Date:01.04.2010. Time: 22.00


The swine flu crisis is officially over leaving 411 Britons dead - a fraction of the number feared.

The National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) - including the the 24-hour health hotline - will be stood down on Thursday. The website will also disappear in response to the "steady reduction" in the number of cases, health chiefs have announced. Critics say the seven-month outbreak - costing an estimated £1bn - has been mishandled by ministers and health officials, with a flawed threat assessment. Some have accused the World Health Organisation of falling under the influence of pharmaceutical industry giants who have made vast profits from vaccines. As well as the deaths, there are 124 Britons still in hospital. The 5,000 cases a week are far below the average for seasonal flu.

Date: 02.04.2010. Time: 22.00


The tastiest Easter Egg

Easter is the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and AD 36. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (regardless of the astronomically correct date), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the twenty-first century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8. Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Relatively newer elements such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts have become part of the holiday's modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike. There are also some Christian denominations who do not celebrate Easter.


Date: 03.04.2010. Time: 22.00


How loved ones can help

Remind yourself of this: you're the same person you were before your diagnosis. Whatever qualities your friends and family have always valued you for are still there. It's natural to want to protect those you love from what you're experiencing - but the risk is that you'll get lonelier and those around you will feel excluded and robbed of the opportunity to show love and support. Secrets are a great burden, so share the load with those you care about. Tell them how you feel and how they can help. Talking about problems relieves anxiety. Don't try to go it alone. It often helps to look at the past. Reminiscing is therapeutic and often helps when broaching sad and sensitive issues. Photos are reminders of good times long forgotten. Making sense of the past can help you accept an uncertain future. Your friends and family may be feeling just as shocked, angry, sad and frightened as you are. This may make it hard to talk to them, but a family which communicates well is much more resilient and able to cope than a non-communicative and secretive family.

Date: 04.04.2010. Time: 22.00


Addiction & Cocaine: What is it?

Cocaine is a drug manufactured from the leaves of the South American shrub Erythroxylon coca (known as coca leaves). It’s a highly addictive stimulant drug which produces an intense although short-lived sense of euphoria and comes in several forms. Most is sold as a fine white powder which is usually snorted (taken up into the nose) but which can also be dissolved in water and injected. When cocaine is snorted it is usually divided into lines of powder on a smooth surface and snorted through a straw or rolled up piece of paper or banknote. Some forms of cocaine, such as freebase cocaine or crack cocaine (which comes as large crystals or lumps about the size of a raisin) are smoked. Powder cocaine is also known by street names such as Coke, Blow, Charlie, C and Snow, while crack cocaine may be called Rocks, Stones or base. As with other drugs, the purity of cocaine bought on the street is highly variable. Much cocaine has been mixed with other substances such as sugar or starch, so that the seller can make more money from it. Cocaine and crack cocaine are Class A illegal substances, with severe penalties for possession or supply. 

What are the effects ? 

When freebase or crack cocaine is smoked, it takes just a matter of seconds for the active chemical to enter the bloodstream in the lungs and travel directly to the brain. So it takes effect very quickly and is particularly addictive.
When cocaine is snorted, the effect is much slower as the chemical first passes through the bloodstream from the nose, into the liver (where it may be partly broken down) and then around the body to the brain.

The effects include :

• Intense sense of euphoria
• Sense of being wide-awake and full of energy
• Enhanced sense of confidence
Cocaine also has physical effects :
• Raised heart rate and blood pressure
• Increased body temperature
• Loss of appetite 

The effects are relatively short-lived. For example, the effects of smoking crack last about ten minutes, while cocaine snorted through the nose lasts up to about 30 minutes. As the effects wear off, the person typically experiences low moods and a sense of feeling generally unwell. This can drive them to take more cocaine.

Risks and withdrawal symptoms

In the short-term people may act irresponsibly, or over confidently, and so may take risks or have accidents as a result of careless behaviour. With regular use anxiety, panic attacks and even frank paranoia are common. There may be long-term changes to the brain of users, particularly in the brain’s "reward" circuits which control sense of pleasure, and personality changes. The physical effects of cocaine, especially on the cardiovascular system, increase the risk of problems such as:
• Heart attacks
• Stroke
• Seizures and respiratory problems
• Loss of libido
• Feeling constantly run-down when not taking cocaine

If a woman takes cocaine during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of miscarriage, premature labour and low birth weight. When it’s regularly snorted there may be damage to the nasal septum as the drug causes vasoconstriction, clamping down the blood supply to the tissues of the nose. There are also problems from smoking or injecting cocaine. If cocaine is smoked there may be damage to the lungs, while injecting cocaine can damage the veins and lead to ulcers and gangrene, and increases the risk of blood borne infections such as Hepatitis or HIV. Cocaine is very addictive and many users quickly develop a strong psychological dependence on it, feeling that they need it just to feel normal. Tolerance may also rapidly develop – this means that a person will need increasing amounts of the drug to get the same effect. As the effects of cocaine are so short-lived, it doesn’t tend to have physical withdrawal effects in the way other drugs do. There are physical effects at the end of a binge as the body "detoxes" itself fairly quickly – the crash starts almost immediately the cocaine wears off, with fatigue, lack of pleasure, anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, and sometimes agitation or extreme suspicion. But there is also a strong craving for more cocaine. It is this psychological symptom – craving – as well as depression anxiety and irritability which are the main withdrawal symptoms that persist in the longer term after a binge.

Management of cocaine addiction 

Most people with a significant cocaine habit will need helped from trained professionals to stop using. It’s mostly aimed at decreasing cocaine use and preventing relapse. Cognitive behavioural therapy, which involves helping a person understand all about their habit (why they use cocaine and what effect it has on them) and how they might change their behaviour, is widely used and has been shown to be effective. Social support in a variety of forms is also important. New medications which reduce the severe craving associated with cocaine addiction, as well as treatments aimed at the sort of things which tend to trigger a relapse (such as stress) can also be very helpful. Some people have significant underlying depression which may need treatment. Researchers are working on a vaccine against cocaine, which would prevent it from reaching the brain and so block any effect from it. However it’s still early days in development, and not without problems

Remedy – Drink plenty of clean drinking water, eating a good food is the best solution.

Date: 05.04.2010. Time: 22.00


Aerobic exercise during pregnancy can reduce the chances of giving birth to an over sized obesity-prone baby, a study has shown. Mothers-to-be who underwent fitness training on exercise cycles had lighter babies than women who did no exercise, scientists found. But their babies were not shorter in length and there was no evidence that they lacked nutrition. Dr Paul Hofman, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said: "Our findings show that regular aerobic exercise alters the maternal environment in some way that has an impact on nutrient stimulation of foetal growth, resulting in a reduction in offspring birth weight. "Given that large birth size is associated with an increased risk of obesity, a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk in later life." The trial involved 84 first-time mothers who were randomly assigned either to an exercise group or a non-exercise "control" group. Exercise consisted of stationary cycling and involved a maximum of five 40 minute sessions per week. The women taking exercise were asked to maintain the programme until at least the 36th week of pregnancy. All the study participants were tested for their sensitivity to insulin, the essential hormone that regulates the body's use of sugar. One concern about exercise during pregnancy has been that it could prevent maternal insulin resistance.

Date: 06.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Five-a-day has little impact on cancer, study finds

Eating more fruit and vegetables has only a modest effect on protecting against cancer, a study into the link between diet and disease has found. The study of 500,000 Europeans joins a growing body of evidence undermining the high hopes that pushing "five-a-day" might slash Western cancer rates. The international team of researchers estimates only around 2.5% of cancers could be averted by increasing intake. But experts stress eating fruit and vegetables is still key to good health. In 1990, the World Health Organization recommended that everyone consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. The advice has formed a central plank of public health campaigns in many developed countries. It has been promoted in the UK since 2003 and in the US for nearly two decades. But research has failed to substantiate the suggestion that as many as 50% of cancers could be prevented by boosting the public's consumption of fruit and vegetables. This latest study, which analysed recruits from 10 countries to the highly-regarded European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, confirms that the association between fruit and vegetable intake and reduced cancer risk is indeed weak. The team, led by researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York, took into account lifestyle factors such as smoking and exercise when drawing their conclusions. But writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, they said they could not rule out that even the small reduction in cancer risk seen was down to the fact that the kind of people who ate more fruit and vegetables lived healthier lives in many other respects too.

Broccoli not biscuits

In the best case scenario, an extra two portions of fruit and vegetables each day could prevent 2.6% of cancers in men and 2.3% of cases in women, the study concluded. Vegetables, which tend to be richer in nutrients, appeared to be more beneficial than fruits, while heavy drinkers seemed to gain the most from a higher intake of both when it came to protection from cancers caused by alcohol and smoking. In an accompanying editorial, Professor Walter Willet of Harvard University said the research strongly confirmed the findings of other studies, showing "that any association of intake and fruits and vegetables with risk of cancer is weak at best". But he stressed specific substances contained in certain fruit and vegetables, if harnessed, could still have an important, protective effect. Substantial evidence suggests lycopene from tomatoes, for instance, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, while chemicals in broccoli are thought to stimulate a gene which protects against bowel cancer. And data still suggests fruit and vegetables may provide protection against cardiovascular disease, one of the major killers in the developed world - although this too has yet to be proven categorically.

Keeping lean

But while the links between diet and cancer remain unclear, obesity is now seen as an established risk factor. Fruit and vegetables could therefore be beneficial just by virtue of taking the place of more calorific fare, health experts say. In any event, a reduced risk of 2.5% should not be dismissed out of hand, the World Cancer Research Fund argues. "For the UK, this works out as about 7,000 cases a year, which is a significant number," says Dr Rachel Thompson from the charity, which in a major 1997 report said there was "convincing evidence" of the protective effect of fruit and vegetables. Yinka Ebo of Cancer Research UK said: "It's still a good idea to eat your five-a-day but remember that fruits and vegetables are pieces in a much larger lifestyle jigsaw. "There are many things we can do to lower our chances of developing cancer such as not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy balanced diet, being physically active and staying safe in the sun."

Date: 07.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Hassan and Hossien to be separated

Conjoined Twin Boys To Be Separated

Four-month-old conjoined twins from County Cork are to be separated by doctors at a top children 's hospital. The procedure to separate Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf is taking place at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The twins were born on December 2 last year to Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf who also have two girls, Malika and Imam. The boys have been doing so well that their operation has been brought forward. They are being operated on by a team at Great Ormond Street under the direction of consultant paediatric surgeon Edward Kiely. Mr Kiely says his team is the most experienced in Europe in caring for conjoined twins - it has already dealt with 21 separations. The boys are reportedly joined at the chest, although they do not share organs. The operation is  expected to take 20 hours. A fund was set up shortly after the birth to help cover medical costs for the twins, who their mother calls "little fighters". Mrs Benhaffaf said shortly after the birth that her family's world had been "turned upside down" when it was revealed she was expecting conjoined twins. However, once the babies were born, she realised they were a gift. Mrs Benhaffaf said: "We do feel blessed by them. It was never expected that they would live or do as well as they probably have been doing - hence their (nick)name." Conjoined twins are very rare, occurring just once in every 200,000 births.

Date: 08.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Trial by error

In September this year, a young woman fell ill and died, hours after she was injected with Cervarix, the vaccine intended to prevent cervical cancer. Several media reports questioned the safety of the vaccine and called for the schools vaccination programme to be scrapped. The batch of vaccine was quarantined until investigations could be completed, but after a post mortem concluded that the schoolgirl had died of a previously unknown tumour, the vaccination programme continued. I am no great fan of Cervarix, but not for safety reasons. Rather, I am not convinced that doubts about its performance have been adequately addressed by research. The management of this unexpected fatality, however, was faultless. The possible link to the vaccine was instantly spotted and properly reacted to. Deaths in young schoolgirls are uncommon, so the potential danger was easier to identify, and in this case it was relatively easy to rule out. The conclusions from investigations into potential drug reactions are not always so clear. Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory drug, was withdrawn from sale in 2004 after concerns were raised about it increasing cardiovascular risk. While Cervarix is given to a limited number of girls, by the time Vioxx was withdrawn, it had been prescribed for more than 80 million people. After a drug is approved in the UK, the main vehicle for reporting possible problems is the Yellow Card Scheme, where notes of concern are sent to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Although anyone can now report side effects, not just doctors, there are concerns that only a small percentage of drug reactions is flagged up. A paper published recently in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences explores the difficulty with schemes such as the yellow card. The researchers noted that even if people are alert to specific side effects of a drug, such as adverse reactions in cardiac health, these may still be misreported since cardiac disease is so common. With a rarer condition, for example phocomelia, or shortened limbs, it was easier to spot a problem with the medicine, Thalidomide. The report notes that only a trial large enough to detect a change in the incidence of cardiovascular deaths could have identified the danger when Vioxx was launched in 1999. No such trial was conducted. It seems astonishing that for all the useless data we collect in medicine, we aren’t prioritising the collection of better information on the effects of new drugs. As the authors say: “Not prescribing high-risk drugs may be an even higher priority than prescribing drugs that lower cardiovascular risk.” 

Date: 09.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Plus & Minus

When we are recommended an operation or healthcare intervention, it’s likely we’re going to want some information about it. Not just who will do it, where and when, but also the chances of whether it could damage, maim or even kill. All procedures – even straightforward ones – entail the risk of complication, so it’s important to be informed. One way of doing this is to use “calculators” to predict these health risks. Some of these are available online, often targeted at assessing cardiovascular risk. By entering your age, smoking history, blood pressure, family history and diabetic status, a calculation is made projecting risk for cardiovascular disease over the following years. When it comes to operations, calculators are used to indicate whether a patient will survive, so they predict outcomes in shorter time frames. The euro SCORE (European System for Cardiac Operative Risk Evaluation) is one of the better-known utilities. Using data from 128 European hospitals, it was developed by analysing post-op outcomes and complications. Points were assigned to risk factors noticed before the operation, such as renal failure, then used to calculate absolute risk, or the number of patients out of 100 with similar conditions who were likely to die post-operatively. Several hundred US hospitals have recently been in the medical news for their use of a new calculator, this time to evaluate the risk of death or complications after bowel surgery. The Journal of the American College of Surgeons published a paper last year which used data from almost 30,000 people at 182 US hospitals. Researchers used 30 variables to predict risk after colon surgery; 15 factors were found to predict closely for morbidity and mortality. This system has now been rolled out to 250 hospitals in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, although it costs each hospital $35,000 a year to take part (the European heart calculator is free online). Better-informed patients can make more meaningful decisions, and risk adjusters may make it easier to compare institutions’ performance. But this can only be the beginning. There is no point in knowing the risk of an operation if we don’t know the risk of not having it, or if there is another operation that could offer the desired outcomes with less risk. I also have a niggling doubt that this calculator might be seen as a substitute for good communication skills. It can only ever be a part of, not a proxy for, a more nuanced conversation between doctor and patient.

Date: 10.04.2010. Time: 22.00


Health Secretary Andy Burnham said he deeply regretted the distress caused to bereaved families of people whose organs were removed without consent following a huge blunder affecting the UK donor register. Around 800,000 people had their wishes about the use of their organs wrongly recorded due to an error, it was revealed. An investigation found that 45 individuals for whom false data were stored have since died. The NHS is about to contact approximately 20 families who allowed organs to be taken after being misinformed about what consent had previously been given. Mr Burnham said: "Giving the gift of an organ is a most selfless act and organ donors transform the lives of thousands of people every year. "I want to assure the millions of people on the organ donor register that they can have full confidence that only their accurate information will be discussed with their families, and that their wishes will be respected. "This has clearly not happened in a small number of cases in the past, and I deeply regret the distress caused to the families. "In all cases, donation was discussed with family members before decisions were made. It is important that those who wish to donate tell their families of their wishes." He added: "I have asked NHS Blood and Transplant to take immediate steps to identify and contact all affected families. This process is under way and will be completed as quickly as possible. "I have asked Professor Sir Gordon Duff of Sheffield University to carry out a review to find out why this has happened, prevent mistakes like this being made again and ensure all necessary steps are taken to maintain confidence in the organ donor register."

Date: 11.04.2010. Time: 22.00

A British hospital has become the first in the world to give xenon gas to a stricken new-born baby to prevent it suffering brain injury. Riley Joyce received the life-transforming treatment at St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, when he was taken there suffering from lack of oxygen. Riley was delivered at the Royal United Hospital, Bath in a critical condition, with no pulse and needed to be resuscitated. He was transferred to Bristol after his brain waves gave abnormal readings. On arrival his parents were told there was still a "50:50" chance of permanent injury and disability. They were asked if they would agree to Riley being the first baby ever to inhale xenon gas as an experimental treatment that might improve his chances of full recovery. After Prof Marianne Thoresen and her colleague Dr James Tooley had stabilised Riley at 33.5 degrees Celsius, Riley's breathing machine was connected to the xenon delivery system for three hours. Riley was kept cool for 72 hours, then slowly rewarmed and was able to breathe without the machine on day five. Prof Thoresen said: "After seven days, Riley was alert, able to look at his mother's face, hold up his head and begin to take milk." Riley's parents, Dave and Sarah Joyce, said: "We are delighted that Riley is doing so well and we are extremely grateful that we were given this opportunity. "Marianne was so passionate about the treatment and we truly believe that she had and still has the best interests of Riley in mind."

Date: 12.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Learning from the recession

 There is no doubt that the recent recession has been a painful time for most businesses - but some have managed to come out on top. That's certainly true for the following quartet, especially as up to 120 small firms were going bust a day at the height of the financial crisis, according to accountants BDO. The four have had to work even harder in the business world, as they are all female entrepreneurs. A recent Business link survey found 20% of women entrepreneurs still feel they have to work harder than men to prove themselves in the business world.  And while the ladies span the diverse sectors of fashion, construction and food all four have a similar tale of belt-tightening and innovation against a turbulent economic background. It also seems their hard work paid off - they were all nominated for this year's Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award - so how did they do it?

Date: 13.04.2010. Time: 22.00

We have polluted the earth, water, air, soil and ...we have to pay the price....

China earthquake 6.9 kills hundreds in Qingha

At least 300 people have died and thousands are feared injured after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck China's Qinghai province, officials say. The powerful tremor hit remote Yushu county, 800km (500 miles) south-west of the provincial capital Xining, at 0749 (2349 GMT), at a shallow depth of 10km. Most of the buildings in the worst-hit town of Jiegu were wrecked, and landslides have cut off roads. Rescue crews were travelling to Yushu, hundreds of miles from a major airport. About 5,000 specialist quake rescuers have been dispatched from neighbouring provinces, with the first teams expected to reach Yushu within hours. A local official in Jiegu told the BBC that the loss from the quake was huge, and that almost all of the buildings in the town had been destroyed. "The death toll will definitely go up," he said. Many people have fled the town to nearby mountains, amid fears that a nearby dam could burst. State media reported that officials are trying to drain a reservoir after a crack appeared in the dam. A spokesman for the local government told China's state news agency Xinhua that the area was in urgent need of help. "The streets in Jiegu are thronged with panic - injured people, with many bleeding in the head," Zhuo Huaxia told Xinhua. "Many students are buried under the debris due to building collapse at a vocational school. "I can see injured people everywhere. The biggest problem now is that we lack tents, we lack medical equipment, medicine and medical workers." Many of the buildings in Yushu, a county with a largely Tibetan population of about 250,000, were thought to be made from wood. In 2008, a huge quake struck in neighbouring Sichuan province, about 800km from Yushu, which left 87,000 people dead or missing.

Quake-prone region

Earlier, Karsum Nyima local TV station told China's state-run CCTV that houses had gone down "in a flash". "It was a terrible earthquake. In a small park, there is a Buddhist tower and the top of the tower fell off," he said. "Everybody is out on the streets, standing in front of their houses, trying to find their family members." Earthquake survivors are struggling to stay warm in temperatures of about 6C. Power and water have been cut off, and the road to the local airport is reported to have been blocked by landslides. The remote high-altitude region is prone to earthquakes, but officials from the US Geological Survey said this was the strongest quake within 100km of the area since 1976. The region, which is home to Tibetan farmers and herdsmen, is dotted with coal, tin, lead and copper mines. Yushu is roughly half-way between Xining and Lhasa, about 200km from the Qinghai-Tibet railway line. After the Sichuan quake, five million people were left homeless, and officials estimated rebuilding work would take at least three years. The government later punished people who had compiled lists of the victims and had suggested shoddy school-building was partly to blame for the high death toll. 

Date: 14.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Raising Awareness of MS

One of the MS Trust's goals is to help everyone understand the impact of multiple sclerosis. We work to achieve this every day, but MS Awareness Week gives us a real opportunity to help people across the UK understand what it means to have MS. It also gives you the opportunity raise awareness of MS in your local area and we can help you achieve that. This year the MS Trust is highlighting how self-management can enable people to better understand their own MS and live life to the full. We will feature practical strategies including, working in partnership with health professionals, living well and understanding and managing fatigue and cognitive symptoms.

Can you help raise awareness of MS this year?

MS Awareness Week runs from 26 April - 2 May 2010. The week provides a great opportunity to help people across the UK understand what it means to have MS and to focus the debate on how to improve MS services. It also gives you the opportunity to do something to raise awareness of MS in your locality. You could set up an information stand at work, in your local library, your GP’s surgery or anywhere that you think might get people’s attention. Or you could organise an event with friends, colleagues or family to help give them a better understanding of MS and its effects. We can provide you with materials and information to display, whether you are doing this on a small or large scale. Contact us to find out how we can support you in raising awareness of MS.

Date: 15.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Let us talk and tell the truth for a minute

                              Clegg                 Cameron                           Brown

Erection Time and telling goodies but not doing goodies

Even if it did represent an Americanisation of our politics, this debate felt healthy and important. The fear was that it would be vacuous like it did in Iran  in April 2009. And first impressions seemed to vindicate that. Live political debates are in no way a purely American phenomenon. Almost every democracy has them. But they carry the image of an Americanised, superficial political culture. The argument against today's debate was that we already have the Commons, where the leaders battle it out every week. There is no substitute for that in American politics. We have fierce general election campaigns, where leaders are thrown in front of critical journalists and members of the public every day. The televised debate seemed like another step away from substance and into personality and image. First impressions confirmed this assessment too. The tricks were on display. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown all cited personal anecdotes and told stories of the people they'd met. Clegg stared endlessly into the camera in a way that was clearly intended to be egalitarian but might have come across as unnerving. His manner while listening to the others - hand in pocket, disapproving expression - came across much better, but he adopted it in a way that revealed he had been told to do it. They all made a point of saying where they agreed with their opponents, a manoeuvre which makes the speaker appear consensual, reasonable and less party political. It's taken almost directly from the Vince Cable handbook. Where abuse was used (mostly Brown) it was clever and soft, not loud and childish as it often becomes during PMQs. Cameron's placing in the middle (they will rotate throughout the debates) was considered a victory by his team, but it gave the impression he was lost and victimised, even if this might have simply been an effect of his generally poor performance. Brown had clearly been well briefed. He avoided reeling off lists of statistics as he tends to do in more traditional debates - a tactic despised by many parliamentary observers and members of the public. And yet, these are all deeply superficial conclusions, seemingly vindicating the idea that this was an unhealthy step. It's not as simple as that. Last night's event genuinely gave voters another image of the three men who want to be prime minister. They were noticeably more conciliatory. It's not altogether absurd to suggest this might be an effect of the forum. With all three men stood together facing out at the audience, they seemed to naturally adopt a more consensual approach than they ever could in the face-to-face, adversarial arrangements of the Commons. Also, tonight was spent discussing policy. Political obsessive will focus, paradoxically, on the stylistic aspects, because they already know the policies, but that was not necessarily the case for many of the people watching. Given that the programme allowed for 90 minutes of discussion on serious issues without any of the rules and conventions of the Commons which so alienate the public, the onus is on those who disapprove to demonstrate why, rather than the other way around. Now that it has happened, it would be shocking and bewildering for these debates not to become a traditional part of the general election campaign.

Date: 16.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Iceland volcano: UK flights grounded for second day.  More problem because we have polluted air, soil, water, foods, and ... Therefore we will pay the price. 

Flights across the UK are to remain grounded for a second day as volcanic ash from Iceland drifts across Europe. Air traffic control body Nats extended its restrictions on UK airspace until at least 0100BST on Saturday. A tiny number of services will be permitted to fly into and out of Northern Ireland, western Scotland and south-west England. The continuing volcanic eruption caused cancellations across Europe amid fears the ash could cause engine failures. Experts say the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud from the still-erupting volcano could jam aircraft engines, as has happened in previous incidents of planes flying into plumes of volcanic ash. Nats, which restricted all UK airspace at 1200BST on Thursday, allowed five flights overnight from North America into Belfast, Prestwick and Glasgow airports overnight as gaps in the cloud became apparent. Nats said that flights between Northern Ireland and the western isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow and Prestwick would continue until 1900 on Friday, on a case-by-case basis. North Atlantic traffic to and from Glasgow, Prestwick and Belfast, it added, may also be allowed until then. A further update is expected at 1430.

Knock-on effects

Stranded passengers have flooded other modes of travel. Eurostar trains reported a complete sell-out of its services to Brussels and Paris for the second day on Friday. "We are carrying more than 38,000 people today and all our trains are full," a spokeswoman for the company said. "We are telling potential customers without bookings not to come to St Pancras because they will not be able to travel." Rail and ferry services are reporting rises in their passenger numbers, with ferry operators Stena and Fastnet saying there were significant increases in customers on services departing from Wales. European air traffic control organisation Eurocontrol has said that the situation was "as bad as on Thursday or worse". Eurocontrol spokesman Brian Flynn said that "we lost 8,000 flights of 28,000 on Thursday" and expected that number could rise to 17,000 today.

• The airspace of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania is restricted as completely as in the UK
• Northern parts of Germany, France and Poland are also fully restricted
• A small number of flights to and from the west are operating from airports at Dublin and Shannon in the Irish Republic and smaller airports in Sweden and Norway
• Polish officials will take a decision on Friday about delaying the state funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash last Saturday
• Shares in airlines BA, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa were all down in early trading on Friday

The Nats extension of restrictions for the UK was the second since Thursday evening. So far an estimated 600,000 passengers have been affected in the UK. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and would be meeting key transport officials. Mr Flynn told the reporters a lack of wind meant the ash cloud was "progressing very slowly eastwards" and remained "very dense" but was no longer heading any further south. Ash from the cloud was first detected at ground level on Scotland's Northern Isles on Thursday evening, and early reports from the Shetland islands said that the sky had a light yellow hue on Friday morning. The Health Protection Agency has stressed the ash does not pose a significant risk to public health, and Health Protection Scotland says only a low concentration of particles is expected to reach the ground. It advises that some people with respiratory problems may experience short-term effects, but there should be no serious harm. The Eyjafjallajoekull eruption was the second in Iceland in less than a month. Volcanologist Thor Thordarsson said if the volcano maintained its current phase of activity, then the eruption could be over in "a few hours or even a few days" meaning the atmosphere would clear shortly afterwards. But he added: "If the eruption has a phase change and starts to produce lava... then we might be in for a much longer haul, an eruption that might last for months or even years, with a quiet period in between intermittent explosions."

Date: 17.04.2010. Time: 22.00

All the flights have been canceled

Volcanic ash cloud grounds all UK flights again 

Flights across the whole of the UK have been grounded once again amid forecasts of a worsening threat posed to aircraft by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.
Restrictions had been lifted in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Friday evening but were reapplied overnight. At the same time, the continuing ban on flights in England and Wales was extended from 1300 BST until 1900 BST. Officials have warned the knock-on effect of cancellations could disrupt European airspace for several days. Hundreds of thousands of passengers have been stranded in the UK and abroad by flight cancellations. 

'Windows of opportunity'

Restrictions on flights in the UK have been in place since 1200 BST on Thursday because of fears particles in the ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland could shut down plane engines. Air travel across Europe has been severely affected, with a raft of countries from Belgium to Switzerland completely closing their airspace, while others like Austria, Germany and Poland have enforced partial closures. At 0415 BST, air traffic control body Nats said: "Following the latest information from the Met Office, Nats advises that restrictions across UK-controlled airspace have been extended until at least 1900 (UK time) and that restrictions to Scottish and Manchester airspace have been reapplied until the same time. "Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday. "We are continuing to look for windows of opportunity to handle individual flights in UK-controlled airspace." Manchester and Liverpool airports had been offered a six-hour window - between 0400 BST and 1000 BST - in which to operate some flights, but the changing conditions meant that was later revoked. BAA said passengers due to fly should not travel to its airports - Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow - but contact their airline for re-ticketing information. Nats is due to make its next statement at 0900 BST. BBC weather forecaster Nick Miller said: "As the weekend goes on there is a risk that prevailing winds will keep volcanic ash in the air above parts of the UK, and may even bring it back to those parts from which it has cleared." 

'Significant disruption'

On Friday, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis warned passengers there was likely to be "significant disruption" for the next 48 hours. European air traffic control organisation Eurocontrol said about 60% of flights within Europe had been grounded on Friday, representing about 17,000 services. More than half of the normal 300 trans-Atlantic flights had also been canceled and it warned of "significant disruption" of European air traffic on Saturday. The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso), a global association of air traffic control companies, said the knock-on effect of the cancellations so far would probably disrupt European airspace for several days."Traffic will have to be reorganised and rerouted and flights re-planned, all on a dynamic and quite unpredictable basis," it said in a statement. In other developments: 

• Switzerland closed its airspace to aircraft flying under 11,000 metres (36,000 ft) from midnight (2200 GMT on Friday) until at least 2000 local time (1800 GMT) and Romania also closed its airspace over the north-west from 0300 local time (0000 GMT on Saturday) 

• Ryanair canceled all flights to and from northern Europe until 1300 BST on Monday. It will keep running in southern and central Europe, although flight restrictions are being imposed in Hungary and Romania 

• The airline canceled all its flights on Friday and Saturday, adding additional flights for Sunday and Monday 

• P&O Ferries said it had dealt with 30,000 calls on Friday - the most it had dealt with on one day in its history. It said it would be unable to accept any further foot-passenger bookings

• Eurostar trains reported a complete sell-out of its services to Brussels and Paris for the second day on Friday.

It has warned customers without bookings not to go to London's St Pancras station because they will not be able to travel Experts say the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud could jam aircraft engines, as has happened in previous incidents of planes flying into plumes of volcanic ash. The last eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano system that is creating the problems was on 20 March, when a 0.5km-long fissure opened up on the eastern side of the glacier at the Fimmvoerduhals Pass. The eruption prior to that started in 1821 and continued intermittently for more than a year.

Date: 18.04.2010. Time: 22.00

We have polluted soil, water, air, foods therefore we pay the high price

Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK have been extended to 7pm on Sunday amid fears that the travel crisis could drag on indefinitely. Air traffic Control Company Nats announced that the ash cloud caused by an erupting Icelandic volcano was still covering the UK and the flight ban would continue as a result. There is currently no end to the disruption in sight with volcanologists warning that the eruptions from Mount Eyjafjallajokull could continue for months. Officials said airlines would continue to be subject to restrictions for as long as ash billowed into British airspace. A spokesman for airport operator BAA advised passengers not to travel to airports and to keep in touch with their airlines. Graeme Leitch of the Met Office said a change in the wind direction might mean flight restrictions could be lifted but there was no indication that any such change was imminent.

Date: 19.04.2010. Time: 22.00


Man who cares about humanities, environment pollution

Vartan C. Gregorian (born April 8, 1934 in Tabriz, Iran) is an Iranian-American academic, currently serving as the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He is of Armenian descent. After receiving his dual Ph.D. in history and humanities from Stanford University in 1964, Gregorian served on the faculties at several American universities before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he became the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1974, and the provost in 1978. From 1981 to 1989, Gregorian served as president of the New York Public Library, an eight-year tenure which would prove one of his most lasting legacies. In 1989, he was chosen to become president of Brown University, where he served until 1997. In 1995, he was offered the presidency of Columbia University, which he declined due to his commitment to Brown's capital campaign. In 1997, he was selected as president of the philanthropic Carnegie Corporation of New York, his current position as of 2009. He is also a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a member of the advisory board of the PARSA Community Foundation. He has received the National Humanities Medal. In 2004, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Gregorian is on the advisory board of USC Centre on Public Diplomacy, the Brookings Doha Centre and is a member of the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. A Phi Beta Kappa and a Ford Foundation Foreign Area Training Fellow, he is a recipient of numerous fellowships, including those from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council and the American Philosophical Society. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts of Sciences. He has also received (as of 2006) honorary degrees from fifty-six institutions. He documented much of his private life in his 2003 autobiography The Road to Home: My Life and Times.

Date: 20.04.2010. Time: 22.00

What is hair loss in women?

One of the commonest forms of hair loss in women (and men) is a condition called telogen effluvium, in which there is a diffuse (or widely spread out) shedding of hairs around the scalp and elsewhere on the body. This is usually a reaction to intense stress on the body's physical or hormonal systems, or as a reaction to medication. The condition, which can occur at any age, generally begins fairly suddenly and gets better on its own within about six months, although for a few people it can become a chronic problem. Because telogen effluvium develops a while after its trigger, and causes generalised thinning of hair density rather than a bald patch, women with the condition can easily be diagnosed as overanxious or neurotic. Fortunately, it often gets better with time. Telogen effluvium is a phenomenon related to the growth cycles of hair. Hair growth cycles alternate between a growth phase (called anagen, it lasts about three years) and a resting phase (telogen, which lasts about three months). During telogen, the hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by the growth of a new hair in the anagen phase. At any one time, up to about 15 per cent of hairs are in telogen. But a sudden stress on the body can trigger large numbers of hairs to enter the telogen phase at the same time. Then, about three months later, this large number of hairs will be shed. As the new hairs start to grow out, so the density of hair may thicken again. Many adults have had an episode of telogen effluvium at some point in their lives, reflecting episodes of illness or stress. Another common type of hair loss in women is androgenetic alopecia, which is related to hormone levels in the body. There's a large genetic predisposition, which may be inherited from the father or mother. Androgenetic alopecia affects roughly 50 per cent of men (this is the main cause of the usual pattern of balding seen as men age) and perhaps as many women over the age of 40. Research shows that up to 13 per cent of women have some degree of this sort of hair loss before the menopause, and afterwards it becomes far more common - one piece of research suggests that over the age of 65 as many as 75 per cent of women are affected.

Causes and risk factors 

The cause of hair loss in androgentic alopecia is a chemical called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which is made from androgens (male hormones that all men and women produce) by the action of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. People with a lot of this enzyme make more DHT, which in excess can cause the hair follicles to make thinner and thinner hair, until eventually they pack up completely. Women's pattern of hair loss is different to the typical receding hairline and crown loss in men. Instead, androgenetic alopecia causes a general thinning of women's hair, with loss predominantly over the top and sides of the head. Another important cause of hair loss in women is a condition called alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that affects more than two per cent of the population. In this, the hair follicles are attacked by white blood cells. The follicles then become very small and hair production slows down dramatically, so there may be no visible hair growth for months and years. After some time, hair may re-grow as before, come back in patchy areas, or not re-grow at all. The good news is that in every case the hair follicles remain alive and can be switched on again; the bad news is that we don't yet know how to do this.

Treatment and recovery

Myths about female hair loss

• It means you're not a proper women with two X chromosomes.
• It's caused by washing your hair too often.
• It's caused by too much brushing or combing.
• Hair dyes and perms can cause permanent loss.
• It may result from wearing hats and wigs.
• Shaving your hair will make it regrow thicker.
• Standing on your head will help it grow back.
• It's a sign of an overactive brain.
• There's a miracle cure out there waiting for you.

Scan the internet and you'll see all sorts of miracle cures for baldness on offer, from strange herbal lotions to mechanical devices. Perhaps the most useful first step you can take is to avoid the myths. After this there are several options. You can find some way to accept the change and live with it (let's face it, this is a tall order - most men struggle to come to terms with their baldness and for them at least society equates it with maturity and power). You can try cosmetic treatments such as wigs or hair thickeners, or you can try medical therapies. The last option is hair-replacement surgery. The drug minoxidil was first developed for treating high blood pressure, which was found to have the side effect of thickening hair growth in some people. It's now available as a lotion to apply directly to the scalp. No one really knows how it works, however, and it's not effective for everyone. Studies show that only about 20 per cent of women between 18 and 45 have moderate re-growth using the drug, while another 40 per cent experience minimal re-growth. It works best on younger people with early hair loss. A big disadvantage is that you have to carry on using minoxidil indefinitely or the new hair will fall out. Another drug, finasteride, which was developed for treating prostate cancer, has also been found to be effective but is only available for men. Surgical techniques for restoring hair have improved greatly in the past couple of decades, but this is still an option that requires careful consideration.

There are two main options:

• Hair transplantation - tiny punch-holes of skin containing a few follicles of hair are taken from elsewhere in the body (such as the back of the head, if this is still well covered) and implanted into the thinning areas. Some surgeons use a needle to sew in just one or two hairs. However, as women are more likely to have diffuse loss of hair all over the scalp, this technique may not be possible. There has been little success with implanting artificial fibres.
• Scalp reduction - devices are inserted under the skin to stretch areas of scalp that still have hair, then the redundant bald areas are removed. Alternatively, flaps of hairy scalp can be moved around the head.

Date: 21.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Return to nature. We were created from soil and we will return to soil.

This is special soil which provide the best medical treatment.

Date: 22.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Who tells lie and who tells the truth?


Despite the polling upheavals of the last week, Gordon Brown and David Cameron's determination to tackle each other fatally compromised any expected demolition of Nick Clegg during the second televised leaders' debate. As anticipated, the Liberal Democrat leader was attacked by his Conservative and Labour counterparts on his opposition to a like-for-like replacement of Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent. Brown also laid into Clegg for being "anti-American", while Cameron described Lib Dem proposals for a straight in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union as a "con". But these attacks aside, and despite the essential and unprecedented parity between the three parties in recent polls, the prime minister and leader of the opposition focused on undermining each other's policies rather than confronting the growing Lib Dem threat. Cameron said Labour was trying to "frighten you" into backing the Conservatives. Brown said the recovery was "put at risk by Conservative policies". Both men may have been justified in refusing to change their overall approach, despite the apparently campaign-changing developments of the last week. While Cameron's best section was his "very, very angry" outburst against Labour "lies" over alleged Tory plans to cut measures helping elderly people, the prime minister was at his most prime ministerial when he unconsciously adopted the No 10 mindset. On Europe, for example, he blurted out: "I need to work with these other countries." Brown and Cameron were at their most united not in ganging up on Clegg, as many pundits had predicted, but during the section on a hung parliament. Despite prompts from the moderator, both men emphasised the "fundamental disagreement" which existed between Labour and the Conservatives on how to deal with the deficit in the next 12 months. The issue dominated the first week of the campaign and has rumbled along, unresolved, ever since. It was this fixation with each other's policies that led to their biggest error. For while they used their 'free debate' time to target each other, Clegg was slowly accumulating a series of statements designed to quell the fears about a hung parliament raised in the last seven days. "The world won't end. We'll talk to each other to provide the good government, the sound government, that you deserve," he said. "You deserve a government where we put your interests first and don't allow everything, constantly, to be hijacked by political pointscoring." Earlier the most striking section of the debate followed a question about restoring faith in politics and politicians. Clegg, again directly addressing the British people by looking into the camera (this time copied by Cameron, but not Brown), delivered an impassioned appeal to those who appeared to be wavering in his favour. "Get stuck in!" he urged the disaffected. "It's your country, it's your future, assert your right to vote, to shape your own future." As last week, placing the Lib Dem leader on a podium next to his two main counterparts has given him a huge boost. Cameron and Brown expended so much energy attacking each other they were simply less effective in confronting Clegg, and as a result he has still gained the most from tonight. On one level, the sheer effrontery of Brown and Cameron's decision to go for each other is breathtaking. On the other, as this morning's headlines show, perhaps they have realised something we haven't: intense press attention on the Lib Dems is doing a much better job of undermining Clegg than any of their efforts in tonight's short 90-minute exchange. By that measure, all three leaders will have reason to be pleased by their performances. Despite the polling upheavals of the last week, Gordon Brown and David Cameron's determination to tackle each other fatally compromised any expected demolition of Nick Clegg during the second televised leaders' debate. As anticipated, the Liberal Democrat leader was attacked by his Conservative and Labour counterparts on his opposition to a like-for-like replacement of Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent. Brown also laid into Clegg for being "anti-American", while Cameron described Lib Dem proposals for a straight in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union as a "con". But these attacks aside, and despite the essential and unprecedented parity between the three parties in recent polls, the prime minister and leader of the opposition focused on undermining each other's policies rather than confronting the growing Lib Dem threat. Cameron said Labour was trying to "frighten you" into backing the Conservatives. Brown said the recovery was "put at risk by Conservative policies". Both men may have been justified in refusing to change their overall approach, despite the apparently campaign-changing developments of the last week. While Cameron's best section was his "very, very angry" outburst against Labour "lies" over alleged Tory plans to cut measures helping elderly people, the prime minister was at his most prime ministerial when he unconsciously adopted the No 10 mindset. On Europe, for example, he blurted out: "I need to work with these other countries." Brown and Cameron were at their most united not in ganging up on Clegg, as many pundits had predicted, but during the section on a hung parliament. Despite prompts from the moderator, both men emphasised the "fundamental disagreement" which existed between Labour and the Conservatives on how to deal with the deficit in the next 12 months. The issue dominated the first week of the campaign and has rumbled along, unresolved, ever since. It was this fixation with each other's policies that led to their biggest error. For while they used their 'free debate' time to target each other, Clegg was slowly accumulating a series of statements designed to quell the fears about a hung parliament raised in the last seven days. "The world won't end. We'll talk to each other to provide the good government, the sound government, that you deserve," he said. "You deserve a government where we put your interests first and don't allow everything, constantly, to be hijacked by political pointscoring." Earlier the most striking section of the debate followed a question about restoring faith in politics and politicians. Clegg, again directly addressing the British people by looking into the camera (this time copied by Cameron, but not Brown), delivered an impassioned appeal to those who appeared to be wavering in his favour. "Get stuck in!" he urged the disaffected. "It's your country, it's your future, assert your right to vote, to shape your own future." As last week, placing the Lib Dem leader on a podium next to his two main counterparts has given him a huge boost. Cameron and Brown expended so much energy attacking each other they were simply less effective in confronting Clegg, and as a result he has still gained the most from tonight. On one level, the sheer effrontery of Brown and Cameron's decision to go for each other is breathtaking. On the other, as this morning's headlines show, perhaps they have realised something we haven't: intense press attention on the Lib Dems is doing a much better job of undermining Clegg than any of their efforts in tonight's short 90-minute exchange. By that measure, all three leaders will have reason to be pleased by their performances.

Date: 23.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Where do we dump our rubbish in UK

China Blasts Rubbish Dumps with Deodorant

Beijing is waging war against the stench of its growing rubbish tips by using giant deodorant sprays to cover the smell as the warmer weather causes more waste to rot. Employees at the Gao'antun Garbage Landfill Plant, in the city's suburbs, used more than 100 cannons for the job after local officials were forced to apologise for the foul smells coming from the dump. Officially termed "high pressure long-range deodorant sprays", they blast a liquid created from plant extract onto waste arriving at the site and can reach up to 15 metres away. The biological compound neutralises the smell. The fragrance-covered rubbish is then buried under odour-eating covering sheets and further deodorant is sprayed on top. Other devices also been introduced, including a machine that extracts the foul-smelling gases and uses them to generate electricity. But waste management experts have expressed doubts over the deodorant scheme. "The cannons are stench-neutralising tools that should be used under special circumstances. But we cannot keep blasting all day long," said Nie Yongfeng, Professor of environmental and engineering sciences at Tsinghua University. "If these cannons keep blasting every day, they will definitely cause noise pollution to the surrounding area." Gao'antun landfill is just one of many sites struggling to process the mountains of rubbish produced by China's heaving capital. Beijing's 17.6 million residents produce 18,400 tonnes of household garbage daily, 90% of which is dumped in the 13 landfills dispersed around the city, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Date: 24.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Heroic Dog Saves Owner's House From Fire

A German Shepherd dog in Alaska has been given a hero's award for saving his owner's house from a fire. Five-year-old Buddy guided a team of Alaska State Troopers through winding back roads to the property in a remote area some 55 miles north of Anchorage. His owner, Ben Heinrichs, 23, was working on his truck inside his garage when a spark ignited near some fuel and caught fire, setting his clothes alight. Mr Heinrichs managed to run outside, closing the door to stock the fire from spreading, and rolled in the snow to extinguish the flames on his clothes. But he suddenly remembered the dog was still in the workshop and ran back to fetch him. While Buddy escaped unscathed, his owner suffered minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand. The dog subsequently ran off after his master said he needed help. He was found on a road by the Alaskan police who had been alerted to the fire but had got lost. As the police were about to turn down the wrong road, they caught sight in their headlights of Buddy who made eye contact with them and raced ahead down the right road, occasionally turning round to check they were behind him. The dog's quick reaction meant that the fire was restricted to the outbuildings and the family's home was left unscathed. "Buddy is an untrained dog who, for some reason, recognised the severity of the situation and acted valiantly in getting help for his family," Alaskan State Trooper chief Colonel Audie Holloway said at a ceremony to honour the dog. Buddy, whose good deed was caught on a patrol car's dashcam video, was given a smart dog bowl as a reward, and a big rawhide bone. His owners said they had known he was clever since they first took him as a six-week-old puppy and added that he was very brave too, having twice chased bears away when Ben was fishing.

Date: 25.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Contacting Aliens 'A Bad Idea', Warns Hawking

Aliens are very likely out there, according to eminent scientist Stephen Hawking - but we should keep quiet and hope they don't notice us.

In a new documentary for the Discovery Channel, the theoretical physicist warns against making contact with any extra-terrestrials. Professor Hawking, who retired as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge last year, claims such space life would only abuse Earth's resources and move on. "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet," he said. "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. "Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach." "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans." The documentary, which begins on May 9, explores the British scientist's vision of the universe. While most aliens were in all probability simple organisms such as microbes, Professor Hawking said it would only take a few intelligent ones to spell disaster for humans. "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," he explained. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

Date: 26.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Scientists have been given the chance to get inside the mind of one of Australia's most notorious gangsters. The brain of mob boss Carl Williams is set to be donated to science, a week after he was brutally murdered in a maximum security prison. Ex-wife Roberta Williams granted permission as experts look to learn what drove her baby-faced former husband to terrorise Melbourne's gangland. "I believe it's to help with research, and might explain why guys like Carl do the violent things they do," she told Australian magazine New Idea. Williams, whose notorious life of crime inspired the hit Australian drama series Underbelly, was beaten to death less than three years into his 35-year-minimum sentence at Melbourne's Barwon Prison. "I always had a bad gut feeling," Ms Williams said in relation to the death. "He dropped his guard and when he did, a maggot robbed my daughter of her dad. Somebody has to pay for that. My kids are victims. They always were." Victoria state police have charged a 36-year-old inmate over the death. According to Australian media reports, Ms Williams may also seek legal action, believing the 39-year-old's killing may have been linked to testimony he was preparing to give regarding a long-running investigation. She added: "Although the attack was reported to be very violent, I hope he died quickly so at least he didn't suffer. "He'd have been brain dead before the cardiac arrest and wouldn't have known about it. "I've never tried to excuse or justify Carl's behaviour and have always maintained that the real casualties of the underworld wars are the children on both sides." Commonly known as "Fat Boy", Williams will be buried on Friday near the grave of his friend, hitman Benji Veniamin, at Melbourne's Keilor Cemetery. Ms Williams also revealed gatherers will bid an ironic farewell to the murderer and drug trafficker with the classic George Gershwin song Funny Face.

Date: 27.04.2010. Time: 22.00

We do not trust Tony and George. Do you?

He has written his story. Let us see what he said about the war and what was achieved?


Bush memoir launch held back until after elections

The publishers of the widely anticipated memoir from former US president George W Bush have set a 9 November date for its release, precisely – and surely not coincidentally – one week after Americans vote in mid-term congressional elections that are likely to see substantial gains for the Republicans. To be entitled Decision Points, the book will not be a traditional chronological narration of his experiences but will focus rather on the 14 most pivotal turning points in the ex-president's life, ranging from the moments of national drama in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks to the invasion of Iraq and the day he pledged to give up alcohol. Few yesterday saw anything haphazard in the timing of the publication date. Launching the book in the days before the mid-term elections might have led to criticism that the author meant to meddle in the outcome, which would have been at odds with his carefully crafted post-presidential image of non-partisanship. Alternatively, however, senior Republicans may have made it plain that putting Bush back on the public stage just before the elections would hardly be desirable. "It is obvious they don't want any revelations in the book to interfere with Republican chances in the mid-term elections," Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said last night. "I think specifically also, he does not want to remind Americans of the reasons why they disliked him and installed the Democrats in his place. The last thing Republican leaders want right before the election is George Bush stealing the headlines." The book, with a cover featuring a photograph of the former president looking pensive in the Rose Garden, a briefing book under his arm, is sure to be a best-seller as other presidential memoirs before have been, regardless of the rock-bottom approval ratings for much of his time in office. Almost as much expectation, meanwhile, awaits the publication next month of a separate memoir by Laura Bush. Entitled From the Heart, it will go on sale on 4 May. Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, believes that by waiting until 9 November, Mr Bush may be hoping to ride whatever pro-Republican wave comes out of the mid-term elections. "If there are strong Republican gains, which there will be, it might help him," he said. "I think there will be at least a modest refurbishment of his image and it will be deserved." With the exception of a handful of public speeches, Mr Bush has kept a decidedly low profile since leaving office and, unlike his former number two, Dick Cheney, has forsworn political attacks against his successor, Barack Obama. "Cheney has been out there just pounding away at Obama and using remarkably fiery rhetoric," Mr Ornstein said. "But Bush has stayed out of it." This, according to the publishers, Crown Books, a unit of Random House, has not just been about courtesy. "Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency," it said. "Instead, he has spent almost every day writing Decision Points, a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life." Mr Bush has reportedly finished a first draft of the book and, with the help of former White House speech writer Chris Michel, is apparently now in the editing process at his Dallas home. Last year the ex-president briefly hinted at his motivation for writing the book. "I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me," he said. Other possible reasons: the desire to repair his reputation and legacy. And there is the small matter of money. The self-restraint to date of Mr Bush contrasts starkly with the monetary gains allegedly made by another ex-politician of Republican stripe, Sarah Palin. Since abandoning the governorship of Alaska last year, Ms Palin has earned as much as $12m, according to some reports. The Daily Beast reported that she was paid $7m as an advance for her first book, Going Rogue.

Date: 28.04.2010. Time: 22.00


Couples must budget £600,000 for retirement

Couples need to budget nearly £600,000 to cover the cost of their retirement, new figures have disclosed. It means each pensioner needs an income more than double the basic state pension just to cover everyday costs such as food, petrol and clothing. The annual expenditure is a third higher than five years ago, with retiring workers hit by a double whammy of falling income from their pensions and rising costs. Laith Khalaf, a pensions expert at wealth managers Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Millions of people are sleepwalking into an impoverished old age. You can not expect to spend twenty or thirty years in retirement without stashing away a substantial amount of money while you are still working." The latest figures, compiled by MGM Advantage, suggested the average household needs £564,227 to cover the cost of the first 20 years after quitting the workforce. The calculation is based on annual household expenditure for those aged 65 to 74 at £23,107, compared with £14,926 for those aged 75 and over. Five years ago, the figures were £17,737 and £11,700 respectively. The higher cost of living in London means an average retired couple needs a total of £668,553 over 20 years while the lower cost of living in the North East means households need £473,178. Chris Evans, chief executive of MGM Advantage, said: "There is significant pressure on pensioner income. Those people retiring today can expect to live for twenty years but with annuity rates falling and the cost of living rising, funding retirement is a difficult task. "With such large regional discrepancies in the cost of living in retirement, we wouldn't be surprised if more people considered relocating to other less expensive parts of the country in order to search out a better quality of life. As expenditure has risen, pension incomes have declined as investment companies factor in the cost of the aging population and lower returns during the financial crisis. A pension pot of £564,227 currently secures an annual income of £35,806, compared with £37,656 five years ago, according to Hargreaves Lansdown. The basic state pension of £97.65 per week equates to £10,155 per year for a couple in retirement. Only the very wealthy and those in the public sector with generous gold-plated schemes can guarantee a financially secure retirement, experts said. Ros Altmann, a pension expert and governor at the London School of Economics, said: "We have a real pension crisis and politicians have not woken up to it. Most people’s pensions are not going to deliver the figures they would have expected when they first started saving unless of course, you happen to work in the public sector." Separate research by equity release specialists Key Retirement Solutions suggested pensioners are entering retirement with average debts of £36,000, including credit cards, loans, mortgages, and overdrafts. With more immediate financial concerns such as avoiding having their homes repossessed and covering the cost of rising petrol bills, charities said households were failing to save enough for their retirement. Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "This report is another powerful reminder of the need for adequate pension provisions. It is not surprising many people are shocked by the drop in income and standards of living they experience at retirement."

Date: 29.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Man 'Survives Without Food' For 70 Years

Indian doctors are studying a remarkable 83-year-old holy man who claims to have spent the last seven decades without food and water. Military medics hope the experiments on Prahlad Jani can help soldiers develop their survival strategies. The long-haired and bearded yogi is under 24-hour observation by a team of 30 doctors during three weeks of tests at a hospital in the western city of Ahmedabad. Two cameras have been set up in his room, while a mobile camera films him when he goes outside, guaranteeing round-the-clock observation. His body will be scanned and his brain and heart activity measured with electrodes. "The observation from this study may throw light on human survival without food and water," said Dr G. Ilavazahagan, who is directing the research. "This may help in working out strategies for survival during natural calamities, extreme stressful conditions and extra-terrestrial explorations like future missions to the Moon and Mars by the human race." Since the experiment began on April 22, Jani has neither eaten nor drunk and has not been to the toilet. "The exercise of taking this yogi under the medical scanner is to understand what energy supports his existence," Dr Ilavazahagan added. "Jani says he meditates to get energy. Our soldiers will not be able to meditate, but we would still like to find out more about the man and his body." Jani, who dresses in red and wears a nose ring, grew up in Charod village in the Mehsana district in Gujarat. He claims to have been blessed by a goddess when he was aged eight, which has enabled him to survive without sustenance.

Date: 30.04.2010. Time: 22.00

Leading think-tank's message to party leaders:

Tell us the truth on the economy


a)  Labour £44.1 bn of cut remained undefined

b)   Conservatives £52.5 bn of cuts yet to be specified

c)    Lib. Dems £34.4 bn hole in deficit reduction plans

All parties have all promised so many good things but failed to ascertained how they would achieved their objectivise without having enough fund or explaining where to get the money from?   

The debates have become increasingly tedious, which is to Clegg's advantage. Voters will just remember the first one. The Brown brand is irretrievably damaged. I doubt yesterday's ridiculous media frenzy has done any damage because there was nothing left to damage. As it happens, I thought Brown performed on the upper levels of his capacity in the first debate, before improving last week and then doing so again in this final debate.  He appeared confident, he concentrated on his strengths - such as distilling and attacking specific policy weaknesses - and he resisted the temptation to reel off statistics. But it didn't make any difference. Watching the various 'worms' that have been on offer throughout the debates shows Brown just doesn't get any credit for anything he says. The man talks sense sometimes and indecipherable nonsense most of the time, but it doesn't matter. He has the same problem the Tories had under William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith: people went off their policies when they found they were Conservative. Similarly, people go off Brown's statements when they realise he's saying them.  Voters have already made their mind up, and realistically that probably happened two years ago.  Clegg needed to pull something special out the bag and he did not quite deliver, even if he was by far the best performer. His polling drops slightly between debates, and he needed to ensure voters have a fresh image of him in their minds when they go to the polls next week. I doubt today was enough to do that. The people who express their support for the Lib Dems in recent polls are also the people least likely to vote. After all, going down to the polling both is more time consuming than taking a call from a pollster. Clegg needed to give those flirting with him an extra kick, to outsource his momentum to them by making them feel they are part of a movement. Clegg was confident, well briefed and suitably populist, but he did not quite have that edge to him he would need to really prompt something revolutionary next Thursday. He did do well enough, however, to prompt a serious upset, although we'll have to wait until later to see just how upsetting it is and what repercussions it has.  With Labour now beyond help and Clegg not quite reaching the upper limits of his potential, this should really be Cameron's to win. He probably has improved enough over the last two debates to warrant a slim majority, but Cameron was much duller and weaker than most of us would have expected when we first learnt these debates were taking place. His weaknesses as a political leader are now evident. If he does in fact become prime minister we should expect a tough time for him in Downing Street. He appears to lack some of the more deft political skills we previously thought he had in spades.

Tory support is not actually much higher than it was during Howard's time. It would be unfair to Cameron, so many years into his modernisation process, to say he is merely a fortunate beneficiary of circumstance - of Brown's incompetence and the financial scandal. But he has not been remotely inspirational over the course of these debates. This was actually a fairly dispiriting end to the leaders' TV debates, which seemingly detonated onto the 2010 general election campaign three weeks ago. The debates have become more boring and unsurprising each week - a fact that plays well for Clegg. Voters only tend to remember the first event, and the relative flatness of the second two debates means these three broadcasts will go down as Clegg's, even if his performance failed to reach a crescendo.