Monday, 17 March 2014

Westboro Baptist Church Founder 'Near Death'

The founder of the highly controvercial Westboro Baptist Church, Rev Fred Phelps, is said to be "on the edge of death".

The 84-year-old's estranged son reported that his father, once a pastor of the church notorious for its homophobic and racist views, was in hospice care and near death.

In a Facebook post Nate Phelps said his father "is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas."

He said he had also learned that Phelps Sr. was ex-communicated from his own church in August of 2013.

"I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made."

A second estranged Phelps son, Mark, told Kansas newspaper The Topeka Capital-Journal the news was accurate.

Meanwhile church spokesman Steve Drain confirmed that Rev Phelps was being looked after in a care facility. 

Mr Drain said: "I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems."

He did not elaborate on what those problems were.

Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Case On Protests At Military Funerals The Church won the right to stage high-profile protestsin 2011

Phelps Sr, once an award-winning civil rights attorney, founded the church in Kansas in 1955. 

It has shot to notoriety in recent years after its members staged numerous protests at the funerals of dead US soldiers.

Images of its members carrying placards reading "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Thank God for 9/11" earned the church significant attention around world, as did its claim that the deaths were God's punishment for immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Anger over the behaviour of Westboro members, largely made up of Phelps' extended family, inspired a federal law and laws in numerous states limiting picketing at funerals. 

But, in a landmark free speech ruling in 2011, the US Supreme Court found that the church had the right to stage protests. 

It ruled it could not be sued for monetary damages for upsetting grieving families.

The story of the Westboro Baptist Church has inspired numerous documentaries, including British journalist Louis Theroux's The Most Hated Family In America.

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Gas Pipes Under Scrutiny After New York Blast

New York emergency crews say investigations into the cause of a gas explosion that brought down two apartment buildings can get under way following significant progress clearing rubble from the site.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said investigators hoped to reach the gas pipes in the underground area of the collapsed buildings on Sunday.

Investigators have been waiting to access the buildings' basements to inspect possible ignition sources that might have caused the blast.

On Saturday New York City Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said mild weather had helped crews make "significant headway" clearing the debris from the site.

He said the "majority" of rubble had now been removed.

New York City firefighters dig through rubble of a building explosion and collapse in the Harlem section of New York The buildings housed 15 apartments, a ground-floor church and a piano shop

Eight people were killed and dozens injured on Wednesday when the gas explosion levelled two five-story apartment buildings in East Harlem.

They fell just minutes after a resident in the area called 911 to report the smell of gas.

Witnesses said the impact of the collapse could be felt up to a mile away.

The bodies of all eight victims, five women and three men, have now been recovered.

Six of the victims have so far been identified.

Harlem explosion victims Carmen Tanco and Griselde Comacho Carmen Tanco (L) and Griselde Comacho died in the blast

They include Griselde Camacho, a 45-year-old school security officer, and 67-year-old Carmen Tanco, a dental hygienist.

Mexican officials in Puebla named two other victims as Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, 43, and 22-year-old Rosaura Hernandez Barrios.

There are not thought to have been any other fatalities.

During a tour of the site New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged support for around 50 families displaced by the blast.

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Mafia Fugitive Rancadore Wins Extradition Battle

A 65-year-old London man accused of being a top Mafia gangster has won his battle against extradition to Italy.

Domenico Rancadore had been living in Uxbridge, west London, for 20 years when he was arrested for allegedly fleeing justice in Italy.

Known as "The Professor", he was convicted in 1999 of Mafia association and extortion in Trabia, near Palermo, Sicily, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

However, senior district judge Howard Riddle has now discharged Mr Rancadore at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Mr Riddle told the court he had originally intended to extradite Mr Rancadore.

Domenico Rancadore's London home Domenico Rancadore's home in Uxbridge

But he changed his mind following a ruling in a similar case involving the Court of Florence and Hayle Abdi Badre.

Mr Riddle said: "The judgment of the administrative court is binding on me.

"The higher court accepted that a similar assurance given in that case was in good faith, but was not sufficient."

He added: "I cannot distinguish this case from Badre.

"While it is true that I heard more up-to-date evidence than was available to the court in that case, my intended decision, as expressed above, was based squarely on my acceptance of an assurance that has recently, and in similar circumstances, been rejected by a higher court."

Domenico Rancadore arrest<br /> Mr Rancadore's wife Anne Skinner (left) and daughter Daniela

In the case of Badre, the High Court written judgement said: "...the assurance in this case is insufficient to persuade me that, if the Appellant were returned to Italy, he would not face the risk of being exposed to prison conditions that would breach his Article 3 rights".

Mr Riddle said he was satisfied the European Arrest Warrant against Mr Rancadore was valid and that extradition was "compatible with the defendant's Convention rights, including prison conditions".

He also said he believed he was satisfied Mr Rancadore's wife and daughter had known he was a fugitive "for some time".

Outside court, Mr Rancadore's solicitor, Karen Todner, said: "We're all delighted and relieved.

"He's got a serious heart condition so being in prison is very difficult for him."

Mr Rancadore was expected to be bailed pending an appeal.

At an earlier hearing, the former travel agent - who had been using the name Marc Skinner - told the court he had come to England for the sake of his two children as he feared for their life in Italy.

He said: "I changed my name, I changed my life, I didn't want to go back to Italy."

His wife, Anne Skinner, told the court she had seen a deterioration in her husband's health since his arrest.

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Osborne To Build For Britain In His Budget

By Anushka Asthana and Darren McCaffrey, Sky Political Team

George Osborne has announced that a "garden city" will be built in Britain for the first time in decades, based in Ebbsfleet, Kent, with 15,000 homes to start with.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Budget, the Chancellor also pledged to extend the first phase of the help-to-buy scheme for new build homes until 2020.

Ebbsfleet in Kent chosen as new garden city with 15,000 homes The Government has chosen Ebbsfleet in Kent as a new garden city

Policies to drive up housing supply will be one plank of the financial statement, which Mr Osborne will use to warn that the tough times are not over.

He is expected to announce measures aimed at small business, families, and investors, including:

:: An increase in the tax-free element of the personal allowance to £10,500

:: A freeze in the carbon tax

:: Action to support British companies that export their goods

:: Tax relief for business investments of up to £250,000

:: An additional crackdown on tax avoidance

:: Investment in road and rail, including speeding up the HS2 project

:: A tax cut on bingo halls

Mr Osborne will also take the opportunity to talk once again about policies coming into place in April. These include a transferable tax allowance for married couples of up to £200 a year, a drop in corporation tax to 21% and the chance for UK employers to cut their national insurance payments by £2,000 a year.

Childcare Details of a planned £1,200 childcare tax break will be unveiled

The decision to freeze fuel duty this September, which was made last year, will also be reconfirmed.

And there could be support for families with childcare as the details of an expected £1,200 per-child tax-break scheme are published following a Government consultation.

But the Chancellor is unlikely to give in to pressure from Conservative grandees on the 40p tax rate. Former chancellors Lord Lamont and Lord Lawson have argued that the 4.4 million people now falling into the band, which kicks in at £41,450, is too high.

Although the threshold will rise by 1% this year, it is less than inflation.

Tory backbenchers and some business groups are also pushing for the rate to be used to deliver a middle class tax cut.

But Mr Osborne has argued that the tax allowance changes will benefit the middle classes.

Moreover, it has been reported that he is happy for more people to face the higher tax rate.

According to the Mail On Sunday, he told MPs: "It means they feel they are a success and joining the aspirational classes. That means they are more likely to think like Conservatives and vote Conservatives."

He said the polling backed his arguments, but the newspaper quoted an MP saying the comment was met with a "stunned silence".

Barratt Homes Development site Ed Balls says Mr Osborne's housing measures 'fall short'

A Treasury source said the overall tone of the Budget would be cautious with warnings of further austerity ahead. Mr Osborne will argue that his macroeconomic policies are working, but there must be no wavering from the plan.

The next step is building a "resilient economy".

"Britain has to up its ambition, Britain has to up its game, Britain has to earn its way in the world," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

"Yes, the economy is recovering, but that is not enough. We have got to finish the job."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls told Sky News the measures on housing fell short.

"We've asked him to invest in affordable housing, there's nothing on the table yet from him there," he said.

"At the moment we're calling on him to reduce the limit on help to buy from 600,000 - we've not had any action on that yet.

"And this is a promise to get a new town moving eventually, but it's not on the scale we need, or as fast as we need to deal with that cost of living crisis.

"I hope that when it comes to the budget on Wednesday, George Osborne's going to be giving a lot more than he's promised so far."

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FA Expected To Block Hull City Name Change

By Paul Kelso, Sports Correspondent

The FA is expected to tell Hull City's owners that they are not allowed to change the club's name to Hull Tigers.

Sky News understands the FA Membership Committee will recommend that the FA Council reject an application by the club's owner Assem Allam to change the name, which has been used since the club was founded in 1904.

Mr Allam wants to change the name to Hull Tigers to increase the club's commercial appeal to potential sponsors, and has described the word City as "common" and "lousy".

He has threatened to walk away from the club, which he bought and helped save from financial collapse in 2010, if his application is rejected.

The final decision will be made by the FA Council at a meeting next month, but the committee's recommendation makes it highly unlikely that Mr Allam will get his way.

It is understood that the decision to recommend the application be rejected was unanimous, and was made following a detailed report from a small working party that consulted stakeholders across the game.

The Premier League, the Football League and supporters groups including Hull fans opposed to the move were asked for their views.

Allam Threatens To Quit Over Name-Change Owner Assem Allam has threatened to walk away from the club

Sky News understands that none of those consulted believed the club had made a persuasive case for change.

Speaking to Sky Sports News in January, Mr Allam said he would walk away "in 24 hours" if the supporters rejected his plans. 

"No one on earth is allowed to question my business decisions, I won't allow it," he said.

"I'm here to save the club and manage the club for the benefit of the community - it will never, ever be the other way around - take it from me. But the community can say 'go away' and I will go within 24 hours."

In a letter to the Hull Daily Mail last week Mr Allam's son Ehab Allam re-stated the case for change, pointing out his family had invested £74m in the club.

"We have nothing left to give, and this is the reason why the club has to become financially self-sustainable," he wrote.

"Currently there are six teams in the Premier League with 'City' in their name, and with the exception of Manchester City, all of those clubs are in a similar league position to us, and playing to similar-sized crowds.

"We need something that makes us stand out from the pool of teams we find ourselves in when it comes to attracting potential international sponsors, who are simply hoping to use the Premier League, and its global audience, to advertise."

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Five UK Families 'Richer Than 12.6m Britons'

The five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the poorest fifth of the country combined, according to new figures.

Research by the charity Oxfam found the wealthiest households have more money than 12.6 million of the least well-off put together.

The wealthiest family in Britain is the Grovesnors, headed by the Duke of Westminster, with a fortune of £7.9bn mostly from the 190 acres of real estate it owns in London's Belgravia, according to the Forbes rich list.

Also on the list are brothers David and Simon Reuben, whose £6.9bn fortunes comes from metals and property, and the Hinduja brothers with trucking and banking businesses worth £6bn.

Indian industrialist brothers Ashok Hinduja (L) and Prakash Hinduja The Hinduja brothers are worth £6bn from trucking and banking

The Cadogan family, who are worth £4bn from owning property and land in Chelsea and Knightsbridge in London and Cadogan Estates, and Newcastle United FC owner and Sports Direct clothing chain boss Mike Ashley, whose fortune is valued at £3.3bn, complete the top five.

In its Tale Of Two Britains report, Oxfam found the gap between rich and poor has grown significantly over the last two decades.

It said the richest 0.1% of the population have seen incomes grow nearly four times faster than the poorest 90% of the country.

Watch live coverage of the 2014 Budget on Sky News

The wealthy elite have an extra £24,000 in their pockets every year - enough to buy a small yacht or a sports car and almost as much as the average UK salary of £26,500.

Ben Phillips, director of campaigns and policy at Oxfam, said: "Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, whilst millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.

"It's deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline."

Mike Ashley Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is valued at £3.3bn

Ahead of this week's Budget, Oxfam has called on the Chancellor to raise revenues from those most able to afford it.

It wants to see a renewed clamp down on tax dodgers, as well as a long-term strategy to raise the minimum wage - which will rise from £6.31 to £6.50 in October - to a so-called 'living wage'.

"Increasing inequality is a sign of economic failure rather than success," Mr Phillips said.

"It's time for our leaders to stand up and be counted on this issue."

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Kate And William Celebrate St Patrick's Day

By Joe Tidy, Sky News Reporter

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have kept up a 113-year-old royal tradition and handed out sprigs of shamrock to the Irish Guards for St Patrick's Day.

Prince William, who is the colonel of the Aldershot-based regiment, stood by as the duchess gifted the symbolic Irish plant to officers, guardsmen and even regimental mascot Domhnall the wolfhound.

In keeping with the day, Kate wore an emerald green coat from Hobbs and matching hat by Gina Foster, along with a gold Cartier Irish Guards brooch - a Royal Family heirloom also worn by the Queen Mother.

The shamrock tradition dates back to 1901 - the year after the Irish Guards were formed - when Queen Alexandra, wife to King Edward VII, gave sprigs to the regiment for St Patrick's Day.

Around 300 guardsmen started proceedings this morning with a parade around Aldershot led by Domhnall before filing up to the Mons Barracks to receive the royal couple.

This year, for the first time, the Irish Guards were joined by reserve soldiers from the London Regiment as part of Army 2020, the Ministry of Defence's drive to boost reserves in the Army.

The 1st Battalion Irish Guards were formed in 1900 on the orders of Queen Victoria who wanted to recognise the many courageous acts of Irish soldiers in the Second Boer War.

Today only around 10% are actually Irish, with most soldiers coming from England and some from Commonwealth countries.

However, celebrating St Patrick's Day is still seen as a part of the pride and privilege of the regiment which consists of around 530 guardsmen around the world.

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Full Monty Show To Close After Just One Month

Cast members from the West End's Full Monty show have been left shocked after learning it will close just a month after opening.

The show, at the Noel Coward Theatre, received positive reviews after coming to London following its debut in Sheffield and a subsequent tour.

But it has now been revealed that the last performance will be on Saturday, March 29, three months earlier than planned, due to poor ticket sales.

Last week, The Full Monty, adapted for stage by the Oscar-winning writer of the film Simon Beaufoy, was nominated for a best new comedy Olivier award.

Kenny Doughty, who plays Gaz in the tale about six unemployed Sheffield steelworkers, wrote on Facebook on Sunday: "I'm devastated and heartbroken.

"Yesterday, on the day we had two full houses and two standing ovations. In the week our play got an Olivier nomination we were given the shocking news that the play is being pulled.

"I am so incredibly proud of this play and everybody in the Full Monty company. We delivered night after night. The audiences loved it. We got amazing reviews. An Olivier nomination.

"We deserved better," he added.

Producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers commented: "It is with great sadness that this show will close despite having played to packed houses on its UK tour. Simply not enough of a West End audience shared in the excitement of this terrific production."

The Full Monty will return in September with a 32-week UK tour which starts in Manchester.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward musical is also closing on March 29, after just four months in the West End.

And the Queen show We Will Rock You will close on May 31 after 12 years on stage and 4,600 performances.

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Osborne Backs HS2 Fast-Track Plan

The chairman of HS2 has called on politicians to accelerate the construction of the high-speed line to reduce the £50bn cost of the project.

In a new report, Sir David Higgins has proposed a fast-tracked building timetable for the northern, phase two, section of the highly controversial project.

His plans have been given the backing of George Osborne, who said Sir David's plans to build a new hub at Crewe would help to create more growth and rebalance the economy.

Currently the scheme's first phase, which will see a new line connect London to Birmingham, is set for completion in 2026.

The second phase, which will take the line in a Y-shape to the North West and North East, is due to be completed around 2032/33.

But now Sir David said building work on both phases should be started at the same time and the second phase completed six years earlier than planned - by 2027.

In addition, he said the line should stretch 43 miles further north than planned, to a new transport hub at Crewe in Cheshire.

He also proposed a brand new station at London Euston, but added that plans to link HS2 with HS1, the London to Kent Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link, should be reconsidered.

Sir David believes speeding up the project would help keep costs under control because it would reduce uncertainty and limit the impact of inflation.

Vince Cable at the Lib Dem conference Mr Cable supports Sir David's proposals because of 'economic benefits'

The current whole-line cost, including contingencies, is £42.6bn, with £7.5bn for the trains.

Mr Osborne said: "Sir David's proposals would see huge benefits delivered to the North six years sooner than planned through a new hub at Crewe, creating more growth and rebalancing the economy in line with our long-term economic plan."

He added: " ... HS2 is essential to the future of this country and will help fulfil the Government's long-term plans to create a balanced and more competitive economy across the UK. But we must be conscious of the price, and there will be no increases to the overall spending envelope set for HS2 at the last spending review."

Business Secretary Vince Cable has also expressed support for Sir David's proposals, saying there was clearly a "compelling argument" for speeding up the project.

But shadow chancellor Ed Balls is concerned about the costs warning that under a Labour government there would be "no black cheque" for the project. Other former Labour grandees have also spoken of their reservations about the scheme.

Sir David cautioned that "this project is too big to become a political football".

Anti-HS2 groups have also cast doubt on the possibility of bringing forward the phase 2 work while the revamped Euston plan was seen as merely bringing "more wealth and work into London".

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Disney Channel To Make First Ever UK Film

Disney is teaming up with the makers of The Only Way Is Essex to create its first ever British non-animated film.

The four-part mystery adventure, called Evermoor, follows American teenager Tara Bailey who has been uprooted from the US and brought to the UK.

Evermoor is a fictional village on the edge of creepy moors in the middle of England.

In a sign of the strength of the British television industry, the movie will be the first made in the UK and broadcast on the flagship US Disney Channel.

Disney will work with Lime Pictures which is the Bafta award-winning production company behind TOWIE and Hollyoaks.

Tricia Wilber, chief marketing officer at The Walt Disney Company Europe and Middle East and Africa, said the film was the organisation's "most ambitious production yet".

David Levine, the company's vice president for programming and production, said: "Evermoor is a hugely exciting project for the team, with a gripping story that I'm sure will captivate our global Disney Channel audience."

Claire Poyser, managing director for Lime Pictures, said: "We are delighted to be the first independent production company in the UK to work with Disney on a live action movie to be aired worldwide including the US.

"Evermoor extends Lime's reputation for producing fantastic children's drama that is inspiring for the whole family."

The film is set to be aired in 160 countries across the world from autumn this year.

The cast has not been revealed yet.

The Disney Channel helped to launch the careers of Selena Gomez and Zac Efron.

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Clarissa Dickson Wright: TV Cook Dies Aged 66

Clarissa Dickson Wright, who became famous as one half of the Two Fat Ladies, has died at the age of 66.

The television cook's agents confirmed to Sky News that she passed away at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary on Saturday.

Heather Holden-Brown and Elly James said: "Loved dearly by her friends and many fans all over the world, Clarissa was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost.

"Her fun and laughter, extraordinary learning and intelligence, will be missed always, by so many of us."

Dickson Wright was born in St John's Wood, London, and christened Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright.

She began cooking after her career as a barrister was brought to an end by alcoholism. She had been teetotal for almost 27 years before her death.

Pro-hunting Dogs Demo/ Clarissa Dickson Wright Dickson Wright was a pro-hunting campaigner

Until last year she was the youngest woman ever to be called to the Bar, after passing her exams aged 21.

In 1996 the BBC paired Dickson Wright with the late Jennifer Paterson for the Two Fat Ladies series which became hugely popular.

Producer Patricia Llewellyn had discovered her working in an Edinburgh cookery bookshop and decided to introduce her to Paterson, who said she had never had a cookery lesson.

The women would travel the country on a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and sidecar and would prepare meals for members of the public.

The series spawned a number of best-selling cookbooks and Dickson Wright wrote a number herself, including her autobiography, Spilling The Beans, and The History Of English Food which was released in 2011.

Paterson died from cancer in July 1999.

ORGANIC Two fat ladies Dickson Wright and Paterson (right) who died in 1999

Spokeswoman Ms James said Dickson Wright, who lived in Inveresk, a village east of Edinburgh, "hadn't been well for a little while" and had been in hospital since the beginning of the year.

Dickson Wright was a pro-hunting campaigner and in 2009 pleaded guilty to hunting offences after attending two hare coursing events in North Yorkshire in 2007.

And she recently hit the headlines when she suggested that Britons should eat badgers.

"It would solve the problem. There's going to be a cull, so rather than just throw them in the landfill site, why not eat them?" she said.

She was also installed as Rector of the University of Aberdeen in 1999.

A university spokeswoman said: "We are saddened to learn of the death of Clarissa Dickson Wright. She brought her individualism and style to many University of Aberdeen events - including the creation of a medieval feast in support of student hardship funds.

"Our former Rector was very popular with the student body, bringing to this role an incisiveness which reflected her former career as a barrister."

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Somerset Flood Victim's Car For Sale On eBay

A submerged car that became one of the iconic images of flooding on the Somerset Levels has been put up for sale on eBay.

Hubert Zajaczkowski's silver Seat Toledo was seen bobbing along a road near Muchelney after he abandoned it on Christmas Eve because of the rising water.

The five-door saloon was swamped by water and was filmed and photographed by the world's media as they descended on the village.

The flooded Seat Toledo for sale on eBay The silver Seat has already attracted dozens of bids

It was even commented on by the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Zajaczkowski admits the car, which has clocked up 110,000 non-nautical miles, is "not in working condition".

It is missing most of its windows and its dirty paintwork and interior would be a match for any valet - although it does come with a CD player.

Proceeds from the auction, which has already attracted nearly 50 bids, will go to an organisation set up to help victims of flooding.

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Earthquake Rolls Across Los Angeles

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has been strongly felt across Los Angeles.

The rolling quake struck at 6.25am local time on Monday but the Los Angeles Fire Department said it had received no immediate reports of damage.

Seismologists downgraded the quake to magnitude 4.4 after initial estimates placed it at 4.7.

The quake's epicentre was 15 miles west-northwest of the downtown civic centre and occurred at a depth of about five miles, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The Los Angeles skyline and the San Gabriel Mountains are seen in this aerial photo The quake struck LA shortly before 6.30am

Sky News correspondent Greg Milam is in Los Angeles and described a "sustained rolling motion" that shook everything around him for five to 10 seconds.

He said: "It felt as if it was a lot stronger than a 4.4, perhaps because it was so shallow and close."

George McQuade, a West Hills resident, said: "It felt like a bomb going off underneath our house. 

"Nothing was damaged, but it sure woke everyone up. It was an eye-opener."

Dr Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, told KABC-TV: "It's not that large by California terms. It's the size of earthquake we have across the state once every couple of months.

"But we haven't had one like this in LA for quite a while."

Monday's earthquake occurred almost exactly one week after another powerful quake struck off the coast of Northern California.

The March 9 quake - registered at magnitude 6.8 - was centred about 50 miles west-northwest of the town of Ferndale, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks of magnitude 3.5 or larger.

Sky's Greg Milam said he believes the latest quake "will be a wake-up call in more ways than one - the unpredictability, the proximity to densely populated areas, the need to be prepared.

"There have been a lot of small ones recently. It is a fact of life for people who live here but things like this make people jumpy".

California sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, which has produced numerous destructive quakes, including Japan's March 2011 quake-tsunami, which killed thousands.

Geologists predict a quake capable of causing widespread destruction to California is 99% certain in the next 30 years.

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles killed at least 60 people and caused $10bn (£5.8bn) damage in 1994.

A 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 left 67 people dead.

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Tears As Castaway Meets Dead Mate's Mum

The Salvadoran fisherman who says he drifted at sea for more than a year has had an emotional meeting with the family of his shipmate who died during the ordeal.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga travelled to Mexico on Friday to meet the parents and siblings of 24-year-old Ezequiel Cordova.

Surrounded by journalists, the castaway wept as he embraced his shipmate's mother, Roselia Diaz Cueto.

She told him: "I would've liked to have welcomed my son like this".

Choking back the tears, Mr Alvarenga replied: "It fills with happiness to be with my friend's mother."

Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga (L) embraces Roselia Diaz (R), mother of dead castaway Ezequiel Cordoba Mr Alvarenga told Roselia Diaz Cueto her son "gave me strength"

Ms Cueto says her son was the second child she has lost at sea.

Mr Alvarenga washed ashore in the Marshall Islands in January, claiming to have spent 13 months adrift in a small fishing boat.

The 37-year-old says he set off on a fishing trip from Mexico's Pacific coast in late 2012 before becoming lost and drifting some 8,000 miles (12,900 km).

Jose Salvador Alvarenga Mr Alvarenga stunned the world after drifting ashore earlier this year

He says his shipmate died some four months into the ordeal, not being able to stomach their diet of urine, turtle blood, raw fish and bird flesh.

The castaway said the pair had made a pact that if one survived they would meet the other's family.

After the meeting on Saturday Mr Alvarenga said: "This gives me some peace, because in my dreams, he asked me to speak with his mother."

Roselia Diaz, mother of dead castaway Ezequiel Cordoba, shows his portrait during Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga's visit to El Fortin, Chiapas state, Mexico Ms Cueto says her son was the second child she has lost at sea

He later held a private meeting with the family to recount the painful memories of his friend's last days at sea.

He said the pair suffered from hunger and would often pray to God.

The family live in the small fishing village of El Fortin, where Mr Cordova's mother said her son learnt to be a fisherman at the age of eight.

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Gay Ban Stirs Tensions At St Patrick's Parades

A dispute over gay groups being excluded from St Patrick’s Day parades has prompted the New York mayor and other officials to skip the celebrations and Guinness to withdraw its sponsorship.

Bill de Blasio is set to become the first New York mayor in decades to sit out the city's traditional St Patrick's Day parade later today.

Boston's Irish-American Mayor Martin Walsh also opted out of his city's parade at the weekend after talks aimed at allowing a gay group to march broke down.

The decision by Irish brewer Guinness not to participate in New York City's parade cost organisers one of their key sponsors at the annual event.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all," the brewer said in a written statement issued by a spokesman for its parent company, Diageo.

St Patrick's Day parades in the US The Chicago River was dyed green to kick off the celebrations

"We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade.

"As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”

On Friday, two other major beer companies, Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Co and Heineken, dropped their sponsorship of parades in Boston and New York respectively over the issue.

Still, thousands of green-clad spectators ventured out at the weekend to watch pipers and marchers in cities including Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Enda Kenny on Sunday became the first Irish prime minister to attend Boston's annual St Patrick's Day breakfast.

Some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups have promised to protest against the New York parade along Fifth Avenue, which every year draws more than a million spectators and about 200,000 participants.

Parade organisers said they did not want the event to turn into a demonstration for a particular group.

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Pilot's Family: 'Please Come Home, We Miss You'

The family of the missing Malaysia Airlines pilot have posted an online tribute asking him to come home.

Family snaps of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah are set to music on the YouTube video, with comments about the pilot they call "Ari".

"Please come home, we miss you," a message on the video said.

Family photos of Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah A family photo of Captain Zaharie posted in the YouTube video

The 53-year-old, who was at the controls of the passenger jet that vanished on March 8, is also described as "loving, reflective, generous, cool, sporting, intelligent, supportive, the list goes on and on..."

Mr Zaharie and his first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, have come under increased scrutiny since investigators revealed MH370's tracking devices were deliberately switched off during the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Missing Flight MH370

But little has emerged to implicate either man.

Peter Chong, a friend of Mr Zaharie's, has told Sky News he cannot believe the pilot had anything to do with the aircraft's disappearance.

"He is a very caring person who enjoys life and enjoys flying. He is a very professional pilot," Mr Chong said.

Media has focused of Mr Zaharie's membership of an opposition party headed by veteran politician Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted of sodomy - a crime in Malaysia - hours before MH370 took off.

But those who knew Mr Zaharie rejected the reports that he was deeply upset by the Anwar case.

Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home A flight simulator has been removed from Mr Zaharie's home

"The claim that he is a (political) fanatic doesn't deserve a response," said Mr Chong, who met the pilot at a local political meeting.

Sivarasa Rasiah, an opposition member of parliament for the Kuala Lumpur suburb where Mr Zaharie lives, remembers the pilot's volunteer work on his campaign.

"He was one of hundreds, if not a thousand, who volunteered to campaign in the May (2013) elections and he did not know Anwar personally," said Mr Sivarasa.

At a news conference on Monday morning, officials said investigators have not found any suicide notes in their searches of the two men's homes.

They also said the last person who spoke to air-traffic control before the plane disappeared is believed to have been Mr Hamid.

Fariq Abdul Hamid seen walking through airport security Mr Hamid is patted down by a member of security staff. Pic: YouTube

Leaked CCTV footage has also emerged appearing to show the two men calmly passing through security shortly before boarding the aircraft.

The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, shows them walking through a body scanner and being briefly frisked by security staff before collecting their luggage from the conveyor belt of an X-ray machine.

With much of the focus on the two men, it was revealed at the weekend that they had not requested to fly together and that a flight simulator found at Mr Zaharie's house was under investigation.

Fariq Abdul Hamid & Zaharie Ahmad Shah Mr Hamid (L) and Mr Zaharie's backgrounds are being investigated

Mr Hamid, 27, only recently graduated to the cockpit of the Boeing 777, while Mr Zaharie had more than 18,000 hours of flying experience.

Those who knew the younger pilot have described the son of a top state civil servant as mild-mannered.

He is said to have a bright piloting future and is engaged to an Air Asia pilot who he met in flight school nine years ago.

Mr Hamid had his reputation called into question last week by a woman who accused him of letting her join him in the cockpit for a flight in 2011, in breach of security rules.

Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked" by the reported violation, but could not verify the claims.

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Missing Plane: No Pilot Suicide Notes Found

Police searching the homes of the pilots of flight MH370 have not found any suicide notes, officials have revealed.

The men at the controls of the Boeing 777 - Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid - have been one of the focuses of the investigation into the missing plane.

"The fact that there was no distress signal, no ransom notes, no parties claiming responsibility, there is always hope," Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference.

Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home The home of Mr Zaharie has been searched by police

Mr Hamid is believed to have made the last communication from the flight, speaking to air traffic control before the plane vanished 10 days ago.  

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said at the news conference that initial investigations into a recording of the exchange suggested the first officer was the one who calmly said: "All right, good night" as the plane passed into Vietnamese air space.

The plane's transponder - which relays the plane's location - was switched off just two minutes after the voice message.

Both pilots' homes have been searched and a flight simulator belonging to Mr Zaharie is now in police hands, officials said.

The missing Malaysia Airlines plane could have landed at hundreds of locations The missing plane could have landed at hundreds of locations. Pic: WNYC

Authorities stressed that the backgrounds of all the passengers and crew were being checked - as well as ground staff who may have worked on the plane before takeoff.

However, officials at Monday's news conference did not comment on reports that police were investigating a passenger who had aviation experience.

Missing Flight MH370

Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat said on social media sites he was a flight engineer working for a Swiss-based private jet charter company.

The 29-year-old's apparent experience means he would have a knowledge of in-flight computer systems and be able to carry out repairs.

A senior police official with knowledge of the investigation said: "The focus is on anyone who might have had aviation skills on that plane."

However, as an engineer specialising in executive jets, he would not necessarily have had the skills required to divert and fly a Boeing 777.

And Mr Selamat's father has told Sky News police had not approached anyone in the family about his son.

Selamat Omar added there would be no reason to suspect him: "Since he was young, my son has always been a very good boy. He's obedient, and as he grew older, it gets easier because my son became like my friend."

Fariq Abdul Hamid & Zaharie Ahmad Shah Mr Hamid, left, and Mr Zaharie were the pilots on the missing jet

He added: "I am very confident that this plane and its passengers are safe because this confidence came when the government announced that the plane could be detected."

The search for the plane has dramatically widened as satellite data suggests the Boeing 777, which had 239 people on board, flew for at least seven hours - more than six hours after it lost contact with air traffic control.

It has been claimed it could have landed at one of 634 runways spread across at least a dozen countries.

Researchers at WNYC searched for runways with a length of at least 0.95 miles (1.52km) within a radius of 2,530 miles (4,070km) from the aircraft's last known position.

The number of countries involved in the search for the plane has nearly doubled over the past two days to 26, after satellite and military radar data projected two large corridors the plane might have flown through.

It was announced this morning that Kazakhstan - located in the far northwest of the search area - had joined the operation.

The northern corridor stretches in an arc over south and central Asia, while the other swoops deep into the southern Indian Ocean towards Australia.

Malaysia announced that it was deploying its naval and air force assets to the southern corridor, with Australia vowing substantial assistance.

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Miley Cyrus And Flaming Lips Cover Beatles Hit

Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips have recorded a cover version of the Beatles' hit Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

The US rock band's frontman Wayne Coyne used Twitter and Instagram to reveal the collaboration.

He tweeted: "Miley in the studio vomiting diamonds while singing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds!!" and posted a photo of the Wrecking Ball singer with embellished diamonds coming out of her mouth.

He also tweeted a photo appearing to show Cyrus rolling a joint while in the studio.

Coyne wrote: "Yup...... Recordin with Miley... High as ****.... #flaminglips #theflaminglips #tulsa #lovemoneyparty."

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was written by John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney and featured on the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne at a concert in February

In a 2004 interview Sir Paul confirmed the song is about taking the drug LSD.

It is not the first time the Cyrus and Coyne have worked together.

Last month Coyne and his bandmate Steven Drozd joined the 21-year-old on stage during her Bangerz concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Flaming Lips formed in 1983 and are known for their psychedelic rock arrangements.

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Missing Malaysia Plane: What We Know So Far

Mystery surrounds the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, even as more information emerges about the sequence of events that led to its disappearance 10 days ago.

THE FLIGHT (Malaysian time is eight hours ahead of UK time).

What we do know:

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 239 people on board, took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am (local time) on Saturday March 8 heading north to Beijing.

At 1.07am, the plane sent its last ACARS transmission which provides engine maintenance data to the ground.

The ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) was then deliberately switched off by someone on the jet.

The last words from the Boeing 777 were heard from the cockpit, where a person, believed to be the co-pilot, said: "All right, good night" to Malaysian air traffic control at 1.19am.

At 1.21am the jet, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, dropped off air traffic control screens after its transponder - which responds to civilian radar - was switched off on purpose by someone on board.

The plane which was north of Malaysia and flying towards Thailand was then deliberately diverted from its planned route as it is turned sharply to the west.

Flight MH370 The plane, with 239 people on board, disappeared on March 8

At 2.15am, the flight was picked up by Malaysian military radar south of Phuket island in the Strait of Malacca, hundreds of miles west of its last known location.

At 8.11am - nearly seven hours after the plane was first thought to have gone missing - a satellite high above the Indian Ocean received the last signal from the aircraft.

The final "handshake" communication put the jet somewhere in one of two flight corridors.

One is a northern arc stretching from northern Thailand to Kazakhstan, the other is a southern one from Indonesia to the vast southern Indian Ocean.

Map of possible Malaysian plane route The jet turned west as it was deliberately diverted from its planned route

What we do not know:

Who deliberately switched off the plane's two crucial communication systems - ACARS and the transponder?

Was the co-pilot under duress when he made the last verbal contact with air traffic control?

Where exactly was the plane when it sent its last signal at 8.11am?

Did the plane crash or did it land safely? A Malaysian official has said the aircraft could have been on the ground when it sent its final signal.

Focus Shifts To Crew And Passengers In Missing Malaysian Airliner Investigation Many countries are helping in the search for the jet


What we know:

Some 26 countries are now looking for flight MH370, using at least 43 ships and 58 aircraft.

The nations helping in the hunt are Malaysia, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, UK, US, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Search teams are concentrating on the northern and southern flight corridors.

It is a massive area of millions of square miles, said to cover almost 10% of the entire planet.

The northern search corridor includes countries with busy airspace that likely would have noticed an unidentified aircraft in their territory.

China, India and Pakistan are among the nations that say they have seen no sign of the plane.

Australia is leading the search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean.

It has sent two AP-3C Orion aircraft, one of which is searching north and west of the Cocos Islands. Two more search aircraft will be deployed by Tuesday.

The search area has dramatically expanded. It was previously in the South China Sea and around India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands but these operations have now been halted or suspended.

Children write messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport People leave messages for the missing passengers

What we do not know:

There has been speculation that the plane could have flown as low as 5,000ft using "terrain masking" to try to avoid radar.

Malaysian authorities have rejected these claims.

Of course, the main issue is that the exact location of the jet is still unknown.


The investigation is focusing on the possibility the jet was deliberately diverted by the pilots or someone on board with considerable flying experience.

Police seized a flight simulator from the captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home on Saturday and also searched the co-pilot  Fariq Abdul Hamid's home.

Authorities have said there were no suicide notes found at the properties.

Mr Zaharie, 57, was an active supporter of Malaysia's opposition, whose leader Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy - illegal in Muslim Malaysia - just hours before MH370 took off.

But those who knew Mr Zaharie rejected media reports he was deeply upset by the Anwar case.

Fariq Abdul Hamid & Zaharie Ahmad Shah Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah (r) and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid

Mr Fariq, 27, had his reputation called into question by a South African woman who accused him of inviting her to join him in the cockpit for a journey in 2011, in breach of security rules.

Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked" by the reported security violation, but could not verify the claims.

Investigators are checking backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

Authorities are considering if the two pilots were involved in the disappearance, were they working together or alone, or with one or more of the passengers or crew?

Did they fly the plane under duress or of their own will?

Did one or more of the passengers manage to break into the cockpit or use the threat of violence to gain entry and then seize the plane?

And what possible motive could there be for diverting the jet?

Officials have not commented on reports that police were investigating a passenger who had aviation experience.

Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat said on social media sites he was a flight engineer working for a Swiss-based private jet charter company.

The 29-year-old's apparent experience means he would have a knowledge of in-flight computer systems and be able to carry out repairs.

And all the time the plane is not found, the anguish for the passengers' families goes on.

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Oscar Pistorius Trial Hears From Gun Supplier

Oscar Pistorius told a firearms supplier how he went into "combat mode" when he feared intruders were in his house, a court has heard.

Giving evidence on the eleventh day of the athlete's murder trial, firearms training academy manager Sean Rens told the court the athlete had a "great love and enthusiasm" for guns.

Mr Rens said Pistorius told him of one occasion when he heard a noise in his home and drew a weapon, fearing burglars were on the property.

He went into "code red" or "combat mode" after hearing a noise in his house but it turned out to be from the tumble dryer, Mr Rens said.

Pistorius Promo

Pistorius had tweeted about the incident in November 2012, saying: "Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!"

The tweet has since been deleted from his Twitter account.

Mr Rens said he met the double-amputee runner in 2012 and that Pistorius asked to be provided with a revolver.

He said Pistorius was familiar with gun laws and had filled out a questionnaire when applying for new permits.

Pistorius trial police photographer pictures The court was shown photographs of Pistorius' bloodied prosthetic leg

Mr Rens said that after buying a Smith and Wesson 500 from him, Pistorius put in a further order for four more guns - two shotguns, a LM6 civilian assault rifle and two revolvers, including a .38 special.

However, the order was cancelled around a month after Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead, the court heard. 

At the start of the day Ms Steenkamp's mother June  - attending for the first time since the opening day - appeared to acknowledge the athlete and spoke to his sister Aimee in the courtroom.

Oscar Pistorius's sister Aimee chats to Reeva Steenkamp's mother June ahead of Oscar's trial in Pretoria The athlete's sister Aimee spoke with June Steenkamp in court

She left court before evidence from police photographer Bennie van Staden, who discussed pictures taken at the scene - including graphic images of her daughter's injuries.

Mr van Staden said he arrived at the house at 4.50am on February 14, 2013 where he took photographs of the victim, of Pistorius in a garage and of rooms in the house.

He said Pistorius was "very quiet and emotional" when he arrived, adding that he meant he was crying.

He told the court the date and time was visible in his pictures and rejected claims from the defence that the timeline of his work was unclear.

Pistorius trial police photographer pictures Smears of blood were visible on a signed cricket bat in the house

He also explained how he marked out certain objects in the bathroom with cones and moved a towel and other items for visibility.

The court was shown photographs of Pistorius' bloodied prosthetic leg and of unexplained damage to the main bedroom door in the house.

Photographs were also taken of blood spots on the bedroom wall, above one of the bedside tables, and of bullet casings in the passage leading from the bedroom to the bathroom, the court heard.

Sky's Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt, who has been in court, said: "Why all this is there, we haven't been offered an explanation, but it begins to build up a picture of the prosecution case, that there was an argument before the shooting."

Pistorius trial police photographer pictures Police pictures showed the scene in the athlete's bedroom

Pistorius, who won two gold medals at the Paralympics in London in 2012, is charged with premeditated murder.

He is also accused of illegally possessing ammunition, as well as two further counts related to shooting a gun in public in two separate incidents before the killing.

The athlete denies the charges and says he shot Ms Steenkamp, 29, by mistake after mistaking her for an intruder.

Because there are no jury trials in South Africa, his fate will be decided by a judge, working with two assessors.

The trial continues. 

:: Watch a special Sky News programme on the trial at 9.30pm, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

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Ukraine: Sanctions Target Putin Aides

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is among those hit by travel bans and asset freezes as Western powers hit back over Crimea's refendum.

Several top advisers to Russia's President Putin are also named on the US list, which targets 11 officials from Ukraine and Russia.

Others named include Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, and Sergey Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea's regional government.

The EU measure targets 21 people whose names are expected to be revealed later. The two lists are thought to overlap and target many of the same people.

Crimea celebrations Thousands turned out in Simferopol and Sevastopol to celebrate the vote

President Obama described the measures as an "initial step".

He said they targeted Russian officials and those “operating in the arms sector in Russia and individuals who provide material support to senior officials of the Russian government.

"If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine we stand ready to impose further sanctions," said President Obama.

Ukraine, Russia and Crimea

Almost 97% of voters in Crimea said they wanted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia but the referendum has been widely criticised as being illegal and a "sham".

Ukraine's parliament has approved a partial mobilisation of troops in the wake of the vote.

It said 20,000 reserve troops were being called up, plus 20,000 more from the newly-formed National Guard.

Ukraine crisis The Ukraine crisis has led to a Cold War-style stand-off

Crimea's regional assembly has already formally applied to join Russia and announced the nationalisation of all Ukrainian state property, including the disbanding of military bases.

"The republic of Crimea appeals to the United Nations and to all countries of the world to recognise it as an independent state," read a document by the Crimean assembly on Monday.

Ukraine opposition leader Vitali Klitschko claimed the country stands on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, with the danger of ethnic cleansing of Crimea's Tatar minority.

There is also "concrete evidence" that some voting papers were "pre-marked", a senior US official told the Reuters news agency.

As ministers met in Brussels to hammer out the sanctions, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned of "long term costs and consequences for Russia".

People celebrate as they wait for the announcement of preliminary results of today's referendum on Lenin Square in the Crimean capital of Simferopol Lenin Square was full of patriotism towards Russia

Russia's President Putin insists the vote is legal and is set to speak on the issue at the Russian parliament on Tuesday.

Crimea wasted no time following the landslide vote - officials are expected to fly to Moscow on Monday and the rouble has been introduced as a second official currency.

It also wants Ukrainian military outposts in the region disbanded, but the Kiev government said they are staying put.

"Those (troops) who want to live here? No problem. Those who want to swear allegiance we will examine," said Crimea's assembly chief Volodymyr Konstantynov.

Sky News' Nick Martin, at an army base near Crimean capital Simferopol, said it was a tense time for the solders and their families.

- The vote has been condemned as illegal by many governments in the West

"There are many Ukrainian soldiers inside, pretty much surrounded by Russian soldiers - no one really knows how this will work."

He said many practical questions also hung over Crimea, such as the payment of salaries and social security, and the supply of gas and electricity.

But, for the crowds who turned out in Simferopol on Sunday night, such questions were for another day.

Thousands of people waving Russian flags filled Lenin Square as patriotic songs boomed out and fireworks lit up the sky.

Lucia Prokorovna, 60, carrying a giant Russian flag said: "We're free of the occupation. Ukraine was attached to Crimea like a sack of potatoes."

The intervention of Russian forces in Crimea followed the ousting of Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovych last month.

The president fled the Ukrainian capital Kiev after days of anti-government clashes that left scores of police and protesters dead.

Moscow justified the occupation of Crimea, saying it wanted to protect the majority ethnic Russian population.

The referendum also came against a backdrop of unrest in the divided eastern Ukraine, which has seen pro-Russian demonstrations turn violent.

Kiev has accused "Kremlin agents" of trying to stoke violence in other cities, such as Donetsk.

Sky News' Michelle Clifford, in Kiev, said there is a real fear in the country that Russia could now move its troops further into Ukraine.

The government has urged people not to be provoked into retaliating because clashes could be used by Moscow as an excuse for further interventions.

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Navy SEALs Take Oil Tanker From Libyan Rebels

US Navy SEALs have boarded and taken control of an oil tanker seized this month by Libyan rebels.

The SEALs boarded the tanker Morning Glory in international waters south-east of Cyprus, according to The Pentagon.

Rear Admiral John Kirby said no one was injured in the operation, which was approved by President Obama.

"The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company.

Oil tanker Morning Glory in Libya Rebels on a boat at the Al-Sidra port

"The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained," a Pentagon statement said.

It said the Morning Glory will return to Libya under the control of sailors from the USS Stout.

The vessel was carrying stolen Libyan crude oil from the port of Al-Sidra. Libyan officials had ordered the tanker confiscated, but it managed to escape.

The case embarrassed the weak central government and prompted parliament to vote the prime minister out of office

The vessel's ownership remains a mystery.

The Morning Glory previously sailed under a North Korean flag, but North Korea says it has nothing to do with the ship.

The stand-off over control of oil in Libya, an OPEC member, highlights continuing turmoil in the vast North African country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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Chelsea Clinton With Marlo Thomas (VIDEO)

I was so thrilled to have Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, as our very special 100th Guest on Mondays With Marlo. We discussed everything from her favorite memories of growing up in the White House, to her role in the Clinton Global Initiative University, to the prospect of her following in her parent's footsteps by one day running for office. Chelsea is such a positive role model for young people everywhere, and I was absolutely charmed by her. Watch our full interview to find out what she had to say!

For more information about the Clinton Global Initiative University, visit

For more of Chelsea's life and career, view the slideshow below:

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At just 34 years of age, Chelsea Clinton (pictured here with husband Marc Mezvinsky) has already lived a rich and exciting life -- as an Arkansas schoolgirl, White House resident, collegiate scholar, financial market whiz-kid, network journalist, national political consultant, avid supporter of the arts and, today, as Vice Chair of the globally renowned Clinton Foundation.

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was inaugurated on January 20, 1993, becoming the 42nd President of the United States. That same day, Chelsea Clinton, not yet 13, moved into the White House with her parents and began her new life in the media spotlight as a First Daughter.

Growing up, Chelsea was very close with her father, attending political events, speeches and rallies -- and always by his side. Here, President Clinton talks with Chelsea before a rally in his home state of Arkansas.

President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea greet the crowds before boarding a boat in Martha's Vineyard, during a family vacation in 1993.

Despite growing up in the media glare, Chelsea -- thanks to her parents’ conscientious oversight -- led a relatively normal life, participating in many typical kids’ activities. She began taking dance classes at age four and continued to dance ballet throughout her teenage years. Here, she rehearses for an upcoming performance of Washington Ballet's holiday production of "The Nutcracker." She was 13.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton was elected to a second term as U.S. President. Here, the family celebrates his successful re-nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Throughout President Clinton's two consecutive terms, Chelsea and her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, remained inseparable, attending political events together as First Lady and First Daughter. Here, mother and daughter bond while on a family retreat in Hilton Head, SC.

In 2001, Chelsea graduated from Stanford University. She would go on to receive a Masters degree from Oxford University in 2003, and later, a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree.

During New York Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2008, Chelsea publicly supported her mom all along the campaign trail. Here, the pair greets the cheering throng at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

On July 31, 2010, Chelsea married Marc Mezvinsky, an investment banker and the son of politicians. Their nuptials, dubbed “Chelsea’s Dream Wedding” on the cover of People magazine, took place in an estate overlooking the Hudson River in Rhinebeck, New York. In a 2013 interview with Glamour magazine, Chelsea revealed that she and Marc “decided we were going to make 2014 the Year of the Baby.” Stay tuned!

Following in the footsteps of her parents' political and social activism, Chelsea has become a prominent media figure, serving as a special correspondent for broadcast networks, including NBC News. Here, she speaks on a panel at the 2013 Education Nation Summit.

Chelsea now serves as Vice Chair of the Clinton Global Foundation, an initiative created by her family to help create social change in developing countries. Here, she and her dad speak with entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2013, in an effort to shed light on international health issues, including HIV testing.

No Ceilings is an initiative launched at the Clinton Foundation, led by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea. The initiative seeks to apply a data-driven approach to understanding the economic gains and gaps that women have experienced over the past 20 years.

One of the most vital initiatives Chelsea spearheads through the Clinton Foundation is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association that focuses on childhood obesity. This past month, Chelsea spoke at the 2014 New York City Go Red For Women Luncheon at the New York Hilton.

Throughout her career, Chelsea has remained committed to empowering the next generation to help create change. She has passionately enlisted youth in foundation programming through the Clinton Global Initiative University, a program that targets college students and urges them to commit to bringing social change to the world.

Another program Chelsea has helped implement through the Clinton Foundation is Day of Action, a community service-centric initiative founded in direct response to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

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