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Showing posts from April, 2009

4 million and counting

Spain's jobless rate soars to 17%
Spain's unemployment rate hit 17.4% at the end of March, figures have shown, with the jobless total now having doubled over the past 12 months.

In the past year, two million people have lost their jobs taking the total out of work to just over four million.

The Bank of Spain recently predicted the jobless rate would reach 19.4% in 2010, as the recession took hold.

"It is a terrible figure," Octavio Granado, secretary of state for social security told state television.

He said the first quarter of any year was traditionally bad for employment in Spain.

Mr Granado also said that 2009 was expected to be the worst part of the economic downturn.

"So we are in the epicentre of the crisis. We are in the eye of the perfect storm," he said.

The National Statistics Institute said Spain's jobless rate at the end of the first quarter was up 3.45 percentage points from the end of 2008.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Madrid says t…

An obnoxious little Englander

'Feeble country' jibe sparks row 
MPs are demanding an apology over remarks made by the outspoken historian Dr David Starkey.

Dr Starkey described Scotland as a "feeble little country" and said Robert Burns was a "deeply boring provincial poet."

He made the comments on the BBC's Question Time programme after he was asked if he supported a public holiday for St George's Day.

Dr Starkey has refused to apologise and says he stands by his comments.

To boos from the audience, Dr Starkey said: "If we decide to go down this route of having an English national day, that means we become a feeble little country, just like the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish.

"Once upon a time England was a great country. Remember we're distinguished by the fact that we don't have national dress.

"We don't make a great fuss about Shakespeare like the Scots do about that deeply boring provincial poet Burns."

He said England did not have nation…

Susan Superstar

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Talent show singer is online hit

A 47-year-old church volunteer from West Lothian has become an unlikelyovernight singing sensation with millions watching her perform online.

Susan Boyle, from Blackburn, stunned judges on ITV's Britain's Got Talent with her performance of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables on Saturday.

Since then Hollywood actress Demi Moore has joined the legions of fans who have voiced their support on the internet.

Ms Boyle has now become the bookies' favourite to win the talent show.

Ms Boyle, who told viewers she had "never been kissed", said she had always wanted to be a singer.

She said: "I entered the competition because I wanted to have a chance at my singing.

"I found it very nerve-wracking to begin with but once I settled down and began to sing, I thought that the audience accepted me a bit more. Then I sort of relaxed and began to enjoy it.

Ms Boyle, who is currently unemployed, is a keenchurch-goer and community worker w…