Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Taiwanese Top Court Approves Same Sex Marriage

Taiwanese Top Court Approves Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

A top Taiwan court ruled in favour of gay marriage Wednesday, a landmark decision that paves the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalise same sex unions.

The constitutional court said Taiwan's current Civil Code, which stipulates an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman, "violated" the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and people's equality.

It gave Taiwan's government two years to implement the ruling.

If parliament does not make the change within two years, the court said same-sex couples could register to marry regardless, based on its interpretation.

"The current provisions of the marriage chapter do not allow two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of an intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together. This is obviously a gross legislative flaw," a statement from the court said.

The push for equal marriage rights has gathered momentum on the island with hundreds of thousands rallying in support.

But there has also been anger among conservative groups, who have staged mass protests against any change in the law.

The court ruled that the decision to allow gay marriage would contribute to social stability and protect "human dignity".

For Taiwan's pioneering gay rights campaigner, Chi Chia-wei, one of the petitioners who brought the case to the constitutional court, the decision was the culmination of 30 years of activism.

"I'm leaping with joy like a bird," Chi, 59, told AFP.

"I hope parliament will prioritise the bill instead of dragging it on for another two years," he added.

Supporters from both camps had gathered in central Taipei to await the decision, with hundreds of pro-gay marriage campaigners flying rainbow flags outside parliament.

A panel of 14 grand justices made the ruling - a majority of 10 was needed. Only two judges dissented.

M&S Annual Profits Fall By Almost 64%

M&S Annual Profits Fall By Almost 64%

M&S

The retailer said that a decline in clothing sales and higher costs from opening new food stores were partly to blame for the 64% fall.

Sales were flat at £10.6bn in the year to the end of March 2017.

Chief executive Steve Rowe revealed that like-for-like sales in his first full year in charge fell by 1.9% in the UK.

The slide followed a 5.9% fall in the three months to April.

The fact that Easter fell later this year hit the company hard, although Mr Rowe added that the fall was also partly due to a push for more clothes being sold at full price.

Clothing and home sales revenue still fell by 3.4%, although food performed better, falling just 2.1% in the fourth quarter.

Mr Rowe said the company remained "on track" with its turnaround plans announced last year, which include opening new food-only stores, selling clothing and homewares in fewer stores and cutting back on discounting.

"We are almost exactly where we thought we would be and we are pleased with what we delivered this year," he said.

The firm was hit by a number of sizeable one-off costs, including £156m to make changes to its pension scheme, £132m on international store closures, and another £49m on changes to its UK store estate and "onerous lease charges" related to that estate.

A further £44m was absorbed by M&S Bank being hit by charges incurred in relation to insurance mis-selling.

Excluding these one-off costs, profits were down 10% to £613.8m.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Hacked Using Contact Lens

Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Hacked Using Contact Lens

Samsung Galaxy S8

The Samsung Galaxy S8’s iris scanner has been tricked by a group of hackers.

The South Korean company has made a big deal about the handset’s iris scanner, which is supposed to be a highly secure and convenient way to unlock the S8 and authenticate payments.

However, Chaos Computer Club, a German hacking collective that has also conquered the iPhone’s TouchID fingerprint sensor, has fooled the system with a dummy eye.

The group managed to unlock an S8 using a picture of the owner’s eye with a contact lens placed on top of it, to mimic the curvature of a physical eyeball.

“If you value the data on your phone – and possibly want to even use it for payment – using the traditional pin-protection is a safer approach than using body features for authentication,” said Dirk Engling, Chaos Computer Club’s spokesperson.

“The security risk to the user from iris recognition is even bigger than with fingerprints, as we expose our irises a lot. Under some circumstances, a high-resolution picture from the internet is sufficient to capture an iris.”

According to the hackers, you can dupe the iris scanner with a picture taken from social media sites, but digital photographs taken in night mode work best.

They also took the opportunity to have some more fun at Samsung's expense, claiming: “Ironically, we got the best results with laser printers made by Samsung.”

While the Galaxy S8 is a highly impressive device, the poor placement and design of its fingerprint sensor damages the user experience significantly.

It’s small, shallow, difficult to reach and positioned right next to the camera lens. Unfortunately, the high-tech alternatives aren’t perfect either.

The iris scanner fails on a regular basis, as it struggles to work in bright light and when you’re moving. The phone’s facial recognition system, meanwhile, was tricked by a photograph almost immediately after launch.

That leaves the PIN as the most reliable way of unlocking the phone. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, PIN codes can be exposed simply by watching how a phone moves when it is being held.

Tom Cruise Confirms Top Gun 2 Squeal

Tom Cruise Confirms Top Gun 2 Squeal

Top Gun 2

Tom Cruise has confirmed that Top Gun 2 is happening.

The long-mooted sequel to his 1986 classic looks set to begin filming in 2018 with the actor telling Australian morning show Sunrise: “It is definitely happening.”

“It’s true. It’s true,” he continued during his promotional trail for upcoming action fantasy film, The Mummy. “I’m going to start filming it probably in the next year. I know. It’s happening. It is definitely happening ... you’re the first people that I’ve said this to.”

Rumours have been swirling for some time now, heightened by a photo that Top Gun producer Jerry Bruckheimer posted with Cruise captioned “Just got back gom a weekend in New Orleans to see my old friend... and discuss a little Top Gun 2.”

The film, directed by Tony Scott, co-starred Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis and Anthony Edwards. Cruise is set to reprise his role of Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the original's young Naval aviator who is given the chance to train at Navy's Fighter Weapons School.

Top Gun was a box office smash upon its release, grossing $357 million (£275m). It went on to warn a cult status and Oscar win for Berlin song 'Take My Breath Away.'

The Mummy is the first of Universal's 'Dark Universe' film franchise which will see Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem play legendary characters the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Frankenstein's Monster across future films.

Sam Allardyce Quits Crystal Palace

Sam Allardyce Quits Crystal Palace

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce told Palace owner Steve Parish of his desire to leave the club during a meeting in central London on Tuesday.

The 62-year-old signed a two-and-a-half-year deal when he was appointed as Palace boss in December - less than three months after leaving his role with England - and managed to keep the club in the Premier League, lifting them from 17th to 14th.

"In some ways, this has been a very difficult decision to make but in others it has been a simple one," Allardyce said in a statement released by his representative.

"I will always be grateful to Crystal Palace and Steve Parish for giving me the opportunity to go out with my head held high having helped keep the club in the Premier League.

"More than that, they gave me a chance of rebuilding my reputation after what happened with England. I felt I needed another shot at being a Premier League manager and showing that I still had the ability to achieve something significant. As I said last weekend, Palace gave me the chance of rehabilitation.

"That's why it's hard walking away now. I believe the club are heading in the right direction with a hugely supportive board of directors, a great squad of players and some of the most passionate fans I've ever met. It's been a privilege to have worked for them for the past five months.

"But there comes a time when you have to take stock of what direction you want your life to take - and that's been the simple part for me.

"I want to be able to savour life while I'm still relatively young and when I'm still relatively healthy, even if I'm beginning to feel all my 62 years.

"While I've got the energy, I want to travel and also spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager. I owe that to my wife and family.

"This is the right time for me, I know that in my heart. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.

"Steve Parish has been superb during our conversations today. I know it came as a shock to him that I would walk away but our discussions have been incredibly civilised with no recriminations and no fall-out.

"This is not about transfer targets, club finances or anything along those lines. This is me taking the decision I believe is right for my family and myself.

"I would like to thank everybody for their messages of support since the news broke. I've no doubt I will miss management but I certainly have no regrets at this decision."

The former England manager was appointed as Alan Pardew's successor, with the Palace languishing in 17th place and just a point above the relegation zone.

It was a swift return to management for Allardyce, who had been out of work since leaving his post as England boss by mutual consent at the end of September after 67 days and just one game following a newspaper investigation.

Allardyce inspired Palace to six wins from eight matches, including victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, to help them preserve their top-flight status with a 14th-place finish.

In doing so, Allardyce maintained his record of having never been relegated from the Premier League.

Yaya Toure Donates Towards Manchester Victim

Yaya Toure Donates Towards Manchester Victim

Yaya Toure

Man City midfielder Yaya Toure and his agent Dimitri Seluk have promised to donate £50,0000 to the victims of the Manchester bomb attack.

Toure, who is set to leave the Ethiad after sevens seasons with the club, felt compelled to help after the details of the incident became clear, according to Sky Sports news.

"Such terrible news in Manchester. Thoughts and prayers with all those affected," Toure said in a tweet from his personal account.

Toure's manager - for the moment - Pep Guardiola, was also impacted by the attack as his wife and two daughters were in attendance at the Ariana Grande concert where the attack took place. Thankfully, they were unharmed in the incident.

Toure has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups since joining Man City from Barcelona in 2010.

Half A Glass Of Wine Everyday Significantly Increase Risk Of Breast Cancer

Half A Glass Of Wine Everyday Significantly Increase Risk Of Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

According to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, half a glass of wine or a small beer a day increases the risk of breast cancer.

It also backs up research showing that regular intensive exercise can reduce the risk of the disease.

Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women in the UK with one in eight women developing the disease during their lifetime.

But scientists say they can't explain why the cancer occurs in some people and not in others.

There are numerous causes and lots of factors to take into account, including lifestyle, hormone levels and other medical conditions.

Basically, it's a complex picture and there's no point focusing on one factor only.

So what are the risk factors for breast cancer?

For a start, there are some factors you cannot control such as your sex, age, height, genes and when you started your periods.

Being a woman, over 50 and past the menopause, and having a history of breast cancer in your family, all increase your risk of getting the disease.

Being tall and starting periods before the age of 12 are thought to increase the risk too.

Cancer Research UK lists 18 different factors which could cause breast cancer to some degree. Alcohol is only one of them.

What does this report say?

It says there are ways women can lower their risk of breast cancer by focusing on factors they can control, like diet, weight and exercise.

After analysing more than 100 studies that examined the medical history of 12 million women, the report backs up current advice to be aware of alcohol consumption.

The report found evidence that drinking an extra small glass of wine every day (10g of alcohol) increases a woman's risk of breast cancer after the menopause by 9%.

What does that really mean?

It means that in a group of 100 women, around 13 would be likely to develop breast cancer anyway.

And if they all drank an additional small glass of wine every day, one extra case might develop among the original group.

What about exercise and diet?

When it comes to exercise, the report found that doing more vigorous exercise, like cycling or running, cut the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer by 10% compared to the least active women.

Breastfeeding was also found to lower the risk of the disease before and after the menopause.

And there was limited evidence that eating more leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach and kale, decreased the risk of a less common kind of breast cancer.

We already know that regular physical exercise, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are important for reducing the risk of lots of diseases, including cancers.

But scientists say all these factors interact with each other and that makes it difficult to tease out which ones are driving the cancer and to what extent.

What is the recommended advice on alcohol intake?

New guidelines were introduced in 2016 which said that men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week - equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine - and some days should be free of alcohol altogether.

The UK's chief medical officers' advice was based on research which showed that any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.

Pregnant women are advised not to drink at all.

What's been the reaction to this report?

Cancer experts say the findings don't tell us anything new about the link between alcohol and breast cancer, which is already well known.

But if you can, to stack the odds in your favour, they say it is a good idea to have some alcohol-free days during every week and not to increase your drinking.

However, Cancer Research UK says there is no need be alarmed and "go teetotal".

It is also important to look at the bigger picture.

Drinking alcohol has a greater effect on the risks of several other cancers - including mouth, liver and bowel - than it does on breast cancer, so there is no reason to become fixated on alcohol.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, says the risks have "to be set against whatever pleasure women might obtain from their drinking".

The report does not provide absolute risks and as such, Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said it did not seem a good basis for recommending that women give up alcohol completely.

However, Dr Anne McTiernan, lead report author and cancer expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the evidence regarding breast cancer was clear.

"Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol are all steps women can take to lower their risk."

Bomber Not Acting Alone, Says Amber Rudd

Bomber Not Acting Alone, Says Amber Rudd

Salman Abedi

Salman Abedi killed 22 and injured 64 when he blew himself up at the Manchester Arena on Monday night - 20 people are in critical care.

Police arrested three men in south Manchester on Wednesday.

The UK terror threat level is now up to its highest level of "critical", meaning more attacks may be imminent.

It means military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites.

Mrs Rudd said the attack was a "devastating occasion".

"It was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we've seen before, and it seems likely - possible - that he wasn't doing this on his own," she added.

Five of the victims are known to be eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell, 15, Kelly Brewster, 32, John Atkinson, 28, and Georgina Callander - thought to be 18.

Two Polish people are also among those killed, according to a Polish government minister.

The injured are being treated at eight Greater Manchester hospitals. Of those, some have lost limbs.

The wounded include 12 children aged under 16.

Several people are still missing, including Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19.

Eilidh's friend, Laura MacIntyre, 15 - who was also reported as missing - was later identified as one of the seriously injured in a Manchester hospital.

Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham told the BBC that the attack had been the city's "darkest hour".

A hotline has been set up for people concerned about loved ones - 0800 096 0095.

Carphone Warewhouse Reports Consumers Spending Is Record High

Carphone Warewhouse Reports Consumers Spending Is Record High

Carphone Warewhouse

In a trading update ahead of its annual results, the Currys and PC World owner said total sales including those at newly opened stores jumped 9%.

It enjoyed strong growth in southern Europe, particularly at its Kotsovolos chain in Greece.

Dixons now expected annual pre-tax profits to be between £485m to £490m.

Chief executive Seb James said Brexit had not changed consumer behaviour.

"We're very vigilant because there's lots of chatter about how the UK consumer is gloomy or isn't gloomy ... so far it seems that customers continue to shop in our stores," he said on a conference call.

In the last three months of its financial year, UK sales were hit by the five-week delay for Samsung's new S8 smartphone. Revenues for that period fell 1%.

Mr James said: "We anticipate no let-up in [consumers'] very rational view that price and service are critical factors in deciding where to shop."

Shares in Dixons Carphone rose 3.6% in morning trading in London but have fallen by a quarter over the past 12 months.

Analysts at Liberum described the trading update as "solid" and that Dixons Carphone remained their top pick in the UK retail sector with a "buy" rating.

James Bond Actor, Sir Roger Moore, Dies At 89

James Bond Actor, Sir Roger Moore, Dies At 89

Roger Moore

Actor Sir Roger Moore, best known for playing James Bond, has died aged 89, his family has announced on Tuesday (May 23).

He played the famous spy in seven Bond films including Live and Let Die and the Spy Who Loved Me.

Sir Roger's family confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he had died after “a short but brave battle with cancer”, reports the BBC.

The statement, from his children, read: “Thank you Pops for being you, and being so very special to so many people.”

Sir Roger took the character of James Bond in a more humorous direction than his predecessor Sean Connery.

Sir Roger's Bond was calm and suave - a smooth operator who could seemingly get himself out of a tricky situation with ease.

The veteran star, who died in Switzerland, will have a private funeral in Monaco in accordance with his wishes, they added.

Sir Roger Moore, who has died aged 89, brought a lighter touch to the role of James Bond, the role for which he was most famous.

Out went the harder, crueller edge of Sean Connery's 007 to be succeeded by sardonic humour and the inevitable raised eyebrow.

He eventually became the longest-serving actor in the role, his seven Bond films becoming the most commercially successful of the franchise.

His tenure in the role also showcased an array of implausible gadgets and a host of new characters, designed to flesh out Ian Fleming's original plots.

Along with his famous Bond role, Moore was also known for 1960s TV series The Persuaders and The Saint.

Sir Roger was also well known for his humanitarian work - he was introduced to Unicef by the late Audrey Hepburn and was appointed as a goodwill ambassador in 1991.

Moore's Bond movies

Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)

IS Claims Responsibility For Manchester Attack

IS Claims Responsibility For Manchester Attack

Manchester Attack

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a bombing at a pop concert in Manchester of United Kingdom which left 22 people dead.

In a statement released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's official Amaq news agency, they said it was revenge for attacks on “Muslim lands”, reports the telegraph.

“One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester," it said, appearing to challenge the Manchester police theory it had been a suicide attack.

The jihadist group also claimed the attack, which killed at least 22 people - including children - and injured 59 more concertgoers leaving a packed Ariana Grande performance at Manchester Arena, was planned beforehand.

They described the venue as a “shameless”.

ISIL did not publish a name or picture of the assailant, which they have done for some major attacks in the past.

If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on the UK since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in July 2005.

US officials drew parallels between the blast and the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

Proteas 'Concerns' After Manchester Terror Attack

Proteas 'Concerns' After Manchester Terror Attack

cricket

South Africa's team manager said his side had "genuine concerns" about remaining in England following the deadly terror attack in Manchester, but there are no immediate plans to return home.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack at the end of a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena on Monday that killed 22 people, including children.

Britain's deadliest terror attack for 12 years took place just two days before the start of a three-match one-day series between England and South Africa in the nearby city of Leeds.

It is the first international fixture of a lengthy, three-month tour for South Africa that includes the June Champions Trophy and subsequent four-Test series against England.

No major international cricket has taken place in Pakistan since 2009 because of security concerns following an attack, while England one-day captain Eoin Morgan and opening batsman Alex Hales refused to tour Bangladesh because of safety fears.

But having received security briefings from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), whose security advisor Reg Dickason is well-respected throughout the sport, South Africa team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said his side were happy to remain in England as things stood.

"As you can understand we have some genuine concerns, the players are uneasy... there was a lot of chatter at the breakfast table," Moosajee told reporters at Leeds's Headingley ground on Tuesday.

"I am happy to say we've had constant communications from the ECB and their security manager.

"There have been guarantees put in place that security arrangements will be supplemented, starting today. We're told there will be more visible police at the stadium, at practice sessions as well as the hotels we will reside at."

Moosajee said the hotel the South Africans are booked in for in Manchester for the last Test "is literally walking distance from where events unfolded last night and there has been genuine concern.

"The process has started to make the players reassured that arrangements are in place to keep them safe."

While players had briefly talked about leaving England, Moosajee stressed: "As things stand there's no mention of us even thinking of abandoning the tour. If the intelligence information tells us something else we would obviously have to reconsider."

Champions Trophy tournament director Steve Elworthy was not anticipating any withdrawals.

"We're planning for all eight teams to be here," Elworthy said.

"It's critical and paramount that we deliver a safe, impressive and exciting tournament for everybody involved."

Suu Kyi seeks to revive ethnic peace process

Suu Kyi seeks to revive ethnic peace process

Suu Kyi

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi will open a new round of talks with some of the country's myriad ethnic groups on Wednesday, looking to revive a stuttering peace process after a tough first year in power that saw the worst fighting with rebels in years.

The conference comes amid continued tensions between ethnic armed groups, the military and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, and it is unlikely to see any new groups join a landmark ceasefire accord negotiated by the previous administration.

Ending decades of near-perpetual civil war is Suu Kyi's stated No. 1 priority - which she sees as key to unlocking the resource-rich country's potential and guaranteeing basic development for its more than 50 million people.

Among issues on the agenda are whether the states that make up Myanmar would be allowed to draft their own constitutions and the status of religion.

In a last-minute boost to the conference, local media reported that several groups that have recently clashed with government troops, and whose attendance had been in question, would be joining the negotiations.

"It's unlikely that any new groups would sign the NCA, but they will discuss a set of potential consensus points," said Yangon-based analyst and former United Nations diplomat Richard Horsey, referring to the National Ceasefire Agreement negotiated by a quasi-civilian transitional government that took office after the end of junta-rule in 2011.

"The fact that there will be more of them in the room is a positive development."

Ethnic armed groups have complained that Suu Kyi has taken a top-down, approach to the process, unilaterally dictating the agenda, often ignoring or misunderstanding their grievances and siding too closely with the military.

When Suu Kyi took charge of the peace process last year, she dismantled a peace centre set up by the previous government that was leading talks with the rebels. Some observers say the move undermined the trust built up over the years.

"They should do more informal meetings. And the peace brokers between the groups, I think the government should recognise them and expand their role," said Aung Thu Nyein, the director of training at the Institute for Strategy and Policy, referring to informal peace negotiators.

Several conflicts have reignited since Suu Kyi took power, displacing an estimated 160,000 people, according to data from the United Nations.

A coalition of four rebel groups comprising one of Myanmar's most powerful militias, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), staged attacks on security forces in the north of the country in November.

In the spring, fighting with Kokang rebels in the hills along the Chinese border sent about 20,000 refugees fleeing to China's Yunnan province.

The conflict in northwestern Rakhine state, where an army crackdown on Rohingya Muslim insurgents forced 75,000 people to flee to Bangladesh amid allegations of widespread atrocities, is separate from the peace process and will not be discussed at the five-day conference in the capital Naypyitaw.

"I want to hope for the best. But this is not an easy process," an ethnic Shan woman told Reuters in Yangon. "No side wants to change their current position and lose or reduce their power and opportunities."

Qatar's State News Agency Hacked

Qatar's State News Agency Hacked

Qatar

Qatar said on Wednesday its state news agency had been hacked, after it reported remarks purportedly by its ruler criticising aspects of U.S. foreign policy in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia.

The comments attributed to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani continued to be carried by media in some other Gulf Arab states, even after Qatar said the report was fake, suggesting renewed strains between Qatar and some of its Gulf Arab neighbours.

"The Qatar News Agency (QNA) website has been hacked by an unknown entity. A false statement attributed to His Highness has been published," the Gulf Arab state's government communications office said.

"An ongoing investigation will be put in place to look into this matter. The statement published has no basis whatsoever, and the competent authorities in the State of Qatar will hold all those (involved) accountable."

Ties between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states suffered an eight-month breach in 2014 over Qatar's alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group whose political ideology challenges the principle of dynastic rule.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have used their oil and gas revenues to influence events in other Middle Eastern countries, and rifts between them can alter the political environment in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The hacked report, which said Sheikh Tamim had spoken at a military graduation ceremony, cited him as being critical of renewed tensions with Gulf Arab adversary Iran.

A government spokesman told Reuters the Emir had attended a graduation ceremony for Qataris doing national service, "however, he did not make any speech or give any statements".

The incident happened four days after Qatar complained publicly that it was the target of "an orchestrated barrage" of criticism by unknown parties in the run-up to Trump's visit alleging the Gulf state supported terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Trump met Sheikh Tamim and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders on his trip to Saudi Arabia on Saturday and Sunday, where he renewed his assertion that Iran was a leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Iran denies the allegation and says Saudi Arabia, the dominant GCC power, supports militant Islamist armed groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State. Riyadh, in turn, denies that.

Arguments over the Brotherhood, the most influential Islamist group in the world, were at the heart of a rift among Gulf Arab states that in 2014 saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdraw their ambassadors from Doha. They only returned after Qatar said it would not allow itself to be used by the Brotherhood for its activities.

Norway To Boost 'Doomsday' Seed Vault

Norway To Boost 'Doomsday' Seed Vault

Norway

Norway on Saturday said it would boost protection of a seed storage vault designed to protect the world's crops from disaster, after soaring temperatures caused water to leak into its entrance.

Situated deep inside a mountain on a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, dubbed the "doomsday" vault, is the largest of its kind and can store up to 2.5 billion seeds.

Freezing temperatures inside the vault keep the seeds, sealed in packages and stored on shelves, usable for a long period of time. Permafrost and thick rock should guarantee the seeds are frozen and secured for centuries.

But in October 2016, the warmest year on record, melting permafrost caused water to leak about 15 metres (49 feet) into the entrance of a 100-metre tunnel inside the vault.

No damage was caused to the seeds and they remain safe inside the vault at the required storage temperature of -18 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

But the vault's managers are now constructing a waterproof wall inside for additional protection, a Norwegian government spokeswoman told AFP, adding all heat sources would also be removed from inside the vault.

"It's not good to have unnecessary heat inside" if water is coming in and permafrost is melting, Hege Njaa Aschim said.

"We have to listen to climate experts (and) we are prepared to do anything to protect the seed vault," she added.

The vault currently stores more than 880,000 seed samples from nearly every country in the world, including food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea and sorghum from Africa and Asia.

It also protects European and South American varieties of aubergine, lettuce, barley and potatoes.

"The water that leaked in had turned into ice... we had it removed," Aschim said. Norwegian authorities are "taking this very seriously" and "following it continuously," she added.

There are 1,700 gene banks around the world that safeguard collections of food crops and many of these are exposed to natural disasters and wars, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The Svalbard vault was opened in 2008 with the aim to provide a "fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters," the organisation says on its website.

"It is the final back up," it adds.

Each country that deposits the seeds into the vault have control and access to their own material.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

These Are The Top Five Holidays Where Brits Definite Can Go

These Are The Top Five Holidays Where Brits Definite Can Go

holiday

If you can’t decide where to jet off to this summer, then maybe this holiday hit-list will give you some wanderlust inspiration.

New research from VoucherCodes.co.uk has revealed that the top location is an old favourite where you can enjoy sun, sea and sand.

The number one hotspot this summer is Spain, no doubt because Brits are lusting after a relaxing breach break topped off with tasty tapas. Oh and it's got some of the best beaches in the world.

But a trip to Espana doesn’t necessarily come cheap because once you’ve totted up travel, accommodation and the cost of food and drink, the average spend per person is £1,326.

Other European countries that made the top five list include France, Italy and Greece.

But the fifth most popular destination was more far-flung, with more people from the UK upping sticks and heading to America.

The average spend on a trip to the US considerably more than Costa del Sol – setting you back around £2,367.

It appears Brits are mainly driven by price when choosing an exotic getaway, with 25% revealing the cost of a trip is paramount, but 20% of holidaymakers also consider the location’s cultural offerings and 18% are concerned about the quality of the accommodation.

Eschewing sunnier climates, nearly a third of Brits are actually opting for a staycation this year.

Holidaying in the UK is certainly cheaper than going abroad, with the average spend coming in at £667 for the whole trip.

Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at VoucherCodes.co.uk, said: “Whether you are planning a holiday at home this summer or jetting off somewhere further afield, it’s interesting to see Brits spending more cautiously this year, with more emphasis being placed on price when booking summer getaways.

“However you choose to spend your break, it’s always worth shopping around and booking well in advance or at the last minute to get the best deals, or try researching online and planning your own sightseeing tours, to avoid paying for costly excursions and group tours once you reach your destination.”

Here are the top five destinations Brits are visiting this summer:

1. Spain

2. France

3. Italy

4. Greece

5. US

Four Reasons You Should Give Up Alcohol

Four Reasons You Should Give Up Alcohol

alcohol

Excessive drinking can lead to major problems and can negatively affect your physical and mental health.

Binge drinking, which continues to be a growing problem in the UK, can cause life-threatening illnesses like liver and kidney disease.

But there’s growing evidence that even moderate drinking can increase our risk of certain cancers. It’s also bad for our waistlines and our wellbeing.

The drink aware website states: “Drinking can affect your mood and your memory and, in the longer term, can lead to serious mental health problems.”

If all this hasn’t put you off, take a look at the significant benefits you could reap from cutting back on your drinking.

Here, NHS Consultant and weight loss specialist, Dr Sally Norton reveals four very good reasons to quit alcohol:

1. Better sleep

A glass of wine can sometimes help us get to sleep, but did you know that over time, that glass of wine could actually cause insomnia?

A study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine found using alcohol as a sleeping aid long-term could affect our ability to fall asleep, leading to disrupted sleeping patterns, and a lowered quality of sleep.

So swap your usual alcoholic nightcap for a sleep-inducing Camomile Tea, or a relaxing, scented bath, and you could find your sleeping patterns improve and you wake up feeling more rested.

2. Weight-loss

Many of us watching our weight simply do not realise, or account for, the calories present in alcohol.

In fact, the average wine-drinker in England takes in around 2000 kcal per month from alcohol, with as much as 185 kcal in just one large glass.

Not to mention the late night munchies, or greasy fry-up that so often follows a heavy night of drinking.

So while you might at first miss that post-work tipple or weekend drinking session, your waistline certainly won’t – in fact, you might be surprised at the pounds you could lose simply by cutting out or reducing how much alcohol you consume.

3. Healthier skin

Drinking alcohol can dehydrate your skin, leaving it feeling dried out and sensitive.

Over time, drinking too much can have long-lasting effects on your skin, depriving it of vital vitamins and nutrients, leaving your skin looking dull.

Not only this, but many skin conditions, such as rosacea or psoriasis can often be exacerbated through alcohol consumption, with many dermatologists recommending minimising drinking to avoid flare-ups.

So cutting back on alcohol could not only help keep any skin conditions at bay, but could actually help to keep your skin hydrated, and looking fresher, and more youthful – win win!

4. Money-savings

While it might not seem much at the time, even just drinking a couple of bottles of wine a week can add up to hundreds of pounds spent over the year – or even more if you’re partial to a pricier tipple!

Why not try using the money saved to treat yourself to a spa day, or to put towards a shopping spree?

For more information on health and wellbeing go to vavistalife.com.

Don't Use This New Feature IN Whatsapp

Don't Use This New Feature IN Whatsapp

Whatsapp

Millions of WhatsApp users across the planet are being warned not to be fooled by a new fake message.

The shocking scam, which was first spotted by reddit user yuexist, attempts to trick fans of the popular service by suggesting a range of new customisable colours are now available.

The fake message, which is not from WhatsApp, states that, “Now you can change your WhatsApp and leave it with your favourite colour.”

It seems that once the message is received users are then asked to share it with 12 friends to activate and verify the new custom colour feature.

Once users have ‘verified’ themselves, they are then told that WhatsApp’s colours can only be used via a desktop and, to make the new feature work, they are asked to install an extension called BlackWhats from the Chrome Web Store.

However, the message and extension are actually fake and could end up with users installing nasty adware along with infecting 12 of their friends at the same time.

This isn’t the first time WhatsApp users have been victims of scam messages.

Earlier this year a message was sent millions of times stating that, from today, "WhatsApp will become chargeable."

It then went on to warn users that the only way to stop the daily fee is to forward the message to "at least 10 contacts."

With WhatsApp revealing it will always remain free this message was clearly a hoax and users were warned not to forward it on to their friends.

Having given advice on how to avoid such hoaxes, WhatsApp suggests users don't interact with messages that instruct you to forward the message on, those which promise rewards or any which claim to be from WhatsApp itself.

"We always advise you to block the sender, disregard the message and delete it," the company said.

Whatsapp

Although this latest colour changing feature might be fake there is a new WhatsApp extension that is 100 per cent real.

The Opera browsing software, has just rolled out a major update which now includes Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram icons within the browser.

This allows users to access these apps with one simple click.

After you log in to the social sites, there are two ways of using this feature: you can open it in overlay or pin it side-by-side with your current tab. Pinning a communicator allows you to combine online chatting with a full browsing experience.

You can also decide which of the messengers to enable in your sidebar by selecting them under ‘Customise start page.’

Mothercare To Close Up To 1/3 Of Its Stores

Mothercare To Close Up To 1/3 Of Its Stores

Mothercare

The baby care chain said it would slash its 152-strong UK store estate further to between 80 and 100 shops as it moves to the "second phase" of an overhaul.

Mothercare has already been axing loss-making shops and refurbishing its estate to boost flagging UK sales, having shut 21 stores in the year to March 25.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said he wants stores to be focused on key locations nationwide, while acting as specialist advice and service points to support online sales.

He said: "We are clear in the role our stores will play for the future, by offering specialist advice and service and first class product presentation.

"Store numbers will reduce over time as we focus on a regional presence in key conurbations across the UK."

His turnaround efforts have been helping return the UK arm to health, with the group seeing its first underlying profit for six years in the final half of its financial year - with a surplus of £4.4 million.

The UK remained loss-making overall in the year, with underlying losses of £4.4 million after a "difficult" first half, but this was narrowed from losses of £6.4 million the previous year.

Katie Hopkins Reported To Police After Calling For 'Final Solution' Following Terror Attack

Katie Hopkins Reported To Police After Calling For 'Final Solution' Following Terror Attack

Katie Hopkins

Katie Hopkins has been reported to police for calling for a “final solution” following the terror attack at Manchester Arena.

The Mail Online columnist swiftly deleted the tweet, which echoed the Nazi term for the Holocaust, amid widespread condemnation for the “despicable” post.

“Don’t you even dare,” read the tweet directed at Good Morning Britain host Phillip Schofield.

“Do not be part of the problem. We need a final solution. #Machester [sic].”

It was deleted and replaced with a re-worded message reading “we need a true solution", but critics are calling for Ms Hopkins to be fired by Mail Online and LBC radio.

Ms Hopkins has been reported to the Metropolitan Police over the tweet, which was part of a longer anti-Muslim tirade, but the force said it was too early to confirm whether an investigation would be launched.

It came after at least 22 people were killed and 59 injured in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena on Monday night.

Thousands of people, including many children and teenagers, were leaving an Ariana Grande concert and heading towards Victoria Station when the blast hit the foyer.

It is the worst terror attack in the UK since 56 people were killed in the London bombings on 7 July 2005.

Police are treating the Manchester bombing as a terrorist incident and are investigating whether the bomber was acting alone or as part of a wider network.

No group has yet issued a claim of responsibility for the massacre, which has sparked an outpouring of grief and solidarity from leaders and musicians around the world.

The Prime Minister condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” and was chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee this morning.

Home Remedies For Dry Hair

Home Remedies For Dry Hair

Dry Hair

While we cannot escape the seasonal vagaries, we can do a lot to prevent our hair from becoming dry and brittle during the season. Here are a few tips to keep you in good stead.

-It is best to avoid hair colouring and ironing during the season. However, if that is next to impossible, at least avoid shampooing during the season.

-Massage the scalp using hot oil. You can either use coconut oil or olive oil for best results

-Do not wash your hair in hot water as it can increase the dryness of the scalp, resulting in flaking and scaling of the skin of the scalp. Use lukewarm water instead and shampoo hair only once or twice a week.

-Use a shampoo and a separate hair conditioner. And leave the conditioner on the tip of the hair avoiding the roots for at least 10 to 15 minutes to moisturise the hair and prevent hair fall.

-The stench apart, beer is a great hair conditioner and so is coconut milk. For a protein packed conditioner, mix eggs and yogurt and rub it into your scalp. Leave on for five or 10 minutes, then wash it off completely.

-A haircut doesn't always have to lead to a new style. Trim off dead ends if your hair is too dry to rejuvenate your hair.

Death Toll In UK Terror Attack Rises To 22

Death Toll In UK Terror Attack Rises To 22

Manchester

Twenty-two people, including children, were killed and dozens injured when a man detonated a bomb at a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande, in Britain's deadliest terror attack in 12 years.

Screaming fans, many of them teens, fled the venue in panic after the bomb blast at the end of the concert in the northern English city of Manchester on Monday evening.

"There was heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies everywhere", Elena Semino, who was waiting for her 17-year-old daughter, told the Guardian newspaper.

Semino, who was herself injured, said she had been standing by the ticket office of the 21,000-capacity indoor Manchester Arena when the explosion went off.

"A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena", said Majid Khan, 22, who was at the show with his sister.

Ambulances and bomb disposal teams rushed to the venue, as family members frantically searched for their loved ones, and residents opened their doors to stranded concert-goers after trains were cancelled.

There were children among the 22 killed in the attack, while 59 people were injured, Greater Manchester Police chief Ian Hopkins said early Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the "appalling terrorist attack" and suspended her campaign ahead of a general election on June 8 along with chief opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected," said May, who was due to chair an emergency ministerial meeting at around 0800 GMT on Tuesday.

Grande, who was due to give a concert in London later on Tuesday, said she was "broken" in a tweet.

"Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry. I don't have words," wrote the 23-year-old, who is popular with teens and pre-teens.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London's transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding 700 more.

The Manchester blast recalled the November 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in which armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

'A massive flash'

Police were called to the scene at the Manchester Arena concert and sports venue at 2133 GMT.

Manchester Arena said the blast "took place outside the venue in a public space", while police said it was "within the foyer area of the stadium."

The foyer connects the auditorium with Victoria train and tram station, a major transport hub on the northern edge of the city centre.

One witness, Gary Walker, told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters.

"We heard the last song go and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke," he said.

Isabel Hodgins, an actress who had been at the concert, told Sky News: "Everybody was panicking, there was pushing up the stairs.

"The corridor was full, it smelled of burning, there was quite a lot of smoke as we were leaving.

"It's just shocking and we just feel very shaken up. We're just lucky to have gotten away safely," she said.

Calvin Welsford, 18, from Bristol told the BBC: "It almost sounded like a gunshot".

"I looked around and people were just spilling down, heading out of the building".

"I was actually having an asthma attack. It was sheer panic," he said.

US 'ready to assist'

Hopkins said investigators were "working closely with the national counter terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners".

The US Department of Homeland Security, Britain's biggest intelligence partner, said it was "closely monitoring" the situation.

"We are working with our foreign counterparts to obtain additional information about the cause of the reported explosion as well as the extent of injuries and fatalities," the department said in a statement.

Tributes poured in for Manchester from around the world.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians were "shocked by the news of the horrific attack," while EU president Donald Tusk wrote: "My heart is in Manchester this night."

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "horrified" by the attack.

Pop world rallies

The pop world also rallied, with Katy Perry tweeting: "Praying for everyone at Ariana Grande's show".

US pop princess Taylor Swift, a friend of Grande, wrote: "My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight".

In Manchester, residents tweeted with the hashtag #RoomforManchester to offer a place to stay and there were reports of taxis taking passengers for free.

"We have a spare double bed and two sofas available if anybody needs a place tonight," tweeted @iamjesyrae.

Concerned relatives used the hashtag #MissinginManchester to locate loved ones.

Train services to and from Manchester Victoria Station -- located under the Arena -- were cancelled.

"Disruption is expected to continue until the end of the day," National Rail said in a statement.

Manchester Terror Attack: What We Know

Manchester Terror Attack: What We Know

Manchester

Nineteen people died in a suspected terror attack at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester late Monday.

Here is what we know so far about the attack, which was the deadliest in Britain since 2005.

What happened?

Police said they were called at 2133 GMT to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena at a concert by pop star Ariana Grande, who is popular with teenagers.

British Transport Police said the blast occurred at "within the foyer area of the stadium" and the venue said it was "outside the venue in a public space".

The arena foyer connects the 21,000-capacity auditorium with Victoria train and tram station, a major hub on the northern edge of the city centre.

Eyewitnesses described a "huge bomb-like bang" and scenes of panic as young fans rushed out and parents waiting outside looked for their children.

Who is behind it?

Police said the incident was "currently being treated as a terrorist incident," but no one has so far claimed the attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned it as "an appalling terrorist attack".

Greater Manchester Police's chief constable Ian Hopkins said local police in the city were working with national counter-terrorism and intelligence officials on the investigation.

Who are the victims?

Police said 19 people were killed and around 50 injured, who are being treated in six hospitals.

The local ambulance service said on Twitter it had taken 59 casualties from the incident and treated "a number of walking wounded on scene".

Elena Semino from Lancaster told the Guardian she was with her husband waiting for her daughter by the arena's ticket office when the explosion went off.

"There was this heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies everywhere," she said.

Gary Walker from Leeds told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters to come out of the concert.

"We heard the last song go and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke," he said.

Other attacks in the UK

The incident in Manchester is the second terror attack to hit England in less than two months.

On March 22, five people were killed and more than 50 injured when a man drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London, before crashing into the fence surrounding parliament.

The attacker, 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood, was then shot dead by police at the scene after knifing a police officer to death.

Investigators described the lone-wolf attack as "Islamist related terrorism" but have not charged anyone in connection with the incident.

The deadliest bomb attack on British soil took place on July 7, 2005 when four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attack London's transport system, killing 52 and wounding 700.

 19 killed, Scores Injured In Terrorist Attack On UK Concert

19 killed, Scores Injured In Terrorist Attack On UK Concert

Mancester Attack

At least 19 people were killed and about 50 injured in a possible terrorist incident on Monday night (May 22) at Manchester Arena, United Kingdom, where pop singer Ariana Grande was performing, reports CNN quoting Greater Manchester Police.

As concertgoers -- many of them adolescent fans of the singer -- were beginning to leave the arena following Grande's closing set, an explosion rocked the area. Confusion followed as people fled in search of safety, and the sound of wailing sirens soon cut through the smoky air outside the arena.

Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins made a public statement early Tuesday local time, saying "We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident" and said the wounded are being treated at six hospitals across the Manchester area.

The incident happened shortly after Grande had left the stage, about 10:30 pm (5:30 pm ET) according to eyewitnesses. Calvin Welsford, an 18-year-old concertgoer, said that he heard a "loud bang" a couple of minutes after Grande's set had finished.

"Ariana was off the stage, she'd finished her set," he told CNN. "I looked around because I heard this big bang, people screaming and crying and flooded towards the stage." Investigators are looking into the possibility of a suicide bombing outside of the arena, according to a Western law enforcement official and a US law enforcement official. A male at the scene in Manchester has been identified as the probable bomber, and a US official said suicide bombing is now considered to be the "likely" reason for the blast.

After the initial incident, police carried out a precautionary controlled explosion nearby but the item turned out to be discarded clothing, not a "suspicious item," Greater Manchester Police said.

Earlier police had warned people to stay away from Manchester Arena after reports of two loud explosions. The crowd was made up of mainly younger people who had come to see Grande in her first of three scheduled concerts in the UK, on her European and Latin American tour.

Hotels opened their doors to people who could not get home due to an area lockdown. A nearby Holiday Inn hotel became a focal point for parents searching for their children who had been at the concert.

"I saw everyone running, I fell onto the seats on the floor my friend lifted me up." Social media posts from the scene showed panicked concertgoers running down the arena's stairs in an attempt to get away.

Video from near the scene showed a caravan of ambulances heading to the arena. Universal Music Group, parent company for Grande's record label, Republic Records, posted a statement on Facebook.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of tonight's devastating event in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy," the post says. Grande's publicist, Joseph Carozza, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the performer was safe.

"Ariana is OK. We are further investigating what happened," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement, confirming that police are treating the incident as a terror attack. She will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee on Tuesday morning.

"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."

The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, offered support on Twitter.