Saturday, 31 March 2012

Kansas man struck by lightning hours after buying lottery tickets


A Kansas man was struck by lightning hours after buying three Mega Millions lottery tickets on Thursday, proving in real life the old saying that a gambler is more likely to be struck down from the sky than win the jackpot. Bill Isles, 48, bought three tickets in the record $656 million lottery Thursday at a Wichita, Kansas grocery store. On the way to his car, Isles said he commented to a friend: "I've got a better chance of getting struck by lightning" than winning the lottery. Later at about 9:30 p.m., Isles was standing in the back yard of his Wichita duplex, when he saw a flash and heard a boom -- lightning. "It threw me to the ground quivering," Isles said in a telephone interview on Saturday. "It kind of scrambled my brain and gave me an irregular heartbeat." Isles, a volunteer weather spotter for the National Weather Service, had his portable ham radio with him because he was checking the skies for storm activity. He crawled on the ground to get the radio, which had been thrown from his hand. Isles had been talking to other spotters on the radio and called in about the lightning strike. One of the spotters, a local television station intern, called 911. Isles was taken by ambulance to a hospital and kept overnight for observation. Isles said doctors wanted to make sure his heartbeat was back to normal. He suffered no burns or other physical effects from the strike, which he said could have been worse because his yard has a power line pole and wires overhead. "But for the grace of God, I would have been dead," Isles said. "It was not a direct strike." Isles said he had someone buy him ten more tickets to the Mega Millions lottery on Friday night. While one of the three winning tickets was sold in Kansas, Isles was not a winner. Officials of the Mega Millions lottery, which had the largest prize in U.S. history, said that the odds of winning lottery were about 176 million to one. Americans have a much higher chance of being struck by lightning, at 775,000 to one over the course of a year, depending on the part of the country and the season, according to the National Weather Service. Isles, who is out of work after being laid off last June by a furniture store, said he did once win $2,000 in the lottery and will keep playing. "The next time I will use the radio while sitting in the car," he said

Continue Reading »

Friday, 30 March 2012

Kevin 'Gerbil' Carroll murder trial

PHOTOGRAPHS of the spot where gangland figure Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll was shot dead were shown to a murder trial jury yesterday. The pictures – shown on day one of the trial – included an image of an Audi with smashed windows. The court was told the car was “subject to a significant degree of examination”. Carroll, 29, was shot in the car park of Asda in Robroyston, Glasgow, in January 2010. Ross Monaghan, 30, has been accused of Carroll’s murder. It is alleged that, while masked and acting with others, Monaghan repeatedly discharged loaded handguns at him, shooting him on the head and body. Monaghan is accused of – while acting with others – attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of a revolver, pistol and ammunition in undergrowth in Coatbridge and Airdrie. It is also claimed a car bearing false number plates was set on fire. Monaghan also faces a number of firearms charges. He denies all the charges against him at the High Court in Glasgow and has incriminated Mr X, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and seven others. The trial, before Lord Brailsford, continues.

Continue Reading »

popular Caribbean dancing style used by adults, known as 'daggering', is sexualising the dance floors of a much younger generation.

 

 Teenagers as young as 11 are modelling sex acts and rape, in the form of daggering, on the dance floor with their peers. Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz said: "there's not a lot separating that kind of behaviour from actual violent, coercive sex." Footage seen by Channel 4 News [see above] shows an under-18s club night in East London. As with all 'under-18s' club nights, everyone is between 11 and 16. Some of the children look much younger. The club is packed. The music: Caribbean dancehall. The dancing style: daggering. It is a style of dancing that any carnival regular will be used to. Aficionados will no doubt, have a more technical description of the style but it mainly involves women bending over and rubbing their backsides up against the men's crotches. During that August weekend in Notting Hill every adult gives it a go. But what's different about this night club is that every child is giving it a go. Spurred on by the DJ, the 'daggering' becomes more enthusiastic, some of it verging on violent. Boys and girls end up on top of each other on the floor simulating sex. Throughout the night someone employed by the club promoter (presumably an adult) is filming it all and uploading it on the club's website via YouTube.

Continue Reading »

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Baggage handlers to strike at Easter

 

Baggage handlers at Stansted Airport are to strike over Easter in a row over pay, the GMB union announced today. The move follows an overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action by 150 GMB members employed by Swissport after the union claimed that shift changes would lead to wage cuts of up to £1,000. The GMB said strikes will be held on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, threatening disruption to passengers flying on holiday for the holiday break. GMB official Gary Pearce said: "GMB members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and for action short of a strike. "Up to now the company has been intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable, as this vote shows. "GMB has offered several alternative shift patterns and working arrangements but the company refuses to listen so far. "I have notified Swissport of the ballot result and I have asked them for more talks to try to avert action over these pay cuts. "GMB members consider that Swissport is attempting to make savings at their expense and they are not willing to agree to this. "Unless there is urgent talks and a settlement, this vote for action this will result in disruption over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. "The travelling public need to be aware that it has been this aggressive move by Swissport to cut our members pay at a time of high inflation that has led to this strike vote. "If the strike goes ahead, Swissport is entirely to blame for the disruption."

Continue Reading »

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Shawn Tyson guilty of murdering two Britons in Florida

 

An American teenager has been found guilty of the first degree murder of two British tourists in Florida. James Cooper, 25, from Warwickshire, and James Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, were shot dead on a public housing estate in Newtown, Sarasota. The pair, who met at Sheffield University, were killed after drunkenly wandering into the estate in the early hours of 16 April 2011. The court heard Shawn Tyson, 17, killed them after trying to rob them. Tyson, who was tried as an adult despite being 16 at the time of the shooting, faces life in prison with no chance of parole. 'Shattered soul' The families of Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris were not in court but said in a statement they were satisfied with the verdict. They added: "It is a fact that we were given a life sentence when our sons were so brutally and needlessly taken from us. "Ours is a life sentence, with no chance of parole from a broken heart, and a shattered soul." Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper had been out drinking in downtown Sarasota before they were shot The families also criticised the Sarasota court system that freed Tyson after a judge warned he was a danger to the public. Hours before he shot the two Britons, Tyson was arrested for a separate shooting incident in which no-one was hurt. In the statement the families said: "The evil of the killer is one thing, but the fact is, he would not have been on the streets had instructions to keep him incarcerated been passed from one judge to another." Killer's boast When the mistake came to light the Mayor of Sarasota, Kelly Kirschener, vowed the city's prosecutors would never let anything similar happen again. During the trial jurors heard how Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper had been out drinking in downtown Sarasota before getting lost and wandering into the Newtown area in the early hours. The prosecution said they were confronted by Tyson who tried to rob them and then shot them when he realised they had very little money. The court heard Tyson had boasted to his friend Latrece Washington, who testified against him, that one of the men had begged for his life but he shot him anyway.

Continue Reading »

Legal High Mexxy, Alternative To Ketamine, To Be Outlawed

 

legal high known as "mexxy" is to be outlawed, the Government has announced. It follows concerns that two people whose bodies were found in Leicestershire in February may have taken some form of the drug after buying it over the internet. Methoxetamine, or mexxy, will initially be made illegal for 12 months while Government advisers decide whether to ban it completely. Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley said: "Making this drug illegal sends a clear message to users and those making and supplying it that we are stepping up our fight against substances which are dangerous and ruin the lives of victims and their families. "But making drugs illegal is only part of the solution. "It is important for users of these harmful substances to understand that just because they are described as legal highs, it does not mean they are safe or should be seen as a 'safer' alternative to illegal substances." Anyone caught making, supplying or importing the drug faces up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Under the change in law, police and border officials will also have new powers to search or detain anyone they suspect of having the drug and seize, keep or dispose of a substance they suspect is methoxetamine. After its growing use as a party drug, the Home Office referred mexxy to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) for its views on controlling it earlier this month. The drug, used as an alternative to ketamine, is widely available on the internet. Its effects include a faster heart rate, hallucinations, hypertension, loss of balance, higher blood pressure, agitation and cardiovascular conditions. Tests by the ACMD also found evidence that use of methoxetamine can lead to "significant additional toxicity". Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the ACMD, said: "The evidence shows that the use of methoxetamine can cause harm to users."

Continue Reading »

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

French judges seek arrest of Equatorial Guinea leader's son

 

Two French judges sought an international arrest warrant for the son of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on money laundering charges, a judicial source said on Tuesday. The two judges, Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman, consider there are grounds to suspect that Teodorin Obiang, who is agriculture minister in the small, oil-rich central African country, acquired real estate in France by fraudulent means. The warrant will not be released until a prosecutor has reviewed the request and decides whether to proceed. Teodorin is frequently seen enjoying an extravagant lifestyle abroad with multi-million dollar mansions, jets and yachts. Billboards in the capital Malabo seek to show him at work and in touch with the people, but diplomats and analysts cite his playboy lifestyle as a cause for concern. The French judges, who have been handling the case since 2010 on the basis of "concealment of embezzled public funds," suspect that the properties were purchased with public money from Equatorial Guinea. The judges had previously sought permission from the government of Equatorial Guinea to question Teodorin, but that request was rejected, Olivier Pardo, lawyer for the oil producing nation, told Reuters in Paris. "Unless one wishes to violate the sovereignty of the State of Equatorial Guinea and harm relations between France and Equatorial Guinea, it is absurd to want to launch an arrest warrant," he said. As part of the investigation, French police raided a building belonging to Equatorial Guinea in a wealthy area of Paris in February. After three days they removed art works and fine wines worth several million euros. The building was valued at about 150 million euros and investigators say it housed a nightclub and hairdressers, which suggested it was not being used as a diplomatic residence. Anti-corruption organisation Transparency International had filed the original legal complaint against Teodorin Obiang. On March 1, Teodorin filed for defamation against Daniel Lebegue, the president of the French arm of Transparency, denying he had embezzled funds. President Teodoro Obiang has ruled the former Spanish colony for more than three decades, making him the longest-serving African leader following the demise of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, with rights groups labelling his regime one of the world's most corrupt. The country produces about 240,000 barrels of oil per day. In January, Teodorin asked a U.S. court to dismiss attempts by the Obama administration to seize some $71 million worth of his assets, denying charges that they were obtained with allegedly corrupt funds taken from his country. He argued he had not violated U.S. or Equatorial Guinea law and called the corruption allegations "character assassination" against him and his country. Equatorial Guinea in October said it wanted to appoint Teodorin as its deputy permanent delegate at U.N. cultural agency UNESCO in Paris, a position that would give him diplomatic status in France. Until now the agency has not received any official documentation to proceed further with that request.

Continue Reading »

JetBlue plane in emergency landing after captain's apparent breakdown


The captain of a JetBlue plane screamed "They're going to take us down!" and rambled about al-Qaida as passengers pinned him to the floor while another pilot took charge to make an emergency landing. An off-duty airline captain who was a passenger on the flight entered the cockpit, locked the door and landed in Amarillo, Texas, the airline said in a statement. JetBlue Airways said the original pilot on flight 191 from New York's John F Kennedy international airport had been taken to hospital after suffering a "medical situation" on board. The captain had earlier stormed through his plane rambling about a bomb and threats from Iraq until passengers on the Las Vegas-bound flight tackled him just outside the cockpit, passengers said. He had seemed disoriented, jittery and constantly sipped water when he first marched through the cabin, then began to rant about threats linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan after crew members tried to calm him down. "They're going to take us down! They're taking us down! Say the Lord's prayer!" the captain screamed, according to passenger Tony Antolino. Josh Redick, who was sitting near the middle of the plane, said the captain seemed "irate" and was "spouting off about Afghanistan and souls and al-Qaida". Gabriel Schonzeit, who was sitting in the third row, told the Amarillo Globe-News: "He started screaming about al-Qaida and possibly a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and about how we were all going down." "A group of us just jumped up instinctually and grabbed him and put him to the ground," Antolino said after arriving in Las Vegas later Tuesday. "Clearly he had an emotional or mental type of breakdown." Antolino, a security executive, said he and three others pinned down the captain as he ran for the cockpit door and sat on him for about 20 minutes until the plane landed at Rick Husband Amarillo international airport at 10am. Shane Helton, 39, who was seeing off his son at Amarillo airport, said: "They pulled one guy out on a stretcher and put him in an ambulance." The flight had left New York around 7am and was in the air for three and a half hours before landing in Texas. The passengers completed their journey to Las Vegas several hours later on another flight. The FBI was co-ordinating an investigation with the police, the FAA and the Transportation Safety Administration, said FBI spokeswoman Lydia Maese in Dallas. She declined to comment on arrests. Earlier this month an American Airlines flight attendant took over the public address system on a flight bound for Chicago and spoke for 15 minutes about 9/11 and the safety of their plane, saying: "I'm not responsible for this plane crashing," passengers said. She was wrestled into a seat while the plane was grounded at Dallas-Fort Worth international airport. The attendant was taken to hospital. In 2008 an Air Canada co-pilot was forcibly removed from a Toronto to London flight, restrained and sedated after having a mental breakdown. A flight attendant with flying experience helped the pilot make an emergency landing in Ireland. None of the 146 passengers and nine crew members on board were injured. In August 2010 JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater pulled the emergency chute on a flight from Pittsburgh after it landed at John F Kennedy international airport. He went on the public address system, swore at a passenger, grabbed a beer and slid down the tarmac. He was sentenced to probation, counselling and substance abuse treatment for attempted criminal mischief. An aviation expert remembered only two or three cases in 40 years where a pilot had become mentally incapacitated during a flight. John Cox, an aviation safety consultant and former airline pilot, said incidents in which pilots become mentally incapacitated during a flight were "pretty rare". He said he could only recall two or three other examples in the more than 40 years he has been following commercial aviation. Airlines and the FAA strongly encouraged pilots to assert themselves if they thought safety was being jeopardised, even if it meant contradicting a captain's orders, Cox said. Aviation safety experts had studied several cases where first officers deferred to more experienced captains with tragic results. In Tuesday's case the FAA is likely to review the unidentified captain's medical certificate, which must be renewed every six months to a year.

Continue Reading »

Cannabis: Legal high

 

CANNABOOST plant food is one of the best selling products at the Hydroexpress hydroponics store in Stirchley, a working-class part of Birmingham. The small shop, its windows filled with graffiti-style posters, also sells fertilisers with names like “Nirvana” and “Bud Candy”, alongside strong lights and giant rolls of tin foil to line greenhouses. In one corner, a couple of juicy-looking tomato plants grow in a demonstration set-up. But the youth behind the counter guesses that his customers are “not all growing tomatoes”. Birmingham now has 58 hydroponics shops, up from 42 just a year ago. Whether aided by the latest plant-growing technology or not, cannabis production is soaring. According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, the number of cannabis factories detected each year increased from around 800 in 2004 to 7,000 in 2010. Birmingham is one of the most fertile areas; West Midlands Police, which set up a Cannabis Disposal Unit in 2010 to tackle the problem, dismantled more than 500 factories last year. Your correspondent visited one recently closed by police; the gardener was a cocaine-addicted woman growing a few plants in a spare room in the hope of earning a cut. Other set-ups have been found in tents in the bedrooms of high-rise council flats and in the lofts of terraced family houses. Many growers are simply feeding their own habits. As one officer on the West Midlands Police drugs team says, “It’s becoming the most popular cottage industry in the country.” In this section A big splash with little cash Falling flat Earning a hearing The worst job in the world Constituency of the world Mother tongue Money for old metal »Legal high A rock and a hard place The Notting Hill budget Reprints Related topics United Kingdom Birmingham, England Small growers are squeezing out both importers and the well-connected, often Vietnamese, gangs that once dominated domestic production. The big cannabis factories set up by the latter, with their telltale heat hazes, are fairly easy to spot. Smaller operations are often uncovered only when the electric lights start fires, or when local teenagers mount a burglary. The police and the courts can neither keep up with the surge in small-scale production, nor are they desperately keen to do so. Last month the government published new sentencing guidelines that advised judges to treat small cultivators less strictly. Attitudes to smokers are softening, too. The reclassification of cannabis in 2009, from class C to the more stringent class B, was oddly accompanied by a more liberal approach to policing consumption. Users caught on the street are rarely arrested; rather, they are issued “cannabis cautions” (a reprimand which doesn’t appear on a criminal record) or fined. In Brixton, a south London neighbourhood, an open-air cannabis market exists within ten minutes’ walk of the underground station. The dealers are frequently moved on but they soon regroup elsewhere. As one dealer admits, his competitors are a bigger hassle than the police. “They get to fightin’, over money and things,” he says in a deep Caribbean drawl. Violence is far more likely to get a dealer into legal trouble than business. Strangely, this lackadaisical approach is not encouraging people to take up the reefer habit. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the proportion of people who admit to having used cannabis in Britain has fallen more quickly than in any other European country over the past few years. Just 6.8% of adults told another survey that they used cannabis in 2010, down from 10.9% eight years earlier. The herb is now ubiquitous and effectively tolerated—and, perhaps as a result, not all that alluring.

Continue Reading »

Cat-Sized Rats Invade Florida

 

Cat-sized rats are causing trouble in the Florida keys. A pack of Gambian giant pouched rats have been breeding in the keys despite officials’ efforts to eradicate them. NBC Miami reports that Officials are worried about the vermin making it over to the mainland, saying that the hungry species could wipe out crops and upset the delicate ecological balance in Florida. Scort Hardin, the exotic species coordinator for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said: “We thought we had them whipped as of 2009…. In the early part of 2011, a resident e-mailed me and said he saw one of the rats. We were skeptical but went back and talked to people and [saw] there were rats that we missed.” Hardin believes that there are less than two dozen giant rats roaming Grassy Key where they were trapped during multiple efforts last year. The Wildlife Conservation Commission will set out once again this July in an attempt to trap the Gambian giant pouched rats. Hardin told Keys Net: “I would not imagine there’s more than another couple of dozen at most. We’ve caught them all within a half-mile of each other… We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced.” MSNBC reports that the cat-sized rats were introduced to the island by a local rat breeder more than a decade ago. The rats have moved into the wild where they are now breeding and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.

Continue Reading »

New Black Panther leader arrested as group sets bounty in Florida shooting

 

high-ranking member of the New Black Panther Party was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. DeKalb County Sheriff's Office Hashim Nzinga, 49, was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. More Atlanta area news » Immigration-related complaint may become ‘moot' 'Chicken Man' house explodes Trayvon Martin rally at Capitol draws many Gang member guilty of 2011 killing Hashim Nzinga, 49, recently announced on CNN that his group was offering a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. CNN identified Nzinga as the chief of staff of the New Black Panther Party. According to a DeKalb arrest warrant, Nzinga was in possession of an FN Herstal 5.7 x 28 handgun, which investigators said he pawned at a shop on Rockbridge Road. That alleged transaction would be illegal due to Nzinga’s convictions last month for felony deposit account fraud in Gwinnett County, the DeKalb Sheriff's Office said. Nzinga was arrested by members of the fugitive squad at a probation office in Lawrenceville and transported to DeKalb County Jail. The New Black Panther Party is offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Martin, an unarmed teenager, last month. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Black Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad said Saturday at a rally in Sanford, where Martin was killed Feb. 26, according to Fox News. Zimmerman has claimed he shot Martin in self-defense, but the New Black Panthers are calling for mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture Zimmerman, who has gone into hiding, the Orlando Sentinel reported. "He should be fearful for his life," Muhammad said. "You can't keep killing black children." According to the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New Black Panthers "is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers." The group was founded in Dallas in 1989 and believes black Americans should have their own nation, according to the SPLC. Zimmerman shot Martin as he returned to his father's house from a store where he had bought candy. Zimmerman told a 911 dispatcher that Martin was acting suspicious and told police that he was attacked by Martin. Sanford police say they were advised by prosecutors that they did not have enough evidence to charge Zimmerman.

Continue Reading »

Monday, 26 March 2012

Facebook App Lets You Add Enemies Online

 

Forget friending. A new Facebook app allows users of the social network to identify and share people, places and things as “enemies” for all to see. The app, called EnemyGraph, lets you list anything with a Facebook presence — ranging from “friends,” to foods, to products, movies or books — as an enemy. Since the app launched March 15, it’s seemed to appeal especially to users with a liberal bent. Some of its most-selected nemeses so far include Rick Santorum, Westboro Baptist Church and Fox News. The app was developed by a professor and two students at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dean Terry, who directs the school’s emerging media program, helped conceptualize the project, while graduate student Bradley Griffith and undergraduate Harrison Massey built the app. Griffith said EnemyGraph has so far accumulated some 400 users. But more importantly, its creators say, press coverage has helped meet the team’s goal of sparking a larger conversation about the nature of social media and Facebook in particular. “One thing that has always struck me is the enforced niceness culture,” Terry told Mashable. “We wanted to give people a chance to express dissonance as well. We’re using the word enemy about as accurately as Facebook uses the word friend.” But the app has utility beyond simply sparking a philosophical debate, Terry adds. Researchers and marketers have long gathered information on social media users based on what they support, but at the expense of possibly overlooking another valuable data source. “You can actually learn a lot about people by what they’re upset about and what they don’t like,” Terry says. “And the second thing is that if you and I both don’t like something, that actually creates a social bond that hasn’t been explored in social media at all, except with Kony and some big examples like that.” Terry and Griffith teamed up last year to create Undetweetable, a service allowing Twitter users’ deleted tweets to be uncovered posthumously. That project gained some attention as well but Twitter quickly forced it to shut down. Terry wouldn’t be surprised if EnemyGraph meets a similar fate from Facebook. “My guess is it goes against their social philosophy and purpose,” he says. “It is a critique of their social philosophy for sure.” Do you like the EnemyGraph idea? Let us know in the comments.

Continue Reading »

socially disruptive narcissists More Facebook Friends You Have, the More Unhappy You Are

 

A  study has discovered a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and how much of a “socially disruptive narcissist” you are—giving us one more reason to tone down our Facebook addictions. Researchers at Western Illinois studied 294 college students and found that those with more friends on Facebook tended to score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire. They tended to respond more aggressively to comments, change their profile pictures more often, and updated their news feeds more regularly than others. This may not be all that surprising, but it does provide a bit of motivation to re-evaluate what Facebook does for you, if you fit into one of these categories (and if not, at least you can stop feeling bad about not having very many Facebook friends—it’s probably a good thing). None of this is to say Facebook is inherently bad, of course. It’s still a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, especially after you’ve fixed all of its annoyances—you might just want to dial back on all the photo tagging. While you’re at it, you can also move some of those friends to your Acquaintances list using Facebook’s new tool, which will hide them from your news feed more often.

Continue Reading »

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Whitney Houston full autopsy report to offer more details

Whitney Houston’s full autopsy report may offer more clues about whether the singer suffered a heart attack before her drowning death, officials said Friday. The full report, which is expected to be released in a few weeks, may include test results and physical descriptions of the singer’s heart that will show whether she suffered a heart attack, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said. The report is being compiled and Winter said he did not have access to its findings, which might show whether there were any obvious signs such as discoloration of her heart that would suggest Houston had a heart attack before slipping underwater in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 11. Houston’s death has been ruled an accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors. The report also will include detailed toxicology results that will show how much cocaine and its byproducts were in Houston’s system when she died. Coroner’s officials said Thursday that the results showed the singer used cocaine shortly before her death, and there were indications of chronic use. Beverly Hills police detectives will use the full coroner’s report to complete their investigative file, which is not expected to be publicly released. The department has said there were no signs of foul play in connection with Houston’s death. Houston’s death on the eve of the Grammy Awards stunned the music industry and fans worldwide. The singer had battled addiction for years, but friends and family have said she appeared committed to making a comeback in the months before her death.

Continue Reading »

Pakistani Taliban training Frenchmen


Pakistani intelligence officials say dozens of French Muslims have been training with the Taliban in northwest Pakistan. The officials said on Saturday they were investigating whether Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent suspected of killing seven people in southern France, had been part of this group. Merah traveled to Pakistan in 2011 and said he trained with al-Qaida in Waziristan. He was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday in the French city of Toulouse. The officials said 85 Frenchmen have been training with the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal area for the past three years. Most have dual nationality with France and North African countries. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Continue Reading »

Ryanair adds six Euro surcharge to tickets purchased in Spain


Ryanair is to introduce a six Euro surcharge on all flights purchased in Spain from April 15. This will appear as ‘coste de gestión’ (management charge) and will be added to the final ticket price with the rest of the charges. The charge is a strategy to promote the airline’s new Ryanair Cash Passport, a MasterCard debit card which will give passengers, yes you got it, a six € discount. The card also can be used to take money out of cash machines and to make purchases in stores. Michael O’Leary used the launch of the card to encourage Spanish consumers to get a card ‘As quickly as possible to save the management costs’.

Continue Reading »

Saturday, 24 March 2012

As the star of the Fast and the Furious film franchise, it is safe to say that Vin Diesel is a man who likes his boys' toys.

So his choice in on-set accommodation doesn't come as much as a surprise. The actor has allowed cameras into his jaw-dropping $1.1million trailer.

The enormous, 1100 square-foot vehicle is the 44-year-old star's home away from home when he is filming his action blockbusters.

Home away from home: Vin Diesel has allowed cameras inside his $1.1million custom-designed trailer

Home away from home: Vin Diesel has allowed cameras inside his $1.1million custom-designed trailer

Luxurious: The trailer features an enormous living area where the movie star can relax in between filming scenes for his blockbuster movies

Luxurious: The trailer features an enormous living area where the movie star can relax in between filming scenes for his blockbuster movies

Fit for a king: Diesel ensures he feels at home in his mansion-on-wheels

Fit for a king: Diesel ensures he feels at home in his mansion-on-wheels

The two-storey gold monster has followed Vin around the world. At the moment it is residing on the set of The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking, which the actor is currently filming.

It was even shipped to Puerto Rico where he filmed the latest Fast and the Furious installment.

The spacious trailer has a pop up top floor and features granite countertops in the kitchen.

$70,00 worth of technology, including 3D flat screen TVs and Blu-Ray, keep the actor entertained during those long hours in between scenes.

As well as a media lounge, Diesel also has a private office space and had part of the upstairs turned into a special play area for his kids. 

The luxurious trailer was created by Anderson Mobile Estates, who have been commissioned by Mariah Carey, Sharon Stone and Will Smith to make vast vehicles to their extravagant specifications.

Vin's $1.1million trailer is nothing on Smith's whose $2million mansion-on-wheels had to be removed from a New York street during filming of Men In Black 3 after attracting complaints from residents.

Ashton Kutcher also calls one of Anderson's trailers home on the Two and a Half Men set.

Sit back and enjoy the view: Vin's trailer features windows that run the length of the vehicle

Sit back and enjoy the view: Vin's trailer features windows that run the length of the vehicle

Keeping an eye out: High-tech surveillance cameras guard overt he pricey trailer

Keeping an eye out: High-tech surveillance cameras guard overt he pricey trailer

Vin is currently filming the Chronicles of Riddick  film after providing the voice for the video games.

The big screen adaptation sees Riddick fighting against alien predators after being abandoned on a desolate planet.

The sci-fi thriller is due for release next year, while yet another Fast and the Furious film is in the pipeline. It will be the sixth in the franchise, and Diesel's third.

 

Perfect for Fast and the Furious movie nights: A huge TV screen and surround sound are on display, while the whole trailer is controlled by a central system (remote pad seen on bench)

Perfect for Fast and the Furious movie nights: A huge TV screen and surround sound are on display, while the whole trailer is controlled by a central system (remote pad seen on bench)



Continue Reading »

Cheap drugs abroad could pay for break

HOLIDAYMAKERS can pay for the cost of a break in the sun by buying their prescription drugs while abroad. Legally they can purchase their prescribed drugs -- at a fraction of the cost here over the counter -- in Malaga, Marbella , Faro or Lisbon. Those on long term medication and covered by the Drug Payment Scheme, who cough up €132 a month, can particularly benefit. For example, a patient on holiday in Marbella recently bought the three main elements of her prescription. Prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and to reduce risk of cardiovascular problems they cost her almost four times as much in Dublin as in Spain. The products -- Lipitor, Cozaar Comp and Tritace -- in their generic form came to €108.13 in Dublin for a month's supply. In Marbella the same medicines are sold under a different name for €63.72 for two months' supply. That is a saving of €152.54 for two months. On that basis a six month prescription for the three tablets would cost €648.78 in Dublin as against €191.16 in Spain -- a staggering saving of €457.62. The Irish Medicines Board and the Revenue Commissioners both confirmed that medication, prescription and non prescription, bought for personal use within the EU or outside may be brought back in to the State legally. imported They agreed that travellers are permitted to import on their person or in their baggage "a reasonable amount of such medicines for personal use". "Anyone entering the State may bring their personal medication with them and that personal medication should be no more than any amount that may be obtained on a prescription, for example up to a three months supply. "Any amount being imported above a level that would be considered to be normal personal use, could be considered to be a commercial quantity and for business purposes." This "personal use" exemption does not apply to products imported by other means, ie. in the post, by express couriers or in merchandise. Revenue said that the law of the country where you are visiting will dictate whether your Irish prescription will be accepted or whether you will require a doctor's prescription from that country. They advised it is always a good idea to have a copy of your prescription in your possession so that customs officers can verify it by contacting the dispensing pharmacy and the doctor who issued it.

Continue Reading »

Sex is a multibillion-dollar industry in Spain, with colorfully lit brothels staffed mainly by poor immigrant women from Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe lining highways throughout the country

Pimps Arrested in Spain for 'Barcoding' Women

Police in Spain arrested 22 alleged pimps who purportedly tattooed women with bar codes as a sign of ownership and used violence to force them into prostitution.  Police are calling the gang the "bar code pimps." Officers freed one 19-year-old woman who had been beaten, held against her will and tattooed with a bar code and an amount of money — €2,000 ($2,650) — which investigators believe was the debt the gang wished to extort before releasing her. The woman had also been whipped, chained to a radiator and had her hair and eyebrows shaved off, according to an Interior Ministry statement.All those arrested were of Romanian nationality and had forced the women to hand over part of their earnings, the statement said. The women were tattooed on their wrists if they tried to escape, the statement said. Police also seized guns and ammunition. It was not immediately clear when the raids took place. Police seized €140,000 ($185,388) in cash, which had been hidden in a false ceiling, a large amount of gold jewelry and five vehicles, three of which were described as luxury cars. The gang was made up of two separate groups, referred to as "clans" in the statement, each dedicated to controlling prostitution along fixed stretches of a street in downtown Madrid. One of the alleged ringleaders who was identified only by the initials "I.T." is wanted by authorities in Romania for crimes linked to prostitution, the statement said. The women were controlled at all times to ensure "money was taken off them immediately," the statement said.   Sex is a multibillion-dollar industry in Spain, with colorfully lit brothels staffed mainly by poor immigrant women from Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe lining highways throughout the country. Prostitution falls in legal limbo: it is not regulated, although pimping is a crime. The northeastern city of Barcelona plans to introduce regional legislation in coming weeks banning prostitution on urban streets.
Continue Reading »

Russian banker shot six times had testified over murder plot


The banker was left for dead by a lone gunman as he returned to his home in Canary Wharf on Tuesday evening. Scotland Yard detectives are investigating the attempted assassination, which Mr Gorbuntsov’s lawyer believes was a retaliation attack after the banker gave evidence in a 2009 attempted murder case. Mr Gorbuntsov, who fled to London because of his fear of reprisals, had recently submitted new evidence to Russian police about the attempted murder of Alexander Antonov, another Russian banker. The case was closed three years ago when three Chechen men were jailed for attempted murder. But police have never discovered who organised the attempted hit. Officers re-opened the case on March 2 this year after Mr Gorbuntsov submitted his new testimony.

Continue Reading »

Friday, 23 March 2012

Serbian mafia 'put gangster in mincer and ate him for lunch'

Milan Jurisic

Gang that assassinated Serbian prime minister admits making 'face mask' out of member's skin

A GANGSTER who helped orchestrate the Serbian prime minister's assassination in 2003 was allegedly made into a stew and eaten by his associates after falling out with his gang leader.
 
Police believe Milan Jurisic (above) was beaten to death with a hammer, skinned and boned with a sharp knife and then put through a meat grinder at a flat in Madrid in 2009.
 
The Zemun clan, a notorious faction of the Serbian mafia that once had connections with the Serbian government, police and media, allegedly made a face mask from Jurisic's skin before turning him into stew and eating him for lunch.
 
It apparently took the gang five days to clean up what is being described as "the house of horrors".
 
Sretko Kalinic, nicknamed 'The Butcher' and known as the gang's hitman, confessed to the crimes when he was arrested in Croatia last year, according to the Daily Mail. Kalinic admitted that he "literally dismembered" Jurisic and then threw his remains into Madrid's Manzanares river.
 
This week, Spanish officers discovered documents at the scene of the crime supporting The Butcher's account. They also found 50 bones in the river and are currently awaiting identification from forensics.
 
Jurisic was one of 12 men found guilty of arranging the 2003 murder of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was killed by a sniper as he approached a government building in Belgrade.
 
Jurisic was on the run when he was murdered, having been convicted in his absence to 30 years' jail by the Belgrade Special Court for Organised Crime.

It is believed Jurisic had fallen out with the leader of the Zemun cklan, Luka Bojovic, either over money or a woman.
 
As the BBC reports, Bojovic himself was arrested in a restaurant in Valencia, Spain last month, wanted for more than 20 murders in Serbia, the Netherlands and Spain. He is also suspected of involvement in the 2003 assassination. · 




Continue Reading »

Spain moves toward freedom of information law


Freedom of information in Spain came one step nearer Friday after the recently-elected government agreed to introduce a bill in response to widespread disgust over corruption and mismanagement by elected officials of both main political parties. The country's Cabinet agreed to put forward legislation that will allow Spaniards to find out more about how their money is spent by government. Spain, which is struggling to get its public finances under control, is one of Europe's few countries without wide-ranging freedom of information legislation. "It is a law whose main goal is improve the credibility of and trust in our institutions, especially government ones," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said. The legislation will take months to come into effect, after an unprecedented 15-day period in which the general public can make suggestions on what should be accessible to them and how the law should work. After that, the bill has to be go through normal Parliamentary procedures. Though the salaries of the prime minister and government ministers are already public information, as are the national budget and much other money-related data, not all of it is easy to access. But under the new bill, information on subjects including senior public servants' salaries and detailed data on government contracts and subsidies will be published online. Spaniards will also be able to file requests for other kinds of information providing it does not breach national security or personal privacy. The goal of the new law is to make public officials at all levels much more accountable for how they spend taxpayer money. People will be able to get information just by the click of a mouse. "It is a law that tries to give rigor to compliance with budget and financial obligations that were unknown until now, but will serve to restore credibility to all levels of government," Saenz de Santa Maria said. News of the Cabinet's support for a package that should make for more open government comes as the country struggles to avoid the same fate as other indebted European countries. The newly-elected conservative government is trying to convince investors that it has a strategy to deal with its debts so it won't follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing a bailout. Concerns have swelled recently after figures showed the country's borrowing last year was way more than expected, due in large part to overspending by regional governments but also because the economy is shrinking and laying siege to tax revenues. And a new code of good governance included in the law will make it easier to fire government officials — and ban them from serving anew for up to 10 years — if they do things such as fail to set or meet deficit-reduction targets under a balanced budget law, planned for 2020.

Continue Reading »

Spain's Iberia starts low-cost airline

Spanish carrier Iberia on Friday launched a new low-cost airline, Iberia Express, which aims to claim a stake in the highly competitive no-frills sector of the European market. The new airline is part of a plan by parent company International Consolidated Airlines Group to increase profitability after the merger of its component parts, British Airways and Iberia. Iberia Express will initially cover Vigo, Santiago and Granada on Spain's mainland and its island destinations of Minorca, Ibiza, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma. It will expand internationally to Ireland, Italy, Greece, Latvia and Netherlands, chief executive Luis Gallego said at a news conference. "The containment of costs will allow Iberia Express to grow and compete with the low-cost operators," said Gallego, adding that although the new airline will be managed independently, it will employ Iberia's maintenance and other services. Inaugural flights will take off Sunday, although the company's website was not up and running Friday afternoon. Prices begin at (euro) 25 ($33) one-way with a surcharge for checking in luggage and booking seats in advance. The new company employs 500 staff and has a fleet of four Airbus 320 planes, although there are plans to increase this to 14 aircraft by the end of the year and up 40 by 2015. The airline is the subject of a protracted labor dispute between Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA and Spain's main pilots' union, Sepla — which held 12 days of work stoppages in December and January to protest the low-cost airline. Sepla pilots argue Iberia Express would mean job losses among the 1,600 pilots who work for the main airline — a claim disputed by Iberia. Sepla had announced nine days of strikes in April and May but called them off following government mediation and has agreed to negotiate further with Iberia.

Continue Reading »

Painkiller warning as pack contains higher dose than label says


39,000 packs of co-codamol, which contains both paracetamol and codeine, contain higher dose tablets than is stated on the label, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said. Some of the 8mg/500mg packs actually contain 30mg/500mg tablets in the blister strips inside. The two can be told apart by markings on the side of the tablets. The 8mg/500mg tablet has the marking

on one side only. The 30mg/500mg tablet has CCD30 on one side and CP on the other. An overdose of co-codamol is serious and patients should not take more than one or two tablets every four to six hours and no more than four doses in 24-hours.

Continue Reading »

Mafia Bosses 'Turn Cannibal': Serbian Gangsters 'Ate Milan Jurisic In A Flat In Madrid' Say Police


A mafia traitor was beaten to death and then eaten by Serbian gangsters, police believe. Milan Jurisic, 37, was killed with a hammer by a gang of criminals from the Zemun Clan, a mafia group from Belgrade, in Madrid. His remains were then ground up with a meat grinder, cooked, and eaten, according to a confession by another Zemun Clan member, Sretko Kalinic, nicknamed "The Butcher". Later the gang reportedly threw the bones into the River Manzanares in the Spanish capital. This week, police found bones in the river and the apartment where the killing apparently took place in 2009. Jurisic is thought to have betrayed his fellow gang members by stealing money from them. He was on the run after being convicted in his absence of assassinating Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003. Kalinic confessed to the murder after he was arrested in the Croatian capital of Zagreb in 2010. Police believe the murder and subsequent cannibalism was led by Luka Bojovic, a Serbian gangster arrested in Valencia last month. Bojovic was also on the run after being accused of assassinating Djindjic. Inside Bojovic's apartment in Valencia police found documents backing up Kalinic's account of the killing. The murder is being investigated by magistrate Fernando Andreu at the National Court in Madrid.

Continue Reading »

Brian Regan: Brookside star to cocaine addict

 

Brian Regan found fame playing loveable rogue Terry Sullivan in the Liverpool soap opera Brookside. In the show's 1980s heyday, his character's antics were regularly watched by up to seven million viewers a week. But when Regan left the soap in 1997, his acting career petered out and he plunged into a life of drug dealing and addiction. Now he is behind bars, serving a five-year jail sentence for lying to police over his role in the murder of Iranian doorman Bahman Faraji and selling drugs. Regan's jail sentence can now be reported following the conviction of Jason Gabbana, 29, for ordering Faraji's murder. Details emerged in court of the actor's descent into drugs and supplying members of Liverpool's criminal underworld. During the trial, Regan told Liverpool Crown Court how he started taking cocaine at weekends at the end of his Brookside career. It was through his use of cocaine he became involved with Edward Heffey, convicted of murdering Mr Faraji with a sawn-off shotgun in a quiet Liverpool street. Simon O'Brien, who played Damon Grant in Brookside, said Regan's involvement with drugs was a "slow burn". Snorting cocaine "It is a very difficult place when you're acting, particularly on something as high-profile as a soap, because fame and infamy attract each other," he said. "Actors and gangsters, for some reason, almost get off on each other. It's a really strange mutual attraction because I think the hard man gives the actor a kind of security out in public and the actor gives the gangster kudos. "The two worlds often get intertwined and when that happens, inevitably drugs become involved. So it was kind of a slow thing from what I remember, it was a slow burn." Regan was charged with Mr Faraji's murder and was cleared - but he was convicted of giving a false alibi to police about where he was on the night in February 2011. Actor and presenter Simon O'Brien said actors and gangsters get off on each other" During the trial, he told Liverpool Crown Court he supplied Heffey with cocaine "about three or four times a day". When Heffey asked him for a lift on the night of the killing, he said he thought he was taking him to collect a debt so he could pay for the drugs. In fact, once they arrived in Aigburth in Regan's Ford Escort, Heffey got out, walked round the corner and shot Mr Faraji in the face with a sawn-off shotgun. Regan told the court he knew nothing about the incident - because he was waiting in the car, snorting a line of cocaine. He said he then "drove away normally" from the scene and took Heffey home. Regan was cleared of murder at his trial which ended in January. 'Lose control' However, when he was first interviewed by police he lied about driving Heffey to the pub, but CCTV evidence put him at the scene and he was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Mr O'Brien, 46, who was friends with Regan in their Brookside days, said getting involved in drugs was a tragedy that is "not uncommon" in the entertainment industry. "Brian is just one example of what happens when you're in the limelight and everything is flying and you lose control," he said. "You feel you're invincible when you're at the top of the game and you're not. "Sadly, if anyone wants to know what happens if you get involved in taking cocaine, this is an example of someone who was at the top of the tree and because of cocaine, he ends up behind bars."

Continue Reading »

Study Suggests Link Between Narcissism And Facebook


There may be a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and just how much of a “socially disruptive” narcissist you are, according to a recent study published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences. Facebook habits of 294 students between the age of 18 and 65 were studied by researchers at Western Illinois University. They also measured two of what they describe as  ”socially disruptive” elements of narcissism- grandiose exhibitionism (GE- having to be at the center of attention), and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE-  having a sense of self entitlement/deserving of respect) of the students. The study found that those who scored highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire changed their profile pictures more often, responded more aggressively to negative comment about them on their Facebook walls, tagged themselves more often, and updated their news feeds more regularly. Carol Craig, a social scientist and chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being stated: “Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote by changing profile pictures and showing how many hundreds of friends you have. I know of some who have more than 1,000.” According to the Guardian, Christopher Carpenter, who ran the study, said: “If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking.” Are we really narcissistic? Or could it simply be we are just bored? Or maybe just really friendly and outgoing, looking to meet new people? Do you think these researchers are reading just a little too much into it?

Continue Reading »

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Minimum price for alcohol introduced in bid to tackle Britain's binge crisis

The cost of a pint of beer will be at least 80p and a pint of strong cider would be at least £1.60. Mr Cameron said he was trying to tackle the country’s binge drinking culture and was targeting those who ‘pre-load’ on cheap supermarket drink before going out. He wants a 40p minimum charge for each unit of alcohol, following similar moves in Scotland. The prime minister said: ‘We’re consulting on the actual price but, if it is 40p, that could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 9,000 fewer alcohol-related deaths over the next decade.’ The minimum price was welcomed by police and health campaigners, who say drink was behind 1.2million hospital admissions and 1million crimes last year, and  cost Britain £21billion a year. Critics, however, say it will unfairly punish the vast majority, who are sensible drinkers and comes just hours after a five per cent rise in duty on drink was confirmed in the budget. Mr Cameron also wants to give pubs more powers not to serve people who are drunk, a zero tolerance approach to drunken behaviour in hospitals, a ban on multi-buy discounts and a late night levy on pubs and clubs to help pay for policing. A consultation will take place in the summer, with a new law introduced by the end of the year. He said: ‘Binge drinking is a serious problem. And I make no excuses for clamping down on it.’ Supermarkets will oppose a minimum price. At Asda, a can of Smartprice lager costs 22p. The supermarket is also selling wine at £2.30 a bottle. It contains 8.3 units of alcohol, meaning it will rise in price by at least £1.

Continue Reading »

Whitney Houston drowned after cocaine use, says coroner


Whitney Houston's death was caused by accidental drowning, but drug abuse and heart disease were also factors, a coroner has ruled. Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey said drug tests indicated the 48-year-old US singer was a chronic cocaine user. The announcement ends weeks of speculation over the cause of Houston's death. She was found submerged in the bath of her Los Angeles hotel room on the eve of the Grammy Awards on 11 February. In a statement, the LA County Coroner's office described Houston's manner of death as an "accident", adding that "no trauma or foul play is suspected". The cause was cited as drowning and "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use". Other drugs found in her blood included marijuana, as well as an anti-anxiety drug, a muscle relaxant and an allergy medication. But these were not factors in her death, the coroner's statement said. Patricia Houston, the singer's sister-in-law and manager, told the Associated Press news agency: "We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure." The pop star was laid to rest at a cemetery in her home state of New Jersey after a funeral that was attended by celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige. The singer, who was one of the world's best selling artists from the mid-1980s to late 1990s, had a long battle with drug addiction.

Continue Reading »

Brookside's Brian Regan jailed for Bahman Faraji murder lies


Ex-Brookside actor Brian Regan has been jailed for lying about his part in a gangland killing. Regan's sentence can be revealed following the conviction of Jason Gabbana, 29, for ordering the murder of a nightclub doorman in Liverpool. Bahman Faraji, 44, was shot dead at close range outside the Belgrave public house in Aigburth in February 2011. Regan, 54, who played Terry Sullivan in the soap, was jailed on 25 January for four years and 10 months. Gabbana, of Score Lane in Childwall, was found guilty of murder at Liverpool Crown Court. Mr Faraji was accused by Gabbana's defence of drug dealing and running an illegal protection racket. Snorting cocaine Regan, St Marys Road, Garston, Liverpool, was cleared of murder but convicted of perverting the course of justice after it emerged he lied to police when he was first arrested, telling them he was with his partner Christine Lines at the time of the murder. Bahman Faraji was shot as he left a pub In fact he was snorting cocaine in a car as father-of-one Mr Faraji was shot dead yards away at close range on the evening of 24 February 2011. Regan admitted driving gunman Edward Heffey to and from the hit but told the jury he did not know his passenger was carrying a sawn-off shotgun and was planning to kill Mr Faraji. Regan also disposed of a pair of gloves he wore on the night. The sentence, following a trial which ended in January, could not be reported until the conclusion of the Gabbana case. Gabbana was convicted of murder by an 11 to one majority. Heffey, 40, of Beloe Street, Dingle, Liverpool, and Simon Smart, 32, of Kylemore Way, Halewood, Liverpool, who police said set up the killing, were also convicted of murder at Liverpool Crown Court. Regan's best friend Lee Dodson, 42, of Logfield Drive, Garston, Liverpool was cleared of murder. The trial heard Regan was hooked on cocaine and began dealing it to fund his habit as his showbiz career declined. Courtroom fracas After he admitted driving the gunman, the court ordered security to be stepped up around Regan and security guards sat between him and the rest of the defendants. He was also designated a "vulnerable prisoner" and held in an isolation wing in jail. When Heffey's guilty verdict was delivered, a woman and a young man in the public gallery angrily interrupted proceedings and had to be bundled out by police. Heffey appeared to lunge towards Regan in the dock and was swiftly taken down to the cells by security officers. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Regan's girlfriend Christine Lines, 48, also of St Mary's Road, Liverpool, who was accused of perverting the course of justice by helping the ex-actor dispose of the gloves. The matter was ordered to lie on file and she will not face a retrial. Mother-of-one Lines admitted permitting or suffering her premises to be used in the supply of cocaine and was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months, with a 12-month supervision requirement. Gabbana, Smart and Heffey will be sentenced either Friday or Monday, Mrs Justice Davies said.

Continue Reading »

Liver deaths at all-time high

 

Liver disease is killing more people than ever before in England, especially in deprived areas, shows a report out today. Deaths from liver disease: implications for end of life care in England, the first national report into the problem, finds that between 2001 and 2009, deaths from liver disease rose by 25% – and that more than a third of these were from alcohol-related liver disease. In England in 2001, 9321 people died from liver disease, but by 2009 this had risen to 11,575; at the same time, deaths from other major causes fell. The report, from the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, also showed that liver disease was a disproportionate killer of younger people, accounting for one in ten of all deaths in people in their 40s. Death from liver disease, especially alcohol-related, was much more common in men than in women – 60% of all deaths from liver disease occurred in men. Alcohol-related liver disease was responsible for 41% of deaths from liver deaths in men, and 30% of liver disease deaths in women. The most economically deprived areas of England were the most likely to have high levels of death from alcohol-related liver disease, where it accounted for 44% of all liver disease deaths, compared with 28% in the least deprived areas. Mortality also varied between regions: it was highest in North West, North East and London, and lowest in East of England, South West and South East. Professor Martin Lombard, national clinical director for liver disease, said: “The key drivers for increasing numbers of deaths from liver disease are all preventable, such as alcohol, obesity, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. We must focus our efforts and tackle this problem sooner rather than later.” Professor Julia Verne, lead author of the report and clinical lead for the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, said: “It is crucial that commissioners and providers of health and social care services know the prevalence of liver disease in their local areas, so that more people can receive the care they need to allow them to die in the place of their choosing.”

Continue Reading »

Arrests over child prostitution network selling girls as young as 11

 

The suspects were held this morning as part of a child exploitation investigation into the cases of 24 girls aged between 11 and 16 in Oxford. The men - aged between 21 and 37 - are now being questioned on suspicion of a string of offences including causing the prostitution of young girls, trafficking, grooming and rape. They are being held in custody at an undisclosed police station. The alleged offending is believed to span more than a six-year period. Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, of Thames Valley Police, said: ''We believe we have uncovered an organised crime group who have been running a business of selling young girls for sex.

Continue Reading »

France siege gunman 'is dead'

 

The man suspected of killing seven people in al-Qaida-linked attacks in France is dead, the French interior minister said today. The suspect died after jumping from his apartment window after police stormed his apartment following a 32 hour standoff.  Claude Gueant says the suspect, who claims links to al-Qa'ida, jumped after police entered the apartment and found him holed up in the bathroom. Police and the suspect exchanged fire before Mohamed Merah died.  Gueant says two policemen were injured.

Continue Reading »

Missing M’sian girl took lift into Thailand from stranger

 

Thai immigration police investigations have indicated that a 14-year-old Malaysian girl and her five Rohingya friends had taken a lift from a stranger in Malaysia near the Malaysia-Thai border before entering Thailand illegally. The six have since been rescued by the Thai police. Deputy Commander of Immigration Bureau Investigation Centre Pol Col Chartchai Lamsaeng said Wednesday, the six took the ride on a Malaysian-registered van offered by a Malaysian man near the border on March 8. The five Rohingyas comprised four boys and a girl, aged between 14 and 16. The six were friends and know each other. "They were given drinks by the man and fell asleep shortly," Chartchai, who led the investigation into the case, told Bernama here. He said, they could only remember passing through Hat Yai, Petchaburi or Nakhon Phatom and ended up at Hua Lamphong in the capital. "We are surprised how they could pass through the border checkpoint without any travel document," he said, adding it was unclear whether the teenagers intended to enter Thailand when they took the van ride. "The man even took them to a mosque in Hua Lamphong. However, it was not clear what happened to the man after that as the teenagers made their way to the Hua Lamphong Train Station." Chartchai said, some vendors near the railway station gave them money to buy train tickets to return to Malaysia. They were caught by the police at the station as they failed to produce valid travel documents and were sent to an immigration police office here, he added. The immigration police later contacted the Malaysian Embassy here. "Our investigations showed that all six were safe and not harmed or abused by the man," said Chartchai, adding that the immigration police would investigate the case under human trafficking law, which carried a penalty of between five and 10 years imprisonment. "We managed to get a sketch of the suspect based on information given by the teenagers. Thai and Malaysian police are working on this case," he said. He said the Thai authorities were trying to determine if an international crime syndicate was involved in this case. An initial news report from Malaysia stated the girl had told her mother during a telephone conversation on March 12, that she and the rest were abducted and taken into Thailand before they were rescued by the Thai authorities at the railway station on March 11.

Continue Reading »

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

TWO men who have been arrested by detectives investigating the murder of crime boss Eamon 'The Don' Dunne are senior lieutenants of crime lord Christy Kinahan.


 The mobsters were picked up by armed gardai during a dawn raid at a property in the north inner city and are currently in custody at Store Street Garda Station. Sources do not believe that either is the gunman who actually killed Dunne in the gangland murder in a Cabra pub in April 2010 but they believe that the pair played a key role in organising the hit. The Herald can today reveal that gardai also planned to arrest the young criminal who they believe shot Dunne but he "has gone to ground." The north inner city gunman is a close associate of the two related men who are in garda custody today. Selling One of those arrested -- aged in his late 20s -- was mentioned by Spanish authorities in the four-page European Arrest Warrant they used to extradite 'Fat' Freddie Thompson to Spain last year. The warrant asserts explosive details about the criminal's role within the multi-million euro Christy Kinahan drugs organisation. This man, who comes from a flats complex in the city, was previously arrested by Spanish police as part of Operation Shovel -- the massive probe against Kinahan's organisation which revealed that his mob were selling shipments of drugs worth a staggering €1m every two months. The 'Fat' Freddie warrant alleges that the arrested criminal is a "member of this organisation in Ireland". The warrant claims that the criminal travelled to Malaga on May 7, 2010, to meet Christy Kinahan's son Daniel to discuss a major drugs shipment into Ireland. "Daniel was supposedly going to finance part of the shipment. A surveillance operation was launched in Malaga Airport and officers saw Ross Browning, another one of the persons under investigation, arrive at the airport," the warrant alleges. The Herald has previously revealed that Browning (28) was named in the warrant, which claims he was a driver for the Kinahan drugs organisation. Browning, from the north inner city, is a close associate of the men arrested yesterday. In January 2001, a 30-year-old, who is in custody today, was involved with Browning in the robbery of over £IR13,000 from a a Securicor van driver. Both men later received suspended sentences. Gardai believe the shocking murder of Dunne was sanctioned by Christy Kinahan who felt that the reckless behaviour of the gang boss was getting out of control. 'Dapper Don' Kinahan -- who is serving the last days of a jail sentence for money laundering in Belgium -- is regarded as the biggest drugs trafficker in the history of the Irish State.

Continue Reading »

A Nation 'Addicted' To Statins...


Dear Reader,

In the UK alone, more than 7 million people are taking cholesterol-lowering statins. This is extremely worrying when you consider the damage these over-prescribed drugs can inflict, with side effects ranging from liver dysfunction and acute renal failure to fatigue and extreme muscle weakness (myopathy).

Slowly tearing us apart

Even more concerning are the side effects that crop up after long-term use, which are often not linked to statins. For example, one study monitored the symptoms of 40 asthma patients for a year. 20 of these patients started statins at the outset of the study, while the remaining 20 did not.

The results showed that those patients on statins used their rescue inhaler medications 72 per cent more often than they had at the start of the study, compared to a 9 per cent increase in those who were not taking statins. The researchers also reported that patients taking statins had to get up more frequently at night because of their asthma and also had worse symptoms during the day...

Worsening asthma symptoms is just the beginning. More recent research has linked statins with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Still, doctors are very quick to reach for their prescription pads and push these drugs. There appears to be an unofficial (but widely practiced) 'statins for all' approach... especially if you are aged 50 and over.

Luckily, some mainstreamers are slowly catching on to what we've been saying for nearly a decade. In 2011, research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine drew attention to the fact that there is inadequate medical data available that proves the benefits of statins, and that many studies fail to acknowledge the most commonly reported adverse effects of statins.

The fact remains (and your doctor may still deny this) that in total, statins cause serious damage in about 4.4 per cent of those taking them, in comparison to the 2.7 per cent statin users benefiting from them... and it looks as if this message is finally getting through to medical authorities.

A case in point is simvastatin or Zocor. After being on the market for almost 3 decades and causing havoc and distress with its horrendous side effects, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally issued a warning about the use of this drug... saying that even the approved dosage can harm or even kill you!

Yep! Kill you!

All well and good

It's all fair and well and good that the FDA flagged this warning, but what's the point if doctors continue to prescribe these drugs left, right and centre?

Professor Sarah Harper, director of Oxford University's institute of population ageing, recently said that the UK's "love affair" with prescription medicine, shows how people choose to pop pills rather than follow a healthy lifestyle.

She cited the widespread use of statin drugs to 'help' protect against heart disease and lower cholesterol, instead of eating healthily, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and taking regular exercise.

By all means, I applaud Prof Harper for pushing the message that living a healthy life plays a big part in preventing disease, but why blame patients for being a bunch of pill poppers when doctors hand out drugs with reckless abandon... and recommend taking preventative drugs to ever younger age groups. So in fact, the white coats should be labelled as Big Pharma's drug pushers, because they're part of the problem... especially considering that so many people put their entire trust in their doctor and would never dream of questioning their advice. Most people take what they say as gospel.

Then there's the media, inundating Joe Public with inflammatory headlines like: 'Statins could help fight breast cancer' or 'Statins can prevent infections like pneumonia'... Not to mention their reporting on botch studies showing the 'unintended benefits' of statins, like their potential to prevent pneumonia, combat diabetes, reduce the risk of oesophageal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer — all of these so-called benefits are of course not yet proven, and highly unlikely. Still, they reach the front pages!

So, yes we might have turned into a pill popping public, but it's the mainstream and the media that have created this monster all with the help and backing of the puppet master: Big Pharma. Because as you and I know all too well, it's all about the money. 

Continue Reading »

Two police officers were injured in a shoot-out in Toulouse on Wednesday with a gunman claiming links to al Qaeda


Two police officers were injured in a shoot-out in Toulouse on Wednesday with a gunman claiming links to al Qaeda and who is believed to responsible for the killing of four people at a Jewish school and three soldiers in southwest France. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said that the 24-year-old man had made several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan and had said that he was acting out of revenge for France’s military involvement overseas. “He claims to be a mujahideen and to belong to al Qaeda,” Gueant told journalists at the scene of the siege. “He wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions,” Gueant said. Heavily armed police in bullet-proof vests and helmets cordoned off the residential area where the raid was taking place, in a suburb a few kilometres from the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school where Monday’s shootings took place. Reuters witnesses at the scene heard several shots at about 04:40 a.m. British time. Gueant said that police were also talking to the brother of the gunman, who is a French citizen from Toulouse. Police sources told Reuters that a man had been arrested earlier on Wednesday at a separate location in connection with the killings. The gunman’s mother had also been brought to the scene of the siege in a northern suburb of Toulouse to help with negotiations, Gueant said. “Negotiations with the suspect are ongoing, gunfire has been exchanged,” the minister said. He said that France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy had been informed of the situation at 03:00 a.m. (02:00 a.m. British time), when the raid began. Authorities believe that the gunman in Monday’s school shooting is the same person responsible for killing three soldiers of North African origin in two shootings last week in Toulouse and the nearby town of Montauban. The same Colt 45 handgun was used in all three attacks and in each case the gunman arrived on a Yamaha scooter with his face hidden by a motorcycle helmet. The killings come just five weeks before the first round of France’s presidential elections in which immigration and Islam have been major themes as Sarkozy seeks to win over voters from far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Continue Reading »

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Shoot-Out In Raid Sees Police Injured

 

French police are engaged in a siege with a man they are reportedly "confident" was responsible for the killings of seven people in the south west of the country. Two elite officers reportedly suffered minor injuries during a shoot-out with suspects in the ongoing pre-dawn raid in the Croix-Daurade district of the city of Toulouse. AFP news agency - which said up to six shots were heard in the raid - is reporting that police believe the gunman responsible for three attacks that killed three children, a rabbi and three soldiers is inside the target building. Four people were killed during the shootings at Ozar Hatorah school A source linked to the probe also told the news agency that a man claiming to be linked to al Qaeda was holed up in the building. The agency said the suspect being sought was 24 and had previously travelled to the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has been known to house al Qaeda safehouses. French news channel BFM TV said the suspects were linked to an Islamist group which it identified as Forsane Alizza. Sky News' Robert Nisbet, in Toulouse, said: "We know that someone is inside the building. It could one person, it could be more than one person. "I understand this is a relatively poor suburb of Toulouse. Obviously, there is an intense pressure on French police to solve this crime." The killings atOzar Hatorah Jewish school on Monday followed the shootings of four soldiers - three of them fatal - in two attacks over the previous eight days. All three of the soldiers killed were of North African descent. All of the attacks were apparently carried out by an assailant using the same gun and scooter. The victim's backgrounds had led to fears the killer was specifically targeting members of minority communities. Chief prosecutor in Paris, Francois Molins, who is monitoring the investigation in Toulouse, had warned there could well be more killings. "At this stage, everything is being done to identify, find and stop the perpetrator, of these three killings as fast as possible," he said. "In these exceptional circumstances, I think it is obvious that we are up against an extremely determined individual, who knows he's being hunted, who could strike again."

Continue Reading »

Two police officers were injured in a shoot-out in a raid on a house in Toulouse to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in southwest France.

 

   The source said the raid began at 3am local time (2am GMT) and was ongoing, but did not provide further details.     French news channel BFM TV said the suspects were linked to an Islamist group which it identified as Forsane Alizza but it was not immediately possible to confirm this.

Continue Reading »

800 'jet-set' extras needed

 

Oscar-nominated director Danièle Thompson is looking for 800 men and women to play Saint Tropez’s jet-set elite in her new feature-length production. So if you are keen to be on the big screen, head to Cogolin next week for your chance to be in the limelight! Thompson’s up and coming film ‘People who kiss’ (Des gens qui s’embrassent) needs an extras cast made up of almost one thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 65. “Sexy, fashionable, elegant... that’s what we’re looking for,” said Thompson, who assures that previous experience isn’t necessary. Over five days of casting, Thompson and her team will whittle down an expected 3,000 applicants to just 800, who will make up the audience of a classical music concert. To register for auditions, head to the Maurin des Maures culture centre in Cogolin from Monday 26th until Thursday 29th. The selection process will begin on Saturday at 10am. All you need to do is turn up looking fabulous! The two days of filming are scheduled to take place sometime between 21st May and 8th June this summer.

Continue Reading »

Second arrest after man killed at Herbie Hide's home

 

A second person has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man at the Norwich home of former boxing world heavyweight champion Herbie Hide. Tafadzwa Kahn, 25, of St Giles Street, Norwich, died from a stab wound at the house in Long Lane, Bawburgh, on Sunday morning. An 18-year-old man from the Norwich area was arrested on Tuesday. The first person arrested, a 16-year-old boy, remains in custody in Wymondham Police Investigation Centre. Detectives said the stabbing followed an argument at a party in the house. 'High visibility patrols' The property remains sealed while a forensic examination is carried out. Police said they would continue to provide high visibility reassurance patrols in the area. More than 100 people were at the party at the time of the stabbing. Police said earlier they were "fairly certain" Mr Hide was not on the premises at the time of the stabbing. Mr Hide told the BBC on Monday: "The reality of this right now is a man is dead. Imagine this - a lady was told her son has gone. Imagine that." A spokesman said a post-mortem examination found the cause of death was a stab wound to the body. Mr Hide and his family have relocated while investigations at the house continue. Mr Hide won the WBO (World Boxing Organisation) heavyweight title for the first time in 1994, beating American Michael Bentt, but lost it to another American, Riddick Bowe, the following year. He regained the title in 1997 and made two successful defences before losing to Vitali Klitschko in 1999.

Continue Reading »

Azhar Ahmed to stand trial over Facebook post about dead soldiers


Azhar Ahmed, 19, appeared at Dewsbury magistrates' court charged under the Communications Act 2003 with sending a message that was grossly offensive on March 8. In court a racially-aggravated public order charge was withdrawn, but Mr Ahmed, from Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, denied the new charge. Police and demonstrators outside Dewsbury Magistrates Court (Picture: PA) He has been bailed and is due to stand trial at Huddersfield magistrates' court on July 3. There was a large police presence outside court as 50 far-right protesters staged noisy demonstrations when he arrived and left. Mr Ahmed's court appearance came as the bodies of the six soldiers killed in Afghanistan on March 6 were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Demonstrators shouted when Azhar Ahmed arrived and left court (Picture: PA) They died when their Warrior vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Lashkar Gah in the deadliest single attack on British forces since 2001. Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment was killed alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

Continue Reading »

Harry Potter Star Jamie Waylett Jailed For Two Years For Violent Disorder In London Riots


Actor Jamie Waylett, who starred in the Harry Potter films, has been jailed for two years for being part of a violent mob during last summer's London riots. The 22-year-old, who played Hogwarts bully Vincent Crabbe in six of the films, was found guilty of violent disorder by a jury at London's Wood Green Crown Court. The actor, who had already admitted swigging from a stolen bottle of Champagne during the rioting, was cleared of intending to destroy or damage property with a petrol bomb he was pictured holding. He already has a previous conviction for cannabis possession. Waylett of Hillfield Road, northwest London, was with a gang of at least four people who went into Chalk Farm on August 8, the third night of violence in the capital. He was captured on CCTV at various points during the evening, often with his hood over his head. Buildings on fire in Tottenham during the riots Judge Simon Carr sentenced the actor to two years for violent disorder and 12 months for handling stolen goods, to run concurrently. Jailing him, the judge said: "A considerable amount has been said about what happened over those few days. Anyone watching the footage in this case can only imagine the mayhem that took place on the streets. "You chose to go out on to the streets on what was the third day of the violence. "You were pictured on a number of occasions with a bottle full of petrol with a rag as a wick. "I accept entirely the jury's verdict that you did not throw or have any intention of throwing it, but merely being in possession of it would have been terrifying to anyone who saw you." Waylett will be eligible for parole after serving a year in jail. The star, who had a shaved head and a goatee beard, wore a white shirt with an open collar and a dark suit to hear the sentencing. He nodded to the public gallery as he was led down to the cells.

Continue Reading »

Monday, 19 March 2012

A GANG of “guns for hire” who spread lawless violence in a spate of gun and grenade attacks across Merseyside were today starting life behind bars.


Grenade gang

 

The five were the “go to” men for gangsters across the area as they carried out attacks on underworld rivals.

But their spree saw innocent people caught in the middle as indiscriminate shootings and grenade attacks escalated.

At the top of the tree sat Tony Downes and Kirk Bradley, a “thick as thieves” pair of career criminals from Huyton, and Gary Wilson, who used his ill-gotten gains to buy himself a plush seafront Southport home.

Bradley and Downes, both 26, never got their hands dirty – Downes was directing operations from his cell in HMP Liverpool and was said to be the group’s “chief executive” by a judge yesterday.

Instead their underlings, “trusted and active lieutenants” Craig Riley and Joseph Farrell, were given “jobs” to carry out and would farm some tasks out to younger crooks wanting to make a name for themselves.

On their instructions, the young thugs would be given guns or explosives and an address or a specific individual to target.

They threw grenades into a room where a woman babysitting her seven-year-old grandson was sleeping and shot people in the legs and stomach, leaving them with life-changing injuries.

Their “modus operandi” saw them use the same guns over and over again – two guns linked to the group were used in 16 different shootings – and carry out their attacks on scrambler bikes, ideal for a quick getaway.

Police slammed the gang as “parasites, the worst kind of mercenary” after bringing them to justice.

A covert police operation was launched to snare those linked to more than 20 incidents over two years.

As the net closed on them, officers took an arsenal of weapons off the streets.

At Woolwich Crown Court yesterday the “chapter” in the ongoing fight against gun crime was brought to a close by high court judge Mr Justice Henriques when he sentenced each of the gang to life imprisonment.

Only Farrell, Wilson and Riley were actually in the dock at Woolwich yesterday.

Downes and Bradley escaped from a prison van in Manchester last summer as they were being brought to court in Liverpool.

Their escape caused their trial, which was in its 11th week at the time, to collapse and a retrial at maximum-security Woolwich was ordered.

But the day after they were convicted in their absence, Downes was picked up after eight months of freedom.




Continue Reading »

18 Best Places to Retire Overseas

When choosing a place to spend your retirement years, the cost of living is important. But it is only one consideration. The ideal retirement spot is a place where you can live a rich life filled with friends, travel, discovery, physical and intellectual distractions, and opportunities for growth. A super-low cost of living is great, but more important is the quality of life your retirement budget is buying you. Many of the best options for enjoying an enormously enriched retirement lifestyle on even a very modest budget can be found overseas. Here are the world’s 18 top retirement havens, where an interesting, adventure-filled lifestyle is available for a better-than-reasonable cost. The Americas 1. Panama. Panama is the world's top retirement haven. Panama City no longer qualifies as cheap, but other spots in this country certainly do. Panama continues to offer the world's gold standard program of special benefits for retirees. The currency is the U.S. dollar, so there is no exchange rate risk if your retirement savings and income is in dollars. The climate in Panama City and on the coasts is tropical, hot, and humid. However, the climate in the highlands can be temperate and tempting. Panama is the hub of the Americas, meaning it's easily accessible from anywhere in North and South America and Europe. 2. Belize. Belize is a great place for reinventing your life in retirement. This tiny, under-developed, sparsely populated country offers two distinct lifestyle options: Ambergris Caye is the best of the Caribbean at a discount, while the Cayo is a frontier where independent-minded pioneers can make their own way and do their own thing, peacefully and privately. The climate is tropical, warmer on the coast, and cooler in the mountainous interior. The official language is English, so there’s no foreign language barrier for Americans. You’ll find a well-established and welcoming community of expats in San Pedro and on Ambergris Caye, and an emerging community of expats in the Cayo around San Ignacio. 3. Colombia. Medellin, a city of springtime and flowers, is the unsung jewel of Colombia. This city is pretty, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, safe, and affordable. Perhaps the most appealing advantage in Medellin is the cost of real estate. It's an absolute global bargain. You can buy property in a good neighborhood for as little as $1,000 per meter. Medellin’s second biggest appeal is its climate, which is spring-like year-round, thanks to the high elevation. Medellin is a more developed city than you might imagine, with five of the best hospitals in Latin America, universities, museums, art galleries, and an efficient and reliable metro system. It also has international-standard shopping and many interesting nightlife options. If you fancy Paris or other Continental city choices, but don't want or can't afford Europe, I strongly recommend you take a look at Medellin. This city is one of the best places in the world to hang your hat. 4. Uruguay. It seems that the more troubled the rest of the world becomes, the more people are finding appeal in Uruguay, a stable commodity-based economy with a sound banking system. Uruguay is neither an aggressor nor a target of aggression in the world arena, and it's not a high-stakes player in world politics. Costs have risen in recent years thanks to the strength of the Uruguayan peso and the sinking value of the dollar. But, even as the cost of living and of real estate rose, Uruguay has become even more popular as a lifestyle and retirement destination. Accordingly, people are coming to Uruguay in record numbers, with residency applications up over 300 percent since 2007, many of these coming from the United States. 5. Ecuador. Ecuador is perhaps the best choice in the Americas for a retiree looking to enjoy a rich and interesting quality of life on a limited budget. I recommend Cuenca, the former Inca and Spanish capital, a current UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the intellectual heart of Ecuador. Cuenca is home to about 1,500 full-time residents from North America. This is not a big number compared with some more recognized Mexican retirement choices, but Cuenca clearly qualifies as an expat-friendly city, offering one of the most interesting retirement lifestyles available anywhere. Amenities include theater, orchestra, shows, restaurants, broadband Internet service, reliable electricity and telephone, and drinkable tap water. Cuenca’s appeal as a retirement haven is expanding in important ways, thanks to a recently developed program promoting the city as a medical tourism destination. The city's five top hospitals have joined together to offer bundled programs of medical tests, procedures, and services available for from $66 to $401. Costs for comparable services in the United States would be multiples of these amounts. In addition, Cuenca is now offering nursing care of a standard suitable for and appealing to the expat retiree at a cost of just $450 per month, including 24-hour doctor and nurse attendance, food, laundry, personal care, and occupational and rehabilitative therapy. 6. Nicaragua. Another top choice for a retiree with a very limited budget is Nicaragua. This country’s Pacific coastline is every bit as dramatically beautiful as that of neighboring Costa Rica. Infrastructure is under-developed in both countries, but the cost of living and especially real estate are noticeably lower in Nicaragua, making the pot-holed roads easier to bear. Nicaragua also boasts two of the top Spanish-colonial cities in the Americas: Granada, a pretty and romantic city that everyone should see once, and Leon. Both places were founded in the early 16th century by Cordoba. 7. Roatan, Honduras. I’m not a big fan of mainland Honduras, which is under-developed and, in some places, unsafe. However, the Bay Island of Roatan is a world apart and one of my two top picks for affordable retirement in the Caribbean (the other is Ambergris Caye, Belize). 8. Argentina. Argentina is a dynamic and charming nation that rides perpetually between crisis and boom. This rich country boasts abundant natural resources and offers many appealing retirement lifestyle choices, including the eclectic and cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the provincial capitals, a finca in the countryside, and a boutique vineyard in Mendoza. Retirement life in Argentina could be many things, but never dull. The downside is a rising cost of living, thanks to local inflation and the falling value of the U.S. dollar versus the Argentine peso. 9. Mexico. This is historically one of the most recognized retirement havens for Americans. But Mexico today is suffering from a lot of bad press thanks to its drug wars. However, Mexico is a big country, and the drug goons haven’t overtaken it entirely. It continues to offer some of the best coastal lifestyle and retirement options in the Americas, including Puerto Vallarta, my number-one choice for an affordable life of luxury on the Pacific. A couple could enjoy a a five-star retirement in this beautiful and romantic coastal town of marinas, golf courses, yacht clubs, and fine dining on a budget of as little as $2,500 per month. 10. Chile. Chile is a developed, First World destination that is also quiet, safe, and stable. Unlike its more scandalous neighbor, Argentina, Chile offers a cultured, comfortable lifestyle that is relatively calm. Santiago is a city of classic-style architecture, cobblestoned streets, and cafes with outdoor seating, in many ways reminiscent of Paris or Barcelona. This city of 7 million is also remarkably clean and friendly and boasts a diverse and expanding property market that is affordable on a global scale. You could own property at some of the city’s best addresses for less than $2,000 a meter. One important downside to retirement in Santiago is the air pollution, which is a serious problem, especially during the winter months. A better option could be the country’s beautiful Lake District to the south of Santiago, which is a favorite retirement choice among Chileans themselves. Europe 11. France. France is a land of superlatives. Its capital has been called the most beautiful, most romantic, and most touristed city on earth. It also boasts some of the world’s best wines, cheeses, restaurants, shopping, castles, gardens, parks, beaches, museums, cafes, galleries, vineyards, and architecture. The typical concern for anyone who has ever dreamed of a new life in France is that it's too expensive for the average retiree to consider seriously. Not so. Paris isn't cheap. But elsewhere in France you can find realistic options, even if your retirement budget is modest. Perhaps the most retirement friendly region in this country is in the southwest, north of Spain, where small country towns offer a way of life that is quintessentially French and also very affordable. 12. Italy. The cost of living in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Tuscany might be beyond the limits of your retirement budget. But that doesn't mean you should take Italy off your list entirely if this is the country that stirs your imagination and speaks to your soul. A retiree on a budget interested in Italy could look at Abruzzo. From this beautiful Old World base, within a half-day's drive of both the coast and the mountains, you could plan excursions to Italy's better-known and more expensive outposts as often as you liked. 13. Ireland. Americans have long dreamed of retirement on the Emerald Isle and with good reason. Ireland is safe, peaceful, relaxed, welcoming, friendly, hospitable, and English-speaking, making it an ideal retirement choice for many. Ireland today is also more affordable than it has been in more than a decade, and its property market has fallen off a cliff. Real estate prices are down 50 percent or more in many markets and are still falling. If you, like so many others, have dreamed of wiling away your retirement years on your own little piece of the Auld Sod, this could be the best time in your lifetime to think about making that purchase. 14. Spain. Spain is known among expats for its Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, especially its infamous (and unfortunately over-developed) Costa del Sol. But there's more to this country than its costas. Barcelona, for example, is a world-class city on the ocean, perfect if you're looking for a cosmopolitan life near the water. Real estate prices in this country have fallen tremendously since the highs of four or five years ago. If retirement in Spain appeals to you, this could be the time to search for a great deal on Spanish retirement digs. 15. Croatia. Croatia, a country with an extraordinarily complicated history and an extremely open-minded, forward-looking population, is at another turning point in its long history. Countries at turning points are interesting places to be. I recommend the country’s Istrian Peninsula, which serves up some of the most delightful scenery on the planet. The land seems to rise up to embrace you, and everywhere you look, something nice is growing like olives, grapes, figs, tomatoes, pumpkins, blackberries, and wildflowers. Even the buildings seem to be part of the earth, built of its white stone and red clay. This sun-soaked region offers one of the most appealing lifestyle options in Europe today. Asia 16. Thailand. Thailand boasts both really cheap and developed and comfortable lifestyle choices. It is also noteworthy as being one of the few countries in this part of the world that offers formal options for long-term and retirement visas. Hua Hin is one of the few classic retirement havens in Southeast Asia, complete with golf courses, factory outlets, and gated communities. Foreigners make up approximately 15 percent of that population, and most of them are retired. With 12 golf courses in operation and another 3 under construction, this is definitely the place to go if you're a golfing enthusiast. Hua Hin is a place where, if you were so inclined, you could live a North American lifestyle and never have to involve yourself more than superficially with the local Thai culture. This could be a plus or a minus for you, but it is worth noting when discussing options in this typically exotic part of the world. 17. Vietnam. While Thailand is well-established as an interesting option for expats and foreign retirees, Vietnam is an emerging choice, which could get a lot more attention in the coming few years. Nha Trang offers an interesting coastal retirement option for adventuresome retirees. Nha Trang’s total population of more than 200,000 includes an expat population of about 1,000 people, meaning foreigners here are still pioneers. You'll find no organized activities for foreigners, such as expat clubs or softball leagues. The lack of a big foreign population makes it easier to have meaningful interactions with the locals. The major attraction in Nha Trang is its cost of living, which can amount to much less than $1,000 per month for a retired couple. If you're a budget-minded retiree with an interest in Asia, this town should be on top on your list. 18. Malaysia. After Thailand, Malaysia is the easiest country to navigate in this part of the world. The country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a city of contrasts. The shining stainless steel Petronas Towers, two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, anchor a startlingly beautiful skyline that is truly unique to this city. Modern, air-conditioned malls flourish, selling everything from beautifully handcrafted batik clothing to genuine Rolex watches and Tiffany jewelry. In the shadows of these ultra-modern buildings, the ancient Malay village of Kampung Baru still thrives, with free-roaming roosters and a slow pace of life generally found in rural villages. Less than a 20-minute walk from the city center, you can find yourself conversing with monkeys in the city-jungle surrounding one of the highest telecommunications towers in the world. A walk of less than 30 minutes leads you to Chinatown and Little India, where merchants offer their wares, foods, and culture in happy neighborhoods that showcase the amazing diversity of the city. Unlike some places in Asia, foreigners are genuinely welcomed in Kuala Lumpur. Language isn't a problem, as almost everyone speaks adequate English. Immigration is easy, and it is possible to stay for an extended period with a simple tourist visa. Although Kuala Lumpur is more expensive than rural Malaysia, it can be marvelously inexpensive by Western standards. You can realistically expect to cut your living expenses by a third and still enjoy a lifestyle comparable to what you are accustomed to now.

Continue Reading »
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...