Fears are growing for the 29 people now listed as missing after the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off Italy’s west coast on Friday night.
Emergency crews have worked through the night at the wreck of a stricken cruise ship.
Six people are known to have died in the disaster up to now.
Local coast guard chief Marco Brusco said there was just a “glimmer of hope” that survivors could be found.
The ship’s owners have blamed Captain Francesco Schettino for Friday’s crash, saying he changed course towards an island.
Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, has been detained on suspicion of manslaughter and a judge is due to decide shortly whether he should remain in custody.
Italy says it will declare a state of emergency over the incident, and provide funding to help avert any environmental disaster.
The Italian environment minister said liquid was leaking from the ship, but it was unclear if it was fuel.
Fears are growing for the 29 people now listed as missing after the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off Italy's west coast on Friday night
Meanwhile, Italian officials have denied a newspaper report that a seventh body had been found overnight on the vessel.
Italian Coast Guard officials said the number of people believed to be missing had jumped to 29 from the previous estimate of 16, but gave no reason for the change.
The missing are thought to include four crew members, as well as passengers from the US, Germany, France and Italy.
On Monday, the Costa Concordia’s owners, Costa Cruises, said Captain Francesco Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards to Giglio Island.
Prosecutors also claim that Francesco Schettino was responsible for the disaster.
“The captain is in a very difficult position because we are sure enough that he abandoned the ship when many passengers were still waiting to be evacuated,” said prosecutor Francesco Verusio.
A transcript purportedly of conversations between the captain and the coastguard has emerged in the Italian media – apparently drawn from one of the ship’s black box recorders – which appears to corroborate the claims that the captain left the ship before all the passengers escaped.
Capt Francesco Schettino has denied wrongdoing and says the rocks were not on his charts. He has insisted that he and his crew were the last people to leave the vessel.
His lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said his client was “overcome and wants to express his greatest condolences to the victims”, adding that the captain had carried out a dangerous manoeuvre that had actually saved lives.
Costa Concordia, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, had its hull ripped through when it hit rocks late on Friday.
Some people were forced to swim for land as the angle of the ship made boarding lifeboats impossible.
German media have reported that 12 German passengers are still missing, and US officials have appealed for information about two Americans – Jerry Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, from White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Six Italians, two French couples and a Peruvian are also reported to be unaccounted for.
Teams of specialist divers have been helping with the rescue mission, but they have been hampered by bad weather, which has been moving the ship in the water.
Saturnino Soria, father of Peruvian Erika Soria, who was working as a waitress on the ship, insisted that the search operation should continue.
“I haven’t received any precise information about her – nothing from yesterday or today – it seems the situation has become worse for my daughter,” he said.
Rodolfo Raiteri, head of the coastguard’s diving team, was quoted by news agency AFP as saying that conditions inside the vessel were “disastrous”.
“It’s very difficult. The corridors are cluttered and it’s hard for the divers to swim through,” he said.
But the local mayor voiced hope of finding more people alive.
“You never know in the labyrinth of that ship. An air pocket could have allowed people to survive a few days,” Sergio Ortelli was quoted by AFP as saying.
Meanwhile, the shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List said it had been able to trace the course of the Costa Concordia though information from satellites.
The paper issued a graphic comparing Friday’s sailing with an earlier sailing by the liner, suggesting that Friday’s route had deviated far from its usual course.
Worries are growing that the ship could cause an environmental disaster if it breaks up and sheds its fuel.
Costa Concordia had just left the port of Civitavecchia, north of Rome, carrying roughly 2,300 tons of fuel for a week-long Mediterranean cruise when it crashed.
The area where the ship capsized is a maritime park famous for its pristine waters, varied marine life and coral.
Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said there was evidence that liquid was leaking from the ship, but he could not confirm whether the fluid was fuel.
Corrado Clini said the government would declare a state of emergency to release extra funding to help avoid a fuel spill causing an environmental disaster.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship is quickly becoming Italy’s “most hated man”, with hundreds turning to Facebook to vent their anger against him.
Now, almost 1,000 people have “liked” the Facebook group “Francesco Schettino”comandante” Costa Crociere” to berate him – with many saying he “played with people’s lives”.
Also on Facebook, it emerged that the head of the ship’s restaurant’s sister had posted a comment, before the disaster, saying: “In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona.”
Patrizia Tivoli, sister of restaurant boss Antonello, posted the message at 9:08 p.m. on Friday. A few minutes later, the boat ran aground.
The revelations follow claims that Francesco Schettino had been drinking “with a beautiful woman” at the ship’s bar before he sailed into disaster.
Francesco Schettino, 52, was arrested on suspicion of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship when the cruise liner ran aground after sustaining a 160 ft gash in the port-side hull.
Six people are now confirmed dead and 16 are still missing. The sixth person – a male passenger – was found dead wearing a life vest on the second deck of the ship. That area of the boat was not submerged.
One passenger has accused Captain Francesco Schettino of drinking in one of the ship’s bars on the night the vessel ran aground, before taking control after the crash.
Monique Maurek, 41, from the Netherlands, said: “What scandalized me most was when I saw the captain spending much of the evening before we hit the rocks drinking in the bar with a beautiful woman on his arm.
“Most people didn’t even have any idea of what the evacuation warning sound would be. It was only because some of us had already been on a cruise that we recognized that seven blasts of the horn was a signal to abandon ship.”
Francesco Schettino had been drinking “with a beautiful woman” at the ship's bar before he sailed into disaster
Phil Metcalf, whose daughter Rose was one of the last people off the ship, said she had revealed the captain allegedly abandoned ship in the early stages of the evacuation, leaving his staff onboard.
He said: “Since the captain had left there was nobody, so everybody was left to their own devices hence some of the chaos, so obviously the crew took it upon themselves and decided in the absence of the captain to organize and try and help people.”
Italian investigators are working on the theory that the $600 million vessel sailed close to the island of Giglio to greet an officer from the Italian merchant navy who was friendly with those on the Concordia.
Reports in Italy said that investigators had identified the man on shore and he would be questioned as part of the inquiry into the incident.
Last August Costa Concordia passed close to the island sounding its whistle – prompting the mayor to send a congratulatory email to the captain for providing such a “spectacle to tourists” and “fantastic entertainment”.
Prosecutors described Francesco Schettino’s handling of the giant craft as “inept” and he was forced to deny additional damaging claims that he left the ship to save himself, had been spotted in the bar and even raided the safe before leaving.
Francesco Schettino told maritime investigators that charts showed he was in water deep enough to navigate and that he had struck an unidentified rocky outcrop of the island.
Once the captain realized the extent of the damage he immediately tried to change route and head for the safety of Giglio harbour.
Yesterday, the chief executive of Italian owner blamed “human error” on the part of Captain Francesco Schettino for the grounding of the vessel.
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation.
Asked about the suggestion that the captain had abandoned ship, senior prosecutor Francesco Verusio said: “Unfortunately, I must confirm that circumstance.”
As an injured crewman and a Korean honeymoon couple were rescued yesterday, 48 hours after the vessel came to grief, it also emerged that:
■ Survivors were left to swim for their lives and shin down rope ladders during a terrifying “Titanic-like” escape. They told how women and children were barged out of the way by crewmen heading for the lifeboats.
■ Fears grew of an environmental disaster amid claims from the scene that fuel has started leaking from the liner.
■ Rescue divers continue to search submerged parts of the ship before bad weather sinks it fully. The death toll rose to six when a man wearing a life vest was found on the ship’s second deck
The crash has shocked all those who enjoy the multi-billion-pound cruise industry and believe they are holidaying in absolute safety.
Costa Concordia cruise ship was sailing little more than 300 yards from the rocky coast of Giglio when it should have been at least ten times that distance.
Captain Francesco Schettino insisted his charts and navigation system show he was in “safe water” and that the rocks he had hit were unmarked – a claim which amazed locals on Giglio who say the dangers were well known.
First Officer Ciro Ambrosio was also arrested and detained with Francesco Schettino at Porto Santo Stefano on the Italian mainland before being transferred to prison.
The Tuscan prosecutor said the ship had struck a reef on its port side causing it to take in an “enormous amount of water in a matter of minutes”. A huge piece of rock remained embedded in the hull.
Italian police are conducting two investigations – one into the route the captain took and one into the evacuation of the ship. The 117,000-ton Costa Concordia smashed into rocks two hours into a seven-day Mediterranean cruise as passengers were enjoying dinner at 9:30 p.m. on Friday.
francesco Schettino, who has worked with Costa Concordia for 11 years, called his mother Rosa in Naples at 5:00 a.m. and said: “There has been a tragedy but keep calm. I tried to save the passengers. I won’t be able to call you for a while but don’t worry.”
Francesco Schettino’ sister Giulia said: “We are keeping calm. Franco is a good captain and he has told the truth.”
There were also reports that Francesco Schettino had been dining with passengers when the accident happened – but the ship’s operating company, Costa Crociere, said he was on the bridge. Last night it was still unclear as to what had caused the stricken ship to capsize. It hit a rocky outlet known as Le Scole, which opened up the port-side hull.
Fifteen minutes after impact, Francesco Schettino gave the order to drop anchor in an attempt to turn the ship around and return as close as possible to Giglio harbour which by now Costa Concordia had passed.
As it carried out the emergency manoeuvre, it sped up the intake of water and led to the ship turning on to its side, finally coming to rest on a rocky shelf. There is also a theory that an electrical fault wiped out the ship’s navigational power and steering control.
Survivors vented their anger at the captain yesterday on a message board at their Rome hotel. It had been set up for therapeutic reasons to allow them to display their feelings and give thanks for their rescue.
Francesco Schettino will be held until next week when a judge will decide whether he should be released or formally arrested. If convicted, he faces a maximum 12 years in jail.
More than 24 hours after Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, three survivors have been found on the stricken cruise ship.
Rescuers are trying to reach a third survivor, hours after a honeymooning South Korean couple were rescued.
Three people are so far confirmed dead and about 40 are unaccounted for.
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of the Costa Concordia has been arrested on suspicion of multiple homicide. Prosecutors say he left the ship before evacuation was complete.
First officer Ciro Ambrosio has also been detained.
The ship’s operator, Costa Crociere, said the vessel had been following its regular course when it hit a submerged rock.
In a TV interview, ship’s captain Francesco Schettino said the rock was not marked on any maritime charts.
Police are investigating why the accident happened in calm conditions.
More than 24 hours after Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, three survivors have been found on the stricken cruise ship
The South Korean couple was located after rescuers heard voices from a cabin two decks down on the half-submerged ship late on Saturday. They were reached a few hours later.
The newlyweds, both 29 years old, were both in good health when they were brought ashore.
Later on Sunday morning, rescuers located and spoke to the third person found inside the ship. Officials say he is a senior Italian member of the crew, and they believe he has a serious injury to his leg.
Two scuba divers were smashing a window on the ship trying to get to someone inside.
Two French passengers and a Peruvian crew member died, and another 30 people were injured, two seriously.
Divers are continuing to search the ship, which is lying on its side near the Tuscan island of Giglio.
President of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said the main task for the company was now to assist survivors and help repatriate them.
He said it was difficult to determine what had happened, but that the ship had experienced a blackout after hitting “a big rock”.
Gianni Onorato added: “We will be working in full transparency with Italian authorities to understand the causes of the disaster.”
He said normal lifeboat evacuation had become “almost impossible” because the ship had listed so quickly.
Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain, had worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years.
The chief prosecutor in the city of Grosseto told reporters that Captain Francesco Schettino “very ineptly got close to Giglio”, according to Italy’s Ansa news agency.
Italian, German, French and British nationals were among the 3,200 passengers on board. There were also 1,000 crew members.
Coast guard captain Cosimo Nicastro told Italian TV that divers had carried out an extensive search of the waters near the vessel and found no further bodies.
On Saturday, survivors were taken to Porta San Stefano, about 25km (15 miles) away on the mainland.
Many arrived there still wrapped in blankets, and some were clearly very shaken by what they had endured.
Passenger Luciano Castro told Ansa news agency: “We heard a loud noise while we were at dinner as if the keel of the ship hit something.”
“The ship started taking in water through the hole and began tilting.”
Some passengers told the Associated Press news agency that the crew had failed to give instructions on how to evacuate the ship.
Several passengers compared the accident to the film Titanic, about the sinking of the giant ocean liner in April 1912 which claimed more than 1,500 lives.
An adventurous crow clutches in its beak a mini-board – thought to be a paint-lid or frisby – while perching on the apex of the roof.
After plucking up the courage for the black run, the crow jumps on the board and slides effortlessly some 25ft down the steep icy roof.
Incredibly, the crow enjoys it so much it picks up its makeshift-board and flaps its way back to the top of the roof before dropping back into the slop for another five runs
Footage of the thrill-seeking crow has become the latest YouTube hit clip.
The 1min 20sec clip, posted by “Alex” from Yekaterinburg, Russia, has no snappy music or witty voice-over – yet the simple pleasure the bird is deriving from its repeated rides has struck a chord with YouTube viewers.
Various versions of the clip have attracted as many as 250,000 views since it was posted few days ago.
The crow can be seen skiing down the roof on a disc-shaped object – described by some viewers as a bottle top.
An adventurous crow clutches in its beak a mini-board - thought to be a paint-lid or frisby - while perching on the apex of the roof
After the ride is over, the bird simply clutches the disc in its talons and flies back to the top of the roof – saving itself a fortune in chairlift costs.
After unsuccessfully attempting to slide down a more barren stretch of rooftop, the crow flies back to its original set-off point and enjoys another adrenaline-pumping ski down the slopes.
All the while, Alex and his family can be heard laughing at their feathered neighbour’s antics (all except Alex’s infant child, who finds the whole experience a little overwhelming).
Finally, the crow picks up its disc an flies off – presumably planning to get a murder of mates together for a ski trip elsewhere.
Crows have been shown to be remarkably intelligent, with some species topping the avian IQ scale.
Researchers have observed crows using a variety of “tools” to attract and process their food, such as hooded crows in Israel using bread crumbs for bait-fishing, or New Caledonian crows dropping nuts into a busy street and waiting for a car to crush them open.
Recent research also suggests crows have the ability to recognize one individual human from another by studying facial features.
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground killing three person and injuring more than 20 more was arrested late Saturday and is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship, said a local prosecutor in Grosetto, Italy.
Francesco Schettino, had been earlier interviewed by investigators in Porto Santo Stefano about what happened when the 4,200-passenger Costa Concordia struck rocks in shallow water off Italy’s western coast, said officer Emilio Del Santo of the Coastal Authorities of Livorno.
Authorities were looking at why the ship didn’t hail a mayday during the accident near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night, officials said.
Costa Concordia is owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises.
“At the moment we can’t exclude that the ship had some kind of technical problem, and for this reason moved towards the coast in order to save the passengers, the crew and the ship. But they didn’t send a mayday. The ship got in contact with us once the evacuation procedures were already ongoing,” Emilio Del Santo said prior to the announcement of the arrest.
“Fear and panic are comprehensible in a ship long over 300 meters with over 4000 passengers,” he said.
“We can confirm that the ship has a breach on the hull of about 90 meters, and that the right side of it is completely under water.”
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground killing three person and injuring more than 20 more was arrested late Saturday
The three persons dead were two French tourists and a crew member from Peru, Port authorities in Livorno said.
Giuseppe Orsina, a spokesman with the local civil protection agency, said 43 to 51 persons were missing, though authorities are reviewing passenger lists to confirm the exact figure.
“These people could be still on the island of Giglio, in private houses or in hospitals,” Giuseppe Orsina said.
The coast guard said 50 to 70 people could be missing.
One surviving crew member, Rosalyn Rincon, 30, of Blackpool, England, said she wanted to know why the cruise ship was sailing so close to shore. She described a harrowing grounding of the vessel, whose tilting and rising water evoked the film “Titanic”.
“I’m pretty much angry, and I want to know why we were so close to the coast,” said Rosalyn Rincon, who works as a dancer on the ship and was entertaining passengers by performing a trick inside a box with a magician when the accident occurred.
Rosalyn Rincon has sailed the itinerary the last three months.
“I’ve never thought something like this could happen,” she added.
Costa Concordia was 2.5 miles off route when it struck a rocky sandbar, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Local fishermen say the island coast of Giglio is known for its rocky sea floor.
Gianni Onorato, president of Costa Cruises, expressed “deep sorrow for this terrible tragedy,” but said the cruise line was unable to answer all the questions that authorities are now investigating.
“On the basis of the initial evidence – still preliminary – Costa Concordia, under the command of Master Francesco Schettino, was sailing its regularly scheduled itinerary from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy, when the ship struck a submerged rock,” Gianni Onorato said in a statement before the announcement of the captain’s announcement.
“Captain Schettino, who was on the bridge at the time, immediately understood the severity of the situation and performed a maneuver intended to protect both guests and crew, and initiated security procedures to prepare for an eventual ship evacuation,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, that operation was complicated by a sudden tilting of the ship that made disembarkation difficult,” Gianni Onorato said.
Rescue teams worked through the night to evacuate more than 4,000 people from the Costa Concordia, owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, after it ran aground off of Italy’s western coast.
Authorities said earlier Saturday they believed everyone was accounted for, but that they did not have a definitive list of names.
The huge ship, which was lying on its side in shallow water Saturday evening, was carrying about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members when it ran aground at about dinner time.
Costa Concordia, built in 2006, was on a Mediterranean cruise from Rome with stops in Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo, according to the cruise line. It was unclear how far into the cruise the grounding occurred.
Most of the passengers on board were Italian, as well as some French and German citizens. CNN affiliate America Noticias, in Peru, said a group of 32 Peruvians were also onboard.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was working with Italian authorities to identify British nationals on the cruise, a spokesman said.
Another Costa ship was involved in a deadly 2010 accident when the Costa Europa crashed into a pier in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh during stormy weather, killing three crew members.
At least three people died after Costa Concordia cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people ran aground off Italy.
The luxury Costa Concordia cruise ship hit a sandbar on Friday evening near the island of Giglio and listed about 20 degrees, after which people tried to reach land in lifeboats or by swimming.
Rescue teams have been going from cabin to cabin, searching for survivors.
Italians, Germans, French and British were among the 3,200 passengers. There were also 1,000 crew on board.
Helicopters evacuated the last 50 people on the deck who were in a “worsening” situation.
Three people were confirmed dead, Italian coast guard officials said on Saturday morning – fewer than the six or eight deaths reported by Italian media earlier.
The Costa Concordia had sailed earlier on Friday from Civitavecchia port near Rome for a Mediterranean cruise, due to dock in Marseille after calling at ports in Sicily, Sardinia and Spain.
1,000 passengers were Italian, with 500 Germans and 160 French.
A few dozen British passengers are believed to have been on board, said the UK Foreign Office, which is sending a team to the scene.
Passengers were eating dinner on Friday evening, when they heard a loud bang, and were told that the ship had suffered electrical problems, one passenger told Italy’s Ansa news agency.
“We were having supper when the lights suddenly went out, we heard a boom and a groaning noise, and allthe cutlery fell on the floor,” said Luciano Castro.
The luxury Costa Concordia cruise ship hit a sandbar on Friday evening near the island of Giglio and listed about 20 degrees
Passenger Mara Parmegiani told Italian media there were “scenes of panic”.
“We were very scared and freezing because it happened while we were at dinner so everyone was in evening wear. We definitely didn’t have time to get anything else. They gave us blankets but there weren’t enough,” she said.
The 290-metre (950 ft) vessel ran aground, starting taking in water and listing by 20 degrees, the local coast guard said.
Orders were given to abandon ship, said Deodato Ordona, a cabin steward on the Costa Concordia.
“We announced a general emergency and took passengers to muster stations,” he said.
“But it is hard to launch the lifeboats, so they moved to the right side of the ship, and they could launch.”
Elderly passengers were crying, said Deodato Ordona, adding that he and some others jumped into the sea and swam roughly 400 metres to reach land.
Rescued passengers are being accommodated in hotels, schools and a church on Giglio, a resort island 25km (18 miles) off Italy’s western coast.
Searches are still going on for “possible missing people”, regional official Giuseppe Linardi told the Italian broadcaster RAI.
Coast guard official Francesco Paolillo, a local coast guard official, told the AFP news agency there was a a 30m hole in the ship but that it was too early to say what exactly had happened.
“We think this happened as a result of sailing too close to an obstacle like a reef,” he said.
Costa Crociera, the company which owns the ship, said it could not yet say what had caused the accident.
“The gradual listing of the ship made the evacuation extremely difficult,” a statement said. “The position of the ship, which is worsening, is making more difficult the last part of the evacuation.
“We’d like to express our deepest gratitude to the coastguard and other emergency services, including the authorities and citizens of the island of Giglio, who did their best in saving and helping the passengers and crew.”
A hundred years after Titanic sank, expeditions to the ship, in depths of the Atlantic Ocean, are coming to close to allow the ship to rest in peace.
Rob McCallum, who works for the deep-sea exploration company that took 150 people down there, describes what they saw.
“As the craft glides through the freezing depths of the ocean, more than two miles below the surface, I stare out through the thick glass window into the abyss.
From the external lights of our vessel, I can see across the ancient terrain, which looks almost like a lunar landscape. Occasionally strange aquatic creatures dart across my vision, adding to the alien atmosphere.
Then suddenly, there it is, the sight I shall never forget. Rising before my eyes is the prow of the most famous ship in the world.
I am peering at the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, which plunged to this watery, icy grave almost a century ago in April 1912.
Even in the darkness of the ocean floor, the front part of the mighty vessel still looks magnificent, the encrusted railings and sweep of her hull instantly recognizable.
Our submersible continues its journey over the remains of the mighty ship, and I look bewitched at the famous grand staircase and the promenade deck where once the wealthy passengers briefly reveled in all their glorious opulence before the iceberg was struck.
Further along, about a mile from the prow, we find the rear part of the ship, more badly damaged than the prow, with great sheets of metal ripped from its sides.
But even in her broken, decaying state, this ghostly relic exudes an epic sense of majesty. For what was so striking about the wreckage is its colossal size.
The two key sections of the ship make vast monuments on the ocean bed.
Even one of the main three-bladed propellers, built of solid bronze and remarkably well preserved, is more than twice as heavy as our 18-ton submersible — a submarine which allows detailed exploration of the sea bed.”
A hundred years after it sank, expeditions to Titanic, in depths of the Atlantic Ocean, are coming to close to allow the ship to rest in peace
“The Titanic was the largest ship of its time, and one of the most beautiful ever created. But even now, all these years after the tragedy, the wreck of this leviathan still has the ability to inspire and humble.
My chance to view the wreckage arose because of my position with the Isle of Man-based company, Deep Ocean Expeditions, which specialises in deep-sea research and exploration, mainly for scientific, film-making and investigative purposes.
For our expeditions, we work with the PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, part of the Russian Academy of Science. They are the owners of the twin Mir submersibles, each capable of depths of 20,000ft. By working together, we are able to assist the Institute’s science work, as well as making a contribution to the Mirs’ operating costs.
One of our most popular trips is to see the remains of the German battleship the Bismark, which was sunk by the Royal Navy in 1941 about 350 miles off the south-western Irish coast.
The other, more notorious trip is to the wreck of the Titanic, which was discovered in 1986 by the renowned American oceanographer Dr Robert Ballard, who, incidentally, also found the Bismark in 1989.
Over the past decade, nearly 200 Titanic dives by the company have taken 150 individuals down to see it, and – despite the $59,000 cost – the expeditions have never been more over-subscribed than for this year – the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
The clients have included bankers, teachers, pilots, doctors, historical experts and sometimes the descendants of survivors or those who perished in the tragedy.
But, after 13 years, 2012 is also the last time we will be running such trips to the Titanic.
It has been a wonderful adventure, but with the centenary approaching, now is the proper moment to draw these expeditions to a close and allow this tragic ship to rest in peace.
There are only five submersibles in the world – made of high-tech metals – that can withstand the immense pressure of the conditions around the wreck, about 12,500 ft below the surface.
Expeditions begin with passengers boarding a larger ship in Newfoundland, which carries them and the submersible out to the spot where the Titanic sank.
The passengers are generally given a day to familiarize themselves with the craft and have a briefing about the forthcoming trip; they then attend lectures in Titanic history, oceanography and deep-sea operations.
The dive begins the next morning, taking roughly two hours to reach the ocean bed.
At a depth of about 800ft, the submersible descends into darkness, for this is the maximum depth to which the sun’s rays can penetrate. As we travel further down, the enveloping blackness is broken only by the sub’s own lights.
Once the vessel reaches the bottom, it manoeuvres its way around the two main sections of the ship for between four to eight hours, as well as looking at the other debris strewn across the sea bed.
The sights are truly remarkable — far more astonishing than any photograph can convey. Though the stern of the ship was badly damaged because it hit the ocean bed so hard — having travelled through the water at an estimated speed of 30 knots (the marine equivalent of 35mph) after the Titanic broke up — it is fascinating to see the vast engine rooms down there, full of massive machinery.
Equally arresting are the three immense propellers, between them weighing more than 100 tons and the two biggest of which were 23ft in diameter. Thanks to their sturdiness, they have survived well.
There is, however, no sign of the four enormous funnels, which would have been ripped off as the Titanic began her descent. Their fragments would have scattered over a wide area.
It is also possible to glimpse the interiors of some of the cabins, especially where the outer steel sheets of the hull were ripped away. Although the woodwork and fabrics have long gone, the metal walls and bronze and brass fittings remain.
Particularly poignant are the quarters of Captain Smith, who, in true heroic naval traditions, went down with his ship.
Of his three rooms, his bathroom is most clearly visible — his porcelain bathtub still in remarkably good condition.
Perhaps even more astonishing are all the artefacts strewn on the ground around the two main sections. Everywhere you look there are bottles, crockery, cutlery, even suitcases and shoes.
No clothes, carpets or other such material survives, as all that would have long rotted or been eaten by living organisms.
But anything leather has generally stayed in good condition and is only covered in a layer of silt.
Indeed, the number of shoes is surprising. This is because the ship went down just before midnight, at a time when many passengers would have retired to their cabins, undressed and put their shoes outside the door, ready to be cleaned by the staff.
Though sights like this are a poignant reminder of the human cost of the tragedy, there is nothing remotely macabre or ghoulish about visiting the wreckage.
There are no remains from any of the 1,514 victims who perished in the disaster. Their bodies would have been cast over a huge area, since many of them drowned or died of hypothermia in the freezing ocean. Other corpses, dragged down with the ship, would eventually have drifted away or been obliterated by the sea life that lurks in these depths.
In fact, the existence of other animal life so deep in the ocean is one of the most compelling features of a visit to the Titanic.
As you travel down below 10,000ft, it almost seems impossible that any organism could survive in such a hostile environment. Yet even in the icy blackness, nature flourishes.
On my trips to the wreckage, I have been astounded at the range of strange beings, such as six-inch rat-tailed fish, white-bodied crabs and creatures that give off light: blue, green and white flashes as they attract mates, or lure prey.
Even so, nothing can beat the awesome image of the Titanic itself.
The tragedy was a turning-point in history, the moment when man realised that nature could not always be tamed by technology, that no ship could ever be unsinkable.
Whenever I gaze in wonder at the wreckage, I sense that I am looking at an important part of mankind’s rich, sometimes distressing narrative; the same feeling I experience when visiting memorial cemeteries to the heroes who fell in the bloodstained fields of northern Europe during World War I.
We come to these places to remember – and to learn from those who have passed before us.
It will be an honour to see the Titanic, in all her ruined glory, one last time.”
Two passengers almost came to blows at 40,000ft on board a 517-seat Airbus A380 being operated by Emirates from Dubai into Manchester Airport.
The argument started when an 18-year-old youth sitting in economy class moved his seat back to sleep.
The 38-year-old passenger sitting immediately behind him was about to eat his in-flight meal at the time.
When he asked the youth to put his seat back up while he ate a major row broke out.
They traded insults and leapt up from their seats in a head-to-head confrontation.
As the argument became more heated cabin crew were called and attempted to defuse the incident.
Stunned travelers watched on as the two men continued to shout abuse at each other while standing in the aisle before they were finally persuaded to calm down.
The pilot of flight EK17 flight was so concerned he radioed ahead and police were informed.
Officers went to the gate at Terminal 1 after the flight landed to meet the two passengers at around noon on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed officers “spoke to” two men aged 38 and 18.
No further action was taken as neither man wanted to make a formal complaint, and also admitted they had both been “in the wrong”, say police.
A spokesman for Emirates said: “Emirates does not tolerate this kind of behaviour from passengers and safety will not be compromised.”
They confirmed there had been an “altercation” on board the flight and, although no blow had been exchanged, cabin crew had been called to calm the passengers.
Two passengers almost came to blows at 40,000ft on board a 517-seat Airbus A380 being operated by Emirates from Dubai into Manchester Airport
One traveller, who uses the route, said: “I have recently flown with Emirates to the Far East. This trip was split up into 2 separate flights and lasted 20 hours.
“Like a lot of people on the second leg of the trip I wanted to sleep. There is a system in place where you can indicate that you do not want the meal and to be left alone to sleep, which is what I did. My seat was reclined to the limit allowed.
“When it came time for the meal I was woken up by the person behind asking me to sit up, so they could enjoy their meal. I was a little p***** off that I had been woken up.
“I hadn’t reclined it whilst he was eating, I was doing what I wanted to do, sleep, in a position that the seat was allowing me. I didn’t make a fuss and accepted it.
“This is only a problem in the <<cheap>> seats and perhaps the airlines can have an area in this class for passengers who want to sleep in the reclined position.
“No meals would be served to these passengers, so the problem will be removed. By sitting in this area you accept no meals and the seat in front may be reclined.”
The double-decker plane first started flying into Manchester Airport in September 2010 after around $15 million had been spent on changes to the airfield to accommodate it.
Its introduction was part of a huge boom in the number of people flying in and out of Dubai.
Los Angeles authorities said yesterday that no new evidence has been uncovered in the death of Natalie Wood that would point to foul play.
After several weeks of interviews and other investigative work, detectives have not uncovered any evidence the death was a homicide.
It had been ruled as an accident.
Chief detective William McSweeney told the Los Angeles Times cold cases like Natalie Wood’s are never really closed and that detectives are still looking at some aspects of the case.
“At this point, it is an accidental death. Nothing has been discovered to suggest changing that at this time,” William McSweeney said.
Los Angeles police said in November “substantial new evidence” led them to re-open their investigation into Natalie Wood’s death 30 years ago.
Los Angeles authorities said yesterday that no new evidence has been uncovered in the death of Natalie Wood that would point to foul play
Natalie Wood died sometime after the evening of November 28, 1981, when the 43-year-old actress was boating off Catalina Island with her husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.
The evening before the drowning, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken, who was her co-star in the film “Brainstorm”, had dinner at a restaurant on the island.
According to ship Captain Dennis Davern’s sworn statement to detectives, the trio returned to the yacht and had drinks and Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken got into an argument.
A furious Robert Wagner shouted: “Do you want to f*** my wife” at Christopher Walken as he smashed a bottle of wine in the moments before Natalie Wood fell overboard, Dennis Davern claimed.
The captain told the officers when he showed up on the open deck where Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner had been arguing, Dennis Davern said: “Wagner was present, and he stood near the far rear wall of the yacht.”
The day after Natalie Wood’s body was found off the coast of California, Dennis Davern said he was asked to go to Robert Wagner’s bedroom at his Beverly Hills home, where he met with a lawyer and was told to “Say nothing”.
The captain wrote: “Wagner informed me he would hire an attorney who would handle my statement about Natalie Wood’s disappearance and drowning, which he did before Natalie Wood’s funeral.
“I signed a statement the appointed attorney drafted, one completely void of the facts surrounding Natalie Wood’s disappearance.”
Dennis Davern continued: “Detective Duane Rasure accepted the statement that had been prepared for me – a statement claiming that I did not know details about Natalie Wood’s disappearance from the yacht.
“Although I did want to reveal what I knew, I obeyed what had been asked of me.”
Robert Wagner has always maintained Natalie Wood accidentally slipped and drowned as she drunkenly tried to tie up a dinghy against the boat. Police say he is not considered a suspect.
In his memoir, Pieces of My Heart, Robert Wagner explains how he had been on his boat, the Splendour, with Natalie Wood – who he had married twice – and Christopher Walken when an argument broke out.
Robert Wagner wrote: “Chris [Walken] began talking about his <<total pursuit of a career>>, which he admitted was more important to him than his personal life. He clearly thought Natalie should live like that, too.
“I got angry. <<Why don’t you stay out of her career?>> I said. <<She’s got enough people telling her what to do without you>>.”
As the argument escalated, Natalie Wood left for bed.
“The last time I saw my wife she was fixing her hair in the bathroom while I was arguing with Chris,” Robert Wagner said.
“I saw her shut the door. She was going to bed.”
Robert Wagner described how he and Christopher Walken moved up to the deck as “things were threatening to get physical” and they were calmed by the fresh sea air.
He said he waited up a little longer before going to bed – but his wife was not there.
When Robert Wagner was questioned by a rescue boat captain in 1981 about why he didn’t call for help to find his missing wife, he allegedly said: “We thought she was off on another boat screwing around because that’s the kind of woman she is.”
Describing his sense of guilt, Robert Wagner continued in his book: “Yes, I blamed myself. If I’d been there, I could have done something. I wasn’t, but ultimately, a man is responsible for his loved one.
“I would have done anything in the world to protect her. Anything. I lost a woman I loved with all my heart and I will never completely come to terms with that.”
Lifeguard captain Roger Smith told the Times in November that Natalie Wood could have been saved if officials had been called sooner to search for her.
Roger Smith said he was alerted that Natalie Wood was missing at 5:11a.m. the next day.
Based on the condition of her body when Natalie Wood was pulled from the water, Roger Smith said he believes she survived for some time in the water and was washed out to sea.
A footage showing shoppers laden with produce taking a tumble in the supermarket aisle is in fact the latest online fad.
Falling involves participants dreaming up the most amusing and embarrassing ways to trip themselves up in front of other shoppers.
The stunt is filmed by a co-faller as those taking part hurl themselves to the ground, throwing shopping goods into the air and rolling around in mock pain in front of bemused onlookers.
Groups of people have been indulging in the latest craze by tripping up in supermarkets, libraries and even in the middle of the street – wherever there is an audience.
Falling involves participants dreaming up the most amusing and embarrassing ways to trip themselves up in front of other shoppers
This is the latest in a line of internet fads featured on video site YouTube.
Others include cone-ing – where people would order an ice-cream cone at a drive-through fast food outlet, then when they were handed the cone that would grab it by the “wrong” end to the bemusement of the restaurant staff.
The most popular has been planking, which saw participants lying flat face-down across unusual objects – including balconies, rock outcrops and billboards.
A British Airways Airbus A321 was forced to make an emergency landing after both pilots almost “passed out” at the controls.
The aircraft’s Captain and first officer both reported feeling light headed as the jet, which had taken off from Heathrow, was climbing at 20,000 feet.
Aircraft passengers heard a “panicked” captain call for a senior member of the cabin crew to come to their aid.
The captain and the first officer were then supplied with oxygen masks as they continued the stricken flight and requested an emergency return to Heathrow.
A British Airways Airbus A321 was forced to make an emergency landing after both pilots almost “passed out” at the controls
Fortunately the plane landed safely but when paramedics arrived the pilots both said they had felt as though they were about to pass out.
The incident, which is now being investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, was also reported by a passenger on the flight on a professional pilots website.
The passenger described how the captain of the flight, from London to Glasgow last month, sounded panicked and how cabin attendants looked worried at the turn of events.
“I was on the London to Glasgow flight yesterday, departed Heathrow at 4 pm-ish got airborne, at approx 20 mins into flight a very abrupt and panicked message came over the PA from the pilot,” the passenger wrote.
The man goes on to say that there were a number of “worried faces” among the flight attendants who he saw with a oxygen cylinders and said the plane was soon heading back to Heathrow “at great speed”.
Cabin crew then announced they were experiencing technical difficulties but the passenger added they were greeted by fire crews, paramedics and engineers on landing.
“Still being fed the tech fault line but the first on board were paramedics??
“It later transpires that both pilots became lightheaded/dizzy/unwell at the same time, in my book that’s serious,” he said.
Air accident investigators will now be examining what caused the pilots to become ill at the same time during the flight.
A spokeswoman for British Airways confirmed that both pilots had become “unwell” and followed procedures by donning oxygen masks and returning to Heathrow.
“The pilots reported feeling light headed so, as a precaution and following normal procedure, put on their oxygen masks,” she said.
“Our pilots are highly trained to deal with such circumstances. The aircraft landed safely and customers continued their journey after a short delay.”
Glass Beach, located near Fort Bragg in Northern California, used to be the place where residents brought all forms of their trash starting with 1949.
At the time, the standards for where and how people can deposit their trash were much lower and less regulated.
In the early 1960s, officials begin to regulate what was dumped on the beach, first putting a stop to toxins and then to everything when the North coast Water Quality Board moved the official dump to a different location in 1967.
Though that was nearly half a century ago, the remnants are still very clear.
Much of the glass that was left on the beachfront during its dirty past has not gone far, and years of the thrashing waves have softened and polished the broken pieces.
Now the beach is covered with stone-sized pieces of sea glass, coloring the seascape and adding a tourist element to the natural beauty of the spot.
Glass Beach is part of the MacKerricher State Park and has another side to its history, as it is the only area of the California Park System to have been at one point in time a part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation
Glass Beach is part of the MacKerricher State Park and has another side to its history, as it is the only area of the California Park System to have been at one point in time a part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation.
Because of this historic significance, Glass Beach is maintained by the parks department which does its best to preserve the natural, and not-so-natural, beauty of the beach.
“Rangers are currently working to educate and inform the public and we confiscate and return collected sea glass to the beach whenever possible,” ranger Tim Quandt told the official Fort Bragg website.
Glass Beach, located about three-hour’s drive north of San Francisco, is a major tourist attraction. While that is good for the locals, it does present a problem for conservationists who want to stop visitors from taking pieces home with them.
“The truth of the matter is that it is a misdemeanor to remove any artifacts from State Park property. Park rangers have not begun citing offenders…yet, but that day will eventually arrive,” Tim Quandt continued.
Eleven people have died in a hot-air balloon crash in the Wairarapa region, about 80 km (50 miles) north-east of New Zealand’s capital Wellington.
Police and witnesses say the balloon struck power lines and burst into flames, before plunging to the ground.
The crash happened on farmland at Clareville, near the town of Carterton, in the Wairarapa region – an area that is popular with balloonists.
Five couples from the Wellington area were on board, plus the pilot. Nobody survived.
“We are deeply sorry to learn of this tragic accident and our hearts go out to those who are now mourning the loss of life,” Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said, according to Associated Press news agency.
Eleven people have died in a hot-air balloon crash in the Wairarapa region, about 80 km (50 miles) north-east of New Zealand’s capital Wellington
An investigation by New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission is under way.
Eyewitness Bevan Lambess, who was driving by, told Reuters news agency: “The wicker basket was on fire and I saw something holding it down – it looked like ropes but I got closer and it was actually the top (electric) power line that was holding the basket down.
“It probably still would have been 15m in the air. I slowed down and then the whole basket started to go up in flames.”
Police commander Mike Rusbatch said two people appeared to have jumped from the basket of the balloon as it came down.
Another witness, David McKinley, told the state broadcaster TVNZ he noticed part of the basket was on fire when it passed over his garden.
“It was just above the trees when I first saw it. It looked like he tried to raise it a bit higher. All of a sudden there was just 10 m of flames.
“It was like a rocket coming down,” David McKinley said.
The incident occurred in bright, clear conditions with little wind.
The only victim publicly identified so far is the pilot and balloon owner, Lance Hopping, reported AP.
Lance Hopping was considered an experienced and safety-conscious pilot who acted as safety officer for the Balloons over Wairarapa annual event – with organizer Jonathan Hooker quoted as saying he had more than 10,000 hours of commercial ballooning experience.
The incident is New Zealand’s worst air disaster since 1979, when an Air New Zealand sightseeing flight crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 passengers on board.
A 15-year-old girl from Iowa, who was vacationing with her family on a Royal Caribbean cruise liner for Christmas, has accused two fellow passengers of raping her on the ship.
Luiz Scavone, 20, and another 15-year-old boy are accused of luring the teenager from a teen nightclub on the ship to a private room where the incident is said to have occurred.
Both suspects, Brazilian nationals, were arrested when the ship returned to Port Everglades, Florida on Tuesday.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports, the girl’s family departed Fort Lauderdale on Christmas for a ten-day cruise to St Thomas, St Maarten, St Kitts and Haiti aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
Luiz Scavone, 20, and another 15-year-old boy are accused of luring the girl from a teen nightclub on the ship to a private room where the incident is said to have occurred
The girl told police she met the 15-year-old boy on the last night of the cruise at an on-board teen club called Fuel, and he invited her to a party in his private room, where Luiz Scavone was waiting.
According to arrest documents, both males refused to allow her to leave and raped her.
The girl immediately reported the alleged incident to ship officials, who alerted the FBI. Both suspects were arrested once the ship returned to Port Everglades.
Luiz Scavone is accused of one count of committing a lewd and lascivious act.
Appearing in court on Wednesday, Luiz Scavone’s bond was set at $10,000. He was being held at the Broward County Main Jail on Wednesday pending an immigration hold.
According to the probable cause affidavit obtained by the Sentinel, the second defendant was charged with lewd and lascivious battery and taken to Broward’s Juvenile Assessment Center.
Cynthia Martinez, the manager of Global Corporate Communications for Royal Caribbean, said in a statement: “Royal Caribbean’s guest care team offered the female guest a variety of assistance, including medical care and counseling.”
Cynthia Martinez said Royal Caribbean “will continue to support law enforcement agencies during their investigation”.
International maritime law states that cruise ships must take every measure possible to ensure the safety of their passengers. However, since each country has its own version of laws on the high seas, they can be difficult to sort out.
There is no federal law for statutory rape on the high seas.
This isn’t the first case of an alleged underage sexual assault seen aboard a cruise liner in recent memory.
The incident comes only weeks after a Carnival Cruise Lines employee was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl who was on holiday with her family.
And only ten days prior, 19-year-old Dylan Cole Bloodsworth, from Alabama, was sentenced to ten years in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl on-board a Carnival cruise ship in Mexico, where she was vacationing with her family.
Greg Walker, a 7ft tall basketball star, is undergoing a sex change and will become the world’s tallest transsexual.
Greg Walker, now 25, grew up sports-mad with beautiful cheerleaders on his arm, but said he “always felt different”.
Strapping teenager Greg Walker – who has size 16 feet and weighs around 20 stone – regularly lifted weights and would ride motorbikes to mask his true feelings.
The basketball had dozens of girls chasing him but shunned their advances, preferring to become friends instead and discuss fashion and “girly’ things.
In his early 20s, Greg Walker – now Lindsey – was unable to continue the “charade” and began wearing women’s clothes.
He then sought medical advice and began taking oestrogen to become more feminine and now boasts a curvy woman’s body – and a 38B bra size.
Now legally recognized as female after living as a woman for two years, Lindsey said: “I was one of the popular kids in high school.
“I was smart and always had girlfriends and loads of girls chasing me. But it somehow didn’t feel right, almost like it was a charade.
“I started to feel really isolated as thought here was something wrong with me and at 18 I started doing research secretly into why I was feeling so different from everyone else.
“Although I hid my feelings well I lived my life always knowing there was something different. By 21 I had hit my rock bottom and I started having emotional problems and turned to drink.
“Then one day it just clicked and I knew what I had to do. I started wearing women’s clothes and later turned to female hormones to suppress the testosterone in my body.”
Greg Walker, a 7ft tall basketball star, is undergoing a sex change and will become the world's tallest transsexual
Lindsey Walker, from Ohio, grew up as Greg and experienced a “normal boyish” childhood as a keen sportsman and gifted basketball player.
He was offered a basketball scholarship to study economics and marketing at Central Michigan College, but dropped out aged 21.
Greg Walker became increasingly isolated and changed his name from Greg to Lindsey. Lindsey then poured her heart out in a letter to her supportive parents explaining she had always felt and wanted to be a woman.
The acceptance gave Lindsey the confidence to start wearing women’s clothes and undergo a course of female hormones to become more “womanly”.
Lindsey now proudly boasts a B-cup bra size and buys her fashionable clothes and high-heeled shoes to fit her size 16 feet from specialist websites online.
She is legally classified as a woman and is now saving up for full gender reassignment surgery, which she hopes to have by the end of the year or early 2013.
Her supportive parents have accepted her decision although Lindsey is estranged from her younger brother. She has also contacted the Guinness Book of Records in the hope she will be officially recognized as the world’s tallest transsexual.
A couple and their four children, who attempted to fly on just three tickets, were kicked off the plane by US Airways flight attendants.
The parents had bought a ticket for their 3year-old son but not for their 20-month-old twins or 8-month-old baby. They planned to seat one infant in the same seat as their three-year-old and each hold a child in their lap.
Kathy and Jason Fickes and their children boarded a U.S Airways flight from Charlotte in North Carolina to Chicago to visit grandparents over Christmas.
The Fickes had purchased three tickets and managed to make their way passed the ticket desk and through security screening with their four children.
A couple and their four children, who attempted to fly on just three tickets, were kicked off the plane by US Airways flight attendants
However, once they got on the plane, a flight attendant told them it would not be possible to travel as they had planned because there were not enough oxygen masks to go around.
Kathy Fickes told ABC 7: “I felt we were discriminated against because we had too many children in their eyes.”
Jason Fickes added that they “held up the plane for 40 or 50 minutes” as the family moved seats and tried to accommodate the airline.
The family was finally asked to leave the plane despite one passenger offering to pay for another ticket.
On the U.S Airways website, it is only possible to buy tickets for children over the age of two.
However, in a sidebar it gives the option to add how many younger children will be travelling.
The company is clear that each child under the age of two must be accompanied by an over-18 if they are sharing a seat.
On domestic flights, a child under the age of two is allowed to travel in the lap of a paying adult free of charge.
The Federal Aviation Administration also states that there must be an oxygen mask for each flyer.
Michelle Mohr, a US Airways spokesman told ABC 7: “The safety regulations are such that you have to have one child per one adult.”
U.S. Airways refunded the family’s tickets.
The Fickes family would have been permitted to fly if they had bought a ticket for one of their children under two as long as the child travelled in a car seat.
Internet rumors claim that Beyoncé has given birth to a baby girl in New York. According to reports- which neither Beyoncé herself, nor husband Jay-Z have confirmed – the singer has named her daughter Tiana May Carter.
Beyoncé is said to have delivered her first child at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, a private facility in New York.
The singer representation – both in the US and the UK- has not been available for comment this afternoon.
A story published yesterday by MediaTakeOut.com claimed that nurses at the hospital were “buzzing” at the news that they might be expecting Beyoncé and Jay Z.
The hospital has made no official comment.
The baby suite apparently reserved by Beyoné and Jay Z is reportedly equipped to deliver three babies and sleep 12 people.
Internet rumors claim that Beyoncé has given birth to a baby girl in New York
Friend and fellow singer Alicia Keys gave birth to her son Egypt at the same hospital back in 2010.
Twitter has been abuzz with gossip and congratulations in relation to the birth rumors.
Director and choreographer Adam Shankman tweeted: “Not meaning to start anything…but…did Beyonce have her baby?!? Just heard a bit on the radio… Is it true?”
Some are treating the news as certain, and have offered their blessing.
One user wrote: “Congrats to Beyonce & Jay Z on new baby girl Tiana-May Carter.”
Beyoncé has still never tweeted from her own account, which boasts 2,259,656 followers.
The report that Beyoncé has given birth has been picked up by The Mirror, Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Yahoo, Music News.com, and Allhiphop.com among others.
Beyoncé has spent the bulk of the last few months in New York, which is understandable if she has been expecting her new arrival around the New Year.
The appearance of the Beyoncé’s mother Tina, 57, sister Solange, 25, and nephew Julez in the city in recent days has added weight to the reports that the birth was imminent.
Designer Tina and sister Solange were spotted leaving vintage store Stella Dallas in New York City this week.
Beyoncé lives in a multi-million pound penthouse apartment in the city with rapper husband Jay Z.
Though initially there was suggestion that Beyoncé was due in early February, more recently it was indicated that she would be reaching the nine month mark around the New Year.
In a clip from her Live at Roseland DVD, screened in November, Beyoncé said: “Hello! It’s September 23rd … Right now I’m actually shooting the video for <<Countdown>> and I’m six months pregnant, pretending that my stomach is flat in body suits.”
Beyoncé concealed her pregnancy for months before revealing her baby bump at the MTV Music Awards in August.
In October the star sparked rumors that she was wearing a prosthetic belly after her stomach appeared to collapse as she sat down during a live TV appearance in Australia.
An online privacy group says that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for “sensitive” words – and tracking people who use them.
According to the privacy group, simply using a word or phrase from the DHS’s “watch” list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it.
The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as “human to animal” and “outbreak” to other, more obscure words such as “drill” and “strain”.
The DHS also watches for words such as “illegal immigrant”.
The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as “illegal immigrant”, “outbreak”, “drill”, “strain”, “virus”, “recovery”, “deaths”, “collapse”, “human to animal” and “trojan”, according to an “impact assessment” document filed by the agency.
When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information.
It’s still not clear how this information is used – and who the DHS shares it with.
The online privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre has requested information on the DHS’s scans, which it says the agency announced in February.
The privacy group has requested information on the DHS, and contractors it claims are working with the agency to scan social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The group also says that the government has used scans of social media before to analyze specific events – such as the 2010 BP oil spill – but this general “watching” of social media using fake profiles is new.
“The initiatives were designed to gather information from <<online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards>>, to store and analyze the information gathered, and then to <<disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and foreign governments and private sector partners>>,” the group said in a court filing.
The group claims that a request under the Freedom of Information Act to access the documentation has gone unanswered.
Marc Jacobs, the famed fashion designer, revealed the dramatic transformation he had made to his body as lost weight and toned up by eating only vegan food and training two hours a day, seven days a week.
Yesterday Marc Jacobs, 48, showed that he’s still keeping in great shape by flaunting his incredibly ripped beach body as he walked along the St. Barts beach with his equally muscular ex-fiance Lorenzo Martone.
Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone each wore tiny swimming shorts, with Marc in a navy pair and Martone in a nautical red, white and blue stripe brief.
They also showed off their tattoos, including Marc Jacobs’ infamous playful M&M and Spongebob Squarepants inkings and Lorenzo Martone’s classic scripture.
After their stroll, the former couple who have appeared to have perhaps rekindled their love, retired to some sun lounges on the sand.
They draped them with matching monogrammed Louis Vuitton towels, neon with one of the label’s signature Stephen Sprouse graffiti design.
Marc Jacobs, 48, showed that he's still keeping in great shape by flaunting his incredibly ripped beach body as he walked along the St. Barts beach with his equally muscular ex-fiance Lorenzo Martone
Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone got a nice surprise when super-stylist Rachel Zoe dropped by to say hello with her gorgeous tot Skylar.
Lorenzo Martone particularly went gaga over the 8-month-old blue-eyed baby boy, who looked cute in a white all in one.
Rachel Zoe, 40,as always looked chic in brown and white printed maxi-dress which she paired with a black wide-brimmed hat.
She later soaked up some sun with the famous designer by laying down next to Marc on another lounge.
Later Marc Jacobs covered up in a pair of cool board-shorts, presumably from his own line, and a black singlet.
Lorenzo Martone playfully held up his arms as the pair indulged in some silly dance moves.
The pair’s appearance on the French island might be a sign that they are getting back together after splitting last year.
The engaged couple called it quits with Lorenzo Martone announcing the news via Twitter in July 2010.
“thanks for t notes. yes, I saw t press today,” Lorenzo Martone wrote.
“We are not together, haven’t been in 2 months. And we will not comment on it. Sorry. We r fine.”
Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone got engaged at the beginning of March 2009.
Marc Jacobs attributed his incredible body transformation to an organic diet and grueling fitness regime.
In 2007, Marc Jacobs told NY Daily News: “I’m eating a totally organic diet, which has no flour, no sugar, no dairy and no caffeine, and I lost weight because of that diet and because of a two-hour exercise regimen seven days a week.”
The designer told the publication that he was aware that people would jump to conclusions about how he lost weight, especially in the fashion world.
“You’re going to get a bunch of blogs saying: <<He must be on meth in order to be that skinny compared to 10 months ago>>.”
It’s well known that the former US president, Richard Nixon, carpet-bombed Cambodia, spewed out anti-Semitic slurs and crude misogynistic jokes in the White House and smeared his political opponents with ruthless “dirty tricks” campaigns.
And nobody forget Richard Nixon lied to his country about his involvement in the Watergate scandal and went down in history as America’s shiftiest, darkest President.
Given everything that Richard Nixon has been accused of, it’s difficult to believe there could be any more skeletons left in his cupboard. But it seems there are.
A new biography of Richard Nixon, written by Don Fulsom, a veteran Washington reporter who covered the former president years, suggests the 37th U.S. President had a serious drink problem, beat his wife and – by the time he was inaugurated in 1969 – had links going back two decades to the Mafia, including with New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello, then America’s most powerful mobster.
Yet the most extraordinary claim is that the homophobic Richard Nixon may have been gay himself. If true, it would provide a fascinating insight into the motivation and behavior of a notoriously secretive politician.
Don Fulsom argues that Richard Nixon may have had an affair with his best friend and confidant, a Mafia connected Florida wheeler-dealer named Charles “Bebe” Rebozo who was even more crooked than Nixon.
The book, “Nixon’s Darkest Secrets”, is out next month – by coincidence at the same time as the UK release of a new film directed by Clint Eastwood about another supposed closet gay among Washington’s 20th-century hard men.
But while FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, played in Eastwood’s film by Leonardo DiCaprio, allegedly had an affair with his squeaky-clean deputy Clyde Tolson, Richard Nixon’s supposed secret paramour was a very different character.
Bebe Rebozo was a short, swarthy, good-looking Cuban-American businessman with a history of failed relationships with women and close alliances with Miami’s Mafia chiefs.
The veteran TV newsman Dan Rather recalled how Bebe Rebozo “transmitted the sense of great sensuality”, paying tribute to his “magnetic” personality and “beautiful eyes”.
Don Fulsom uses recently revealed documents and eyewitness interviews – including with FBI agents – to shed new light on long-standing suspicions among White House insiders that Richard Nixon may have been more than just good buddies with Bebe Rebozo.
The journalist claims Richard Nixon’s relationship with Pat, his wife of 53 years, was little more than a sham. A heavy drinker whom his own staff dubbed “Our Drunk”, Richard Nixon used to call his First Lady a “f***ing bitch” and beat her before, during and after his presidency, says Don Fulsom.
Richard Nixon and his wife had separate bedrooms at the White House – and in Key Biscayne, the exclusive resort near Miami where they holidayed, Pat Nixon didn’t even sleep in the same building. Bebe Rebozo, however, was in the house next door.
President Richard Nixon with Bebe Rebozo at Key Biscayne
Don Fulsom claims one of Richard Nixon’s former military aides had a secret job “to teach the President how to kiss his wife” so they would look like a convincing couple.
How much of this can we believe? Richard Nixon died in 1994 and his reputation is pretty much irredeemable. As with Eastwood’s Hoover film, there is no definitive proof, but plenty of “supporting evidence”.
Don Fulsom quotes a former Time magazine reporter who, at a Washington dinner, bent down to pick up a fork and saw the two holding hands under the table. It was, the reporter judged, sufficiently intimate to suggest “repressed homosexuality”.
Another journalist related how, loosened up by drink, Richard Nixon once put his arm around Bebe Rebozo “the way you’d cuddle your senior prom date. Something was fishy there”.
But who exactly was Bebe Rebozo, and how did a shady Florida businessman of unclear sexual leanings end up as the bosom friend of one of the most paranoid and buttoned-up political leaders of the 20th century?
Born two months before Richard Nixon in 1912, Charles Gregory Rebozo was the son of a Cuban cigar-maker and, as the youngest of nine, was stuck with the nickname “Bebe”.
Bebe Rebozo came from poverty but worked his way up through property speculation and then banking. According to the FBI, he had close links with Mob bosses such as Santo Trafficante, the Tampa Godfather, and Alfred “Big Al” Polizzi, a stooge of Meyer Lansky, the Cosa Nostra’s financial brains.
By the 1960s, an FBI agent was describing Bebe Rebozo as a “non- member associate of organized crime figures”. He bought land in Florida with a business partner who was believed to be a front for some of the most powerful Mafiosi.
When Bebe Rebozo started his own bank in Florida in 1964, Richard Nixon – then a lawyer – wielded a golden shovel at the ground-breaking ceremony and became its first depositor.
According to Mafioso Vincent Teresa, the bank was used by the Mob to launder stolen cash. It hardly seems possible that Richard Nixon, who pledged to make fighting organized crime a priority of his presidency, could not have known of his best friend’s Mafia links.
Richard Nixon had just won one of California’s U.S. Senate seats when he first met Bebe Rebozo in 1950. Fearing Richard Nixon was facing a nervous breakdown, fellow Senator George Smathers suggested a holiday in Florida and enlisted his old school friend Bebe Rebozo to show the socially awkward Nixon a good time.
Their first jaunt together – in Bebe Rebozo’s 33ft fishing boat – did not go well. Bebe Rebozo later complained that Richard Nixon just sat reading papers and, according to his host, barely said half a dozen words to him.
George Smathers said Bebe Rebozo later told him: “Don’t ever send that son of a bitch Nixon down here again. He’s a guy who doesn’t know how to talk, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t chase women… he can’t even fish.”
But Bebe Rebozo persevered – and according to a cynical George Smathers, Richard Nixon’s rising stardom in Washington and the potential influence it offered “had a lot to do with it”.
In months, Richard Nixon and Bebe Rebozo were inseparable, holidaying with Nixon’s wife Pat – and without her. Bebe Rebozo became an “uncle figure” to the Richard Nixons’ two daughters, Tricia and Julie. The dapper Cuban-American chose Richard Nixon’s clothes and even selected the films he watched at the White House.
On Richard Nixon’s solo visits to Key Biscayne, they swam and sunbathed, indulging in their shared passions for discussing Broadway musicals and barbecuing steaks.
Both men were also extremely secretive, and their relationship – described as the “most important unsolved mystery in Nixon’s life” – was kept so discreet that the New York Times did not mention it for nearly 20 years.
Observers noticed their intimacy became most apparent when they were drunk. An aide recalled them playing a game called King of the Pool at Key Biscayne: “It was late at night, the two men had been drinking. Nixon mounted a rubber raft in the pool while Rebozo tried to turn it over. Then, laughing and shouting, they’d change places.”
They were seen together at the same British-themed hostelries in the Key: the English Pub, where they drank beer from tankards engraved with their names, and the Jamaica Inn, where they ate at a discreet booth.
Both spots were owned by another businessman with Mob links and the secret service asked Richard Nixon to find another place to eat.
Why the President’s minders didn’t raise alarms about Bebe Rebozo’s Mafia connections has puzzled experts, but they probably didn’t dare. When a New York newspaper investigated Bebe Rebozo’s Mob links in the 1970s, its staff suddenly found themselves under secret service surveillance.
A White House aide once dismissed Bebe Rebozo’s role as “the guy who mixed the Martinis”, but he was far more important than that.
When Richard Nixon became President, Bebe Rebozo got his own office and bedroom at the White House, and a security clearance that allowed him to go in and out without being logged by the secret service. Using a false name, says Don Fulsom, Bebe Rebozo even got into Richard Nixon’s hotel suite during a trip to Europe.
The President’s closest colleagues complained at the way Bebe Rebozo monopolized Richard Nixon’s time. General Alexander Haig, his last chief of staff, is said to have imitated Bebe Rebozo’s “limp wrist” manner and joked that Rebozo and Nixon were lovers.
According to Don Fulsom, Henry Kissinger resented the way Bebe Rebozo would fly on Air Force One, the Presidential plane, wearing a blue U.S. Navy flight jacket bearing the President’s seal and with his name stitched on it.
Away from Richard Nixon’s side, Bebe Rebozo surrounded himself with glamorous women and threw Miami parties that descended into orgies, but was it all a front?
Aged 18, Bebe Rebozo reportedly enjoyed an “intense” affair with a young man, Donald Gunn. He later wed Donald Gunn’s teenage sister. The marriage lasted four years and, according to his wife, was never consummated.
Bebe Rebozo didn’t marry again until middle age, when he entered what Newsweek magazine described as an “antiseptic” alliance with his lawyer’s secretary. “Bebe’s favourites are Richard Nixon, his cat – and then me,” the lady complained later. A fellow Miami resident told Richard Nixon biographer Anthony Summers that Bebe Rebozo was definitely part of the city’s gay community.
Anthony Summers and co-writer Robbyn Swan, however, question whether there is enough evidence to suggest Richard Nixon was gay. “They held hands on occasion, and both men had problems with consummating physical relationships with women, but we found no evidence that Nixon was actively homosexual,” Anthony Summers said.
Physical or not, Richard Nixon’s attraction to Bebe Rebozo has struck many as politically reckless. Nixon expert Professor Fawn Brodie couldn’t understand how he would be “willing to risk the kind of gossip that frequently accompanies close friendship with a perennial bachelor”. After all, Fawn Brodie added, Nixon was, in public, a virulent gay-hater.
When Walter Jenkins, a trusted aide to President Lyndon Johnson, was caught providing sexual favors to a retired sailor in a YMCA lavatory, Richard Nixon denounced him as “ill”. People who suffered this “illness”, he added, “cannot be in places of high trust”.
Bebe Rebozo was certainly in a position of “high trust”, and not only because he was a key fundraiser. He was with Richard Nixon when he announced his successful run for President and again in June 1972 when Nixon learned that five men hired by the White House to break into the Watergate building had been arrested.
“We were swimming at Key Biscayne in front of my house,” Bebe Rebozo recalled.
“They came out and told him. He said: <<What in God’s name were they doing there?>> We laughed and forgot about it.”
Bebe Rebozo also ended up being investigated by the Watergate committee, which found that a $100,000 cash contribution from the industrialist Howard Hughes that was meant for the Republican Party was actually in Rebozo’s safe deposit box.
It also emerged that both Richard Nixon and Bebe Rebozo’s personal wealth had soared during Nixon’s first five years in the White House, Rebozo’s rising nearly seven-fold from $675,000 to nearly $4.5 million.
Bebe Rebozo escaped prosecution – allegedly because of a White House deal – and he stood by his disgraced friend. He was at Nixon’s bedside during his final days.
When Bebe Rebozo died in 1998, he left more than $19 million to the Nixon memorial library, whose executive director eulogized him as a “consummate gentleman” on whose “wise counsel, shrewd political insight and ready wit” Richard Nixon relied.
Typically, Richard Nixon had been rather less charitable – he always described Bebe Rebozo as just a “golfing partner”.
Anonymous, the hacking group, claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor.
According to one hacker, the Anonymous’ goal was to pilfer funds from individuals’ accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.
Anonymous boasted of stealing Stratfor’s confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to the Miami Police Department, and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.
Austin, Texas-based Stratfor provides political, economic and military analysis to help clients reduce risk, according to a description on its YouTube page.
The company charges subscribers for its reports and analysis, delivered through the web, emails and videos.
Stratfor’s main website was down, with a banner saying the “site is currently undergoing maintenance”.
Anonymous claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers belonging to clients of Stratfor
Proprietary information about the companies and government agencies that subscribe to Stratfor’s newsletters did not appear to be at any significant risk, however, with the main threat posed to individual employees who had subscribed.
“Not so private and secret anymore?” Anonymous taunted in a message on Twitter, promising that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of a Christmas-inspired assault on a long list of targets.
Anonymous said the client list it had already posted was a small slice of the 200 gigabytes worth of plunder it stole from Stratfor and promised more leaks.
The hacking group said it was able to get the credit card details in part because Stratfor didn’t bother encrypting them – an easy-to-avoid blunder which, if true, would be a major embarrassment for any security-related company.
According to Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president of intelligence, the company had reported the intrusion to law enforcement and was working with them on the investigation.
“Stratfor has protections in place meant to prevent such attacks,” he said.
“But I think the hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it’s extraordinarily difficult to defend against.”
Hours after publishing what it claimed was Stratfor’s client list, Anonymous tweeted a link to encrypted files online with names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and credit card account details.
“Not as many as you expected? Worry not, fellow pirates and robin hoods. These are just the <<A’s>>,” read a message posted online that encouraged readers to download a file of the hacked information.
The attack is “just another in a massive string of breaches we’ve seen this year and in years past,” said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer of Application Security Inc., a New York-based provider of database security software.
Still, companies that shared secret information with Stratfor in order to obtain threat assessments might worry that the information is among the 200 gigabytes of data that Anonymous claims to have stolen, Josh Shaul said.
“If an attacker is walking away with that much email, there might be some very juicy bits of information that they have,” he added.
Lt. Col. John Dorrian, public affairs officer for the Air Force, said that “for obvious reasons” the Air Force doesn’t discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats or responses to them.
“The Air Force will continue to monitor the situation and, as always, take appropriate action as necessary to protect Air Force networks and information,” John Dorrian said in an email.
Miami Police Department spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz Jr. said that he could not confirm that the agency was a client of Stratfor, and he said he had not received any information about a security breach involving the police department.
Anonymous also linked to images online that it suggested were receipts for charitable donations made by the group manipulating the credit card data it stole.
“Thank you! Defense Intelligence Agency,” read the text above one image that appeared to show a transaction summary indicating that an agency employee’s information was used to donate $250 to a non-profit.
One receipt – to the American Red Cross – had Allen Barr’s name on it.
Allen Barr from Austin, Texas, recently retired from the Texas Department of Banking and said he discovered last Friday that a total of $700 had been spent from his account.
The man, who has spent more than a decade dealing with cybercrime at banks, said five transactions were made in total.
“It was all charities, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children. So when the credit card company called my wife she wasn’t sure whether I was just donating,” said Allen Barr, who wasn’t aware until a reporter with the AP called that his information had been compromised when Stratfor’s computers were hacked.
“It made me feel terrible. It made my wife feel terrible. We had to close the account.”
Wishing everyone a “Merry LulzXMas” – a nod to its spinoff hacking group Lulz Security – Anonymous also posted a link on Twitter to a site containing the email, phone number and credit number of a U.S. Homeland Security employee.
The employee, Cody Sultenfuss, said he had no warning before his details were posted.
“They took money I did not have,” Cody Sultenfuss told The Associated Press in a series of emails, which did not specify the amount taken.
“I think <<Why me?>> I am not rich.”
But the breach doesn’t necessarily pose a risk to owners of the credit cards. A card user who suspects fraudulent activity on his or her card can contact the credit card company to dispute the charge.
Stratfor said in an email to members that it had suspended its servers and email after learning that its website had been hacked.
“We have reason to believe that the names of our corporate subscribers have been posted on other web sites,” said the email, signed by Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman and passed on to AP by subscribers.
“We are diligently investigating the extent to which subscriber information may have been obtained.”
“Stratfor’s relationship with its members and, in particular, the confidentiality of their subscriber information, are very important to Stratfor and me,” George Friedman wrote.
One member of the hacking group, who uses the handle AnonymousAbu on Twitter, claimed that more than 90,000 credit cards from law enforcement, the intelligence community and journalists – “corporate/exec accounts of people like Fox News” – had been hacked and used to “steal a million dollars” and make donations.
It was impossible to verify where credit card details were used. Fox News was not on the excerpted list of Stratfor members posted online, but other media organizations including MSNBC and Al-Jazeera English appeared in the file.
Anonymous warned it has “enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of LulzXmas through the entire next week”.
Anonymous has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on credit card companies Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., eBay Inc.’s PayPal, as well as other groups in the music industry and the Church of Scientology.
Kim Kardashian’s declining popularity looks set to receive a further blow after animal rights group PETA launched a billboard campaign slating the star’s love of fur coats.
Kim Kardashian, 31, has regularly been spotted wearing such jackets this year, despite already being chastened by PETA, who named her their worst dressed person of 2010.
In the emotive ad PETA has a cute picture of two fox cubs, with the statement: “Kim: These babies miss their mother. Is she on your back?”
In addition to the adverts, the animal rights organization has also blasted Kim Kardashian on their website.
PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said: “Kim knows that animals on fur farms are beaten, electrocuted, and often skinned alive.
“We’ve explained it to her, and she’s watched a video expose that was filmed inside fur farms.
“When Kim is ready to put an end to her relationship with fur, PETA will be happy to take her discards and donate them to the homeless.”
Kim Kardashian, 31, has regularly been spotted wearing such jackets this year, despite already being chastened by PETA, who named her their worst dressed person of 2010
Ironically Kim Kardashian turned out to support a PETA campaign poster AGAINST fur which featured her sister Khloe earlier this year.
Kim Kardashian posed with Khloe next to the 2008 “Fur? I’d Rather Go Naked” picture, after her younger sibling stripped off for the charity.
It is the second time in recent days the Kardashians have been involved in a fashion flare-up.
It was claimed the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights had criticized the Kardashians for using Chinese sweatshop labor to produce their fashion lines.
However the group’s executive director Charles Kernaghan later spoke out to say the allegations could not be proved, that he had been speaking about conditions in the country in general, and that his words had been twisted.
Charles Kernaghan did speak out again last night to say: “If Ms. Kardashian has found a way to overcome the iron-fisted repression under which the Chinese workers are forced to toil, then that would be huge news and worthy of tremendous applause.
“But unfortunately, based on our concrete experiences investigating factories in China and elsewhere, the chances are about one in a million that Ms. Kardashian has found a way to push back against the Chinese authorities and guarantee that her employees will be afforded their most basic, internationally recognized workers’ rights.”