YahooNews_7July_2011





Flash Cam is born........



Scientists predict rare 'hibernation' of sunspots
 
by Kerry Sheridan Kerry Sheridan – Tue Jun 14,\
 


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Australian Weekend News Exclusive

Australian Weekend News special London reporter Richard Lake discovers the birth of Flash Cam












Coulson-Andy-Editor_News-Of-The-World who resigned due to phone tapping allegations against Rupert Murdochs London based  News of the World newspaper 

Coulson-Andy-Editor_News-Of-The-World.jpeg














Yahoo News - 07 July, 2011



News of the World sign

A five-minute guide to phone hacking

As the phone hacking scandal deepens, we look at how it began and what it all means. 'A desperate industry'

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Everything you need to know about phone hacking in five minutes

By Ian Dunt | Talking Politics

The basics

The story started five years ago. A private investigator called Glen Mulcaire and the News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman, suddenly found themselves in deep water. They expected to get away with intercepting messages meant for the royal family. They were wrong. The pair went to jail, there was a minor bit of scandal and the paper's editor, Andy Coulson, resigned. Everything went back to normal.

Skip forward to 2009 , when investigative reporter Nick Davies published evidence that phone-hacking was actually extremely widespread at the newspaper — not the 'one rogue reporter' explanation the News of the World had relied on. The Met had a quick look at the allegations and decided that it wouldn't reopen the case.

The Guardian continued to publish details of high profile figures affected by the allegations - people as diverse as John Prescott and Sienna Miller. Eventually the various civil cases against the newspaper, from these people with deep pockets and plenty of spare time, began to drive the scandal onwards, even though most newspapers ignore it. Coulson, who had been taken on by David Cameron as director of communications in Downing Street, was forced to resign again, after he concluded that the ongoing coverage was complicating his political role.

And so it rumbled on. Everything changed last Monday, when the scandal went from one which concerned celebrities to normal families. The latest Guardian revelations suggest that journalists at the newspaper hacked into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a teenage girl who went missing in 2002. They listened in as her family and friends left increasingly desperate messages. Then, when the system started to fill up, they did something that would change everything. They deleted the previous messages. This gave the family false hope, because they presumed it was their daughter still using the phone. It complicated the police investigation and potentially deleted important evidence.

Later the family granted the News of the World an exclusive interview, where they discussed their sense of hope - without any knowledge of the fact that it was that very newspaper's interference which had misled them.

Since Monday, reports have emerged that the families of several other high-profile victims have had their phones hacked into, as have the families of the victims of the 7/7 bombings.

What it means for the media

The phone-hacking scandal is now Fleet Street's expenses crisis. It's the moment when a practise which was widespread and internally accepted went public, horrifying everyone. It is the result of an increasingly desperate industry trying to make ends meet. With a dwindling print readership and plummeting advertising revenue, editors have had to make many journalists redundant while simultaneously trying to up their exclusives. This has created an increasingly brutal dog-eat-dog world in some newsrooms, where an employee's job security is based exclusively on their number of by-lines. It is highly unlikely that the News of the World was the only newsroom to indulge in the practise.

Without an effective regulator the problem has become much worse. The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has few powers and is chaired by Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail. Such a patent conflict of interest would not be tolerated elsewhere but because it relates to the media there's no-one to report it.

Journalism's political influence is also under question. The widely-held political truth that party leaders must be friends with Rupert Murdoch to get into Downing Street may not be true after all. Political strategists noted how the Sun's endorsement of David Cameron failed to win him a majority — another sign perhaps of tabloids' dwindling fortunes. Ed Miliband's public call for Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of Murdoch's British operations, to resign showed that Westminster might be prepared to take a stronger approach to the media tycoon in the wake of the crisis.

With MPs increasingly calling for a full independent inquiry once the police investigation has run its course, the way in which journalism is conducted might be subject to fundamental and systemic change. The role of the PCC will almost certainly be firmed up, although anyone expecting an end to the culture of self-regulation is likely to be disappointed.

In the short term, the scandal is likely to complicate Murdoch's immediate business goals. His attempt to gain complete control of BSkyB, a political hot potato, is suddenly looking vulnerable. Media secretary Jeremy Hunt is being urged to pause the process while the scandal grows and Ofcom has said that it may look at whether chief executives at News Corp, the parent company, are "fit and proper" persons.

What it means for the police

The current police operation, codenamed Operation Weeting, has proceeded at a brisk and thorough pace. There have been several arrests at the News of the World and even at the Press Association. The case has expanded to cover allegations that Coulson paid off senior police officers. In a sign of how expansive the allegations are, the police are now understood to have contacted the families of every high-profile killing in the UK in the period in question. The Met is intent on cleaning up the situation.

But it was not always this way. Several Labour MPs are furious at what they suspect is a conspiracy between the Met and Murdoch's News International. There are allegations that the police didn't want to upset such influential tabloids and that senior officers lied to parliament about their earlier operations.

At the very least, the police failed to properly look into the evidence they had available to them during the original investigation, falling into line with the News of the World's insistence that it was the work of one rogue reporter. They then compounded this by refusing to reopen the case when the Guardian started printing reports of industrial-scale phone-hacking at the newspaper. That decision — which took a handful of hours to come to — fuelled suspicion that the police were desperate not to get involved.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) chief Keir Starmer then made matters worse for the Met when he told MPs that it was operating under a misleading assessment of what constituted phone-hacking. The Met insisted it had received CPS advice that the voice message needed to have been interfered with before the intended recipient heard it for it to have been a crime. The CPS insisted that it has said no such thing.

When the dust settles, the police will find themselves as much under the spotlight as the News of the World.

What it means for Downing Street

While the fire is currently focused on journalists and the police, Downing Street will be privately concerned that their time is coming. David Cameron hired Coulson as his communications chief after his resignation over phone-hacking from the News of the World. He was well aware of the allegations against him. He then defended him on numerous occasions and even made him head of communications at Downing Street while the allegations were on the front pages. Reports suggest that Coulson resigned at Murdoch's insistence, not Cameron's.

Meanwhile, Cameron will be regretting his decision to pay a social visit to Brooks during Christmas. That led to allegations of conflict of interest over the BSkyB deal. It will now provide ammunition to those questioning his judgement. Cameron's behaviour has been no different to any other prime minister since political strategists watched the Sun tear Neil Kinnock apart. The message was always: 'ingratiate yourself with Murdoch'. But Cameron went even further than most. By selecting Coulson for his communications chief he invited the Murdoch machine into the heart of Downing Street. He may be about to pay the price for it.

Noel Gallagher

Noel reveals reason behind Oasis split

Noel Gallagher has revealed what caused one of the most infamous splits in rock 'n' roll history. 'Wielding guitar'

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Reason behind Gallagher split revealed

Posted Wed 6 Jul 2011 15:02 BST by Edward Bovingdon in Behind The Music

Noel Gallagher has revealed that one of the most infamous splits in rock 'n' roll stemmed from a row about an ad in an Oasis tour programme.

The guitarist, who launched his solo album this morning, finally revealed the reason behind his departure from the Britpop band Oasis. 

He explained that it all came about after a row about brother Liam's demands for a free plug for his clothing range.

Noel quit the group in 2009 after years due to increased tension between the brothers.

[See also: Robbie Williams confirms Take That exit]

He said that on the night of his departure, Liam stormed into the dressing room wielding a guitar like "an axe".

"He nearly took my face off with it," he said.

Noel said he regretted the way the band ended, splitting with just two shows left to play. He added that if the group had finished the tour and had time to reflect, "we'd never have split up".

The revelation was announced during a press conference promoting his brand new album ‘Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' - the first of two albums which have recently been completed. They will be released through his own label, Sour Mash Records, with ‘Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' arriving in stores on 17 October 2011.

Two Noel Gallagher albums confirmed

Posted Wed 6 Jul 2011 14:46 BST by Edward Bovingdon in Behind The Music
Noel Gallagher has confirmed that his brand new album ‘Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' - the first of two albums which have recently been completed - will be released through his own label, Sour Mash Records, on October 17, 2011.

The album, his debut as a solo artist, was recorded in London and completed in Los Angeles during 2010 and the first half of 2011. It was co-produced by Noel and David Sardy, with whom Noel has worked previously, and features ten brand new tracks.

Guests on the album include Crouch End Festival Chorus and The Wired Strings.

No word on the choice of a single as yet, but will be decided shortly.

A second album, a companion to the above but as yet untitled, was recorded in the UK this year and is now complete. This album is the result of Noel's continued collaboration with the Amorphous Androgynous, and will be released in 2012.

‘Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' will tour this autumn, subsequent to the release of their eponymous album.

HSBC

Banker 'unlawfully imprisoned' customer

A woman had her overdraft wiped after a judge ruled her bank unlawfully imprisoned her. Debt cancelled

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Bank manager ‘unlawfully imprisons’ customer

An HSBC customer has had their overdraft wiped out after a judge ruled that their bank manager had “wrongfully imprisoned” and “harassed” them.


James Andrews17:55, Wednesday 6 July 2011

People expect to pay interest and receive penalty fees if they don't pay their overdraft in time, but for one bank branch that was just the start.

In fact, the bank went so far in trying to get Josephine Lewis, from Wootton Bassett, to pay up that her debt has now been ruled out by a court.

Judge Tacey Cronin ruled at Swindon County court that Lewis "had been wrongfully imprisoned and had been harassed" — which meant the bank had breached its contract and the overdraft debt of £2,070 should be cancelled.

HSBC has apologised for the stress it caused Lewis.

What happened

In October 2008 Lewis went to her branch of HSBC to complain about the charges on her overdraft. During the course of the interview, she became upset and asked to leave the room.

However, branch manager Chris Hicks had locked the door from the inside and moved to block her way as she attempted to leave.

"In my judgement the detention which Miss Lewis experienced at Mr Hicks' hands was distressing, and would have been distressing to anybody who wished to leave the interview, but knew the door was locked," Judge Cronin said.

"That crossed the threshold to the level of unlawful imprisonment."

But this wasn't the only problem she encountered with the bank.

HSBC had made "several hundred" phone calls to Lewis over an 18-month period - even after promising to stop calling. "The content of many of the phone calls received by her was abusive and threatening," Judge Cronin said.

"The bank had control of these phone calls and failed to stop them being made, even after indicating that it would do so, and this conduct amounts to what the man in the street would describe as harassment."

The bank went so far that the judge said if Lewis had asked for it, she would have awarded her damages of £1,500 as well as cancelling her debt.

However, not all the complaints Lewis made about the bank in her civil lawsuit were upheld.





Santander

The safest banks for your cash

Many customers worry about how safe their money is in the bank, we take a look the best choices. Top banks

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TODAY - 07 July, 2011



Yahoo News - 07 July, 2011

Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley

What can be done to save Daybreak?

With reports of a 'Daybreak' shake-up, our pundit highlights five things that can save the ailing show. Do you agree?

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'33 die' as train hits wedding party bus

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Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams confirms Take That exit

Robbie Williams is set to quit Take That once again, as he prepares for his own solo tour. 'Terrifying performances'

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Robbie Williams confirms Take That exit

Posted Wed 6 Jul 2011 13:10 BST by Edward Bovingdon in Behind The Music
It appears that Robbie Williams really is set to quit Take That once again after he confirms plans for a solo tour.

He let slip news of his departure on his official website following a question from a fan asking what he wanted to say to critics of his solo performances during the Take That live shows.

"I must say I am aware that there is a perception in certain quarters and I'm enjoying throwing that perception down people's throats when I jump through the wall in L.M.E.Y (Let Me Entertain You)...I've never felt more on my game ..and it's thanks in part to the nay sayers....they have put a fire in my belly and in turn a smile on my face," (sic) he wrote on his blog.

[See also: Robbie Williams injects testosterone to ‘boost sex drive']

"I'm blessed to have them... and when the tickets go on sale for my next tour I think we'll see what 'dwindling' looks like ;)" (sic).

The group has recently been reunited with Williams after he famously fell out with band mate Gary Barlow at the peak of their fame almost 15 years ago.

The news that Take That were back with their original line-up sparked unprecedented demand for tickets to their huge UK tour and their latest album as a five-piece, ‘Progress', was the biggest-selling album of last year in the UK.

However, the 37 year-old singer has been getting a lot of stick for his 40 minute solo sections during the live shows. 

One fan, gercia82, wrote on YouTube that Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald were "better" without the singer while another user wrote: "OMG.. Robbie's performance was terrifying"


Gordon Ramsay Nigella Lawson Jamie Oliver PA

Who's the richest 'super chef'?

We take a look at three of the world's most famous cooks to find out what their empires are worth. 'Screaming chefs'

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The business empires of top TV chefs


Lewis Humphries Wednesday 6 July 2011

The most trusted and renowned chefs of our time aren't necessarily the best at their trade.

There is always someone's grandmother who bakes up a better pie than Delia Smith and French pastry chefs were mastering rich butter-based recipes centuries before Michael Roux Junior created his range of artistic desserts. And stressed out chefs have been cursing up anger-inspired offerings at your local Harvesters long before Gordon Ramsey made a reality show that seemingly relies on profanity.

Becoming one of these elite-level chefs may not always require official culinary training, but it does require a marketable personality, an obvious passion for food and the ability to get people excited about what's for dinner.

Top celebrity chefs have amassed legions of devoted apprentices who consume nearly anything the chef is attached to, allowing a select few 'Super Chefs' to build multi-million-pound empires beyond the kitchen.

Here's a look at the fame and fortunes amassed by three of the UK's favourite celebrity chefs:

Jamie Oliver - £106 million

A British chef who has taken an unusual route to prosperity, Jamie Oliver is now synonymous in the UK with revolutionising school meals to create a healthier and more nutritional menu.

Of course this has made him far more popular with adults than it has with children, and also driven the London-born chef to further feats of social entrepreneurship and attempts to unify and reform youngsters through cooking.

After leaving school at 16, he embarked on a career in cooking. Spotted while ad-libbing to the camera in a documentary about the River Café, Oliver was offered the chance of his own show — 'The Naked Chef'.

His ideas were not always well-received but his books, television appearances ('The Naked Chef' and 'Jamie's School Dinners' most prominent) and long-term role as an ambassador for UK food retailer, Sainsbury's have allowed him to build a steady portfolio and earn an estimated millions of pounds a year.

With his popular restaurant, 'Fifteen' also establishing a reputation for good quality and healthy food, Jamie Oliver and his cheeky persona have  provided a welcome tonic to the hordes of screaming, swearing chefs who littered our screens at the turn of the century.

Coupled with the books, television work and advertising deals — Oliver has also opened a chain of franchise restaurants, 'Jamie's Italian Kitchen' — worth up to £100 million — as well as lending his name to merchandise such as the 'Flavour Shaker.'

All of that has seen him become the UK's richest TV chef, with an estimated fortune of £106 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

[See also: The UK's richest people]

Gordon Ramsay - £40 million
This Scottish chef was trained in Oxford and he refined his skills as a chef in restaurants throughout Europe. But anyone who's worked in a restaurant knows that the greatest proof of Gordon Ramsay's ability as a chef lies in his incredible proficiency in swearing as a motivational tool.

Truckers and sailors swap stories of the appalling language they've heard from cooks, and Ramsay's knack for inspiring, shaming and  intimidating his underlings with curses has made him legendary among his peers.

With an astonishing 27 restaurants around the globe and 12 Michelin Stars, it is strange that he is not best known for his ability as a chef. His UK rise to wider prominence came with the documentary, 'Boiling Point' which helped create his reputation as a no-nonsense and hard-hitting individual.

When you consider his subsequent success here and over the pond with 'Kitchen Nightmares', revenue from his 17 cookbooks and numerous endorsements, then you have an estimated salary of £3.5 million a year.

At one point the Scottish chef was the UK's richest cook, with a fortune estimated at £67 million in 2006, but with various litigations pending against him — including a labour suit filed by his mother-in-law — and some of his restaurants losing money and mired in debt, Ramsay's wealth has fallen.

The Scottish chef's overall worth was estimated at about £40 million by ThisIsMoney.com earlier this year.

[See also: People who went from bust to billionaire]

Nigella Lawson - £15 million

As every adolescent male and a fair few middle-aged men will testify, Nigella Lawson is one of the most popular celebrity chefs based in the UK. However, as someone who is renowned more for her appearance and flirtatious method of presenting than the quality or daring nature of her cuisine, she also remains as one of the more controversial celebrity cooking personalities across the globe.

Despite this, and the fact that she has never trained as a chef or cook, she has managed to earn a substantial living through her freelance food journalism, serialised cookery books and a highly profitable range of kitchenware items.

Her 'Living Kitchen' range of accessories and appliances best exemplifies Lawson's earning potential, as its sales afforded her revenue of more than £7 million in 2008-2009 alone. This proves both her appeal and business acumen, and these features have served her well during her 13-year career as a celebrity chef.

She has even turned her lack of classical training into a benefit, and focused instead on home style cooking and methods for making affordable and convenient meals for working professionals.

Nicknamed the "queen of food porn" by her detractors, her unique and risqué style has led to UK and US television hits like 'Nigella Bites', 'Nigella's Christmas Kitchen' and 'Nigella Express,' as well as helping her to sell more than 3 million cookbooks worldwide.

As a result of all this, her personal wealth is estimated at £15 million.

[See also: Britain's richest women]

The Bottom Line
This exposure to new cooking styles and ingredients, as well as the money-saving appeal of cooking at home has helped to propel TV chefs into the ranks of British celebrity and on a par with rock stars.

And in the same way that the most popular actors and musicians aren't necessarily the most talented, not every celebrity chef has achieved fame purely for their skills over the stove. The right "recipe" of charisma, skill and passion makes for an influential chef who can become a marketable brand that is the base for an empire of can't-miss restaurants, TV shows, books, cookware, gadgets and whatever else they can dream up.

More from Investopedia.com

America's biggest food companies

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Millionaires with the most bankruptcies





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Yahoo News 06 July, 2011


Preview of The Great American Novel-The Film- 
Secret USA Government Underground bases
The USA Government is preparing for something major 
look at those big thick steal doors on the secret underground bases


The Great American Novel The Film _Music Clip One

Scene from the incident

Prisoner found in wife's suitcase

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Preview of The Great American Novel-The Film
Operation Northwoods-Secret US Government Plan Part A
used time and time again to falsely make out there is an enemy andinrealitythere is nio enemy, andthe whole operation was palnned and organised by the secret service organisations such as the CIA, Mossad, MI5 and MI6 etc

It is a proven formuale that works every time....the public fall for it each time....backed up by well planned false media releases to spead disinformation to the general public who always fall for it hook line and sinker..



Preview of The Great American Novel-The Film
Operation Northwoods-Secret US Government Plan Part B

Australian woman wearing burka / AFP

Australia cops to get burqa removal powers

New powers will mean cops in one state can demand the removal of burqas and other veils to identify people. More

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Australia police able to demand removal of burqas

Police in the Australian state of New South Wales are to be allowed to demand the removal of burqas and other face veils so they can identify people.

The state government approved the move late Monday after the high-profile recent case of a Muslim woman being acquitted when a judge ruled she could not be positively identified because was wearing a burqa.

"I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burqa, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear," Premier Barry O'Farrell said.

"I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification."

Anyone who refuses to show their face could be jailed for up to a year or fined Aus$5,500 ($5,900).

The move comes in the wake of a case in November when a woman was sentenced to six months jail for falsely accusing police of forcibly trying to remove her burqa when she was stopped for a traffic offence.

But her sentence was quashed last month when a magistrate said he could not be 100 percent sure it was the same woman who made the complaint because officers were not able to see the face of the accuser.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione demanded a clarification of the law and O'Farrell said the new powers should help prevent a recurrence of such issues.

Police previously had the power to ask women to remove face veils during the investigation of serious offences, but not on more routine matters.

The wearing of full-face niqab veils by some Muslim women has become a contentious issue in parts of Europe, where France has banned them in public.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday said Muslim women wearing veils should not face discrimination, after two Saudis were reportedly ordered off buses due to their attire.

The Islamic Council of New South Wales said it accepted O'Farrell's decision.

"If you're asked to do something by a police officer and it's legitimate, then you do it," council chairman Khaled Sukkarieh told ABC radio.

The Muslim Women's Association said it would prefer that a female police officer was on hand when the veils were removed, but if that happened then "nobody could really complain".

The Police Association of New South Wales welcomed the move, saying it was a loophole that had to be closed.

"It will provide clarity and certainty for both the public and for police officers," the union's acting president Pat Gooley said in a statement.

While Queensland state said it would not go down the same path, Western Australia indicated it may follow suit with the state's police minister meeting the police commissioner on the issue Tuesday.

"I'm concerned at the idea of police not having the power to request drivers to remove helmets or other face coverings for ID purposes at the roadside," WA Police Minister Rob Johnson said.

 

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Jose Baez, lead defense counsel for Casey Anthony, pauses while answering questions after his client was found not guilty in
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Police in the Australian state of New South Wales are to be allowed to demand the removal of burqas and other face veils so they can identify people.

The state government approved the move late Monday after the high-profile recent case of a Muslim woman being acquitted when a judge ruled she could not be positively identified because was wearing a burqa.

"I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burqa, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear," Premier Barry O'Farrell said.

"I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification."

Anyone who refuses to show their face could be jailed for up to a year or fined Aus$5,500 ($5,900).

The move comes in the wake of a case in November when a woman was sentenced to six months jail for falsely accusing police of forcibly trying to remove her burqa when she was stopped for a traffic offence.

But her sentence was quashed last month when a magistrate said he could not be 100 percent sure it was the same woman who made the complaint because officers were not able to see the face of the accuser.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione demanded a clarification of the law and O'Farrell said the new powers should help prevent a recurrence of such issues.

Police previously had the power to ask women to remove face veils during the investigation of serious offences, but not on more routine matters.

The wearing of full-face niqab veils by some Muslim women has become a contentious issue in parts of Europe, where France has banned them in public.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday said Muslim women wearing veils should not face discrimination, after two Saudis were reportedly ordered off buses due to their attire.

The Islamic Council of New South Wales said it accepted O'Farrell's decision.

"If you're asked to do something by a police officer and it's legitimate, then you do it," council chairman Khaled Sukkarieh told ABC radio.

The Muslim Women's Association said it would prefer that a female police officer was on hand when the veils were removed, but if that happened then "nobody could really complain".

The Police Association of New South Wales welcomed the move, saying it was a loophole that had to be closed.

"It will provide clarity and certainty for both the public and for police officers," the union's acting president Pat Gooley said in a statement.

While Queensland state said it would not go down the same path, Western Australia indicated it may follow suit with the state's police minister meeting the police commissioner on the issue Tuesday.

"I'm concerned at the idea of police not having the power to request drivers to remove helmets or other face coverings for ID purposes at the roadside," WA Police Minister Rob Johnson said.

The Great American Novel The Film _Music ClipTwo

 


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  • Barclays Bank

    Barclays 'the Ryanair of British banking'

    Focusing on nothing more than the bottom line means banks are causing huge problems.

    'Ethic-free operations'

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    Barclays – ‘The Ryanair of British banking’

    Barclays is just one of the banks passing on escalated fees to rude and aggressive collection agencies - it s important to remember you don t have to respond to their telephone approaches.

    My son ran up an unauthorised overdraft a couple of years ago - or, rather, he inadvertently exceeded his agreed overdraft limit by £200.

    The bank slammed some usurious penalty charges on his account and the sum he owed soon multiplied to a figure that he couldn't possibly afford to repay. He tried to talk to the bank about repaying the original overdraft, plus appropriate interest, but it ignored him.

    So instead he waited for the High Court ruling on whether banks should be allowed to charge whatever they like on unauthorised borrowing, hoping it would solve his problems. But it went against him - and many other thousands in the same boat. Meanwhile, the sum had escalated wildly into a four-figure debt.

    His bank is our old friend Barclays, which is fast becoming the Ryanair of British banking when it comes to customer service - although I gather all the banks are at it.

    No co-operation

    Now, I accept that customers, like my son, who run up debts have only themselves to blame - it's all in the small print, blah, blah, blah. But my point is that he wanted to repay the original sum and tried to do so. The bank could have had its money back, if it had co-operated.

    Instead, it has invented a ludicrous debt that it has no hope of seeing repaid.

    More extraordinarily, Barclays sold the debt on to a credit agency some time ago. What is Kafka-esque in its absurdity here is that, in doing so, the bank has made an entirely notional sum of money into a real one. This debt never existed, other than in the fevered imagination of some clerks in the Bank of Lilliput.

    By capitalising it and selling it on, this invented money has become commoditised. And there must be loads of it out there. I fully expect some wünderkind of the financial markets to securitise all this bogus debt and flog it to a US bank to fuel the next sub-prime housing boom.

    Anyway, this means for us that a series of entertaining credit agents periodically phone up. The names of the agencies change weekly, as the debt is passed around the market, like the plate of cocktail sausages that no one wants at a party.

    One spiv told my son that he'd knock 25% off the debt if he paid it off by credit card over the phone immediately. Unsurprisingly, he resisted this temptation, as there would have been no record of the agreement.

    [See alsoMan gets 'unfair' £20,000 credit card debt written off]

    Financial charlatans

    I fear that there may be some borrowers who do deal with these charlatans of the financial world. After all, they threaten that they're about to come round to your house and impound everything from your clothes to your pets in order to settle the debt.

    This is nonsense. The Citizens Advice Bureau advises that under no circumstances should anyone ever respond to a telephone approach from a credit agent. That seems like sound advice.

    But there are other factors at play too. These debt collectors phone and, first of all, ask you to identify who you are and where you live. Excuse me, do they really think we're that dumb? No one has the right to phone and demand information about you.

    These giants of credit control, however, are evidently a few beads short of a full abacus. One phoned the other day. Apparently, they couldn't speak to me unless I identified myself. Fine by me.

    A firm called RMA Partners, for example, told me I had to provide personal information for security purposes. I had to prove that I was who I said I was. I asked him to identify himself and to prove he was from the company he said he was, otherwise I couldn't deal with him "for security reasons".

    There was silence at the other end. It was like a fuse had blown in his head. I wished him well and gently hung up.

    But the problem is that the high street banks allow these agents to operate under the banks' brand names. I have had people on the line claiming that they are from Barclays. They are rude, aggressive and unprofessional.

    Credit is really the issue. Does a bank like Barclays really think that these ethic-free operations do its brand and reputation any credit? But, then again, perhaps brand values and reputation have long since ceased to be a valid currency for our banks.

    Reverend George Pitcher is a former industrial editor of the Observer. He is the Archbishop of Canterbury's secretary for public affairs and curate at St Bride's, Fleet Street.

    More from Moneywise

    Receive a free copy of Moneywise magazine packed with advice, information and tips on how to manage your money with confidence



    The Great American Novel- The Film_ Your Story of Your Enslavement Part One
    Parts Two, Three and Four are continued on this page


    An elderly couple sit on a bench next crocus flowers in a park in Duesseldorf. (Reuters)

    World's first 150-year-old already born?

    An expert on aging thinks doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" getting old. Hotly debated subject

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    Who wants to live forever? Scientist sees aging cured

    By Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland | Reuters – Mon, Jul 4, 2011

    LONDON (Reuters) - If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.

    biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.

    "I'd say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I'd call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so," de Grey said in an interview before delivering a lecture at Britain's Royal Institution academy of science.

    "And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today."

    De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular "maintenance," which by then will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape.

    De Grey lives near Cambridge University where he won his doctorate in 2000 and is chief scientific officer of the non-profit California-based SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009.

    He describes aging as the lifelong accumulation of various types of molecular and cellular damage throughout the body.

    "The idea is to engage in what you might call preventative geriatrics, where you go in to periodically repair that molecular and cellular damage before it gets to the level of abundance that ispathogenic," he explained.

    CHALLENGE

    Exactly how far and how fast life expectancy will increase in the future is a subject of some debate, but the trend is clear. An average of three months is being added to life expectancy every year at the moment and experts estimate there could be a million centenarians across the world by 2030.

    To date, the world's longest-living person on record lived to 122 and in Japan alone there were more than 44,000 centenarians in 2010.

    Some researchers say, however, that the trend toward longer lifespan may falter due to an epidemic of obesity now spilling over from rich nations into the developing world.

    De Grey's ideas may seem far-fetched, but $20,000 offered in 2005 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Technology Review journal for any molecular biologist who showed that de Grey's SENS theory was "so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate" was never won.

    The judges on that panel were prompted into action by an angry put-down of de Grey from a group of nine leading scientists who dismissed his work as "pseudo science."

    They concluded that this label was not fair, arguing instead that SENS "exists in a middle ground of yet-to-be-tested ideas that some people may find intriguing but which others are free to doubt."

    CELL THERAPY

    For some, the prospect of living for hundreds of years is not particularly attractive, either, as it conjures up an image of generations of sick, weak old people and societies increasingly less able to cope.

    But de Grey says that's not what he's working for. Keeping the killer diseases of old age at bay is the primary focus.

    "This is absolutely not a matter of keeping people alive in a bad state of health," he told Reuters. "This is about preventing people from getting sick as a result of old age. The particular therapies that we are working on will only deliver long life as a side effect of delivering better health."

    De Grey divides the damage caused by aging into seven main categories for which repair techniques need to be developed if his prediction for continual maintenance is to come true.

    He notes that while for some categories, the science is still in its earliest stages, there are others where it's already almost there.

    "Stem cell therapy is a big part of this. It's designed to reverse one type of damage, namely the loss of cells when cells die and are not automatically replaced, and it's already in clinical trials (in humans)," he said.

    Stem cell therapies are currently being trialed in people with spinal cord injuries, and de Grey and others say they may one day be used to find ways to repair disease-damaged brains and hearts.

    NO AGE LIMIT

    Cardiovascular diseases are the world's biggest age-related killers and de Grey says there is a long way to go on these though researchers have figured out the path to follow.

    Heart diseases that cause heart failure, heart attacks and strokes are brought about by the accumulation of certain types of what de Grey calls "molecular garbage" -- byproducts of the body's metabolic processes -- which our bodies are not able to break down or excrete.

    "The garbage accumulates inside the cell, and eventually it gets in the way of the cell's workings," he said.

    De Grey is working with colleagues in the United States to identify enzymes in other species that can break down the garbage and clean out the cells -- and the aim then is to devise genetic therapies to give this capability to humans.

    "If we could do that in the case of certain modified forms of cholesterol which accumulate in cells of the artery wall, then we simply would not get cardiovascular disease," he said.

    De Grey is reluctant to make firm predictions about how long people will be able to live in future, but he does say that with each major advance in longevity, scientists will buy more time to make yet more scientific progress.

    In his view, this means that the first person who will live to 1,000 is likely to be born less than 20 years after the first person to reach 150.

    "I call it longevity escape velocity -- where we have a sufficiently comprehensive panel of therapies to enable us to push back the ill health of old age faster than time is passing. And that way, we buy ourselves enough time to develop more therapies further as time goes on," he said.

    "What we can actually predict in terms of how long people will live is absolutely nothing, because it will be determined by the risk of death from other causes like accidents," he said.

    "But there really shouldn't be any limit imposed by how long ago you were born. The whole point of maintenance is that it works indefinitely."

  • The Great American Novel- The Film_ Your Story of Your Enslavement Part Two
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    Ramen noodles ( ThinkStock)

    Five fun recipes for ramen noodles

    These yummy twists on the traditional soup will wow your family and shrink your food budget. Easy and cheap

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    Businesswoman talking on phone. (Thinkstock)

    How to appear more authoritative

    These eight tips will help you exude confidence at work and in your daily life.Step one: Stand when talking on phone

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    Cool tribute to Tour de France riders

    French farmers create animated crop circles that look and move like parts on a real bike. Watch precise coordination

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    The Boston Red Sox' David Ortiz strikes the ball during baseball's All-Star home run derby Monday, July 12, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Home Run Derby will use real gold balls

    The new twist will have fans scrambling to grab expensive orbs stitched with 24-karat gold panels. See them

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    Baseball pitching star Roger Clemens is surrounded by news photographers as he waits for his ride after leaving the U.S. District Court on the first day of his trial, on July 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Clemens attended the first day of his trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified in a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    Clemens's awkward courthouse exit

    The embattled ex-pitcher wanted to leave the scene as onlookers gawked and took photos. Why he couldn't flee

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    The 40-hour workweek is going extinct

    Whether your hours will increase or decrease depends on if you’re a high- or low-level employee. Reasons

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    New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson (right) talks with guard Deron Williams. William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

    NBA star's risky career decision

    Deron Williams will have a new gig next season if the NBA lockout continues.Why it could cost him millions

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    Mariah Carey (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

    Mariah Carey steps out post-baby

    The first-time mom appears in public eight weeks after giving birth to twins.Sports a hoodie

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    Derek Jeter (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    Special shoes for Jeter's historic feat

    The Yankees star is expected to debut a unique pair of cleats as he approaches 3,000 hits. Cool personal touches

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    Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." (Walt Disney Pictures)

    Johnny Depp's major 'Pirates' payday

    The actor has raked in a mind-blowing sum for playing Jack Sparrow in four films. Fifth movie in the works

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    Jennifer Aniston on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' (screengrab courtesy Bravo)

    How Aniston got over Pitt divorce

    Jennifer Aniston says a surprising movie role helped her deal with her split from Brad Pitt. 'I was like, why not?'

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    Apple iPhone 4.  (AP Photo)

    Apple reportedly plans new iPhone in fall

    The device will feature a revamped design and upgraded components, sources say. What to expect

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    Mark Zuckerberg outdoors.  (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    Mark Zuckerberg's walk in the woods

    Most people are dumbfounded when they are invited on a hike with the Facebook chief. 'Totally surreal'

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    Grizzly bear kills hiker in rare attack

    A mother bear fatally mauls a man in the first attack of its kind at Yellowstone since 1986. What will happen to bruin

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    Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and Sarah Palin, a student at the University of Texas (Left; Shannon Stapleton / Reuters: Courtesy Sarah Beth Palin)

    What it's like to be the 'other' Sarah Palin

    In 2008, John McCain announced his running mate and changed one teen's life forever. On trademark of name

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    This image provided by NASA shows a Saturn image taken on Dec. 24, 2010 by the Cassini camera showing a storm covering an area similar to that from London to Cape Town.(AP Photo/NASA)

    Monster storm still raging on Saturn

    A giant thunderstorm covering an area as wide as the Earth has been unfolding since December. What's causing it

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    Player's awkward cell phone moment

    Alize Cornet is battling the top-ranked women's tennis player in the world when something unusual happens. Watch

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    Elizabeth Smart and her father Ed Smart talk to the media out front of the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Salt Lake City. Smart's assailant, Brian David Mitchell, was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and raping her while holding her captive for months. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

    Elizabeth Smart's surprising new job

    The former abduction victim steps back into the spotlight in an effort to help others.