Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Times leads with the news that

Charities cut services as donations start to dry up

One in three organisations expects to lay off staff within months, with smaller charities fearing for their survival. Money held by the sector has fallen by 13 per cent over the past year.
The Wellcome Trust, Britain’s biggest charity, which supports medical research, invests heavily in property and hedge funds and has seen the value of its investments fall from £15 billion to £13 billion.

The Guardian reports that 500,000 firms to close for great festive shutdown

The Christmas break will also be the longest for 16 years for thousands of workers sent home by cash-strapped employers, with some staff not returning to work until 19 January. Car workers will be among those facing a month's enforced holiday, with Ford, Aston Martin and Vauxhall sending staff home early after closing down plants temporarily. The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that about 500,000 firms will close from Monday until 5 January: the longest hiatus since 1992.

The Mirror leads with that story,its headline the 16 days off Christmas

and recession is also on the front page of the Mail which reports that

A record number of stores will be trading around the clock next week in a desperate bid for Christmas sales.
Hundreds more will stay open until midnight.
Retailers are also bringing forward January sales - with savings of up to 75 per cent - amid fears that the High Street faces its worst Christmas for decades

The Independent reports that

Jaguar Land Rover could receive emergency state aid within days to protect tens of thousands of jobs at the luxury car-maker.
Ministers will continue talks with the company at the weekend in an attempt to reach agreement by Christmas, but have said that they will not be "bounced" into any decision, stressing the responsibility for the firm's future lies with its Indian owner, Tata.

The Times takes a different view

Gordon Brown ignored renewed calls from business leaders to save the car industry yesterday, just as America’s ailing automotive giants were offered a $17.4 billion (£11.6 billion) bailout.
The Prime Minister insisted that the responsibility to help carmakers lay with their owners, but Richard Lambert, the director-general of the CBI, said that the Government needed to provide emergency financial support.

Bush pledges $17.4bn to prevent collapse of US car industry says the Guardian

Throwing aside his usual free market orthodoxy, President Bush used taxpayers' money to provide a three-month financial reprieve for General Motors and Chrysler in return for swingeing wage cuts among factory workers which provoked immediate anguish among unions.

The Independent leads with the story that

Britain no longer has any stake in the production of its nuclear warheads after the Government secretly sold off its shares in the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston.
Ministers agreed to sell the remaining one-third ownership to a Californian engineering company. The announcement, which means that Americans will now produce and maintain Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, was slipped out on the eve of the parliamentary Christmas holiday. Officials refused to say how much the deal raised

Taleban ‘threaten British values like the Nazis’ reports the Times

John Hutton, the Defence Secretary, has compared the Taleban and al-Qaeda to the Nazis, saying that British forces in Afghanistan are defending the country’s values as they did in the Second World War.
In an interview in The Times today, Mr Hutton says that, like the war to defeat Hitler, the military campaign in Afghanistan is “a vital national security mission” and not just a matter of foreign affairs.

Mugabe defiant as Brown steps up pressure on African leaders to move against him reports the Guardian

Robert Mugabe told his ruling Zanu-PF party yesterday that his country was facing a war with Britain but he would never surrender, and "Zimbabwe is mine".
The Zimbabwe president's defiant comments came amid escalating pressure from London on Zimbabwe's neighbours to press Mugabe from office. Gordon Brown urged southern African leaders yesterday to distance themselves from Mugabe and described the situation in Zimbabwe as a tragedy.

The Independent says that 'Greek Syndrome' is catching

Europe exists, it appears. If Greek students sneeze, or catch a whiff of tear-gas, young people take to the streets in France and now Sweden. Yesterday, masked youths threw two firebombs at the French Institute in Athens. Windows were smashed but the building was not seriously damaged. Then youths spray-painted two slogans on the building. One said, "Spark in Athens. Fire in Paris. Insurrection is coming". The other read, "France, Greece, uprising everywhere".

The Sun claims that

A TOP Premier League footballer is the target of a sex tape blackmail plot, The Sun can reveal.
Our reporters have seen footage of the married international being pleasured by a mystery blonde.
A team of gangsters posing as businessmen are demanding £100,000 in cash for the clip.
And while the blackmailers were trying to broker a deal with The Sun they were also threatening the player in a bid to force cash from him.

Gangs are getting younger and more violent, reports the Guardian

The country's leading police officer on gang culture warns today that gang members are getting younger and that they are resorting to lethal violence much more swiftly for the most trivial slights.
In an interview with the Guardian, Commander Sue Akers of the Metropolitan police identified other trends, including the emergence of a small number of girl gangs, and how women are being used to carry and conceal weapons.

More Xmas news from the Mail which reports that

People are queuing out of the door at post offices across the country following the closure of thousands of branches.
Efforts to get gifts and cards into the Christmas post are being hampered by the long delays in reaching the remaining counters.
Outbreaks of flu among staff are also hitting services


A WOMAN will give birth to a designer baby in Britain next week – the first to be genetically created free of the breast cancer gene.
The unnamed woman and her husband wanted to eliminate the cancer gene after three generations of women in his family were diagnosed with the disease in their 20s.
The husband’s grandmother, mother, sister and cousin were all afflicted by breast cancer and any daughter the ­couple have would be at an 80 per cent risk of suffering from the disease.

Who is going to be the new Dr Who asks the Independent

This week, after an industry screening of the festive special, to be broadcast on Christmas day, the 34-year-old actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, known for performances in Kinky Boots, Love Actually and Children of Men, joined a slew of others vying become the next Doctor Who. The current Doctor, David Tennant, is set to depart from his role in the BBC1 sci-fi series late next year. According to William Hill, Ejiofor is currently second favourite behind Paterson Joseph. If either takes the part, it will be the first time a black actor has done so.

More TV speculation in the Sun which reports that

STRICTLY Come Dancing stars Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowdon take on actor Tom Chambers in tonight’s telly final — vowing: “It’s every girl for herself.”
The talented trio go head-to-head in the BBC1 ballroom hit’s closest-ever climax.
But with backstage anger lingering over last week’s voting fiasco, Rachel and Lisa are said to be determined to defeat Holby City hunk Tom, the bookies’ favourite

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