Friday, March 1, 2013

Pregnant teacher lets strangers choose her baby's name... for £3,000

Natasha Hill is letting strangers name her baby after selling naming rights online

PREGNANT Natasha Hill has sold the naming rights to her unborn baby - for more than £3,000.

The 27-year-old teacher is due to give birth in September.
She doesn't yet know if she's expecting a boy or a girl - but she's prepared to let a group of complete strangers decide what he or she will be called.
Single Natasha from Los Angeles has been handed $5,000 (£3,330) by a US website, which is letting its users vote from a shortlist of five boys names and five girls names.
The site,, raised some of the money by letting advertisers nominate names on the list.
The mum-to-be plans to use the windfall to pay off debts and put aside money for her child's future.
She said: “Here’s the chance for me to do something really positive for my unborn son or daughter.”
Website boss Lacey Moler insists the baby won't be lumbered with an embarrassing name, insisting: “Nothing crazy or a brand name or anything."
Voting will take place at the end of this month - and Lacey has already been bombared with suggestions for the shortlist.
But not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
Christian parenting group Rosa Cee has attacked the idea, claiming "certain elements of our family and children must be off limits to advertisers for capitalistic opportunity."
Spokesperson Kasey Candela added: “A baby’s name isn’t like a baseball stadium, up to the highest bidder. Certain elements of our family and children must be off limits to advertisers for capitalistic opportunity.”

Heir Jordan? Michael Jordan's alleged ex-lover suing over love-child claim

Michael Jordan is facing law suit over claim he has a love child called Taj

US BASKETBALL legend Michael Jordan is being sued by an alleged ex-lover who claims he fathered her 16-year-old son.

Pamela Smith also wants a paternity test to prove Grant Pierce Jay Jordan Reynolds – known as Taj – is Jordan’s son, according US website TMZ.
She claims became pregnant in 1995 after having sex with Jordan who was then married to Juanita Vanoy.
Smith wants to retain full custody but wants child support money and for Jordan to pay her son’s medical expenses.
She also wants the judge to make Jordan the son’s legal surname.
Taj Claims Michael Jordan is his dad
Taj ... claims Jordan is his dad
The paternity suit does not describe any alleged relationship between Smith and Jordan.
Taj posted a video on YouTube in December claiming Michael Jordan is his dad.
In the video he says: “'I have some exclusive, exclusive information I feel like everybody should know. If you've been hearing any rumours on Twitter, Instagram, MediaTakeout, any of's true.”
He also says: “I'm his son. I've met him. I want him to be more in my life.”
The ex-basketball ace is due to marry beauty Yvette Prieto in April and has not commented.

British men held in connection with ‘Cannibal Cop’ probe

Gilberto Valle

TWO Brits have been held in connection with a plot to rape and EAT women - after police were tipped off by US authorities investigating a so-called "Cannibal Cop".

A male nurse, understood to be Dale Bolinger, 57, and a second British man, 30, were arrested in Canterbury last week.
The arrests come after a US court heard how a Brit acted as a mentor to accused New York police officer Gilberto Valle and boasted how he had “eaten two women”.
Kent police said two men were held on suspicion of conspiracy offences, grooming and possession of child abuse images.
Dale Bolinger
Arrested ... Dale Bolinger

Valle, 28, is accused of planning to kill and eat his female friends as well as strangers he allegedly traced using the police computer.
A court in Manhattan has heard he swapped tips on how to cook human meat in online chats with fetishists.
The man, who used the online nicknames Moody Blues and Christopher Collins, was one of those arrested in Canterbury, according to a US report.
A shocked jury has heard graphic conversations between the two in which Moody Blues advised Valle to slow roast his victims, adding that "girl fat (is) great for roasting potatoes and Yorkshire pudding".
In another messsage read to the court, Moody Blues allegedly told Valle he wanted him to dine on the liver of one of his "targets" and have it "lightly cooked to keep it sweet and tender".
Valle is said to have responded: "I'm dying to taste some girl meat."
New York police officer Gilberto Valle
Court sketch ... Gilberto Valle
He was caught when his wife Kathleen Mangan-Valle, 27, read the chats on his laptop, including plans to put one friend in a suitcase, wheel her out of her building and murder her.
Valle denies plotting a real kidnap, claiming his online conversations were only fantasy.
A Kent Police spokesman last night confirmed officers have been investigating the alleged plot jointly with US federal agents.
The spokesman said: "We can confirm that two men, aged 57 and 30, from the Canterbury area were arrested on February 21 for conspiracy offences, grooming and possession of child abuse images.
"The two men are currently on police bail whilst enquiries continue.
"Kent Police has been in contact with US law enforcement agencies in relation to this investigation."

Titanic II … and III and IV? Meet the Australian millionaire planning his fleet

Clive Palmer's ambitions for a replica Titanic cruise have been met with a mixture of wonder and mockery. The brash mining mogul explains why a whole fleet can bring the world together

Clive Palmer Titanic

To some people the idea of building a replica of the Titanic and launching it on the high seas amid a blaze of publicity is the ultimate act of hubris – sticking two fingers up at fate and inviting a future disaster.
But Clive Palmer, the brash Australian billionaire ploughing millions of dollars of his own fortune into the Titanic II project, does not even think the plan should stop there.
In his mind the future could see a fleet of Titanics afloat, each replicating the experience of the doomed 1912 original which sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic but launched a strange afterlife as the most famous shipwreck in history.
"I hope that in a hundred years' time people will look back and say: "Well, we are building Titanic IV and Titanic V in memory of the guys that built Titanic II." We hope that tradition can survive," he told the Guardian in an interview in New York after unveiling the blueprints for Titanic II at a packed press conference held in the bowels of an aircraft carrier-turned-museum.
Palmer's ambitions for the Titanic have created a stir across the world as he has steadily revealed more and more of his plan. Titanic II will be built in a Chinese shipyard – a sign of how far the world has changed since Belfast's docks turned out the original – and then set sail on its maiden voyage some time in the second half of 2016.
Building the ship was an easy decision, Palmer said. The Australian's vast mining interests that have made him one of the world's richest men already means he is heavily invested in the shipping industry. "The idea came from our relationship with the Chinese shipyards. They are building four of our ships at the moment and they wanted to build passenger ships. So I said: 'Why don't we build the Titanic? The world is waiting to see Titanic II. Let's go'," he explained.
The new vessel will look almost exactly like the first, doomed ship. Its silhouette, complete with four graceful backwards-leaning funnels, is virtually the same and its dimensions match the original. Inside much of the original ship – from the Turkish baths to a grand staircase – has been replicated, even while other new features have been added. Titanic II will boast a casino, a modern engine and highly advanced satellite navigation – just like any other modern cruise ship. Of course, it will also – unlike the original – have a large enough fleet of lifeboats to more than cover its projected 900 crew and 2,435 passengers.
A computer image of the exterior of Titanic 2
Not surprisingly Palmer's plans were greeted with a mixture of wonder and mockery this week. But the portly 58-year-old Australian shrugged off some of the inevitable carping about the idea of recreating an "unsinkable" ship best known for a catastrophe that cost 1,502 people their lives. Almost every sentence he utters is a mix of broad humour and vast confidence.
"There are six and a half billion people in the world today and if you are worried about people criticising you, then you won't get out of bed of a morning, right? So I only worry about people that are very close to me. I realise that if we do anything in the world there are going to be knockers," he said.
But Palmer believes he knows what will best answer his critics. He gestures out of a window at the Hudson River that is visible behind him. "Those knockers will sit in Manhattan in a bar with their salty pretzel and a beer when Titanic II sails into here with an armada of ships, with the media in a frenzy and helicopters buzzing and the world knowing that Titanic II has completed the journey that was started in 1912," he said.
Palmer has every intention of being on board when that happens and there can be little doubt about his genuine passion for the Titanic. But it is one of many. He maintains a fleet of more than 100 vintage cars, owns five private jets and has an extensive dinosaur fossil collection. Prior to the Titanic he explored the idea of building a Zeppelin airship. His business life saw him create one fortune from property that saw him retire in his 40s only to get bored with travelling the world. So he returned to business, invested in mining and built a global empire.
In Australia he is a controversial figure, accused by some of being a self-interested plutocrat who dabbles in politics and yet others see him as a local boy made good on the world stage.
But why rebuild the Titanic? Palmer explains that his love for the ship comes from an appreciation of the Edwardian age with its manners and old fashioned attitudes. "It was how men treated women, the code of chivalry and old English school attitude," he said. "That is certainly gone to a certain extent today. Too many people spend all their time on the internet tweeting all day. As John Lennon said: 'Life is something that happens to you while you are doing something else.' Titanic II is a chance to stop, ponder and take a look at yourself," he added.
The grand staircase in the Titanic 2
Those are nice words, though it is not exactly clear how Titanic II is going to do that. Palmer's current plans seem aimed at creating an Edwardian theme park on the waves where passengers will have the option of wearing period dress. In an odd move, Palmer aims to replicate the class structure of the Titanic – right down to the steerage class inhabited by poor immigrants on their way to a new life in America.
But then you realise that Palmer – who is the son of Australian silent movie star George Palmer – appears to be in love with James Cameron's movie Titanic as much as the historical ship. Instead of talking about the Titanic disaster, with its class-ridden horrors as the rich saved themselves and the poor drowned, Palmer speaks of Titanic II as a symbol of love and togetherness as if Cameron's doomed movie lovers Rose and Jack were real people.
"Titanic II is an opportunity for people all over the glove to come together with an idea. That idea of course is one of love and understanding. It emphasises the things that we have got in common, rather than our differences. A family, you know, someone to fall in love with in our lives as we travel together through time," he said.
But even if Palmer is indeed obsessed with the cinematic Titanic rather than the historical facts behind it, that does not mean he has not stumbled upon a hit idea. Already more than 40,000 people have applied for Titanic II's maiden voyage, including some offering up to a million dollars for a first class cabin. Just like Cameron, Palmer is finding that with the Titanic and Titanic II it is image that people are after. And in that image there might just be a massive business opportunity.
After all, a ship by any other name would just be another cruise liner. "My interest comes from your interest," Palmer said candidly. "Every person around the world is interested in the Titanic. It is a fascination."

Syria crisis: European countries expected to start arming rebels

Syrian opposition representative in UK says 'breakthrough' is expected after relaxation of EU rules

William Hague in Rome

Some European countries are expected to break with Washington and start supplying the Syrian rebels with weapons in the next few months, the representative of the Syrian opposition in Britain has told the Guardian.
The National Coalition's London representative, Walid Saffour, predicted that by the next meeting of the western and Arab Friends of Syria group in Turkey, due in late spring or early summer, "there will be a breakthrough that will end the restrictions of the European countries".
"This would be for the ammunition we require, the quality weapons we need to deter the Syrian regime from using aeroplanes and Scud missiles to bomb villages and bakeries," Saffour said. "We on the ground are advancing steadily but we are suffering from a lack of ammunition. We expect that to change at the next Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul."
Another opposition figure involved in supplying the rebels said there had been a noticeable relaxation in recent days of the strict restrictions the US and Turkey had put on arms flows over the Turkish border. He claimed a Syrian army helicopter and a Mig warplane had been shot down in the past two days, for the first time by imported missiles.
"These were not weapons that had been captured from Syrian army bases as before. These were released from the Turkish warehouses. These are weapons the opposition had purchased previously but had not been allowed to take across the border," the opposition source said.
"Before, 23mm was the maximum calibre for anti-aircraft guns permitted and we were allowed to bring in RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] but not armour-piercing shells. But there is a major shift on the ground now. The policy is changing.
"I think the shift in American attitudes goes far beyond the official reports. I think that Washington knows it can no longer allow to let the problem fester."
The EU formally changed its arms embargo on Syria on Thursday to allow the supply of armoured vehicles, non-lethal military equipment and technical aid to the opposition. The move came as the US secretary of state, John Kerry, made his first trip to a Muslim nation since taking office, visiting Ankara, where he met Turkish leaders to discuss Syria.
While Saffour did not name the countries he expected to supply arms, the British government, which took the lead in pushing for the relaxation of the sanctions, is expected to act swiftly in reaction to the new EU rules. Foreign secretary, William Hague, is due to make a statement to parliament next week detailing the new equipment and training the UK will give the rebels. The aid is expected to include civilian vehicles – reinforced to provide protection against shelling – of a kind the British government is already supplying to UN aid workers operating in Syria.
On British insistence, the EU embargo will come up for review in June and the UK is expected to push for a further relaxation in what can be provided to the opposition if there is no let-up in the two-year-old conflict, in which more than 70,000 people are estimated to have died.
Speaking at the Friends of Syria meeting in Rome on Thursday, Hague stressed military aid was possible in the future. "That will be an important decision, of course, and has its own risks, and that is why we haven't done that so far. But I don't rule that out," he said.
A British official said: "We are going to keep on raising the pressure on the Assad regime. The Friends of Syria meeting in Rome was not the end of a process. It is the beginning of a process."
Saffour, the National Coalition's representative, said: "If the EU embargo doesn't change, then some of the EU countries will change their policy – if not openly, then quietly." He said US officials had also told the coalition that the White House policy of providing non-lethal aid only would come under review in the next few months, as new members of Barack Obama's administration, such as Kerry and the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, enter the internal debate.
There have been reports over the past few weeks that the flow of arms to rebel fighters has increased markedly, including some anti-tank weapons made in the former Yugoslavia. The Croatian government has denied reports that its arms industry supplied some of the weapons.
Ivica Nekic, the managing director of the Croatian arms export agency, said: "We would be aware of any sale from Croatia, and no Croatian weapons have been sold to anyone in Syria."
Asked about reports that Croatian arms were supplied through Saudi Arabia, Nekic said Croatia had only sold the Saudi military helmets and was in the process of negotiating a sale of pistols. Asked about other customers in the Middle East, Nekic said: "We sell to more than 50 countries around the world. I can't speculate on every country, and every sale we make. It would not be correct."
Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Programme's regional emergency co-ordinator for Syria and neighbouring countries, said the British donation of armoured cars had already saved the lives of WFP staff delivering food aid on both sides of the lines.
"They turned out to be a life-saving tool. Our weapons were attacked four times in the past several months, by mortar. And the thing is nobody was injured."
The WFP currently supplies food to 1.5 million people in Syria in all 14 of the country's governorates, and in many parts of the country there are pockets with unknown populations which are beyond the agency's reach because of fighting. Hadi said the WFP hoped to increase the number of recipients to 2 million this month and 2.5 million next month, but was facing a critical shortage of funding.
"If we don't have funds in May for Syria, there will be serious problems. There will be breaks in the pipeline. Food needs a lead time to bring it in, with shipping and logistics, so we need the funds very, very soon."

"It cannot be justified”: John Prescott admits to regrets over Iraq war ten years on

Tony Blair insisted just a few days ago Britain was right to take part in the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein

Admission: Lord Prescott

Labour legend John Prescott has said he was wrong to support war in Iraq, admitting it “cannot be justified”.
Tony Blair insisted just a few days ago Britain was right to take part in the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
And Lord Prescott helped make the case for war as Mr Blair’s deputy PM at the time.
But Lord Prescott has changed his mind and said in an interview: “I go through my thoughts trying to justify it, but that’s... it cannot be justified as an intervention.”
Lord Prescott was speaking on BBC1’s This Week politics programme ahead of the 10th anniversary of the conflict on March 19.
He revealed US president George Bush persuaded him to support it by promising a peace plan for Israel and Palestine.
However, the Palestine plan “fell apart as it often does in American politics because the influence domestically is too great”, the peer said.
He added: “Tony Blair obviously said to himself, ‘I’ve promised to do this and I’m going to do it’.”
Mr Blair said earlier this week that he had given up trying to justify the invasion of Iraq, which he admitted “remains extremely divisive and very difficult.”
But he insisted that the situation would have been much worse if the dictator had been allowed to stay, describing him as 20 times worse than Bashar Assad of Syria.
“The answer is not to say to people: I’m afraid we should have left Saddam in charge because otherwise these sectarians will come in and try and destabilise the country.
“The answer is you get rid of the oppressive dictatorship and then you have a long hard struggle to push these sectarian elements out too.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague has written to current Cabinet members urging them not to discuss the justification for the war, reinforcing agreed Government policy not to prejudice the outcome of the Chilcot inquiry into the war due later this year.

Professor who scratched 'polite' graffiti on cars while in his underpants ordered to pay £28,000 compensation

He had mixed alcohol with medication when he scratched ‘polite’ graffiti on 27 cars around his plush neighbourhood

"Very remorseful and apologetic": Stephen Graham

A university professor must pay £28,000 compensation for scratching bizarre graffiti on cars while he was dressed in his underpants and a dress jacket.
City and society expert Stephen Graham had mixed alcohol with medication when he attacked 27 cars.
Judge Guy Whitburn at Newcastle Crown Court accepted his behaviour was totally out of character but said the compensation - the 48-year-old professor and his wife’s life savings - must be paid in full.
The judge suspended a nine month jail sentence for a year.
Graham scratched ‘polite’ graffiti into cars around his plush neighbourhood in Jesmond, Newcastle.
Prosecutor Stuart Michie told the court: “They all had similar words such as arbitrary, wrong and silly scratched onto them.
“The defendant said he had a vague memory of walking down the street in a dream-like state and damaging one or two cars by scratching words.
“He said he took a screwdriver from the kitchen. He said he had a problem with 4x4 vehicles, he thinks they are too large for a town.”
The court heard a total of 10 of the cars damaged were 4x4s, but the first vehicle targeted was a small Audi.
Mr Michie said Graham was “very remorseful and apologetic” during police interview and admitted he had downed three quarters of a bottle of gin as well as antibiotic and anti-depressant medication.
Judge Guy Whiturn QC said: “He was not wearing trousers, only underpants. He was bare chested under his dress jacket.”
Graham pleaded guilty to four charges of damaging property at an earlier hearing.
The four charges related to a Volvo, an Audi, a Mercedes and a Mitsubishi. 
Today he asked for 23 similar offences to be taken into consideration.
The judge hoped the professor would not lose his job, but said he had no influence on what happened.
A Newcastle University spokesman said: "Following today's court appearance of Professor Stephen Graham, we will be considering the matter through normal university procedures.
"We are unable to comment further on an individual employee."