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Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou stoked up his feud with the airline he founded by vowing to vote against the company at its annual meeting.

The entrepreneur, who with his family holds 36% of easyJet's shares, will oppose the re-election of Sir Mike Rake as non-executive chairman, as well as the board's remuneration report.

The meeting in Luton on February 21 will be another showdown in a long-running protest by Sir Stelios, who is unhappy at the company's plans to place a large order for a fleet of more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Sir Stelios, who failed in attempts to oust Sir Mike at meetings in August and last February, believes the new planes are not necessary and will be acquired at the detriment of shareholders.

He is unhappy that Sir Mike is standing for re-election, when he has already announced he will leave the company in the summer because easyJet's expected promotion to the FTSE 100 Index will conflict with his role as chairman of another blue-chip company, BT Group.

Sir Stelios said: "We do not believe directors who have resigned should be allowed to commit any company to a major programme of capital expenditure that will burden the company for 5-7 years after their departure."

The tycoon, who says he has no favourites about who the next chairman should be, believes Sir Mike's other roles, including as deputy chairman of Barclays, mean he is too busy to do justice to all the jobs.

Easyjet said it was encouraged that advisory service ISS has urged shareholders to vote in favour of all resolutions at the AGM.

Five people have been killed and three were injured after a lifeboat fell into the sea off a cruise ship that was tied up at the port of Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands.

Citing the islands' Emergency and Security Coordination Centre, a Spanish government statement said rescue personnel were called to the dockside after "a lifeboat with occupants had fallen overboard from a cruise ship docked at the pier of Santa Cruz port in La Palma".

 

David Cameron will not accept "a deal at any price" on future EU spending, Europe minister David Lidington has warned.

Three days before a second EU summit attempts to break the deadlock, Mr Lidington insisted it would be a mistake for fellow EU leaders to believe the Prime Minister was bluffing when he demanded "at worst a freeze, at best a cut" in the euro-budget proposed for 2014-20.

Talks between EU leaders broke down in November with a frustrated Mr Cameron calling on the EU to start living "in the real world" by recognising the need for financial belt-tightening in line with national cutbacks.

He particularly targeted eurocrats' pay and perks, irritating the European Commission by highlighting the number of its civil servants earning more than the British Prime Minister himself and suggesting their numbers should be cut.

Britain is not alone in warning that the public will not understand if the EU budget - funded by taxpayers - grows for the next seven years. The European Commission's opening bid was an overall budget ceiling of one thousand billion euros (£860 billion), but that was pegged back to £756 billion before the last effort at a deal collapsed.

On Monday afternoon, after pre-summit talks between EU ministers in Brussels, EU administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic said a deal at the summit on Thursday and Friday would send a "positive signal" about the European economy and help restore confidence. But he also made clear that any accord had to be "balanced" - in other words giving the commission a big enough kitty to finance the policies the member states have signed up to.

"I urge member states not to get carried away and break the European engine," said the commissioner.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the country should be "prepared for the possibility of further bad news" in the hostage crisis in Algeria.

With a confused picture of what is happening on the ground following an Algerian military operation, Mr Cameron has postponed his speech on Europe in the Netherlands that was due on Friday to stay in Downing Street.

One British citizen is known to have died in the crisis and several others have been caught up in it.

Mr Cameron said: "It's a fluid situation, it's ongoing, it's very uncertain. We should be prepared for the possibility of further bad news, very difficult news, in this extremely difficult situation."

The Government has confirmed that there are "several" British nationals among the foreign hostages held by Islamist militants at the gas plant at In Amenas, deep in the Algerian desert.

Mr Cameron said: "We face a very bad situation at this BP gas compound in Algeria. A number of British citizens have been taken hostage. Already we know of one who has died. The Algerian armed forces have now attacked the compound."

He said officials in the Government's Cobra emergency committee, which he chaired twice on Thursday, were "working around the clock to do everything we can to keep in contact with the families, to build the fullest possible picture of the information and the intelligence we have".

David Cameron has vowed to fight to keep the Falklands in the face of mounting Argentinian rhetoric over the future of the islands.

The Prime Minister insisted British resolve was "extremely strong" and pointed out fast jets and troops are stationed on the Falklands.

It comes after Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused Britain of colonialism and demanded the islands were handed over.

In an open letter published as an advert in the Guardian she said Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas - the Argentinian name for the islands - in "a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism".

Mr Cameron insisted he was "absolutely clear" that Britain would defend the islands and said the UK was still one of the top five defence budgets in the world despite the raft of recent cuts to the armed forces.

 

Students at the elementary school where a gunman massacred 26 children and teachers last month were returning to class for the first time Thursday in a new building adapted to look exactly like their old one.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has been closed since the December 14 tragedy in which a 20-year-old local man shot 20 small children and six staff members before committing suicide.

On Wednesday, families were invited to inspect the new school in the nearby town of Monroe, where a disused facility has been prepared to resemble the old one, right down to the pictures on the walls and crayons on desks, ABC television reported.

In a message to parents on the school website, acting principal Donna Page, who replaces the slain school head Dawn Hochsprung, insisted "the facility is safe, secure and fully operational."

Page said parents would be allowed to stay in the school when it opens for classes Thursday, to provide reassurance to their children, many of whom witnessed to the bloodbath.

"We understand many parents may need to be near their children on their first day(s) of school and you will be welcome. That being said, we encourage students to take the bus to school in order to help them return to familiar routines as soon as possible," she wrote.

The Queen’s thank you note attains “Dresden’s first distillery for specialties Augustus Rex“

Georg W. Schenk, manager of Augustus Rex, got to welcome and open royal mail for a change. Queen Elisabeth II sent an official thank you note to the Saxon company to express her delight about the birthday present from Dresden’s first distillery for specialties. A bottle of the exquisite Dresden Gin, which is developed and distilled at Augustus Rex, was duly able to enrich the queen’s table for presents after a troublesome journey to England.

“We were very happy when we received the verification, that our Gin safely made it to the Buckingham Palace. The work was definitely worth the trouble. We are very confident, that the Queen will enjoy our quality product,” says Georg W. Schenk. Until the royal family enjoys a first drop the Gin from Dresden will be stored at Windsor Castle, one of the three main residencies of the British royal family.

 

A Chinese court has ordered Apple to pay 1.03 million yuan (£102,500) to eight Chinese writers and two companies who say unlicensed copies of their work were distributed through Apple's online store.

The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Apple violated the writers' copyrights by allowing applications containing their work to be distributed through its App Store, according to an official.

The award was less than the 12 million yuan (£1.2 million) sought by the authors. The case grouped together eight lawsuits filed by them and their publishers.

An Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu, said the company's managers "take copyright infringement complaints very seriously". She declined to say whether the company would appeal.

Unlicensed copying of books, music, software and other products is widespread in China despite repeated government promises to stamp out violations.

Apple's agreement with application developers requires them to confirm they have obtained rights to material distributed through the company's App Store.

"We're always updating our service to better assist content owners in protecting their rights," Ms Wu said.

The Chinese writers said they saw applications containing unlicensed versions of their books last year.

 

Lisa Peterson went straight to the dogs -- therapy dogs, that is -- when she returned home to Newtown from a business trip to Florida upon learning of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

"I saw them and I just had to come over and hug them," Peterson said Tuesday as she stroked Abbie Einstein and Smartie Jones, two gentle, purebred golden retrievers whose mission in life is to make people feel better.

"There's something about that unconditional love (from dogs) that is just so nurturing," she said. "It takes you in to the moment with the dog -- and everything else horrific just melts away."

Nearly 25,000 dogs, and their volunteer owners and handlers, are registered with Therapy Dogs International, a non-profit based in Flanders, New Jersey that sets standards for canines that "bring joy and comfort to those in need."

Several dogs turned up in Newtown to help residents cope with their grief after Friday's brutal killing of 20 first graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Police say Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother before he went to the school, sprayed bullets in two classrooms with a semi-automatic assault rifle, then turned a pistol on himself.

 

 

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pledged Sunday to resume efforts at reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions as he returned from a successful bid for upgraded UN status.