This weeks headline news 26/02/2017

UK 

  • A mother-of-one from Taunton died after just three vodka and lemonades left her five-times over the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard this week. Heidi Hopley, 41, suffered alcohol poisoning after having the drinks over a two hour period whilst at home with her partner Scott Fisher. Mr Fisher said he found her dead body slumped outside on the patio and attempted to resuscitate her however she was pronounced dead. 
  • A British woman was horrifically murdered and her husband left for dead after three men broke into their farm house in South Africa. Sue Howarth, 64, and husband Robert Lynn, 66, were asleep at their home in Dullstroom, Mpualanga province when three men broke in through a window at 2am and tied them up before torturing them for several hours with a blowtorch and shooting them. 
  • Three men have been remanded in custody on slavery charges after a cannabis factory was discovered in a former nuclear bunker in Wiltshire this Wednesday. Martin Fillery, 45, Plamen Nguyen, 27, and Ross Winter, 30, were charged with conspiring to hold another person in slavery/servitude as well as conspiracy to produce the Class B drug, which has an estimated street value of £1m 
  • Five teenagers from London have been remanded in custody on suspected terrorism offences after officials found evidence that they were planning a terrorist-style attack. The male youths, aged between 15 and 19, are to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court next week. 

 

Foreign 

  • Five people have died in Australia this week after a charter plane bound for King island, Tasmania, crashed into a shopping centre. Max Quartermain, 63, a pilot from Melbourne, his wife Cilla and their friends Greg De Haven, 70, a retired FBI agent from Texas, and Russell Munsch, 62, who was also from Texas, all died on impact after their plane crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) shopping centre in Melbourne. It is believed that Quartermain was flying the jet at the time and had placed mayday calls in the moments before the crash after the plane suffered ‘catastrophic engine failure’ shortly after takeoff.
  • A car bomb has killed at least 41 people in a village close to the Syrian town of al-Bab this week, after ISIS militants targeted a rebel checkpoint. The explosion claimed the lives of 35 civilians and 6 rebel fighters, although the exact death toll has not yet been released. 
  • The half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-nam, was killed by was killed by a highly toxic nerve agent, according to  Malaysian officials. Jong-nam was brutally attacked with VX nerve agent whilst waiting to board a flight at a Kuala Lumpur airport last week. The agent is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
  • Renowned Hollywood Actor, Bill Paxton has died this Sunday at the age of 61, after suffering complications following hear surgery. Paxton was best known for his roles in the films Titanic, Twister, Apollo 13 and Edge of Tomorrow. Celebrities such as William Shatner, Rob Lowe, Zach Braff and many more have paid tribute to the star on social media. 

Politics made easy: What’s happening in Aleppo?


About Aleppo

Aleppo was once the largest city in Syria, with a population of around 2.3 million, it served as the center of the country’s finance and industry, making it a critical part of the countries economy. The old city of Aleppo was also named as a world heritage site but sadly, much of the city’s historical architecture has been devastated during the recent conflict.

What conflict?

In July 2012, the civil war in Syria spread through to Aleppo and the city quickly became one of the main battlegrounds for government forces and the rebels. During this period, the city was roughly divided into two sections, with government forces controlling the western part of the city and rebel forces controlling the eastern part.

Aleppo was left in this state of division for more than four years until 22nd December 2016, when Syria’s government, helped by Russian forces, defeated the rebels and took back control of the city. They did this through a series of airstrikes and ground attacks.

Why did Russia help the Syrian government forces? 

Russia announced in 2015 that it would be supporting the Syrian government with the conflict in Syria. Historically, both Russia and Syria have maintained a strong relationship since 1971, when the Soviet Union built a naval base in the Syrian city of Tartus. Syria has also been a consistent buyer of Russian firearms, in fact from 2007-2011, 78% of Syria’s military imports were bought from Russia. As tensions grow between Russia and the west (UK and US), this intervention also gave Russia the chance to showcase its military capabilities.

What happened to the people of Aleppo?

In the run-up to this defeat and in the time shortly after, a large-scale evacuation of the people of Aleppo began. This evacuation was halted though, because the Syrian government said that the rebels were not sticking to the agreed terms of how the evacuation should happen. After some negotiating, the evacuation began again. However, stories then emerged of more attacks and fighting during this time, putting the safety of innocent civilians trying to flee the city, at risk. The large-scale fighting within the city left people without food, medical supplies and in many cases, clean water. Buildings, hospitals and schools were bombed and more than 100 were killed during this time, although exact figures are yet to be released.

Lots of people who were stuck in Aleppo at the time began tweeting about what was happening, with many saying they feared for their safety as bombs were dropped over the city. You can see some of their stories and tweets here.

On the 22nd December, government forces announced that the evacuation was complete and they had defeated rebel forces, re-gaining control over the city. This was a turning point in the countries long-drawn civil war as it means that president Assad now had control over four of the biggest cities in Syria.

What will happen now?

Although the Syrian government have managed to take back the city of Aleppo, the rebel fighters still control large parts of the country and the war is far from over. The U.N. estimates about 400,000 people have been killed in Aleppo since the battle first started back in March 2011.

This weeks headline news 30/10/2016

UK

  • Former `dead or alive` founder and singer/songwriter, Pete Burns has died at the age of 57 this week. In a statement on twitter on tuesdy, the singers manager confirmed: ‘It is with the greatest sadness that we have to break the tragic news that our beloved Pete Burns of (Dead Or Alive) died suddenly yesterday of a massive cardiac arrest.’ Burns had undergone more than 300 plastic surgeries, many of which had caused numerous health problems. His death comes just days before he was due to release a compilation album with his former band.
  • Police have revealed that they are not looking for anyone in connection with a house fire which took the lives of a 6-year-old and her 8-year-old brother in Birmingham this week. A man in his 30’s, believed to be the father of the two young children, was found inside a burnt-out-car just hours after the fire and is believed to have torched the home before fleeing. He has since been hospitalised and is said to be in a critical condition however he will be questioned by police officers once he has made a full recovery.
  • The oldest hotel in the UK has burnt down this Friday after a fire which is thought to have started in a nearby art gallery, spread to the 17th-century building. The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter caught alight at around 5am after which,, all guests were evacuated and no-one was hurt. 110 firefighters were bought in to tackle the flames but a large portion of the building collapsed due to the intense heat.
  • Raymond Gilmour, who became an Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch informer when he was just 17, has been found dead at his home in Kent this week. The former super grass’ body was discovered by his 18-year-old son however his death is not being treated as suspicious. Gilmour previously gave evidence against 31 terror suspects and was given a new identity by  MI5 after a 1984 trial collapsed. It is thought they he had been suffering with alcoholism and physiological problems for some time.
  • A British mother-of-two died in front of her horrified family after being thrown from a hot air balloon during a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Suzanne Astle, 48, from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, was flung out of the hot air balloon’s basket, 20ft from the ground after it was caught on strong winds. Her family were also on board at the time but survived the crash, they have since returned home.

Foreign 

  •  Four people have been killed at a theme park in Australia this week after a family ride malfunctioned. Two men and two women died whilst on the river rapids ride at Dreamworld park on Australia’s east coast, after the six-person raft they were seated on, flipped over. Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson said he was not aware of any previous problems with the ride before giving his condolences to the victims families. Local police are continuing to interview witnesses and review CCTV.
  • A 36-year-old man from Brazil has been freed this week after allegedly being held captive by his parents for at least 20 years. Armando de Andrade was discovered by accident after police searched his home looking for members of drug gangs. Andrade is thought to have been held captive in the basement of his parents home since the age of 16. after they caught him experimenting with alcohol.
  • Italy has been hit by 2 earthquakes this week, the second time the country has suffered from devastating earthquakes this year. The earthquakes, both 5.5 and 6.1 in magnitude, struck central Italy, just 50 miles north of the same spot that was hit in August this year, killing 300 people. No deaths have been reported as of yet however many homes have been severely damaged.
  • Australia has this week unveiled strict new plans to ban any asylum seekers who try to reach the country by boat from ever being able to enter the country. The lifelong ban on visas would apply to those travelling as tourists, for business, or who married an Australian and had been sent to Nauru and Manus from 19 July 2013, although children are exempt from this.The proposed ban is to be put to parliament later this week.
  • Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign team has challenged the FBI over its decision to brief US lawmakers on a new inquiry into the Democratic candidate’s email use. Clinton told her supporters that the decision was “deeply troubling”, adding that she is confident the investigation into the emails will not change the FBI’s original finding in July, which criticised her but cleared her of any illegal acts.

This weeks headline news 23/10/2016

UK 

  • The family of British conspiracy theorist, Max Spiers who was found dead in Poland in June have spoken out about his `suspicious` death. Spiers, 39, was found dead on a sofa at the house of a friend he had been staying with in Poland, where he had gone to give a talk about conspiracy theories and UFOs. Despite no post-mortem examination being carried out, investigators claimed he had died from natural causes. However, friends and family have revealed that he began `vomiting black liquid` in the moments before his death. His mother Vanessa Bates, 63, said that Spiers had sent her a text message shorty before his death saying,’Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens to me, investigate.’
  • A murder investigation has begun in Malaga this week after a British man was found dead outside the city airport. Steven Allford, 51, was found tied to a bench in an outdoor area by the airport train station by a security guard. Investigators believe he may have been the victim of a sex assault although they are still awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.
  • A British banker and former Cambridge University graduate has today pleaded not guilty to murdering two Indonesian sex workers at his luxury Hong Kong flat in 2014. 31-year-old Rurik Jutting, was high on cocaine when he filmed himself slitting the women`s throats after meeting them and offering to pay for sex. The bodies of Sumarti Ningsih, 23 and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, were found in his apartment after he subjected them to days of cruel violence, at one point even forcing one of them to lick a toiler seat.

Foreign 

  • Five people are thought to be dead after a light aircraft crashed and exploded into a ball of flames in Malta. Dash-cam footage has been released by a member of the public showing the moment seemingly nose-dived into the ground shortly after taking off the from the runway at Malta Airport. Police believe that three french defence ministry officials and two private contractors were onboard the flight, which was bound to Libya’s coast.
  • A Russian mother reportedly jumped to hear death holding her young son after becoming depressed with the results of plastic surgery. Anna Ozhigova, 33, was subjected to constant ridicule from her husband Oleg Ponomarev, after a nose job left her looking `like a pig`, ultimately leading to their separation. Ozhigova jumped from her parents high-rise apartment in the city of Omsk, Siberia, last Thursday whilst holding her sleeping son in her arms.
  • Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, a Saudi Arabian prince, has been executed in the country`s capital city of Riyadh after been found guilty of shooting another man dead during a brawl three years ago. Saudi authorities have not yet released information on exactly how he was executed, however the capitals most common form of capital punishment is beheading. The prince is the 134th person to have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year.
  • Australian native, Gable Totsee has been found innocent of killing a 26-year-old women he met on dating app `Tinder` this week. Warriena Wright, a bank cashier, plunged to her death from the 14th floor of Totsee`s balcony after a night of consuming drink and drugs turned aggressive. Totsee has maintained that Wright had become violent and unstable before leaping to her death, despite his trying to calm her down.

This weeks headline news 16/10/2016

UK 

  •  A four-month old baby boy has died whilst his brother has been left with life-changing injuries after being mauled by a  Staffordshire bull terrier this week. Archie Joe Darby and his 22-month-old brother, Daniel-Jay Darby were attacked by the dog at their aunt and uncles home in Colchester, Essex by what is believed to be a dog belonging to an serving police officer. PC Clare Ferdinand, 31, has since had the dog put down. Daniel is now in a critical condition in intensive care.
  • The british royal navy was put on red alert this weekend after it was revealed that Russia plans to sail a fleet of warships along the British coast into Syria. Russia’s flagship vessel  Admiral Kuznetsov and several others will pass the UK as they make their journey towards the  war-torn country where it will be preparing to bomb rebel forces in Aleppo. The fleet is expected to practice bombing just north or Scotland before continuing on its journey. The news comes at a time where tensions between the Russia and the UK are rapidly escalating.
  • Terrifying footage was released this week showing the moment a 29-stone angry gorilla escaped from an enclosure at London Zoo after crowds were warned not to taunt him. Eighteen-year-old male silverback Kumbuka was caught on camera smashing into the glass window of his enclosure before escaping. Zoo keepers believe the glass may have been cracked before the incident, allowing him to break through more easily. Kumbuka was able to roam the zoo for 90 minutes before he was tranquillised by vets.
  • A 15-year-old boy has admitted to the murder of a school dinner lady and her 13-year-old daughter in April of this year, after a court hearing heard how he stabbed them to death as they slept. Elizabeth Edwards and her daughter Katie were killed in their home as they slept on April 14th. The unnamed boy and a female accomplice, who were both 14 at the time of the incident, crept into their bedrooms and knifed the victims to death before bathing to rinse off the blood and watching a film. The pair revealed they had plotted the attack the previous night and have since shown no remorse or reasoning behind the unprovoked murders.

Foreign 

  •  King Bhumibol Adulyadej of  Bangkok has sadly passed away this week at the age of 88, after several years of suffering from poor health. The kings death has shocked the Southeast Asian nation with many of the country`s 67 million people chasing to dress in black after declaring a year of mourning. After reigning over the country for 70 years, his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is now expected to assume his role.
  • A wheelchair-bound woman has revealed how she was gang-raped by up to six migrants in a toilet at an asylum centre in Sweden. The 30-year-old women who wishes not to be named, said she was sharing a taxi home with a man after visiting the medieval town of Visby on Sweden`s Gotland island when she asked to stop off to use the bathroom. However, upon entering the toiler, she was brutally raped by up to 6 men. Demonstrators have since attacked the asylum centre with rocks in angry protest whilst police continue to investigate the case.
  • A shocking video showing a daughter live streaming her parents heroin binge has gone viral this week.The footage, shot in America, shows the young girls parents unresponsive and sweating as the girl attempt to wake them up. The video comes in the midst of a huge heroin epidemic in the U.S.
  • France has this week paid tribute to the 86 people killed in the Bastille Day lorry attack on July 14. The names of the victims were read out whilst white roses were placed at the top of a hill overlooking the Promenade des Anglais, where the massacre took place. Frances president Francois Hollande was in attendance and spoke to many of the victims families as well as the survivors.

London, England

Before I begin I have a confession to make:

I have never been a big fan on London. 

In fact, I would go as far as to say that previously, I would have done everything in my power to avoid going anywhere near the city. 

Why? 

Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve been to some pretty big cities in my life, some hugely over-populated ones, the kind where you can barely move for tourists, taxi’s and busy commuters. New york, Paris, Berlin, I’ve frequented them all but still there is something about London that makes it all seem 10 times worse. I’ve managed to navigate my way through metro system after metro system abroad, even when it was written in a foreign language and yet just hearing the words ‘London underground’ sends me into a frenzy of panic and I end up running towards the nearest old man (they always seem to take pity on me as I have the face of a lost 12-year-old) to ask for help.

However, all that being said, for the past 4 weeks I have being staying with friends in London and by some miracle, Ive actually started to warm to it. That doesn’t mean I particularly ‘like’ it yet, but it’s definitely no longer the place I would have done everything to avoid anymore. So, some improvement! I guess London is like any other city in the world, its all down to a joint  combination of the company you keep and what you make of it. 

So without further ado, here are 5 of my favourite things to do in London: 

The usual

As much as I hate to be a noticeable tourist, sometimes you’ve just gotta cave in and go for the all-out tourist look (backpack and oversized map optional). And there’s no better time or place to act like a tourist than when you’re in the big smoke, surrounded by some of the most notable attractions in the UK. Big ben? Check. The British museum? Check. Houses of parliament? Check. Piccadilly circus? Check. The list of tourist hot spots goes on and on and can sometimes turn into a week-long event. I would recommend visiting them all if you can, partly just so you can say ‘I’ve been there’ but partly because they’re actually pretty cool. If a week-long tourist event isn’t your kind of thing then try squeezing in some of the best. Covent garden has a great vibe to it and there is always some kind of free entertainment taking place, from live music and street performances to magic shows. There are also a gazillion coffee shops here so you can sit and soak up the free entertainment over a nice cup of tea (or in my case an extra strong coffee). Buckingham palace changing of the guard is one of those things you just have to see and then slyly spend 5 minutes doing everything you can to try and make them laugh- I may be 25 but if you tell me that nothing will stop a guard from keeping a straight face then challenge accepted! 

Shop till you drop 

It’s a well known fact that London is one of the best places on planet earth to indulge in a bit of retail therapy which is probably why Oxford street has been voted one of the busiest streets in the world! With pretty much every high street store in one place, including the biggest and coolest Topshop I have ever seen in my life (they literally had a DJ playing in the corner?!) and an elaborately decorated Harrods which is particular beautiful at christmas time, shopping here becomes quite a magical experience. Just make sure you walk in a meandering river kind of way so that you can avoid the thousands of people stampeding towards you. If the high street aint for you then take a look at the abundance of markets dotted all over the city. Portobello is vibrantly buzzing and you’ll find loads of cheap discounted clothing and shoes which makes it ideal for bargain shopping. Camden market is another one of my favourites and has such an amazing artistic vibe to it. You’ll find all kinds of free-thinking creative people wondering along here making some pretty bold fashion statements! Brick lane and Borough market are also great spots to nab yourself a bargain whist mingling with some fashion-forward artsy types, providing you with some inspiration for your next purchase(s). 

Stick the kettle on 

We Brits are renowned for many things: complaining about the weather, actively joining queue’s in an orderly fashion and waiting patiently, our overbearingly dry sense of humour and sarcasm which can sometimes leave people clueless as to whether we are actually just joking and of course, our good old Queenie… But if theres one thing we’re really famous for, it’s our love of a good cup of tea. Whatever the occasion or situation, a cup of tea will always be the first point of call. And so it makes sense that London has a gazillion places where you can sit back and relax in true British manner over a nice pot of piping hot tea. Lavish Habit in Balham is a small and quirky vintage cafe run by two sisters, the decor is a bit like alice in wonderland meets someone with an addiction to hoarding mis-matched tea cups. I’m probably under-selling it but trust me, its a great little joint. Wild Food Café in Covent garden is another quirky favourite, with its vibrant and almost spiritual decor, it makes for a great place to unwind and get some inspirational juices flowing. Well-known for it’s healthy foods and drinks, this cafe is often packed full of tourists and locals alike waiting to wet their whistles with everything from herbal and medicinal teas to carrot cake and hazelnut brownies! Alternatively, if you want to experience something a little more fancy and budget isn’t an issue then check out Claridge’s for some afternoon tea. After serving tea in fancy cups for more than 150 years, you can be sure this experience will be a rather glamorous one. Prices start from £55 per person and the dress code is (for obvious reasons) smart. 

The grass is greener 

Turns out that for a big, congested city, London actually has a lot of grass (the green kind of course). The city bears several vast and beautiful parks including the infamous Hyde park which is home to a number of famous landmarks such as the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Richmond park is another absolute gem and is also a National nature reserve and a European special area of conservation. You’ll likely find the park is crowded at any time of the day and not just with other people, it’s green fields are home to hundreds of Red and Fallow deer which are a truly beautiful site to behold (and make for some equally beautiful photos!). Primrose hill at Regents park is one of my absolute favourite spots in London and is also one of the six protected viewpoints in the city. Standing at the top of the summit on a cloud-free day, almost 63 metres above sea level, you get a magnificent view of the city. With everyone sat at the top looking out across the city, it gives the place an almost cinematic atmosphere.

It’s showtime, baby! 

And finally, you just can’t visit London without watching a West end show! With the West End theatre showing some of the highest quality theatre productions in the world, from musicals to classic plays and comedies and all with some big star line-ups, you’re sure to find the perfect show for you. Wicked, Les Miserables, The Lion King and Billy Elliot are some of the most highly acclaimed and commended shows but with around 40 theatres in the west end area, there are hundreds more to chose from. Take a look at visitlondon.com  and westendtheatrebookings.com to get up to 60% off your tickets when you buy online.