UK News



British Queen celebrates

World News



At least 35 civilians were killed on Saturday as government forces and rebel fighters exchanged fire in Syria's main northern city of Aleppo, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 18 civilians -- two of them children -- killed in regime air strikes on Al-Maadi and Sheikh al-Lutfi, two rebel-held neighbourhoods in east Aleppo.

"Seventeen other civilians were killed when rebel groups fired rockets on neighbourhoods controlled by the regime, including Suleimaniyah and other areas," the Britain-based group said.

Pictures circulating on social media depicted significant damage.

Fighting erupted in Aleppo in 2012, reducing swathes of Syria's commercial hub to ruins.




A 65-year-old Berlin woman who already has 13 children is pregnant again with quadruplets, German media reported Sunday.

The Russian and English teacher's pregnancy follows several attempts abroad at artificial insemination over the last year and a half, German RTL broadcaster said.

The woman, Annegret Raunigk, decided to try to have another child because her youngest daughter, who is nine, wanted a little brother or sister, RTL said on its website.

The TV channel will broadcast an interview with the expectant mother, who has seven grandchildren, on Monday evening.

It said the pregnancy had so far been without any major complications and that if everything went well, the babies were due in the summer and that Raunigk would be the world's oldest mother of quadruplets.



Tickle your palate. Try some Amazonian ants with pineapple. Or how about some beetroot salad with curds? Brazilian gastronomic fare has far more to offer than the traditional staples of beans and rice with cassava.

So say the experts from the revered Michelin guide, who have edited their first Brazil edition covering the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

The guide reviews 145 restaurants, the first Michelin has ever selected in Latin America. A total of 16 boast one Michelin star -- 10 in business hub Sao Paulo and the other six in tourist mecca Rio.

Just one received the accolade of two stars -- chef Alex Atala's D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, known for its use of Amazonian ingredients such as the ants, which leave a surprising citric aftertaste in the mouth.

Such delicacies require a portly wallet with menu prices of between 242 and 825 reais ($80 to $270).

"As with all fine gastronomy, it's all about the product and in this country, there are fabulous products to be had -- fantastic freshwater fish, fantastic vegetables, meat of extraordinary quality," enthused American Michael Ellis, Michelin's international guides' director.

The guides were first published in France more than a century ago to promote automobile travel.

"The Brazil guide reflects the fact there is a future. I was here back in the '80s when Brazilian cuisine was beans, rice, farofa (cassava flour) and very, very cooked meat. The Brazilians love things well cooked.

"But things have moved on -- 25 years ago we didn't have what we have today," Ellis explained to a group of reporters.

Atala and other young chefs have traveled afar to discover new techniques, new ingredients and new spices that "give Brazil its own culinary signature," said Ellis.


- Taste the emotion -


Even so, to date Brazil still lacks a single three-star establishment, an honor bestowed only on select eateries whose chefs are not just talented but dedicated to the point of boundless obsession with their culinary creations.

"It is the emotion which makes the difference. Three stars mark you out, it's something you'll hopefully retain all your life. It's something organic that happens in your mouth and is very difficult to reproduce," said Ellis.

"And every three-star chef, every artist, has a very personal and different way of producing it from all the rest. Then we're into the realms of emotion."

Michelin, whose hotel and eatery guides cover 24 countries, chose Brazil as its first Latin American target as "it is the most important country in Latin America with a rapidly growing middle class," explained the company's brands executive vice-president Claire Dorland-Clauzel.

She noted that Michelin has been present in Brazil through its tire factories employing thousands since 1927.




Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton will officially launch her 2016 presidential bid -- her second White House run -- at the weekend, several media outlets reported Friday.

The announcement by Clinton -- who would be the clear Democratic frontrunner -- is likely to come Sunday via video and social media, the New York Daily News reported, citing a source close to Clinton's campaign.

Britain's Guardian newspaper, also citing a source familiar with the campaign, said Clinton would send a tweet on Sunday at noon (1600 GMT) declaring her candidacy.

She will then send out a video and email announcement, the Guardian said, before launching a tour beginning in the key state of Iowa, the first to vote in the primary season that starts in early 2016.

Spokespeople for Clinton and the Ready for Hillary organization did not comment.

Unlike when she first ran for president in 2008, Clinton's path to clinching the Democratic nomination appears relatively clear.




Samsung rolled out a new smartphone on Friday in a bid to regain market dominance as arch-rival Apple, eyeing the next generation of wearable technology, opened pre-sales for its first watch.

Samsung's Galaxy S6 and its curved-edge variant, the Galaxy S6 Edge, went on sale in South Korea, home of the electronics giant, as well as Europe, the United States and markets in the Asia-Pacific such as Australia, Singapore and India.

Samsung, labouring under successive quarters of plunging profits and booming sales of Apple's iPhone 6, is hoping the new phone will reverse its fortunes.

The range of S6 models has won strong reviews from tech pundits, with the Wall Street Journal calling them "the most beautiful phones Samsung has ever made".

"Given the response from the market and clients... we expect the S6 to set a sales record for all Galaxy models," Lee Sang-Chul, the vice head of Samsung's mobile unit, told reporters.

Joo Seung-Bin was one of the first in line to buy an S6 in Seoul on Friday morning.

"It's a great design, and it's just got a great feel," the 23-year-old said.

"It's not cheap, but then I'm not one of those people who upgrades their phone every year. There's been a lot of buzz about this model, so I thought I'd check it out," Joo said.

The S6 retails at around 858,000 won ($800) in South Korea, while the S6 Edge comes in at 979,000 won, broadly in line with their Apple counterparts.

Both models are powered by Google's Android operating platform and, in a break from their-plastic-backed predecessors, feature metal and glass bodies.

- Hitting back -

However, the S6 had to contend on launch day with the Apple Watch, which will connect wirelessly to a user's iPhone to facilitate messaging, calls and apps -- especially ones geared toward health and fitness.

The first generation of smartwatches from the likes of Motorola, LG and Samsung itself failed to gain much traction with consumers. But experts say the Apple Watch may have an edge given its design quality and universe of apps.



More than 130 melon-headed whales, a member of the dolphin family usually found in the deep ocean, beached in Japan on Friday, sparking frantic efforts by locals and coastguards to save them.

Rescuers were battling to stop the creatures' skin from drying out as they lay on a beach about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Tokyo, while some were being carried in slings back towards the ocean.

Television footage showed several animals from the large pod had been badly cut, with many having deep gashes on their skin.

An AFP journalist at the scene said that despite efforts to get the dolphins into the water, some were being pushed back onto the beach by the tide soon after they had been released.

A number of the creatures had died, he said, and were being buried.

"We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time to find over 100 of them on a beach," a coastguard official told AFP.



Withdrawal from the leading credit organization of Moldova – Banca de Economii (BEM) of one billion dollars at one go was not possible otherwise it would have provoked crisis of the whole banking business of Moldova, the experts consider.

In opinion of Slava Rabinovich, CEO at Diamond Age Investment Advisors Limited (company is incorporated in London, works in Moscow and the CIS)

“It is definitely impossible to convert (to exchange) quickly the amount equivalent to 100 million dollars, 1 billion dollars/euros in such countries as Moldova. I believe, if doing it officially, it will take up to six months.

For Russian banking system it is possible but not for Moldova. I doubt this can be done in general.”

The expert is assured it is impossible to transfer such substantial amounts of money without being monitored by regulatory agencies. “All transactions in US dollars are done via American correspondent accounts in American banks, and euro transactions – via European. They can and must conduct financial monitoring to detect money laundering,” the investment analytic declared.

The government of Moldova started the process of sanitation of Banca de Economii in 2013 right after the bank was on the verge of bankruptcy. Debts of the credit organization according to different estimations ranged from 5 to 10 billion lei. However, in November of the same year the Central Bank of Moldova took over provisional administration of BEM, having suspended the bank new investors from the decision-making process.



Zimbabwe have agreed to tour Pakistan for a five-match one-day series next month, the first Test-playing nation to visit in six years, Pakistan's cricket chief said Thursday.

"Zimbabwe's final reply is that yes we want to come to Pakistan and although there are some details to be finalised we hope that they will come to play five one-day matches -- three in Lahore and two in Karachi -- next month," said Shehryar Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The visit would make Zimbabwe the first team from the ten Test-playing countries to tour Pakistan in six years.

Foreign teams have refused to tour Pakistan over security fears since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

Pakistan has had to host all its home matches in United Arab Emirates instead.

Security in Pakistan has improved since last year's military operation against the Taliban insurgency in the troubled northwest.





The sprawling palace compounds from which Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi ruled for four decades have been reduced to garbage dumps and pet markets by the 2011 revolution which toppled him.

In the heart of Tripoli, the once feared but now humbled Bab al-Aziziya compound resembles a wasteland.

During his rule, Libyans would be nervous just walking anywhere near the fortress-like seat of the Kadhafi regime.

"People were afraid even to look at the walls, for fear of being arrested," said Hassan, a Tripoli taxi driver.

All that remains of the compound, which had been hit in a 1986 US air strike before being pounded by NATO four years ago, are a few ruined buildings, the green flooring of Kadhafi's home and a dug-up network of underground tunnels.

The monument of a gold-coloured fist clenching a US fighter plane was vandalised and sent off to Misrata, a rebel bastion during the revolt which ousted and killed Kadhafi.

At a safe distance from his people, Kadhafi lived behind fortified walls with his wife, their children, close advisers and guards.





With its Anglican Church and English gardens, Monte da Palhagueira is a British outpost in southern Portugal, an "El Dorado" for European retirees due to its generous tax incentives and sunny climate.

But there are conditions to living there -- residents must be more than 55-years-old and have a sizeable nest egg of British pounds.

"Here I have a life without stress, I do yoga and go for long walks with my dog," said Sally Kerr, a slender-framed 64-year-old, as she scans a panoramic view of green hills from the rooftop of her villa in the retirement community.

She moved to Portugal two years ago after leaving behind a demanding job as a security manager at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in northwest England.


Her husband David, 65, a passionate golfer, stayed behind in England and flies out to be with her on weekends. He plans to join her permanently once he retires.

The country's mild climate played a key role in their decision.

"Even in winter I can take my tea on the terrace. And the cost of living is about 30 percent less than in Britain," said Kerr as she watered her plants.

With its cobbled narrow streets and white-washed houses nestled on a hill and surrounded by olive and palm trees, Monte da Palhagueira is modelled on the ancient towns of the Algarve, Portugal's southernmost province which is popular with British holidaymakers.

But life in the town resembles Little England. English dominates, even if Portuguese language courses are offered to newcomers.

The nurses and doctors at the town's nursing home are British as is the town's priest. In fact, virtually everyone is British except the gardeners and housemaids.

The Daily Telegraph and other British newspapers are delivered daily.


- 'Corner of paradise' -


George Rush, 78, a retired aeronautical engineer who wears thick glasses, is a voracious reader.

He also spends his time preparing the village's quarterly newsletter, "The Full Monty", named after a 1997 British comedy-drama about a group of unemployed men who become strippers.

"I can't imagine passing my time sitting in an armchair until the end of my life, brains have to work. Writing, learning a new language, is better than just waiting for death," said Rush.

His wife Paulette, a retired Latin teacher who was born in Belgium, is also happy with life in the village.

"It's our little corner of paradise, we never get bored here, people talk on their doorstep, in England we would have a much more lonely life," she said.

Living in the retirement community has a price: to have the right to live in one of its 33 villas spread out over 22 acres costs between 79,000 and 350,000 British pounds (108,000 to 478,000 euros/$118,000 to $520,000) depending on their size.

The properties are available under a "loan and accommodation agreement" -- so if an occupant dies or decides to move the amount paid is refunded and the property reverts back to the Amesbury Abbey Group, a family-run firm that runs similar retirement communities in Britain.

"It is the same as in England except that it is warmer here," said the director of the company, David Cornelius-Reid.

"The arrangement allows families to avoid having to resell the home and have to pay taxes and notary fees," he added.

- Fiscal incentives -