers, though design jobs are not plentiful in Benalup. "We have to learn new skills," he says. He is one of the lucky ones. Courses like this are heavily oversubscribed.

As markets demand ever higher interest payments for lending Spain money, and the European Union instructs its politicians to slash its deficit, public money is drying up. Yields on Spanish debt have now overtaken Italy's and soared to the same levels at which Greece and Portugal needed to be bailed out. And if Spain – a much larger economy – fails, then it may bring down the euro.

Spain's biggest problem remains the money owed to banks for property or land bought during a decade-long boom fuelled by cheap credit. The rows of unsold new homes in Benalup are evidence of Spain's housing bubble, which burst in 2008, leaving 700,000 unsold new houses on the market.

By 2004, more than 80% of Benalup's labour force worked in construction, building homes or holiday apartments along the nearby Mediterranean coast.

"Kids left school at 16 because they could earn €3,000 a month working a three-and-a-half-day week," says Moguel. "I had university-trained engineers working in my company who were earning less than that."

As money poured into people's pockets, the number of banks in town doubled. La Caixa, a newly arrived savings bank, started a local lending war – its manager winning awards. "Kids were buying houses and cars with the loans. And those who already had a house bought another one," says Moguel.

Now the town is plastered with "For Sale" signs from Servihabitat, the real estate branch of La Caixa, which is repossessing properties – though owners must still pay off their full debt after homes have been taken away. "That's unfair. You can't have a bank saying your home is worth €180,000, lending you the money and then repossessing it at half that price," says Moguel, a Socialist. He is uncomfortably aware that Spain's torrid affair with speculative capitalism happened largely on the watch of the Socialist government led by outgoing prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Even in Benalup, where the Socialists once won 90% of the vote and which still remembers the bloody suppression of an uprising by local anarchists in the 1930s, the vote is now sliding to the right. "It used to be tough in this town to be from the People's party, but we won 43% of the vote at municipal elections in May," says Vicente Peña, a 40-year-old veterinarian who heads the party's local branch.

Peña delivers the same diagnosis of Benalup's ills as his Socialist opponents. "Too many people dropped out of school to become bricklayers. They can't even write a sentence properly."

Vicente Ruiz, owner of the El Buyí bar, will vote for Rajoy. "When Caritas is the biggest employer in town, things are really bad," he says. "It is shameful to have to ask for charity. What we need is a Mrs Thatcher."

Public money is being spent on silly projects, clients in his bar agree. "I've had 60-year-old women coming to bricklaying courses," says one, Nicolás. "It is ridiculous, but they each get their own overalls and hammer."

Peña says that, among other things, people will have to go back to the land. But even there things are going badly. Local horses, bred at stud farms set up as a trophy hobby by nouveau riche local builders, are now being sacrificed for meat and exported to dinner tables in northern Spain.

Pura Raza Española ponies are going for €150. Even fighting bulls are on the decline. "Town halls subsidised many bullfights," says rancher Salvador Gaviria. "But now they have no money, so the market is sinking." The number of bullfights across Spain has fallen by a third as a result.

Benalup is too far inland from the beach to attract tourists. A golf resort set up by a Belgian company, Fairplay, is said to be struggling. The Hotel Utopia, a boutique-style establishment that opened recently, was almost empty this week.

Spaniards hope Rajoy, who has been deliberately ambiguous about his austerity programme and liberal reform plans, can fix their problems. "If changing to Rajoy is going to solve everything, then why haven't the markets – which know he is going to win — shown they trust him?" asks Moguel.

Rajoy will come under immediate pressure to reveal how he plans to square a budget that needs some €41bn of savings next year. Those must come on top of austerity measures already imposed by Zapatero, who cut civil service pay and froze pensions.

Alberto Ruíz Gallardón, PP mayor of Madrid and a probable minister, has called on the socialists to hand over power quickly. "It could be dangerous to prolong the caretaker period," he says.

But parliament does not meet again until 13 December and it may take another fortnight to appoint Rajoy formally. Even if he takes over immediately, jobs are unlikely to reappear in Benalup.

Fortunately it retains the Cádiz tradition of laughing at adversity. Benalup's carnival musical groups are already practising the typicalchirigota songs that parody the powerful. Rajoy, Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank can all expect to feature in them by the time carnival comes around in February.

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