Monday, 31 October 2011

Fat FreddieThomson has been wanted in Spain for the past 18 months

30 year old Irishman, Freddie Thompson, known in the criminal world as ‘Fat Freddie', was arrested by the Garda in Dublin on October 21.

The arrest order dates from 18 months ago and was issued by the courts in Estepona, Málaga. The police consider that Thomson was a member of the Irish gang led by Christopher Kinahan, which was broken up by police in May 2010 in an operation codenamed ‘shovel’ which saw the arrest of more than 30 people in Spain, Ireland and the U.K. They were all linked to large scale drug and arms trafficking, as well as money laundering and other crimes committed on the Costa del Sol.

Thomson is now expected to declare before the court in Estepona this week. Police had thought that he could have been hiding in Holland.
He has been the most famous prisoner in the Clovenhill prison since his arrest.

Marbella police arrested a man considered to be a ‘frontman’ for the group, who was paid a monthly sum for the use of his name. Officially he owned luxury cars and businesses, when in fact he was almost pennyless.

Most of the money is thought to have been laundered in Brazil where real estate was purchased. 60 properties worth an estimated 150 million € have been impounded on the Costa del Sol in connection with the case.

10,000 border arrests due to screening system


10,000 criminals including rapists and murderers have been held at the UK border thanks to a screening system begun in 2005, a minister has said. Air and sea carriers using UK ports and airports submit passenger and crew details electronically to the e-Borders screening system, prior to travel. It results in about 52 weekly arrests, Immigration Minister Damian Green says. He praised the UK Border Agency and police for the scheme, which covers up to 55% of journeys to and from the UK. "By checking passenger and crew information before travel, law enforcement agencies can apprehend those trying to evade justice," Mr Green said. "From 2013 the new dedicated Border Policing Command, part of the National Crime Agency, will further strengthen security at the border, providing leadership and coordination based on a single national threat assessment and strategy." E-Borders has not avoided controversy. The government faces the threat of a lawsuit from Raytheon, the firm which managed the £750m system until Mr Green terminated its contract in July 2010 over delays to its full implementation. Raytheon says the problems were down to UK Border Agency mismanagement of the scheme. But John Donlon, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said e-borders would continue to play a key role. Extending scheme "Police have been able to identify those wanted for offences before they leave or when they return to the UK, bringing offenders to justice and supporting counter-terrorist and serious crime investigations," he said. More than 125 million passengers' details were screened in the year to September, resulting in 2,700 arrests. Among those detained were 11 murderers, 22 rapists, 316 violent criminals and 126 drug offenders, government figures show. The government is extending the number of routes and carriers covered by the e-Borders system and will re-introduce exit checks by 2015. "Inevitably as more routes are covered the number of arrests will grow," Mr Donlon added. The border agency said recent successes included the arrest at Manchester Airport of a 44-year-old man who was later charged with sexually grooming a boy after an alert from Swiss authorities, and the detention of a man wanted for a rape 14 years ago. Other cases involved the jailing of a Spanish drugs courier trying to smuggle 1kg of cocaine from Brazil, the arrest of one man from Dubai who was wanted for a £5.7m theft and another who was suspected of a £50m fraud. Meanwhile, the agency said on Sunday it had blacklisted nearly 3,000 banks it believed could not be trusted to verify documents supporting student visa applications.

charity worker employed by one of David Cameron’s Big Society gurus has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling cocaine with a street value of £120,000

charity worker employed by one of David Cameron’s Big Society gurus has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling cocaine with a street value of £120,000 into Britain.

Former US gang member Derrick ‘Anthony’ Mitchell was held at Heathrow this month after UK Border Agency officers allegedly discovered 3kg of drugs in his luggage. 

Mitchell, 37, is a duty manager at the South London-based Kids Company founded by charity boss Camila Batmanghelidjh. She set it up in 1996 to care for abused, neglected or  abandoned children in London’s inner-city communities. 

She has been described as ‘Britain’s most colourful charity leader’ because of her style, dress sense and selfless approach to charity work. 

The award-winning author and campaigner was invited  to 10 Downing Street last year. 

She also advises former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and is thought to be one of the inspirations behind Mr Cameron’s pledge to ‘hug a hoodie’. 
Ms Batmanghelidjh spoke of her shock at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, whom  she described as a ‘street-level youth mentor’.

She said: ‘Obviously, because the judicial process needs to take place, we cannot legally comment. The only thing I can say is that the alleged incident took place while he was on holiday in his own time.

‘At this stage I do not know enough to know the full details. But as a worker, he gave exceptional commitment to the kids over a number of years and I can never take that away from him. 

Pledge: David Cameron's Big Society aims to 'take power away from politicians and give it to people'

Pledge: David Cameron's Big Society aims to 'take power away from politicians and give it to people'

As an organisation, we employ a range of people and a lot of them have had challenging backgrounds as children and we have given them chances. The majority of them go on to do incredibly well.

‘In the situation of this individual, if what is alleged has occurred, he has made an abhorrent choice and I do not agree with it.’ 

Camila Batmanghelidjh said she was shocked at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, claiming he gave 'exceptional commitment to the kids'

Camila Batmanghelidjh said she was shocked at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, claiming he gave 'exceptional commitment to the kids'

Mitchell, of Camberwell, south London, was arrested at Heathrow on October 6 and remanded in custody by Uxbridge magistrates the next day. He will reappear in court in the next month. 

The university undergraduate has previously spoken of deciding to rebuild his life after leaving a violent street gang in Miami.

He claimed he had earlier sold drugs and lost a family member to violence at the age of 19 when his sister bled to death after being stabbed in a leg.

After coming to Britain in his 20s, he began working with the charity about five years ago, attempting to convince youths in gangs to turn their back on crime. 

Kids Company operates from three centres in Southwark, Lambeth and Camden in London, as well as working in 37 inner-city schools.

It employs more than 600 people in full and part-time roles to reach out to 14,000 children from the capital’s most deprived and crime-ridden areas. 

Many of the youngsters live with  parents who are unable to care  for them and have had severely troubled lives.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Italian ship Montecristo, which was hijacked by Somali pirates before being stormed by British commandos

The Italian ship Montecristo, which was hijacked by Somali pirates before being stormed by British commandos

A legal ban on weapon-toting protection staff will be relaxed so that firms can apply for a licence to have them on board in danger zones.

The Prime Minister said radical action was required because the increasing ability of sea-borne Somali criminals to hijack and ransom ships had become "a complete stain on our world".

He unveiled the measure after talks at a Commonwealth summit in Australia with leaders of countries in the Horn of Africa over the escalating problem faced in waters off their shores.

Under the plans, the Home Secretary will be given the power to license vessels to carry armed security, including automatic weapons, currently prohibited under firearms laws.

Officials said around 200 were expected to be in line to take up the offer, which would only apply for voyages through particular waters in the affected region. It is expected to be used by commercial firms rather than private sailors - such as hostage victims Paul and Rachel Chandler.

The Occupy London Stock Exchange protest encampment outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Occupy London protest at St Paul's
Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Christian groups have drawn up plans to protect protesters by forming a ring of prayer around the camp outside St Paul's Cathedral, should an attempt be made to forcibly remove them.

As the storm of controversy over the handling of the Occupy LondonStock Exchange demonstration deepened on Saturday, Christian activists said it was their duty to stand up for peaceful protest in the absence of support from St Paul's. One Christian protester, Tanya Paton, said: "We represent peace, unity and love. A ring of prayer is a wonderful symbol."

With senior officials at St Paul's apparently intent on seeking an injunction to break up the protest, the director of the influential religious thinktank Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, said the cathedral's handling of the protest had been a "car crash" and predicted more high-profile resignations from the Church of England.

The canon chancellor of St Paul's, Dr Giles Fraser, and the Rev Fraser Dyer, who works as a chaplain at the cathedral, have already stepped down over the decision to pursue legal action to break up the camp.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, is attempting to mediate in the dispute. She said she had contacted the corporation, cathedral and protesters to offer a "neutral space" to sort out the impasse. The corporation had not yet responded, she said, although St Paul's had acknowledged her offer. She said the protesters had been enthusiastic in their desire for dialogue and a peaceful resolution.

"It would have been easy to opt for a line of action that would have led to images of police dragging away protesters, but they want to talk."


It was claimed last night that a highly critical report into the moral standards of bankers has been suppressed by St Paul's amid fears it would inflame tensions over the protest. The report, based on a survey of 500 City workers who were asked if they thought they were worth their salaries and bonuses, was due to be published last Thursday.

But publication of the report, by the St Paul's Institute, has been delayed in apparent acknowledgement that it would give the impression the cathedral was on the side of protesters.

Christian groups that have publicly sided with the protesters include one of the oldest Christian charities, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the oldest national student organisation, the Student Christian Movement,Christianity Uncut, the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and the Christian magazineThird Way. In addition, London Catholic Worker, the Society of Sacramental Socialists and Quaker groups have offered their support.

A statement by the groups said: "As Christians, we stand alongside people of all religions who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence. The global economic system perpetuates the wealth of the few at the expense of the many. It is based on idolatrous subservience to markets. We cannot worship both God and money."

Bartley said: "There are some very unhappy people within the Church of England. The protesters seem to articulate many of the issues that the church has paid lip-service to. Many people are disillusioned with the position St Paul's has adopted. To evict rather than offer sanctuary is contrary to what many people think the church is all about. The whole thing has been a car crash."

On Saturday afternoon, more than 20 religious figures gathered on the steps of St Paul's to support the occupation, which began two weeks ago.

The bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, has promised to attend St Paul's in an attempt to persuade activists to leave. But protesters say they have no intention of packing up, many reiterating their intention to stay at the cathedral until Christmas and beyond.

A spokesman for Occupy London urged the City of London Corporation to open a dialogue with protesters to avoid a lengthy legal battle that could prove expensive for the taxpayer.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Two British tour operators who come to Spain go bust


Two British tour operators who bring tourists to Spain have gone bust. Romano Travel ceased operations on October 26, a day after Airborn Limited. Romano Travel specialized in package holidays to Spain and Turkey and had been operating for 30 years. There were no more than half of dozen or so pending bookings from the Buckinghamshire firm which was fully protected with an ATOL licence and was a member of ABTA. Airborn Limited operated as Airborn Direct and Holiday Hero, and was based in Romford, Essex. It sold packages to Spain, Cyprus and Turkey, and sold its products to other operators. The CAA says there are many clients who have purchased flights with the firm using a credit card, and these flights should be operating normally. If in doubt passengers can confirm with the airline.

Spain no longer the main destination for Brit's second homes


A new survey carried out by the HomeAway holiday rentals company and real estate group Savills International has concluded that Spain is no longer the first choice among the Brits for their second residence. 1,700 British property buyers were questioned. More Britons now prefer France because of its better economic stability and the moderation in its house prices. 40% of Brits who buy in Spain later rent out the property, sometimes obtaining an income of as much as 34,500 € a year, but 24% still say that Spain is the place they have chosen for retirement. Despite the change away from purchasing a second home, Spain continues to be the most popular holiday destination for the Brits. In France, Italy and Switzerland the British purchasers usually opt for restored old properties, while in the United States, Cyprus and also in Spain and Portugal, they tend to go for more modern or new constructions.

Malaga on the Mediterranean coast, in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia, was the city you avoided

The city of Malaga on the Mediterranean coast, in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia, was the city you avoided. An industrial port encircled by a tired ring of Franco-era low-rise apartment buildings, it was always the city tourists dashed by on their way to Torremolinos or Marbella further down the Costa Del Sol.

Being out of favor from the 1970s onwards – when torrid overbuilding ruined the Spanish coast – has served Malaga well, and the tired city around the old port has gone through a revival in recent years: The pedestrian-only squares and streets are washed clean, filled with a mix of fashionable shops selling Ermenegildo Zegna suits and Omega watches, and old men hawking lotto tickets and blanched Andalucian almonds wrapped in paper cones—all in the shadow of the city’s baroque cathedral where the 17th century choir stalls are carved from mahogany and cedar.

The city is still no great beauty, but its unpretentious charm stems from the fact it remains a middle-class working port. The first night I arrived I dined on a plate ofpata negra (thinly-cut slices of cured ham, with a rich marble of fat, made from black pigs that feed on acorns) and some grilled sea bream served with French-cut beans. As I drank my copa de vino tinto, contentedly observing the town’s life from the sidewalk café, a guitar-banging gypsy dashed by, twitchy as a heroin addict, followed by an old man selling to local tapas bars the snails slowly crawling the walls of his white bucket.

Two newly-opened institutions have greatly contributed to Malaga’s cultural revival. The crowd-puller is the Picasso Museum, and I am sure it is a lovely collection, but, in all honesty, I couldn’t bear to see yet another second-tier Picasso Museum. (The Spanish painter, for all his greatness, would have benefitted considerably from being a little less prolific.)

My interest was, however, very much piqued by the new museum housing the collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kaszon.

The Thyssen family, dating back to the 17th century, famously made their fortune supplying the industrializing German state with steel. But they were also great collectors of art, and the late Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza aggressively added works to his father’s stacks of Old Masters until the family’s 1,600-strong collection became the second largest private art collection in the world, second only to the British Royal Family Collection.

Ranging from Hans Holbein to Edward Hopper, the collection was originally housed in the family’s Villa Favorita in Lugano, Switzerland. (The Thyssen family left Germany for Switzerland in the 1930s.) In the mid 1980s, however, the Swiss unwisely barred the baron from expanding his museum at Villa Favorita—they were unimpressed he wanted to show more of his collection to the public.

Enter Spain. In 1985 the baron married his 5th wife, Carmen Cervera, a former Miss Cataluna, just as his battle with Swiss small-mindedness was heating up. The Catalan beauty was instrumental in getting her husband to move his art collection to more flexible Spain, where it now sits in its own museum next to the Prado in Madrid.

But Baroness Carmen Thyssen herself began collecting in the late 1980s, all under her husband’s tutelage, and she focused on Andalucian art of the mid-19th to early 20th century. It was this collection, critically praised throughout Spain when it was first exhibited in the late 1990s, which was squirreled away in the newly-converted palace called the Museo CarmenThyssen Málaga.

The mid-19th century Andalucian works in the collection were largely painted for middle-class European tourists of the day who wanted to return to London and Paris with reminders of their Andalucian holidays. So the first floor of the museum is devoted to these so-calledColumbrista painters, and provides a panoply of chocolate box scenes of idealized Andalucian landscape romanticism: sultry gypsy dancers and battling bandoleros in mountain caves and young fishermen wooing flower girls.

But as the 19th century progresses, so does the sophistication of the paintings. Two paintings in particular stayed with me long afterwards: the dark Columbrista painting of 1851 by the Frenchman, Alfred Dehodencq, painted for the duke occupying the Palace of San Telmo. It’s of a procession through the town during Holy Week. Hooded monks, like an all-black vision of the Ku Klux Klan, are the candle-carrying advance guard of the Mater Dolorosa, and they walk a gauntlet of rapturous women in black mantillas. Powerful stuff.

Later, in 1867, the Spaniard Mariàno Fortuny Marsal painted a bullfight with quick, almost impressionistic brushstrokes that seems to foreshadow what is yet to come in the art world. Called Exquisite Realism, or the Précieux Style, the intense brushstrokes of the “Bullfight” give a blurry sense of speed and movement at the breath-holding moment when a gored picador is carried dying from the ring and another picador is trying to weaken the bull with the hard thrust of his lance. It’s hard to tell who is going to live or die, and it’s a very modern work, in a 19th century way.

Five arrested for road rage attack in Madrid


National Police have arrested five people, two of them underage, for a brutal road rage attack in a tunnel on the M-30 motorway in September. They were taken into custody after they were identified on video footage from security cameras in the tunnel. The aggressors were travelling in two vehicles on the evening of September 17, and were seen on film chasing another car into the tunnel, speeding ahead and cutting across it to bring it to a halt. The eight occupants of the two cars are then seen getting out of their vehicles and dragging the three people travelling in the third car out onto the roadway. They are beaten and kicked, and their car is vandalised. Some personal items were also stolen and one of the victims was stabbed in the back. The reason for the attack was because the victims had criticised their assailants for a dangerous manoeuvre a few kilometres previously. The Interior Ministry released news of the five arrests this week, and said the search continues to locate the three other suspects involved.

32 arrests in luxury car scam in Spain


National Police in Spain have arrested 32 people accused of stealing 25 vehicles worth over a million € from counties such as Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, to be sold on in Spain. The sale of the vehicles were helped by official dealers and the gang even had the collaboration of workers at several ITV/MOT centres which issued certificates to say the vehicles had no signs of being manipulated. The Ministry of the Interior says that the gang was made up mainly of Hungarians, Romanians and Spaniards, and the vehicles were sold on with false documents in dealers in Madrid, Santander, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia, Alicante, Cuenca, Almería, Córdoba, Jaén and Granada.

Spain's first private airport goes bust


Spain’s first private airport has closed. The Ciudad Real Airport was opened in December 2008, considering that it could act as a Madrid overflow for residents in the south, but that just has not happened. The very last flight, operated by Vueling and with just 45 passengers, took off for Barcelona on Saturday at 2,45pm. The airline lasted less than a year at the Ciudad Real airport which has been dogged by bad luck from the start. It had problems with the environmental agency in 2005 as it is located in a special bird protection area, there were complaints that as much as 50% of the building works were illegal, it needed a continued supply of capital, and the intervention of the Bank of Spain in the CCM Castilla La Mancha savings bank revealed more irregularities. The airport closes with the company, CR Aeropuertos, owing its creditors more than 290 million €. It opened with debts of 1.7 million, and a poster declaring ‘Our dreams take off’, can still be seen in the Cuidad Real City Hall. The airport had hoped to attract seven million passengers a year, and managed to attract the airlines, Air Nostrum, Air Berlin and Vueling, with the attraction of a AVE high speed train station at its door, and one of the longest runways in Europe, but the facility never attracted more than 500,000 travellers in the first year. It was not long before some flights had more crew than passengers. There has been a rash of private airport projects in Spain, started during the economic boom, and there were six projects in total in Cataluña, Aragón, Valencia, Murcia, Andalucía and in Ciudad Real. Only one has opened, and today, has now closed for business.

Man stabs three people to death in Valencia


A man has stabbed three people to death and injured another two in a hamlet close to Valencia. It happened in Castellar-Oliverar to the south of the city on Friday night at about 9pm. A 48 year old is reported to be very seriously hurt and is in the intensive care unit of the La Fe Hospital. Another 44 year old man has injuries to his back and head, and is stable in the General Hospital. Two of the dead are father and his 13 year old son, while the third is a female pensioner. 33 year old local resident and neighbour to the dead and injured, named as J.P., has been arrested in connection with the triple homicide. Municipal sources say the man carried out his attacks in several flats connected to the stairway of his block after ringing the door bells. A local policeman then saw the man in the street, covered in blood, and asking what had happened. It seems that the case is linked to a dispute between the neighbours, and it is still unclear if the attacker is related in any way to the victims. Several neighbours have described him as ‘a normal man’ who was married and had a young daughter and who had never caused any problems.

Brussels is stifling City of London, Cameron claims


David Cameron signalled new European battles ahead as he pledged to resist alleged attempts by Brussels to shackle the City of London in red tape. The Prime Minister echoed claims that the emergence of a two-tier Europe following the financial crisis could result in a wave of EU directives that would harm the Square Mile. The Government has said it is determined to prevent the 17 members of the eurozone acting as a bloc to thwart the interests of the 10 EU states, including Britain, that have retained their own currencies.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Ruth Madoff reveals suicide pact after £40bn fraud


Come what may, Mrs Madoff is still managing to keep up appearances. But behind her designer outfit and reassuringly expensive haircut, she's anxious to remind the world that life as the spouse of a $65bn (£40bn) conman isn't always plain sailing. In her first interview since her husband Bernie oversaw the collapse of the family investment house almost two years ago, Ruth revealed the couple attempted suicide in the immediate aftermath of his arrest. It was the night before Christmas 2008. The Madoffs, once the toast of New York society, were confined to their Manhattan penthouse, coming to terms with the fact that his Ponzi scheme had wiped out the life savings of several thousand investors, including many close friends and family members. "I don't know whose idea it was, but we were both so saddened by everything that had happened that we decided to kill ourselves," she recalled. "It was so horrendous what was happening. Terrible phone calls, hate mail – just beyond anything. And I said, 'I just can't go on any more'." They decided to overdose on the sedative Ambien. But they apparently under-estimated the amount needed and found themselves still alive to face the music on Christmas Day. "We were both in agreement," she told CBS's 60 Minutes – which will air interviews with her and her son Andrew on Sunday. "I don't remember what we said very much. We were figuring out how many pills to take. "I think we were both sort of relieved to leave this place. It was very, very impulsive, is all I can say. And I was glad to wake up the next morning." The show will tell how the family learnt of their sudden elevation to global pariah status and explain what they have been doing since. Mrs Madoff, 68, met her husband, now 73, when she was 14 and married him two years later. At the height of their powers she kept an office at the headquarters of the family investment firm and was listed as a director of several companies he controlled. She has always maintained she had no idea the firm was overstating profits and defrauding investors. After his arrest she struck a deal with prosecutors that saw her give up all her assets except for $2.5 million. Many of Madoff's victims angrily insisted she should have been left with nothing. Shortly after the deal was announced, The New York Times dubbed her "the loneliest woman in New York". She later left the city to live in Florida. Judging by CBS interview footage released yesterday, the months since have been tough on a woman who was once the toast of Manhattan. She has retained her petite figure, well-groomed blonde hair and elegant dress sense but has aged considerably. Although she admits being initially supportive of her husband, visiting him in prison, she says she decided to break off contact last December. That was when their second son, Mark, 46, hanged himself on the anniversary of his father's arrest using a dog leash. It remains to be seen whether the TV interview will repair her tattered reputation. People who believe she helped cover up her husband's fraud now suspect her claim about their joint suicide bid was invented to win sympathy. Their former bodyguard Nick Casale, who was with them that Christmas Eve, cast doubt on the story yesterday. Bernie has also granted a first interview, it emerged last night. He spoke to the veteran TV interviewer Barbara Walters at the prison in North Carolina where he is currently serving a 150-year sentence for fraud. No cameras were allowed but a transcript suggests he expressed remorse for his crimes and understands why people think he "robbed widows and orphans". But he insisted: "I made wealthy people wealthier." And on life behind bars, he added: "Ruth not communicating is the hardest thing... Ruth doesn't hate me. She has no one. It's not fair to her. She lost her first so. She's a devoted wife and didn't care about the money."

Yemeni women burn veils to protest regime


Yemeni women defiantly burned their traditional veils Wednesday in protest of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrations. Thousands of women gathered in the capital, Sanaa, said witnesses. They carried banners that read: "Saleh the butcher is killing women and is proud of it" and "Women have no value in the eyes in Ali Saleh." They collected their veils and scarves in a huge pile and set it ablaze -- an act that is highly symbolic in the conservative Islamic nation, where women use their veils to cover their faces and bodies. It's the first time in the nine months of Yemen's uprising that such an event has occurred. Inspired by Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman's Nobel Peace Prize this month, more and more Yemeni women have taken to the streets and escalated their campaign for help from the international community. More than 60 women were attacked in October alone by the government, said protester Ruqaiah Nasser. Government forces are raiding homes and also killing children, she said. Yemen's youth continue calls for change Clashes in Taiz left woman dead Clashes in Yemen turn deadly What's behind escalating Yemen violence? She said silence from tribal leaders on the matter is a "disgrace." "We will not stay quiet and will defend ourselves if our men can't defend us," Nasser said. "Tribes must understand they will not be respected by Yemeni women if they stay quiet while their women are being attacked by the Saleh regime. Tribes who ignore our calls are cowards and have no dignity." "Saleh is killing women and children and this is against tribal culture," she said. "Where are their voices when we need them? It's a disgrace if they stay quiet." The women's protests came after the Yemeni government announced a cease-fire Tuesday. But that did not appear to be holding. At least 10 people died and dozens were injured earlier Tuesday in clashes between Yemeni government security forces in the country's capital and the province of Taiz, medical officials reported. Yemen's government has said that opposition-supported militants are responsible for the violence. Saleh summoned the U.S. ambassador and reiterated a promise to sign an agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council in which he would step aside in exchange for immunity from prosecution, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. However, Saleh has repeatedly promised to sign the council-backed deal and not done so. The embattled leader has clung to power through the protracted protests.

Villages all but wiped out as storms batter Italy's 'Cinque Terre'


The worst affected region was Liguria, with at least two of the five World Heritage-listed 'Cinque Terre' coastal villages cut off as a result of roads being washed away. The walking trails and picturesque fishing villages of the Cinque Terre attract hundreds of thousands of international tourists, but two of them – Vernazza and Monterosso – were severely affected as rivers of mud poured down from the hills behind them. The mayor of Monterosso said the fishing village had all but been wiped out. "Monterosso no longer exists," Angelo Betta told an Italian news agency. Huge amounts of mud had swept through the tiny settlement, causing an "unimaginable disaster".

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Real IRA terrorist has been jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of buying weapons and explosives which he wanted to use to “kill Brits.

Michael Campbell (Pic: PA)

Michael Campbell (Pic: PA)

A Real IRA terrorist has been jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of buying weapons and explosives which he wanted to use to “kill Brits.”

Irishman Michael Campbell - brother of Omagh bomber Liam - was snared in a six year MI5 sting across three countries with agents pretending to be arms dealers.

Yesterday he was finally jailed by a Lithuania court after spending three years awaiting trial and having been snared by an amazing MI5 undercover operation.

Campbell, 39, was secretly filmed in a field in Lithuania pointing a high-power Barret sniper rifle which he later bragged he would use to kill British people.

Michael Campbell testing weapons in the Lithuanian countryside (Pic: PA)

Michael Campbell testing weapons in the Lithuanian countryside (Pic: PA)

Michael Campbell testing weapons in the Lithuanian countryside (Pic: PA)
A still of Michael Campbell being secretly filmed (Pic: PA)

Using secret filming Campbell was caught on camera inspecting the weapons stash in a lock-up garage (Pic: PA)

Michael Campbell's shopping list for weapons (Pic:PA)

Campbell's shopping list for weapons (Pic:PA) 

He was also recorded on video in a garage buying weapons and explosives from an undercover Lithiuanian agent he nicknamed “Rambo.”

But the hero of the MI5 plot was a cigarette smuggler - turned MI5 agent who went deep undercover using the cover name Robert Jardine.

Using his connections Robert Jardine coolly penetrated deep into the Real IRA network knowing he could have been killed if his cover was blown.

At one stage in his dealings with dark-haired Campbell and other terror suspects - who cannot be named for legal reasons - he was bundled into a padded van containing a shovel.

Sources have told The Daily Mirror he feared he had been rumbled and was being driven to his death - but it was just a Real IRA tactic to unnerve him.

Judge Arunas Kisielus of the Vilnius Regional Court sentenced Michael Campbell to 12 years in prison for weapons offenses and supporting a terrorist group.

Covert footage showed Campbell paid £5,200 for explosives, grenade launchers, detonators, AK-47s and an assassin’s rifle to Lithuanian agents posing as arms dealers.

He says on tape: “You imagine, with a six-hour timer, we could be over to London and back,” Campbell says in an audio clip after mulling over a price list for explosives and detonators. “Just tick, tick, tick, tick ... gone.

In court Campbell had pleaded not guilty.

The Real IRA’s worst crime to date was the 1998 Omagh bombing which killed 29 and for which Liam Campbell -Michael’s brother - was found liable in a civil trial.

MI5’s Operation Uncritical ruined a bid by the Real IRA to get guns and explosives to mount a deadly terror campaign on the British mainland.

Yesterday a senior security official said: “The conviction of Michael Campbell is the result of a successful joint operation between the Security Service and the Lithuanian authorities.

“Working closely together, along with a selfless and brave agent, they have put behind bars a senior member of the Real IRA whose intention was to kill innocent members of the public in Northern Ireland and in Britain.”

Courageously Jardine - who now lives in a secret location - for years risked his life to provide his MI5 handlers with intelligence about the Real IRA.

The agent, who was referred to in court as “Robert Jardine”, was a legitimate businessman based in southern England dealing in “imports and exports.”

But he also had an illicit sideline in smuggling cigarettes from Eastern Europe - and it was that which caught the eye of the security service and led him into a world of terrorist intrigue.

The Real IRA (RIRA) was using the contraband cigarettes to fund its terrorist activities and in late 2002 Jardine was recruited as an agent by MI5.

Two years later RIRA asked Jardine whether his contacts in Eastern Europe could help them get weapons. And - carefully directed by MI5 - he laid a trail of deception which drew in the terrorists.

The court heard that in January 2005 he handed over a price list to a contact.

The following July Jardine and the contact crossed the border into Lithuania where Jardine introduced her to “Tomas”.

In fact Tomas was working for the Lithuanian security service, the VSD - the first in a cast of “role-players” deployed to convince the RIRA that the offer of weapons was real.

The RIRA gave Jardine the first of two hand-written shopping lists of weapons they wanted to buy - including sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, hand grenades, detonators and Semtex plastic explosives.

Then, in late 2006, another RIRA man, moved to revive the arrangement. Jardine responded by saying he would provide the introductions but the republicans would have to cut their own deal. The “sting” was back on.

Then Michael Campbell entered the story.

On August 29 2007, Michael Campbell and another associate travelled to a lodge in the Lithuanian countryside belonging to the supposed arms dealer.

There they were given their first chance to test guns and explosives.

Next day they were introduced to a second dealer - whom the two Irishmen quickly nicknamed “Rambo” - who was to provide them with the actual weapons they wanted.

Like Tomas, however, Rambo was in reality working for the VSD.

Campbell and his colleague agreed to pay a deposit on explosives, detonators and timers.

Afterwards an excited Campbell was secretly recorded telling his associate: “Look at it this way, for one of them and one of them you have a bomb - for f****** a hundred quid.

“F*** me. You imagine us getting over to England if you’d ten of them and ten clocks in a holdall. You imagine, with a six-hour timer we could be over to London and back.

“Just tick, tick, tick - gone. Leave it anywhere.”

That October, Campbell met Rambo again in Marbella in southern Spain.

This time the RIRA man said he wanted a first instalment of weapons - including two rocket propelled grenades as well as the explosives - against the deposit.

On January 21 2008, Campbell went to Lithuania to inspect his purchase and finalise the arrangements.

That evening the couple dined with Rambo who the following day took Campbell to a lock-up garage where the weapons were stashed.

A hidden camera secretly filmed as Campbell examines one of the detonators and asks whether they would be “good for booby traps”.

“They would be good for under a car, wouldn’t they?” he says. “Anchored to the wheel and then the car goes round - bang.”

Campbell was also filmed paying a further deposit for a powerful Barrett sniper rifle - the type of weapon used to kill Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, the last British soldier to die at the hands of the IRA in 1997.

When Rambo demands what it would be used for - saying he was not prepared to sell it just “to shoot roe deer or wild boar” - Campbell tells him: “No, no, we will be shooting from across borders. The border. You know, from one side to the other.”

Asked who the target would be, Campbell replies simply “Brits”.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

EU referendum vote reaction


Backbenchers have warned that David Cameron will face further rebellions unless he takes a tough line in EU treaty negotiations.: For the record, here is the Press Association's full list of MPs who voted for the motion calling for a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU. Conservatives • 79 Conservatives voted for the motion. They were: Stuart Andrew (Pudsey), Steven Baker (Wycombe), John Baron (Basildon & Billericay), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Brian Binley (Northampton South), Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Dan Byles (Warwickshire North), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Bill Cash (Stone), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), James Clappison (Hertsmere), Tracey Crouch (Chatham & Aylesford), David Davies (Monmouth), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden), Nick de Bois (Enfield North), Caroline Dinenage (Gosport), Nadine Dorries (Bedfordshire Mid), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster), Lorraine Fullbrook (South Ribble), Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), George Hollingbery (Meon Valley), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & Essex North), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Andrea Leadsom (Northamptonshire South), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Julian Lewis (New Forest East), Karen Lumley (Redditch), Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Anne Main (St Albans), Patrick Mercer (Newark), Nigel Mills (Amber Valley), Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), James Morris (Halesowen & Rowley Regis), Stephen Mosley (Chester, City of), Sheryll Murray (Cornwall South East), Caroline Nokes (Romsey & Southampton North), David Nuttall (Bury North), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Neil Parish (Tiverton & Honiton), Priti Patel (Witham), Andrew Percy (Brigg & Goole), Mark Pritchard (Wrekin, The), Mark Reckless (Rochester & Strood), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Simon Reevell (Dewsbury), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), Henry Smith (Crawley), John Stevenson (Carlisle), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South), Gary Streeter (Devon South West), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth & Horncastle), Justin Tomlinson (Swindon North), Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Charles Walker (Broxbourne), Robin Walker (Worcester), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes). • Two Tory MPs voted in both the Aye and Noe lobbies, the traditional way of registering an abstention. They were: Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) and Mike Weatherley (Hove). • A further two Tory MPs, Peter Bone (Wellingborough) and Philip Hollobone (Kettering) acted as tellers for the motion. Labour • 19 Labour MPs defied the party leadership to support the motion: Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Rosie Cooper (Lancashire West), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Jon Cruddas (Dagenham & Rainham), John Cryer (Leyton & Wanstead), Ian Davidson (Glasgow South West), Natascha Engel (Derbyshire North East), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Steve McCabe (Birmingham Selly Oak), John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Andrew Smith (Oxford East), Graham Stringer (Blackley & Broughton), Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen). Lib Dems • One Liberal Democrat, Adrian Sanders (Torbay) voted for the motion. Others • Green leader Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) voted for the motion. • Eight Democratic Unionist Party MPs voted for the motion: Gregory Campbell (Londonderry East), Nigel Dodds (Belfast North), Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley), Rev William McCrea (Antrim South), Ian Paisley Junior (Antrim North), Jim Shannon (Strangford), David Simpson (Upper Bann), Sammy Wilson (Antrim East). • Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon (Down North) voted for the motion. 8.41am: Reverberations from last night's vote on the EU referendum will be bouncing around Westminster all day. David Cameron told his MPs yesterday afternoon: "I share the yearning for fundamental reform, and I am determined to deliver it." But when? Michael Gove, the education secretary, was on the Today programme a few minutes ago, doing his best to play down the significance of the rebellion against the prime minister – but even he struggled to explain when Cameron's long-promised renegotiation is going to take place. I'll post a full summary of his interview soon, as well as bringing you all the best reaction, comment and analysis relating to the referendum debate. Otherwise, it's a fairly routine day, although Kenneth Clarke, at the home affairs committee at lunchtime, could make good copy. Here's a full list of what's coming up. 9am: The cabinet meets. 10am: Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about quantitative easing. 10am: Unions are launcing a legal challenge to the government's plans increase pensions in line with the CPI measure of inflation rather than the RPI measure of inflation. 10.30am: Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, gives evidence to the Commons justice committee on joint enterprise prosecutions. 10.45am: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs publishes a report on legal highs. 12.45pm: Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee about the riots. 2.20pm: Maria Miller, the minister for the disabled, the health minister, Paul Burstow, and Grant Shapps, the housing minister, give evidence to the joint committee on human rights on the right of disabled people to independent living.

Boland launches new radio station on same frequency as Heart


HEART FM bosses have denied any bad feeling after controversial DJ Maurice Boland took over their coastal frequency for a new radio venture. The self-styled ‘Mr Marbella’ has left the station and plans to launch his new business later this month. “As far as we are concerned he can have it, it was an amicable agreement,” owner Pat Jay told the Olive Press. But other sources have revealed that there has been ‘considerable tension’ over the fallout, which left Heart FM ‘retrenching’ back inland. “There have been various issues and Pat and husband Lee have been left shattered,” said a friend. Now Boland, 62 – who was sacked from his previous job at Talk Radio Europe (TRE) after an alleged affair with a teenager – is setting up a studio at Estepona’s Kempinski Hotel. According to sources, he has managed to acquire a retail space to work out of and claims to have some big backers. “He has been approaching presenters at other radio stations, but is not offering a lot of money,” said a source.

Thousands of Telefonica clients disconnected for 5 hours


THOUSANDS of Telefonica clients on the Costa del Sol were left without service for five hours. The problem, which affected clients in Marbella, Ronda, Casares and Estepona, last Friday was due to a fault with a commutation network system, and also caused minor problems in Malaga City. According to Telefonica, it affected 20 per cent of communications in Malaga province, however, it did not affect clients with smartphones, which account for 65 per cent of clients in the province. Consumer group Facua said compensation for this can amount to the average of the amount charged over the past three months or five times the monthly tariff calculated proportionately by the time the problem lasted.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi secretly spirited out of Libya and invested overseas more than $200 billion


The slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi secretly spirited out of Libya and invested overseas more than $200 billion -- double the amount that Western governments previously had suspected, The Los Angeles Times reported late Friday. Citing unnamed senior Libyan officials, the newspaper said US administration officials were stunned last spring when they found $37 billion in Libyan regime accounts and investments in the United States. They quickly froze the assets before Kadhafi or his aides could move them, the report said. Governments in France, Italy, England and Germany seized control of another $30 billion or so. Earlier, investigators estimated that Kadhafi had stashed perhaps another $30 billion elsewhere in the world, for a total of about $100 billion, the paper noted. But subsequent investigations by US, European and Libyan authorities determined that Kadhafi secretly sent tens of billions more abroad over the years and made sometimes lucrative investments in nearly every major country, including much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, The Times said. Most of the money was under the name of government institutions such as the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan National Oil Corporation and the Libya African Investment Portfolio, the paper pointed out. But investigators said Kadhafi and his family members could access any of the money if they chose to, the report said. The new $200 billion figure is about double the prewar annual economic output of Libya, The Times noted. Kadhafi, who lorded over the oil-rich North African nation for 42 years, met a violent end on Thursday after a NATO air attack hit a convoy, in which he was trying to escape from his hometown of Sirte. He survived the air strike but was apparently captured and killed after a shootout between his supporters and new regime fighters.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Various stories about how Al Qathafi lived his last moments have emerged


An image captured off a cellular phone camera showing Muammar Al Qathafi during his last moments

Various stories about how Al Qathafi lived his last moments have emerged with the most plausible being that the got out of a hole near a road not far from the city of Sirte only to find himself face-to-face with the same Libyan rebels whom he once called rats.

Al Qathafi seems to have been wounded in a hole before he was captured by the rebels. Video shots aired by Al Soumoud TVchannel ishow Al Qathafi held by two rebels, one on each side of him as they helped him walk for a few steps. He had a bloodied face. He was then carried by fightes and placed over the front body of a yellow pick-up truck.

Al Qathafi looked disoriented as blood covered most of his face. When he was laid down on the car a rebel seemed to put his hand on his seemingly wounded abdomen.

According to Ibrahim Mahjoub, one of the rebels who played a part in the last moments of Al Qathafi's life, the former Libyan leader escaped to a farm and hid under a rain water hole under a road bridge. “He was already wounded,” Mahjoub said.

Mahjoub went on to say: “We were above that small bridge when one of Al Qathafi troops carrying a green flag got out of the hole and said 'my master is inside'”. Moments later Al Qathafi himself got out of the hole saying, “what is going on?” 

Mahjoub continued to say: “We held Al Qathafi by the hand. He was holding a gun in his hand, a small black bag and also a number of mascots.”

Al Qathafi tried to escape out of Sirte towards the east on Wednesday night but his convoy faced heavy fire from the rebels and was forced to retreat to the city. He tried again to escape Thursday morning but his convoy was surrounded and bombed.

There is a possibility that after his convoy came under fire Al Qathafi was injured he ran away for cover under the road only to be captured by the rebels and die as a result of the wounds he was carrying. 

Qaddafi Is Dead, Libyan Officials Say


Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago in the Arab Spring’s most tumultuous uprising, was killed Thursday as fighters battling the vestiges of his loyalist forces wrested control of his hometown of Surt, the interim government announced. Multimedia Slide Show Muammar el-Qaddafi: 42 Years as the Face of Libya Photographs Battle for Libya Interactive Feature Timeline: Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi Related Battle for a Holdout City Stalls Healing in Libya (October 19, 2011) Times Topic: Libya — Revolution (2011) Related in Opinion  Nicholas D. Kristof, a Columnist for The New York Times, on the Implications of Muammar el-Qaddafi's Death in Libya and Beyond on The Takeaway Radio Program Connect With Us on Twitter Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines. The New York Times More Photos » Al Jazeera television showed what it said was Colonel Qaddafi’s corpse as jubilant fighters in Surt fired automatic weapons in the air, punctuating an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa. Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared in Tripoli as residents poured into the streets to celebrate. Mahmoud Shammam, the chief spokesman of the Transitional National Council, the interim government that replaced Colonel Qaddafi’s regime after he fled Tripoli in late August, confirmed that Colonel Qaddafi was killed, though he did not provide other details. "A new Libya is born today," he said.  "This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial.  It seems God has some other wish."   Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Tripoli military council, said on Al Jazeera that anti-Qaddafi forces had Colonel Qaddafi’s body. It was not clear precisely how he died. Mohamed Benrasali, a member of the national council’s Tripoli Stabilization Committee, said fighters from Misurata who were deployed in Surt told him that Colonel Qaddafi was captured alive in a car leaving Surt.  He was badly injured, with wounds in his head and both legs, Mr. Benrasali said, and died soon after.   . Colonel Qaddafi had defied repeated attempts to corner and capture him, taunting his enemies with audio broadcasts denouncing the rebel forces that felled him as stooges of NATO, which conducted a bombing campaign against his military during the uprising under the auspices of a Security Council mandate to protect Libyan civilians. Libya’s interim leaders had said they believed that some Qaddafi family members including the colonel himself and some of his sons had been hiding in Surt or in Bani Walid, another loyalist bastion that the anti-Qaddafi forces captured earlier this week. There was no immediate comment on the news of his death from American officials. . Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Afghanistan, said the department was aware of the reports “on the capture or killing of Muammar Qaddafi.” There was also no immediate comment from Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the interim government’s top official. But he had said that the death or capture of Colonel Qaddafi would allow him to declare the country liberated and in control of its borders, and to start a process that would lead to a general election for a national council within eight months. Libyan fighters said earlier on Thursday that they had routed the last remaining forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi from Surt, ending weeks of fierce fighting in that Mediterranean enclave east of Tripoli. A military spokesman for the interim government, Abdel Rahman Busin, said, “Surt is fully liberated.” The battle for Surt was supposed to have been a postscript to the Libyan conflict, but for weeks soldiers loyal to Colonel Qaddafi, fiercely defended the city, first weathering NATO airstrikes and then repeated assaults by anti-Qaddafi fighters. Former rebel leaders were caught off guard by the depth of the divisions in western Libya, where the colonel’s policy of playing favorites and stoking rivalries has resulted in a series of violent confrontations. Surt emerged as the stage for one of the war’s bloodiest fights, killing and injuring scores on both sides, decimating the city and leading to fears that the weak transitional leaders would not be able to unify the country. The battle turned nearly two weeks ago, when the anti-Qaddafi fighters laid siege to an enormous convention center that the pro-Qaddafi troops had used as a base. The interim leaders had claimed that the ongoing fighting had prevented them from focusing on other pressing concerns, including the proliferation of armed militias that answered to no central authority.

Libya: 'Gaddafi dies from wounds' suffered in Sirte capture


National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta said that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which Nato warplanes attacked. Gaddafi was shot in both legs and "also hit in his head", the official said. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died." There was no independent confirmation of his remarks. In the early hours of the morning, at least five cars carrying loyalist fighters attempted to escape the city. Libyan rebels then moved into the city's Number Two residential neighbourhood, which was the last pocket of pro-Gaddafi resistance left in the war-torn country. "Sirte has been liberated. There are no Gaddafi forces any more," said Col Yunus Al Abdali, head of operations in the eastern half of the city. "We are now chasing his fighters who are trying to run away." However, there were reports that Gaddafi loyalists had ditched their military uniforms and were firing indiscriminately at civilians. The final assault on the remaining pro-Gaddafi positions began around 8am (7am GMT) on Thursday and was over after about 90 minutes. Civilians, whose city has been under siege since Gaddafi was removed from power at the end of August, were making their way to the centre to celebrate. The Telegraph, witnessing scenes in the centre of the city said there were scenes of relief, jubilation and intense celebratory gunfire among National Transitional Council (NTC) forces. The new national flag was raised above a large utilities building in the Mediterranean city, which had been under siege for nearly two months. A rebel commander confirmed that loyalist fighters in the city had been rounded up. "This is the last day of the fight," Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Abdel Salam of the Misurata Brigade told AFP. The fate of the city has become entwined with the immediate political future of Libya after the National Transitional Council said a full interim government could not be named until Sirte had fallen.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

¡Ole! Spain drives legality into mobile services with Sybase 365


Spain was one of the first countries to start to lay down laws relating to old non-registered pay-as-you-go SIM cards for anti-terrorism reasons i.e. you MUST tell the authorities your name and address and get a new SIM if you had one of the old anonymous ones. Following on from this "mobile legality" theme, news this week bubbles of Sybase subsidiary company Sybase 365 working with Spanish mobile operator Yoigo. The two firms have joined forces to offer registered SMS, a new service allowing companies to send customers confirmation text messages with the same legal standing as registered mail. According to Sybase, "Officially certified by the Spanish Real Casa de la Moneda (The Royal Mint of Spain) the Sybase 365 and Yoigo service recognises an SMS confirmation as legal proof of delivery of important documents and information. These certificates can then be used as evidence in judicial proceedings in Spain for enterprises wishing to demonstrate correspondence with their customers. This will enable companies and their customers to resolve disputes in a timely manner, avoiding the cost of court proceedings." With registered SMS, financial institutions, utility companies and enterprises will be able to use SMS where previously they would have used registered mail. Developers working to build in legally approved services into mobile (or desktop for that matter) applications should perhaps take note of Sybase 365's suggestion that an SMS provides a number of advantages over registered mail including five times better response rate over traditional mail and is read 288 times faster than email. "No other communication medium has the ability to reach more people than SMS, said Howard Stevens, senior vice president, global telco and international operations, Sybase 365. "Consumer acceptance and enterprise adoption of the mobile channel is fuelling the growth in volume, availability and sophistication of mobile services and the registered SMS services we're launching confirms this trend."

Catholic Church Child Trafficking Network


Spain is reeling from an avalanche of allegations of baby theft and baby trafficking. The trade began at the end of the Spanish civil war and continued for 50 years – hundreds of thousands of babies are thought to have been traded by nuns, priests and doctors up to the 1990s. This World reveals the impact of Spain’s stolen baby scandal through the eyes of the children and parents who were separated at birth, and who are now desperate to find their relatives. Exhumations of the supposed graves of babies and positive DNA tests are proof that baby theft has happened. Across Spain, people are queuing up to take a DNA test and thousands of Spaniards are asking ‘Who am I?’ Katya Adler has been meeting the heartbroken mothers who are searching for the children whom they were told died at birth, as well as the stolen and trafficked babies who are now grown up and searching for their biological relatives and their true identities.


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