Colombian government holds peace talk with FARC in Oslo

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

The Colombian government and Marxist rebels are set to hold peace talks in Norway aimed at ending nearly half a century of conflict.

President Juan Manuel Santos has made the latest attempt to negotiate a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas after recent criticism on security issues, although there have been improvements over the last decade helped by a US backed offensive against the rebels and drug barons.

Before boarding the plane with the rest of his team in Bogota, the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said he was optimistic.

“We don’t believe in false expectations but I think the structural elements exist that will allow us to have hope, and hopefully we will have good news for Columbia.”

There was a reported conflict over the composition of the FARC delegation especially the inclusion of Dutch National, Tanja Nijmeijer.

Interpol said Colombia had asked for the lifting of so-called “red-notices”, much like arrest warrants, on several FARC members, but Colombia only controls its own notices and Nijmeijer is also wanted in the US so it could not be lifted.

She is not therefore expected to attend the preliminary meetings in Norway but should be at the table when the talks move to Cuba shortly afterwards, where the focus is expected to be on land, drugs and political participation.

I saw Noel Gallagher

A little while ago I went to see Bob Dylan play live and despite him being one of my heroes I left feeling quite disappointed. I got the impression he was just going through the motions and didn’t really care about being there. The only thing I could take away from that gig was at least I had seen him with my own two eyes.

The contrast when I saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds play earlier last week was amazing. He too is the sort of figure who could sell out a venue with very little effort but it turned out to be one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. To start with the people at the Transbordeur in Lyon, France had got the sound and lighting perfect.

And things started out very well when this chap came on stage:

Supporting act Jake Bugg is still very young but full of stage presence and he can play the guitar like a demon.

He takes his influences from folk artists of Dylan’s era and he has produced some really nice songs of that ilk with a modern twist. At the time of writing his single “Taste It” is being given away for free on iTunes (Log in on your own UK itunes account to find it) So I strongly recommend that you check him out.

After that performance by a young hopeful I was half expecting a lackluster performance from an established artist just turning up for a payday, but from the moment he walked on stage I realised how wrong I was. With the enthusiastic but tame French crowd all chanting No-el! No-el! No-el! he came on stage and immediately showed his true star quality.

The man who has been awarded the 2012 Godlike Genius award by NME then wowed the audience with a collection of new songs such as the hard hitting Freaky Teeth:

And unlike Dylan, Gallagher really took the time to interact with the audience throughout the gig, although he kept the same confrontational style that Oasis were known for – he threw out a few insults with a twinkle in his eye – and the audience loved it.

He also struck the right balance between old and new, playing some of his contemporary songs but knowing the audience will also be filled with diehard Oasis fans it lead to some really magical moments:

At the end of the gig a humble Noel Gallagher came forward and thanked the audience who had all been treated to a fantastic evening.

I hope you’ll take two things away from this article, check out Jake Bugg and go and see this Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live. You won’t regret it.

John Terry helps Felix Baumgartner to diving success

Unseen by the long distance cameras Felix Baumgartner was not alone when he made the world’s highest ever skydive.

Helping him throughout the whole process was former England and Chelsea captain John Terry.

31-year-old Terry recently ended his international career but that hasn’t stopped him from going to new heights in his quest for success.

In a show of devotion for his club, he made the 39 km skydive at the same time as Baumgartner but without a protective suit or oxygen supply. Instead he sported the full Chelsea kit (including shin pads).

homemade hair cream aroma-zone

So my girlfriend is running a blog over at which talks about makeup and cosmetics, especially homemade cosmetics.

She is always in the kitchen knocking something together, taking pictures and writing articles about it so I decided to produce a video for her.

If you’re interested why not check out her blog.

Philippines: Peace deal between government and Muslim rebels

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

The Philippine government has agreed a peace deal with Muslim rebels ending more than four decades of violent conflict.

The agreement represents a major breakthrough in trust between the authorities and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatists and sets in motion the creation of a new autonomous Bangsmoro region in the Muslim dominated south of the mostly Catholic country.

Bangsmoro refers to both the Muslim and non-Islamic people of the Southern Philippines.

The transition which should be completed by the end of President Benigno Aquino’s term in 2016 will give the Muslim area more political and economic powers, including a larger share in revenues from natural resources.

The conflict has stunted the Philippine economy and killed more than 120,000 people although recently the country has seen a recent growth spurt and a resurgence in investor interest.

It is hoped the long awaited new deal will now bring peace and free up untapped deposits of oil, gas and mineral resources in rebel areas.

Radical preacher Hamza lands in US

You can see the video that goes with this article on the euronews website here.

Radical Islamist cleric, Abu Hamza, arrived in New York on Saturday where he is expected to appear in a US court on terrorism charges within 24 hours.

Hamza was deported from the UK along with four other suspects following an eight year legal battle which strained the country’s relationship with the European court of human rights.

The hate preacher faces 11 charges in the US related to hostage taking, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp and calling for a holy war in Afghanistan.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner welcomed the move: “This ends a period of lengthy litigation through UK courts as well as the European court of human rights and also speaks of the strength of the law enforcement relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

The five suspects left a military airbase in Suffolk in two planes just hours after their final appeals were turned down. Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz joined Hamza in New York.

While Babar Ahmad and Tahla Ahsan, were flown to Connecticut where they face charges of running a pro-Jihad website.

James Bond suit sells for €57,968

You can see the video that goes with this story on the euronews website here.

To mark the 50th anniversary of 007’s first screen appearance, Christie’s of London held an auction of James Bond memorabilia.

Roger Moore, who starred as the British secret agent in thrillers such as “Live and Let Die” and “The Spy Who Loved Me” helped to introduce some of the lots which raised thousands of euros for charities including UNICEF.

Among the many items donated by EON productions which makes the films was a 2008 Aston Martin two-door coupe driven by Daniel Craig in the “Quantum of Solace which “raised 241,250 pounds (298,502 euros).

Also a Tom Ford dinner suit worn by Craig in the latest film went for 46,850 pounds (57,968 euros).

Any Bond fans who would like to get their hands on some merchandise but missed the auction need not despair, a further 30 lots are on sale, online until Monday.

“Skyfall” the 23rd film in the Bond franchise will be released across most of Europe on the October 26, and in the United States on November 9.

24 hours in Aleppo

My French colleague at euronews, Farouk Atig, traveled to Syria to make this report. I then translated and voiced it in English.

Have a look and let me know what you think.

Georgia: Outcry over prison torture video

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

Mothers of prisoners were joined by thousands of protesters on Thursday, after a video emerged showing guards torturing and raping inmates at a prison. They called for the resignation of the Interior and Justice Ministers.

One mother said: “I can not bear this any more, I fainted three times yesterday. I didn’t know that such things happened at the prison. At least I did not believe it.”

In an effort to diffuse tensions President Mikhail Saakashvili has accepted the resignation of the minister in charge of penitentiaries, and completely reshuffled prison personnel.

Georgian prosecutors have arrested 12 prison officials and Saakashvili has vowed to punish those responsible.

The video comes at a sensitive moment for the president, who has led Georgia since 2004, just ahead of parliamentary elections on October 1.

The video showing guards torturing prisoners and raping them with truncheons and broom handles was broadcast by two opposition TV channels on Monday, leading the government to claim that it was staged for political reasons.

Muhammad cartoon sparks anti-French protests

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

French embassies around the world have been hit by protests following the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a satirical magazine.

Weekly paper, Charlie Hebdo, had its Paris offices burned down by a petrol bomb attack in November, after printing an edition which named the Prophet as “guest editor” and has now printed obscene cartoons of Muhammad in the nude.

The publication of the caricatures has divided opinion in France. It highlights the tension between the western principle of freedom of speech and Islamic beliefs that find insults to the Prophet intolerable.

In Iran, dozens of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran chanting “death to France”, and “Down with the US” as an American made film they find blasphemous continues to also cause controversy.

In Tunisia the French embassy has announced the closure of all French schools until Monday as violence is feared and protests have already taken place in Pakistan where hundreds of people clashed with police. Officers used tear gas and batons to prevent them from reaching French government buildings.

French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in some 20 muslim countries are temporarily closing as much larger demonstrations are expected after Friday prayers.


Pope calls for peace on last day in Lebanon

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here


On the last day of the Pope Benedict’s visit to Lebanon, he celebrated an open-air mass in front of around 350,000 pilgrims, as well as politicians from all sectors of the multi-faith country.


The pilgrims had come to Beirut from across the Middle East, where the service was held at an altar built on land reclaimed with debris from Lebanon’s 1975-1990 sectarian civil war.


The crowd cheered and waved Vatican as well as Lebanese flags as the Pope gave a speech in which he appealed for tolerance and religious freedom and for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.


These have been the central themes of the visit which comes amid soaring sectarian tensions in the region, exacerbated by the conflict in Syria.


The pope also called on Christians not to leave the region despite war and growing pressure from radical Islamists.



Ukraine risks increasing isolation


You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

While Ukraine hosted the Yalta European strategy conference, it is feared that the former Soviet republic could be moving further away from the European Union.

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, spoke of EU criticism such as politically motivated judgements, corruption and the violation of the rule of law:

“We should get rid of these stereotypes,” he said, “The sooner we do this, the better we can develop our relationship on a brand new basis.”

Meanwhile Swedish foreign Minister, Carl Bildt warned that the country was at risk of being stuck in the middle of no-where and failing to form closer ties with either East or West:

“My fear is not that they are going in one direction or another, but that they are going no-where. And in a fast changing global economic environment I think that is even more dangerous, that they are standing still when everything is changing, neither going to the EU nor to the custom union, but standing still with the risk of stagnation.”

A senior US official also warned Ukraine that if it didn’t make some changes ahead of next month’s general election it could fall short of democratic standards, and distance itself on all sides.

Royal couple ‘hugely saddened’ by topless pictures

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be “hugely saddened” by what they called a “grotesque” invasion of their privacy, after a French celebrity magazine published pictures of Kate Middleton topless.

Following the experiences of his late mother Diana, William is highly protective of Kate and is said to be furious that ‘Closer’ magazine published a five page spread of her sunbathing on a balcony with him in the South of France.

The pictures were taken while they were on holiday staying at a friend’s home near Aix-en-Provence.

Media lawyer Claire Gill said there need to be stronger penalties to stop these kinds of breaches of privacy from happening: “In my view this case illustrates really that the awards of damages that are being handed out both here (in the UK) and in France are far too low to deter a newspaper from publishing where they calculate that the commercial gain is going to outweigh any damages that they have to pay out.”

With the couple currently touring Southeast Asia, the British royal family issued a statement saying it was “reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana,” and said lawyers are being consulted.

Beautiful not degrading

Closer’s editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau described the photos as a “beautiful series” that showed a couple in love and were in no way degrading. She said the magazine had more intimate shots from the same series that it opted not to publish.

“There’s been an over-reaction to these photos. What we see is a young couple, who just got married, who are very much in love, who are splendid,” Pieau told French BFM television.

“She’s a real 21st Century princess,” she added: “It’s a young woman who is topless, the same as you can see on any beach in France or around the world.”

Closer, published by Italian company Mondadori, would almost certainly lose any legal case over invasion of privacy, although profits from the issue would likely far exceed any fine levied, which is likely to be just a few thousand euros.

Netherlands: Rutte seeks coalition with Labour

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

Dutch Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader, Mark Rutte, says he wants to form a government with the Labour Party and possibly with the Socialists.

Rutte’s VVD party narrowly won Wednesday’s election but failed to get a majority. They took just 41 of the 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament’s lower house, two more than Labour, which is led by Diederik Samsom.

The vote was a triumph for the two pro-European parties and between them they could form a majority government and work on their joint goal of a pan-European solution to the debt crisis.

The main sticking point now will be their very different views on austerity measures.

The major casualty from the vote was Geert Wilders’ right-wing Freedom Party which ran a eurosceptic campaign and won just 15 seats, down from 24 previously, to finish joint third with the Socialists.