Showing posts with label bbc news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bbc news. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ken Russell, Women In Love director, dies at 84

ken russell
Ken Russell
Film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love, has died at the age of 84.

His son, Alex Verney-Elliott, said he died on Sunday following a series of strokes.

During his career, he became known for his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude.

He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy, in 1975.

"My father died peacefully, he died with a smile on his face," Mr Verney-Elliott said.

Russell's widow, Elize, said she was "devastated" by her husband's death, which had been "completely unexpected".

She said the director had recently agreed to direct a musical feature film of Alice In Wonderland and had been working on the script and casting.

"He also had just completed an article for The Times on a review of the re-release of his film The Devils, so he was keeping himself very busy," she added.

Glenda Jackson, who gave an Oscar-winning performance in Women In Love and starred in a number of Russell's other films including Music Lovers, told the BBC it was "just wonderful to work with him and to work with him as often as I did".

"He created the kind of climate in which actors could do their job and I loved him dearly."

Jackson added that she believed the director had been overlooked by the British film industry, saying it was "a great shame".

"It was almost as if he never existed - I find it utterly scandalous for someone who was so innovative and a film director of international stature," she said.
'Creative force'

Joely Richardson, who starred opposite Sean Bean in Russell's 1993 BBC TV series Lady Chatterley, said: "I will forever feel privileged and honoured to have worked with the great Ken Russell.

"More than that, I was extremely fond of the man himself."

Lord Melvyn Bragg, who first worked as Russell's assistant in 1963 on BBC programme Monitor, said he was "an exceptional man".

"He was a glorious director at his best, his best films will be remembered. He was a tremendous ornament to the rather supine British film industry and he was the glory of the television arts industry," he said.

Film-maker Michael Winner hailed Russell's "duplicity of mind", adding he had made an "enormous contribution" to British cinema.

"He pushed the barriers completely and got away with it sometimes and didn't others, but he made some startling movies," said.

"He had an eye for the composition of each image on the screen - a great eye for imagery and then, of course, he had a great idea for the grotesque."

Friend and cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht said: "Among many achievements that spring to mind, he made British cinema less insular and self-referential.

"He was also a leading creative force in the history of British television. He will be widely mourned."

Russell later returned to more small budget, but no less flamboyant fare, including Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Salome's Last Dance and the cult horror-comedy The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant.

The director also made an adaptation of DH Lawrence's The Rainbow followed by the gritty film, Whore, and even tried his hand at music videos, making Nikita for Sir Elton John.

Many of Russell's later films were dismissed as too eclectic and by the 1990s he found it almost impossible to get funding for his work.

He returned to the public eye in 2007, when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.

He lasted just four days before quitting the show after a disagreement with fellow contestant, the late Jade Goody.

News by BBC

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Great Britain: the "outraged" install a second camp in London.

London, UK
AFP - The "outrage" of London began Saturday to install a second camp in the capital, following the decision of the religious authorities to close the Cathedral of St. Paul because of the presence of protesters on the square for a week. These activists, who protest against the crisis and the excesses of capitalism, settled on October 15 on the steps of the cathedral located in the financial district of the City, inspired by the movement "Occupy Wall Street" in New York and of "outrage" of Madrid. The camp rose to 70 in a week to more than 200 tents, and religious authorities cited security reasons and safety Friday to close the doors of the cathedral to the public.

Saturday, hundreds of activists and supporters gathered on the steps of the church, and some of them began a walk to Finsbury Square, not far from where they set up a score of tents, a told AFP a spokesman of the movement, Robert Gant. The activists were to see whether the occupants of the camp of St. Paul were all going to rally the second site or if they stayed there. If the cathedral was closed to the public Saturday, weddings are still held. Natasha Ighodaro and Nick Cunningham, who had planned the ceremony for months, however, had to give up the majestic main entrance of St. Paul and resolve to take a side door, as their guests.

The bride, smiling, said after the ceremony that there was "no disturbance". "It was wonderful, fantastic," she assured. The tourists, they have found the door closed. Juul van der Au, a Dutch woman of 21, was unable to visit the cathedral as it planned, and took pictures of the camp, without any bitterness. "I'm not too disappointed, there are plenty of other things to see in London, we'll probably go to Westminster Abbey," said the young woman came for a family weekend in London. "It's for a noble cause," Judge says. The decision to close the cathedral for the first time since World War II, causes a significant loss to the tourist mecca. A spokesman for the cathedral said the loss of tourism revenue to 16,000 pounds (18,300 euros) per day of closing.

Laura Martin, an activist of 29 years, considers the crucial public support. For her, the decision to close the cathedral is a way to "pressure" on the protesters. But an eviction by force of activists, the protest is peaceful, would return an image disaster for the authorities and not "would not in their interest," she considers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl, according to his entourage


AFP - Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of the President of the Republic of France, gave birth Wednesday in Paris of a young girl, said a person in his entourage told AFP. "Right now we do not know the name of the girl," said the source. This is the first time in the history of the French Republic a President is about to become a father. The Elysee said he would not release the birth of this child. President Nicolas Sarkozy went for half an hour Wednesday afternoon at the clinic in La Muette (Paris XVI) with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who had been admitted in the morning.

He then went to Frankfurt to interview for nearly two hours Wednesday night on the future of the euro area before the EU summit on Sunday. He then left Germany in the early evening. Nicolas Sarkozy married former model became a singer, February 2, 2008. Aged 56, he already has three son (Peter, 26, Jean, 25, and Louis, 14). It is also a time grandfather. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, had a son with the philosopher Raphael Enthoven, Aurelian, 10.

News by AFP

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kinder Morgan to buy El Paso for $21 billion

(Reuters) - Kinder Morgan Inc struck a $21 billion deal to buy rival El Paso Corp, combining the two largest North American natural gas pipeline companies and making a big bet on the fast-growing market for that fuel.

Despite weak natural gas prices, production of the fuel has been rising as energy companies pile into shale fields -- underground formations rich in oil and gas.

El Paso already owned the largest natural gas pipeline system in North America, with more than 43,000 miles of pipelines. The combined company would own 67,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and another 13,000 miles of pipelines to move refined products and other fuels, Kinder Morgan said on Sunday.

"We believe that natural gas is going to play an increasingly integral role in North America," Kinder Morgan Chief Executive Richard Kinder said in a statement. "We are delighted to be able to significantly expand our natural gas transportation footprint at a time when it seems likely that domestic natural gas supply and demand will grow at attractive rates for years to come."

The offer of $26.87 a share in cash, stock and warrants, represents a 37 percent premium to El Paso's Friday closing price of $19.59.

Including El Paso's debt, the deal tops $38 billion, making it the second biggest merger in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The deal derails El Paso's plan, announced in May, to split into two publicly traded companies, which would have separated its exploration and production business from its pipeline operations. Kinder Morgan said it plans to sell El Paso's exploration and production assets.

John White, an analyst at Houston-based Triple Double Advisors, said the deal makes perfect sense for both companies.

"El Paso has the largest natural gas pipeline in North America -- it's a tremendous and premium set of assets," said White, who helps to manage a portfolio of energy equities, MLPs and bonds. "They are doing this deal at a nice premium."


Kinder Morgan is buying El Paso as companies including Exxon Mobil Corp and others are spending billions of dollars to develop shale gas and crude oil exploration and production in areas that are constrained by infrastructure.

For example, in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas where there are scant pipelines, companies are having to rely on trucks and are building rail terminals to handle the vast field's output.

Oil and gas producers could have to pay up to ship their gas on Kinder Morgan's pipelines if they are dealing with one behemoth, rather than two smaller pipeline companies. That could hit the bottom line for end users like power companies.

The combined company's pipelines will be connected to natural gas shales including the Eagle Ford, Marcellus, Utica, Haynesville, Fayetteville and Barnett.

Houston-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan raised $2.86 billion in February in an IPO valuing the firm at more than $21 billion. The company's market capitalization as of Friday was around $19 billion.

The offer per share comprises $14.65 in cash, 0.4187 Kinder Morgan shares -- valued at $11.26 per EP share -- and 0.640 Kinder Morgan warrants -- valued at $0.96 per EP share -- based on Kinder Morgan's closing price on Friday.

The warrants will have an exercise price of $40 and a five-year term.

The transaction has been approved by each company's board the companies said. Kinder Morgan said it has a commitment letter from Barclays Capital underwriting the full amount of cash required for the transaction.

The new company hopes to generate $350 million a year in cost savings, or about 5 percent of the combined companies' earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization. Kinder Morgan expects to be able to increase its dividend after the deal closes due to these savings.

It said that if the deal were to close at the beginning of 2012, it would expect to be able to pay a dividend of about $1.45 a share that year. But because it expects the deal to close later, it said its dividend will likely be slightly below that target.

The new combined company will be 68 percent owned by Kinder Morgan shareholders with El Paso holders owning the remaining 32 percent.

Evercore Partners and Barclays Capital advised Kinder Morgan on the deal, while Morgan Stanley advised El Paso. Goldman Sachs acted as an adviser to El Paso on its previously announced spin-off and related matters to the Kinder Morgan deal, the companies said.

The advisors are set to rake in a total of $100 million to $145 million in M&A fees, according to Freeman & Co.

News by Reuters

President Obama Set to Dedicate D.C. MLK Memorial

WASHINGTON –  President Barack Obama is to talk about the slain civil rights leader who gave his life serving others as he helps dedicate the new monument to Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall, joined by Aretha Franklin and poet Nikki Giovanni with thousands looking on Sunday.

The nation's first black president is one of several speakers expected for Sunday's delayed dedication of the 30-foot granite sculpture depicting the late Rev. King, the first monument on the mall in the nation's capital honoring a black leader. A late August dedication ceremony had to be postponed when Hurricane Irene blustered up the East Coast, dumping heavy rain around Washington.

Obama was just 6 years old when King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in April 1968. But the president has often talked about the influence that King's life, particularly his commitment to public service, has had on him.

In a 2009 newspaper editorial written just days before his inauguration, Obama wrote that King "lived his life as a servant to others," and urged Americans to follow his example and find ways to enrich other people's lives in their communities.

Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior adviser and friend of the president, said recently that she expects the president's remarks "to come straight from the heart." A four-hour program was expected to include activities starting from about 8 a.m. EDT and including Obama's address before midday.

King's "willingness to sacrifice himself for our country, to fight for a dream he believed in, like justice and equality, really gave a foundation for President Obama becoming the president," Jarrett said.

Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha paid an advance visit to the memorial Friday evening as journalists were kept back in vans on a service road leading to the site, situated near the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.

The sculpture of King, arms crossed, appears to emerge from a stone extracted from a mountain and was fashioned by Chinese artist Lei Yixin. The sculpture depicts King with a stern, enigmatic gaze, wearing a jacket and tie, his arms folded and clutching papers in his left hand.

The memorial's design was inspired by a line from the famous 1963 "Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." King's "Dream" speech during the March on Washington galvanized the civil rights movement.

The sculpture is the centerpiece of the $120 million memorial, which also includes a 450-foot-long granite wall inscribed with 14 quotations from King's speeches and writings. King is the first person who was not a U.S. president to be memorialized on the National Mall.

King's sister Christine King Farris was scheduled to speak during the Sunday morning dedication program, along with his son Martin Luther King III and daughter Bernice King. The choir from King's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta also was planning to sing.

Giovanni planned to read her poem "In the Spirit of Martin" and Franklin was to sing. A stage for speakers and thousands of folding chairs were set up on a field nearby along with large TV screens.

The dedication had originally been set for Aug. 28, the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, when organizers initially had expected as many as 250,000 people in attendance. But organizers hastily postponed that plan, hours ahead of Hurricane Irene.

The hurricane that blew past Washington downed tree branches and knocked out traffic lights around the capital while playing havoc with travel plans along the East Coast. The memorial took on a small amount of water from the Tidal Basin during the storm, but sustained no damage, the National Park Service said.

News By foxnews

Friday, October 14, 2011

10 Outrageous Travel Fees

Companies in the travel industry seem to be finding more ways to get you to open your wallet. At a time when travelers are looking to save, prices are actually rising. In fact, domestic airfare prices jumped more than 8 percent from last year.

But that increase tells only part of the story. Consumers also are feeling the pinch of rising costs from airlines, hotels and car rental companies over items as mundane as boarding passes and pillows.

Here are Bankrate's 10 most outrageous travel fees and how to avoid them.

1. Fees for Booking by Phone

If you try to book your flight over the telephone instead of over the Internet, you may be charged more. Nearly all major airlines charge booking fees of $25 to $35 for this service.

To avoid the surcharge, try to book online whenever possible. Often, the best deals are listed on the airlines' websites.

2. Print Your Boarding Pass

Spirit Airlines (SAVE: 15.90, +1.38, +9.50%) has started charging passengers $5 to print their boarding passes at the airport. These travel fees will be assessed starting Nov. 1, 2011. The charge is assessed for each flight, so that's an extra $10 round trip. If you want to avoid the fees, you'll have to print the pass at home and bring it with you.

3. Avoid Checking Your Luggage

Got extra luggage to check? You'll have to pay. American and Delta airlines (DAL: 8.68, +0.26, +3.09%) charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second one. The airlines do make exceptions. They typically won't charge the most elite members of their frequent traveler clubs or for passengers who are traveling to certain international destinations.

Otherwise, take a carry-on bag instead of checking your luggage to avoid these travel fees.

If you do need to check a bag, be sure to pack light. Major airlines charge fees of up to $90 per bag for overweight luggage that weighs 51 to 70 pounds, and the prices increase for heavier bags.

Also, check with your airline to see if it gives a discount for online baggage checking. For example, US Airways (LCC: 6.30, +0.07, +1.12%) charges $20 for the first checked bag that's ordered online, compared to $25 to check bags at the airport.

4. Seat Selection Fees

It's one thing to buy your ticket for a flight, but if you want to select your seat, you may have to pay an extra travel fee. Many airlines, such as AirTran and Spirit, charge you to select the seat you want. At AirTran, the cost ranges from $6 to $20 per ticket.

Even if your airline doesn't charge for seat assignments, you may have to pay if you want to sit in a row that has extra legroom. At Spirit, the fees for seats with more leg space start at $12 if reserved in advance.

5. Priority Boarding Charges

If you want to board your plane early in order to claim space in an overhead bin, some airlines will make you pay for the privilege. American Airlines (AMR: 2.96, +0.15, +5.34%) charges for a service called Express Seats. You have to pay more for your ticket, but you can be one of the first people to board for your flight, regardless of your frequent flier status.

You also get to sit in one of the first few rows in coach. Pricing varies by trip, but The Dallas Morning News reported the surcharge at $19 to $39 each way.

JetBlue Airways (JBLU: 4.57, +0.05, +1.11%) recently launched a related program called "Even More Space," which costs a minimum of $10 per seat. Customers have early access to boarding and overhead bins and can sit in rows with extra legroom.

If you don't pay this extra charge, you'll have to hope you can grab a seat with sufficient space after the airline loads everyone else.

6. A Pillow will Cost You

If you want to take a quick nap on your flight, you'll have to pay up if you want to use a pillow from some airlines.

US Airways charges $7 for what's called a Power-Nap Sack. The package is an upgrade from a standard issue pillow. It includes a blanket, inflatable neck pillow, eyeshades and an earplug. It also includes a coupon for a future purchase from SkyMall, an in-flight shopping catalog.

American Airlines has a similar blanket and pillow package for $8.

The new products are nice and convenient, but if you don't want to pay this travel fee, you'll have to figure out a way to nap without an airline-issued cushion.

7. Expect Credit Card Surcharges Abroad

If you plan to travel abroad, be aware your credit card company may levy surcharges on foreign purchases you make. These travel fees are typically about 3 percent of the purchase price.

To avoid some of these travel fees, consider prepaying your international hotel and car rental costs while you're still in the U.S. Also, consider using a credit card that doesn't charge extra for currency conversions and spending overseas. Some card issuers, including Capital One, offer this benefit.

8. Rental Car Insurance

Collision-damage waiver, or CDW, insurance is a moneymaker for car rental companies. These optional policies insure you if you get in a wreck or otherwise experience a claims loss while renting a car. The charge for such rental car insurance can add $15 to $25 to the daily cost of a car rental.

The catch is that you may already have protection through your credit card company or auto insurer.

Before leaving on a trip, check with your insurance agent and card issuer to see what kind of coverage you have for car rentals. If your credit card already offers sufficient protection, you could decline the optional coverage. Just be sure to use that credit card when you make your rental reservation.

8. Watch Out for Airport Fees

This isn't an airline charge, but it is charged by rental car companies located within airports. These businesses have to pay fees to the airport to operate in their facilities, and they pass the charges on to you in the form of a concession recovery fee.

This charge can increase the cost of the car rental by up to 20 percent. To avoid paying extra, consider renting a car at a nonairport location. Just make sure the company offers a lower rate at the other location and doesn't inflate the price to match what's charged at the airport facility.

10. Hook up to Hotel Wi-Fi for a Fee

Many major hotel chains, including Marriott (MAR: 30.15, -0.08, -0.26%) and Sheraton (HOT: 46.50, +0.48, +1.04%), charge for high-speed Internet access in your hotel room. Fees start at about $10 to $15 per day. To avoid these charges, ask if free Wi-Fi is available in common areas, such as the lobby. Also, ask the front desk or concierge if there are restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi nearby.

If you have a smartphone with a data plan, you can skip the hotel Internet altogether and just use your phone to surf the Web.

News by Foxnews

Google Blows Away 3Q Earnings Expectations

Google blasted Wall Street’s expectations for the third quarter, as earnings and revenue came in well ahead of estimates.

The tech behemoth weighed in with net income of $2.73 billion, or $8.33 a share, up from year-ago profit of $2.17 billion, or $6.72 per share. On an adjusted basis, net income improved to $3.63 billion, or $9.72 cents a share, compared with profit of $2.93 billion, or $7.64 a share, in the third quarter of 2010.

Revenue rose 33% to $9.72 billion. Net revenue, or revenue without traffic acquisition costs, increased to $7.51 billion from $5.48 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The results easily topped estimates. The Street had predicted adjusted earnings of $8.74 a share on net revenue of $7.2 billion. Google also topped the whisper number, or unofficial expectation for earnings of $8.74 per share, in-line with consensus estimates, according to

"We had a great quarter," said Larry Page, CEO of Google, in a statement. "Revenue was up 33% year on year and our quarterly revenue was just short of $10 billion.”

Page also went on to boast that the company’s social networking site, Google+, recently saw its number of users surpass the 40 million mark.

Aggregate paid clicks rose 28% in the third quarter, compared with 13% in the second quarter of 2011, while the average cost-per-click increased 5%, compared to a 5% decrease in the previous quarter.

The company is also adding to its headcount; as of Sept. 30, the company employed 31,353 full-time workers, up from 28,768 full-time employees on June 30.

Shares of Google rose $10.49 or nearly 2% in Thursday’s trading session, finishing the day at $558.99 a share. In after-hours trading, the stock was up more than 5%, or $29 a share.

News by Foxnews

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gene therapy and stem cells unite

Two of the holy grails of medicine - stem cell technology and precision gene therapy - have been united for the first time in humans, say scientists.

It means patients with a genetic disease could, one day, be treated with their own cells.

A study in Nature corrected a mutation in stem cells made from a patient with a liver disease.

Researchers said this was a "critical step" towards devising treatments, but safety tests were still needed.

At the moment, stem cells created from a patient with a genetic illness cannot be used to cure the disease as those cells would also contain the corrupted genetic code.

Scientists, at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, were working on cirrhotic liver disease.

It is caused by a change to a single pair of letters, out of the six billion which make up the genetic code.

As a result, a protein which protects the body from damage, antitrypsin, cannot escape from the liver where it is made.

The illness is one of the most common genetic diseases, affecting one in 2,000 people in Europe.

The only solution is a liver transplant, but this requires a lifetime of drugs to prevent organ rejection.

The research group took a skin cell from a patient and converted it to a stem cell.

A molecular scalpel was used to cut out the single mutation and insert the right letter - correcting the genetic fault.

The stem cells were then turned into liver cells. One of the lead researchers, Prof David Lomas, said: "They functioned beautifully with normal secretion and function".

When the cells were placed into mice, they were still working correctly six weeks later.

'Enormous potential'

Prof Lomas said if this could be developed into a therapy it would be preferable to liver transplant as the patient would not need to take immunosuppressant drugs.

He told the BBC that the technique was "ridiculously hard," yet "the potential is enormous, but only time will tell".

Further animal studies and human clinical trials would be needed before any treatment as "the key thing is safety".

For example, concerns have been raised about "induced" stem cells being prone to expressing cancer causing genes.

Prof Robin Ali, from University College London and the Medical Research Council's stem cell translational research committee, said: "It's very interesting.

"Most gene therapy is not correcting the gene, it's introducing a new copy of the gene, what's exciting is that this corrects.

"The big problem with individualised medicine is the cost - that is one of the major barriers."

News by BBC