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July 1 - 7, 2009
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Miliband: Iraq inquiry can ‘praise or blame whoever it likes’
Nixon favoured abortion of mixed-race babies, tapes show
THE IRAQ inquiry will be able to apportion blame over the decision to go to war, the Government said last week in yet another climbdown.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, made the concession after coming under pressure from the Opposition over the scope and secrecy of the review.
His disclosure that the inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, would be able to “praise or blame
whoever it likes” came a week after Gordon Brown said its primary role would be to establish lessons to be learned from the conflict. “We will not set out to apportion blame,” he said.
Mr Miliband’s latest concession came as the Government was forced to make a series of climbdowns over the decision to hold the inquiry in private. Downing Street said Mr Brown would have no objection “in
principle” to giving his evidence in public, provided that national security was protected.
During an Opposition day debate on the inquiry, Mr Miliband said it was still the Government’s intention that there would not be a full judicial inquiry. Sir John would not be able to establish criminal or civil liability. Pressed further, he said: “It can praise or blame whoever it likes. It is free to write its own report.”
PRESIDENT Richard Nixon believed it was “necessary” to abort mixed-race babies, newly released tapes have disclosed.
Commenting privately on the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe vs Wade, which decriminalised abortion in America, the then president said he worried that access to a legal abortion could lead to permissiveness because “it breaks the family” but thought them justified in certain cases.
Google blocked by China for spreading ‘vulgar content’
THE CHINESE government has blocked access to Google across large swaths of the country and accused the internet company of breaking the law.
China’s foreign ministry accused Google’s English language search engine of spreading vulgar content and said the government had carried out “punishment measures”. Screens went blank between 9pm and midnight on June 24 after an initial nationwide ban. However, Google was still inaccessible in several cities and on some mobile phone networks the following evening, almost 24 hours after the ban expired.
“I want to stress that Google China is a company operating within China to provide internet search services and it should strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” an official from the foreign ministry said.
Google has been blocked repeatedly in China for upsetting the government, with the first ban in 2002. The latest action is the biggest challenge the company has faced and could endanger its future business in the country.
“There are times when an abortion is necessary,” he told his aide Chuck Colson. “I know that. When you have a black and a white.”
Mr Colson offered that rape might also make an abortion legitimate, prompting Mr Nixon to say: “Or a rape.”
The comments were included in more than 150 hours of tape and 30,000 pages of documents released last week by the Nixon Presidential Library, part of the
United States National Archives. They were recorded by secret microphones in the Oval Office in January and February 1973, and provide fresh insights into Mr Nixon’s tumultuous presidency, which ended with his resignation in August 1974 over the Watergate scandal. Mr Nixon was widely believed at the time to be privately opposed to abortion rights, though he declined to take a public stance on the issue.
Save the planet, breed cows that belch less gas
A COW that belches less frequently is being bred by scientists in an attempt to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Cattle are responsible for nearly three quarters of all methane emissions, with most of the gas coming from belches which are 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Stephen Moore, of the University of Alberta in Canada, is studying the genes responsible for methane produced from a cow’s four stomachs to breed more environmentally friendly animals. Prof Moore has completed primary tests to breed animals that produce 25 per cent less methane. His study has been published in the J ournal of Animal Science.
Nancy Hirshberg, from Stonyfield Farm in New Hampshire, said: “If every American dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 per cent, it would be equal to about half a million cars being taken off the road.”
McCartneys interview: P24-25
US pensioners have ‘younger brains’
AMERICAN pensioners are mentally 10 years younger than their English counterparts due to better education and quality of life, a survey claims.
Researchers found that Americans had better memories, were quicker witted and were smarter than English pensioners. The older the person, the greater the difference. The gap was so wide that a 75-year-old American had a similar brain to a 65-year-old Englishman, tests showed.
Scientists were “surprised” by the findings because Americans suffered from more chronic ailments such as coronary disease and diabetes, which usually have a knock-on effect on brain function. However, they believe that their higher standard of living, better education and general quality of life meant they were less depressed and so remained “with it” for longer.
For the study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, Prof Kenneth Langa, the lead author at the University of Michigan, and colleagues compared data on 8,299 Americans aged 65 and older with 5,276 English OAPs.
Earth lets off steam Astronauts capture the moment a volcano erupts
Astronauts on board the International Space Station more than 200 miles above the Earth photographed the early stages of a volcano in Russia erupting. Mount Sarychev, on the island of Matua, is one of the most active in the Kuril chain, which includes a number of volcanoes. It began to spew ash in June. The eruption was visible from hundreds of miles above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Pensioners ‘kidnapped and tortured’ financial adviser who lost their savings
A GROUP of wealthy pensioners has been accused of kidnapping and torturing a financial adviser who lost £2million of their savings.
The pensioners, nicknamed the “Geritol Gang” by German police after an arthritis drug, face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of subjecting German-American James Amburn to the alleged four-day ordeal. Two of them are said to have hit him with a Zimmer frame outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, before he was bound with duct tape, bundled into the boot of an Audi A8 and driven 300 miles to a home on the shores of a popular holiday lake in Bavaria.
During his alleged confinement in an unheated cellar, Mr Amburn, 56, claims he was burned with cigarettes, beaten, had two ribs broken, was hit with a chair leg and chained up “like an animal”.
The incident began on June 16 as he made his way home after a drink with a friend. Mr Amburn, the head of an investment firm called Digitalglobalnet, was allegedly attacked by two men aged 74 and 60 as he entered his apartment building. “When they loaded me into the car, I thought I was a dead man,” he said.
The pensioners face charges of illegal hostage taking, torture and grievous bodily harm.
Closing schools in ‘hot spots’ will not stop spread of swine flu, says Government
SCHOOLS will stay open even if pupils contract swine flu in “hot spots” where the virus is flourishing, the Government has announced.
Coming into contact with someone with swine flu will no longer be enough to warrant receiving anti-viral drugs in areas of the country worst-hit by the disease. Only those with definite symptoms diagnosed by their GP will be given Tamiflu, the drug that can limit the severity of the disease and potentially its spread.
The policy has changed as the Government prepares for tens of thousands of swine flu cases a week by the autumn. The Chief
Medical Officer, Prof Sir Liam Donaldson, said that pockets of England, such as the West Midlands, London and East Berkshire, had so many cases that the infection could no longer be contained. He said that in the worst affected areas it was no longer useful to trace those who might have been affected.
“The judgment is that closing schools would not do much to stop the transmission of this disease,” he added.
Prof Donaldson said officials had not expected the containment stage of the disease to last for ever, and it had been successful for longer than predicted.
Waitrose budget food is £100m hit
SALES OF Waitrose’s budget range, introduced in March, have already passed the £100million mark as the supermarket’s middle-class customers look to save money.
Most items, from orange juice to tea bags, fish fingers and pasta, were existing products which were cut in price and repackaged in simple boxes and packets.
Thanks to the rebranding, sales are up 11 per cent compared with a year ago. At the time, many customers were suspicious, with some posting messages on the company’s website saying they were “dismayed”. One said: “Why compromise values which have taken years to develop? I don’t want to buy apparent cheap food.”
However, the supermarket believes the range has been crucial in helping to reverse the exodus of customers who left in search of cheaper food at discount chains such as Aldi, Lidl and Netto.
Since the start of the year, the supermarket’s overall sales have climbed by 4.3 per cent, after falling heavily during the second half of last year. telegraph.co.uk/expat
July 1 - 7, 2009