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Honey trap murder pair found guilty

Written By doni icha on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 19.21

Mehmet Hassan
Mr Hassan, who lived alone, died from neck and chest injuries

Two men have been found guilty of murdering a professional poker player who was lured into a honey trap for his winnings.

Mehmet Hassan, 56, from north London, was tied up and kicked to death in March last year.

Kyrron Jackson, 28, and his friend Nicholas Chandler, 29, both from London, were found guilty of murder.

Jackson's girlfriend Leonie Granger, 25, who met Mr Hassan at a casino, was found guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Hassan was bound with parcel tape and a neck tie and then kicked and stamped to death in his bedroom, the trial at Old Bailey had heard.

The attackers, who then ransacked his home looking for cash, were allegedly let in by 25-year-old care assistant Granger, who Mr Hassan had met at a Mayfair casino the month before.

Afterwards, while he lay dead in a pool of blood, all three defendants were filmed on Granger's mobile phone throwing £50 notes around and stuffing wads in underpants, the jury was told.

The defendants said the video was actually made four months earlier.

Mr Hassan was described as a professional gambler who sometimes won as much as £15,000 at a time.


19.21 | 1 komentar | Read More

UN urges action to save migrants

The UN refugee agency says not enough is being done to save the lives of the increased numbers of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

A UNHCR spokesman told the BBC around 400 migrants were still missing after their boat capsized off Libya.

Libya's coastguard says it expects more attempted crossings later this week.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have made the perilous crossing in recent years, fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Hundreds more migrants rescued from boats in the Mediterranean are due to arrive in Sicily during the day.

Almost 10,000 migrants have been picked up in recent days, and more boats are heading for the Italian coast.

Italy's interior ministry has instructed officials throughout the country to be prepared to house the new arrivals, many of whom are children.

UN officials say well over 500 people have died since the start of the year, 30 times more than in the same period last year.

Over 280,000 people entered the EU illegally last year, many fleeing conflict in Syria and repression in Eritrea.

The Italian coast guard rescued 144 people from the capsized boat on Monday and launched an air and sea search operation in hopes of saving others.

Nine bodies have already been recovered, but no more survivors have been found since then.

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Migrants in Libyan jail

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville is at a detention centre for would-be migrants in Misrata, Libya - among them this 14-year-old from Eritrea (below). "Is this a jail? Are we refugees?" some of the migrants ask. They say they have been held there for seven months.

A 14-year-old boy

Clear skies spell death for migrants

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Last year, 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to Italy and as many as 3,500 died while making the journey, officials say.

The Italian government's maritime rescue operation was scaled back, amid concerns that it was encouraging migrant crossings, and a more limited EU border security operation took over.

However, the latest numbers show that the EU's policy of deterring people is not working, the BBC's James Reynolds in Sicily reports.

Shots fired

Meanwhile the EU's Frontex border agency said that people smugglers had fired shots into the air to warn away another coast guard vessel rescuing migrants.

The incident on Monday happened about 60 nautical miles off Libya after an Italian vessel and an Icelandic coast guard ship had rescued most of the 250 migrants on a tugboat.

Frontex says the incident shows that traffickers are running out of boats.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told the European Parliament: "The unprecedented influx of migrants at our borders, and in particular refugees, is unfortunately the new norm and we will need to adjust our responses accordingly."

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been without a stable government allowing trafficking networks to thrive.

On Friday, humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres announced it would operate a search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean between May and October.

Migration routes map - Europe/Africa/Middle East

Are you in the area? Are you affected by the issues in this story? You can share your experiences by emailing

Please leave a contact number if you are willing to speak with a BBC journalist.


19.21 | 1 komentar | Read More

GP services face 'retirement crisis'

Stethoscope

GP services are facing a crisis, with a third of doctors considering retirement in the next five years, a British Medical Association poll suggests.

The survey of more than 15,000 UK GPs also found over a quarter were considering working part-time.

And one in 10 said they were thinking about moving abroad.

BMA GP leader Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the findings showed some of the promises being made about doctors by politicians were "absurd".

Improving GP care has been one of the major themes of debate in the election, with the Conservatives promising seven-day access to services and Labour pledging a 48-hour waiting-time guarantee.

Policy guide: Health and care

This issue includes NHS funding, GP access and social care, particularly of older people.

The findings are in the second tranche of results from the BMA's poll of GPs, in which nearly a third of doctors in the UK took part.

Last week the BMA released figures suggesting excessive workloads were harming care. This batch of results focused on the effect those rising demands were having. It suggests:

  • 34% of GPs are considering retiring from general practice in the next five years
  • 28% of those working full-time are thinking about moving to part-time
  • 9% are considering moving abroad
  • 7% are considering quitting medicine altogether

They also cited various factors that had a negative impact on their commitment to being a GP, including:

  • excessive workload - 71%
  • un-resourced work being moved into general practice - 54%
  • not enough time with their patients - 43%
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Reality Check: Have GP services got worse?

Nick Triggle: Is there really a GP crisis?

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Dr Nagpaul said: "This poll lays bare the stark reality of the crisis facing the GP workforce.

"It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity.

"GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients.

"In this climate, it is absurd that in the recent leaders' debate, political parties were attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next Parliament.

"Since it takes five to eight years to train a GP, it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this timeframe."

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: "We know from the many calls to our helpline that patients are not able to access GP services at times when they need to.

"What patients want is a clear and firm commitment that GPs now and tomorrow will have the resources to meet their needs.

"Anything less is just not acceptable.

"We need a 21st Century primary care service with access 24/7."

But a spokesman for NHS England said measures were being put in place to recruit extra GPs through the recently developed workforce action plan.

He said: "NHS England has invested £10m to kick-start the initiatives in the plan, which include incentives to recruit newly trained doctors into general practice, schemes to retain GPs thinking of leaving the profession and a new induction and returner scheme to encourage more GPs to return from to work after a period of absence working abroad or from a career break."

There are currently 9,000 GPs in training, although 14,000 doctors - about four in 10 - are over the age of 50.

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Are you a GP considering retirement or working part-time? What is your reaction to the BMA poll findings? You can email

Please include a telephone number if you are willing to be contacted by a BBC journalist.


19.21 | 1 komentar | Read More

Missing student search area expanded

Karen Buckley missing
Miss Buckley's disappearance is said to be completely out of character

The search for an Irish student who went missing following a night out in Glasgow has been extended to sites across the north west of the city.

Karen Buckley, 24, from Cork, was seen leaving the Sanctuary nightclub with a man in the early hours of Sunday.

BBC Scotland understands he is 21-year-old Alexander Pacteau, who has already been interviewed by police but is not being treated as a suspect.

Miss Buckley's bag was found in Dawsholm Park on Tuesday.

Mr Pacteau said she had left the property at 04:00 on Sunday to make her way home.

Officers are continuing to search the park, which is a short distance from Mr Pacteau's flat, as well as other sites in the area.

Officers have said they are "gravely concerned" for the wellbeing of Miss Buckley, whose parents have flown to Scotland from their home in Ireland.

Her mother, Marian, told a news conference on Tuesday: "We just want Karen home safely, we are desperate. She is our only daughter, we love her dearly.

"If anybody has any information please come forward, we would dearly appreciate it."

map

Miss Buckley, whose disappearance is said to be completely out of character, was last seen on CCTV talking to a man who is understood to be Mr Pacteau outside the Sanctuary nightclub in Dumbarton Road.

The pair travelled in his car to his flat in Dorchester Avenue, in the Kelvinside area of the city. It is said that she left the flat at about 04:00 on Sunday and was planning to walk back to her flat in Hill Street, close to the city centre.

The two addresses are about four miles apart.

Police have stressed that the man is helping them with their inquiries, but is not a suspect at this stage.

Sanctuary Nightclub in Glasgow
The Sanctuary nightclub is located in the city's west end - an area popular among students
Police helicopter
The Police Scotland helicopter has been involved in the search.

A handbag which officers believe belongs to Miss Buckley was found in Dawsholm Park, near Dorchester Avenue, on Tuesday afternoon.

The entrance to the park remained cordoned off on Wednesday morning as dozens of officers continued searching the area.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "The search resumed at first light this morning with specialist search officers and air support in the area of Dawsholm Park and the north west of Glasgow."

The spokeswoman said there had been a good response from the public to appeals for help to trace Miss Buckley but has urged people to get in touch if they have any information relating to the investigation.

Miss Buckley moved to Glasgow in February and is a first year occupational therapy student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She was previously a nurse at the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Harlow, Essex.

She arrived at the Sanctuary nightclub with friends at about 23:45 on Saturday and at about 01:00 she told them she was going to the toilet. She failed to return and did not take her jacket.

Her friends have said Miss Buckley had had a few drinks, but was not drunk.

Police officer searching undergrowth
There was a heavy police presence in the park where the student's handbag had been found
Police search team
Dozens of officers are involved in the search for Miss Buckley

Speaking on Tuesday, Det Supt Jim Kerr, from Police Scotland's major investigations team, said: "We've traced the man she was with in Dorchester Avenue. He believes he was intimate with her at his flat consensually in the early hours of Sunday."

The police officer added: "From what we can see, she does not appear to be under duress, there's no signs of a struggle or reluctance on her part to leave the club.

"However, that does not mean that something untoward has happened to her at a later stage."

Miss Buckley is described as white and about 5ft to 5ft 2in tall. She has brown eyes and dark hair which had long black curly extensions in it.

When last seen, she was wearing a black jumpsuit with red high-heeled shoes and was carrying a black handbag.

Despite reports to the contrary, Ms Buckley has not been active on social media since her disappearance.

Dorchester Avenue
Ms Buckley spent several hours at Dorchester Avenue before leaving at 04:00 on Sunday
A police cordon surrounds the rear of the block of flats visited by missing Ms Buckley in the early hours of Sunday
A heavy police presence has been maintained in the area surrounding the block of flats

Police are also keen to find out more about a grey car that was seen on the roads between Milngavie and Drymen north of Glasgow between 11:00 and 15:00 on Monday.

Det Supt Kerr said: "The activity of this grey car on the Monday is something that we're a wee bit concerned about. This car has been seen at various locations on these roads and I want to know why."

He added: "We are gravely concerned that Karen has come to some harm, whether that is down to foul play, criminality or she has taken unwell or had an accident is obviously still to be established."

Her father John Buckley, 62, said the disappearance was "so out of character".

He said: "We are extremely concerned for her. We are desperate to get her back and safe with her family - she is our only daughter, we love her dearly and just want her to come home safe and sound."


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Clegg: It's Salmond, Farage or me

Nick Clegg has said no party will win an outright election victory and warned voters they face a choice between the Lib Dems, the SNP and UKIP over who holds the balance of power.

Launching his manifesto, the Lib Dem leader said he would seek to form a "coalition with conscience" that would not "lurch off to the extremes".

He pledged £2.5bn more for education after 2017 to boost opportunity.

The Conservatives and Labour have both insisted they can win on their own.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who published his party's own manifesto on Wednesday, has rejected suggestions he has made approaches to the Conservatives about a post-election deal, saying he would "only be speaking to the British people" between now and 7 May.

'Brain and heart'

He suggested a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU would be the main "red line" in any negotiations with another party, saying it would have to be a "full, free and fair" vote rather than a "stitch-up".

Key priorities

Lib Dems

Main pledges

  • Balance the budget fairly through a mixture of cuts and taxes on higher earners
  • Increase tax-free allowance to £12,500
  • Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 with an extra £2.5bn and qualified teachers in every class
  • Invest £8bn in the NHS. Equal care for mental & physical health
  • Five new laws to protect nature and fight climate change

Speaking in south London, Mr Clegg said no party would win enough seats to gain victory on 8 May and either the Conservatives or Labour would have to work with others if they wanted to take power.

He said the Lib Dems' "gutsy" decision to join the Conservatives in coalition in 2010 had been vindicated, saying they had turned round the economy and governed with "compassion and a sense of fairness".

Making the case for another coalition, Mr Clegg said a vote for his party would stop the Tories or Labour governing on their own, arguing the Lib Dems would "add a heart to a Conservative government and add a brain to a Labour one".

A "few hundred votes", he claimed, could make the difference between a "decent, tolerant and generous" government in the centre-ground and a "coalition of grievance" involving either the UKIP and SNP.

Nick Clegg speaking in south London
Mr Clegg said the manifesto was a blueprint for a "stronger economy and a fairer society"

Opinion polls suggest the SNP, whose former leader Alex Salmond is standing for Parliament, could make huge gains in next month's poll and Mr Clegg suggested it would be Mr Salmond, rather his predecessor at SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who could end up "calling the shots".

"Somebody is going to hold the balance of power on May 8," he said. "It is not going to be David Cameron or Ed Miliband. It could be Alex Salmond, it could be Nigel Farage or it could be me and the Liberal Democrats.

"Only the Lib Dems can make sure the next government keeps Britain on track. Every Lib Dem you elect makes Labour's reckless borrowing less likely, makes George Osborne's ideological cuts less likely and every Lib Dem you elect is a barrier between Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond and the door to 10 Downing Street."

Announcing five key priorities on education, health, tax and the environment, he described it as a "programme for government not opposition".

In other election news:

  • UKIP pledges to employ 6,000 former army veterans in the police, prison service and Border Agency and spend 2% of output on defence
  • Labour launches what it calls its women's manifesto, with a pledge to allow working grandparents to share unpaid parental leave
  • The SDLP, which had three MPs in the last Parliament, publishes its general election manifesto
  • Former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell says civil servants will be preparing for "all sorts of outcomes" to the election, telling the BBC that minority government can be "made to work"
  • The latest TNS opinion poll gave the Conservatives a two-point lead over Labour while a YouGov poll gave Labour a one-point lead over the Conservatives

Putting education at the heart of its plans, Mr Clegg said that once the deficit has been eliminated in 2017-18, funding for two to 19-year-olds would increase in line with economic growth.

This, he said, would ensure the amount of money per child was protected over the course of the Parliament, amounting to an extra £2.5bn.

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Analysis by Sean Coughlan, BBC education correspondent

Classroom

The Liberal Democrats are trying to stake out a claim to be the party that makes education a spending priority, by the promise of an extra £2.5bn.

Their education-friendly image had taken some hard knocks from the tuition fee U-turn and being in a coalition government that frequently clashed with the teachers' unions.

But they have put forward a spending plan which they hope will out-flank both the Conservatives and Labour.

Labour pledged to protect school budgets against inflation, while the Conservatives' offer was to protect per-pupil spending at a time of rising pupil numbers.

The Liberal Democrats' pitch is to combine both - promising to protect per-pupil spending in real terms , including for an extra 460,000 pupils.

But there is a tough warning from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that school costs are rising much faster than inflation and a looming school funding shortage will face whoever wins the election.

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Mr Clegg said the extra cash was the equivalent of 70,000 teachers and 10,000 learning support assistants and amounted to £2.5bn more than Labour and £5bn more than the Conservatives would spend.

The extra funding, the Lib Dems say, will help limit class sizes and increase the availability of one-to-one tuition.

The Conservatives have said they would protect the budget for 5-16 year-olds in cash terms, so that funding rises in line with pupil numbers but not in line with inflation or economic growth.

'Not modest'

Labour, on the other hand, has said it would ensure the budget for infants and pupils under the age of 19 increased in line with inflation but not in line with increases in pupil numbers or economic output.

The Lib Dem manifesto also includes pledges on balancing the books "fairly" by 2017-18, raising the threshold at which people start paying tax to £12,500 and "parity of esteem" between mental and physical health services in the NHS.

Schools minister David Laws, who helped write the document, said there was "nothing modest" about its commitments and they were underpinned by "sensible and cautious" assumptions about budgets, including a contingency fund in the event of lower-than-expected growth.

A Conservative spokesman highlighted the drop in per-pupil funding during the first phase of the Lib Dem education plan, when the budget would be linked to inflation.

"The Conservatives are the only party who are prepared to protect the money that schools get for each pupil," he added.

Labour said the Lib Dems had "broken their promises and backed the Tories all the way".

Unveiling its own plans on Wednesday, UKIP also called for a five-year ban on unskilled migrants coming in to the UK and £12bn for the NHS.

Subscribe to the BBC Election 2015 newsletter to get a round-up of the day's campaign news sent to your inbox every weekday afternoon.


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Farage pledges 'low tax revolution'

UKIP would make working people better off through a "low-tax revolution", Nigel Farage has said as he launched his party's election manifesto.

It would keep workers on the minimum wage out of tax, raise the 40p tax rate threshold to £55,000, introduce a new 30p tax band and scrap inheritance tax.

He said UKIP was the only party with a "credible plan" for immigration and a positive vision for the country.

The Conservatives have said there is a "£37bn black hole" in UKIP's proposals.

But Mr Farage said his was the only party with fully costed plans, which have been verified by independent economic think tank, The Centre for Economic and Business Research.

Key priorities

UKIP

Main pledges

  • Rapid referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union
  • Control immigration with points system, limit of 50,000 skilled workers a year and a five-year ban on unskilled immigration
  • Extra £3bn a year for the NHS in England
  • No tax on the minimum wage
  • Meet Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, and look to increase it "substantially"

The party's proposals also include an increase of up to £3bn extra a year in NHS funding, a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence and a five-year ban on unskilled immigration.

UKIP, which wants to quit the EU, has said it will hold an in/out referendum "as soon as possible" in the next Parliament.

Mr Farage said his was the only party which had the "self confidence and belief in the nation" that the UK should govern itself, make its own laws and negotiate its own international trade deals.

'Big tax giveaway'

Setting out the party's election offerings at a hotel in Thurrock, Essex, the UKIP leader said politics had become dominated by giant corporate business interests while ordinary people had been "left behind" with "nobody to speak for them".

But he added: "UKIP has a plan, we genuinely want to make working people better off. And we will do that by leading the charge and making the argument for a low tax revolution.

"We genuinely want to make work pay and for people to have incentives to do better. And we believe that will unleash a kind of economic dynamism that has not been seen in this country in a long time."

Mr Farage said he was proposing an £18bn "big tax giveaway", paid for by cutting £32bn a year from government spending.

This would including cutting foreign aid spending, leaving the EU, scrapping the HS2 rail link and changing the Barnett funding formula for the nations.

UKIP's policies also include:

  • Introducing a points-based immigration system
  • Funding 6,000 new jobs for armed forces veterans, in the police, the prison service and at the UK border
  • Cutting foreign aid by £9bn
  • Scrapping hospital parking charges
  • A new 30p tax band for those earning between £45,000 and £55,000 a year
  • Removing stamp duty on the first £250,000 for new homes built on brownfield sites
  • A cut in business rates for small businesses

On immigration, Mr Farage said the only way for the UK to control its borders was by leaving the European Union.

Dismissing the Conservatives' approach for a renegotiation of Britain's terms of membership of the 28-member bloc, Mr Farage said there was "no third way".

"We want our country back, and then and only then can we actually control our borders," he told the gathered media and party supporters.

Suzanne Evans
Suzanne Evans, who wrote the manifesto, said UKIP was "the only party with the money"

The party is proposing an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which the party leader said would be ethical, fair and in the interests of the UK.

Foreign criminals would not be allowed into the country and all migrants would need to have insurance to access the health system, Mr Farage said.

Migrants would not be allowed to claim benefits in the UK unless they had paid into the system for five years and obeyed the law, under UKIP's plans.

The resulting "big reduction in numbers" coming to the UK would relieve pressure on schools, hospitals and houses, said Mr Farage.

'Independently verified'

BBC UKIP campaign correspondent Alex Forsyth said the launch showed the party was trying to broaden its appeal and convince voters of its credibility, while maintaining its focus on the EU and immigration.

A Conservative spokesman said UKIP's numbers did not "add up", adding: "We all know that Nigel Farage doesn't have a credible plan for Britain - he just makes it up as he goes along."

Earlier, UKIP's campaign chief Suzanne Evans told BBC Radio 4's Today programme all of the figures had been independently verified by economic think tank, The Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The manifesto launch came as one of the party's senior figures, immigration and economic spokesman Steven Woolfe, admitted to disagreements Ms Evans over the party's immigration policies.

Mr Woolfe confirmed to BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast reports in the Telegraph he said Ms Evans "didn't seem to understand" the policies were true, but that he had made the comments "weeks ago" and he was now "absolutely onboard" with his colleague.

Despite a slight dip in some recent polls, UKIP has been polling ahead of the Liberal Democrats and is hoping to add to the two MPs it gained in by-elections following defections from the Conservatives.

* Subscribe to the BBC Election 2015 newsletter to get a round-up of the day's campaign news sent to your inbox every weekday afternoon.


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EU accuses Google of search 'abuse'

Google logo on screen
Google's rivals have accused it of unfairly prioritising its own services in its results

The European Union has filed a complaint against Google over its alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

The competition commissioner said she had issued a "statement of objections", stating that the firm's promotion of its own shopping links amounted to an abuse of its dominance in search.

Margrethe Vestager said Google now had 10 weeks to respond.

The firm said it "strongly disagreed" with the allegations and looked forward to making its case.

Ms Vestager also revealed that she had launched an investigation into whether the way Google bundled apps and services for its Android operating system was unfair.

And the commissioner said the EU would continue to monitor other activities by Google that its rivals had complained about.

Google Shopping
The EU has objected to the way Google promotes results from its own shopping service

It follows a five-year investigation into the company and marks the start of a formal legal process that could ultimately lead to billions of euros of fines.

Google accounts for more than a 90% of EU-based web searches.

'Preferential treatment'

The European Commission has investigated the antitrust allegations - made by Microsoft, Tripadvisor, Streetmap and others - since 2010.

Among their complaints was an objection to Google placing adverts from its Shopping service ahead of others' links in relevant searches.

Ms Vestager said the Commission's preliminary findings supported the claim that Google "systematically" gave prominence to its own ads, which amounted to an abuse of its dominant position in search.

"I'm concerned that Google has artificially boosted its presence in the comparison shopping market with the result that consumers may not necessarily see what's most relevant for them, or that competitors may not get the the commercial opportunity that their innovative services deserve," she told a press conference in Brussels.

Ms Vestager said that she was not seeking a wider redesign of Google's search results or asking it to change its algorithms.

But she added that the case could set a precedent that would determine how the EU handled other complaints about Google favouring its own mapping, hotels and flights services.

Google has rejected the idea its Shopping service distorts the market.

"While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways - and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark," wrote its search chief Amit Singhal on the firm's blog.

Google Shopping
Google pitches its shopping service as a "matchmaker" between products and customers

"It's clear that: (a) there's a ton of competition - including from Amazon and eBay, two of the biggest shopping sites in the world and (b) Google's shopping results have not the harmed the competition.

"Any economist would say that you typically do not see a ton of innovation, new entrants or investment in sectors where competition is stagnating - or dominated by one player. Yet that is exactly what's happening in our world."

Many of Google's rivals welcomed the EU's action.

"Google's abuse of dominance distorts European markets, harms consumers, and makes it impossible for Google's rivals to compete on a level playing field," said lobbying group Icomp.

"We see this statement of objection as a crucial first step towards ensuring that European consumers have access to vibrant and competitive online markets."

eBay
Google suggests that services including eBay ensure it does not distort the shopping search market

Android inquiry

The EU has also launched a separate investigation into Google's Android operating system, used by smartphones and tablets, which will focus on three topics:

  • claims that Google requires or incentivises manufacturers to pre-install its own search engine, apps and other services and exclude rival products
  • allegations that Google unfairly insists its services are bundled, meaning some cannot be pre-installed without including the others
  • complaints that the firm is hindering manufacturers from developing alternative versions of Android, which is open source. These are commonly known as "forks", with Amazon's Fire OS and Xiaomi's Mi being two examples.

"These issues are distinct from the Google comparison shopping case and the investigations will of course be different," Ms Vestager said.

Android phone
Google says the way it distributes its apps ensures that Android smartphones offer a "great" experience

In response, Google stressed that Android devices could be offered without its services.

"It's important to remember that [our partner agreements] are voluntary - you can use Android without Google - but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem," said lead engineer Hiroshi Lockheimer.

"Our app distribution agreements make sure that people get a great 'out of the box' experience with useful apps right there on the home screen. This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps."

Complex subject

Google could ultimately face huge fines and be ordered to reshape its business in Europe because of the shopping complaint.

Google Shopping
Some searches cause Google Shopping's ads to be offset to the side of the screen

In recent years, the Commission has imposed antitrust penalties on other tech giants, ordering Intel to pay €1.1bn (£793m; $1.2bn) in 2009, and Microsoft €516m in 2013.

However, Ms Vestager said she was "open" to Google's response, and would listen to its case before deciding how to proceed.

One independent expert said that the matter could take years to resolve.

"I can't see that this will be a fast process given the complexity of the subject matter, what's at stake and the likely level of the fine," said Paul Henty, a lawyer at Charles Russell Speechlys who has previously worked for the European Commission.

International inquiries

The EU's investigation is not the only one Google is facing.

Investigators at India's Competition Commission delivered a report last week after carrying out a three-year probe into claims of unfair business practices.

Their counterparts in Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan and Canada have also opened investigations.

However, the US Federal Trade Commission dropped its own probe at the start of 2013 after Google made several non-binding commitments.


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Greens urge: 'Join our revolution'

Written By doni icha on Selasa, 14 April 2015 | 19.21

Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas

The Green Party launched its General Election manifesto with a call for a "peaceful political revolution" to end austerity and tackle climate change.

It pledged to stop the "creeping privatisation of the NHS" and increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Leader Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas, the party's only ever MP, unveiled a plan to help the two million children growing up in cold homes.

They want an insulation programme for the worst-affected nine million homes.

Introducing the manifesto at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, east London, Ms Bennett said it represented a "genuine alternative" to "business as usual politics".

She said she wanted to "take back" the NHS and the railways from the private sector.

The 84-page manifesto, entitled "For the common good" sets out the Greens' main policy pledges, including:

  • Creating one million jobs that pay at least a living wage
  • 60% rate of income tax
  • A new wealth tax on the top 1%; a "Robin Hood tax" on the banks
  • Banning fracking; investment in renewable energy
  • Scrapping university tuition fees
  • Cutting rail fares by 10%
  • Abolishing the bedroom tax

The Greens are fielding a record number of candidates - 571 - on 7 May and claim a surge in membership numbers to 59,000 - more than UKIP and the Lib Dems.

Ms Lucas said a free nationwide insulation programme to tackle cold homes, specifically in areas blighted by fuel poverty, would help two million children.

She also called for extra £1.3bn on the NHS budget to deal with the associated costs of cold homes.

Key priorities

Green

Main pledges

  • End austerity and restore the public sector, creating jobs that pay at least a living wage
  • End privatisation of the National Health Service
  • Work with other countries to ensure global temperatures do not rise by more than 2C
  • £85bn programme of home insulation, renewable electricity generation & flood defences
  • Provide 500,000 social homes for rent by 2020 and control rent levels
  • Return the railways to public hands

"We believe if we invest in insulating people's homes, we can get their fuel bills down on a permanent basis," Ms Lucas told BBC Radio 4's Today programme

"It would also get our climate-change emissions down and could create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"And crucially, for every £1 invested in this programme, it's estimated that £1.27 comes back to the economy in terms of the benefit in jobs and reduction on the NHS bill."

Ms Lucas said the government had "a woeful record on energy insulation", with the installation of energy-efficient measures in UK homes falling by 80% over the last two years.

The Green Party has called for a "progressive alliance" with the SNP, if it has MPs at Westminster in the next Parliament.

Ms Lucas ruled out backing a Conservative government, but said Green MPs could support a minority Labour administration on "a case-by-case basis".

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The Green Party's manifesto is full of big promises: a pension of more than £300 a week for a couple, renewable energy taking over from fossil fuels, a million new public sector jobs.

But they are having difficulty defending their numbers robustly. They claim they'll raise a massive £30bn extra from clampdowns on tax avoidance; very very optimistic. And the man behind the manifestos numbers, Brian Heatley, told me they couldn't really be sure how much their new wealth tax would raise because it hasn't been tried before.

In one sense, refreshingly candid. In another way, extremely problematic for a party that wants to be taken seriously on a tax that they need to raise £20bn.

The Greens also say they would carry on spending more each year than the government gets from revenue. Does that mean deficits for ever? The party won't say.

In other news, Natalie Bennett has told Newsnight they don't want to ban the Grand National after all - more straightforward than working out government spending.

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"That would give us a real opportunity to push Labour on the policies we know the public wants and which are at the heart of our manifesto," she said.

"Whether that's scrapping nuclear weapons or reversing the privatisation in our NHS, whether that's returning local schools to local control or bringing rail back into public ownership."

'Scrap road building'

Recently, Ms Bennett said the party's policy of a Citizens' Income of £72 a week for every adult in Britain would feature in the manifesto, but that it would take longer than one parliament for it to be implemented.

The cut in public transport fares would be paid for by scrapping new road-building programmes, while the party is also expected to pledge free social care for the elderly.

At the weekend, Ms Bennett said the 60% top rate of tax would apply to people earning over £150,000 and that it would raise £2bn a year.

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Iraq 'retakes 25% of IS territory'

Iraqi government forces celebrate the recapture of Tikrit (1 April 2015)
Iraqi government forces regained control of the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month

Islamic State (IS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Iraq since the US-led coalition air campaign began in August, a Pentagon spokesman says.

Col Steve Warren said it was too early to say the tide was turning, but that air strikes and Iraqi ground forces had "unquestionably inflicted some damage".

IS took over large swathes of northern and western Iraq last June.

The announcement came ahead of talks between Iraq's prime minister and President Barack Obama in Washington.

Before leaving for the US, Haider al-Abadi made clear that he wanted the coalition to step up its air campaign against IS, which advanced across Iraq last June after routing the country's security forces.

Col Warren told a news conference in Washington on Monday that IS had lost approximately 25% to 30% of its territory in Iraq in the past eight months, which equated to 12,950 to 15,540 sq km (5,000 to 6,000 sq miles).

Map showing Islamic State areas of operation as of April 2015

Coalition and government forces had "unquestionably inflicted some damage on [IS] and have pushed [IS] back in a somewhat meaningful way", he said.

A Pentagon map showed the jihadist group had "lost large areas where it was once dominant" and the frontline had been pushed either west or south, depending on location, in the provinces of Irbil, Babil, Baghdad and Kirkuk, Col Warren added.

"Among other strategic infrastructure and sizeable towns where [IS] has lost territory are Mosul Dam, Zummar and the vicinity of Sinjar Mountain."

The corridor north of Tikrit had been "substantially retaken by friendly forces" and the city was expected to be cleared of militants "relatively soon", he said.

A French warplane lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Gulf (17 March 2015)
An international coalition has been bombing targets in Iraq since the middle of 2014
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks to reporters at Baghdad airport (13 April 2015)
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wants the coalition to step up its air campaign

The town of Baiji and the nearby oil refinery, Iraq's most important, is still contested, and will continue to be the focus of air strikes.

Mr Abadi also announced last week the launch of a new offensive to drive IS out of the country's biggest province, Anbar, west of Baghdad. However, IS responded by overrunning two districts on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

The Pentagon said Islamic State's area of influence in neighbouring Syria, where coalition air strikes began in September, remained largely unchanged, with its gains in Suweida, Damascus Countryside and Homs provinces offset by losses in the provinces of Aleppo and Hassakeh.


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US flight worker 'trapped in hold'

An Alaska Airlines plane declared an emergency and made a priority landing in Seattle after taking off with a worker trapped in the cargo hold.

The pilot of flight 448, bound for Los Angeles, was alerted by the sound of banging "from beneath the aircraft", an Alaska Airlines statement said.

Once back on the ground, the baggage handler emerged from the pressurised hold, saying he had fallen asleep.

He "appeared OK" but went to hospital as a precaution, the airline said.

Alaska Airlines later said the worker had passed a drugs test and been released from hospital.

The round-trip shown on Flight Radar 24

The Boeing 737 aircraft had taken off from Seattle with 170 passengers on board, and was airborne for 14 minutes.

According to Alaska Airlines, the worker's team leader had noticed that the man was missing before the plane took off.

The team leader had called into the cargo hold and rung the worker's mobile phone but did not get an answer.

"His co-workers believed he finished his shift and went home," the airline said.

The airline said the worker, employed by Menzies Aviation, started work at 05:00 local time and was due off at 14:30, but fell asleep in the cargo hold. The compartment was pressurised - so survivable at altitude - and was temperature-controlled.

One passenger, Marty Collins, told a local Seattle TV station that passengers had not heard the banging.

She said: "Nobody on the plane heard anything like that, nobody knew why we were turning around. They just said we were fine and we weren't in any danger."

Later, Ms Collins said passengers were told "there was someone in the cargo hold and he's been escorted off and taken away".

The flight later left for Los Angeles.


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