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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fireworks explode from the Two International Finance Centre (IFC), Hong Kong's tallest building, celebrate the New Year January 1, 2010.

Fireworks explode from the Two International Finance Centre (IFC), Hong Kong's tallest building during a pyrotechnic show to celebrate the New Year January 1, 2010.

Fireworks explode at the Two International Finance Centre buildings (2IFC) over the Victoria Harbor celebrating the 2010 New Year in Hong Kong Friday, Jan.1, 2010.

photo: Reuters

The problem pourers: Women 'drinking too much at home because they can't measure units'

By Daniel Martin

Women who drink at home are knocking back far more alcohol than they realise because they are hopeless at measuring units.

Research has found that women who pour wine often give themselves their recommended daily amount in just one glass.

They are far worse than men at judging how much wine they can safely drink, the Department of Health study found.

But men are much worse when it comes to pouring spirits – regularly giving themselves much more than a double shot.

When people were asked to pour a single 25ml shot, the average amount poured was 38ml, with the highest a staggering 182ml.

The findings demonstrate the extent to which people may have overindulged at Christmas – putting their health at risk.

Guidelines say women should drink no more than two or three units of alcohol in a day, while men should stick to three or four.

The poll of households across England, showed that women were the most lavish pourers of wine.

Experiments found that the average amount of wine poured at home is 186ml, equivalent to 2.4 units of 13 per cent volume wine.This is the recommended daily limit for women in just one glass.

The survey, carried out for the Government's Know Your Limits campaign, found that people drinking spirits at home give themselves more than double (128 per cent extra) what they would get in a pub if they ordered a single shot.

The average 'home barman' pours 57ml, compared to the 25ml in a single shot.
It means if the average English drinker knocked back eight spirit drinks over a week at home, they would be drinking nearly half a litre of vodka, gin or whisky. Almost two thirds of home barmen said they never or rarely used a drinks measure

GP and broadcaster Dr Carol Cooper said: 'These experiments suggest too many people don't know how much they are drinking, which is worrying as alcohol affects every organ of the body.

'People who regularly drink more than the NHS recommended limits increase their risk of serious illnesses, such as heart disease and many types of cancers.'

Public health minister Gillian Merron said: 'Many of us enjoy a drink, especially at New Year.

'But it's easy to get carried away and it's worrying to see just how much more people might be unwittingly pouring for themselves and their friends at home on a regular basis.

Health warning: Doctors claim drinkers are risking heart disease and cancer

'Over time, such over-generosity may backfire and harm your health. If you want to minimise your risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, it's worth paying attention to the size of your measures.

'New Year is a good time to rethink how much you drink.'

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: 'It is worrying that people have little appreciation of how much they are drinking.

'This advice comes at a welcome time as recent data shows that three quarters of people intend to see in the New Year at home.'

source: dailymail

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HMS Ark Royal becomes first Royal Navy ship to sign up to Twitter

By Ian Drury

HMS Ark Royal has become the first Royal Navy ship to sign up to Twitter

It was a Government warning to loose-lipped members of the British public during the Second World War: 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'.

The slogan was the centrepiece of a high-profile campaign to warn people about the danger of unwittingly giving titbits of valuable information to enemy sympathizers.

But it appears Royal Navy sailors today are less likely to heed the message.

For members of the HMS Ark Royal are broadcasting their every activity using the latest social networking website.

It has become the first vessel in the fleet to sign up to Twitter - the internet phenomenon that allows members to update, or 'tweet', followers with brief messages of 140 characters or less.

Messages posted online this month include information about a chemical training exercise, complete with images of the crew in protective suits and respirators.

The crew has posted information about a disaster relief exercise as well as training for battle, fire-fighting and damage control.

On December 16, one message said: 'Just had our brief for our final training war tomorrow. We are all living up to our motto - "Zeal does not rest".'

Messages posted online includes information about a chemical training exercise, complete with images of the crew in protective suits and respirators

Other posts describe how members of the crew are relaxing with choir practice ahead of a Christmas carol concert and watching their favourite TV shows.

One 'tweet' from November 21 said: 'Storm force 10 winds at the moment. Had a good Saturday night at sea topped off with X Factor'.

But there are concerns that the crew could be giving away classified details about the 20,000-ton aircraft carrier, as well as its locations and activities - posing a potential security risk as enemies can find out about the ship's movements.

The warship has just completed an operational sea training exercise off the coast of Plymouth, Devon.

A message on November 27 reported: 'Back in Plymouth for a while. Time to catch up with some R&R and some work before getting back into the thick of operational training'.

This picture was posted on Twitter with the caption: 'A 6 hour chemical training exercise today with chemical suits and respirators. All went well'

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, a member of the Commons' defence select committee, said: 'I hope somebody is checking this to remind servicemen and women, and their friends and families, when they are straying too near matters that are operationally sensitive.'

The Royal Navy says that crewmen use HMS Ark Royal's Twitter page to keep friends and family posted about what they are up to during long weeks at sea.

Internet users can also message the crew back.

The vessel's commanding officer, Captain John Clink, said he was keen to keep up with the latest technology.

He said: 'For hundreds of years the Royal Navy has been at the forefront of technology - particularly communications between ship and shore.

There are concerns that the crew could be giving away classified details about the 20,000-ton aircraft carrier, as well as its locations and activities

'So it's no surprise to me that we are embracing all available media, especially the internet, to keep the public up to date with our operations.

'Twitter gives Ark Royal an immediate, up-to-the-minute link into her followers, many of whom will be friends and family.'

The launch of Twitter in Ark Royal comes a month after the navy launched its trial of giving personal games consoles to sailors for engineering and maths challenges.

The aircraft carrier took to the seas again in September after a £12million refurbishment.

The slogan 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' was born in February 1940.

The Ministry of Information distributed two and a half million posters to offices, shops, public houses and other public places urging people to be careful about what they discussed for fear Nazi spies were eavesdropping.

Tweets from the Portsmouth-based ship can be viewed at

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'Social networking sites are an increasingly important way for the Armed Forces to engage with the public and keep in touch with family and friends which is precisely why our people are encouraged to talk about themselves and their work online within guidelines which protect their security, reputation and privacy.

'HMS Ark Royal's use of social media is part of our wider engagement with the public which includes regular updates from Afghanistan and other operational work.'

source: dailymail

Katy Perry poses with lover Russell Brand in front of the Taj Mahal- the world's most romantic building

Katy Perry and boyfriend Russell Brand embrace in front of the Taj Mahal in India

Singer Katy Perry has posted a picture of herself on Twitter with boyfriend Russell Brand in front of the world's most romantic building, the Taj Mahal in India.

A demure Princess Diana famously posed there alone to signify the end of her marriage to Prince Charles, but Katy was happy to flaunt her romance and snuggle up to her hairy lover.

It's just the latest public step in a whirlwind romance that has seen Russell ditch his dodgy lothario past and play the perfect gentleman, wooing Ms Perry with sledging trips and movie dates. The former sex addict has even charmed her travelling evangelical parents.

Of Katy, Russell has said 'She’s amazing. I’m having a right laugh. She’s a good person to spend time with and its changed me - it's made me stop doing stuff that I probably shouldn’t have been doing.'

It is indeed a poignant and heartwarming tale. A seemingly jaded womanising wild-haired ex-junkie can find love with the right woman.

source: dailymail

Gaddafi's playboy son 'attacked model wife in £4,000 Claridge's suite'

By Rebecca Camber, Tamara Cohen and Neil Sears

Playboy: Hannibal Gaddafi is at the centre of a police inquiry over claims he attacked his wife in a top London hotel on Christmas Day

The playboy son of Colonel Gaddafi was at the centre of a police inquiry last night over claims he attacked his wife in a top London hotel on Christmas Day.

Moutassim Gaddafi - known as Hannibal - was staying with his wife, the model Aline Skaf, 29, and their children in a luxury suite at Claridge's when the fight broke out.

Police were called to the family's £4,000-a-night suite at 1.30am after hotel staff heard a woman's screams for help.

But when officers arrived they found the Libyan despot's 33-year-old son locked in the room with his wife - with his bodyguards blocking their way.

Three of the security staff were arrested at the scene for obstructing police officers.

Mr Gaddafi, however, was able to slip away after calling the Libyan ambassador, who informed officers that he had diplomatic immunity.

The Porsche-loving playboy and notorious hell-raiser was then whisked away in an embassy car.

A witness at the five-star hotel described hearing terrified screams: 'I saw staff trying to get into the room where a woman was screaming. But these security guards wouldn't let them through.

'Then a lot of police officers arrived, some of whom were armed, and they arrested the security guards.

'I could see a woman inside the room and she was very distressed and in an extremely bad way.

'She was bleeding heavily from her nose and face. Her nose was clearly broken and it looked like she would need surgery.'

Miss Skaf, a Libyan model who speaks fluent French and Arabic, was taken by ambulance to a London hospital for treatment of a suspected broken nose.

She later claimed her injuries were accidental, telling police she had fallen.
The Gaddafis' bodyguards were taken to a police station, but later released without charge.

Scotland Yard confirmed officers and an ambulance were called to Claridge's. A spokesman said: 'A woman was taken to hospital suffering facial injuries.

'Three people were arrested in connection with the incident and taken to a central London police station.'

Mr Gaddafi and his wife had planned to stay at the hotel, in Mayfair, which is a favourite with the family, until January but checked out shortly after the fight.

A Claridge's spokesman said: 'I can confirm there was a domestic incident between some guests at Claridge's on Christmas morning and it was dealt with through normal channels by our security. The police also attended.

'We cannot comment on the identity of any of our guests and they have since checked out.'

The incident is the latest violent allegation to involve Hannibal Gaddafi.

In July last year, Swiss police arrested him and his wife, then heavily pregnant, for apparently beating up their servants in a Geneva hotel.

Police were called to the family's £4,000-a-night suite at Claridge's at 1.30am after hotel staff heard a woman's screams for help

The couple were charged after staff at the President Wilson Hotel - where the Gaddafis were staying as Miss Skaf prepared to give birth in a Geneva hospital - claimed they were beaten with a belt and a clothes hanger.

Two of Hannibal's bodyguards were also held after they clashed with police making the arrest.

The couple, who denied wrongdoing, were later released on bail and the complaint was dropped after the two servants received compensation from an undisclosed source.

But the incident led to a long-running diplomatic stand-off, with Libya stopping oil exports to Switzerland, boycotting Swiss imports, cutting flights between the two countries and refusing visas to Swiss citizens.

The playboy, who was educated at Copenhagen Business School, has also had run-ins with the authorities in France.

Hannibal was arrested in 2005 at a Paris hotel for punching Miss Skaf, then his girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant.

He allegedly beat her after she refused to let him into a room at the Grand Hotel. Police were called when he brandished a handgun.

Mr Gaddafi then moved to another hotel where he went on the rampage, smashing furniture in a £500-a-night suite.

He was later given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a £350 fine for the assault.

A year earlier, he was involved in a high-speed police chase, driving along the Champs Elysees at 90mph in his black Porsche. When stopped by police, his bodyguards attacked the officers.

No charges were brought after Libyan diplomats apologised.

In 2003 he was involved in a brawl in Rome that left six photographers hospitalised and he also caused mayhem while on holiday there in 2001, hurling bottles and attacking three policemen after a night downing cocktails.

Colonel Gaddafi, who has seven sons and one daughter, is said to despair of Hannibal's wayward behaviour, which is a far cry from that of his oldest son by his second marriage, Saif al-Islam, who is favourite to succeed him.

Suave and urbane, Saif, 37, was educated at the London School of Economics and counts Prince Andrew among his friends.

Although he too has attracted controversy after being heavily involved in the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi, whom he accompanied home to a hero's welcome in August.

The Libyan Embassy last night declined to comment on the alleged incident at Claridge's.

source: dailymail

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PICTURE SPECIAL: David Beckham arrives at AC Milan with all GUNS blazing

By Sportsmail Reporter

Training: Beckham is put through his paces alongside Mathieu Flamini and Clarence Seedorf (above), after earlier arriving at the complex in northern Italy

David Beckham flew into Italy yesterday to rejoin AC Milan as Fabio Capello confirmed that if he is fit he will be in England's World Cup squad.

The England manager's vote of confidence came as Beckham arrived by private jet for medical checks at the Milanello training ground - where he was met by an armed security guard.

Beckham, 34, was at the Serie A giants for three months earlier this year but will now remain with them until the end of the season.

Italian job: Beckham is greeted by staff members at the club
In an interview with Gazzetta Dello Sport, Capello said: 'If Beckham plays (in Milan) and if he is fit I will certainly take him to South Africa. I don't look at players' ages but at their qualities.
'He is serious, a great professional and he is really dedicated to making the World Cup.'
Beckham's first game in Italy is expected to be against either Genoa at home next Wednesday or away against Juventus four days later.

Icon: Beckham arrived in Milan looking typically stylish before driving himself into the city about 25miles away

In his interview, Capello says he is delighted the Premier League now has three Italian managers - Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and Gianfranco Zola at West Ham.

He said: 'It's the result of good work at the Coverciano (Italian football training camp) school. it's a badge of honour for our football.'

But he went on to praise football in England, saying: 'The Premier League is the most interesting and enchanting in the world. There are particular aromas. There are full grounds, safety, beauty and a lack of stupidity.

'In Italy we always make the same mistakes - managing the grounds and with the violent fans. We don't solve our problems.'

AC/DB: Beckham hopes his spell with Milan will earn him a place at the World Cup

source: dailymail

Simon Cowell's £15m nightmare in paradise as his plan for a Caribbean hideaway leaves him hugely out of pocket

By Alison Boshoff

Simon Cowell is normally rather a creature of habit during winter.

Every Christmas for the past five years he has holidayed in the exclusive Sandy Lane hotel resort in Barbados, with its manicured beach, £18 Diet Cokes and super-attentive staff. But this year Cowell fancied a change of scenery.

Instead of lounging by Sandy Lane's poolside, Cowell is on a £625,000-a-week super-yacht cruising round Barbados, Grenada and Antigua and St Barts.

But despite such luxurious surroundings, Simon Cowell has reason to feel a shade disgruntled. For, just a few miles along the Barbados shoreline, lies the patch of paradise for which he has paid a large chunk of his fortune.

At the moment, it certainly doesn't look like paradise. Known locally as Black Rock, it remains a spread of rubble and weed, with unfinished roofs and unglazed windows. Hummingbirds, doves, bats and lizards enjoy it for now.

Still, Cowell wishes he was there. This was to be the year when he laid claim to his own home on Barbados - complete with an infinity pool, his own butler, housekeeper, gardener, chef and maids.

He had put down £15million - all in cash, as Cowell makes a point of never taking out a mortgage or any other loan.

The question now is, will he ever see that money again - or receive the keys to what he had hoped would be the finest holiday home money could buy?

Cowell had hoped this would be a place which even his super-rich friends could envy.

But for now, paradise has been postponed. A 2008 finish date for his new-build Caribbean mansion has been officially moved to 2011.

And this week there was no sign of work restarting on the 32-acre site which was to have been the most gilded playground of the rich and famous. Other plots had been snapped up by Lord Lloyd-Webber and Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan.

Now, though, the scaffolding clasps the shells of the villas in a rusty embrace. Even the site sign which reads 'Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residence - a development by Cinnamon 88' is peeling and tatty.

Work ceased abruptly in February. There is a trail of unpaid creditors and scores of Chinese labourers - brought in to do the job despite local protests - are out of work

Black Rock: Building work has halted and some investors are pressing for their money to be returned

The prime minister of Barbados, David Thompson, is so alarmed by how badly this may dent Barbados's reputation that he has been trying to revive the project for most of this year.

Last week, the developers said there will be an announcement within the next fortnight - a positive one, they indicate - but several such deadlines have come and gone.

Some investors are pressing to reclaim their money. Lord Lloyd-Webber is said to have already taken legal advice. Cowell is said to be 'very relaxed', by comparison, although he has asked to be kept closely informed.

So what went wrong? The men behind what seemed a foolproof plan to make money are experienced British developer and hotelier Mike Pemberton and his business partner, Robin Paterson.

Pemberton has lived on Barbados for 20 years. One of his recent triumphs was building the Sanderson hotel in London and he is also behind other five-star developments in the Caribbean.

The villas for the super-rich on the Black Rock site are modelled after Pemberton's own beachfront house, a Far East-inspired dream home named Alang Alang, which has coconut wood pillars and walls rendered in coral stone. The floors are made of waxed merbau hardwood, the doors of aged Indonesian teak.

Pemberton teamed up with Paterson, the former head of Hamptons estate agency, to purchase the site in 2005 with the help of a £24million loan from the Bank of Scotland. They planned to build 36 villas plus a large new hotel with the Four Seasons group, to appeal to the American market. They believed there was a 'chronic undersupply' of luxury villas for sale and rent.

Relaxed: Cowell takes out a jetski on this year's Christmas holiday where he is staying aboard a luxury yacht

Their optimism seemed well placed - the first phase sold out and the second phase sold well - at least half were bought before work stopped. Buyers paid between £11million and £6million - Cowell paid more because he bought two sites.

The annual service charge was to run at £18,000 allowing owners to have the conveniences of a staffed hotel in their own homes - butlers and other staff would be provided from the five-star Four Seasons hotel whenever villa owners were in residence.

Lady Lloyd-Webber said she was especially attracted by this. 'The idea of being able to pitch up at 2am off a flight to find your home in immaculate condition and then order room service is the ultimate luxury,' she said.

But from the start it has not gone smoothly. There was controversy when it emerged that 600 Chinese workers had been flown on to the island - and allegations that they did not have work permits.

Some locals asked the government to intervene, but there was a compromise and the Chinese were allowed to stay. Pemberton promised he would try to hire as many Barbadians as possible.

Black Rock is very near the bustling port - and also near to Barbados's famous turtles, which attract hordes of tourist boats. Those who have plonked down millions to live on the 'platinum coast' will find - if their villas are ever finished - that they have to share their fine white sand with hordes of daytrippers.

Michael Winner, a famous fan of Sandy Lane and of Barbados, said that he felt that the development was simply on the wrong part of the island - overcrowded and too close to the port. 'You can't get near the sodding turtles because of the sodding tourists,' he exclaimed.

The onset of the global financial downturn last year did not, at first, seem to affect the development.

Luxury: Sandy Lane hotel resort (above and below) where Simon Cowell normally spends the festive period

However, as the financial crisis deepened, the suits who run The Four Seasons in Canada seemed to get cold feet and funding ran into difficulties. Some £280million was required to achieve the luxury finish desired and the funding fell through as the banks failed.

In a statement, the Four Seasons said that despite the 'current global crisis', construction would resume 'within the next week and the 2011 completion date was not affected'.

As the weeks following that announcement have turned into months, the idea of a 2011 finish seems far fetched. Pemberton has spent months seeking investors and hints that work may be begin again in January thanks to new interest from a French Canadian Group.

He said: 'All the creditors will eventually be paid. You have to keep everyone happy on a small island like this.'

Cowell - who has a home in Holland Park, West London, as well as a mansion in LA - is understood to remain patient with the developers, but is keen for an end to the uncertainty.

His spokesman, Max Clifford, said: 'Simon is very relaxed about it. It is taking a lot longer than it should have done, but he sort of expected that. His brother, Nicholas, is a property developer, so Simon does understand that end of business.

'I would also say he has been so busy this year that he has hardly noticed the time going by. We were talking about it a couple of weeks ago and we said that it seemed like just two or three months rather than a year.

'Simon is probably the most successful person on the planet. Everything he has touched has turned to gold. Generally, everyone is struggling, in TV and in music, but he has done incredibly well with them both. He is keeping himself informed about what is going on, but you know you can hardly say that he is suffering, in the circumstances.'

Presumably though, he would still like to know when he will get the chance to launch a jetski from his own beach...

source: dailymail

Monday, December 28, 2009

Craig Bellamy committed to Manchester City as striker backs new manager Roberto Mancini

By Sportsmail Reporter

Perfect start: Bellamy and Mancini shake hands after the win over Stoke

Craig Bellamy has ruled out a move away from Manchester City and insists new manager Roberto Mancini has his full support.

The Welsh striker has been linked with a move away from City in the January transfer window but he has dismissed claims that the exit of his countryman Mark Hughes will have any impact on his future at Eastlands.

Hughes was dismissed by City nine days ago, and former Inter Milan boss Mancini has taken his place, beginning his tenure with a 2-0 win over Stoke.

Bellamy began that match on the bench but insists he wants to play for Mancini and help City achieve their targets.

He told the Daily Mirror: 'I want to stay and I am going to stay. I am committed to that. I am committed to Man City.

'I have bought into the idea of where Man City is going to go and I am a huge part of where it is at this stage.

'I have no problem with Mancini. It's not his problem he's here. What happened to Mark Hughes has got nothing to do with him.

'I hope Mancini will stay for a long time because I am from the mould of thinking stability is the key to success. I hope he gets a number of years to do it and, as long as I last, I will give my all for him.'

source: dailymail

Smith and South Africa rattled as England stick to their slow Trott in Durban

By Paul Newman

Leisurely stroll: England's Jonathan Trott takes his time against South Africa in Durban

Jonathan Trott took some ever-so-measured steps on Sunday towards making another big impact on this series and, at the same time, got right up South Africa’s noses.

Trott has been welcomed back with open arms to the country of his birth, certainly relative to the treatment still meted out here to team-mate Kevin Pietersen

Leisurely stroll: England's Jonathan Trott takes his time against South Africa in Durban

Yet he is in danger of turning himself into home captain Graeme Smith’s new bete noire with his precise and, South Africa insist, calculated routine of keeping bowlers waiting before he is ready to face up.

He was at it again on Sunday at a pivotal moment of this second Test when, after Andrew Strauss had launched a gung-ho counter-attack, he arrived at his own snail’s pace to repel Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Paul Harris until bad light ended the second day prematurely under the full glare of the Kingsmead floodlights.

Trott, who painstakingly makes his mark and takes guard several times, survived to see England through to 103 for one in reply to South Africa’s 343 but has incurred the wrath of his old mate Smith and, if South Africa have anything to do with it, umpires Aleem Dar and Ameish Saheba.

Captain Marvel: England skipper Andrew Strauss smashed a quickfire half ton on day two in Durban

‘It’s getting pretty frustrating but it’s something we’re dealing with,’ said South Africa batsman AB de Villiers. ‘The umpires are aware of our feelings and I think we’re at the point where it may get him into trouble. It affects the bowlers’ rhythms. Smithy has had a word with Trott and I think he’s listening.’

That remains a contentious point. Trott, who is clearly happy to ruffle some illustrious feathers, has cocked a deaf ear to South African grumbling so far and may feel that if he gets under their skin he is doing his job.

Certainly the way he twice unfurled a classic cover drive in his unbeaten 17 suggests that he is continuing to be calm and unhurried at the crease.

‘He’s always taken his time, which I can vouch for having shouted abuse at him from slip in county cricket,’ said spinner Graeme Swann, who was again England’s top wicket-taker in conditions that should have suited the seamers far more.

‘I can understand South Africa’s frustration but I don’t think he’s taking too long. It’s just that it’s been highlighted now and everyone is looking for it.’

Trott’s go-slow was the final twist in another absorbing chapter in the ‘game of chess’ England selector Ashley Giles rightly predicted this series would become.

Swann in: Graeme Swann is congratulated after taking his fourth wicket

The disappointingly small crowd of 7,000 or so, who turned up to watch the second day under leaden Durban skies, saw South Africa score at least 50 more than England would have hoped when they resumed on 175 for five, thanks to an impressive last-wicket assault on Swann by Dale Steyn.

But they then watched Strauss repair the late damage inflicted on his bowlers with a magisterial array of strokes against wayward South Africa bowling. His dominance seemed certain to bring a second consecutive Test century at Kingsmead until Morkel came round the wicket to conquer him.

England at last made the decision review system work for them, after four squandered calls in Centurion, when Swann successfully overturned Saheba’s decision to rule Mark Boucher not out.

The real Dale: South African paceman Dale Steyn thumps another boundary on the way to his swashbuckling 47

But then it backfired yet again when Hawk-Eye’s ‘infallible’ eye confirmed the judgment of Dar and Saheba to uphold not out decisions against De Villiers and Morkel. That meant that when Indian official Saheba ruled Makhaya Ntini not out playing no stroke to Swann at the start of South Africa’s last-wicket stand of 58, England had no recourse to the technology that would almost certainly have vindicated their review. It would cost them dearly.

So brutal was Steyn’s assault on Swann that he smashed him for three long sixes and, when Jimmy Anderson tried to end his fun, Steyn cut him off the back foot for four with the execution of a specialist batsman.

Gloomy Sunday: The floodlights were on throughout much of the day's play at Kingsmead

In such conditions, South Africa’s score was worth at least 50 more, but Strauss so dominated his opening stand with Alastair Cook that he reached his 50 while his under-pressure partner had jogged along to eight.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur had ‘harsh words’ with his bowlers during a half-hour break for bad light and drizzle, and when they returned Morkel produced a beauty to castle Strauss and bring Trott, slowly, to the crease.

Just as happy to be there with Trott at the close was Cook who, while becoming the youngest Englishman to play 50 Tests at 25 years and one day, desperately needs a big score here.

Cook may have started slowly but he quietly found his feet and launched Harris for four over cow corner with his new slog-sweep shot that he experimented with in one-day cricket for Essex last summer. He remains in situ on 31 and on Monday needs to convert that score into his first half century - and more - in 11 Tests.

South Africa’s biggest worry comes in the form of Ntini, controversially preferred here to Friedel de Wet - the star of the home side’s late push for victory in Centurion.

Ntini is looking more and more a spent force. He managed just three expensive overs - Strauss striking him for three fours in four balls - before being banished to the boundary. Ntini’s continued place in the side is going to come under increasing scrutiny, even if he is just 10 short of 400 Test wickets.

source: dailymail

Single girl Tamara Mellon puts love split behind her as she holidays with designer pal Marc Jacobs

Fashionable pair: Designers Tamara Mellon and Marc Jacobs soaked up the sun in their skimpy swimwear in St Barts

After splitting from Christian Slater earlier this year, Tamara Mellon is taking the single life in her stride.

So instead of spending Christmas alone with only her daughter for company, the Jimmy Choo boss has jetted to St Barts with her gay best friend.

The 42-year-old brunette was spotted showing off her slender figure in a skimpy bikini yesterday as she chatted to designer Marc Jacobs and his boyfriend Lorenzo Martone

Wearing a multi-coloured two-piece, Tamara looked relaxed and tanned as she mingled on the beach with fellow millionaires.

Her friend Marc also opted for skimpy swimwear as he showed off his tattooed body in a tight pair of black swimming trunks.

Also seen on the beach was Tamara's seven-year-old daughter Minty, whose father is the designer's ex-husband Matthew Mellon.

After chatting to several people on the beach, Tamara cooled down from the warm 27c with a dip in the Caribbean sea.

Svelte: After enjoying a dip in the Caribbean sea, Tamara threw on a grey vest and denim hotpants before returning to her hotel

As she prepared to return to her hotel suite, Tamara threw a grey vest and denim hotpants over her wet bikini.

The multi-millionaire businesswoman is a big fan of St Barts and often holidays there

In fact, she was only there a year ago, enjoying the sun, sea and sand with Christian, who she split from in March.

They blamed work pressures for the break up of their two-year romance.

Mingling: Tamara laughs as she shares a joke with a male friend
Other stars spending Christmas on St Barts include Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, who recently split from husband Deryck Whibley.

Meanwhile, St Barts is set to be the location of a £3million New Year's Eve party hosted by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his pregnant girlfriend Dasha Zhukova.

Prince is expected to perform for the rich and famous guests, expected to include Sir Philip Green, Simon Cowell and Jude Law - all currently holidaying in the Caribbean.

source: dailymail

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Telecom firms criticise plan for 'Stasi'-like checks on every phone call and email

By Jonathan Petre, Mail on Sunday Reporter and Tom Harper, Mail on Sunday Reporter

Telecoms firms have accused the Government of acting like the East German Stasi over plans to force them to store the details of every phone call for at least a year.

Under the proposals, the details of every email sent and website visited will also be recorded to help the police and security services fight crime and terrorism.

But mobile phone companies have attacked the plans as a massive assault on privacy and warned it could be the first step towards a centralised ‘Big Brother’ database.

They have also told the Home Office that the scheme is deeply flawed.

The criticism of Britain’s growing ‘surveillance culture’ was made in a series of responses to an official consultation on the plans, which have been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

T-Mobile said in its submission that it was a ‘particularly sensitive’ time as many people were commemorating the 20th anniversary of the protests that led to the collapse of ‘surveillance states in Eastern Europe’.

Martin Hopkins, head of data protection and disclosure, said: ‘It would be extremely ironic if we at T-Mobile (UK) Ltd had to acquire the surveillance functionality envisaged by the Consultation Document at the same time that our parent company, headquartered in Germany, was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the demise of the equivalent systems established by the Stasi in the federal states of the former East Germany.’

Equally trenchant was the response from Hutchinson 3G Uk Ltd, which read: ‘We take seriously the responsibility of safeguarding our customers’ information and data, and are unconvinced of the safeguards that the Government might make to protect against loss.’

Ulrich Mühe playing East German Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler in the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others

The firm also said it had ‘substantial concerns’ over claims that public authorities would only be able to access data on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. It is understood hundreds of public bodies and quangos may also be able to obtain information from the system.

‘It is our belief the safeguards listed in this consultation are incomplete and do not extend far enough,’ it added.

Orange and Vodafone were also highly critical, with a spokesman for Orange saying: ‘The proposals are clearly not about “maintaining” capabilities but rather about “enhancing” existing capabilities.

‘Any debate should address what many will see as a worrying extension of the so-called “surveillance culture”.’

Since October 2007, telecoms companies have been obliged to keep records for a year. Under the new legislation, however, they will also be required to organise it better – for example, by grouping calls made by the same person.

Internet service providers have been required to hold records on emails and website visits since April.

Police and security services can already obtain such information if they are given permission by the courts.

The public will reimburse internet service providers and telecoms companies for the costs associated with storing the billions of records.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The police and security services need to be able to use communication data in the fight against crime and terrorism. Communications data forms an important element of prosecution evidence in 95 per cent of the serious crime cases.

‘Access to communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is subject to strict safeguards around how, when and by whom data is obtained.’

The activities of the Stasi, the former East Germany’s secret police, were memorably depicted in the Oscar-winning film The Lives Of Others, starring Ulrich Mühe. At the regime’s height, there were 200,000 agents and informers in a population of only 16million.

source: dailymail

Hayden Panettiere and Sylvester Stallone spend Christmas LA-style as they gather courtside at basketball game

Big match: Sylvester Stallone and Hayden Panettiere greet each other at the LA Lakers VS Cleveland Cavaliers game held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles

While their British counterparts were no doubt tucking into Christmas dinner and watching EastEnders, a variety of U.S. stars took front row seats at a basketball game.

And Sylvester Stallone appeared more interested in Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere than the action going on on the court at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

The 63-year-old action movie star looked overjoyed to see the 20-year-old star as she approached him during the game.

Wearing a Lakers endorsed Adidas tracksuit top, the young actress appeared just as pleased flashing a huge grin as she greeted the Rocky actor during the match between the LA Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

source: dailymail

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Charlie Sheen Released on Bond, Due in Court February

The actor who is accused of choking his wife Brooke Mueller has posted a sum of money as bail but has to face the court next year.

Charlie Sheen, who was arrested and put behind bars in Aspen on Christmas day, has been released on bond. The actor who was in the Colorado area for holiday posted an $8,500 bond on Friday, December 25 evening and was released from jail at around 7 P.M.

Earlier that day, he was booked for second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief, a spokesperson for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department in Aspen said. The victim is thought to be his wife Brooke Mueller who refused treatment when the ambulance came. Sheen is due in court on February 8, 2010 at 10.30 A.M.

A call was made to 911 regarding domestic violence happening at 320 West Hallam Street in Aspen. Radar Online reported that Mueller claimed Sheen choked her during a heated argument. Mueller allegedly was already in Aspen without her husband and Sheen later flew over. It is still unclear whether their twin boys were with them when the incident happened.


Did Dustin Hoffman exploit the Rain Man? After his death this week, his father makes a startling accusation

By David Jones

Kim Peek (left) with his father Fran and Dustin Hoffman (right) who portrayed him in Rain Man

During a career spanning half-acentury and more than 60 films, Dustin Hoffman has forged a reputation for portraying unusual characters with extraordinary empathy and idiosyncratic brilliance.

According to many critics, however, his defining role was that of Raymond Babbitt, the autistic genius who could instantly solve the most complicated maths calculations and memorise entire phone directories, in the 1988 movie Rain Main.

The script was famously inspired by the true story of Kim Peek, who was classified as ' mentally retarded' as a child, but was later discovered to possess such amazing brainpower that medical experts later called him The Living Google.

And Peek's father, Fran Peek, claims Hoffman honed his Oscar-winning performance by studying his son's peculiar mannerisms, movements and diction during an intense six-hour encounter at a Hollywood studio.

When the two men parted, Mr Peek senior claims, the star was so profoundly moved that he rubbed noses with the real-life Rain Man (Kim's habitual way of showing affection) and told him, Peek says: 'I may be the star - but you are the heavens.'

This week, therefore, when it was announced that Kim Peek had died suddenly of a heart attack, aged only 58, his father says he expected Hoffman to send his condolences, at least. Though he has received hundreds of sympathy messages, however, he has heard nothing from the star.

Instead, an unedifying war of words has broken out between the grieving Mr Peek, 83, who accuses Hoffman of shunning his treasured son, and the actor's camp who say Kim's influence on the film project has been grossly overplayed.

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman starring in the 1988 film 'Rain Man'

How has this sad situation come about? The origins of the dispute date back a quarter of a century to 1984, when Hollywood scriptwriter Barry Morrow met Kim Peek at a meeting of the Association of Retarded Citizens in Texas, and was astonished by his great brainpower.

After discovering that Kim, then 33, was able to reel off every address in the 50 states of America, complete with zip codes, he decided to write a movie based around his phenomenal gifts.

Until then, Kim had lived reclusively with his family in Salt Lake City, but Morrow urged his father to show his son's talents to the world.

Nearly five years passed before Rain Man was released to huge acclaim, in December, 1988. Kim was duly thanked, both in the film's credits and by Hoffman himself during his acceptance speech after winning an Oscar for Best Actor.

Soon afterwards, remem-bering Morrow's entreaty, his father began touring the country with his son on public speaking engagements.

Drawing on the film's huge popularity, they aimed to break down the stigma surrounding mental impediment by demonstrating Kim's exceptional abilities before an audience, and - though he could not understand the concept of fame - 'the real Rain Man', as he was announced, became a celebrity.

A few years later, Fran Peek also wrote a book, titled The Real Rain Man, about his son's moving struggle with Savant syndrome, the rare condition which gave him extraordinary powers of recall even though he was so disabled he could not wash or dress unaided.

His talents were so amazing that studio bosses thought they beggared belief, however, and Morrow's original film script was extensively rewritten to make it more believable, and bears little relation to Kim's life.

Hoffman also later stated that his characterisation was largely based on another man, Peter Guthrie, whose behaviour he studied. He was not a savant, like Kim, but instead suffered from autism.

For a quarter of a century, however, Kim Peek has been regarded as the film's inspiration - and speaking at length for the first time since his son died in his arms last Saturday, Fran Peek maintained it would never have been made were it not for his son.

But he claimed Hoffman - or his aides - had effectively 'cut off' Kim after the film came out, refusing to accept phone calls or answer messages. This, he says, was 'one of the sad things about Rain Man'.

'I tried to call him several times, but I could never get through,' says Mr Peek. 'After we met him at the studios in Hollywood, when he studied Kim's behaviour, we heard from him only once more, four or five years ago, when Kim won an award from the Christopher Reeve Foundation for helping other people with disabilities, and he sent a video lasting 30 seconds, congratulating Kim.

'It would have been nice to receive some sort of message this week, and I would be very, very pleased and honoured if Mr Hoffman comes to his funeral next Tuesday. He might surprise me by showing up, but I doubt it.'

To be fair, scriptwriter Barry Morrow was one of the first to offer condolences.
Hoffman was paid $5.8 million for the film, plus a percentage of its gross earnings, which topped $172 million at the box office and have multiplied many times with video sales and TV repeats.

Kim could have worked out Hoffman's earnings to the last decimal point - but it would not take a mathematical genius to work out what he received himself. The answer is zero.

'We weren't business people, and anyway we weren't trying to sell him for anything,' explained Mr Peek. 'I never asked for royalties. That just wouldn't have seemed right. The film people did send $10,000 to be put in trust for Kim.

But then the state took away his Medicaid (the modest monthly disability payment on which he lived) because he wasn't supposed to have assets of more than $2,400.'

By his account, it all sounds rather unfair - yet, according to a source close to Hoffman, it is the actor who is being unjustly maligned.

While Hoffman did, indeed, meet Kim Peek, says the source, he barely recalls their encounter, which was one of several character studies he arranged before filming. He denies he would ever have said the quotable: 'I may be the star - but you are the heavens.'

Moreover, Fran Peek's insistence that his son provided the model for Raymond Babbitt's character was spurious. 'All these years he's been claiming his son to be the real Rain Man, but nobody ever wanted to call the man a liar by refuting it.'

Hoffman's character was based on the young autistic man, Peter Guthrie, the source added, while his co-star Tom Cruise drew traits from Peter's brother Kevin, a handsome young football player.

'Dustin stays in touch with Peter and Kevin, and they were credited and paid. It's obviously sad that Mr Peek's son has died, but how can he be accused of shunning Kim when he never knew him?'

Whatever the truth, however, Mr Peek says he has no wish to dwell on it. For whether or not it inspired Dustin Hoffman, the 'true Rain Man' story is remarkable and uplifting.

It began in Salt Lake City, where the man who became known as the Living Google, was born on November 11, 1951.

From his first moments, it was clear something was very wrong.

His head was abnormally large, with a baseball-sized blister at the back where his brain protruded through his skull, and his eyes moved independently of one another.

When he was nine months old, a psychologist pronounced him 'mentally retarded' and urged his parents to put him in an institution - the young Raymond Babbitt's fate in the film.

To their eternal credit, however, the Peeks ignored this advice and took Kim home, even though Mr Peek was then a busy advertising executive and his wife worked as an estate agent.

Kim couldn't walk until he was four and was a teenager before he was able to climb stairs.

His parents gave him love and stimulation, however, and by the time he was 18 months old he had developed the first of many intriguing peculiarities. Whenever a book had been read to him, he would place it back on the shelf upside down.

As his parents came to realise, this signified that he had memorised it word for word, and by the end of his life he could recall the smallest detail from some 12,000 books, including the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible.

Mr and Mrs Peek began to suspect their son possessed unusual gifts when he was three. 'He asked us what "confidential" meant, and before we could answer he'd looked the word up in a dictionary,' his father recalls, laughing.

The medical establishment and educational authorities treated him disgracefully, however.

At six, it was suggested that he have a lobotomy to 'cure' his incessant chattering, fidgeting and pacing up and down; and when he attended school, aged seven, he was expelled for being 'uncontrollable' after just seven minutes in class.

Thereafter, tutors were sent to his home for just 45 minutes, twice a week. They were astonished at the speed with which he devoured books, never realising that he possessed the uncanny ability to read one page with his left eye while at the same time reading the opposite page with his right.

By 14, he had completed the high school curriculum four years ahead of schedule, but it was not until he was 18 that he got a job, managing the payroll for 160 people, a task he performed in a few hours a week without even a calculator.

When he was in his early 30s, he was fired because the authorities computerised the pay-roll. But it took two full-time accountants, plus the computer, to replace him.
As Kim seldom ventured outside the house except to go to work, his talents still remained a secret known only to his parents, his younger siblings, Brian and Alison, and a few other relatives.

Even they had no idea just how startlingly exceptional he was until 1988, when Fran Peek had him re-evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Ironically, his aim was to prove that his son's IQ was sufficiently low for him to qualify for state welfare benefits. Yet University of Utah psychiatry professor Daniel Christensen was flabbergasted by what he discovered.

An MRI scan revealed that his brain was missing a vital component: the corpus callosum, a stalk of fibres which joins the brain's two walnut-like halves and enables information to pass between them.

There was damage to the left hemisphere of his brain. This controls abstract and conceptual thoughts while the right hemisphere stores facts and derives meaning from concrete objects and events.

These defects may have accounted for his savantism, a condition first identified by the 19th century British physician John Langdon Down (the physician who first described Down's syndrome), and derived from the French word savant, meaning someone of great learning or knowledge.

Down called his patients 'idiot savants' because - as with Ki

m Peek - they were physically unco-ordinated and their skills were severely limited, for all their extraordinary gifts.

By the Eighties, such patients were classified as 'talented' or 'prodigious' savants, depending on their powers. Ordinarily, their ability to retain enormous amounts of information covers just one or two subjects - maths and literature, for example.

But Kim Peek's knowledge extended to 15 areas, including geography, world history, the space programme, religion and music, so he was described as a 'mega-savant'.

His knowledge quotient was set at 188, making him a genius to rank with Einstein.

When it came to his ability to relate to people, socialise, and express his feelings, however, it was a very different matter.

Surprisingly, his father told me Kim once had a girlfriend, whom he met through a group for disabled people. She suffered from multiple sclerosis, so was largely confined to her home, 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.

But every month Mr Peek senior would take his son to meet her, and they would go to a restaurant and then the cinema.

The relationship wasn't physical. 'I think he was interested in females and respected them, but he never showed any sexual feelings about them,' says his father. 'He wanted her to get out and have some fun.'

His son had a strong sense of duty, and his own moral code, he adds, recalling what happened when he was entered in the 50-yard dash in the Utah Special Olympics, aged 19.

'He was racing against two guys in wheelchairs and as he approached the finishing line he looked back and saw their chairs had got tangled together. So he went back and pushed first one, then the other opponent, through the ribbon before crossing in third place.'

He may have received only a bronze medal, but he won the most important prize for this act: the special sportsmanship award.

At times his curious world view gave rise to poignant humour. As he was unable to understand metaphors, he took everything that was said to him literally.

'If I told him to lower his voice, he would slide down in his chair,' his father remembered fondly. 'And when I said, "Get a grip of yourself", he would grab hold of his own arm.'

Mr Peek says it was partly because he devoted so much time to Kim that his marriage failed in 1981.

Then, after Rain Man was released, he and his son began touring the U.S. and overseas. His ex-wife had reservations about the idea, fearing Kim would be ridiculed if he were paraded on stage.

On his first public appearance, at a local high school, she was proved right. One loutish pupil shouted: 'I have a question - what's it like to be a spastic?'
A stunned silence descended on the hall, and his father held his breath, fearing how his son might react. He needn't have worried.

'Fine - what are you proud of?' Kim fired back. Then he invited the heckler on to the platform, hugged him and pronounced: 'Now you are educated we can be friends!'

Thus began a 20-year speaking career during which he travelled almost three million miles, raised $7 million for charity, and for ever changed millions of people's perceptions toward the disabled.

Kim's premature death was probably not linked to his condition, Dr Christensen says, and his family are heartbroken - no one more so than his father who, for the past two decades, had not left his side for more than a few minutes.

However, his father gives thanks for a life that had so much purpose, and was so remarkable that two U.S. research institutions have requested permission to preserve his brain for medical science (Mr Peek has refused because he wishes Kim to be buried intact).

His tombstone will bear the self-written homily with which he always ended his appearances: 'Learn to recognise differences in others and treat them like you would want them to treat you.

'It will make this a better world to live in. Care and share and do your best. You don't have to be handicapped to be different - everybody is.'

For a man who was so much more remarkable than his film persona, it is a fitting epitaph and makes the row over the Rain Man's true identity seem rather trifling.


Pictured: The 'disturbed' woman who attacked the Pope at Midnight Mass... a year after doing the same thing

By Nick Pisa

Susanna Maiolo, 25, a Swiss-Italian national with psychiatric problems, jumps over the barricade towards Pope Benedict XVI as he walks down the main aisle

The Pope was knocked to the ground in a terrifying security scare just hours before his traditional Christmas Day message.
Susanna Maiolo, vaulted over security barriers and dived on top of 82-year-old Benedict XVI, dragging him to the floor.
Incredibly Maiolo, who is said to have a history of mental problems, was involved in a similar incident last Christmas Eve.

Pope Benedict XVI gestures to faithful during the 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the City and to the World) message in St. Peter's square at the Vatican today

Medical experts said the Pope was lucky not to have broken any bones in the fall inside St Peter's Basilica at the beginning of the Christmas Eve Mass. He lost his mitre and staff and remained on the ground for a few seconds before being helped up by attendants.

French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, also fell in the melee and was taken to hospital with a broken hip. He will be operated on in two or three days' time but is said to be in 'good spirits'.

Maiolo grabs Pope Benedict as a guard pulls her down as the pontiff walks down the main aisle in St. Peter's

Vatican security, at centre of the aisle dressed in black, make their way towards Pope Benedict after he was knocked down during Christmas Mass

Injured: French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray on a wheelchair is taken to hospital at the Vatican City

The Pope appeared to suffer no ill effects from the assault, managing to get up and carry on with the service. He made no mention of it during the two-hour ceremony.

But although sources close to him said he had 'brushed off the incident', it will raise serious questions over security.

Maiolo, 25, had launched an attack on him at the end of Mass last Christmas Eve but was stopped before she could reach him.

Earlier this month Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was left with a fractured nose, two broken teeth and severe cuts after being hit by a souvenir statue at the end of a political rally.

An unsteady Pope Benedict is helped to his seat during Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican last night

Flashpoint: She grabs hold of Pope Benedict XVI, circled, and drags him to the floor of the church

A senior Vatican source who was at the service and asked not to be named said: 'The fact this woman is known and was still able to get through security is very, very serious.

'All the people who were inside St Peter's had invitations and so would have had to be checked and give their names. This woman was able to get through these checks as well as the airport style metal detectors.

Pope Benedict delivers his blessing from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica before thousands of people

A Swiss Guard stands in front of the faithful as Pope Benedict XVI leads his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message

'The Pope's guards were able to drag her away but the sense of shock in the basilica was amazing - there was a huge gasp, no one could believe what was happening.'

The Vatican said it would review its security procedures but it was not realistic to ensure 100 per cent security because the Pope is regularly surrounded by thousands of people.

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: 'People want to see him up close, and he's pleased to see them closely too.

'There were 7,000 people there at the Mass and she could have got her ticket from anywhere. She is known to the Vatican but she was never thought to have been of any serious danger to the Holy Father.

'She was not armed and if anything the poor woman needs treatment, which is what she is getting.'

A 27-year-old German man (right) leaps over a barricade and tries to jump on to Pope Benedict XVI's open-topped Jeep last year

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray suffered a broken femur and will have to undergo surgery

Asked if any criminal action would be taken against Malolo, he said: ' I don't know but Vatican justice is always benevolent towards everyone'.
The most high profile attack on a Pope was in 1981, when Turkish hitman Ali Agca shot John Paul II as he drove through St Peter's Square.

He was quickly arrested and jailed but is due to be released from a Turkish prison next month. He says he plans to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of John Paul.

Pope Benedict is due to visit Britain next year and officials from the Vatican Gendarme, the security service, have already been in London for talks with Scotland Yard's diplomatic and anti-terrorism squads.

In his Christmas Day speech the Pontiff described the Church as 'a source of unity'. He smiled and waved to the crowd but appeared tired and leaned on an assistant at times.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Queen and Royal Family arrive at Sandringham for traditional Christmas Day service in the snow

Festive: The Queen dressed all in red while Zara Phillips and Autumn Kelly added a touch of glamour to the day

The Royal Family attended a Christmas Day church service on one of the Queen's Sandringham estates today as more than 1,000 hardy onlookers braved to cold to watch the traditional procession.

Security was tight as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived for the service at St Mary Magdalene church on the Sandringham Estate near King's Lynn, Norfolk.

The royals gathered earlier this week to spend Christmas at Sandringham.

Prince Charles and Zara Phillips share a joke

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie smile as they arrive for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham Church

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princes William and Harry for the service.

The Princess Royal, the Duke of York and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex also attended.

Most of the party - including the Duke of Edinburgh - walked the quarter mile from Sandringham House to the church along an icy path.

Police searched visitors as they arrived and more than a dozen officers also kept a close eye on crowds lining the path along which the royals walked.

Children lined up to give the Queen flowers after the service. She passed the flowers to police officers who took them to her car.

And royals exchanged Christmas greetings with onlookers as they walked back to Sandringham House.

Hands in pockets, Harry arrives at Sandringham with Zara and Autumn Phillips in their high heels

Queen Elizabeth receives flowers after attending a Christmas Day church service at St Mary Magdalene Church

Autumn Phillips, Prince William, Prince Harry and Zara Phillips Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie arrive for the Christmas Day service

Zara Phillips dared to step out in the snow towering six-inch stilletoes

Prince William stopped to hug carer Debbie Barlett, 51, who lives near Sandringham and attends the Christmas Day service every year.

'He gave me a hug and a kiss and asked me where my snowman was,' she said.

'I've been coming here for the past 20 years. It's one chance you get to see the royals altogether. It's lovely.'

Zara Phillips walked along an icy path in six-inch stiletto heels as she made her way to church today.

West Norfolk has seen more than six inches of snow in recent days and fields remained white for Christmas Day.

But Miss Phillips, one of the world's top horseriders, did not put a foot wrong as she walked the quarter of a mile to church from Sandringham House in her eye-catching black shoes.

The Princess Royal makes a face as she and the Earl of Wessex arrive at the church this morning

Prince William, arm-in-arm with his cousin Zara Phillips and Prince Harry

Princess Beatrice and Sophie Wessex arm-in-arm on the royal estate at Sandringham in Norfolk

The Countess of Wessex also stood out in a pair of black four-inch stilettos with red soles - although she opted to travel to church by car with the Queen.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie opted for black knee-length boots with low heels - as did the Queen.

But Princess Eugenie had the most outstanding hat - a pink trilby.

Miss Phillips wore a black hat at a jaunty angle and the Duchess of Cornwall donned a Russian-style fur hat.

Her brother Peter's wife Autumn caught the eye with a pink and grey embroidered frock coat.

Police carried out body searches of visitors and confiscated sharp objects including penknives and scissors.

In the pink: The Countess of Wessex and Princess Eugenie leave St Mary Magdalene Church

Popular: The Duchess of Cornwall speaks to wellwishers as she leaves the church. Scores of people missed seeing the royals because of legnthy security checks

Officers estimated that more than 1,000 people watched the royals but scores of people were left frustrated after failing to get through a security check-point in time.

They included housewife Sarah Hawkes, 40, of Downham Market, Norfolk, and her daughter Sophie Manton, three, who had bought flowers for the Queen.

'We couldn't get in because the queue to get through security was so long,' said Miss Hawkes.

'There were scores of people still waiting when they left. Sophie was hoping to see if the Queen was wearing a crown. It was disappointing.'

Another frustrated visitor, who did not wish to be named, added: 'There were faffing around so long checking people's bags and so on, we couldn't get in.

'They used to put up signs saying not to bring bags. They don't do that now and it slows everything up.'

source: dailymail