Prince Harry in snap encounter with Australian crocodile


Britain's Prince Harry had a close encounter with a ferocious crocodile during his recent trip in Australia, with officials revealing Saturday he helped capture a 3.1 metre predator.

Harry spent a month Down Under with the Australian Army, an experience which involved learning bush survival skills, flying helicopters and working with elite SAS commandos.

The 30-year-old British prince also helped to snare a crocodile from a trap, pulling in the animal from Darwin Harbour and straddling it after its jaws had been taped closed.

"Prince Harry went out on the croc boat and helped our rangers remove a 3.1 metre (10 feet) saltwater crocodile from a trap in Darwin Harbour," Northern Territory Minister for Parks and Wildlife Bess Price said.

"This top secret mission is sure to leave a unique, lasting impression of the Territory with Prince Harry," she added in a statement.

Prince Harry was welcomed to Australia by hundreds of well-wishers in Canberra on April 6 -- including one who asked to marry him -- but his day-to-day activities with the Army were kept under wraps.

Ranger Erin Britton said Harry, who toured Afghanistan twice during a decade in the British Army, was not scared to get close to the crocodile, which was later taken to a local farm.

"He'd make a great croc catcher," she said. "He responded to directions when catching the croc, helped pull it into the boat and did a great job."

Britton said she hadn't been sure what to expect of the prince "because you don't meet royalty every day," but had found him to be a "sweetie".


"I was a little nervous at first when I was getting the snout rope on the croc because Harry was observing so closely, but he was so easy-going that I relaxed pretty quickly," she said.

"I found him very approachable and easy to chat with."

Rangers in the Northern Territory often have to remove crocodiles from waterways used for boating and fishing to limit the risk of fatalities and injuries.

Crocodiles are common in Australia's tropical north where their numbers have increased since the introduction of protection laws in 1971 to around 75,000 to 100,000.

Britton said there was "no doubt" the visiting prince enjoyed snaring the crocodile, saying he had been "taking plenty of photos with a huge smile".

Senior Wildlife Ranger for the Crocodile Management Team, Tommy Nichols, agreed the prince seemed to enjoy the visit on April 15.

"Prince Harry managed to speak to all members of the crocodile team during the time he spent with us and he appeared to be a nice bloke," he said.

"It was the first time any of us had met a member of the Royal Family and we were all very excited."





Dating apps are changing US courtship rituals PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:50



From adulterous middle-aged marrieds to millennials who say only freaks chat up people in bars, millions of Americans are finding love online as technology corners the market in romance.

New York has a reputation as a party capital of the world, where sex is free and easy and unmarried adults outnumber their married counterparts.

Glued to smartphones at every waking moment, New Yorkers shop online for everything from jobs to food. So why not love?

Promises of lasting happiness, a kinky affair or a one-night stand -- all at the click of a button -- are dangled before lonely hearts who sign onto a dazzling array of dating sites.

Andrea Morales, a 25-year-old graduate student from Costa Rica, used to think Internet dating was a bolt-hole for the desperate. Then she moved to New York.


"A lot of people I met here started telling me it's super normal," Morales says. "At first I felt weird about it... but it's really hard to meet new people apart from your friends."

She signed up to Tinder and OkCupid, and found herself going on three dates a week. She met her last girlfriend online. The couple dated for seven months before breaking up.

"I didn't have any really horrible experiences," says Morales. "But most of my straight friends had horrible stories, because there are creepy men out there."

Online dating is all the more attractive in a city where friendship groups are tight, relationships at work can be perilous and where dalliances in bars are viewed with suspicion or quickly forgotten.

About 31 percent of people now meet their last love interest online, anthropologist Helen Fisher told CNN., which claims to be the world's largest dating site, says it has created more than 10 million relationships in the United States in 20 years.

But there are pitfalls: hackers breached the online adultery website Ashley Madison -- which claims millions of users worldwide -- and threatened to expose data on users.



Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:54
Sleeping with smartphones, and other vices PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:57



Consumers around the world admit it: they sleep with their smartphone, take it in the shower, and would rescue the device from a fire before saving the family cat.

Those are among the findings of a seven-country survey of more than 7,000 people about smartphone habits released Tuesday by Motorola, the newly acquired division of Chinese electronics giant Lenovo.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they slept holding their handsets -- with the highest percentages in India (74 percent) and China (70 percent). And 57 percent said they took the device into the toilet, with the highest totals from China and Brazil.

One in six smartphone users said they used their phones while showering, and more than half -- 54 percent -- said they would reach for the smartphone before saving their cat in the event of a fire.

How close are people to their devices? 22 percent said they would give up sex for a weekend before parting with their smartphone. And 40 percent tell secrets to their phones they would not reveal even to their best friend.


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:58
AC/DC's Phil Rudd arrested again in New Zealand PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 19 July 2015 20:13



AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been arrested again in New Zealand and was behind bars on Sunday night, his lawyer said.

Details of the charges were unclear and police refused to confirm the 61-year-old had been arrested, less than two weeks after he was sentenced to home detention after pleading guilty to threatening to kill and drugs charges.

However, his lawyer Craig Tuck told journalists Rudd would be appearing in court on Monday.

"All I can say is he has been arrested and will be appearing on Monday at 10am (Sunday at 2200 GMT) in the Tauranga District Court," Tuck said.

"That's all I can say for now and that's all I am telling everyone who is calling."


Last Updated on Sunday, 19 July 2015 20:20
United's double swoop sends message to title rivals PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 13 July 2015 21:18



Manchester United have thrown down the gauntlet to their Premier League title rivals after making a dramatic double swoop for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin on Monday.

United manager Louis van Gaal had made improving his team's midfield a key component of his transfer window strategy and the Dutchman can now cross that job off his to-do list after a frenetic 24 hours at Old Trafford.

German World Cup winner Schweinsteiger, who played under van Gaal for two years at Bayern Munich, agreed a three-year contract after United tied up a reported £14.4 million deal to sign him from the Bundesliga giants.

And France international Schneiderlin signed from Southampton for a fee in the region of £25 million after agreeing a four-year contract, with the option of a further one-year extension.

United's midfield duo are expected to jet out immediately to join their team-mates, including fellow new boys Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian, for the club's pre-season tour of the United States.

They could make their first appearances in a United shirt against Mexican side Club America in Seattle on July 17.

And there was more good news for United as Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea was confirmed among their travelling party for their US tour, seemingly ruling out any imminent move to Real Madrid.

Van Gaal claimed last season that there wasn't much of a quality gap between United and champions Chelsea, who finished 17 points ahead of the Old Trafford outfit, and he will hope his £80 million spending spree is the springboard for a serious title challenge.

Schweinsteiger, 30, made 500 appearances for Bayern and won eight Bundesliga titles, as well as making 111 appearances for his country culminating in their successful 2014 World Cup campaign.


"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bayern Munich, it has been an incredible journey and I didn't take the decision to leave lightly. Manchester United is the only club that I would have left Munich for," he said.

"I feel ready for this new and exciting challenge in what I regard as the most competitive league in the world and I am looking forward to working with Louis van Gaal again."

Van Gaal added: "Bastian is, of course, no stranger to me. I worked with him during my time at Bayern Munich and I am truly delighted he is joining Manchester United.


Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2015 21:29
Enter Blair as UK's Labour threatens leftward lurch PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:05

Tony Blair rarely gets involved with Britain's Labour these days but the risk his party could pick an old-fashioned left-winger as leader prompted him to do so Wednesday, as his legacy looms over the contest.


While still vilified by many for leading Britain into the Iraq war from 2003, Blair is Labour's longest-serving prime minister and believes the party would not be electable if it picks Jeremy Corbyn as its next leader.

There are signs it could be about to do so, as other candidates have struggled to make an impact outside Westminster.

A new YouGov/Times opinion poll has put the bearded Corbyn, whose views one colleague said were the closest thing Britain had to those of Greece's hard-left Syriza, ahead of his three rivals.

Labour will announce its new leader on September 12 after Ed Miliband stepped down in May.

He quit in the wake of a crushing election defeat by Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives which notably saw Labour lose all but one of its seats in Scotland, a former heartland.


Blair and Corbyn could hardly be more different.

Blair, prime minister for 10 years from 1997, devoted his career to dragging Labour to the centre ground.

"When people say my heart says I should really be with that (leftwing) politics -- well, get a transplant, because that's just dumb," Blair, tanned and in an open-neck shirt and dark suit, told a packed meeting of Labour supporters in London.

"You win from the centre, you win when you appeal to a broad cross section of the public, you win when you support business as well as unions. You don't win from a traditional leftist platform."

Nicknamed "Comrade Corbyn" by the press, the 66-year-old backbench lawmaker, who usually wears a worn beige jacket and slacks, opposes austerity measures, was a vocal campaigner against the Iraq war and wants to scrap Britain's nuclear weapons.


Labour in 'emotional trauma' -


Most Labour insiders believe it is unlikely Corbyn will actually win the leadership race, particularly amid questions over the reliability of polls after their failure to predict May's election result.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:08
Hong Kong giant panda Jia Jia becomes oldest ever PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:54



It may not be considered a landmark birthday for humans, but turning 37 on Tuesday made Hong Kong's Jia Jia the oldest-ever giant panda in captivity, and she celebrated in style.

The equivalent of more than 100 years old in human terms, Jia Jia was presented with a towering birthday cake made from ice and fruit juice with the number 37 carved on top in her enclosure at the city's Ocean Park theme park.

"Jia Jia has achieved two Guinness world record titles -- the oldest panda living in captivity and the oldest panda ever living in captivity," said Blythe Ryan Fitzwilliam, adjudicator of Guinness World Records, during a ceremony at the park.

He offered her his congratulations, saying it was an "amazing longevity achievement".

Jia Jia was born in the wild in Sichuan, China in 1978 and was given to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the semi-autonomous city's handover by Britain two years earlier.

The previous record was held by a male panda called Du Du, who was also caught in the wild and died in July 1999 at the age of 36 in a zoo in China's Hubei Province.



Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:56
Chainmail and mediaeval sensuality in Dior couture collection PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 07 July 2015 19:14



Christian Dior's creative director Raf Simons brought a "garden of earthly delights" to Paris Fashion Week on Monday, slipping models into luxurious chainmail in a couture collection inspired by mediaeval art and fashion.

Sashaying down a lilac catwalk, models in flowing silk taffeta gowns inspired by the Belle Epoque and cowl-necked cloaks in deep purple and black reminiscent of the late Middle Ages, would not have been out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones.

Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o was one of the stars attending Dior's autumn-winter unveiling on the second day of the couture shows unique to Paris.



Simons said his collection was inspired by the Old Masters of Flemish painting and the age-old fusion ofart, history and fashion.

"I was intrigued by the idea of forbidden fruit and what that meant now," said Simons in a statement.

"The idea of purity and innocence versus luxury and decadence and how that is encapsulated by the idea of Dior's garden -- no longer a flower garden but a sexual one."

Draped gowns and historical sleeves, hand-painted patterns and coats resembling Middle Age mantles provide a "broad sweep" of fashion history.

Glittering chainmail peeking from beneath a short taffeta dress with sleeves cinched at the wrists, or placed over another as a gilet, put jewellery at the focus of the outfit.

Over a long billowing gown hanging delicately from the shoulders, a heavy gold chain dripped from the model's neck.

- Schiaparelli in 1930s Paris -

Italian fashion legend Elsa Schiaparelli continued to haunt her eponymous brand a year after the long-dormant house made its comeback.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 July 2015 19:29
Schweinsteiger to join Manchester United PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 13 July 2015 21:14

Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger will join Manchester United next season, Bayern Munich's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed in a press conference on Saturday.

Rummenigge said Bayern and United have already agreed on an undisclosed transfer fee for the 30-year-old defensive midfielder, who has made 536 appearances for Bayern since his debut in 2002.


Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2015 21:17
Scandal-hit Barclays bank axes chief executive PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 13 July 2015 21:20



Troubled British bank Barclays, plagued by forex and Libor rigging scandals, announced Wednesday that it has fired chief executive Antony Jenkins with immediate effect.


Barclays management has "concluded that new leadership is required" to accelerate an overhaul of the beleaguered group, it revealed in a statement on the surprise decision.

Jenkins has left the group with immediate effect, a spokesman confirmed to AFP. Chairman John McFarlane has been appointed executive chairman until a successor to Jenkins is found.

"I reflected long and hard on the issue of group leadership and discussed this with each of the non-executive directors," said deputy chairman Sir Michael Rake.


"Notwithstanding Antony's significant achievements, it became clear to all of us that a new set of skills were required for the period ahead."

Jenkins replaced Bob Diamond in July 2012 -- who himself was forced to resign after the damaging Libor rate-fixing scandal.


The retail banking veteran had vowed to bring a new culture of decency to Barclays, and oversaw drastic restructuring that shrank its investment bank.

He leaves the bank with 12 months' notice and will receive his current annual salary of £1.1 million ($1.7 million, 1.5 million euros), as well as £950,000 in "role-based pay" and a pension of £363,000 a year.

Back in 2012, Barclays was fined £290 million by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of Libor and Euribor interbank rates 2005 and 2009.

- Damaged reputation -

Jenkins has however struggled to restore the group's damaged reputation which was also tarnished by forex rigging.


"In the summer of 2012, I became group chief executive at a particularly difficult time for Barclays," Jenkins said in Wednesday's statement.

"It is easy to forget just how bad things were three years ago both for our industry and even more so for us."

He added: "I am very proud of the significant progress we have made since then. Our capital position is much stronger, our business model is more balanced, we are much more disciplined on cost management, we have made good progress in rebuilding our reputation and we are seen as a leader in the application of technology to our business."

Under Jenkins, Barclays slashed more than 19,000 jobs, but the group has struggled to recover from the Libor fallout.


Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2015 21:24
US sees big declines in teen sex over past 25 years PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015 19:47



Less than half of US teenagers today are sexually active, far fewer than in the late 1980s, a US government report said Wednesday.

The findings are based on survey data spanning 1988 to 2013, called the National Survey of Family Growth, offering a glimpse at national estimates of sexual activity, contraceptive use and childbearing among teenagers aged 15–19.

"In 2011–2013, 44 percent of female teenagers and 47 percent of male teenagers aged 15–19 had experienced sexual intercourse," said the report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

"The percentage has declined significantly, by 14 percent for female and 22 percent for male teenagers, over the past 25 years."

In 1988, 60 percent of teenage boys and 51 percent of teenage girls were sexually active.

The lowest points were seen in the 2006-2010 range for females, with 43 percent saying they had had sex at least once.

For males, the lowest number was 46 percent in 2002.

When researchers separated the data by age, they found that 15-year-olds were the least likely to have had sex (about 15 percent).

The likelihood of sexual activity increased over time. Almost two in three 19-year-olds have experienced intercourse at least once, the report said.

The declining rates of sexually active youth coincide with previous research that has found a big drop in the teen birth rate.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 19:49
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