Jury returns guilty verdict in Stephen Lawrence murder trial

Gary Dobson (36) and David Norris (35) have been found guilty by a jury at the old bailey today for the murder of  Black teen Stephen Lawrence at a bus stop in Eltham, south London in April 1993.

The trial had been on going since November.

The jury took two and a half days to reach their verdict.

The men were convicted on various pieces of forensic evidence.

Scientists say a bloodstain found of Mr. Dobson’s jacket could only have come from Mr. Lawrence.

This bloodstain, along with hairs and other fibers, were only discovered four years ago in a forensic cold-case review by The Metropolitan Police, who had unintentionally held the evidence since the case opened eighteen years ago.

The case had a disastrous start when it was opened eighteen years ago, with the police taking two weeks to make any arrests.

The issues at the beginning of the case in the nineties seen the police service branded as ‘institutionally racist’.

Dobson and Norris argued in their defence that the evidence from the case had been contaminated over the years.

Detectives then spent months examining the way evidence was handled since its collection, telling the jury there was no possibility of contamination.

As he was led away Gary Dobson told the jury they had convicted ‘an innocent man’

The Lawrence family wept as the verdict was given.

The two men will be sentenced tomorrow.


Man questioned after woman burned alive in elevator.

A woman was burned alive in the elevator of her apartment block on Saturday afternoon.

Doris Gillespie, 64, was ambushed in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment, doused with an accelerant and set on fire with a molotov cocktail.

A man is being questioned in connection with her death. Police said he implicated himself by walking into a police station smelling of petrol. The man – who has not been charged – said he started a fire, a New York police spokesperson said.

The attack happened shortly after 4pm, lasted about a minute and was recorded by two video cameras, including one inside the small lift.

The video showed Gillespie, who had grocery bags in her arms, turning about 180 degrees and crouching in an attempt to protect herself, as the man sprayed her directly in the face.

Continuing to spray her “sort of methodically” over her head and parts of her body, the video shows her turning and retreating to the back of the lift where the suspect then pulled out a barbecue-style lighter and used it to ignite a rag in a bottle, before setting her alight.

Police would not comment on the motive for the killing, but said the suspect knew the victim.

UK set to miss sea drink deadline

With less than three weeks to go, the UK government is still unsure how to enforce a new blood alcohol limit for seafarers.

For the first time in history, an international binding alcohol limit for professional seafarers will be implemented on 1 January 2012. However, the UK is still unsure how to enforce the new law, which is part of an agreement signed last year called the Manila Amendments.

This comes after a number of drink related collision occurred, the most recent one being a tanker grounding in New Zealand.

“The government is currently considering how best to implement this amendment for the UK”, says Michael Read-Leah, a spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Different national limits

Different national alcohol limits are currently making it difficult to keep track of seafarers who are crossing international sea borders. The UK blood alcohol limit of 0.08 per cent for mariners was introduced in 2003, while the German limit for example is only 0.05 per cent.

The amendments were brought forward after a number of alcohol related collisions occurred in international waters after the national alcohol limits failed to be enforced.

The most current incident that sparked international outrage was the New Zealand grounding that caused New Zealand’s biggest maritime disaster in history. The captain has been arrested and is under suspicion to have caused the accident under alcohol influence.

In 2008, the Ukrainian captain Volodymyr Gonchar, 53, sailed a tanker laden with 4,000 tonnes of explosive chemicals and diesel up the Thames to London while unable to communicate with the port staff. He was three times over the legal alcohol limit. He was jailed for two months.

Prevention is neglected

The accidents highlight that national enforcement tactics are primarily focusing on the prosecution of trespassers, with police and organisations only being called to the scene if a professional mariner is suspected to be over the prescribed alcohol limit to conduct a breathalyser test and, if appropriate, arrest the mariner. Prevention of accidents is not addressed sufficiently.

Complicated bureaucratic structures are a hindrance to enforcing effective prevention methods. Some waters can be subject to local byelaws, which are enforced by harbour authorities and local authorities. This means that a range of organisations – the MCA, harbour authorities, local authorities and the police could all be involved if a crime is suspected.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) revised the standards of training and watch keeping to improve and maintain global safety for professional mariners last year in Manila, the Philippines. The Manila Amendments were published shortly after.

“Countries should take up measures promptly

Ashok Mahapatra, a spokesperson from the IMO said: “It is up to individual countries to implement these amendments based on their national requirements.”

The amendments state that to achieve full compliance by 2017, countries should promptly take up measures to implement the new codes and conventions in their national training, certification and administration system.

Conjoined twins can hear each others thoughts and see through each others eyes.

Conjoined twins Krista and Tatiana have seperate bodies, but share the same brain. They have stunned medical experts with the revelation that they can hear each others thoughts, and see through each others eyes.

The twins have a shared thalamus, which is the part of the brain that sends physical sensations and functions to the cerebral cortex.

Mother Felicia Simms first reached this conclusion when she was watching the girls playing. She said: “When they are playing, one of the girls will reach over and grab something from her sister’s side and know exactly where it is without possibly being able to see it.”

She goes on to explain how the girls seem to experience each others emotions. “If one of the girls is hurt, the other can feel it and if you discipline one the other will also cry.”

The girls, who live in Canada have been receiving constant medical care since birth. Doug Cochraine who has been responsible has confirmed that they can see through each others eyes.

He said: “The twins are sharing signals from the other twin’s visual field. One twin may see what the other twin does, as the brain of one of the girls receives electronic impulses from the retina of the opposite twin.”

Conjoined twins are very rare. Only eight cases have ever been documented, and only three of those have survived.

– Alya Mooro

London 2012 Olympics budget doubled to £80bn

David Cameron has agreed to double the existing £40bn budget for the ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics to £81bn using taxpayers’ money.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Cameron felt that more funding was required to boost the country’s image to the world at the iconic and historical sporting event.

The paper added that the Prime Minister was further inclined to double the budget after looking over film director Danny Boyle’s plans for the opening and closing ceremonies. Cameron felt that the increased funding will enable more space for artistic freedom and creativity. The decision to double the budget was also influenced by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and sports minister Hugh Robertson.

Also, the BBC reported that the number of required security staff for the event has increased requiring £553m of funding instead of the original £271m allocated.

However, the Olympic organisers have not made it clear exactly where the additional money will be spent. Jeremy Hunt commented that it will go towards “technical areas” and offers the opportunity to make the most of a “once-in-a-generation” chance to promote Britain to the world.

Getting priorities straight

The news comes at a time when Britain’s economy is on tender hooks following the eurozone debt crisis. Also, only last week,  millions of public sector workers went on strike as a protest against an increase in pensions criticized for being used to pay off the government’s debt.

A heated debate on BBC’s Question Time tonight raised the issues of whether the country has its priorities in the correct order. The Chief Executive of Next, Simon Wolfson, said that refusing to spend more on the Olympics would be “penny pinching” and the extra funding is justified considering the world will be watching Britain.

Wolfson’s comments sparked disagreement amongst the other members of the panel and the audience, with one teacher saying that the extra £41bn would create millions of jobs for teachers at a time when they are needed.

Judge and author Constance Briscoe, who was a panelist, questioned how the government could not have realised that £40bn would not be enough to organise “first-rate” Olympic ceremonies.

Conservative MP Claire Perry said that considering the current economic climate, the organisers should have worked with the budget that they already had and better deals should have been negotiated with suppliers.

An audience member said the money was wasted on a “glorified party”.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told the BBC that the ceremonies will “Not just [consist of] more fireworks.”

Easyjet test runs volcanic ash cloud detector device over Mount Etna

Budget airline Easyjet could have its aircraft fitted with a ground-breaking device capable of avoiding ash cloud particles from as early as next year, following a test flight over a volcano in Sicily.

The company says the product is called AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector), and was created by Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU).

AVOID uses infrared radiation to detect the components of volcanic ash clouds from a distance of at least 100km. Cameras allow the pilots to see the ash clouds in time to maneuver around them.

The Guardian reports that EasyJet and Airbus will collaborate on further tests for AVOID next year, and pending regulatory approval, Easyjet will start installing AVOID devices on its own planes from next summer.

‘Powerful incentive’

Easyjet asked researchers to come up with a solution to help airlines in 2010, after ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland grounded flights across Europe for about a week.

The European Union estimated the cost of these disruptions at £2.2billion in total. Easyjet says it lost £50million.

Ian Davies, easyJet’s head of engineering has said his company will continue to push for a fastrack approval of AVOID:

“A £50m loss is a powerful incentive to go and do something about it and that’s what we are doing.”

– Ruona Agbroko


Breaking News: News of the World accused of acquiring celebrity’s medical records

News of the World is being investigated by the Metropolitan police for illegally obtaining the medical records of a renowned celebrity, reports the BBC.

The celebrity reported the incident to the police and the same department that is dealing with the expired paper’s phone hacking claims is looking into this new accusation. A BBC Radio 4 programme in February also provoked the investigation.

Three tabloid journalists confessed to the BBC that medical records of well-known celebrities were obtained for the papers they worked for.

However, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the BBC that they have not confirmed whether the records were used to commit any criminal offences.

The news comes after the Leveson Inquiry began last month, which also heard Hugh Grant’s claim that his medical records were published by a number of tabloid newspapers.

The investigation continues.

Monica Sarkar

Media and the London Riots

Young people from areas of London directly effected by the London Riots will meet together with Media Practitionors in a one day conference.

Looking back at the horrors witnessed by the whole world as Britain was amassed by rioters, many claimed the cause was young people who lacked opportunity others suggested pure thuggery. Saturday 26th November 10 – 3pm will be a a unique time for Media Professionals to explore the answers and more with young people.

Academic and Community activist Professor Gus John claimed “At times like these one gets a real sense of two things; one is how encapsulated these journalist especially broadcast are within their own narrow little and incestrual bubbles without any grasp of social realities in the polity”.

Organiser and Editor of The-Latest.Com Marc Wadsworth claimed, “This conference is about people marginalised and ignored being heard by the big media”.

Dr Mariann Hardey who will lead one of the workshops said, “This conference is the first constructive dialogue to understand the social in social media”.

Supporters of the event include Durahm University, Godlsmith’s, Brunel, City University and Citizen Journalists to name only a few.

26th November 2011 Saturday 10am – 3pm London College of Communication, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 65B Advanced tickets £8 £4 concessions 

Giant pandas arrive in Edinburgh

Two Giant pandas, the only of their kind in the U.K,arrived at Edinburgh airport Sunday morning en route to their new home at Edinburgh zoo.

The panda’s Tian Tian and Yang Guang, arrived in Edinburgh on a specially chartered FedEx Boeing 777 flight from Bejing.

The panda’s were accompanied on their journey by a vet as well as workers from the zoo tasked with introducing the bears into their new habitat.

Greeting the pandas at the airport were members of the Scottish Parliament including Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The panda’s arrive into temperatures in Edinburgh of 3 Degrees C , chillier than the 10 Degrees C that they were accustomed to in their Chinese habitat

The pandas are on loan to Edinburgh zoo from the Chinese government for ten years.

Their arrival is something that has created quite the expense. The pandas will eat 18.000 tons of Bamboo between them each year that will be imported from Holland.

The pandas are reported to have cost the zoo £600,00 per year.

It is hoped the panda’s arrival in Edinburgh will boost Scotland’s economy.

Their new £250.000 area at the zoo includes two separate enclosures.

The pandas will only be introduced to each other when Tian Tian, the female panda, goes into season.

Animal Welfare

Animal welfare groups have criticized the zoo for taking the pandas saying the move was a commercial one, and not one concerned with nurturing the pandas.

They argue that the movement of the animals in such a way is not a credible effort to save their species.

It is hoped the Pandas, the first of their kind to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually breed.

The pandas have two weeks to settle into their new surroundings before going on display to paying visitors.

– Greg Flucker

Government to ‘get tough’ on excessive pay for executives

Nick Clegg announced plans to “get tough” on excessive and unreasonable pay rises for top bosses and may legislate if necessary.

The measures are set to take place in January and steps include opening the membership of remuneration committees, who set wages, to workers. Labour has asked for workers to have a seat on such committees.

Recent figures show that the salary of executives from UKs top companies increased by 50% last year.

Incomes Data Services, the pay research firm, said the average pay for a FTSE 100 company director rose to just under £2.7m.

Although Clegg supports rewarding top performing executives, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that such figures are a “slap in the face” for lower-income workers who have seen their wages frozen.

‘Heavy lifting’

He added that it wasn’t fair on the public sector to be doing “all the heavy lifting” for the government’s austerity programme.

He said the country should not become “divided” in these tough times and the government need to “redouble its efforts” to show its deficit cutting plan was as “fair as possible”.

He also suggested he would be in favour of pensioners giving up their current entitlements to free TV licences and bus passes in future – something that the government rejected in the past.

One of the ideas being considered in the new measures is for companies to declare their criterion for pay rewards.

Clegg’s announcement comes after The Daily Telegraph reported that the Lloyds Banking Group is planning to ‘claw back’ half of the bonuses paid to its executives, including the £1.45m bonus paid to its former chief executive Eric Daniels.

In 2010, Lloyds executive directors were given just over £5m in performance-related bonuses.

Clegg emphasized that the government should not be setting rates of pay but that greater transparency was needed. He deplored the idea of executives “getting paid bucket loads of cash in difficult times for failure.”

– Monica Sarkar