‘We felt elated’

VE Day celebrations

Sixty-five years ago VE – Victory in Europe – Day marked the formal end of Hitler’s war.

After six years of misery, on 8 May 1945, millions of Britons took to the streets in celebrations – waving flags, singing war songs and dancing until dawn – while those still abroad breathed a sigh of relief.

Here, some people who were there remember the day’s events.


When VE Day was announced, the captain of destroyer ship HMS Meynell, which was docked in Chatham, in Kent, gave all his men 24-hours’ leave to join in the celebrations.

For 22-year-old George Broomhead, who had joined the Navy at 18, there was only one place to go.

"All the lads went different ways, but I knew what London had been through, how much horrendous bombing there had been," he said.

George Broomhead

What the sailor did not anticipate was sitting on top of lion in Trafalgar Square.

"I got there at noon, and crowds of people were already celebrating.

"Somehow I got on the lion’s back, then its head. When someone passed me a Union Jack, an American flag and a Russian flag, I ended up trying to conduct all the singing.

"It was absolutely fantastic, unforgettable, I’d never seen so much jubilation – it went on for hours," he said.

Little did he know it was to last even longer.

"When I got back to the ship, all the lads said ‘I know where you were last night’ and I realised a photo of me had got on the front of Picture Post [magazine]. My photo went all around the world."

But Mr Broomhead, now 87, said although everyone let themselves go, celebrations were tainted by thoughts of those in the Far East.

"We knew the war was not altogether over. And there were many that had not made it. Although I was injured when my first destroyer was torpedoed in 1942, I was very lucky, I managed to survive."


Sapper Norman Bowie, now 89, from Newcastle, had been a prisoner of war for more than two years when VE Day finally arrived.

He had enlisted in the Royal Engineers at 18 and spent the first part of the war laying and blowing up mines.

Norman Bowie

But after being transferred to the Middle East, then North Africa, he was captured by the Germans in 1942, just before the Battle of El Alamein.

Mr Bowie spent most of the next few years in prisoner camp in Poland, but on VE Day he recalls being forced to work in a paper mill in Germany under armed guard.

"After that, the German guards simply disappeared. At first we were unsure what had happened, but then we came across some Americans who told us about the German surrender.

"We broke into small groups and made our way way to Czechoslovakia, where Russian troops helped us secure gain passage back to England.

"It took several weeks, but there was a euphoric, party atmosphere amongst the group – we all shared cigarettes – but many couldn’t quite believe they were free and feared re-capture," he said.

When he finally got back to England in August 1945, Mr Bowie weighed only eight and a half stone (55kg) and was prescribed double rations.

His daughter Helen Crooks said attending the 65th anniversary celebrations in London meant a lot to the family: "He completely missed the celebrations the first time round."

JEAN PROCTOR, LAND ARMY GIRL, CHESHIREJean Proctor checking that the seed spouts are running and not blocked on the farm

For Jean Proctor, now 91, it was just another day working in the fields when a passing farmer shouted: "It’s over, it’s over."

Like many in the Woman’s Land Army, she had spent most of the war carrying out manual labour jobs on farms – milking cows, digging ditches, loading up railway trucks, sowing seeds, laying hedges and harvesting crops – to help alleviate food shortages.

Ms Proctor, then 25, said even after the news, 8 May 1945 was much like any other day – it started at 0500 and finished at about 2000.

"We didn’t get any time off, we couldn’t down our tools… milking had to be done, animals needed to be fed, dairy had to be washed up."

But she said the evening was "wonderful".

"I dumped my bicycle and went to a little local square, in Romley, Cheshire. All the lights were on, there was music and dancing and everybody was jumping around in the middle of the road.

"Of course there weren’t many men, but there were lots of 16-year-old Scouts to dance with. Drinks were still rationed – when we ran dry that was it – but the party kept going as long as anybody could.

"We still had to get up at 5am the next day. But it was a wonderful feeling to know it was over. Even though we weren’t in the line of fire, we had been doing horrible back-bending stuff."


Francis Harris and his wife Jean, both 77, were children when the war ended.

Mr Harris lived in London throughout the war and remembers being taken to Crystal Palace football ground, aged 13, on VE Day.

"I was with my sister, who was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), and her fiance, who was a GI in the American Army.

"Thousands of people gathered on the pitch to dance and celebrate. Everybody was very excited.

"It seemed very unreal. At that age I didn’t understand the war’s terrible seriousness, but the Blitz had been horrendous – an incessant scream of bombs and nights in the shelter.

"That night, everybody hoped it would never happen again."

For his wife, Jean, who was 12 at the time, VE day marked the end of constant evacuations which saw her attend eight different schools after incendiaries destroyed the family’s Wandsworth home.

Buckingham Palace on 8 May 1945

"In the morning, we went to the Palace to see the King and Queen and Mr Churchill on the balcony – they were great examples, and it was wonderful to be in the midst of everybody.

"When we got home, there was dancing in the streets. Everybody was singing Vera Lynn songs, or When The Lights Go On Again. For the first time in my life I won a running race – a big beautiful boat.

"My mother had five brothers and two sisters in the forces, we were very thankful they all came home. We thanked God we had survived a really bad time."


Royal Marine Stan Blacker, now 85, was on the Andes troopship, heading to Australia to fight for islands held by the Japanese, when he heard that victory in Europe had been achieved.

Stan Blacker aged 18

"We felt elated, we were happy for those in Europe, but most of us knew it was different in the Far East. They reckoned it would take eight years to capture the islands, at a loss of over two million men.

"It wasn’t until August that I could breathe a sigh of relief. We had got to Casino – a village in Australia between Sydney and Brisbane – and were getting kit together, when troops burst off a troop train and said: ‘It’s all over chaps’. That was when the atomic bomb had hit.

"I’d already seen D-Day – we lost 900 out of our 4200 small craft in one day. For 93 days we ferried troops and supplies off shore onto the beaches, I thought we’d never get in there alive, it seemed like the whole coast was on fire, I lost four of my closest friends.

"Victory in Japan Day was marvellous, we thought ‘lives will be saved’," he said.


Clive Cunningham, 77, was 12 at the time, but remembers VE Day in Hull vividly.

He said thousands of people gathered to see the coloured fountain in Queens Garden switched on after five years. A big street party followed, with sandwiches, cakes and Union Jacks all over the place.

"There was great excitement everywhere, especially when the neon lights went on in the city centre. They’d not been seen since 1939.

"There was electricity in the air. Strangers were dancing and kissing each other, especially soldiers who were on leave.

"Later we lit a bonfire in the middle of the street. It burned for most of the night until the fire brigade came and put it out. It left a hole in the middle of the road," he said.

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New blood fat heart disease link

Heart disease pills

A type of blood fat different from cholesterol may play a key role in heart disease, a study suggests.

Cambridge University researchers looked at the role of triglycerides, which is produced in the liver and derived from foods such as meat and dairy products.

The analysis of 350,000 people from 101 previous studies found those with higher levels of the blood fat were more likely to have heart disease.

But experts warned more research was needed to confirm the link.

The analysis centred on a specific gene which is known to influence the levels of triglycerides, the Lancet medical journal reported.

Previous research has looked into the issue, but has been inconclusive.

But the latest study found those with the variation in the gene which boosted triglyceride levels had an 18% greater risk of heart disease than those that did not.

Lead researcher Dr Nadeem Sarwar said the findings suggested the blood fat could be causing heart disease in some way.

But he added further research involving the lowering of the levels of the blood fat was now needed to confirm the suspicion.

"Such trials should help establish whether lowering triglyceride levels can reduce the risk of heart disease."

Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "It could yet prove to be an important step towards tackling cardiovascular disease but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves.

"There still needs to be larger trials before we can know whether lowering triglyceride levels can reduce heart disease risks.

"For now, people should continue to follow advice on diet, exercise, stopping smoking and medication which are still the best ways to tackle your heart disease risk."

Dr Sonia Anand, of Canada’s McMaster University, agreed.

"The true nature of triglycerides effect on coronary risk still needs further clarification."

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In pictures: Election night drama unfolds across the UK

An exit poll conducted by the BBC is projected on to Big Ben at the moment voting finishes on May 6, 2010 in London, England

An exit poll for the BBC, Sky and ITV Newsis projected onto Big Ben in London.Polls suggest Britain is heading for a hung Parliament with the Conservatives 21 short of a majority.

The first ballot box being emptied for the officials to count at Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Thursday, May 6, 2010

The counting process begins amidst reports of angry scenes at some polling stations where people were still queuing to vote past the 10pm deadline.

A queue of people wait to vote in Sheffield.

There were reports of queues in Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and other parts of the country.

Ballot boxes are ran in during Sunderland election count at Sunderland tennis centre, Sunderland for the 2010 General Election

Houghton and Sunderland South has won the race to become the first constituency to declare a result.

Labour's Bridget Phillipson is announced as Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South

The constituency declared at 2252 BST. Labour’s Bridget Phillipson won the seat with 19,137 votes.

Ian Paisley Jnr (left) with his father the Revd Dr Ian Paisley at The Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena for the North Antrim seat count.

The first Northern Ireland results have been declared.In north Antrim, the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr polled 19,672 votes, winning the seat comfortably despite the contest from TUV leader Jim Allister.

British Prime Minister and Leader of the ruling Labour Party, Gordon Brown, and his wife Sarah, arrive at the count centre in Kirkcaldy, Scotland

Gordon and Sarah Brown arrived in a flurry of flashbulbs at the count in Kirkcaldy.His spokesman said Brown is "very concerned" about the reports of people being turned away from polling stations.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron enjoys a drink in the New Inn pub with his wife Samantha and supporters

Conservative Party leader David Cameron enjoyed a drink in a pub on the way to the count in his Witney constituency,

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New ash restrictions in Republic

A plane takes off from Glasgow Airport after airspace was shut down for six days due to volcanic ash on 21 April

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has announced flight restrictions at six airports from 0000 BST on Friday because of a risk from volcanic ash.

The restrictions at Shannon, Donegal, Knock, Galway, Kerry and Sligo airports will be staged and will remain in place until 1300 BST on Friday.

Dublin, Cork and Waterford airports will remain open.

The IAA said the ash cloud from Iceland was encroaching on Irish airspace along the west coast of Ireland.

"The restrictions are required as the increased level of recent volcanic activity has created a massive ash cloud stretching 1,000 miles long and 700 miles wide," an IAA spokesperson added.

He said that the situation would be reviewed at 0900 BST on Friday.

The details of the airport closures on Friday are as follows:

Shannon Airport from 0300 BST until 1300 BSTDonegal Airport from 0000 BST until 1200 BSTSligo Airport from 0000 BST until 1300 BSTIreland West (Knock) Airport from 0300 BST until 1300 BSTGalway Airport from 0300 BST until 1300 BSTKerry Airport from 0700 BST until 1300 BST

Flights in and out of Northern Ireland have resumed following restrictions earlier in the week caused by the volcanic cloud.

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NY bomb suspect ‘helping police’

Faisal Shahzad, taken from social networking site Orkut.com

A man accused of attempting to set off a car bomb in New York’s Times Square has given "useful information" to investigators, a top US official says.

US Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee that suspect Faisal Shahzad was continuing to co-operate.

Mr Shahzad, arrested on Monday, has yet to appear in court. He faces terror and explosives charges.

A law enforcement official said Mr Shahzad had opted to waive his right to an initial court appearance.

‘Pursue leads’

Mr Shahzad has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to kill and maim and other terror charges, and if convicted he faces life in prison.

"During ongoing questioning by federal agents, Shahzad has provided useful information and we will continue to pursue a number of leads as we gather intelligence relating to this attempted attack," Mr Holder told a US Senate sub-committee on Thursday.

"Mr Shahzad is in fact continuing to co-operate with us."

Mr Holder rejected the notion that offering Mr Shahzad the right to remain silent under police questioning had hindered the investigation.

A senior US intelligence official told the Associated Press news agency that before investigators told Mr Shahzad of his rights to keep silent and to an attorney – known in the US as Miranda rights – "they got what they needed".

Investigators wanted to know whether other attacks were imminent and who aided Mr Shahzad.

After nearly eight hours of questioning, investigators officially advised Mr Shahzad of his rights, ensuring subsequent statements could be used in court.

US network ABC News has reported that Mr Shahzad told investigators he was angry because friends had been killed by CIA strikes in Pakistan, his personal life was in crisis, and he feared for the safety of his family if he did not carry out the bombing mission.

‘Rights waived’

David Cole, a professor of criminal and constitutional law at Georgetown University, told the BBC that, in the US, criminal suspects can waive the right to an initial court appearance.

Given the circumstances under which he was arrested – while apparently attempting to flee the country – and the gravity of the crimes with which he was charged, Mr Shahzad may have seen little to gain by appearing in court, Mr Cole suggested.

When the case makes it a courtroom, the burden will fall to the prosecution to prove that Mr Shahzad did in fact waive those rights freely from coercion, Mr Cole said.

It was unclear on Thursday whether Mr Shahzad had retained a lawyer. Mr Cole said the judge appointed to the case would probably select one for him.

Investigators are reportedly working to connect Mr Shahzad, a naturalised US citizen, to terror networks in Pakistan, his native country.

According to government court papers, Mr Shahzad has admitted planting the bomb and said he was trained in bomb-making in Waziristan, a tribal region of north-west Pakistan.

New details have also emerged suggesting that he bungled several aspects of his alleged attempt to set off a bomb laden with propane gas, chemical fertiliser, fireworks and petrol.

The 1993 Nissan Pathfinder was left with its engine running and hazard lights flashing in Times Square on Saturday evening. The bomb was discovered and dismantled after a street-vendor alerted police.

Among pieces of evidence found in the unexploded vehicle was a set of keys left in the ignition, which law enforcement officials say belonged to Mr Shahzad’s getaway car and his home.

Without his car key Mr Shahzad allegedly took the train home, found another key and returned for the car before attempting to flee aboard a Emirates flight to Dubai.

How Times Square bomb suspect was arrested

The trail which led to the arrest of Times Square bomb suspect beganwith the discovery of a suspicious car early on Saturday evening, 1 May, close to New York’s busy Times Square.

The Nissan Pathfinder was caught on cctv cameras arriving in TimesSquare just before 1830 EDT. A street seller raised the alarm when he noticed the car parked with its engine running and hazard lights flashing.

Police evacuated Times Square. In the car’s boot they found all the ingredients for a homemade bomb including propane gas cylinders, fireworks and two clocks, a metal gun locker containing fertiliser.

From the car’s vehicle identification number, police traced the woman inConnecticut who sold the car to Faisal Shahzad (pictured). She also gave police a mobile phone number and helped identify him from photographs.

Faisal Shahzad lived in this Bridgeport building. Mobile phone records showed he made several calls to Pakistan and to a fireworks store in Pennsylvania. Court documents said he had received bomb-making training in Pakistan.

Police arrested Mr Shahzad at 2345 EDT on Monday 3 May after he boarded a flight en route to Islamabad, Pakistan. Although his name was on a no-fly list, he had been allowed onto the plane.

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LIVE: Scotland’s general election results

Ballot boxLIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times BST)2326 Second UK result of the night: Washington and Sunderland West. Labour hold.

2319 Conservative candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, David Mundell, says the one thing that is clear is that the Labour Party have lost the election. He added: "I don’t think there’s any doubt the TV debates changed the dynamic. The public focused their decision-making on waiting for the outcome of the next debate."

2317 Brian Taylor says returning officer for Sheffield says "we got it wrong". Large number of students turned up without ballot cards which slowed down the process, he said. Hundreds were prevented from voting.

2313 BBC Scotland’s Julie Peacock says Dunfermline and West Fife could declare at about 0045 BST. This is the seat the Lib Dems won from Labour at a by-election. Lib Dems "confident" of retaining the seat.

2310 Tom Aitchison, the returning officer at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Sports Centre, says new legal requirements over verifying signatures on postal votes could delay the result by between 90 minutes and two hours. He said there was 30% more staff counting this year than 2005, to cope with the change. He predicts the first declaration in Edinburgh to come at about 0300 BST.

2306 Reports from around UK of people not getting to vote because there were big queues as polls closed at 2200 BST. Some polling places have had lock-ins. People who were in by 2200 BST. Allowed to queue and vote. No reports of such problems in Scotland.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor2303 BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor says exit poll has been tweaked slightly as more information becomes available. Conservatives 305, Labour 255, Lib Dems 61, Others 29. WARNING: All polls have a small margin of error which could be significant in a tight election like this.

2302 Nicola Sturgeon says Sunderland South was "not a target seat for the SNP". She warns against reading too much into one result.

2258 Murdo Fraser of the Tories is pleased with the 8.4% swing from Labour to Conservatives in Houghton and Sunderland South. He says it was not a target seat for Tories. Murdo Fraser says Tories need 6.9% swing across the UK to get an overall majority.

2256 Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray says he thinks turnout has gone up because it is a "contentious" election. He also says he thinks the exit poll results are "strange".

2254 Labour majority of almost 11,000 in Sunderland South but big rise in Conservative vote – up by about 5,000.

2252 First UK result of the night. Houghton and Sunderland South – Labour hold.

2250 No Scottish results expected until 0100 BST. Sunderland could be first UK result fairly soon.

2247 Minor diplomatic incident averted in Aberdeen when a gentleman was refused entry to the count for not having a pass. He was let in when he pointed out that he was an independent observer from the Electoral Commission.

2241 This election is equally notable for the absence of some big hitters who have decided to call it a day at Westminster. These include Labour cabinet stalwart John Reid, former defence secretary Des Browne and SNP leader Alex Salmond, who is giving up Westminster to concentrate on his day job of being Scottish first minister.

2239 A number of political big hitters are fighting to keep their seats in Scotland. The biggest of all is Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is standing in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election co-ordinator and international development secretary is standing in Paisley and Renfrewshire South. Chancellor Alistair Darling, in Edinburgh South West, and Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, in East Renfrewshire, are both being targeted by the Tories.

2235 BBC Scotland’s Tim Reid says exit poll suggests the Conservatives will have just one seat in Scotland, the same as 2005. Labour could be up two in Scotland. WARNING: All polls have a small margin of error which could be significant in a tight election like this.

2231 Peter Mandelson tells Radio Scotland if exit polls are correct, Brown will stay at No. 10.

2224 Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) said minority government was better than coalition. A minority government is forced to build consensus, she says. Douglas Alexander (Labour) said the minority government in Scotland had been stable but at the cost of its legislative programme. He says he supports strong and sustainable government.

2220 Murdo Fraser of the Conservatives says it is far better to have a majority government. He says the country is not used to a hung parliament. Tavish Scott of the Lib Dems said majority government had done nothing for the UK. The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon said her minority government in Scotland had been "a success".

2208 There have been lots of boundary changes in England since 2005, indeed there are four more seats. Scotland stays the same as the 2005 general election so we can make direct comparisons between the two elections.

2207 At the 2005 general election, Labour won 41 seats, the Lib Dems won 11, the Scottish National Party won six and the Scottish Conservatives won one. Labour has since lost two seats in by-elections – to the Lib Dems and the SNP.

2201 BBC exit poll for the whole UK predicts: Conservative 307, Labour 255, Lib Dem 59 and Others 29. WARNING: All polls have a small margin of error which could be significant in a tight election like this where the three main Westminster parties have been so close in the opinion polls. And there could be different voting patterns around the country. Something we’ll be watching out for.

2200 BST The polls have closed. We hope to get 58 of the 59 Scottish constituencies during the night. One seat – Argyll and Bute, will not be counting until Friday morning.

2155 BBC Scotland’s TV coverage of the election results has begun.

2152 In 2005, turnout in Scotland averaged out at about the 60% mark. The seat where most people voted last time was Dunbartonshire East – 73.1%. The poorest turnout was in Glasgow. In Glasgow Central, 43.9% of eligible voters cast their vote.

2148 People in Scotland have been out voting since the polls opened at 0700 BST. There are 3,869,700 eligible voters in Scotland, according to official figures from December 2009, although that figure will have increased since then.

2138 The Rutherglen and East Kilbride seats may well be the first to declare, possibly at about 0115 BST.

2134 There are 59 seats up for grabs in Scotland.

2129 Derek Bateman and Nick Rougvie will keep Radio Scotland listeners informed.

2120 The polls close at 2200 BST. A special election programme, hosted by Glenn Campbell, with Jackie Bird and Brian Taylor, will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland from 2155 BST.

2115 Welcome to the BBC Scotland news website’s coverage of the 2010 general election results. This page will be updated throughout the night with results and analysis from across Scotland.

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Greek parliament backs hefty cuts

Staff wait for rescue by firefighters at the petrol-bombed bank in central Athens on 5/5/10

Greece’s parliament is due to vote on the hefty cuts and reforms proposed by the government to address the country’s financial crisis.

It comes a day after three bank workers died in a petrol bomb attack as demonstrations over the planned austerity measures turned violent.

Bank workers have gone on a nationwide strike in anger at the deaths. Unions are also planning fresh protests.

President Karolos Papoulias has warned Greece is on the "brink of the abyss".

"We are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void," he said in a statement.

Sombre mood

Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou told parliament ahead of the vote that the "only way to escape bankruptcy" was to accept the 110bn euro ($142bn; £95bn) bail-out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union.

"The precondition is to agree on the three-year austerity plan," he told MPs.

The measures include wage freezes, pension cuts and tax rises.

The aim is to achieve fresh budget cuts of 30bn euros over three years, with the goal of cutting Greece’s public deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014. It currently stands at 13.6%.

Wednesday’s deaths – the first such fatalities in protests in nearly 20 years in Greece – have shocked the public, observers say.

There is a sombre mood on Stadiou Avenue, outside the Marfin bank branch where two women – one pregnant – and a man were found inside, having been unable to escape the fumes, the BBC’s Malcolm Brabant in Athens says.

What went wrong in Greece?An old drachma note and a euro note

Greece’s economic reforms that led to it abandoning the drachma in favour of the euro in 2002 made it easier for the country to borrow money.

The opening ceremony at the Athens Olympics

Greece went on a debt-funded spending spree, including high-profile projects such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, which went well over budget.

A defunct restaurant for sale in central Athens

It was hit by the downturn, which meant it had to spend more on benefits and received less in taxes. There were also doubts about the accuracy of its economic statistics.

A man with a bag of coins walks past the headquarters of the Bank of Greece

Greece’s economic problems meant lenders started charging higher interest rates to lend it money and widespread tax evasion also hit the government’s coffers.

Workers in a rally led by the PAME union in Athens on 22 April 2010

There have been demonstrations against the government’s austerity measures to deal with its 300bn euro (£267bn) debt, such as cuts to public sector pay.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at an EU summit in Brussels on 26 March 2010

Now the government has announced that it needs to access the 30bn euros (£26bn) in emergency loans it has been offered by other EU countries.

People on their way to work, stop, look at the blackened shell of the building, and absorb the magnitude of what has happened, he adds.

Prime Minister George Papandreou told MPs in parliament on Wednesday the killings were a "murderous act".

"Nobody has the right to violence and particularly violence that leads to murder. Violence breeds violence."

Bank workers took to the streets on Thursday to demonstrate their outrage at the deaths.

Unions also urged their members to remain undeterred by Wednesday’s events and continue demonstrating.

The GSEE private sector union condemned the "fires, blind violence, vandalism", but added: "We are determined to pursue and extend our struggle to meet our fair demands."

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Nigeria swears in new president

Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as president of Nigeria

Nigeria’s acting President Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as head of state following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua after a long illness.

Mr Jonathan, in charge since February, will appoint a deputy and serve out the rest of the current presidential term until elections due next year.

Mr Yar’Adua died late on Wednesday in the capital Abuja. TV broadcasts were interrupted with the news.

Seven days of national mourning have been announced.

Mr Jonathan took the oath of office in front of government ministers and other officials at the presidential villa in Abuja almost 12 hours after Mr Yar’Adua died. The ceremony was performed by the chief justice of Nigeria, Alloysius Katsina-Alu.

Mr Jonathan put on a sash bearing the green, yellow and white colours of Nigeria, signifying he had formally taken over as president.

Afterwards he made a brief address, saying his administration was committed to pursuing good governance, electoral reform and the fight against corruption "with greater vigour".

"Having taken the oath of office, in line with the Nigerian constitution, under these very sad, unusual circumstances I urge fellow citizens to remain steadfast and committed to the values and aspirations of our nation," he said.

"While this is a major burden on me, and indeed the entire nation, we must – in the midst of such great adversity – continue to gain our collective efforts towards upholding the values which our departed leader represented."

He added: "One of the true tests will be that all votes count, and are counted, in our upcoming presidential election."

Mr Yar’Adua, who was 58, will be buried in a Muslim ceremony later on Thursday in his northern home state of Katsina, officials said.

Condolences paid

Nigerian TV interrupted normal programming to announce the news in a brief statement early on Thursday.

The announcer said: "The president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, died a few hours ago at the presidential villa.

Government spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said the president’s wife, Turai, was at his side when he died.

Shortly after Mr Yar’Adua’s death was announced, people began arriving at the presidential villa in the capital Abuja to pay their condolences.

A spokesman for Mr Jonathan said he had received the news with "shock and sadness".

"Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight," Mr Jonathan said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama has led tributes from world leaders, praising Mr Yar’Adua’s profound personal decency and integrity" and his "passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigeria’s 150 million people".

Mr Yar’Adua’s election in 2007 marked the first transfer of power from one civilian president to another since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

He promised a string of reforms in Africa’s most populous nation, including tackling corruption and reforming the inadequate energy sector and flawed electoral system.

Analysts say he made the most progress in tackling unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta by offering amnesties to rebels.

He had been absent from the political scene since November, when he went to a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for several months.

Political limbo

During that time he was not heard from, apart from a BBC interview. He returned to Nigeria in February but remained too sick to govern.

A presidential spokesman said at the time that he was being treated for acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart.

His long absence and the lack of detailed information about his health led to a political limbo in Nigeria, which was only filled when Mr Jonathan was named as acting president.

However, there had been tension between supporters of the pair, and in March, Mr Jonathan dissolved the cabinet and later put his own team in place.

The BBC’s Caroline Duffield, in Jos, central Nigeria, says President Yar’Adua will be fondly remembered as a quiet and softly-spoken man whose integrity was respected.

But in his last months, it was clear he was too ill to take decisions himself.

His family and closest political advisers had faced severe criticism and were accused of using him to hold on to power, says our correspondent.

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Former bank boss held in Iceland

Kaupthing Bank sign

The former chief executive of the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing has been arrested, authorities say.

Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson is suspected of embezzlement, trading irregularities, and other breaches of banking laws, the special prosecutor’s office has said.

It is the first high-profile arrest since the country’s financial collapse in 2008.

Mr Sigurdsson is being held by police until a bail hearing on Friday at the Reykjavik District Court.

Kaupthing, once Iceland’s biggest bank, collapsed under a mountain of debt at the height of the country’s banking crisis.

It was taken over by the government in October 2008, along with Iceland’s two other biggest banks, Landsbanki and Glitnir.

Prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said Mr Sigurdsson was suspected of falsifying documents, embezzlement, breach of trading laws, market manipulation, and other laws.

Mr Hauksson was appointed by Iceland’s post-crisis government to investigate any criminal activity in the lead up to the crash that has crippled Iceland’s economy.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is carrying out its own investigation into suspected fraud at Kaupthing, with a focus on the bank’s efforts to attract British investors to its "high yield" deposit account, Kaupthing Edge.

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Neanderthal genes ‘survive in us’

Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study.

The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance.

The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome – the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together.

The genomes of 1% to 4% of people in Eurasia come from Neanderthals.

But the study confirms living humans overwhelmingly trace their ancestry to a small population of Africans who later spread out across the world.

The most widely-accepted theory of modern human origins – known as Out of Africa – holds that the ancestors of living humans (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa some 200,000 years ago.

A relatively small group of people then left the continent to populate the rest of the world between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

While the Neanderthal genetic contribution – found in people from Europe, Asia and Oceania – appears to be small, this figure is higher than previous genetic analyses have suggested.

"They are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on, a little bit," said Professor Svante Paabo, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Professor Chris Stringer, of London’s Natural History Museum, said the conclusions had come as a surprise to many experts – including him.

"As one of the architects of ‘Out of Africa’, I have regarded the Neanderthals as representing a separate lineage, and most likely a separate species from Homo sapiens," he explained.

"Although I have never ruled out the possibility of interbreeding, I have considered this to have been small and insignificant in the bigger picture of evolution."


"They’re us. We’re them," said John Hawks, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in the US.

"It seemed like it was likely to be possible, but I am surprised by the amount. I really was not expecting it to be as high as 4%," he said of the genetic contribution from Neanderthals.

The sequencing of the Neanderthal genome is a landmark scientific achievement, the product of a four-year-long effort led from Germany’s Max Planck Institute but involving many other universities around the world.

The project makes use of efficient "high-throughput" technology which allows many genetic sequences to be processed at the same time.

The draft Neanderthal sequence contains DNA extracted from the bones of three different Neanderthals found at Vindija Cave in Croatia.

Retrieving good quality genetic material from remains tens of thousands of years old presented many hurdles which had to be overcome.

The samples almost always contained only a small amount of Neanderthal DNA amid vast quantities of DNA from bacteria and fungi that colonised the remains after death.

Svante Paabo with Neanderthal skull (Max Planck Institute)

The Neanderthal DNA itself had broken down into very short segments and had changed chemically. Luckily, the chemical changes were of a regular nature, allowing the researchers to write software that corrected for them.

Writing in Science journal, the researchers describe how they compared this draft sequence with the genomes of modern people from around the globe.

"The comparison of these two genetic sequences enables us to find out where our genome differs from that of our closest relative," said Professor Paabo.

The results show that the genomes of non-Africans (from Europe, China and New Guinea) are closer to the Neanderthal sequence than are those from Africa.

The most likely explanation, say the researchers, is that there was limited mating, or "gene flow", between Neanderthals and the ancestors of present-day Eurasians.

This must have taken place just as people were leaving Africa, while they were still part of one pioneering population. This mixing could have taken place either in North Africa, the Levant or the Arabian Peninsula, say the researchers.

The Out of Africa theory contends that modern humans replaced local "archaic" populations like the Neanderthals.

But there are several variations on this idea. The most conservative model proposes that this replacement took place with no interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals.

Unique features

Another version allows for a degree of assimilation, or absorption, of other human types into the Homo sapiens gene pool.

The latest research strongly supports the Out of Africa theory, but it falsifies the most conservative version of events.

The team also identified more than 70 gene changes that were unique to modern humans. These genes are implicated in physiology, the development of the brain, skin and bone.

The researchers also looked for signs of "selective sweeps" – strong natural selection acting to boost traits in modern humans. They found 212 regions where positive selection may have been taking place.

The scientists are interested in discovering genes that distinguish modern humans from Neanderthals because they may have given modern humans certain advantages over the course of evolution.

The most obvious differences were in physique: the muscular, stocky frames of Neanderthals contrast sharply with those of our ancestors. But it is likely there were also more subtle differences, in behaviour, for example.

Dr Hawks commented the amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genomes seemed high: "What it means is that any traits [Neanderthals] had that might have been useful in later populations should still be here.

"So when we see that their anatomies are gone, this isn’t just chance. Those things that made the Neanderthals apparent to us as a population – those things didn’t work. They’re gone because they didn’t work in the context of our population."

Researchers had previously thought Europe was the region where Neanderthals and modern humans were most likely to have exchanged genes. The two human types overlapped here for some 10,000 years.

The authors of the paper in Science do not rule out some interbreeding in Europe, but say it was not possible to detect this with present scientific methods.

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Mancini at Man City ‘for years’

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak

Roberto Mancini will remain Manchester City manager for "many years", says club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

City’s hopes of finishing fourth in the Premier League ended with Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat by Tottenham, who can now qualify for the Champions League.

But speculation that Mancini’s job was under threat has been dismissed by the City chairman.

"Roberto’s going to do a wonderful job for us for many years," Mubarak told Manchester City’s official website.

"Roberto is our manager. He’s done an excellent job coming in mid-season, organising the team. I’m very happy, and [owner] Sheikh Mansour’s delighted with the way he’s organised the team."

Mubarak added: "We believe he is definitely the right manager for this club for many years. What he needs this summer is time to prepare and really organise ourselves.

"We know the areas that need to be improved within the club. A good pre-season followed with a good start to the season and I’m really excited for next year."

Fifth is not where we would like but it’s a major jump. It’s a major achievement for this club to move from 10th to fifth place

The City chairman insisted that he viewed the season as a success after the club improved on last year’s Premier League finish of 10th place.

"It’s been a wonderful season," reflected Mubarak. "We’ve gone a long way as a team and I feel very good about next year because we’ve crossed an important milestone as a club. Next year’s going to be a very important year for us.

"It’s been an incredible season. We can focus on last night or we can focus on the season as a whole – I prefer to do that.

"Fifth is not where we would like but it’s a major jump. It’s a major achievement for this club to move from 10th to fifth place."

Roberto Mancini

And looking ahead to the summer it seems likely that Manchester City will again be major players in the transfer market.

"Manchester City is now a real force to be reckoned with in this league and the acceleration of investment really has put us in this position maybe a year early," continued Mubarak. "That gives us a much better position this summer to work from."

When asked after Wednesday’s match whether he would remain in charge next season, Mancini told BBC Radio 5 live: "Yes, absolutely."

The former Inter Milan boss succeeded Mark Hughes in December and vowed to qualify for the Champions League, and City looked on course to do so before losing at home to Manchester United and drawing away at Arsenal last month.

Victory over Aston Villa last Saturday kept them in the hunt and they went into Wednesday’s game a point behind Spurs with two matches to play.

But Harry Redknapp’s men deserved their victory at the City of Manchester Stadium – secured by Peter Crouch’s late header – and it moves them four points clear of Mancini’s men going into the final round of games on Sunday.

"We can work together and develop together," added Mancini, whose side will play in the Europa League next season. "I want to win here, I want to be able to win here.

"I think I stay here. Why not? I work here four or five months and I think when you build a house you don’t start from the roof but the basement. We work very well but we are near the roof.

"I am not a magician, I don’t have a magic wand. We wanted this [fourth] place and we tried like Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa.

"When you don’t finish fourth this is football but we did a good job."

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