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June 27, 2011

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visits Shakespeare\’s birthplace

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visits Shakespeare’s birthplace

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Premier Jiabao
Image: World Economic Forum.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao paid a visit to the birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare on Sunday. The visit to Stratford-upon-Avon was included in his three-day tour of various industries in Britain. The UK is one of China’s biggest trading partners, second only to the EU.

Cquote1.svg [Stratford-upon-Avon] has produced a figure who belongs not only to the UK but to the world. A great man who belongs not just to his era but to entire history. Cquote2.svg

—Premier Wen Jiabao

The 68-year-old Wen, reportedly a fan of Shakespeare, was met upon his arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon by dozens of flag-waving individuals from the UK’s Chinese community. He visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, which is now a museum and then attended a scene from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet“, his favourite play, while sitting in the “sun-drenched” garden. He toured the collection of treasures at the town’s Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. On his tour at the Trust, lasting half an hour longer than planned, he looked through a 17th-century folio of Shakespeare’s famous plays. Trust director Diana Owen, who talked with Wen during his informal tour, said Wen described Shakespeare as “the greatest writer of all time.”

Wen told Sky News that his love of Shakespeare began as a child.

“The local people here have every reason to take pride that this place has produced a figure who belongs not only to the UK but to the world,” Mr Wen said to Sky News. “A great man who belongs not just to his era but to entire history.”

The Chinese leader’s arrival in England came days after the announcement of activist and dissident sculptor Ai Weiwei‘s release by Beijing last Wednesday, after a global call for his release. The announcement, made before Wen’s meeting today with British Prime Minister David Cameron, was likely discussed along with the issue of China’s record on human rights and trade deals. There were several protesters outside Downing Street, who held a banner that read “Cameron and Wen: human rights before trade”.

The goal of the visit, part of a three-nation tour of Europe, is the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries. China is increasingly outsourcing its own manufacturing to less costly labour markets and wants to increase its investments in established European brands. Today, China and Britain announced contracts worth over one billion pounds.

John Shakespeare’s house, believed to be Shakespeare’s birthplace, in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Image: File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske).

Cquote1.svg I am hoping that a billion Chinese might see some pictures on their TV of their premier coming and visiting the birthplace of Shakespeare, and thinking: ‘Well, I’d like to go there as well.’ Cquote2.svg

—Jeremy Hunt, British Culture Secretary

British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose wife is Chinese, was hopeful that Wen’s visit would have a positive effect on the country’s tourism industry. He told Sky News, “I am hoping that a billion Chinese might see some pictures on their TV of their premier coming and visiting the birthplace of Shakespeare, and thinking: ‘Well, I’d like to go there as well.’ ” Hunt noted that 150,000 Chinese visit the UK yearly and thinks that is “the tip of the iceberg”.

Hunt stressed that Wen’s visit is not only about jobs. It is also about developing broader cultural ties “which is the best possible way to make sure we understand each other and avoid the kind of misunderstanding that so can bedevil relationships, as has happened in the past,” he told the BBC.

The Chinese are interested in British happenings. About 30 million Chinese watched the recent Royal wedding.



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May 17, 2011

Judge Dannii Minogue exits UK X Factor over \’Australia\’s Got Talent\’ scheduling clash

Judge Dannii Minogue exits UK X Factor over ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ scheduling clash

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Cquote1.svg During discussions for me to return [to The X Factor] it became clear that unfortunately, this year, the X Factor audition dates in the UK clash with the live shows of Australia’s Got Talent during June and July. For this reason I am unable to return. Cquote2.svg

Dannii Minogue

Australian singer Dannii Minogue has made the decision to depart from the judging panel of The X Factor, a televised singing competition in the United Kingdom. In a statement, she said: “I am so disappointed that I can’t be a part of The X Factor this year. I’m going to miss the show and the amazing team who work so incredibly hard on it.”

Since her first appearance on The X Factor in 2007, Minogue has gone on to mentor two series-winning acts, Leon Jackson and Matt Cardle. When attributing the reason for her departure, which occurred a short time period before the launch of the eighth series of the competition, Minogue stated, “[d]uring discussions for me to return [to The X Factor] it became clear that unfortunately, this year, the X Factor audition dates in the UK clash with the live shows of Australia’s Got Talent [on which she is a judge] during June and July. For this reason I am unable to return.”

According to Metro.co.uk, British musician Tulisa Contostavlos from English group N-Dubz will be employed in the position Minogue was on The X Factor. Various users of social networking website Twitter reacted negatively to this news, the Metro reported.

One source close to the programme told Sky News that Contostavlos is “not a reality TV creation, she’s created herself” and that “[e]veryone on the show has met her, and they loved her. She’s the real deal.” He also reported that “[t]he singer from north London also fits ‘the right age demographic'”.

Danni Minogue in October 2010. Image: Acediscovery.

Danni Minogue in October 2010.
Image: Acediscovery.

Leon Jackson, as seen here earlier this year, was one of the acts Minogue mentored during series 4 of The X Factor. Jackson went on to win the series. Image: Sixtyplace9472.

Leon Jackson, as seen here earlier this year, was one of the acts Minogue mentored during series 4 of The X Factor. Jackson went on to win the series.
Image: Sixtyplace9472.

Matt Cardle performing in December 2010. Minogue mentored Cardle, who became the winner of the seventh series of The X Factor. Image: James Whatley.

Matt Cardle performing in December 2010. Minogue mentored Cardle, who became the winner of the seventh series of The X Factor.
Image: James Whatley.



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November 23, 2010

North Korean military fires artillery on populated South Korean island

North Korean military fires artillery on populated South Korean island

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Map of Yeonpyeong (3.) and other islands on the northwest coast of South Korea.
Image: Amble.

The North Korean military has fired over 200 rounds of artillery shells at South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, injuring at least 14 soldiers and 4 civilians. There are reports of deaths, though the exact number is unclear. At least one S. Korean soldier is reported to be among those killed. Exact estimates on damage are currently unknown, but smoke plumes can be seen rising from the island, according the witnesses at the scene. The attack occurred just after 2:30 p.m. local time (5:30am UTC).

In response, South Korea has fired at least 80 rounds of artillery in retaliation, while President Lee Myung-Bak meets with the nation’s cabinet in a secure bunker to discuss the situation and their response to it. Fighter jets were scrambled to the scene while S. Korea was put on its highest peace-time military alert.

S. Korea had been taking part in annual military exercises off the island’s west coast when the attack occurred. Officials are investigating whether or not the attack was in protest to the exercises. Earlier in the day, N. Korea issued a statement denouncing the exercises.

At least 1,300 people live on the island. According to Sky News, some residents have begun to leave the island and are headed towards mainland S. Korea.


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September 20, 2010

Emma\’s Imagination declared winner of UK\’s \’Must Be The Music\’

Emma’s Imagination declared winner of UK’s ‘Must Be The Music’

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Monday, September 20, 2010

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Emma’s Imagination, a solo music act otherwise identified as Emma Gillespie, has been declared as the winner of Must Be The Music, a music talent programme broadcast on Sky1 in the United Kingdom. As the winner of the series, Emma gains a prize of £100,000 (US$155,484, 119,061, A$164,130, C$159,968).

Shortly after being declared as the winner, Scottish singer Gillespie – who defeated five other musical acts in the final – spoke to host Fearne Cotton: “I don’t know what to say,” she said in front of the live audience of 10,000. “Thank you so much for supporting me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much.”

Sharleen Spiteri, a member of Scottish music group Texas, is one of the three judges on Must Be The Music, alongside jazz-pop musician Jamie Cullum and rapper Dizzee Rascal. “I think there’s going to be a lot of young people who might have sniffed at the idea of doing this sort of programme, who might see this as a different opportunity as musicians,” Spiteri commented. “I think that’s going to change everything.”

In Must Be The Music, artists competing on the programme had to compose and perform their own music. Music tracks from the semi-finalists had become available to download, with all profits being given to the singer-songwriters. “This Day”, the single from Emma’s Imagination, had already achieved number 12 in both the alternative music chart and the iTunes chart by the time of the series’ conclusion, according to Sky News Online.



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August 5, 2010

Mass panic as Zimbabwean officials fake air crash

Mass panic as Zimbabwean officials fake air crash

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

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A Boeing 767, similar to the aircraft authorities reported was involved in the ‘accident’
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

Today, Zimbabwean officials informed the media that an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 aircraft carrying 250 people had crashed at Harare International Airport, before they announced the reports were false and the incident had in fact been a drill to simulate the occurrence of such an event. Initial reports suggested that a flight from London had crashed upon landing at the airport. However, Medical Rescue International later stated in a post on Facebook that no airplane had crashed and it had “joined up with other services to attend to a mock accident at Harare International Airport … Good to keep the practising up.”

Those behind the staged accident had reportedly not told any other governmental departments, resulting in relatives inquiring with Air Zimbabwe as to what had happened. A senior figure for Air Zimbabwe stated that he was “concerned that this incident led to many, many calls to us. People were frightened. No actual plane was involved, but there was a scenario involving a Boeing 767 plane that had been hijacked and forced down at Harare airport.”

It was reported that Peter Chikumba, chief of Air Zimbabwe, had also not been informed that the exercise was to take place, and that the airline had set up an emergency helpdesk to liaise with the families of victims. Alan McGuinness, a correspondent for Sky News, stated, “journalists who arrived at the airport saw smoke rising from a runway and were then taken to a room where they were told to wait. David Chawota, the head of the Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority, said the media was duped to make the drill more realistic.” Chawota stated, “telling the media was part of the exercise. We wanted to see how the media would react,” he said.

Chawota himself told BNO News that an airliner had crashed. Michael van Poppel, head of BNO News said that “while I first thought Chawota was just misinformed by others, although that would be odd since he is the CEO of the aviation authority, I was stunned to hear that he actually knew it was a drill and wanted to see the media’s response … This basically means he was lying to me when I spoke to him, but also to other reporters he spoke to … I think it was absolutely irresponsible of this CEO and I can’t imagine what the families of passengers travelling to Harare around that time must have gone through when they heard news reports that there had been an ‘accident’ at the airport.”

McGuinness reported, “Stuart Sprake, general manager of FX Logistics, works at Harare airport and believed the secrecy surrounding the drill will help emergency crews learn valuable lessons.” Sprake told reporters “they (the crews) had to find their way through crowds and traffic … training exercises should be ad hoc — the less people know about it the better.”



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July 24, 2010

Two NATO soldiers captured in Afghanistan

Two NATO soldiers captured in Afghanistan

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

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The Logar province in the east of Afghanistan.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO forces organization in Afghanistan, has announced two forces members have failed to return from a vehicle patrol to their Kabul City compound.

ISAF did not report the nationalities of the missing soldiers, but US officials have confirmed to the Associated Press the soldiers are United States military.

Sky News is reporting a Taliban spokesperson as saying three soldiers were captured, but one has since died.

A ground and air search is being conducted for the missing troops, who are believed to be in Logar province.

In June 2009 Pfc Bowe Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces in Paktika province. His whereabouts are still unknown, though the Taliban have released three videos of him, most recently in April 2010.


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September 22, 2009

Memorial service held for Sir Bobby Robson in Durham Cathedral, England

Memorial service held for Sir Bobby Robson in Durham Cathedral, England

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A memorial service was held in the Durham Cathedral in England to honour the late soccer manager Sir Bobby Robson.

Sir Bobby Robson in 2007
Image: rockface.

Sir Bobby Robson was born on February 18, 1933 and had died on July 31, 2009, aged 76 after a fifth, long battle with lung cancer. A memorial service was held on Monday to honour the late world-famous former football manager of Manchester United F.C. in County Durham, in the north of England. The service was broadcast live on Sky News and on Sky News Online. Football fans were also able to watch the ceremony on giant screens in St James’ Park in Newcastle and in Ipswich town centre.

The congregation at the service was very large. It was attended by such famous people as Terry Venables, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Katherine Jenkins, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy, Ant & Dec, and a whole host of other celebrities. Gary Lineker paid tribute to Robson, and said: “He made me feel 7ft tall. When he first called me up for England, I was nervous arriving at the hotel in Wrexham for a game against Wales, meeting up with stars I idolised like Bryan Robson, but Bobby was waiting for me in reception. He’d seen something in my game I wasn’t even aware of myself. He put me on the bench to face Wales but did bring me down to earth somewhat when he pointed at me with about 20 minutes to go and said: ‘Get warmed up, Garth’.”

Cquote1.svg “Sir Bobby was … without question the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I’ve ever met in football.” Cquote2.svg

—Gary Lineker

Lineker also added: “Two World Cup campaigns and a European Championship over a six-year period was easily enough time for me to realise that Sir Bobby was indeed not just a brilliant leader of men, who brought the absolute best out of his players, but also without question the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I’ve ever met in football. From Ronaldo to Robson, from Gascoigne to Given, from Shilton to Shearer and from Wark to Waddle, the gaffer was hugely supportive and fiercely loyal. In return the players loved him and respected him. He was everything that was good about the game. He loved the game and the game loved him. He was a lion of a man – no, make that Three Lions,” he said, referring to the nickname for the England national football club.

Robson’s best man, Tom Wilson, said: “He had innate charm and a ready smile, but was modest all his life, even somewhat shy – though he had largely overcome that in later life. He was always passionate about football, had a deep love of his family and great loyalty to his old friends, with a touching and justifiable pride in his beautiful home up here in his beloved North-East. Friends have said to me you should never finish a eulogy with a cliche, such as ‘we will never see his like again’. But we won’t.”

Bobby Robson played for five football clubs, one of them the England international football team. He also managed nine football teams across Europe. He had been survived by his wife Lady Elsie since their marriage in June 1955, and also survived by his three children Paul, Andrew and Mark. His family had held a private funeral service for him in August.



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June 30, 2009

Rail explosion reported at Viareggio, Italy

Rail explosion reported at Viareggio, Italy

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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A map of the railway station of Viareggio.
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According to reports, a train carrying containers of a gas, has been involved in a major incident near the Italian city of Viareggio at around midnight (local time). State television said the train derailed followed by an explosion.

According to the latest reports from Protezione Civile, at least 14 people have been killed, with another 50 injured. Up to 35 of those have suffered serious burns. Three children were among those killed.

WAtoday, stated that a street near the station in Viareggio, a coastal city of 50,000, was enveloped in flames. There are also reports of structural damage to buildings close to the incident, with two thought to have collapsed.

“The train was diverted and two of the carriages appear to have derailed,” said journalist Nick Pisa to Sky News. “Along that side of the railway line there are houses and they caught the full effect of the blast.”

The train carried liquefied petroleum gas in tank rail cars, owned by the Austrian subsidiary of GATX Corporation.

Penny Firth speaking to BBC News was quoted as saying “The explosion was terrifying. The whole sky turned orange and there was a huge mass of dense smoke, we could feel the heat intensify. It is just awful… the smell is horrible,”

The causes of the incident are under investigation, with an official inquiry already begun, although Italian rail unions, are already blaming outdated rolling stock, according to BBC News.



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April 1, 2009

G20 protester dies after collapsing

G20 protester dies after collapsing – Wikinews, the free news source

G20 protester dies after collapsing

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Marxist protesters outside the Bank of England.
Image: southbanksteve.

According to reports, a man protesting the G20 Summit in London, England has died after collapsing at a protester camp.

Sky News says the man collapsed on the street inside a camp close to the Bank of England and when found he was still breathing, but efforts by paramedics to rescue him failed and he was pronounced dead at an area hospital. The name of the person and cause of death are not yet known, but several people were injured earlier in the day. The police claim that protestors threw bottles at them while trying to rescue the protestor.

The London Ambulance Service reported that “we received a 999 call at 7:24 pm from a member of the public reporting that a man had fallen over and was unconscious, but was breathing. [They] made extensive efforts to resuscitate him both there and on the way to hospital.”

Earlier in the day a minimum of 20 protesters broke into the bank and according to reports vandalized furniture, broke windows and cut the telephone lines to the building.



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December 8, 2008

Australian PM announces public affairs channel

Australian PM announces public affairs channel

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Australia
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Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd launched the Australian Subscription Public Affairs Network today. The channel, a production of Sky News and subscription television providers Foxtel and Austar is modeled on the United States’ C-SPAN channel. Broadcasts will commence January 20, 2009.

A-SPAN will commence broadcasting January 20, 2009
Image: A-SPAN.

The initiative is solely funded by industry with no contribution from the government.

The network will be available on subscription television, the Internet and digital free-to-air television and will show sittings of Federal parliament as well as the United States Congress, New Zealand parliament, British House of Commons and state parliaments in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Live speeches at the National Press Club will also be covered.

A-SPAN has also entered into a deal to show Australian politics on the US C-SPAN network.

Prime Minister Rudd said that A-SPAN will give a “fly-on-the-wall” perspective of politics, in the same vein as C-SPAN in the US. He said A-SPAN is “a good thing for our democracy” and that “it’s a superb initiative”.

Mr Rudd conceded that the channel will be popular among fans of politics.

“Political junkies will of course love it, they’ll now have one more way to drive their family and friends absolutely mad,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said he looked forward to introducing Australian English from the parliament of Australia to an international audience.



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