Showing posts from May, 2010

They start smoking young nowadays

Do you smoke? Would you like to give up? How many cigarettes do you smoke a day?

Are you an ex-smoker? Was giving up easy? Are you ever tempted to have another cigarette? How do you stop yourself?

What are your opinions on smoking?

Does smoking bother you?

Do you think there should be a complete ban in all public places?

How can the young be discouraged from starting the habit?

What do you think of the idea of putting graphic images on packets to show the conseqences of smoking?

Smoking legislation in Spain has not reduced the number of smokers

The finding comes from the latest Eurobarometer research

There are now more smokers in Spain than when the 2006 anti-smoking legislation came into effect.

According to the Eurobarometer, 35% of Spaniards still smoke, going against the reduction seen in other parts of Europe, where the average number of smokers has fallen to 29%. It means that if the Government’s intention was to reduce the number of smokers with the current law, it has failed, althoug…

Never compare salaries

Comparing income with peers causes unhappiness
Comparing your income with those of family and friends is a recipe for unhappiness, a study has suggested.

Researchers analysing data from a Europe-wide survey found three-quarters of those asked thought it important to compare their incomes with others.

But those who compared salaries seem less content, especially if they looked at those of friends and family rather than work colleagues.

The paper in the Economic Journal also found the poor were most affected.

The researchers, from the Paris School of Economics, used data from the European Social Survey covering 19,000 participants in 24 countries.

They found that those who compared their incomes with others tended to be less happy.

The responses showed that the greater the importance people attached to such comparisons, the lower they ranked themselves on measures of satisfaction with life and standard of living, as well as on feeling depressed.

There was no difference seen betwe…

Daring balloon trip

An American daredevil has made history by crossing the English Channel carried only by helium-filled balloons.

Jonathan Trappe, 36, is now the first cluster balloonist to cross the stretchof water.

Tracked live on Sky News, he set off from Kent Gliding Club in Challock, near Ashford, and took about three hours to float silently across the Channel to Dunkirk, France.

Sky's Mark Stone, on a beach north of Dunkirk, broke the news of Mr Trappe's successful crossing on Twitter.

Stone said: "He has made it... across the channel at least. #balloonman is now over the French countryside at 2,000ft at 19mph."

The trained pilot cut away balloons to aid his descent, eventually landing in a cabbage field.

Mr Trappe told Sky News what had inspired him to attempt such a risky challenge.

He said: "Wasn't it everybody's dream? I mean, didn't you have this dream - grabbing onto a bunchof toy balloons and floating off?

"Now we've done it. Not only have we done …

The biggest liars

Men tell more lies than women

Men are more likely to tell lies than women and feel less guilty about it, says a survey.

In a poll of 3,000 people, researchers found that the average British man tells three lies every day, that's equivalent to 1,092 a year.

However the average woman appears more honest, lying 728 times a year - around twice a day.

Mums are the people mostly likely to be lied to, says the Science Museum who commissioned the survey.

Twenty-five per cent of men say they've lied to their mother, but only 20% of women admit to having lied to their mum.

In comparison, only 10% of people said they are likely to lie to their partner.


1. I didn't have that much to drink
2. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
3. I had no signal
4. It wasn't that expensive
5. I'm on my way
6. I'm stuck in traffic
7. No, your bum doesn't look big in that
8. Sorry, I missed your call
9. You've lost weight
10. It's just what I'…

The Queen's Speech

Written by the government and delivered by the reigning monarch, the Queen's Speech sets out the legislative agenda for the year ahead and is the centrepiece of the state opening of Parliament.

Each session of Parliament begins with this royal address and covers the following year.

In most years it takes place in November.

But every time there is a general election, Parliament is dissolved and the Queen's Speech takes place shortly after the government comes to power, as happened in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

The ceremonialtrappings surrounding the speech make the event one of the high points of the parliamentary calendar, unrivalled in its spectacle and tradition despite some of the more arcane practices having been toned down in recent years.

The Queen normally attends the state opening in person and delivers the speech from the grand throne in the House of Lords.

Her speech does not set out the entirety of the government's programme, however.

The Budget and the pre-Bud…

Yet another royal scandal

Cash claims 'devastate' duchess

The Duchess of York is "devastated" and "regretful" after newspaper claims she offered to sell access to ex-husband Prince Andrew, her spokeswoman says.

The News of the World said Sarah Ferguson was recorded by an undercover reporter posing as a businessman. She appears to accept $40,000 in cash.

The paper says the prince - a UK trade envoy - knew nothing about the alleged £500,000 ($723,000) deal.

The spokeswoman told PA the duchess regrets the incident.

According to the video soundtrack the 50-year-old duchess tells the undercover reporter "£500,000 when you can, to me... open doors".

She also says the cash would "open up all the channels whatever you need, whatever you want, and then that's what and then you meet Andrew and that's fine.

"And that's, that's when you really open up whatever you want."

'Business hats'

The newspaper says that the duchess told the undercove…

Arrogant English - will they ever learn?

They think it’s all over

SECRET plans by cocky English civic leaders to stage a World Cup victory parade are revealed today - 50 days BEFORE the final.

Civic bosses in London are drawing up proposals for a massive bash - despite the Auld Enemy last winning the tournament 44 years ago.

The event would bring the city to astandstill - IF Fabio Capello's squad manage to triumph at the final in South Africa on July 11.

City of London officials are believed to have started negotiations with other local authority bosses over the celebration by Wayne Rooney annd Co.

It's thought transport and police chiefs will also be involved in deciding where and when would be most suitable for a parade. Last night one insider said the procession would "eclipse anything seen before." The source added: "Planning officials have to prepare for events like this months in advance - even if they are just a possibility.

"Traffic, police and routes have to be planned. Thousands of f…

Another Scots inventor...

A friend of mine told me he heard a report on Spanish radio about the death of the Scottish inventor of the cash machine. To be honest I had never heard of him, so I did a bit of googling. The hole-in-the-wall is another one on the long list of Scottish inventions which includes:
fax machine - Alexander Baintelevision - John Logie Bairdtelephone - Alexander Graham Bellpenicillin - Alexander Flemingpneumatic tyre - John Dunlopcolour photography - James Clerk Maxwellsteam engine - James Wattradar - Robert Watson - Wattultrasound scanner - Ian Donaldrefrigerator - William Cullenthermos flask- James Dewartarmac - John McAdamanaesthetics - James Young SimpsonAnd I could go on..... Not bad for a small country!

Cashpoint inventor cheques out

THE Scots brainbox who invented the first hole-in-the-wall cash machine has died aged 84.

John Shepherd-Barron came up with*the idea for an ATM in the 1960s as he soaked in the BATH.

The married dad-of-three, who also devised the four-digit PIN number, pas…

Tattoo stories

Girl with 56 stars tattooed on face admits she asked for them

A teenage girl who claimed 56 stars were tattooed on her on her face as she slept when she asked for three has admitted she was awake the whole time – and lied because her father was "furious".

Watch report here.

Kimberley Vlaminck had insisted she dozed off after asking the tattooist for just three small stars – then woke in horror to find her face was covered.

The Belgian blamed the Flemish-speaking tattooist for not being able to understand her French and English instructions.

Amid a frenzy of media attention, she then said she would sue the tattoo artist, Rouslan Toumaniantz, for the £9,000 she needed for laser surgery to have them removed.

She said after the tattooing last week: "It is terrible for me. I cannot go out on to the street. I look like a freak."

But the 18-year-old has finally confessed she did not fall asleep, that she wanted all the stars and was "fully aware" of what Mr Toum…

San Isidro

San Isidro was canonized on May 15, 1622 for miraculously making water rise to rescue his son from a well, along with a handful of other wondrous deeds. Hence he became Madrid's patron saint and, simultaneously, the "laborer/peasant saint" after his profession.

For more about San Isidro, you can visit the church of the same name on calle Toledo - built over the site where the miracle purportedly took place - about two blocks from the Plaza Mayor. The church holds a small museum with exhibits including the famous well along with a small collection of archaeological findings excavated in the region of Madrid.

San Isidro Traditions

Like most in Spain, this Madrid festival has largely lost its religious character. Instead, the city government uses San Isidro as a platform to represent the best of Madrid culture, old and new, from bullfights to break dancing. You'll enjoy a full calendar of concerts, plays, parades, fairs and special art exhibits, most free of charge.

Our favourite topic of conversation

We spend SIX MONTHS of our lives just talking about the weather

It's a handy topic to break the ice or simply pass the time.

Now the extent of our national obsession with the weather has been made clear.

We actually spend six months of our lives discussing it, a survey has shown.

Our fixation with the elements means Britons talk about the climate almost five times a day, spending longer dissecting its ups and downs than on sport or work.

And when it comes to meeting strangers, weather is the most common way to get a conversation started.

Women are particularly fond of the subject, and spend more time talking about it than discussing men, their love lives and gossip combined.

The preoccupation has even moved into the digital age, with 500,000 weather-related 'tweets' on the Twitter social networking website daily.

Older people have three times as many conversations on the subject as teenagers - and many feel their life experience can help them predict rain or sunshine.


Super-judge no longer

Crusading Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon is suspended

High-profile Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been suspended from his post by the country's judicial body.

The decision was unanimously adopted by the General Council of the Judiciary.

He is due to face trial on charges that he abused his powers by opening an *inquiry in 2008 into crimes committed during Francisco Franco's rule.

Mr Garzon was later forced to dropthe investigation into the crimes committed during the 1936-39 Civil War in Spain, which are covered by an amnesty.

Controversial judge

In February, a Supreme Court investigating magistrate ruled that Mr Garzon had ignored the 1977 amnesty by launching the investigation.

Mr Garzon, 54, who is highly popular among the Spanish political left and international human rights campaigners, appealed against the ruling, saying his inquiry was legitimate.

But some on the right accuse Mr Garzon of launching cases that are politically motivated.

Tens of thousands of people …

Is Spain the next Greece?

Spain unveils deep budget cuts amid EU economic fears

Spain's PM has outlined a plan to tackle the country's budget crisis, amid concerns that problems afflicting Greece may spread across the eurozone.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced a 5% cut to public sector salaries, as well as reductions to pensions and regional government funding.

He said the plan would save about 15bn euros ($19bn; £12.5bn) over two years.

At the weekend Spain said it wanted to drastically reduce its budget deficit, which currently stands at 11% of GDP.

The aim of the new package is to trim this deficitto 6% of GDP in 2011.

In his speech to parliament, Mr Zapatero revealed other details of the plan. Automatic increases in pensions will be suspended from 2011 and funding for regional governments cut.

"We aim to cut civil service wages by an average of 5% in 2010 and freeze them in 2011," he added.

He said his own salary and those of senior cabinet members would be cut by 15%.

Mr Zapat…

New PM for Nº 10

Here is Dave Cameron making a speech as he enters Nº 10 Downing Street for the first time as PM. How much do you understand?

1 in 5 without a job

Spain unemployment rate hits 20%
Spain's unemployment rate has hit 20% for the first time in nearly 13 years, official figures have shown.

There were 4,612,700 people unemployed in the country at the end of March, the national statistics agency INE said.

Spain's jobless rate has risen sharply during the economic downturn and is the highest in the eurozone.

Meanwhile, official European Union (EU) figures showed that the eurozone unemployment rate remained unchanged at 10% in March.

This equates to 15.8m people. Among the wider EU, the jobless rate was 9.6%, with 23.1m people unemployed.

Germany was the only country where the jobless rate fell, from 7.4% to 7.3%.

The EU's statistics agency Eurostat calculates its unemployment figures on a slightly different basis to the INE.

The agency also said it expects eurozone inflation to be 1.5% in April, up  from 1.4% in March.

Shrinking economy

Earlier this week, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Span…