The UK Government and has become involved in a diplomatic row with Ecuador over the continued residency of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge. Assange has been living there to avoid extradition to Sweden since jumping bail on June 19th. He is wanted on allegations of sexual offences but fears he will then be extradited to the USA over Wikileaks charges where he believes he will be persecuted. As the Government threatened to storm the embassy to arrest Assange it was announced that Ecuador were granting asylum to the Australian. However, if Assange steps out of the building he is likely to be immediately arrested.
34 workers were killed and 78 wounded when police opened fire on a crowd of workers at platinum mine in Marikana, 60 miles north of Johannesburg. The shooting began after 3,000 miners ignored an ultimatum to lay down machetes and clubs. The mine, owned by Lonmin, has been at the centre of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between two rival trade unions. During the clashes, missiles - thought to be either petrol bombs or grenades - were thrown at police, who responded by opening fire, eyewitnesses said. Fighting between miners from rival unions had already claimed over 10 lives last week. The police ministry acknowledged that there had been deaths, but defended the police's actions.
Tony Nicklinson, a 58 year old man suffering from 'locked-in' syndrome, meaning he is paralysed from the neck down, lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life without fear of prosecution. Nicklinson, a father of two, has suffered from the syndrome for 7 years since a stroke and can only communicate by blinking; he has described his life as 'a living nightmare'. He described the decision as being 'saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery.' However, Lord Justice Toulson said that he could not rule in Tony’s favour as he would be making a major change to the law. Lord Toulson instead said that it was for Parliament to decide.
The high-profile case of the Russian Pussy Riot band came to a close as they were jailed for two years for staging a 'punk prayer protest' against Russian President Vladimir Putin. They were convicted on grounds of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and their conviction sparked supportive rallies across the world over two dozen cities. Judge Marina Syrova said the women had “crudely undermined social order” acting with a lack of respect. Pyotr Verzilov, a husband of one of the trio, said upon leaving the court, 'Whatever Putin wants, Putin gets. That is the only thing to say', in front of a large protest and heavy police presence.
A Level results for students hoping to get into universities were released with the results showing that 26.6% of grades issued this year are A or A*, a fall of 0.4 per cent compared with last year. This is the first time in two decades that the share of entries getting the top grades has fallen. At the release of the results a total of 357,915 applicants had had their places confirmed, a total down 6.95 per cent from last year. UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, revealed that 170,000 students were chasing around 50,000 places in the clearing system. A reported 9,000 of those were taken up on the first day of clearing.
Prince Philip was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland after the recurrence of a bladder infection, Buckingham Palace announced. The 91 year old Duke of Edinburgh was admitted for 'investigation and treatment' and was not expected to be discharged for several days but the Palace insisted his admittance was a precautionary measure. The recurrence comes after the Duke missed the Jubilee celebrations after being in hospital while in December he had an operation after suffering from a blocked artery. Despite the scares the Duke has continued engagements both a lone and with the Queen. The Queen and the Duke also gave a garden party at Balmoral Castle last week.
The UK’s oldest children’s comic, The Dandy, is set to close down after 75 years of publishing. The comic that introduced characters such as Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat has seen circulation dip below 8,000 after its heyday years between 1950 and 1980 where circulation was at 2 million. This has been attributed to competition from the internet, TV and video games and The Dandy’s publisher said characters would continue online. It was also speculated by the publishers that Desperate Dan could move to rival magazine the Beano which still has a circulation of 38,000. Publisher DC Thomson will continue and welcomed the new challenges of today saying, 'we're excited that the digital revolution has also given us an opportunity to innovate and develop.'
America’s national scrabble championship made headlines as one of the country’s leading youngsters at the game was caught cheating. The player has not been named because of his age but it was revealed he was hiding blank letter tiles. He was removed from the tournament after being confronted by officials. The cheating competitor had finished a previous game and tried to keep the blank tiles, hoping to use them in his next round. He was spotted by another player at a nearby table surreptitiously dropping the tiles on the floor. The championships were held over 5 days in Orlando with 350 competitors. Scrabble is one of America’s most popular board games with more than 150 million sets having being sold worldwide.