Every Royal Mail staff member to get £1,500 share windfall



Every postal worker in Britain will be given around £1,500 of shares in Royal Mail when it floats on the stock market, the Business Minister will say today.


It will be the largest employee share scheme for 25 years with around 140,000 workers from postmen to local delivery office managers expected to scoop a windfall.


In his first speech on the controversial privatisation of the country’s postal service, Michael Fallon will today pledge to make the share handout ‘as attractive as possible.’


He is keen the share handout is structured in a way that all postal workers benefit, rather than just allowing the executives to walk away with millions.


But he will warn the militant postal union, the Communication Workers Union, that they must ‘engage’ with the Government - or the deal could be scuppered.


The CWU is bitterly opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail, a deal which it fears will lead to price rises, pay cuts and the destruction of the service.


In a protest against the privatisation plans, the union is currently plotting to boycott the handling of any mail which has not been sent through Royal Mail, but one of its rivals, such as TNT.


Speaking at think-tank Policy Exchange today, Mr Fallon will call on the CWU to ‘put ideology aside’ so that their members ‘do not lose out.’ He will say: ‘I am determined to do the right deal for them.


‘Royal Mail employees spend their working lives making the post run on time, delivering to far flung parts of the country from Lands End to John O’Groats. They are absolutely central to the future success of the company.’


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Under the proposals, the Government has promised to give ten per cent of the company to its workers when it is privatised.

A stock market flotation is Mr Fallon’s preferred option, and a deal valuing the company at between £2billion and £3billion is expected to take place before April 2014.




Workers' windfall: The Communication Workers Union are opposed to the whole privitisation but Mr Fallon has told the union it must engage with the deal

But a major sticking point for the union surrounds whether the shares are given to postmen for free, or are sold at a discounted price.


In today’s speech, Mr Fallon is not expected to make clear which option is on the table. They should also get extra cash from the shares, known as a dividend, every six months.


He will say: ‘People should be in no doubt, whether the shares are discounted, or free, it is a hugely significant commitment from the Government to Royal Mail’s workers.’


Union bosses have already made clear their trenchant opposition to a deal which would require postmen to pay even a penny for the shares.


Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU, said: ‘The idea that postal workers are going to sell their soul for a ten per cent stake in the company is not going to work.



Union trouble: Frances O'Grady the General Secretary of the TUC has warned that privatising the Royal Mail would be a 'disaster'

‘Even less so if the Government expects postal workers to put up their own cash in order to buy shares.

‘Postal workers know that privatisation would mean the break-up of the company, more job losses, worse terms and conditions and attacks on their pensions.


‘It would be a wrecking ball to the industry they work in. Why would they sign up to that for a one-off share-scheme when their pay, conditions and job security for their rest of their career could be badly affected by the consequences?’


Anybody from families to pensioners will be allowed to subscribe for shares in the Royal Mail flotation.


It is too early to say how much they will cost or how many shares people will be able to buy in the company which has throughout its history had just one shareholder - the Government.

Royal Mail has been gearing up for privatisation for months, a deal which Margaret Thatcher refused to do saying she was ‘not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised.’


Its £12billion pension black hole has been dumped on the taxpayer, and a first-class stamp has jumped from 46p to 60p after the regulator scrapped the limited on how much it can be increased each year.

You can't bash a burglar after all: Government's tough rhetoric branded a farce as it's revealed



New laws giving householders the right to fight back against burglars were condemned as a ‘farce’ last night after it emerged they are riddled with loopholes.

The Government had promised to let people use maximum force when confronted by intruders, after an outcry at cases where victims were arrested for defending their homes and businesses.

Justice Minister Chris Grayling told last year’s Tory Party conference: ‘Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are crime victims and should be treated that way.’


Promises: Justice Minister Chris Grayling vowed to beef up protection

But today it can be revealed that the new defence of ‘disproportionate force’ – which became law this week – will not apply in many cases.

Official guidance sent to judges, prosecutors and police shows:
Homeowners cannot rely on the new defence if they find an intruder in their garden or chase them outside – the fight must take place indoors.
Shopkeepers can only get away with disproportionate attacks on robbers if they live above their shop, and only if the two parts of the building are connected.
Shop assistants and customers cannot get involved in the violence, unless their loved ones happen to be living in the store.
Householders cannot use the defence if they are only trying to protect their property, rather than trying to defend themselves or their family.

The document admits: ‘The provision does not give householders free rein to use disproportionate force in every case they are confronted by an intruder.’

Dramatic CCTV footage released this week showed the risks shop staff are prepared to take to defend their livelihoods. Thurairagh Pirabahuran used his seat to hit gunman Sheldon Green as he tried to rob his store in Ilford, Essex.

But the brave shopkeeper does not live above the premises, so would not be protected from prosecution if police decided he had used ‘grossly disproportionate’ force.

Last night critics said the detail of the law, due to come into force within days, exposed Mr Grayling’s tough rhetoric as worthless.

They said it meant terrified homeowners and small businesses would still face possible prosecution if they lash out at criminals.




Terror: Thurairagh Pirabahuran, fights an armed robber in his shop in Hainault, Ilford, Essex

Malcolm Starr, a spokesman for jailed burglary victim Tony Martin, said: ‘I think it’s an absolute farce. They really must let common sense prevail.’ He said that rather than drawing up new laws, the system should simply prevent homeowners being arrested as soon as an intruder is attacked. Mr Starr added: ‘People immediately seem to get arrested and don’t get the benefit of the doubt – it’s the wrong way round.’

Nick de Bois, a Conservative MP on the Justice Select Committee, said: ‘It looks like the Ministry of Justice civil servants are watering down the intent behind this very sensible law. People have the right to defend their property and homes, and they don’t need a straitjacket from the Ministry of Justice.’


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Campaigners have been calling for greater protection for burglary victims for years, prompted by a series of cases. Tony Martin, whose farmhouse had been repeatedly broken into, was convicted of murder after he shot two intruders in 1999, killing one. On appeal his sentence was cut.

In 2008, Munir Hussain chased and caught one of the three men who broke into his house. He and his brother Tokeer were jailed for attacking the intruder with a cricket bat, although their sentences were also later reduced on appeal.


Last September a couple spent two nights in custody after firing a shotgun at intruders, but Andy and Tracey Ferrie were not prosecuted.

Mr Grayling has been saying since 2009 that the law on self-defence should be reviewed and the Conservatives’ 2010 Election manifesto promised householders ‘greater legal protection if they have to defend themselves against intruders’.



Farmer Tony Martin served three years in jail after he shot a burglar dead in his home in 1999

The following year David Cameron himself said: ‘We’ll put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.’


Then at last year’s Tory conference, Mr Grayling announced that householders would be able to use more than reasonable force.

A clause on self-defence was added to the Crime and Courts Bill, which gained Royal Assent on Thursday.

But a circular sent this month by the Ministry of Justice makes clear the limitations of the legislation. It states: ‘Householders are only permitted to rely on the heightened defence if they are using force to defend themselves or others. They cannot seek to rely on the defence if they were acting for another purpose, such as protecting their property.’

It continues: ‘The term “in or partly in a building” is used to protect householders who might be confronted by an intruder on the threshold of their home, climbing in through a window perhaps. But householders cannot rely on the heightened defence if the confrontation occurred wholly outside the building, for example in the garden.’

Steve McCabe, a Labour MP on the Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘This shows how empty the conference rhetoric is. This constant raising of expectations followed by a failure to deliver, is undermining justice in this country. It’s time people like Chris Grayling acted more responsibly.’

Whitehall sources stressed the legislation was only ever intended to give more protection to homeowners who wake up to find intruders.

Mr Grayling said: ‘Being confronted by a burglar inside your home while loved ones sleep upstairs is a rare but uniquely frightening experience. This law is designed to protect those whose actions in that awful moment may seem disproportionate in the cold light of day. ’

He added: 'The new law does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides householders with proper protection if they are confronted by a violent or threatening burglar.
'It was never intended and never promised to allow you to shoot dead someone stealing the lawn mower from your garden shed.'

Now we CAN bash a burglar... but not in our gardens: Law to allow



A new law has finally come into force giving householders the right to ‘bash a burglar’...but not if they are stealing from your garden shed.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling won huge plaudits last year by announcing people would be able to use ‘disproportionate’ force to protect themselves from housebreakers.

But it yesterday emerged the new rules contain a string of exemptions.

For instance, in guidance sent to prosecutors, officials say that homeowners cannot rely on the new defence if they find an intruder in their garden, such as stealing a lawn mower or ornament.

Nor will they be protected if they chase the burglar outside. The fight must take place indoors.

Mr Grayling defended the new law, saying it ‘does exactly what it says on the tin.’ He added: ‘It provides householders with proper protection if they are confronted by a violent or threatening burglar.

‘It was never intended and never promised to allow you to shoot dead someone stealing the lawn mower from your garden shed.’

But critics claimed the new rules did not match Mr Grayling’s tough rhetoric.

The guidance also says that shopkeepers can only get away with using ‘disproportionate’ force on robbbers if they live above their shop, and only if the two parts of the building are connected.

Shop assistants and customers cannot get involved in the violence, unless their loved ones happen to be living in the store.

Householders cannot use the defence if they are only trying to protect their property, rather than trying to defend themselves or their family.


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The guidance states: ‘The provision does not give householders free rein to use disproportionate force in every case they are confronted by an intruder.’

Changing the law to allow homeowners to use maximum force was one of Mr Grayling’s first acts after becoming Justice Secretary.




Farmer Tony Martin was jailed in 2000 for shooting dead a burglar. A spokesman for him described it as an 'absolute farce'

He told last year’s Tory Party conference: ‘Being confronted by an intruder in your own home is terrifying, and the public should be in no doubt that the law is on their side. That is why I am strengthening the current law.

‘Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are victims of crime and should be treated that way.

‘We need to dispel doubts in this area once and for all, and I am very pleased to be today delivering on the pledge that we made in Opposition.’ But campaigners said that, as a result of the exceptions to the new law, there was still a chance that homeowners and small businesses would possible prosecution if they lash out.

The most notorious case concerns Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer, who was jailed for shooting dead a burglar in 2000.

Malcolm Starr, a spokesman for Mr Martin, said: ‘I think it’s an absolute farce. They really must let common sense prevail.’




Terror: Thurairagh Pirabahuran, fights an armed robber in his shop in Hainault, Ilford, Essex

In 2008, Munir Hussain chased and caught one of the three men who broke into his house. He and his brother Tokeer were jailed for attacking the intruder with a cricket bat, although their sentences were also later reduced on appeal.

Nick de Bois, a Tory MP on the Justice Select Committee, said: ‘It looks like the Ministry of Justice civil servants are watering down the intent behind this very sensible law.

‘People have the right to defend their property and homes, and they don’t need a straitjacket from the Ministry of Justice.’

The law has been designed so that someone who is confronted by a burglar and has reason to fear for their safety, or the safety of their family, and in the heat of the moment uses force that in the cold light of day seems ‘disproportionate’ will not be guilty of an offence.

This could include the use of lethal force. Only force which is ‘grossly’ disproportionate will not be permitted.

Accept Press plan for new watchdog, MP tells Cameron



A senior Conservative MP has urged David Cameron to accept the newspaper industry’s proposal for a tough new Press watchdog.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the influential Commons culture select committee, said the Royal Charter idea put forward by the Press would protect the public from rogue journalists.

He called on the Prime Minister to ‘grab’ the proposal ‘with both hands’.

Britain’s newspapers, including the Daily Mail, came up with their own proposals for an independent regulator after rejecting a plan drawn up by politicians and the Hacked Off lobby group.

After reading the small print of the newspapers’ plan, Mr Whittingdale told the Sun on Sunday: ‘I could almost sign up to this tomorrow.’

The new Press-backed watchdog will have the power to impose fines of up to £1million and demand up-front corrections. But crucially, the scheme will prohibit interference by politicians and protects the freedom of the Press.

Mr Whittingdale said: ‘If you are in public life, you have to accept that people will criticise you. The people I am really concerned about are those who suddenly find themselves thrust into the spotlight. Those are the people who deserve protection from abuse by newspapers, and I believe the new system will deliver that.’

He said reforms were almost agreed between politicians and the Press when the process was ‘hijacked’ by members of the House of Lords.


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Then the pressure group Hacked Off, headed by actor Hugh Grant, was present when laws were drawn up at 2am while Mr Cameron was asleep.

Mr Whittingdale said it was a mistake that Press representatives were excluded from that meeting.




The MP urged David Cameron to 'grab' the press watchdog's proposal with both hands

‘It’s unfortunate that an agreement was reached between three political parties and a campaigning organisation but the people who would be affected by it – the Press – were not in the room or given the chance to express their view,’ he said. ‘But their proposal delivers all of what is needed in a new system. So we should grab this with both hands now.’

Mr Whittingdale said it was out of the question for a free country to force its Press to submit to state-backed controls.

He added: ‘The prize within our grasp is a robust regulator to protect the public while maintaining the precious principle of a free Press and a free society.’

NFL punter Chris Kluwe who has spoken out in favor of gay marriage



Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who has repeatedly spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage, says he now worries that his career with the team may be on the line.

On Sunday, Kluwe said he is starting to sense that rumors surrounding whether or not he will be released from the team will soon become ‘distractions.’

‘It’s a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut,’ Kluwe told NBC’s Pro Football Talk via text message.



Outspoken: Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, has repeatedly spoken out in favour of same-sex marriage, says he now worries that his career with the team may be on the line



Pro gay marriage: Kluwe has repeatedly spoken out on the topic over the past year while addressing the question of whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay football player

Kluwe, along with former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, hired a lawyer earlier this year who submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing California’s ban on same-sex marriage.


Kluwe has repeatedly spoken out on the topic over the past year while addressing the question of whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay football player.




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During last year’s season, Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer criticized Kluwe for wearing a homemade patch that supported Ray Guy’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame.


‘Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you,’ Priefer said at the time.



Recently cut: Ayanbadejo, who was cut by the Ravens earlier this month, suggested that the decision was influenced by his support for same-sex marriage

Ayanbadejo, who was cut by the Ravens earlier this month, suggested that the decision was influenced by his support for same-sex marriage.


‘I was a vocal guy and garnered a lot of attention,’ Ayanbadejo said at the time.


‘I brought a lot of issues with me to the Super Bowl and the issues came up at the Super Bowl. …My bark is louder than my bite. I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?’



'Vocal': 'I was a vocal guy and garnered a lot of attention,¿ Ayanbadejo said at the time'

Why are NHS chiefs on more than me? Cameron launches fresh assault on public sector pay



David Cameron has launched a fresh assault on public sector pay - saying he was ‘surprised’ at the number of senior staff who earn more than him.


He said he did not think it was fair that chief executives in local councils and the NHS should have a higher salary than the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.


State salaries had been allowed to drift ‘up and up and up’ over recent years without any thought to whether such high rates were necessary to attract the best candidates.


The Prime Minister earns £142,500 and it is believed that more than 300 staff employed by local councils take home more than him.
Thousands more in the public sector, from NHS managers to doctors and BBC staff, also earn more.


Mr Cameron also attacked ‘golden handshakes’ and generous early retirement deals which are often offered to departing highly-paid staff in the public sector.

He made the comments at one a PM Direct question and answer sessions in Carlisle on Friday.


When asked whether he thought it was fair that Jill Stannard, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, was on a salary of £170,000 - almost £30,000 more than him, he said: ‘The short answer is no, not really.


‘It’s quite surprising sometimes just how many people in the public sector are paid more than the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the exchequer.


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‘A lot of public sector salaries drifted up and up and up and there wasn’t enough thinking about what we really need to pay to get someone who is good.’


Ms Stannard, 55, is taking early retirement to make way for a money-saving management shake-up at Cumbria Council. In the past three years the council’s budget has been reduced by £88m and it must save a further £50m by 2016.




Attack: David Cameron, pictured with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has said that high NHS salaries do not necessarily attract the best staff

A series of top jobs could go, and a new interim chief executive will be on a much lower salary than Ms Stannard.


Mr Cameron went on to attack golden handshakes - and called on councils to be more transparent about how they bring in such deals.


He said: ‘There also wasn’t enough thought about what payment they get when they have to go and what sort of pay-out they get.


‘We’re changing this. We’re saying you have to publish all this information. Everyone should be able to see what council staff earn, what the contracts are, and there should be a vote on this properly.


‘I come from Oxfordshire, and in my constituency, West Oxfordshire, we share a chief executive with the neighbouring council.




Making savings: Cameron said there was not 'enough thought' about how much public sector workers are paid

‘There’s a lot more you can do. You can get police services, fire services to share some of the back office staff to share some of the payroll.


‘To think a bit more like a business and think what can I do to drive down costs whole still delivering a good product. We need government to think like that.’


It also emerged yesterday that councils have signed thousands of gagging orders which prevent individuals from blowing the whistle on poor practice and wrongdoing.


They have signed agreements relating to pay-outs of more than £115million in the past three years, the vast majority of which contain gagging orders.
More than 12,000 so-called compromise agreements were signed by 199 councils in Britain between 2009 and 2012.

Winning Super Bowl wide receiver Torrey Smith interns with Maryland



Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith has taken up an internship with a local member of Congress fresh off of his team’s Super Bowl victory in early February.


Smith spent this month helping out Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who advocates 'world-class education', affordable healthcare and liveable wages for regular workers.


The Ravens wide receiver has done an ‘outstanding job,’ Representative Cummings said yesterday.


Enlarge

Off-season opportunity: Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith took up an internship with a member of Congress fresh off of his team's Super Bowl victory last month



Something different: Smith has spent most of March helping Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who said the wide receiver did an 'outstanding job'

‘It was a pleasure having Torrey Smith intern with us, and I was glad that I could offer him the opportunity,’ the congressman said in a written statement.

'Torrey was eager to learn about the legislative process and was treated no differently than any of our other interns – all of whom play a meaningful and important role in helping me serve the constituents of Maryland's 7th District,’ he said.


‘I hope that this experience gave him the perspective he sought and I thank him for his outstanding work.’


Smith has spent the month primarily working out of Representative Cummings's Baltimore office taking occasional trips to Washington, according to the Ravens website.




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During his March internship the wide receiver has been performing relatively mundane office tasks such as filing documents and opening mail while learning more about what local Congress members do.


‘I learned that there are really politicians that do a lot for their community – [Cummings] being one of them,’ Smith said on the Ravens website post about his unusual off-season gig.


‘You can literally call your congressman and any issue you have, they can basically point you in the right direction if they can’t help you. I never really knew that,’ he said.


Harry Swayne, the Ravens’ director of player development set up the internship for Smith, who said he was looking to do something interesting during his off-season, according to the team.

Representative Cummings is a Baltimore native and has served in Maryland's 7th congressional district since 1996.


Smith has a few days left in his internship, according to the Ravens website.



Nothing fancy: During his March internship Smith has been performing relatively mundane office tasks such as filing documents and opening mail

NBA guard received death threats from opposing teams' ball boy



Police are investigating after a ball boy for the Oklahoma City Thunder tweeted death threats to Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley.


Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook was hurt when Beverley tried for a steal in the second quarter of Game 2 last Wednesday and ran into his knee.


Westbrook had knee surgery Saturday and is out for the season.


The tweets were deleted as of Saturday night, but the Houston Chronicle reported a tweet from the handle @MitchellBrwn said: 'Patrick Beverly (sic), I'm coming to kill you.'

He later sent another one with Beverley's Twitter name, saying: '(@pavbev21 I'm coming to kill you.'


He later apologized in one tweet and then said he was hacked in another post.

The account has since been taken down.


Oklahoma City police Captain Dexter Nelson tells The Associated Press that their department is working with the Houston police and the NBA to investigate the threats.


The Thunder says in a statement that they 'do not condone his comments. He works game nights on a voluntary basis and the matter will be handled internally.'


According to Yahoo Sports, Westbrook is 'irate' with Beverley.

Scroll down for video







Moment of impact: Following an attempted steal by Patrick Beverley (in red) Russell Westbrook injured his knee and is feared to be out for the rest of the season
VIDEO: The incident that injured Russell Westbrook and prompted death threats






Beverley told the Houston Chronicle he wasn't worried about the threats on Twitter but said he didn't want to hurt his opponent.

'I knew my... intent. My intent was no one to get hurt. It's an unfortunate situation. Now, I'm on TNT for the wrong reasons. I can't control what happened,' Beverley said.


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'Last game, someone else did the same thing. I have to move on from the situation and focus on the game,' he added.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks backed up his opponent 'That was not a dirty play. It's part of basketball. One of the things the kid does, he plays hard,' Brooks said.



Row: Westbrook (in front) is said to be irate with Beverley (behind), but the Houston man said he wasn't trying to injure his opponent



'Now, was it unfortunate and was he trying to get under his skin? Absolutely. But it wasn't a dirty play. You want to play physical. You want to play hard. That's what I like. That's how you have to play,' the coach told the Chronicle.

The Thunder won Game 3 Saturday night in Houston, 104-101. Security was increased for the game, but it was done because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Woman shoots husband dead as he tried to give her gun safety lesson as their two young children slept upstairs



A woman has been arrested after she shot and killed her husband as he gave her a gun safety lesson in their home outside Philadelphia.


Michele Wanko, 42, told police that she and William Wanko, 42, had been 'casually drinking' vodka and lemonade for more than six hours when Mr Wanko took her into the basement to show her how to use his guns about 4am on Saturday.


Their two young sons, age 2 and 5, were sleeping upstairs when Mrs Wanko racked the slide on a semi-automatic pistol and shot her husband in the chest, police say.


'I can't believe you shot me!' Mr Wanko said before he collapsed, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Mrs Wanko was arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter after her husband died at a nearby hospital. She was released on bail Saturday night.


Police said it appears the shooting was accidental.

'Why, after six-and-a-half hours of drinking, would you go down and handle a gun, especially with someone who never shot a weapon before?' Parkside Police Chief John Egan told the Inquirer.





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'The real big common denominator is the alcohol and it ended up costing him his life.'

Mr Wanko has owned several guns for years and kept them in a safe in his basement, according to police.




Deadly mix: Police Chief John Egan said William Wanko died because he and his wife mixed firearms and alcohol

In the early hours of Saturday morning, he took his wife to the basement to show her how the use the weapons 'in case a burglar ever broke into the house.'

Mr Wanko took several weapons out of the safe and showed her how to operate them.

Mrs Wanko says she picked up a pistol and operated the slide like her husband had shown her when it suddenly fired, according to police.


In her frantic rush to call 911, she awoke her five-year-old.


Both children are in the care of family while Mrs Wanko faces the felony charges.

Teen mother confesses to throwing newborn baby down garbage chute



A teen mother has been arrested after throwing her stillborn baby down a garbage chute.

Ariel Devonish-Francis, 19, who lives in the Bronx in New York was charged with unlawful disposal of a cadaver.

The city medical examiner completed an autopsy on Sunday and determined the baby was stillborn.

The woman confessed to doctors at the Einstein Hospital that she had given birth, put the infant in a bag and then down the chute, as reported by the New York Post



Shocking: A 19-year-old mother confessed to giving birth and then throwing her baby down a garbage chute at this address in the Bronx





Gruesome: The teenager told doctors at the Einstein hospital who then told police who found a fetus in the basement

When police were informed by the medical staff they searched the property at West Farms Road and made the gruesome discovery of a fetus in the basement.

Devonish-Francis went to Albert Einstein University Hospital after the miscarriage in her home on Saturday.

She delivered the dead fetus in the bathroom and claims she did not even know she was pregnant.

The mother is being treated at the hospital and has not been charged with a crime.


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'We all went down together and we saw the small little bag in the garbage. I was about to change the garbage bags myself. I might not have even seen it if I didn't know to look for it,' the building's super Jose Garcia, 50, told the New York Post.

'When they looked in the bag, they found that it was a newborn. It had an umbilical cord still attached and everything. This is heartbreaking.'




Investigations: Authorities are looking into the incident and said the baby appeared to be born premature





The mother, who lives at this address on West Farms Road in the Bronx, is being treated at hospital and hasn't been charged with a crime

Devonish-Francis told hospital workers she dumped the fetus down the chute in her building which was then reclaimed from a dumpster.

Neighbors said 19-year-old had not appeared noticeably pregnant.

The consultant who introduced check-in baggage fees



Do you grumble every time you have to fork out more and more dollars for every checked bag at the airport? If so, you now know who is to blame.

John Thomas, 54, of Needham, Massachusetts, is the airline consultant who introduced the charges to North America in 2008. He now uses a private jet or takes carry-on bags.


Thomas explained his reasons to the Boston Globe. And some experts believe the fees kept several airline carriers in business at a difficult time for the industry.



Expensive annoyance: Baggage fees were introduced in North America in 2008 and they show no sign of going away



Instigator: John Thomas is the consultant who introduced the charges that are credited with keeping some carriers in business

Jay Sorensen, president of a travel consulting called IdeaWorksCompany told the Boston Globe that the fees created a 'tsunami of money.'


'I would credit bag fees with saving the industry that year,' Sorensen added.


Thomas, originally from Australia, works for LEK Consulting, a UK-based firm, and five years ago he was asked to come up with idea to make more money for the ailing industry.


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Airlines suffered losses after the 9/11 attacks, and things still looked bad in 2007 when oil prices rose to record levels.

Online customers were also getting increasingly savvier. As a result, several airlines were near collapse. 'They were looking at certain economic death,' Thomas told the Boston Globe.

Carriers in Europe had imposed baggage fees a few years earlier and Thomas advised North American airlines to start charging in 2008.



Expensive business: Luggage is piled up by an aircraft, that every customer has probably paid extra for

Thomas had some convincing to do at first, as executives worried the charges might scare passengers off, and that only some companies would introduce the fees.

But he shouldn't have worried. Once United Airlines introduced a $25 fee for the second checked bag in February 2008, the domino effect started in earnest.

US Airways followed suit within a fortnight and now all major carriers except Southwest and JetBlue charge to check in your first bag.

Yet as the Globe pointed out, they don't affect Thomas - due his success he either flies on a private jet or just uses carry-on.




Alternative method: This easiest way of avoiding luggage charges is by cramming your possessions into the overhead lockers



As passengers became resigned to the baggage fees, airlines also found ways of charging for other things that had previously been free.

Perks such as speedy boarding, increased legroom and window seats may now all cost extra cash.

The Globe reported that between 2008 and 2011, non-ticket revenue jumped from $10.3 billion to $22.6 billion.

Thomas hasn't stopped imagining new ways for airlines to make money, however.
Among other areas such as gambling, he's currently considering how free Wi-Fi services to passengers could provide an advertising revenue stream.

Pentagon identifies four U.S. airmen killed in reconnaissance plane crash



The four NATO soldiers killed Saturday when a surveillance aircraft crashed in southern Afghanistan have been identified by the Pentagon as U.S. airmen.


Military officials say the crash of the MC-12 Liberty turboprop plane, which was outfitted with sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, was not related to Taliban violence.


The police chief in Zabul province, Rogh Lewanai, told Reuters on Saturday that bad weather caused the plane to crash in the district of Shahjoi.







Tragedy: Captain Brandon Cyr, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia; Captain Reid Nishizuka, 30, of Kailua, Hawaii, were both killed when their MC-12 surveillance plane went down





Mourned: Staff Sergeant Daniel Fannin, 30, of Morehead, Kentucky, was also among the dead airmen

The Pentagon said on Sunday the crash of the MC-12 was under investigation.

Zabul, wedged between Kandahar and Ghazni, has seen much violence in recent weeks, including a suicide bomb attack in early April that killed a young U.S. diplomat, several U.S. soldiers and an unnamed U.S. civilian. Dozens of Afghan civilians also have been killed there this month.

The Pentagon said all four victims were airmen: Captain Brandon Cyr, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia; Captain Reid Nishizuka, 30, of Kailua, Hawaii; Staff Sergeant Daniel Fannin, 30, of Morehead, Kentucky; and Staff Sergeant Richard Dickson, 24, of Rancho Cordova, California.


Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, deputy governor of Zabul, said the site had been surrounded by international forces.


The American deaths came as the Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive with attacks on both military and diplomatic targets in the northern Faryab Province.

Military insurgents are believed to have taken control of several villages in the province's Qaisar district.




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More than 60 insurgents had been killed, a spokesman for the provincial governor, Jawed Baidar, told the BBC.

He added that women and children are believed to have been among the casualties.

Online casualty tracker iCasualty.com reports that 33 Americans have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan - 14 in April. Last year, 34 Americans died in April in the conflict.


More than 2,100 American service members have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.




Downed aircraft: The MC-12 Liberty is a heavily-modified version of a civilian twin-engine airplane that is outfitted with advanced surveillance and intelligence equipment

Inside the eerie Lower Manhattan subway station that is STILL



A once pristine $500 million subway station in Lower Manhattan remains completely devastated after it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.


The South Ferry terminal, which opened in 2009 equipped with a large concourse filled with public art installations and polished white walls, is now in need of an estimated $600 million rehabilitation, NBC News reports.


‘It’s a complete gut job,’ MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the New York-based news channel. ‘Every component of the station needs to be replaced.’



Ghost station: The once pristine $500 million South Ferry subway station in Lower Manhattan remains completely devastated after it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy



In need of a fix: The South Ferry terminal, which opened in 2009 equipped with a large concourse filled with public art installations and polished white walls, is now in need of an estimated $600 million rehabilitation




First steps: The dozens of workers at the station are just getting started on South Ferry¿s rehabilitation by scrapping mold from almost every surface throughout it

The dozens of workers at the station are just getting started on South Ferry’s rehabilitation by scrapping mold from almost every surface throughout it.


Before the storm hit in late October, 30,000 people passed through South Ferry each day, according to NBC News.


Now, the empty station resembles an underground burial site with decaying walls and pungent air.




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The 90-foot platform remains completely vacant with construction bulbs lighting the two subway tracks while the tunnel walls remain covered in grit and debris from Sandy.


The station’s drywall and tiles have been ripped out by construction workers exposing a film of mold that quickly developed after the storm hit South Ferry six months ago.


The greatest damage inflicted on the station from Sandy came when ocean water flooded South Ferry eighty feet below street level, corroding almost every piece of equipment in the underground tunnel.



Busy hub: Before the storm hit in late October, 30,000 people passed through South Ferry each day



Major damage: The greatest damage inflicted on the station from Sandy came when ocean water flooded South Ferry eighty feet below street level, corroding almost every piece of equipment in the underground tunnel.



Destroyed: More than 700 relay components, critical to the signaling systems of subway trains, were destroyed by corrosion

More than 700 relay components, critical to the signaling systems of subway trains, were destroyed by that corrosion.


A separate room of signaling equipment at the end of the platform, which was flooded to the ceiling, is now a ‘complete loss,’ Joseph Leader, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief maintenance officer, told the news channel.


Leader was the first person to see the damage from Sandy and is now overseeing the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the station, which recently reopened, but needs far more work done.


The original South Ferry station, which opened in 1905, was designed as the last stop on a busy subway line that connects the Staten Island Ferry to the rest of the city.


The MTA is now ‘considering all options’ that would lessen the effects of a similar storm as it rebuilds the station and the federal government will be chipping into a large part of the $600 million cost to do so.


‘As we work to bring our system back to normal, we must also make the necessary investments to protect this 108-year old system from future storms. We must rebuild smarter. The South Ferry subway station is a perfect example,’ MTA Chief Executive Thomas Prendergast told NBC.



'All options': The MTA is now 'considering all options' that would lessen the effects of a similar storm as it rebuilds the station and the federal government will be chipping into a large part of the $600 million cost to do so

Mother of Boston bombers says she found 'deeper spirituality'



In photos of her as a younger woman, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva wears a low-cut blouse and has her hair teased like a 1980s rock star. After she arrived in the U.S. from Russia in 2002, she went to beauty school and did facials at a suburban day spa.

But in recent years, people noticed a change. She began wearing a hijab and cited conspiracy theories about 9/11 being a plot against Muslims.

Now known as the angry and grieving mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tsarnaeva is drawing increased attention after federal officials say Russian authorities intercepted her phone calls, including one in which she vaguely discussed jihad with her elder son.



Changed woman: Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, seen here in a photo from the 1980s, dresses very much like a Westerner. In recent years, she started wearing a hijab and sprouting conspiracy theories about 9/11

In another, she was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, U.S. officials said.

Tsarnaeva insists there is no mystery. She's no terrorist, just someone who found a deeper spirituality. She insists her sons - Tamerlan, who was killed in a gunfight with police, and Dzhokhar, who was wounded and captured - are innocent.

'It's all lies and hypocrisy,' she told The Associated Press in Dagestan.


'I'm sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I've never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.'




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Amid the scrutiny, Tsarnaeva and her ex-husband, Anzor Tsarnaev, say they have put off the idea of any trip to the U.S. to reclaim their elder son's body or try to visit Dzhokhar in jail.


Tsarnaev told the AP on Sunday he was too ill to travel to the U.S. Tsarnaeva faces a 2012 shoplifting charge in a Boston suburb, though it was unclear whether that was a deterrent.

At a news conference in Dagestan with Anzor last week, Tsarnaeva appeared overwhelmed with grief one moment, defiant the next.


'They already are talking about that we are terrorists, I am terrorist,' she said. 'They already want me, him and all of us to look (like) terrorists.'

Tsarnaeva arrived in the U.S. in 2002, settling in a working-class section of Cambridge, Mass. With four children, Anzor and Zubeidat qualified for food stamps and were on and off public assistance benefits for years. The large family squeezed itself into a third-floor apartment.



Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, walks with an unidentified man near her home in Makhachkala, Dagestan, southern Russia

Zubeidat took classes at the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics, before becoming a state-licensed aesthetician. Anzor, who had studied law, fixed cars.

By some accounts, the family was tolerant.

Bethany Smith, a New Yorker who befriended Zubeidat's two daughters, said in an interview with Newsday that when she stayed with the family for a month in 2008 while she looked at colleges, she was welcomed even though she was Christian and had tattoos.

'I had nothing but love over there. They accepted me for who I was,' Smith told the newspaper. 'Their mother, Zubeidat, she considered me to be a part of the family. She called me her third daughter.'






Zubeidat's two boys, Tamerlan, right, and Dzhokar, left, are accused of setting off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon earlier this month, killing three and injuring more than 170 others.


Zubeidat said she and Tamerlan began to turn more deeply into their Muslim faith about five years ago after being influenced by a family friend, named 'Misha.'


The man, whose full name she didn't reveal, impressed her with a religious devotion that was far greater than her own, even though he was an ethnic Armenian who converted to Islam.

'I wasn't praying until he prayed in our house, so I just got really ashamed that I am not praying, being a Muslim, being born Muslim. I am not praying. Misha, who converted, was praying,' she said.

By then, she had left her job at the day spa and was giving facials in her apartment. One client, Alyssa Kilzer, noticed the change when Tsarnaeva put on a head scarf before leaving the apartment.

'She had never worn a hijab while working at the spa previously, or inside the house, and I was really surprised,' Kilzer wrote in a post on her blog.

'She started to refuse to see boys that had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious. She was often fasting.'



Zubeidat, standing, has forcefully defended her sons, saying there is no way they committed the terrible crime

Kilzer wrote that Tsarnaeva was a loving and supportive mother, and she felt sympathy for her plight after the April 15 bombings.

But she stopped visiting the family's home for spa treatments in late 2011 or early 2012 when, during one session, she 'started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9/11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims.'

'It's real,' Tsarnaeva said, according to Kilzer.

'My son knows all about it. You can read on the Internet.'


Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was arrested in June 2012 for allegedly shoplifting from a Lord & Taylor in Natick, Mass. She allegedly swiped more than $1,600 worth of clothing. The case is still outstanding and if she returns to the U.S. to claim her son's body, she may get thrown in jail

In the spring of 2010, Zubeidat's eldest son got married in a ceremony at a Boston mosque that no one in the family had previously attended. Tamerlan and his wife, Katherine Russell, a Rhode Island native and convert from Christianity, now have a child who is about 3 years old.

Zubeidat married into a Chechen family but was an outsider. She is an Avar, from one of the dozens of ethnic groups in Dagestan. Her native village is now a hotbed of an ultraconservative strain of Islam known as Salafism or Wahabbism.

It is unclear whether religious differences fueled tension in their family. Anzor and Zubeidat divorced in 2011.

About the same time, there was a brief FBI investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev, prompted by a tip from Russia's security service.

The vague warning from the Russians was that Tamerlan, an amateur boxer in the U.S., was a follower of radical Islam who had changed drastically since 2010.

That led the FBI to interview Tamerlan at the family's home in Cambridge. Officials ultimately placed his name, and his mother's name, on various watch lists, but the inquiry was closed in late spring of 2011.

After the bombings, Russian authorities told U.S. investigators they had secretly recorded a phone conversation in which Zubeidat had vaguely discussed jihad with Tamerlan.


The Russians also recorded Zubeidat talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation with reporters.

The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, they might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.

Anzor's brother, Ruslan Tsarni, told the AP from his home in Maryland that he believed his former sister-in-law had a 'big-time influence' on her older son's growing embrace of his Muslim faith and decision to quit boxing and school.

While Tamerlan was living in Russia for six months in 2012, Zubeidat, who had remained in the U.S., was arrested at a shopping mall in the suburb of Natick, Mass., and accused of trying to shoplift $1,624 worth of women's clothing from a department store.

She failed to appear in court to answer the charges that fall, and instead left the country.

Mother of Boston bombing suspects should be quizzed if she sets foot in the U.S



The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said that he believes the mother of the Boston bombing suspects played a major role in their radicalization and that they received terror training before carrying out their attack.

Representative Michael McCaul told Fox News Sunday that he thinks Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, played 'a very strong role' in her sons' radicalization process. He added that if Tsarnaeva were to return to the United States from Russia, she’d be held for questioning.

McCaul claimed that the complexity of the weapons and the way the suspects handled the pressure-cooker bombs show that they received help before the incident.



Influence: Michael McCaul said that he thinks that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of the bombing suspects, played 'a very strong role' in her sons' radicalization process



Speaking of Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, he said: 'I think she played a very strong role in his radicalization process.


I believe she is a person of interest, if not a subject. I do believe if she comes into the United States, she will be detained for questioning. So, I think there's a connection there,' the lawmaker told Fox.

Other congressional intelligence leaders said on Sunday that authorities are pursuing ‘persons of interest’ in the United States in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, and asked for more help from Russian spy agencies.

Congressman Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Of Representatives intelligence committee said better cooperation from Russia was needed in Washington's probe of the two suspected bombers' recent contacts and activities.

Speaking on ABC's 'This Week,' Rogers said he believed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the elder of two ethnic Chechen brothers suspected of carrying out the April 15 blasts in Boston, clearly changed during his visit to Russia in 2012, becoming 'radicalized.'




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'I think they (Russia) have information that would be incredibly helpful and that they haven't provided yet,' he said.

New details of the unfolding investigation emerged following reports on Saturday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev spoke to his mother about "jihad" in a 2011 phone call secretly recorded by Russian officials.

U.S. authorities learned of the wiretapped discussion between Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, within the last few days, CBS News reported. Tsarnaev died in an April 18 shootout with police, three days after the bombings that killed three people and injure more than 260 others.

Asked about the information Russia might have, Rogers said of Russia's spy service, "The FSB is a hostile service to the FBI and the CIA and there is cultural problem there between where the Russians are and our folks. So they sent a letter, didn't have a lot of information." Rogers added that subsequent U.S. requests for assistance have not been met.

'We still have persons of interest that we're working to find and identify and have conversations with,' said Rogers. The Michigan lawmaker declined to say how many 'persons of interest' there were.


'We are looking at phone calls before and after the bombing,' the intelligence committee's senior Democrat, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, also said on ABC.




Help? Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Sunday that he believes the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had some training before carrying out their attack


McCaul said he too believes that the suspects received some help before the bombings.


'I think given the level of sophistication of this device, the fact that the pressure cooker is a signature device that goes back to Pakistan, Afghanistan, leads me to believe - and the way they handled these devices and the tradecraft - ... that there was a trainer and the question is where is that trainer or trainers, he said.

The chairman of the security committee added that the FBI is investigating in the U.S. and overseas to determine whether the suspects in the bombing received training.


'Are they overseas in the Chechen region or are they in the United States?' McCaul said.

'In my conversations with the FBI, that's the big question. They've casted a wide net both overseas and in the United States to find out where this person is.

'But I think the experts all agree that there is someone who did train these two individuals,' McCaul continued.


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is charged with joining with his older brother, Tamerlan, who's now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs.


The bombs were triggered by a remote detonator of the kind used in remote-control toys, U.S. officials have said.

Homemade bombs built from pressure cookers have been a frequent weapon of militants in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.


Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen once published an online manual on how to make one.

U.S. officials investigating the bombings have told The Associated Press that so far there is no evidence to date of a wider plot, including training, direction or funding for the attacks.




Sophisticated plot: McCaul said he thinks that suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev (left) and brother Dzhokhar (right) may have received help before carrying out the attack

A criminal complaint outlining federal charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev described him as holding a cellphone in his hand minutes before the first explosion.


The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents.


Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he thought it's 'probably true' that the attack was not linked to a major group.


But, he told CNN's 'State of the Union,' that there 'may have been radicalizing influences' in the U.S. or abroad. 'It does look like a lot of radicalization was self-radicalization online, but we don't know the full answers yet.'


On ABC's 'This Week,' moderator George Stephanopoulos raised the question to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee about FBI suspicions that the brothers had help in getting the bombs together.


'Absolutely, and not only that, but in the self-radicalization process, you still need outside affirmation,' responded Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.


'We still have persons of interest that we're working to find and identify and have conversations with,' he added.




Familiar: Homemade bombs built from pressure cookers have been a frequent weapon of militants in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan

At this point in the investigation, however, Sen. Claire McCaskill said there was no evidence that the brothers 'were part of a larger organization, that they were, in fact, part of some kind of terror cell or any kind of direction.'


The Missouri Democrat, who's on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told CBS' 'Face the Nation' that 'it appears, at this point, based on the evidence, that it's the two of them.'


Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, officials have said.


He frequently looked at extremist sites, including Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate.


In recent years, two would-be U.S. attackers reported receiving bomb-making training from foreign groups but failed to set off the explosives.


A Nigerian man was given a mandatory life sentence for trying to blow up a packed jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb sewn into his underwear.




Destruction: The Boston bombs were triggered by a remote detonator of the kind used in remote-control toys, U.S. officials have said

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had tried to set off the bomb minutes before the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight landed.


The device didn't work as planned, but it still produced smoke, flame and panic.


He told authorities that he trained in Yemen under the eye of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and one of the best-known al-Qaida figures.


A U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed al-Awlaki in 2011.


In 2010, a Pakistani immigrant who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square also received a life sentence.


Faisal Shazad said the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training.
The bomb was made of fireworks fertilizer, propane tanks and gasoline canisters. Explosives experts said the fertilizer wasn't the right grade and the fireworks weren't powerful enough to set off the intended chain reaction.