All posts by Kevinsawyer

Turkey opens border to Syrian Kurds

Turkey had earlier said it would help the refugees, but on Syrian territory

Turkey has allowed thousands of Syrian Kurds fleeing Islamic State (IS) militants to cross its southern border, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

TV footage showed exhausted people, mostly women and children, crossing into the south-eastern border village of Dikmetas under tight security.

The move followed clashes with Turkish Kurd protesters who were calling for the refugees to be allowed in.

Syrian Kurds have been massing along the Turkish border since Thursday.

They have been fleeing escalating clashes between IS and Kurdish fighters in the area.

Turkey – which shares a border with Iraq and Syria – has taken in more than 847,000 Syrian refugees since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

It is under pressure from Western countries to stem the flow of foreign fighters joining Islamic State.

Mr Davutoglu told reporters: “We will take in our brothers fleeing… from Syria or any other place without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination.

“We have taken in 4,000 brothers. The number might increase. Their needs will be met. This is a humanitarian mission.”

Earlier, Turkish police and troops fired tear gas and water canon at scores of Turkish Kurds protesting in Dikmetas against Turkey’s earlier refusal to let the refugees in, local media reported.

Officials had reportedly instructed those massed at the border to go to the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.

However, correspondents say IS has been closing in on the town, expelling Kurdish fighters from surrounding villages.

The capture of Kobane would give IS control of a large strip of Syria’s northern border with Turkey, they say.

IS has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq but is being confronted in the north by Kurdish fighters.

Earlier this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was developing plans for a buffer zone on its border with Iraq and Syria.

Thirty countries have pledged to join a US-led coalition against the militants but Turkey has said it will only allow humanitarian and logistical operations from a Nato air base on its soil.

Analysts say it is reluctant to take a prominent role for fear of endangering 49 of its citizens being held hostage by IS.

US police killer manhunt continues

A Pennsylvania state trooper enters a wooded area during the funeral of slain officer

Police searching for a man accused of killing an state trooper say they have limited the area in which he can hide, as the manhunt enters a seventh day.

More than 200 officers were searching for Eric Frein, 31, in Pennsylvania’s dense north-east woodlands.

He is accused of killing Capt Bryon Dickson outside a barracks, and critically wounded another officer.

“We have now made the world where he could hide a very, very small place,” said FBI special agent Edward Hanko.

Pennsylvania police and federal officers were focusing on the area around Mr Frein’s parents’ home, searching hunting cabins, campsites and other temporary shelters in the Pocono mountains.

The search has been hampered by rugged terrain and forest canopy heavy enough in places to block police helicopters’ view of the ground.

Schools in the area were closed again on Friday as the search continued.

Mr Frein has been added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and $175,000 (£107,000) has been offered for information leading to his capture.

On 12 September, a sniper opened fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks during an evening shift change.

In addition to the death of Capt Dickson, State Trooper Alex Douglass was wounded in the attack.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said Mr Frein had survivalist training and had “made statements about killing law enforcement officers and also to commit mass acts of murder”, according to the Wilkes-Barr Times-Leader newspaper.

Police said he also took part in a re-enactment group whose members play the role of soldiers from eastern Europe.

On Thursday, thousands of law enforcement office came to pay their respects to their slain comrade.

Friends and colleagues and called Dickson a devoted officer.

During a eulogy, fellow officer Derek Felsman remember Dickson as “impeccable” in both his work and family life, saying he regularly worked past his regular hours to get drink-drivers off roadways.

“He held himself to the highest standards as evidenced in every aspect of his life,” he said.

Richard III death injuries revealed

Forensic teams studied the skeleton to determine the injuries sustained and weapons that were used

King Richard III was most likely to have been killed by two blows to the head and one to his pelvis, according to new scientific research.

The English king was killed at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August, 1485.

Forensic teams at the University of Leicester have now revealed he suffered 11 injuries before his death, three of which may have been fatal.

Modern techniques were used on his 500-year-old skeleton to determine his injuries and the medieval weapons used.

His remains were found under a car park in Leicester in 2012.

The results of forensic analysis, published in The Lancet, have now shown he sustained nine wounds to the skull and two to the postcranial skeleton.

Researchers said three of these “had the potential to cause death quickly

Sarah Hainsworth, study author and professor of materials engineering, said Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period.

Wounds to the skull suggest he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate he was still armoured at the time of his death

Investigators said they believed the postcranial injuries, including one to the pelvis, might have been inflicted after Richard’s death, as his armour would have protected him had he been alive

Guy Rutty, from the East Midlands pathology unit, said the two fatal injuries to the skull were likely to have been caused by a sword, a staff weapon such as halberd or bill, or the tip of an edged weapon.

He said: “Richard’s head injuries are consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire and was killed while fighting his enemies.”

King Richard’s skeleton is due to be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral in March.

Rosetta comet landing site chosen

“J” marks the spot for Rosetta’s robot landing craft Philae

Europe’s Rosetta mission, which aims to land on a comet later this year, has identified what it thinks is the safest place to touch down.

Scientists and engineers have spent weeks studying the 4km-wide “ice mountain” known as 67P, looking for a location they can place a small robot.

Principal Investigator Holger Sierks gave details of the site at a new briefing

Five potential landing locations were on the table, and these have now been reduced to just two – a primary and a back-up.

Both will be studied further in the coming weeks before a final go/no-go decision is made in mid-October.

The favoured location is identified for the moment simply by the letter “J”.

On 67P’s smaller lobe, it has good lighting conditions, which for Philae means having some periods of darkness to cool its systems.

The back-up site is situated on the larger of 67P’s lobes. Its designation through the selection process has been the letter “C”.

It hosts a range of surface features, including depressions, cliffs and hills, but – crucially – many smooth plains, also.

More detailed mapping of J and C is ongoing.

This past week, Rosetta manoeuvred into an orbit just 30km from the 67P, enabling its camera system to see details that can be measured on the centimetre scale.

Such information only has a certain usefulness, however, as the “hands-off” landing can only be targeted with a best precision that will likely run to many tens of metres.

And that error is larger than any of the apparently smooth terrains on the reachable parts of the comet

The whole separation, descent and landing procedure is likely to take several hours.

If Philae gets down successfully into a stable, operable configuration, it would represent a historic first in space exploration.

But Esa cautions that this high-risk venture should really be seen as an “exciting extra” on the Rosetta mission.

The major objective from the outset has been to catch the comet with the Rosetta probe and to study it from orbit.

This is happening right now. The spacecraft’s array of remote-sensing instruments are currently investigating the comet’s properties, endeavouring to find out how the object is constructed and from what materials.

“Everything we’ve discovered at 67P/C-G so far says that we’ve chosen a fantastic comet to visit,” said Dr Christopher Carr, a principal investigator on the Rosetta Plasma Consortium instruments.

“There’s a genuine sense of excitement within the Rosetta community, and we’re all looking forward to the year ahead.

“No spacecraft has ever orbited an active comet before, so there’s a lot to learn about spacecraft and instrument operations, but we’ve got a really robust mission carrying some of the best instrumentation possible, and I have to say that the operations teams at the European Space Agency are doing a great job – they are true professionals,” the Imperial College London scientist told BBC News.

But, of course, an in-situ analysis of the surface chemistry would be a huge boon to the mission overall, and this is what Philae aims to provide.

It will carry a drill to pull up comet samples into an onboard laboratory.

And, indeed, any surface information gathered by Philae will provide important “ground truth” for Rosetta’s remote sensing observations.

Irrespective of the outcome on 11 November, Rosetta will continue to follow 67P for at least a year.

The probe will get a grandstand view of the comet as it warms on a swing around the Sun.

67P’s ices will vaporise, throwing jets of gas and an immense cloud of dust out into space.

Abbott governs from indigenous area

Mr Abbott will be governing the country from a tent in the Northern Territory

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is spending a week governing the country from a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory.

He arrived in Arnhem Land on Sunday, honouring an election promise to spend a week every year in an indigenous area.

Mr Abbott says he wants to hear from local people about community needs.

His visit comes a day after he committed Australian troops to the fight against Islamic State militants.

On Sunday Mr Abbott announced the deployment of 600 troops to the United Arab Emirates ahead of possible combat operations against Islamist militants in Iraq.

Late last week, Australia also raised its terrorism threat level to high for the first time in over a decade, amid concerns over the effect of Islamist conflicts on domestic security.

Mr Abbott said he would be in regular contact with Canberra. Obviously, if there are dramatic new developments I can move if needs be he said.

The prime minister, who is staying in a tent at a site sacred to the local community near Nhulunbuy on the north-east tip of the Northern Territory, was given a traditional welcome when he arrived on Sunday

On Monday morning, he visited an indigenously run sawmill and the site of a possible new bauxite mine

Mr Abbott has described the visit as a chance to gain a better understanding of the needs of people living and working in those areas

Painted Yolngu dancers greeted Tony Abbott on his arrival at Yirrkala in Arnhem Land, one of the largest Aboriginal reserves in Australia. He is camping near the mining town of Nhulunbuy where, according to legend, the didgeridoo was created by the revered spiritual figure Ganbulabula.

On a typically warm Northern Territory morning, Mr Abbott started the week at a site where an indigenous community hopes to develop a bauxite mine. Economic independence is the ambition of tribal leaders, and employment has been the focus of the conservative prime minister’s first full day in the Top End of Australia.

In a rugged part of the country, there is a strong sense of goodwill towards Mr Abbott, who is seeing for himself the privations and cultural pleasures of life in such a remote corner of the Australian continent. Politicians from Canberra have made bold, but ultimately misguided, pledges about Aboriginal jobs and health in the past. Tony Abbott will not want to make promises he can’t keep

Local indigenous leaders say they are seeking a renewed focus on a referendum for constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians.

Last year, parliament passed a bill recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the country’s first inhabitants, but the constitution contains no mention of them.

I think we’re all in favour of doing the right thing by Aboriginal people Mr Abbott said

The important thing now is to set a timetable for this [the referendum]… It’s more important that we get it right than we rush it, because the last thing anyone ought to want is to put a proposal of this nature to the people and have it fail

High rates of unemployment in indigenous areas will also be on the agenda.

Indigenous Australians, who make up about 2% of the population, are the country’s most disadvantaged group

They have higher rates of infant mortality, drug abuse, alcoholism and unemployment than the rest of the population

Mr Abbott will remain in the Northern Territory until Friday

Police charge toddler for coercion


Two policemen are to be suspended for charging a one-year-old child with coercion ahead of a by-election in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

A police report noted that 10-12-month-old Nazim and his father Yasin, could disrupt the peace of the poll.

Police often prepare lists of potential trouble-makers and criminals ahead of local elections and send them to the relevant authorities and courts.

Correspondents say the incident has caused outrage in the area.

Senior police official Gulab Singh told BBC Hindi’s Salman Ravi that policemen in the Thakurdwara police station in Moradabad had filed the report.

We have already initiated departmental proceedings against the concerned police officials who are to be suspended by this [Thursday] evening,” Mr Singh said.

It is now clear that the police officials did not visit the area and prepared their report on just hearsay without verifying facts. We have taken the matter very seriously and are ensuring such incidents do not happen in the future

In 2011, a five-year-old boy in Bihar state was charged with disrupting the peace during village council elections.

Police later said it was a case of mistaken identity and they meant to charge his elder brother with disorderly conduct.

And in 2006, the Bihar police charged a six-year-old girl with attacking them and helping her father escape from police custody.

This was despite the fact that under Indian law, the police cannot file a criminal case against a child below seven years of age.

The perils of the Streisand effect

One of the images that remained on Getty despite representatives of Beyonce wanting it removed

(Escort Bursa) — Former motor racing boss Max Mosley is suing Google for continuing to display photographs he says breach his privacy. But does pressing for information to be kept private, or suppressed, often have the opposite effect?

At first sight not much unites Beyonce and Max Mosley. But they, and several other celebrities and organisations, have become victims of the “Streisand effect”.

In 2005, Mike Masnick, founder of the Techdirt website, coined the term. Two years earlier singer Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman, who was documenting the coastline of California, for including her clifftop home in Malibu. The resulting publicity helped drive 420,000 visits in a month to the site where the photo was published. According to documents filed in court, images of Streisand’s house had been downloaded only six times before the legal action.

It’s not always a fight over privacy. In February last year the Buzzfeed website published a selection of singer Beyonce’s “fiercest moments” – mocking her facial expressions while performing at the Superbowl. Her publicist reportedly contacted it to ask that seven of the most “unflattering” photos be removed. Buzzfeed refused and republished exactly this selection with the headline: “The ‘Unflattering’ Photos Beyonce’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See”. The exposure of the unflattering photos was magnified.

A few months later it was reported that lawyers for Pippa Middleton, sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, had asked for the removal of a parody Twitter feed, which offered ridiculously obvious lifestyle advice in her name, such as “Avoid getting lost by consulting with a map” and “A party isn’t much fun without people attending”. Its following increased.

In 2008 the Church of Scientology reportedly tried to get a video featuring film star Tom Cruise talking about his faith, designed for viewing by its followers only, removed from websites after it was leaked. The publicity meant it became shared more widely.

In 2012, Argyll and Bute Council banned nine-year-old Martha Payne from taking pictures of her school meals and posting them, along with dismissive ratings out of 10, on a blog. Her family complained and this was overturned, amid much publicity. To date the blog has had more than 10 million hits and Martha has raised more than £130,000 for charity.

You don’t need to be famous to suffer from the Streisand effect. Spaniard Mario Costeja Gonzalez fought a long legal battle for the right to be forgotten. He complained that a search of his name in Google brought up newspaper articles from 16 years ago about a sale of property to recover money he owed. He enjoyed a landmark victory to establish the right to be forgotten. But it is unlikely he will ever be forgotten. As of this moment, his name conjures up hundreds of thousands of Google search results.

But Max Mosley is arguably the greatest example. He is suing Google for continuing to display in search results images of him with prostitutes at a sex party, citing alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act and misuse of private information. Every time he makes a legal move in his crusade over privacy, there’s a danger it becomes more likely people will seek out the very images he is complaining about.

The 74-year-old former president of Formula One’s governing body FIA wants Google to block pictures first published in the now-defunct tabloid News of the World, which he successfully sued in 2008. “As the gateway to the internet Google makes enormous profits and has great influence, so I have not taken this action lightly,” he has said in a statement. His lawyers add that the company should not be allowed “to act as an arbiter of what is lawful and what is not”. Google says it has been working with Mosley “to address his concerns”.

But is there a risk that Mosley will cause himself more embarrassment by bringing a fairly old, and perhaps half-forgotten, news story back to people’s attention? A survey of Twitter shows some users are posting the pictures that he is keen to remove.

“Anyone trying to get something banned is always going to be of more interest than something that people don’t seem bothered by,” says Jenny Afia, head of talent at the law firm Schillings. “It’s a spark for curiosity.”

In previous generations there’s no doubt it was more straightforward to attempt to suppress information or images. The ease of sharing now almost means that nothing can really be suppressed.

You could argue that the internet makes attempts to guard your privacy risky on a scale proportional to the likelihood of your privacy being meaningfully breached in the first place. If there was a danger that lots of people would circulate a private photo of you doing something embarrassing, it’s very likely that trying to suppress it will have the opposite effect. If there was little danger that the photo would have been circulated, an attempt at suppression might not trigger the Streisand effect.

There are endless mischief-makers who would dedicate themselves to propagating information that someone wanted hidden, just for the very fact of the attempt to hide it.

Mosley is a wealthy man used to publicity. Yet suing could mean a stressful, drawn-out court case, covered in detail by the media.

“It’s a horrible dilemma for people who are faced with horrible or untrue stories,” says Afia. “That’s where Max Mosley is very brave to keep fighting. Many people decide to let it go.”

For the likes of Mosley and Costeja Gonzalez, the principle surely supersedes the actual effect of legal action. They effectively end up fighting for the right of others to more easily safeguard their privacy. Even at the de facto cost of the their own.

And there’s a clear difference between those fighting for a right to privacy and those, like Beyonce’s representatives, who are merely trying to manage a reputation or public image. There the Streisand effect is potent. If your reaction to mockery is to try and squash it, there will be lots more mockery.

Public relations expert Mark Borkowski says modern celebrities, open to Twitter trolls and online parodies, need “the skin of a rhino”.

“If it’s really, really trivial you have to make the decision about whether you’re going react to the person who’s satirising you and potentially make it much worse.”

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East Coast rail increases profit

East Coast increased passenger numbers and its return to the taxpayer last year

The publicly owned railway company East Coast returned almost £220m to the taxpayer last year, according to its annual results.

Directly Operated Railways – which was set up by the government in July 2009 to run the East Coast franchise – has announced a post-tax profit of £6.2m.

Its profit before tax and fees to the Department for Transport was £225m, an increase of 8% on the year before.

The franchise is due to be re-privatised in March next year.

Labour has said it would allow public-sector operators to challenge private firms for rail contracts, if it wins the general election in 2015.

DOR took over the East Coast franchise when National Express’s contract was terminated in November 2009, because of financial difficulties

East Coast runs railway services along the 936-mile line, which runs from London to the north of Scotland.

Turnover for 2013-14 was £720m, with £654m of that coming from passenger income.

In total, 19.9m journeys were made, an increase of 4.5% on 2012-13.

The chairman of DOR, Doug Sutherland, said: “Our financial performance has been good throughout the year, with £216.8m provided to the DfT in premium and dividend payments, up from £202.8m the year before

The business plan for the remainder of the franchise will see the good work continuing, with the twin aims of ensuring a successful transfer of the business back to the private sector in good condition, and maximising the value of the franchise achieved by the government and the taxpayer

The acting general secretary of the RMT union, Mick Cash, said the franchise shouldn’t return to the private sector next year

Despite the continued stunning financial and operational success of the publicly-owned East Coast service, this right-wing Government are hell bent on smashing it up and taking another gamble on a private operator he said

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and the rail operators, said private firms also returned large sums to the taxpayer.

“It remains the case that East Coast is just one of a number of operators making payments to government,” he said.

“Latest figures for 2013-14 show the biggest payment was made by private operator South West Trains, which paid over £300m.”

Aerospace firm creates 47 new jobs

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Magellan vice president for business development in Europe, Haydn Martin, made the announcement

The company supplies major aerospace firms, including Airbus

The aerospace firm Magellan is creating 47 jobs at its operation in Greyabbey, County Down.

The Canadian company is making an investment of £6m, which will involve an extension to the existing factory.

Invest NI is giving the firm a grant of up to £700,000.

Magellan has owned the factory since 2012 when it bought John Huddlestone Engineering for about £10m. It currently employs 109 people in Greyabbey.

The new jobs will be added over the next four years.

The company is a major supplier to Bombardier, Northern Ireland’s biggest manufacturing employer.

It also supplies other major aerospace firms like Boeing and Airbus.

It recently reported its best ever quarterly results.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “This significant investment involves the construction of a new specialised assembly facility and additional advanced machining technology, leading to the creation of 47 jobs which are expected to be put in place over the next four years.

“This investment will further enhance Northern Ireland’s aerospace sector which is of vital importance.”

Arsonists torch bus at Muslim centre

The fire was started outside The Islamic Centre, hours after CCTV was vandalised

Arsonists set fire to a minibus belonging to a Muslim community centre in what police believe was a targeted hate crime

Officers were called to The Islamic Centre in Newton Heath, Manchester, at about 01:20 BST.

Two men dressed in black were seen running from the scene.

The fire was started just hours after vandals ripped CCTV cameras from the Regent Street building’s walls, at about 23:30 BST on Friday.

Insp Chris Hadfield, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We believe the two incidents are linked and that the theft of the CCTV cameras was meant to help them carry out their arson attack on the minibus without being recorded.

Fortunately there are several other cameras that capture the rear of The Islamic Centre, where the attack took place.

We are investigating the possibility that this is a targeted hate crime