Sunday, 29 January 2012

Breaking News

Breaking News

Desert Island Discs celebrates 70 years

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:46 PM PST

Desert Island Discs is celebrating its 70th anniversary with 44 different versions of the radio programme across the BBC's entire UK network.

Sir David Attenborough appears on BBC Radio 4's version for a fourth time - a record he shares with Arthur Askey.

The special editions will feature the public's favourite tunes and memories.

Over the 70 years the great and the good have imagined life on a secluded island; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has been the most popular musical choice.

Je Ne Regrette Rien by Edith Piaf has been the most frequently chosen non-classical tune which guests said they would have on the island with them.
'Constantly surprised'

Amongst the 2,881 luxuries chosen to be taken on the island are 183 pianos, five trombones, the Albert Memorial and a cheeseburger machine.

At midday on Sunday all 40 local radio stations and Radio Scotland, Radio nan Gaidheal, Radio Wales, Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle will simultaneously broadcast their own Your Desert Island Discs featuring listeners' stories.
Continue reading the main story
Four presenters, 70 years

    Roy Plomley (1942-1986)
    Michael Parkinson (1986-88)
    Sue Lawley (1988-2006)
    Kirsty Young (2006-present)

They will include Chris Seery, who first heard Alive by Pearl Jam when he worked in the US and played it while training for the New York Marathon.

The song has since taken on a whole new meaning for the married father-of-two from the Suffolk countryside.

In 2010 he was diagnosed with a rare form of bowel cancer and despite operations, many cycles of chemotherapy and an initially positive outlook for recovery he is terminally ill at 46.

"This time the words have great meaning as I am determined to do everything to beat the odds and stay alive for the sake of my boys and the joy of being alive," he said.

First broadcast on 29 January 1942, the programme was conceived and presented by playwright and novelist Roy Plomley, who each week asked a guest to choose eight songs, a book and luxury item for their imaginary stay on the island.

The "castaways" are then invited to discuss their lives and reasons for their choices.

Kirsty Young, who has been presenting the programme since 2006, told the Radio Times she has "probably the best job in the world" and would like to be doing it "until I'm 85".

She said of her castaways: "Although the premise is phoney - sitting in a studio talking to each other - I don't think I'm deluding myself when I say you can establish connections.

Etta James remembered as triumphant trailblazer

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:37 PM PST

GARDENA, California ( — Rhythm & blues legend Etta James was remembered at a service Saturday attended by hundreds of friends, family and fans as a woman who triumphed against all odds to break down cultural and musical barriers in a style that was unfailingly honest.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, eulogized James in a rousing speech, describing her remarkable rise from poverty and pain to become a woman whose music became an enduring anthem for weddings and commercials.

Perhaps most famously, President Barack Obama and the first lady shared their first inaugural ball dance to a version of the song sung by Beyonce, who portrayed James in the film "Cadillac Records." Sharpton on Saturday opened his remarks by reading a statement from the president.

"Etta will be remembered for her legendary voice and her contributions to our nation's musical heritage," Obama's statement read.

The Grammy-winning singer died Jan. 20 after battling leukemia and other ailments, including dementia. She had retreated from public life in recent years, but on Saturday her legacy was on display as mourners of all ages and races converged on the City of Refuge church in Gardena, south of downtown Los Angeles.

Among the stars performing tributes to James were Stevie Wonder and Christina Aguilera, who told the gathering that she has included "At Last" in every concert she's performed as a tribute to her musical inspiration.

Wonder performed three songs, including "Shelter In the Rain" and a harmonica solo. James' rose-draped casket was on display, surrounded by wreaths and floral arrangements and pictures of the singer.

Sharpton, who met James when he was an up-and-coming preacher, credited her with helping break down racial barriers through her music.

"She was able to get us on the same rhythms and humming the same ballads and understanding each other's melodies way before we could even use the same hotels," Sharpton said, referring to the era when racial segregation was the law in many U.S. states.

He said James' fame and influence would have been unthinkable to a woman with James' background — growing up in a broken home during segregation and at times battling her own demons.

"The genius of Etta James is she flipped the script," Sharpton said, alluding to her struggles with addiction, which she eventually overcame.

"She waited until she turned her pain into power," he said, adding that it turned her story away from being a tragic one into one of triumph.

"You beat 'em Etta," Sharpton said in concluding his eulogy. "At last. At last. At last!"

The assembly roared to their feet, and would again stand to applaud performances by Wonder and Aguilera, who filled the sanctuary with their voices.

"Out of all the singers that I've ever heard, she was the one that cut right to my soul and spoke to me," Aguilera said before her performance.

Throughout the service, a portrait of James as a woman who beat the odds in pursuit of her dreams repeatedly emerged.

"Etta is special to me and for me, because she represents the life, the triumphs, the tribulations of a lot of black women all over this world," said U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, a California Democrat.

"It does not matter who sang 'At Last' before or after Etta. It does not matter when it was sung, or where it was sung. 'At Last' was branded by Etta, the raunchy diva — that's her signature and we will always remember her."

James won four Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement honor, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. In her decades-long career, she became revered for her passionate, soulful singing voice.

She scored her first hit when she was just a teenager with the suggestive "Roll With Me, Henry," which had to be changed to "The Wallflower" in order to get airplay. Her 1967 album, "Tell Mama," became one of the most highly regarded soul albums of all time, a mix of rock and gospel music.

She rebounded from a heroin addiction to see her career surge after performing the national anthem at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She won her first Grammy Award a decade later, and two more in 2003 and 2004.

James is survived by her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills, and two sons, Donto and Sametto James.

"Mom, I love you," Donto James said during brief remarks. "When I get to the gates, can you please be there for me?"

Greeks reject German plan for EU budget commissioner

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:27 PM PST

Greek officials have reacted angrily to a leaked German proposal for an EU budget commissioner with veto powers over Greek taxes and spending.

The Greek government said it must remain in control of its own budget.

The European Commission says it wants to reinforce its monitoring of Greek finances, but Greece should retain sovereign control.

Women moan to help men climax

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:18 PM PST

A new study from the University of Central Lancashire has revealed that the noise a woman might make during sex does not often correspond with her orgasm - but may have to do with her partner.

It found a woman's 'copulatory vocalisations' are made most often before her climax or during her partner's.

The findings were based on analysis of 71 women with an average age of 22.

The study aimed to identify whether a woman's vocal expressions during intercourse were triggered by orgasm or occurred independently.

Most women polled said they reached orgasm during foreplay, but were most likely to vocalise their enjoyment during their partner's.

The researchers believe the reason for this discrepancy is that women are "manipulating male behaviour to their advantage".

"These data together clearly demonstrate a dissociation of the timing of women experiencing orgasm and making copulatory vocalisations and indicate that there is at least an element of these responses that are under conscious control, providing women with an opportunity to manipulate male behaviour to their advantage," the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as writing.

Another suggestion is that women are conforming to 'an idealised sexual script'.

"Women appear to vocalize during sex not to express their own enjoyment so much as to help the man reach climax," Dr John Grohol, founder of website Psych Central, said.

"Maybe these vocalizations are a part of that idealized sexual script, or at least done in response to what women believe their male partner wants," he added.

Mild quake rocks Delhi and NCR region

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:09 PM PST

NEW DELHI: A mild earthquake measuring 3.5 on Richter Scale rocked Delhi and the NCR region, according to television reports.

The epicentre was at Rohtak-Sonepat border. No casualties have been reported.

The quake reportedly struck around 4.46 am.

Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 06:00 PM PST

( - The Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria because of worsening violence, a move Damascus said was an attempt to encourage foreign intervention as it struggles to quell a 10-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab League took the decision Saturday days after calling on Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.

Instability is increasing inside Syria. Saturday, the army launched an offensive against rebels who seized three Damascus suburbs this week. Activists said at least 12 people had been killed and 30 injured, mostly by anti-aircraft fire and mortar rounds. The report could not be independently verified.

"Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence ... it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria..." Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.

Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss early next month the possibility of withdrawing monitors completely, a League official said.

Syria TV cited a government official as saying Syria was surprised by the decision, which would "put pressure on (Security Council) deliberations with the aim of calling for foreign intervention and encouraging armed groups to increase violence."

France, however, which has been leading calls for stronger international action on Syria, said the Arab League decision highlighted the need to act.

"France vigorously condemns the dramatic escalation of violence in Syria, which has led the Arab League to suspend its observers' mission in Syria," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Dozens of Syrian civilians have been killed in the past days by the savage repression taken by the Syrian regime, notably by massive military operations against opponents' neighborhoods in several cities. Those responsible for these barbarous acts must answer to their crimes."


For graphic on Arab League

For graphic on Syria toll


The Arab League mission was sent to observe Syria's implementation of a League peace plan, which failed to end the fighting. The mission was further undermined when Gulf states withdrew their monitors last week, saying the team could not stop the violence - which Assad blames on foreign-backed militants.


In the three rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, activists said they believed the army was trying to prevent insurgents from building a stronghold close to the center of government.

The Damascus insurgents were emboldened by a string of reports of army desertions, and activists said one group of deserters had brought with them their three tanks.

Activists told Reuters by telephone that rebels who control the towns of Saqba, Kafr Batna and Jisreen were exchanging fire with soldiers who were shooting back from tanks and had used anti-aircraft guns and mortars.

A video uploaded by activists, purported to be from a rebel-held Damascus suburb, showed smoke rising from behind a mosque and heavy gunfire erupting in the background as residents shouted "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)."

It was not possible to verify the video or many of the details from activists, as media access to such locations is restricted in Syria.

The rebel FSA agreed a truce last week for government forces to withdraw from rebel-held Zabadani, 30 minutes' drive from Damascus. It said the army had had to pull back because of the large number of desertions from its ranks.

Elsewhere, activists said they were still recovering bodies from the killings of Sunni Muslims in a neighborhood of the flashpoint city Homs, which they blamed on pro-Assad militiamen belonging to the president's minority Alawite sect.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death count had risen to 47.

The United Nations said in December that more than 5,000 people had been killed in the wave of protests. Syria says more than 2,000 security force members have been killed by militants.

Friday, the Security Council discussed a European-Arab draft U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at halting the bloodshed in Syria. Britain and France said they hoped to put the draft resolution to a vote next week.

Russia joined China in vetoing a previous Western draft resolution in October, and has said it wants a Syrian-led political process, not "an Arab League-imposed outcome of a political process that has not yet taken place" or Libyan-style "regime change."

Yemen's President Saleh arrives in US for treatment

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 05:42 PM PST

Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has arrived in the United States to receive medical treatment for injuries sustained in an assassination attempt.

His departure from Yemen last week followed the passage of a law giving him immunity from prosecution, and a televised "farewell speech".

Hundreds of people have been killed during nearly a year of unrest against Mr Saleh's 33-year rule.

He has repeatedly stepped back from a promise to relinquish power.

Mr Saleh travelled to the US via Oman and Britain after receiving permission from Washington to make the visit.

"President Saleh arrived this evening in the USA for a short-term private medical visit," Yemeni embassy spokesman Mohammed Albasha said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency.

The US State Department also confirmed his arrival.

The 69 year-old leader was badly injured in an attack on his presidential palace last June.

He spent several months receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and many Yemenis believed his departure would be permanent.

However he confounded his critics by returning to the country and resuming his leadership, a move that intensified the unrest against him from protesters and armed factions opposed to his rule.
Sensitive visit

Mr Saleh handed power to his deputy in November under a deal brokered by Gulf Arab countries to end the violence.

He is staying on as a figurehead until elections are held next month to choose his successor.

The United States has urged him to stay out of Yemen until the elections are complete, but Mr Saleh has indicated that he hopes to return to his country before then.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in New York says Mr Saleh's visit is very sensitive for the US.

The Yemeni leader has been a staunch ally of Washington in the fight against terrorism, our correspondent says, but US officials do not want to be seen as harbouring an autocrat.

They have stressed that his visit is a private one and for a limited period.

Protesters in Yemen are angry that Mr Saleh has been given "full and irrevocable" immunity from prosecution.

They want him to be brought to justice for offences they say he committed, including the killings of demonstrators.

However, the law gives only limited immunity to government and military officials who served alongside Mr Saleh. They could still be prosecuted for actions deemed to be terrorism, or for corruption.