Saturday, 2 June 2012

Royal Barge among Scottish boats in Jubilee Pageant

A 41-gun salute was fired at the Tower of London while other gun salutes echoed across Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast on the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were driven onto the course with racegoers cheering as the Royal motorcade reached the winning post.

Also joining the Queen in her royal box was Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
The Queen rarely misses attending the Epsom Derby, which is one of the highlights of the racing calendar. Unlike last year, the Queen does not have a horse entered in the Derby, or the other six featured races.
This year, however, the Jubilee celebrations created an extra air of excitement, despite the grey and drizzly conditions.

At Windsor Castle, 21 mini cannons were fired to mark the start of the Diamond Jubilee weekend.
In London The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, fired a 41-gun salute. It followed the Major General's Parade, which drew large crowds to Horse Guard's Parade.
After the parade 72 horses and six First World War era 13-pounder gun carriages passed along Horse Guard's Parade for the salute, which started at 1pm, lasting just over seven minutes.
The Coronation Gun salute is normally fired from Green Park, but Horse Guards Parade was used as part of a series of public events in the Royal Parks to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
Similar 21-gun salutes were also carried out at Edinburgh Castle, Cardiff and Belfast.
The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, will return to Horse Guards Parade on Tuesday, when they will fire a 60-round Royal Salute from their six guns as the "heart beat" to the Diamond Jubilee Procession.
The first gun will fire when the Queen leaves Westminster Hall accompanied by the Household Cavalry Mounted Escort and continue to fire throughout her return journey to Buckingham Palace.
The guns will fire at 60-second intervals for one hour - one round for each year of the Queen's reign.
Further up the Thames more than 1,000 boat crews were putting the finishing touches to their vessels ahead of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday.
The flotilla is due to escort the Royal barge along the Thames and is expected to draw large crowds in London. More than 20 vessels from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are being drafted in for the occasion to help with safety on the river.
Final preparations were also underway for street parties that are taking place the length and breadth of the country.
At Chatsworth Estate in the Peak District a 300 feet long picnic table was set up in the gardens and a special Coronation exhibition was opened, displaying the robes worn by four generations of the Cavendish family at the Queen's Coronation.
Hundreds of visitors to Chatsworth joined in the 1950s-style, giant street party in the garden, which had traditional village fete games such as a coconut shy and a test of strength.
David Jackson, who lives close to the estate, said he and his wife came to the stately home to celebrate the jubilee and "join in the fun with everybody else."
He said: "It's very special for the Queen, that's why we're participating: just to make fun and have a really happy day."
Maxine Siddall, from Matlock, was there with her children because she heard there was a party with lots of things to do for her family.

Princess Eugenie sports patriotic nails at the Epsom Derby

With her grandmother the Queen celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, Princess Eugenie came up with a fresh, funky way to celebrate. 

The young royal proudly sported Union Jack-themed nails as she stepped out for the Epsom Derby, the official start to the festivities.

Her patriotic talons were the perfect finishing touch to an outfit featuring a checked monochrome shift dress with ruched detailing, nude heels and a simple black fascinator. 

Meanwhile, her sister Princess Beatrice looked blooming lovely in her floral lace overlay frock and flowery fascinator. 

Beatrice kept it simple on the day, while Eugenie decided to support patriotic nails.

The 22-year-old had Union flags on her fingernails for the start of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

As well as chatting to guests, the two princess also enjoyed the racing from the balcony.

The two princesses and The Queen were treated to a performance by Katherine Jenkins singing the National Anthem, and they also watched Britain's Got Talent winners Pudsey and Ashleigh do their routine.

Meanwhile, Jenkins admitted that she was having an "amazing" day.

She said: "It's incredible. I've been out of the country for three months, so to come back and do this is great."

Speaking about how it felt to perform for the Queen, Jenkins told the Daily Mail: "For me it's such a huge honour.

"It's the first time that the National Anthem has been sung during these celebrations and I would never have hesitated. I would have sung to her in the rain.

Princess Beatrice of York

Princess Beatrice of York, Beatrice Elizabeth Mary; born 8 August 1988 is the elder daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York. She is fifth, and the first female, in the line of succession to the thrones of the 16 Commonwealth realms.
While studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, Princess Beatrice was not expected to undertake regular Royal duties, although she did make appearances at some Royal events; for instance, she and her sister, Princess Eugenie, represented their father at a service of thanksgiving for her late aunt Diana, Princess of Wales, in 2007.

Official duties

Beatrice has been present at a number of official Royal occasions, such as Trooping the Colour in London, and The Queen's 80th birthday. She and her sister were also guests at the Concert for Diana, in memory of their late aunt organised by their cousins, Princes William and Harry. Both princesses attended the service of thanksgiving for Diana on 1 September 2007, representing their father, who was on an official visit to Malaysia. Beatrice was present at the wedding of her cousin Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly in 2008, and the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. At the wedding, Beatrice's hat designed by Philip Treacy was remarked upon by some as an odd choice of fashion. Nonetheless, in May 2011, the hat was offered for sale on the internet auction site eBay with the proceeds going to charity: it was sold for £81,000 ($123,325), with the money split between Unicef and Children in Crisis.[12] A few months later Princess Beatrice was seen at the wedding of her cousin Zara Phillips to Rugby player Mike Tindall.
Princess Beatrice performed her highest profile royal duties to date when she accompanied her grandmother the Queen to the traditional Royal Maundy services on April 5, 2012. Other than the Duke of Edinburgh, she was the sole member of the Royal Family to attend the Maundy Thursday services at York Minster with the Queen. There, Beatrice interacted with parishioners, received flowers from the public, and assisted the Queen as she passed out the official Maundy money to the pensioners. 


Beatrice began her early education at the independent Upton House School in Windsor, in 1991. From there, she and her sister both attended the independent Coworth Park School from 1995. Beatrice continued her education at the independent St. George's School in Ascot, where she was a pupil from 2000 to 2007. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, she delayed sitting her GCSE exams for one year. She remained at St. George's to take her A-Levels, gaining a grade A in drama, and B grades in history and film studies. She was elected Head Girl in her final year.
In September 2008, Beatrice began studying History at Goldsmiths, University of London., and graduated in 2011 with a 2:1 degree (BA) in History and History of Ideas.

Personal interests

In an interview to mark her 18th birthday, Beatrice said that she wanted to use her position to assist others through charity work; she had already undertaken charitable duties alongside her mother through the various organisations the Duchess supported. In 2002, Beatrice visited HIV-infected children in Russia, and, in Britain, she supported Springboard for Children (a literacy project for primary-school children with learning difficulties) and the Teenage Cancer Trust. During the summer of 2008, Beatrice volunteered as a sales clerk at Selfridges, and it was reported Beatrice and a friend have plans to found a fashion label. In April 2010, running to raise money for Children in Crisis, she became the first member of the Royal Family to complete the London Marathon.
Beatrice has also been involved in the film industry, becoming the first member of the Royal Family to appear in a non-documentary film when she made a brief non-speaking appearance as an "extra" in The Young Victoria (2009), based around the accession and Coronation of Beatrice's fourth-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Beatrice had a minor, non-speaking role in a number of scenes.

Kylie, Gurrumul star in concert for Queen By Andrew Drummond in London

“IT’S very important to us that this is about the monarchy,” declared Edinburgh resident Carol Sutherland, sipping a Pimm’s beneath a string of Union flag bunting. “It’s not just an excuse for a party.”

Welcome to Dalhousie Terrace, location of one of Edinburgh’s biggest Diamond Jubilee street parties. As the country embarked on a four-day extravaganza to celebrate the biggest royal event in a decade, around 200 residents of Morningside honoured the Queen’s 60-year reign with quintessentially British fare including cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes decorated with Union flags and strawberries and cream.

Among them was 64-year-old George Calder, resplendent in a Union flag bow tie (the dress code here is red, white and blue) who grew up on the street and remembers celebrating the Coronation in this corner of Edinburgh almost six decades ago.

“It was an exciting occasion,” he said. “There was a real sense of optimism. About 20 of us crowded into the one house on the street that had a TV, a tiny little black and white thing, to watch it all happen.”

Dalhousie Terrace has a reputation for this sort of do. Last year it held a street party for the Royal Wedding, and it has been holding similar celebrations as far back as the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Australian Aboriginal artist Gurrumul will also be on stage and is featured in a track, Sing, written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Gary Barlow especially for the Jubilee, which will be performed live on the night.

"The song starts with a little girl from Kenya, where the Queen's reign started," Barlow said. "The last person to sing is Gurrumul, who has been blind since birth."

Some 200 people from across the Commonwealth collaborated on the song, with joker Prince Harry playing the tambourine, Barlow said.

"The single ends with a blast of bagpipes ... they are one of Her Majesty's favourite things so we had to include them," he said.

"I recorded our bagpipers in Australia, of all places. They are the Canberra Bagpipe Orchestra, but they had been taught by Scots pipers so the DNA is there."

Ten thousand tickets have been issued for Monday's concert spectacular, which will be performed on a circular stage surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of the palace.

The Queen and Prince Philip, along with other senior royals, will be in the audience to see a star-studded line-up that also includes Elton John, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, Cliff Richard, Robbie Williams, Jessie J, Annie Lennox, and Ed Sheeran.

* The Nine Network and its regional affiliates will show the Diamond Jubilee Concert at 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

82 London Underground stations to get free Wi-Fi for the Olympics

The last sanctuary from the incessant red light blinking on BlackBerry devices will begin to vanish in the next few weeks as Wi-Fi coverage is extended to the London Underground.

Passengers will be able to check emails, browse the internet and even attempt to watch live TV on their mobiles, tablets and laptops while waiting for trains at 80 stations across the network. Another 40 will be connected by the end of the year.

The service, which will be free to everyone for the whole summer, is expected to come online at some stations, including King's Cross, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus and Stratford, within the next couple of weeks.

Virgin Media, which is providing the service in partnership with Transport for London (TfL), said passengers would be able to connect to the internet in ticket halls, on escalators and platforms and from inside trains waiting in stations.

Coverage will be lost when trains enter tunnels, but Virgin said customers would be automatically reconnected upon arrival at the next station.

"Your pages will update as soon as you enter a new station, so you will be able to tweet your journey," a Virgin spokeswoman said.

The first tweet from the underground was posted by Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent, who managed to stream an episode of The Apprentice on the BBC's iPlayer on his iPad.

Ordinary users, however, will struggle to get speeds anywhere near fast enough to stream video as the service is likely to be overloaded by the number of passengers trying to connect.

Virgin said speeds would be "comparable" to the planned 4G mobile phone internet.

The service will only be free for everyone until the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Customers of some Virgin broadband packages will continue to receive free access; pay-as-you-go access will be available to others.

The telco said that it planned to connect 82 stations on the Tube network by the end of July. The remaining 38 stations earmarked for the wireless service are expected to be offering internet access at platform-only level by the end of the year, Virgin Media added.

As we reported previously, the monopoly underground Wi-Fi network will be offered to punters for free during the London 2012 Olympics.

Once the games are over, Virgin Media customers will continue to get free access while waiting at a platform for the next tube to pull in.

But everyone else will have to pay, apart from a limited offering "including TfL’s journey planner and entertainment and news content useful for a commute to work or trip into town", which will continue to be free.

“Bringing a next generation WiFi service to one of the world’s oldest underground transport networks is progressing as planned and the forthcoming service is testing well," London Underground's director of strategy and service development Gareth Powell said.

“The first stations include some of our busiest and most well-known destinations and we’re on-track for a successful launch this summer - all delivered at no additional cost to fare payers or tax payers.

London Underground

London Underground, often shortened to the Underground is a rapid transit system in the United Kingdom, serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex. It incorporates the oldest section of underground railway in the world, which opened in 1863 and now forms part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines; and the first line to operate electric trains, in 1890, now part of the Northern line.
The Underground system is also colloquially called the Tube. As commonly used today both by Londoners and in most official publicity, this term embraces the entire system. Originally, though, it applied only to the deep-level lines with trains of a smaller and more circular cross-section, and served to distinguish them from the sub-surface "cut-and-cover" lines that were built first and originally used steam locomotives.
The earlier lines of the present London Underground network were built by various private companies. They became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. The underground network became a separate entity in 1985, when the UK Government created London Underground Limited (LUL). Since 2003 LUL has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, which is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.
The Underground serves 270 stations and has 402 kilometres (250 mi) of track, 45 per cent of which is underground. It is the second largest metro system in the world in terms of route miles, after the Shanghai Metro and part of the largest system in terms of route miles when taken together with the Docklands Light Railway and the London Overground. It also has one of the largest numbers of stations. In 2007, more than one billion passenger journeys were recorded, making it the third busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow and Paris. The tube is an international icon for London, with the tube map, considered a design classic, having influenced many other transport maps worldwide. Although also shown on the Tube map, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Overground are not part of the London Underground network.
Currently, 86% of operational expenditure on the London Underground is covered by passenger fares. Almost all London Underground trains currently lack air-conditioning, which leads to the network getting very hot in the summer, although plans are under way to mitigate this problem with new air-conditioned trains and other schemes. Because of engineering work being carried out under the 2010–2012 upgrade plan, lines were regularly closed during weekends.

First tube lines

Following advances in the use of tunnelling shields, electric traction and deep-level tunnel designs, later railways were built deeper underground. This caused much less disruption at ground level, and it was therefore cheaper than and preferable to the cut-and-cover construction method.
The City & South London Railway (C&SLR, now part of the Northern Line) opened in 1890, between Stockwell and the now closed original terminus at King William Street. It was the first "deep-level" electrically operated railway in the world. By 1900 it had been extended at both ends, to Clapham Common in the south and Moorgate Street (via a diversion) in the north. The second such railway, the Waterloo and City Railway (W&CR), opened in 1898. It was built and run by the London and South Western Railway.
On 30 July 1900, the Central London Railway (now known as the Central Line) was opened, operating services from Bank to Shepherd's Bush. It was nicknamed the "Twopenny Tube" for its flat fare and cylindrical tunnels;the "tube" nickname was eventually transferred to the Underground system as a whole. An interchange with the C&SLR and the W&CR was provided at Bank. Construction had also begun in August 1898 on the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway, but work came to a halt after 18 months when funds ran out.


On 1 January 1948, London Transport was nationalised by the Labour government, together with the four remaining main-line railway companies, and incorporated into the operations of the British Transport Commission (BTC). The LPTB was replaced by the London Transport Executive (LTE). This brought the Underground under the direct remit of central government for the first time in its history. The BTC prioritised the reconstruction of its main-line railways over the maintenance of the Underground network. The unfinished parts of the New Works Programme were gradually shelved or postponed.
However, the BTC did authorise the completion of the electrification of the network, seeking to replace steam locomotives on the parts of the system where they still operated. This phase of the programme was completed when the Metropolitan line was electrified to Chesham in 1960. Steam locomotives were fully withdrawn from London Underground passenger services on 9 September 1961, when British Railways took over the operations of the Metropolitan line between Amersham and Aylesbury. The last steam shunting and freight locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1971.
In 1963, the LTE was replaced by the London Transport Board, directly accountable to the Ministry of Transport.


The Underground uses TfL's Travelcard zonal fare system to calculate fares. Greater London is divided into 6 zones; Zone 1 is the most central, with a boundary just beyond the Circle line, and Zone 6 is the outermost and includes London Heathrow Airport. Stations on the Metropolitan line outside Greater London are in Zones 7–9. There are staffed ticket offices, some open for limited periods only, and ticket machines usable at any time. Some ticket machines accept coins, notes and credit cards, some accept coins only, and some accept cards only.
In 2003, TfL introduced the Oyster card, a smartcard with an embedded contactless RFID chip, which travellers can charge up with credit and use to pay for travel. It can also be loaded with Travelcards. Like a paper Travelcard, it can be used on the Underground, the Overground, buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway, and National Rail services within London. TfL encourages passengers to use Oyster cards instead of Travelcards or cash by implementing significant price differences, so travel by Oyster card is significantly cheaper.
Since GLC days there has been a concessionary fare scheme for disabled London residents and those aged over 60. Since 2006, the scheme has been called the "Freedom Pass" and allows for free travel on TfL-operated routes at all times. It is also valid on National Rail services within London, except between 04:30 and 09:30 on Monday to Fridays on some lines. The pass itself is, in effect, a free Oyster card, though it does not bear that name. Since 2010, the Freedom Pass has inc

Main articles: Safety on the London Underground and Suicide on the London Underground
Accidents on the Underground network, which carries around a billion passengers a year, are rare. There is one fatal accident for every 300 million journeys. There are several safety warnings given to passengers, such as the 'mind the gap' announcement and the frequent announcements to passengers to keep behind the yellow line. Relatively few accidents are caused by overcrowding on the platforms: staff monitor platforms and passageways at busy times and prevent people entering overcrowded areas.
Most fatalities on the network are suicides. Most platforms at deep tube stations have pits beneath the track. These were originally constructed to aid drainage of water from the platforms, but they also help prevent death or serious injury when a passenger falls or jumps in front of a train.

Victoria Beckham flies the flag for the UK as she talks about being proud to be British

She was born and bred in Hertfordshire, the leafy Home County just north of London and has established herself as a world-famous pop star and fashion designer.
But although she now currently resides in Los Angeles, Victoria Beckham is proud of her British roots - and doesn't mind saying so.
In a promotional video for the This Is GREAT Britain campaign, the couture queen talks about what makes the UK a great place to live, work and play.

She starts the video talking about becoming a fashion designer and said: 'I always wanted to work in fashion and when I was given the opportunity I took that opportunity with both hands

'I want to empower women, I want to make women feel good about themselves and for me to be able to achieve the quality that I want to give my customer, I have to do that in London.
'My brand is British, my team are all British, you can feel the energy as you're driving through London.'

She added that one of her favourite places in London to visit when she was younger was the thriving and bustling Camden Market.
Victoria said: 'I remember when I was younger I used to love going to Camden Market on a Sunday, the energy, the atmosphere, it's really multi-cultural. That is more inspiring than anything.'
And she went on to gush about how great the British are and how many creative minds and voices have come from the UK.

Lib Dems suffer plunge in party membership

One in five members of the Liberal Democrats quit the party last year, with the worst losses in constituencies represented by government ministers, as disaffected activists walked out in protest at the coalition.

An investigation by The Independent on Sunday reveals the Lib Dems' collapse in support in the polls has been matched by a desertion of thousands of members. The exodus – far worse than the usual post-election drop-off – threatens to undermine the party's support base. Officials in one minister's constituency reported "members and supporters not being willing to campaign for the party".

The loss of thousands of members will leave a hole in the party's finances. To join the Lib Dems costs a minimum of £12 a year, or £6 for students, under-25s and those on benefits. The financial accounts of all local parties with an income of more than £25,000 paint a grim picture for the Lib Dems.

Membership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has shrunk by 26 per cent. Craig Harrow, convenor of the party, said campaign teams were "devastated" by last year's results in the Holyrood elections, with MSPs "swept from office on a tsunami for the SNP".

The trebling of university tuition fees to £9,000 appears to have hit the party particularly hard, with Liberal Youth, the party's student wing, seeing more than half its 6,000 members quit in 2011.

Over the same period, Labour Students rose eight per cent to 6,782. Among nine Labour constituency parties to report, there was a net drop of just one per cent. Labour said it will not comment on national membership figures until they are published later this year. A survey of 100 Conservative associations reveals an average drop of seven per cent of members in the last 12 months. David Cameron's Witney constituency reported a two per cent rise.

The fact that the talks are becoming public will place further strain on the coalition government and will be seized on by Tory MPs unhappy with what they see as Mr Cameron abandoning traditional Tory policies while waving through Lib Dem-friendly moves such as legalising same-sex marriage.
The news infuriate Mr Clegg as well as other "Tory-friendly" Lib Dems in the coalition, who include Jeremy Browne, the Foreign Office ministers tipped for promotion into the cabinet.
A key Labour go-between with the Lib Dems is Lord Adonis, the former transport secretary and Downing Street adviser under Tony Blair, who recently re-entered frontline politics as an adviser to the Labour leader on industrial strategy.
The peer has kept up links with the Lib Dems dating back from his past as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which formed an alliance with the Liberals in the 1980s.
A Labour source said: "Lib Dems are waking up to the fact that Nick Clegg has led them to the edge of the abyss interms of the next election. They could be looking a dramatic reduction in the number of their MPs.
"These talks are designed to find common ground so that, if the next election result is inconclusive once again, we could enter a progressive coalition with them."
"We do not want to attack the Lib Dems as such. We want their votes. We need to concentrate our fire on Nick Clegg and a few others."
Last week Mr Cable annoyed Mr Clegg's inner circle by publicly casting doubt on the coalition lasting a full term. Many Lib Dems want the party to pull its ministers out of the government some months before polling day, expected to be in May 2015, leaving the Tories to run a minority administration.
Such a move, it is argued, would allow both coalition partners some "breathing space" to establish a different set of policies for their respective manifestos.
Mr Cable said last week: "Everybody involved knows that before the next general election, the two parties will have to establish their own separate platforms and identity.
"But how that disengagement takes place, over what time period, is very much an issue for the future.

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats are a social liberal political party in the United Kingdom which supports constitutional and electoral reform, progressive taxation,wealth taxation, environmentalism, human rights laws, cultural liberalism, banking reform and civil liberties
The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The two parties had formed the electoral SDP–Liberal Alliance for seven years before then, since the SDP's formation. The Liberals had been in existence for 129 years and in power under leaders such as Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George.
Nick Clegg was elected Leader in 2007. At the 2010 general election, Liberal Democrats won 23% of the vote and 57 of the 650 seats, making them the third-largest party in the House of Commons, behind the Conservatives with 307 and Labour with 258. No party having an overall majority; the Liberal Democrats became the junior partners in a coalition government with the Conservatives, with Clegg becoming Deputy Prime Minister and other Liberal Democrats taking up ministerial positions.

The opening line to the preamble of the Liberal Democrats constitution is "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Most commentators describe the party as centrist. In 2011 party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "But we are not on the left and we are not on the right. We have our own label: Liberal.
There are two main strands of distinct ideology within the party, social liberals and the economic liberals, more commonly known as Orange Bookers. The social liberals are seen as being the more traditionally centre-left end of the party with Orange Bookers being more towards the centre. The principal difference between the two is that the Orange Bookers tend to support greater choice and competition and as such aiming to increase social mobility through increasing economic freedom and opportunity for those with more disadvantaged backgrounds. Whereas the social liberals are more commonly associated with directly aiming to increase equality of outcome through state means. Correspondingly, Orange Bookers tend to favour cutting taxes for the poorest in order to increase opportunity contrasting with social liberals who would rather see higher spending on the disadvantaged to reduce income inequality.

After the first of three general election debates on 15 April 2010, a ComRes poll put the Liberal Democrats on 24%.On 20 April, a YouGov poll put the Liberal Democrats on 34%, the Conservatives on 33% and Labour on 28%.
In the general election held on 6 May 2010, the Liberal Democrats won 23% of the vote and 57 seats in the House of Commons. The election returned a hung parliament with no party having an absolute majority. Negotiations between the Lib Dems and the two main parties occurred in the following days. David Cameron became Prime Minister on 11 May after Gordon Brown's resignation and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party, with Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister and other Liberal Democrats in the cabinet.Three quarters of the Liberal Democrat's manifesto pledges went into the Programme for Government.
An academic study has suggested that the party has been able to secure a greater degree of control over government policy than their relative proportion of seats, with the party taking 75% of their manifesto pledges into the programme for government. Though some say this has had an adverse effect on the party's distinctiveness in the eyes of the voters. 
Since joining the coalition poll ratings for the party have fallen,particularly following the government's support for raising the cap on tuition fees with Liberal Democrat MPs voting 27 for, 21 against and 8 abstaining.
On 8 December 2010, the eve of a House of Commons vote on the raising of the UK's undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000, an opinion poll conducted by YouGov recorded voting intention figures of Conservatives 41%, Labour 41%, Other Parties 11% and Liberal Democrats 8%.[86] the lowest level of support recorded for the Liberal Democrats in any opinion poll since September 1990. In the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, 2011 held on 13 January 2011, the Liberal Democrats gained 31.9% of the vote, a 0.3% increase despite losing to Labour. In a by-election in the South Yorkshire constituency of Barnsley in March 2011, the Liberal Democrats fell from a 2nd place at the general election to 6th,.
In council elections held on 5 May 2011, the Liberal Democrats suffered heavy defeats in the Midlands, North and Scotland. They also lost heavily in the Welsh assembly and Scottish Parliament, where several LibDem candidates lost their deposits.
According to the Guardian
"They lost control of Sheffield council – the city of Clegg's constituency – were ousted from Liverpool, Hull and Stockport, and lost every Manchester seat they stood in. Overall, they got their lowest share of the vote in three decades".
Clegg admitted that the party had taken "big knocks" due to a perception that the coalition government had returned to the Thatcherism of the 1980s.
As part of the deal that formed the coalition, it was agreed to hold a referendum on the Alternative Vote, in which the Conservatives would campaign for First Past the Post and the Liberal Democrats for Alternative Vote. The referendum, held on 5 May 2011, resulted in First Past the Post being chosen over Alternative Vote by two-thirds of voters.
In May 2011, Nick Clegg revealed plans to make the House of Lords a mainly elected chamber, limiting the number of peers to 300, 80% of whom would be elected with a third of that 80% being elected every 5 years by Single transferable vote.The Lib Dem secretary of state for energy and climate change Chris Huhne also announced plans for halving UK carbon emissions by 2025 as part of the "Green Deal" in the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto.
In council elections held on 3 May 2012, the Lib Dems lost more than three hundred councillors, leaving them with fewer than three thousand for the first time in the party's history.

Drew Barrymore's Lips Are Sealed on Wedding, Pregnancy

Drew Barrymore been in the public eye for most of her 37 years. Born into a legendary Hollywood family, Barrymore starred in her first film when she was just six years old, and wrote her autobiography when she was 14, after two stints in rehab.

Lately, though, she's been keeping mum about some of most important aspects of her personal life. In an age when the public often knows everything about a celebrity's life, Barrymore's has been a mystery lately.

She is reported to be getting married this weekend to her art consultant fiancé, Will Kopelman, but none of the publicly known details about the wedding (if there is one) have come directly from Barrymore herself. Requests for comment from Barrymore's management were not returned.

The small, private ceremony will take place on Barrymore's Montecito estate, attended only by close family and friends, E! senior news correspondent Melanie Bromley told ABC News.

It appears, according to E!, that the bride will wear a Chanel dress (she was recently spotted going for a final fitting at a Chanel boutique in LA, and Kopelman's father is the company's former CEO), and at least part of the wedding will take place outside (tents were seen being unloaded at the estate).

Drew Barrymore

Drew Blyth Barrymore, born February 22, 1975 is an American actress, film director, screenwriter, producer and model. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American actors and granddaughter of John Barrymore. She first appeared in an advertisement when she was 11 months old. Barrymore made her film debut in Altered States in 1980. Afterwards, she starred in her breakout role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She quickly became one of Hollywood's most recognized child actresses, going on to establish herself in mainly comic roles.
Following a turbulent childhood which was marked by drug and alcohol abuse and two stints in rehab, Barrymore wrote the 1990 autobiography, Little Girl Lost. She successfully made the transition from child star to adult actress with a number of films including Poison Ivy, Bad Girls, Boys on the Side, and Everyone Says I Love You. Subsequently, she established herself in romantic comedies such as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates.
In 1995, she and business partner Nancy Juvonen formed the production company Flower Films, with its first production the 1999 Barrymore film Never Been Kissed. Flower Films has gone on to produce the Barrymore vehicle films Charlie's Angels, 50 First Dates, and Music and Lyrics, as well as the cult film Donnie Darko. Barrymore's more recent projects include He's Just Not That into You, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Everybody's Fine and Going the Distance. A recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Barrymore appeared on the cover of the 2007 People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful issue.
Barrymore was named Ambassador Against Hunger for the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Since then, she has donated over US$1 million to the program. In 2007, she became both CoverGirl's newest model and spokeswoman for the cosmetic and the face for Gucci's newest jewelry line. In 2010, she was awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film for her portrayal of Little Edie in Grey Gardens.

The Mets waited 50 years for this throw

Casting shadows upon the afterglow of Johan Santana’s no-hitter were concerns about the effect the effort may have on his surgically repaired left shoulder.

To become the first pitcher in Mets history to record a no-hitter, Santana had to throw 134 pitches Friday night — far more than his previous high this season, 108, and considerably more even than his previous career high, 125, which he produced in 2008, well before his arm began to bother him.

Santana’s workload was an inescapable concession to the significance of the moment. But on Saturday, Terry Collins, the Mets’ manager, was still dealing with his fear that the rewriting of history could come at some cost.

And so, on Saturday afternoon, even as an aura of celebration lingered inside the home clubhouse at Citi Field, Collins was holding his breath, waiting to see how Santana would recover, and formulating a schedule to provide him some extra rest.

“He’s still wound up with adrenaline,” Collins said of Santana. “We’ll wait till that’s out and see how he’s feeling. There is right now a real plan to back him up a day or two.”

Santana had an operation in September 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder, and his return to action this season had until Friday been handled with extreme care.

He was ready to take on a monstrosity of a curse – an 8,019-game drought during which the Mets had failed to throw a no-hitter. Even the game’s giants were no match for this jinx, including Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden and Pedro Martinez. Yet there was Santana, ready to finish off David Freese and, with him, history.

You knew it had to be a change-up. You knew it would be Santana’s signature pitch that would bestow upon the Mets a gift that’ll last forever. Just as he’d done thousands of times before, Santana unleashed what looked like a fastball to Freese, tricking him with perfect arm-speed, perfect follow-through, front-to-back shoulder rotation that cloaked the ball’s actual velocity.

This was no 89-mph four-seamer; it was Santana’s 82-mph change-up that Freese swung at. Last year’s World Series MVP coiled like a snake, hacking powerfully at the ball – which was no longer there.

The change-up had dropped just under the trajectory of Freese’s bat; he connected with nothing but the cool, dry air that’d made the night feel more like October than June. And for a moment, Santana froze, too, unable to process the fates that’d finally been generous.

“It was the most unbelievable feeling in the world,” Santana said, describing the riot of his teammates, the human cluster on the mound. The scene was lifted straight out of Animal House, only these were grown men using back-slaps and high-fives as substitutes for tears.

So much had to go right for Santana. So much was reliant upon sheer good luck. Carlos Beltran, for one, had slashed a line drive over third base in the sixth inning – called foul by umpire Adrian Johnson, but, as TV replays showed, was clearly fair.

The ball had kicked up the chalk on the foul line, although Johnson later told reporters, “I saw the ball hitting outside the line, just foul.”

When pressed, Johnson said, “Yes, I saw the replay,” but declined further comment. With a better, more experienced umpire, the no-hitter would’ve been over right then and there.

Beltran later said, “When things aren’t meant to happen, what can you do. I thought it was a fair ball ... the way I saw it, the ball was over the bag, and the replay showed it landed on the line.”

The Mets are professional enough to know the authenticity of Santana’s achievement is open to debate, but that’s not to say they dwelled on its blemish. After a half-century, this was Santana’s night – virtual asterisk be damned. In fact, if you didn’t believe in karma, the last remaining evidence was Mike Baxter’s full-sprint catch of Yadier Molina’s line drive to left.

Baxter caught the ball at the wall, crashed into it with such force his shoulder all but exploded; he was escorted off the field and would later be treated for a contusion.

George Zimmer

George Zimmer (born November 21, 1948) is an American entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of the Men's Wearhouse, a men's clothing retailer that has more than 1,300 stores across the U.S. and Canada under the brands Moores, Men's Wearhouse and K&G Superstores.

Born in New York City to a Jewish family. Zimmer attended grade schools in Scarsdale, New York, before studying at Washington University in St. Louis where he received an A.B. in Economics in 1970. Upon graduation, he worked as a substitute teacher before joining his father in the clothing manufacturing business. Later in the early 1970s, he worked as a purchasing agent and salesman in Hong Kong.
[edit]Men's Wearhouse

He opened his first Men's Wearhouse store in 1973 in Houston, Texas.[citation needed] Zimmer narrates and appears in many of his company's television commercials, usually closing with the company slogan "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it." He owns 8.7% of Men's Wearhouse, a stake which, as of November 2004, was worth $94 million. On September 14, 2011 George Zimmer received the Kupfer Award by Mays Business school .
Management, Activism and Personal Life

Zimmer's style of corporate management (for example, the company's June 2004 nomination of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra to its board) is peculiar in the view of some, while others perceive his style as cutting-edge.
Zimmer's experience caring for his mother, who died of cancer, led him to support research into the therapeutic use of MDMA, and for his efforts to legalize cannabis (for instance, by making donations equaling $70,500 to support California's Proposition 19 in 2010).

Zimmerman credibility may be issue in Martin case

George Zimmerman's bail has been revoked after a judge said he misled the court about his finances. Trayvon Martin's killer must turn himself in by Sunday.

During Zimmerman's bail hearing in April, after which he was freed on $150,000 bond, his family testified they had limited funds, prosecutors said on Friday.

Zimmerman's wife "said she had no money, but in fact she did," said prosecutor Bernardo de la Rionda of the issue that led to Zimmerman's bail revocation.

"It was misleading ... I don't know what other words to use. It was a blatant lie."

He pointed to $135,000 in funds raised from the public that was not disclosed during the hearing. Defense lawyer Mark O'Mara said it was a misunderstanding.

O'Mara said Zimmerman did not lie, but was simply unclear about how he could use the money, and that his office has been keeping close tabs on the funds.

"We have kept an exact ledger of every penny that he spent," said O'Mara.

Prosecutors also Zimmerman did not disclose that was in possession of a second passport; he had replaced a passport he lost only to find the original later.

Zimmerman had not yet turned himself in Saturday after having his bond revoked a day earlier. He must do so by Sunday. Zimmerman went into hiding in the weeks after the shooting because of the tense debate surrounding the case, and his exact whereabouts since he bonded out of jail remain unclear. It also was not immediately clear exactly where Zimmerman would surrender.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the February shooting. The neighborhood watch volunteer says he shot Martin in self-defense because the unarmed 17-year-old was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.
Witness accounts of the rainy night Martin was shot are spotty. There is no video of the fight, though photos prosecutors have released showed Zimmerman with wounds to his face and the back of his head.
Zimmerman's credibility would be important if O'Mara tries to get a judge without the jury to dismiss the charges based on the stand-your-ground law, said Orlando defense attorney David Hill.
"If he was in on something that was not truthfully revealed to the judge, when there is a 'stand your ground' hearing, of course you're going to second-guess him," Hill said.
Both McClean and Hill said O'Mara would be able to challenge the admissibility of the bond revocation at trial by questioning its relevance.
Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the killing, and during a bond hearing in April, his wife, Shellie, testified that the couple had limited funds available. The hearing also was notable because Zimmerman took the stand and apologized to Martin's parents.
Prosecutors pointed out in their motion that Zimmerman had $135,000 available then. It had been raised from donations through a website he set up, and they suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account.
Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she didn't know how much money had been raised. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set bail at $150,000. The 28-year-old was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash — which is typical — and has since been in hiding.
Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained Friday, "This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny. It was misleading and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie." The judge agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail by Sunday afternoon.
"Does your client get to sit there like a potted plant and lead the court down the primrose path? That's the issue," Lester said. "He can't sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods."
The defense countered that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything, which indicated "there was no deceit." His attorney, Mark O'Mara, said it wouldn't be a problem to bring Zimmerman back into custody by the deadline.

Rep. Thad McCotter ends write-in campaign

 Michigan’s former Attorney General said Thursday that U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter “doesn’t care about Congress anymore.”

Mike Cox, who said he once assisted McCotter by going door to door in McCotter’s campaign for state Senate, was contacted by the Observer for his thoughts on the investigation by state Attorney General Bill Schuette into petitions which contained duplicate signatures and photocopied petitions that were turned in by McCotter’s campaign workers.

The petitions were turned in on May 15, the deadline for candidates to declare their candidacies for U.S. Congress.

Schuette began an investigation after his office was notified by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office of the duplicate signatures and photocopies.

“We will follow the facts, without fear or favor,” said Schuette in a prepared statement. “It’s our duty to maintain the integrity of our election process. We will conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. If evidence of criminal violations is uncovered, we will not hesitate to prosecute.” 
A formal review by the Bureau of Elections revealed various discrepancies in the petition filing, including duplicate signatures and the appearance of altered petitions.

The onetime GOP policy chairman had previously promised to run for reelection with a write-in campaign. But he was considered to be an outside contender when, before the controversy, he would have been a certainty to regain his seat.
Kerry Bentivolio, a teacher and Vietnam War veteran, will run in the Aug. 7 primary against former GOP state Sen. Loren Bennett, who announced Friday he will run as a write-in candidate.
The congressman was subject to widespread sniping about how he failed to gather the signatures.
A flamboyant figure and avid Tweeter known for his guitar playing and love of rock music — and who is generally well regarded on Capitol Hill for his genial disposition — McCotter surprised many when he announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2011. His presidential bid lasted about six weeks.
On Thursday, former GOP state Attorney General Mike Cox told reporter Ken Abramczyk of the "Observer and Eccentric," a unit of Gannett Co. “It’s clear that he doesn’t care about Congress anymore. It’s clear that he isn’t engaged anymore.”
McCotter added in his statement: “One can’t clean up a mess multitasking. Honoring my promise to the sovereign people of our community only allows me to finish the official duties of my present congressional term; and aid the state attorney general criminal investigation that I requested into identifying the person or persons who concocted the fraudulent petitions that have cost me so dearly,” he said.
“Honoring this promise does not allow me to continue a political write-in campaign. This decision is final, regardless of how swiftly the investigation is concluded.”

.Thad McCotter

Thaddeus George "Thad" McCotter , born August 22, 1965 is the U.S. Representative to Michigan's 11th congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district includes portions of Detroit's northwestern suburbs, such as Livonia, Westland and Novi.
He is running for reelection. From July 2 to September 21, 2011, he was an official candidate for the Republican nomination for president in the 2012 election.

n April 2011, McCotter was the only member of Michigan's 15-member congressional delegation who did not confirm he was running for re-election. He indicated interest in running against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow for the U.S. Senate seat in Michigan up for election in 2012, but in May 2011, he announced that he would not campaign for the position. After ending his bid for President, McCotter announced that he would seek the seat once more.
Wikinews has related news: U.S. Congressman Thad McCotter denied ballot in re-election primary race; announces write-in campaign

On May 25, 2012, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced that McCotter had failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the August 7 primary ballot. While McCotter had turned in 2,000 signatures--the maximum permitted by Michigan law for congressional primaries--a preliminary review indicated that fewer than the required minimum of 1,000 were valid. According to a spokeswoman with the Secretary of State's office, several of McCotter's petition signatures appeared to be duplicates. Michigan election law stipulates that if duplicates are found, both the original and duplicate are ruled invalid. McCotter would have the option of running as a write-in candidate in the primary election or as an independent in the general election if he fails to qualify for a primary ballot spot.

On May 26, a source with the McCotter campaign told the Detroit Free Press that McCotter has conceded that the signatures will be ruled invalid, and that he is considering mounting a write-in effort for the Republican primary.McCotter confirmed this to Nolan Finley of The Detroit News, and added that he doesn't understand what happened. According to Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, if McCotter is relegated to a write-in candidacy, he would be the first sitting congressman since the late 1940s not to qualify for his party's primary.

In an op-ed that ran in May 29's Detroit News, McCotter announced he will mount a write-in campaign in the Republican primary for his seat. He also acknowledged that the signatures in question were indeed invalid, based on his own legal team's review. Likening himself to George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, McCotter said that he was running a write-in campaign to "clean up my own mess." Later that day, state officials announced in two separate reviews that more than 80 percent of McCotter's petition signatures were invalid. The Secretary of State's office said its review revealed only 244 of 2,000 signatures were valid. Numerous petition sheets appeared to have been copied--in some cases, as many as three times--and in some cases a different canvasser's name was attached to one of the copies. Michigan elections director Chris Thomas conducted his own review, and said there was evidence signatures from 2010 petitions had been cut-and-pasted onto the 2012 sheets. Thomas also said that McCotter had only turned in 1,830 signatures, and all but 344 were invalid. His office's review revealed that dozens of petition sheets appeared to have been copied in what he described as an "unprecedented level" of fraud.
Late on May 27, the Secretary of State's office announced that it is looking into the possibility of fraud or forgery in McCotter's petitions.

Seize Freedom!: American Truths and Renewal in a Chaotic Age, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011

McCotter is a practicing Catholic. He is married to the former Rita Michel, a nurse. They have three children.

In December 2005, McCotter joined with several other Congressmen to form the "Second Amendments," a bipartisan rock and country band set to play for United States troops stationed overseas over the holiday season. He plays lead guitar. In June 2006, the band played for President Bush's Picnic on the White House lawn, where Bush was quoted calling McCotter "that rock and roll dude.

McCotter is a frequent guest on the late-night Fox News Channel television show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld.
McCotter is also a regular guest on Dennis Miller's radio show, where the comedian-host refers to him as "young Thad" and "T-Mac" and frequently comments that he "likes the cut of his jib."
In June 2011, McCotter appeared on the Fox News Channel show Huckabee, where he performed in a musical number with his guitar.

5 bodies found in burned-out SUV in Arizona desert

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- Five dead bodies were discovered Saturday in a burned vehicle off Interstate-8 at milepost 151 in the Vekol Valley area.
Border Patrol said early Saturday morning they attempted to stop an SUV, but were unsuccessful. A few hours later they came across the burned vehicle with several bodies inside.
Investigators said that no one was found in the driver’s seat or passenger’s seat. There was one body in the back seat, and four more piled up in the back of the vehicle.
It is still too early to identify the bodies, and a possible motive has not been determined.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu did note that Vekol Valley is known for drug trafficking.

"That's when the Border Patrol agents went up to the vehicle with fire extinguishers and realized there were bodies inside, clearly deceased," the sheriff said.
None of the five killed was in the SUV's front seat. One was in the second row and the other four bodies were found "laying down flat in the cargo area," Babeu said.
A cause of death for the victims, who have not been identified, is not yet known.
The charred vehicle was the same make and model as the one spotted by the Border Patrol agent hours earlier.
Authorities are investigating whether the bodies found are linked to violence by Mexican drug cartels. The incident took place in the Vekol Valley, a hotbed of drug- and human-smuggling activity, according to Babeu, who said his department conducted 350 high-speed chases in the area last year in an effort to curb such crime.
"It looks like it's a cartel hit, where they exact revenge on people," the sheriff said, calling a drug connection "very likely" while noting there's been no definitive conclusion yet. "It happens all the time in Mexico; our fear and concern is that this violence is spilling over deep into the heart of Arizona."

Biggest wildfire in New Mexico's history burns with only 15% containment

Fire crews have contained 15 percent of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire that has burned more than 227,000 acres in southwestern New Mexico.

On Friday, crews battled the state's largest fire in history along its perimeter near Mogollon, N.M. and expect to monitor that same area on Saturday.

Burnout operations also took place around the Black Mountain Lookout Tower.

The western portion of the fire will be highly visible this weekend as officials say the fire is expected to blaze along the Black Mountain.

Heavy smoke and flames will be visible in the Glenwood community, where some evacuees are located. Smoke is expected to move southeast, but stay above ground. Reserve and Silver City could also expect heavy smoke coverage.

Since lightning ignited the Whitewater-Baldy Fire Complex wildfire on May 9, flames have devoured 227,000 acres -- more than 354 square miles -- in the southwest portion of the state. Even though 1,257 personnel have been fighting the conflagration, only 15% of it was contained Saturday, U.S. Forest Service officials said.
For purposes of comparison, the burn area of 354 square miles is more than one and a half times bigger than the city of Chicago's 227 square miles.
Two separate strikes of lightning caused the mountainous fire: the Baldy Fire started May 9 in an inaccessible area of the rugged wilderness, and the Whitewater Fire was reported on May 16 several miles west of the Baldy Fire, Forest Service officials said.
The two fires in the Gila National Forest combined May 23, enhanced by drought and sustained winds of 40 mph to 50 mph, authorities said.
It was the May 16 event that led crews to try to suppress the entirety of the fire but "the extreme fire activity, coupled with incredibly rugged terrain and large boulders falling down the steep canyons forced fire crews to pull out of the area after the first day of fighting the fire," the Forest Service said.
The fire began 15 miles east of Glenwood, New Mexico, and has been fueled by conifers, ponderosa pines, pinons, junipers and grass, Forest Service officials said.
Continuing growth potential for the history-making wildfire was "high" Saturday, the Forest Service said.
CNN affiliate KRQE reported that 12 seasonal homes in the Willow Creek area were destroyed.
Because of the state's current extreme drought, smoke in the region could persist until the monsoon season, which typically begins in early July, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Catherine Torres said in a statement.
On Saturday, the Catron County Sheriff Department said it will allow evacuated residents back into the community of Mogollon, effective Monday, but an evacuation order for the summer cabins of Willow Creek remained in effect Saturday, according to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.