Will Britain finally replace the House of Lords?
2012-06-27 15:45:38 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Can Britain's government ditch the dukes, eject the earls and kick out the cronies?
Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday set out ambitious plans to replace Britain's 700-year-old House of Lords, the country's unelected upper chamber, with a smaller, mostly elected body — taking on a task that has frustrated political leaders for decades.
"We have been discussing this issue for 100 years and it really is time to make progress," Cameron told legislators, hoping his government can succeed in stripping the country's non-elected elites of a legislative role which has its roots in the 11th century.
Like the United Sta...
Queen, ex-IRA chief plan symbolic Belfast meeting
2012-06-27 09:08:31 UTC
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II and a former Irish Republican Army commander are about to meet for the first time in a symbolic milestone for Northern Ireland's peace process, but journalists wanting to record the moment are being kept at bay.
The Wednesday's event will feature a handshake between the monarch and Martin McGuinness, whose Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein long has refused all contact with British royals. McGuinness is the senior Irish Catholic in Northern Ireland's 5-year-old unity government.
British officials say only two photographers are being admitted to record the occasion.
The queen is co...
Ecuador studying asylum bid by WikiLeaks founder
2012-06-26 02:08:38 UTC
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador's foreign minister says lawyers convened by the government are studying the political and legal implications of granting exile to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Minister Ricardo Patino did not indicate when a decision might come. Ecuador's ambassador to Britain returned to Quito over the weekend and discussed the case Monday with Patino and President Rafael Correa.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador's London Embassy last Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in the alleged sexual assault of two women.
Assange claims he's being persecuted poli...
Olympic torch becomes cultural happening in UK
2012-06-24 10:19:58 UTC
BLACKPOOL, England (AP) — Sgt. Richard Clement plowed up Dickson Road on Friday, the Olympic torch attached to the side of his wheelchair, flame burning despite pouring rain.
The crowd clapped solemnly, water slapping against their hands, cheering on a soldier who had stepped on a mine in Afghanistan and changed his life forever, losing his legs.
He didn't seem to mind the drenching - or the fact that his section of the torch relay was all uphill - but he did want everyone to think about other service people, some far, far way.
"I just want everyone to be a bit proud of the forces and the job they do really," he said. "I'm carryin...
Ecuador's envoy heads to Quito for Assange talks
2012-06-23 17:36:42 UTC
LONDON (AP) - Ecuador's embassy in London said Saturday that ambassador Anna Alban was traveling to her country's capital to brief President Rafael Correa on the bizarre request for political asylum made by Wikileaks chief Julian Assange.
Assange took refuge inside the embassy on Tuesday and remains camped out in an office there after his legal options ran out for avoiding extradition from Britain to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for alleged sex crimes.
Correa, Ecuador's leftist president, has said his government is considering Assange's request, but has not indicated when a decision will be made.
In a statement, the ...
Assange faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador embassy
2012-06-20 22:06:53 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Julian Assange has spent years on the move, trying to keep ahead of authorities who want to stop his secret-spilling mission.
Now the WikiLeaks founder finds himself confined in the surprising setting of Ecuador's London embassy, where he was holed up Wednesday while diplomats discussed his fate and British police waited outside to arrest him if he leaves.
Assange is seeking political asylum in the South American nation, in a dramatic bid to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning about alleged sex crimes. His supporters say he fears charges in the United States for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. docum...
London Games to be first social media Olympics
2012-06-20 06:00:48 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Tweet this: The London Games will be the first Olympics told in 140 characters or less.
The London Games will be the most tweeted, liked and tagged in history, with fans offered a never before seen insider's view of what many are calling the social media Olympics, or the "socialympics."
Hash tags, (at) signs and "like" symbols will be as prevalent as national flags, Olympic pins and medal ceremonies. Some athletes may spend more time on Twitter and Facebook than the playing field.
Mobile phones have become smarter, laptops lighter and tablet devices a must-have for technology lovers — meaning social-savvy fans, wheth...
UK: 'Arms' ship for Syria heading back to Russia
2012-06-20 05:18:57 UTC
LONDON (AP) — A Russian-operated ship said to be carrying military helicopters to Syria appears to have turned back after its British insurer removed coverage for the vessel, U.K. officials said Tuesday.
Britain's Foreign Office said the ship, the MV Alaed, changed course in Europe after news reports emerged about its alleged contents. Earlier, the Foreign Office confirmed it was aware that a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters was heading to Syria.
The ship has "turned back now apparently toward Russia," Foreign Secretary William Hague told British lawmakers in Parliament. The vessel appeared t...
WikiLeaks founder seeks asylum at Ecuador embassy
2012-06-20 05:06:07 UTC
LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange has made a run for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, seeking asylum in a long shot move that, if successful, would place him in a small, friendly South American country rather than in Sweden facing questioning about alleged sex crimes.
Tuesday's unexpected caper has added a new and bizarre twist to Assange's increasingly desperate bid to avoid extradition to Scandinavia. Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the leftist government of President Rafael Correa — an administration often at odds with Washington — was weighing the request, although he did not indicate when a decision migh...
McCartney turns 70, shows no sign of slowing down
2012-06-18 19:38:18 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Paul McCartney can still rock at 70. What more could a former Beatle want?
He celebrated his birthday in private Monday, perhaps resting up between gigantic gigs this summer. But he shows no sign of slowing down as his music is passed on to generations too young to have seen him in Wings, much less the Beatles.
Once a pot-smoking counterculture rebel, "Sir Paul" is very much part of the British establishment now, closing Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee concert earlier this month with a mix of favorites that included a raucous "All My Loving," one of the Beatles' first smash hits.
He's also preparing for a featur...
IOC probes black market Olympic ticket scandal
2012-06-17 23:47:23 UTC
LONDON (AP) — International Olympic officials have opened a high-level investigation into allegations that authorized representatives in more than 50 countries — including a national Olympic committee — were involved in selling London Olympics tickets on the black market for profit.
The International Olympic Committee convened an emergency session Saturday to discuss a dossier of evidence presented to it by Britain's Sunday Times. The newspaper published an investigation Sunday claiming that officials have been offering tickets for the July 27-Aug. 12 London games, including highly sought-after events such as the men's 100-meter final, ...
Whoops! UK PM leaves 8-year-old daughter in pub
2012-06-11 22:15:36 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife got home from lunch with friends at a pub in the English countryside to discover they forgot something: 8-year-old daughter Nancy.
Nancy was fine — she was quickly reunited with her parents after they realized she was missing. But Cameron's parenting skills took a drubbing Monday, just weeks after the government set up a program to give parents of young children classes on how to raise them.
Downing Street said the incident happened "a couple of months ago" as the family was leaving a pub near Chequers, the official country house prime ministers use when they want to escape Lond...
Ex-UK PM Brown: Murdoch lied under oath to inquiry
2012-06-11 18:47:11 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown lambasted Rupert Murdoch before Britain's media ethics inquiry on Monday, claiming the media mogul had lied under oath to the inquiry and saying that a Murdoch tabloid had undermined the British war effort in Afghanistan.
In an often bitter attack, Brown directly contradicted Murdoch's claim that Brown had vowed to "make war on your company" during an abusive phone call after Murdoch's The Sun tabloid switched its support from Brown's Labour Party to the rival Conservatives.
"It didn't happen," said Brown, adding that he had been shocked to hear Murdoch make the allegation to the inqui...
UK's Cameron to face media ethics inquiry
2012-06-08 19:07:17 UTC
LONDON (AP) — British media ethics inquiry said Friday that Prime Minister David Cameron will give evidence next week, amid questions over his ties to a number of suspects in the country's tabloid phone hacking scandal.
The judge-led inquiry, which Cameron set up to examine malpractice in the media and ties between politicians and the press, said it would also take testimony from ex-leaders Gordon Brown — who had an often troubled relationship with British newspapers — and John Major.
It confirmed it would also take evidence from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Treasury chief George Osborne, Scottish leader Alex Salmond and main op...
UK's Cameron, Obama urge action on eurozone crisis
2012-06-06 23:32:49 UTC
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama have agreed on the need for immediate action to resolve the eurozone crisis.
Downing Street said the two leaders spoke on the phone late Tuesday ahead of the G20 summit in Mexico later this month, when world leaders will discuss Europe's financial woes.
A spokesman for Cameron said he and Obama agreed on the need for an immediate plan to tackle the crisis, as well as a longer-term strategy to secure a strong single currency.
"Speed is of the essence," Cameron told reporters in Oslo before meeting Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg late Wednesday. "Cle...
Queen's husband in hospital with bladder infection
2012-06-04 18:39:11 UTC
LONDON (AP) -- Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was hospitalized Monday with a bladder infection and will miss the rest of the celebrations of the monarch's 60 years on the throne, Buckingham Palace said.
The palace said the prince, who will turn 91 on Saturday, was taken to the King Edward VII Hospital in London from Windsor Castle as a precaution and will remain under observation for a few days.
He will miss Monday evening's Buckingham Palace pop concert celebrating the queen's jubilee, as well as a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral and a carriage procession Tuesday.
"He is, understandably, disappointe...
Queen spends day at races as jubilee events begin
2012-06-03 05:24:10 UTC
LONDON (AP) — It was a royal day at the races, as Queen Elizabeth II watched a horse with the courtly name of Camelot win the Epsom Derby on Saturday — the kickoff to a four-day celebration of the British monarch's 60 years on the throne.
Later in the weekend the queen will make a trip down the River Thames, and then take in a concert — all accompanied by tens of thousands of her subjects, coming out to fete a monarch whose longevity has given her the status of the nation's favorite grandmother.
An armada of vessels — from historic sailboats and barges to kayaks, lifeboats and military launches — was mustering along the Thames ahead ...
Diamond Jubilee: Britain marks Queen's reign
2012-06-01 07:02:03 UTC
LONDON (AP) — The patriotic bunting is ready, the golden carriage on standby, the boats freshly painted, the shops filled with royals souvenirs.
The normal ebb and flow of British life gives way in the next four days to a series of street parties, flotillas, outdoor concerts and finally the appearance of an elderly great-grandmother on her balcony to wave to her subjects.
The pageantry is very grand and very British. But at the heart of the Diamond Jubilee celebration is a nearly universal sense of appreciation for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who is marking 60 years on the throne.
The queen was a vibrant young woman of 25 whe...
Now you see it: Temporary terminal for Olympics
2012-05-31 20:52:27 UTC
LONDON (AP) — The project will cost 20 million pounds ($31 million), process 37,000 bags and deal with 10,000 or so athletes. But don't blink, because you might miss Heathrow's Games Terminal: After three days, it will disappear.
So why would Heathrow build an expensive special terminal whose only goal in its 72 hour lifespan is to send Olympians on their way home? It isn't as if Heathrow doesn't know a thing or two about crowds. This is Europe's busiest airport, after all, and one of the busiest on the planet.
But research suggested that departures — not arrivals— are what cause problems for Olympic airports. That's because athletes...
UK minister faces questions over ties to Murdoch
2012-05-31 20:24:05 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron's handling of Britain's tabloid phone hacking scandal faces new criticism after a minister assigned to make an impartial decision on a takeover deal by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said his cozy ties to the tycoon's media empire were well known to the British leader.
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt — the top minister in charge of London's 2012 Olympics — appeared Thursday before the country's press ethics inquiry amid questions over his conduct in deliberating on whether Murdoch's bid for a lucrative pay-TV provider should be approved.
Hunt said he regretted developing friendly...
UK minister faces questions over ties to Murdoch
2012-05-31 09:38:11 UTC
LONDON (AP) — A British Cabinet minister is giving evidence to the country's media ethics inquiry amid sharp questions about his handling of a take-over deal launched by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was scheduled to testify Thursday, has faced repeated calls from opposition lawmakers to resign over revelations about his office's ties to Murdoch's empire.
Hunt was responsible for a decision on whether News Corp. should be authorized to take full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting, in which it holds a 39 percent stake. The bid was withdrawn following Britain's ta...
Britain's Supreme Court to rule on WikiLeaks chief
2012-05-30 06:55:49 UTC
LONDON (AP) — Britain's Supreme Court is expected to rule Wednesday on whether to approve the extradition of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to Sweden, a potential turning point in the Internet activist's controversial career.
Assange, 40, has spent the better part of two years fighting attempts to send him to the Scandinavian nation, where he is accused of sex crimes. At least one extradition expert said that his long-running legal campaign may finally yield a victory for the Australian programmer.
"When he first started out, I thought: 'He hasn't gotten much of a chance,' but now I'm much more hopeful." said Karen Todner, whose comp...
TV presenter: Piers Morgan told me how to hack
2012-05-23 19:19:51 UTC
LONDON (AP) — A prominent British TV presenter said Wednesday that CNN talk show host Piers Morgan gave him a primer on phone hacking, a revelation that suggests he knew a fair amount about how the shady practice was carried out.
BBC quiz show host and television news presenter Jeremy Paxman told a media ethics inquiry that Morgan delivered his warning over lunch at the headquarters of the Mirror newspaper, which he was then editing, in 2002.
Paxman said that Morgan "turned to me and said, 'Have you got a mobile phone?'"
"I said, 'yes,' and he asked if there was a security setting on the message bit of it. I didn't know what he wa...
Wanted: Bigfoot hair samples for European study
2012-05-23 18:20:27 UTC
LONDON (AP) — European researchers are planning to use new techniques to analyze DNA that could help crack the mystery of whether Bigfoot exists.
In a project announced this week, Oxford University and Lausanne Museum of Zoology scientists appealed to museums, scientists and Yeti aficionados to share hair samples thought to be from the mythical ape-like creature.
New genetic tests will be done on just a few strands of hair and should be completed within weeks. Even if the sample is judged to come from an unknown species, scientists should be able to tell how closely it is related to other species, including apes or humans.
French autistic kids mostly get psychotherapy
2012-05-18 22:11:22 UTC
LONDON (AP) — In most developed countries, children with autism are usually sent to school where they get special education classes. But in France, they are more often sent to a psychiatrist where they get talk therapy meant for people with psychological or emotional problems.
Things are slowly changing, but not without resistance. Last month, a report by France's top health authority concluded there was no agreement among scientists about whether psychotherapy works for autism, and it was not included in the list of recommended treatments.
That provoked an outcry from psychiatrists. Groups including Freudian societies, the World Ass...