Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Climate change 'exaggerated' in government adverts

Climate change 'exaggerated' in government adverts

Two government press adverts which used nursery rhymes to raise awareness of climate change have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

It said the advertisements went beyond mainstream scientific consensus in asserting that climate change would cause flooding and drought.

A total of 939 people complained to the ASA about the "Act on CO2" campaign.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said the ads should have been "phrased better" but defended the campaign.

Three other advertisements, including a TV commercial, were cleared by the advertising watchdog.


The climate change TV advert has been cleared by the ASA after complaints

The ASA ruled that the banned adverts, created on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to promote its carbon reduction initiative, made exaggerated claims about the threat posed to the UK by global warming.

Two posters juxtaposed adapted extracts from popular nursery rhymes with text that warned about the dangers of global warning.

One of the banned adverts read: "Rub a dub, three men in a tub, a necessary course of action due to flash flooding caused by climate change."

Bedtime stories ad

Earth Watch: Climate complexity

And a second said Jack and Jill could not fetch a pail of water because extreme weather due to climate change had caused a drought.

The ASA upheld complaints against these two advertisements, saying a claim that "extreme weather events would become more frequent and intense" should have been phrased more tentatively.

It noted that predictions about the potential impact of global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "involved uncertainties" that had not been reflected in the adverts.

The advertising watchdog said the text accompanying the rhymes should have used more tentative language in both instances.


However, the watchdog cleared complaints against a TV commercial, showing a young girl being read a nightmarish bedtime story by her father about a world blighted by climate change.

Mr Miliband said he accepted the ruling and admitted a mistake had been made in the type of language used.


More from Today programme

"We should have phrased the advert better and we will do so in the future," he told the Today programme.

"We probably should have made it clearer that this was a prediction and we should have made it clearer the basis of the claim."

However, he said the watchdog had not questioned the "big picture" that "man-made climate change was happening".

Government had a duty to make people aware of the dangers of climate change and the campaign had been a success.

"What is the job of the government? It is to lead. Sitting in the position I do, meeting the scientists I do, who tell me about their great fears about climate change and the impact it will have on peoples' way of life and the very high likelihoods we will see the events we were talking about in those ads.

"Frankly it would be grossly irresponsible of me not to draw peoples' attention to that and not to explain how people can make a difference themselves."

The government would "continue to provide public information about the dangers of climate change", he added.

Copenhagen climate summit undone by 'arrogance'

Copenhagen climate summit undone by 'arrogance'

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

China cooling tower
Western nations failed to understand how China works, says Lord Stern

The "disappointing" outcome of December's climate summit was largely down to "arrogance" on the part of rich countries, according to Lord Stern.

The economist told BBC News that the US and EU nations had not understood well enough the concerns of poorer nations.

But, he said, the summit had led to a number of countries outlining what they were prepared to do to curb emissions.

Seventy-three countries have now signed up to the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, the summit's outcome document.

The weak nature of the document led many to condemn the summit as a failure; but Lord Stern said that view was mistaken.

"The fact of Copenhagen and the setting of the deadline two years previously at Bali did concentrate minds, and it did lead... to quite specific plans from countries that hadn't set them out before," he said.

The reality is different from half a year ago
Gro Harlem Brundtland
UN special envoy on climate change

Still real, still a problem

"So this process has itself been a key part of countries stating what their intentions on emissions reductions are - countries that had not stated them before, including China and the US.

"So that was a product of the UNFCCC (UN climate convention) process that we should respect."

The former World Bank chief economist and author of the influential 2006 review into the economics of climate change was speaking to BBC News following a lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE), where he now chairs the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

During the lecture, he compared the atmosphere at the Copenhagen summit to student politics in the 1960s - "chaotic, wearing, tiring, disappointing" - and said it was one in which countries had little room for real negotiating.

However, he said, it was vital to stick with the UN process, whatever its frustrations.

Twin tracks

Having failed to agree a treaty to supplant or supplement the Kyoto Protocol, and having failed to set a timetable for agreeing such a treaty, opinions are inevitably split on how countries seeking stronger curbs on greenhouse gas emissions should move forward.

Lord Stern
It could have been much better handled by the rich countries
Lord Stern

Speaking in Brussels, Gro Harlem Brundtland - the UN's special envoy on climate change - suggested there would now be a twin-track approach, with some of the important discussions taking place outside the UNFCCC umbrella.

She also acknowledged that the talks had proved much more problematical than some governments - particularly in the EU - had anticipated.

"They got the message that it was much more complicated than [they had believed], and that they have to work with Brazil and China and others, not only in the broad framework of UN negotiations but also more directly and pragmatically," she said.

"The reality is different from half a year ago."

Lord Stern agreed that what he described as the "disappointing" outcome of the Copenhagen talks was largely down to rich nations' failure to understand developing world positions and concerns.

"[There was] less arrogance than in previous years - we have, I think, moved beyond the G8 world to the G20 world where more countries are involved - but [there was] still arrogance and it could have been much better handled by the rich countries," he said.

The EU limited its room for manoeuvre, he said, because too many of the leading political figures wanted to demonstrate that they were leading.

Brass from pockets

The most concrete part of the Copenhagen Accord is an agreement that richer countries should raise funds to help poorer nations adapt to climate impacts and "green" their economies.

Lord Stern is a member of the group set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise on how to raise $100bn (£66bn) per year by 2020 using various "innovative mechanisms" that could include taxes on international aviation and banking transactions.

But the immediate objective, he suggested, was to enact the short-term promise of providing $30bn over the period 2010-12 from the public purses of western nations.

If that money did not start to move fairly quickly, he said, that would further erode trust among developing countries.

Speaking in Brussels during a meeting with EU leaders, Mexico's environment secretary Juan Rafael Elvira endorsed the point.

"The developing world needs to see clear signals to have something in their hands at Cancun," he said.

The Mexican coastal city will host this year's UNFCCC summit.

"The developing countries want to see this money unblocked; the island nations especially are waiting for this funding," said Mr Elvira.

How and where these funds are to be disbursed has yet to be decided.

Bullock no-show scuppers premiere

Bullock no-show scuppers premiere

Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock was the favourite to win the best actress Oscar

The UK premiere of The Blind Side has been scrapped after its Oscar-winning star Sandra Bullock pulled out of the event, organisers have said.

Warner Brothers said the star, who won the best actress Academy Award last week, will not travel to the UK due to "unforeseen circumstances".

The premiere had been due to take place next Tuesday in London.

The cancellation announcement coincided with unconfirmed reports in the US media regarding the actress's marriage.

True story

A screening of the film will still take place for ticket holders at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, where the premiere had been due to take place.

Bullock had been expected to attend with her co-star, newcomer Quinton Aaron.

The release date of 27 March has not been affected.

The film is based on the true story of American footballer Michael Oher and his journey from virtual homelessness to one of the sport's biggest stars.

Bullock won her Oscar for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy, who takes Oher under her wing.

The 45-year-old was escorted to the Oscar ceremony in Hollywood on 7 March by her husband Jesse James, a reality TV star and motorcycle enthusiast.

In her Oscar acceptance speech she joked: "Did I really earn this, or did I wear you all down?"

Bullock dedicated her Oscar "to the mums who take care of the babies and children no matter where they come from," before paying tearful tribute to her own mother.

"To that trailblazer... I thank you so much for this opportunity that I share with these extraordinary women."

Actor Corey Haim laid to rest in Canada

Actor Corey Haim laid to rest in Canada

Mourners attend Corey Haim's funeral
The actor's funeral was held at Steeles Memorial Chapel in Toronto

A private funeral service has been held in Toronto, Canada for actor Corey Haim following his death at the age of 38 in a Los Angeles hospital last week.

Around 200 friends and family members were reportedly present, though actor Corey Feldman - Haim's Lost Boys co-star and friend - did not attend.

Writing on his website, Feldman said he stayed away "to minimize the media attention as much as possible".

"My heart is right at your side," he continued in an open letter to Haim.

"Just know I am at home today projecting positive energy for you and your passing," he wrote on Tuesday.

Police have attributed Haim's death to an apparent overdose of prescription drugs, though the official cause of death has yet to be announced.

Corey Haim, pictured in 2009
Haim died last week at Providence St Joseph Medical Centre in Los Angeles

Authorities in California have released a 911 tape that has the late actor's mother Judy telling paramedics her son was not breathing.

"He all of a sudden got out of bed," a distraught Judy Haim is heard saying on the tape.

"He wanted to go to the bathroom and he fell on the floor and I put him on the bed and then that was it."

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has said his office is investigating a prescription drug ring linked to Haim's sudden death.

The actor, best known for his Lost Boys role as the vampire hero's younger brother, had fought drug addiction for some years.

Folding plug beats Alexander McQueen to design award

Folding plug beats Alexander McQueen to design award


Janet Street Porter, judge: "I'd have this locked in a bank vault"

An innovative folding plug has been named as the overall winner at this year's Brit Insurance Design Awards.

The plug, designed by London student Min-Kyu Choi, beat a collection by the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen to receive the coveted accolade.

The three-pin plug, which folds flat for storage, was one of seven category winners announced earlier this month.

Choi was presented with his award by British artist Antony Gormley at the Design Museum in London on Tuesday.

Folding plug
Min-Kyu Choi's reinterpretation of the plug folds flat for storage

Gormley described the plug - first unveiled at the Royal College of Art's graduate show in 2009 - as "thought-through, responsive and modest".

The device, he went on, "shows intelligent, elegant and inventive design can make a difference to everyone's life."

Designer Tom Dixon and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter were among the judges who decided Choi should be crowned this year's overall winner.

All the shortlisted designs are on show at the Design Museum until 31 October.

Google's China clients seek clarity over plans

Google's China clients seek clarity over plans

Gathering outside Google's offices in Beijing, China - 14 January  2010
Google's Chinese customers are demanding clarity

Firms in China that sell advertising on Google are demanding clarity about the company's plans in the region.

A letter from 27 Google-authorised sales representatives was posted on the website of Chinese state-run television.

The letter issues compensation demands for investors, employees and clients.

The warning comes after Google indicated it may close its site following concerns that it was being hacked by government agents.

Google and China have not disclosed progress in any talks between them, and Google's clients in the region say that the uncertainty has been going on for too long.

"We see a constant stream of information but cannot predict the future, we see business sliding, but there is nothing we can do," says the letter, which was also posted on a website affiliated with China's central television. "We are waiting now in incomparable pain and disquiet."

The letter spells out demands for redress for investors, employees and clients.

Google has received the letter and is reviewing it, company spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said.

02 condemns file-sharing letters

02 condemns file-sharing letters

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter, BBC News

A postman
Thousands of letters have been sent

Mobile firm O2 has stepped into the row over thousands of controversial letters that are being sent to alleged illegal downloaders in the UK.

It condemned the attempts "by rights holders and their lawyers to bully or threaten our customers".

The row centres around UK law firm ACS:Law and its client DigiProtect, a anti-piracy firm which represents a series of content owners.

ACS: Law denies that its letters are bullying in nature.

"Neither we nor our clients threaten or bully anyone. We send out letters of claim to account holders of internet connections where those internet connections have been identified as being utilised for illegal file-sharing of our clients' copyrighted works," said Andrew Crossley of ACS: Law.

"Our letter makes an enquiry in that regard and invites the recipient of our letter to respond to this evidence. In addition they are invited to enter into a compromise to avoid litigation," he added.

The firm is in the process of contacting thousands of alleged UK pirates and offers them the chance to settle out of court for around £500 per infringement.

02's broadband customers are among those sent letters.

"Where we are legally obliged to provide information and the correct paperwork is presented, we will comply with the law," said an O2 spokesman.

"But we prefer the 'win-win' approach of encouraging the development of new business models that offer customers the content they want, how they want it, for a fair price," he added.

One-off payment

ACS: Law says it has so far identified around 60,000 different UK IP addresses, which reveal the identity of individual computers.

It is in the process of applying for court orders which would force the internet service provider behind the IP address to hand over the physical address of the individual connected to the computer.

Not all IP addresses will result in a physical address because one machine can generate more than one IP address and, in some cases, the ISP is unable to find the real address.

ACS: Law estimates that for every 1,000 IP addresses it requests court orders for it will get around 400 actual addresses.


Many of the case already underway were passed on to ACS: Law by another law firm Davenport Lyons, which originally began the claims.

Davenport Lyons has been subject to an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority over its role in sending letters to alleged pirates.

The SRA confirmed to the BBC that two of the partners, Brian Miller and David Gore, have been referred to its disciplinary tribunal.

"We are very aware of the public and parliamentary concern about the issue behind the Davenport Lyons complaint," said a SRA spokesman.

ACS: Law is also being investigated by the SRA.

ACS: Law declined to say how many of the cases it is pursuing have been settled out of court or how many have been dropped but Mr Crossley said that "some are in court at the moment".

The process used by ACS: Law has courted controversy because the accuracy of methods used to identify pirates.

Experts argue that an IP address cannot be used as evidence in court because it is not proof that the owner of the PC was actually responsible for the downloading.

Hundreds of people have complained to consumer watchdog Which, saying that they have been wrongly accused, including pensioners who claim they don't know how to download content.

It has caused distress to some of the accused, particularly as some of the content they are accused of downloading is hardcore pornography.


"My clients are losing money because of copyright infringement and they are equally upset that their copyright is being stolen," said Mr Crossley.

He declined to identify any of the clients represented by DigiProtect, beyond saying "there are a variety, some in music, some computer games and some in adult content movies".

In the UK the government has toughened its stance on illegal downloading and its new policy, if approved by the parliament, will see letters sent to people believed to be involved in illegal downloading

The letters will warn downloaders that they must pay for content or face being cut off from the network but will not ask for money or threaten court action.

UK music industry representative BPI backs this approach and said it has no intention of following a similar path to ACS: Law.

But Mr Crossley threw down the gauntlet to other rights holders.

"I think the BPI is letting its members down. I think they are scared of alienating their customers," he said.

"My clients don't have the same fear. They take the view that the people they target aren't their customers because they are stealing from them," he said.

Mr Crossley said that the copyright owners got a fair share of the revenue generated by the process.

"After my expenses the copyright owner is the largest single beneficiary," he said.

Another law firm has recently begun issuing similar letters.

Oil price rises after Opec holds its output quota

Oil price rises after Opec holds its output quota

Oil being pumped in Bahrain

Check the latest oil price

The Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (Opec) has agreed to keep to its existing oil output quota.

The decision was widely expected but nonetheless sent the price of the UK benchmark, Brent crude oil, up by 72 cents to $81.25 a barrel.

US light sweet crude was up 77 cents at $82.47 a barrel.

The oil producers' cartel is already exceeding its stated production target of 24.84 million barrels a day, but expects demand to mop up that extra.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister said he expected demand to rise strongly.

'Beautiful prices'

The minister, Ali al-Naimi, told the Reuters news agency just before the cartel's meeting in Vienna that he was content with the way things were going.

"Good demand, reliable supply, beautiful prices -- we are very happy," he said.

The kingdom, which is the second biggest oil producer in the world, behind Russia, said global demand would rise by one million barrels a day, with most of that coming from Asia.

But Opec's president, Germanico Pinto, said they could not be complacent about the health of the economy.

He said: "While there has been improvement in the oil market outlook in recent months, there is still a long way to go before we can feel at ease with the situation."

Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics, said: "Opec is responding to growth in the same way central banks are, in some way. They don't want to move until a nascent expansion turns into a more solid expansion, they don't want to raise production too soon."

UK unemployment records further fall

UK unemployment records further fall

Job centre
There are regional differences in the unemployment figures

The number of people unemployed in the UK has fallen again, leaving the jobless rate at 7.8%, figures show.

Total unemployment stood at 2.45 million for the three months to January, down 33,000 on the figure for the previous three months.

But long-term unemployment, covering those out of work for more than a year, rose by 61,000 to 687,000.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 32,300 to 1.59 million in February.

Unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds fell by 34,000 to 715,000, but among the over-50s, joblessness rose by 14,000 to 398,000.


"This is a positive surprise and not before time," said Colin Ellis, Economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, in response to the unemployment figures.

He said that workers were being flexible, so as to remain in the labour market.

"Workers are probably willing to accept lower wages or shorter hours to hang on to their jobs."

Stephanie Flanders
This is not the UK labour market of old: the headline unemployment numbers are moving with the economy, not lagging far behind as they have in the past
Stephanie Flanders
BBC's economics editor

Read Stephanie's thoughts in full

However, the number of people in work actually fell in the quarter, by 54,000 to 28.86 million.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that unemployment and employment were both falling because of a rising number of people being classed as economically inactive.

This category includes students and those on long-term sick leave, as well as those who have stopped looking for a job.

Meanwhile Jeegar Kakkad, senior economist at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Although the figures show that job losses in manufacturing are at their lowest since the recession began, the fall in employment increases the likelihood of a jobless recovery."


"One word sums up the latest official jobs figures: confusing," said Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

"Unemployment is sharply down, however you measure it. Yet there also 54,000 fewer people in work, with full-time jobs particularly hard hit.

"The apparent paradox is explained by a very sharp rise of 149,000 in the number of economically inactive people, with the number of students surging by 98,000. Jobless young people are thus turning to study in their thousands to avoid the dole."

While unemployment for the UK as a whole fell, there were some big national and regional differences.

Scotland experienced the biggest rise in unemployment during the quarter, up by 16,000, and London recorded the biggest fall, down 20,000.

In Wales, the number of people out of work increased by 9,000, while in Northern Ireland there was a drop of 2,000.

Party reactions

Reacting to the figures, Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said: "The fall in unemployment for the third month in a row is very welcome, but we should remain cautious.

"We're not out of the woods yet and we are still determined to do more to support jobs and help the unemployed this year.


Scotland: Up 16,000 to 205,000
Wales: Up 9000 to 133,000
North West: Up 3,000 to 290,000
North East: Up 1,000 to 120,000
East Midlands: Up 1,000 to 173,000
East: Up 1,000 to 196,000
Northern Ireland: Down 2,000 to 52,000
South East: Down 5,000 to 274,000
Yorks/Humber: Down 7,000 to 230,000
South West: Down 12,000 to 164,000
West Midlands: Down 17,000 to 254,000
London: Down 20,000 to 359,000
Source: ONS

Unemployment in graphics

"However, now is not the time to cut back on support for jobs. We know things will be difficult for some time, and unemployment in the 80s and 90s rose for years after the recessions finished.

"That is why we plan to increase help to get people back into jobs this year, not cut it back, so we can support the jobs of the future."

Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said the figures were encouraging, but that she was concerned about the lack of new jobs.

"Obviously it's very... it's welcome news that unemployment figures are going down," she said.

"But of course we mustn't lose sight of the fact that there are still getting on for two-and-a-half million people unemployed and one in five young people can't find a job.

"So we've still got... welcome news that unemployment is going down but we've still got a long way to go to get out of the damage that's been done by Labour's recession."

Meanwhile, Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesman, said: "These figures are only part of the story, we would rather these figures go down rather than up.

"But the number of [economically inactive] people who have just given up, that is a real concern."

He added: "The priority for an incoming government is to create new jobs, worthwhile jobs, not training the unemployed for jobs that don't exist."

Who will win Thai power struggle?

The prime minister of Thailand has rejected an ultimatum from anti-government protesters to call snap elections. How can the political crisis be resolved?

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered outside a military barracks in Bangkok, where the country's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva is staying.

The demonstrators want him to resign and call new elections, but he's rejected their demands. Many of the protestors support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption and abuse of

Are you in Thailand? Who do you think will win the battle of wills: the government, or the protestors? How can Thailand's political deadlock be resolved?

Jose Mourinho proud of 'perfect' Inter show at Chelsea

Jose Mourinho proud of 'perfect' Inter show at Chelsea


Inter were the better side - Mourinho

Manager Jose Mourinho hailed Inter Milan's "almost perfect" display after a triumphant return to Stamford Bridge.

"We were the best team by far," he said after a 1-0 win, 3-1 on aggregate, sent Chelsea out of the Champions League.

"We deserve this victory, this must be almost a perfect performance. Chelsea had reactions of frustration, of a team that felt the opposition was stronger.

"They tried to get back with conflict, long balls and diving in the box but I think everything we did was superior."

Mourinho received a warm welcome from the Chelsea supporters prior to kick-off in the second leg of the last 16 - his first competitive return to the club where he won two Premier League titles in three seasons before leaving in 2007.

But his new side produced a professional display against his former players and Chelsea fans were left with the enduring image of Mourinho doing his best to tone down his celebrations for Samuel Eto'o's second-half goal, which secured Inter's quarter-final place.

"I love Chelsea, I love this stadium, I love these people but I am a professional," stated Mourinho, who emerged from the tunnel before his players to take his seat in the Stamford Bridge dugout ahead of kick-off.

Mourinho insisted he would still be "The Special One" whether Inter won or lost, but the arrival of Inter's teamsheet was the first sign that he did not regard defeat as a serious option
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

"I celebrated a lot in the dressing room. I'm happy because I won. I am not happy my ex-players lost, because Roman [Blues owner Abramovich] lost or because the fans go home unhappy.

"It is a very important victory for me as a coach but it is not the victory of my life. It was hard to prepare myself to come here as an enemy.

"I exchanged some text messages with [Chelsea captain] John Terry before the game and I told him someone will go home happy and someone sad. My people will always be my people but I was the enemy - and the enemy won. That's life.

"Somebody asked if I would still be special if I didn't win. Now I can say I am not so special to the Chelsea supporters, who will probably never forgive me."

The Italian giants travelled to London with a slender 2-1 lead and Mourinho ditched his normally defensive tactics with an attacking formation that reaped dividends.

"The team accepted the risks that I took - and you don't always get that as a manager. I don't think it was tactics, it was attitude on the pitch," he added.

Mourinho also left the door open for a possible return to the Premier League.

"Who knows, in the future I may coach another English team and I will come here [again] as an opponent," he said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti had no complaints about the result that meant the Blues failed to reach the final eight for the first time since 2006.

"We didn't play how we wanted to. Inter put some pressure on our midfield and we had a lot of difficulty," conceded Ancelotti, who saw Blues striker Didier Drogba sent off in the 87th minute for kicking Thiago Motta.

"We played better in the first game and now were not able to repeat the same play so Inter deserved to win."

The Italian added that Chelsea's early Champions League exit increased expectations for the remainder of the season.

The Blues are second behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League and have a spot in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Ancelotti commented: "I think the players were disappointed at the end of the game because we lost. Nothing special happened.

"I'm disappointed because we lost and are out of a very important competition. I want to say best wishes for Inter because I have nothing against Mourinho or against Inter.

"Now we have two important competitions we want to win. We'll have more pressure on the next few games but we must be strong and have good control of our emotions.

"Maybe this defeat could be a very good motivation for the next few games. We have to be strong after this defeat. We have to have a new motivation, a good motivation, for the future."

England drop Jonny Wilkinson for Toby Flood

England drop Jonny Wilkinson for Toby Flood

RBS SIX NATIONS: France v England
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website; full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live

Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson's axing is one of six changes to the England side

England have dropped fly-half Jonny Wilkinson for Saturday's final RBS Six Nations game against France in Paris - with Toby Flood taking his place.

Northampton's Ben Foden is named at full-back, with Chris Ashton making his debut on the left wing.

Centre Mike Tindall and lock Simon Shaw start while in the back row, Lewis Moody is named on the open-side with Joe Worsley moving to the blind-side.

Skipper Steve Borthwick remains a doubt for the game with a knee injury.

The Saracens lock missed training on Wednesday and will spend two days with his leg in a brace.

Stade Francais second row Tom Palmer has been drafted into the squad as cover in case Borthwick fails to recover in time.

At least Foden is in from the start and Ashton has been given a chance, hopefully Flood can get the backline going

England manager Martin Johnson said: "Steve's injury was a little bit more serious than first thought. I hoped the scan he went for yesterday would be clear but it showed something. He will be assessed again tomorrow."

Flanker James Haskell, who has started all of four of England's Six Nations games so far, is forced to settle for a place on the bench together with Wilkinson and Tait.

It is only the third time in his England career that Wilkinson has been dropped, the other occasions were for Paul Grayson at the 1999 World Cup and for Danny Cipriani in the 2008 Six Nations.

Wilkinson, who plays for French side Toulon, was passed fit for the game after taking a blow to the head in the turgid draw with Scotland last weekend but has paid the price for a disappointing campaign.

He has come in for heavy criticism this year as England's backline struggled for fluency.

Leicester back Flood started at inside centre in the opening victory over Wales and made an impact when replacing Wilkinson at Murrayfield last weekend.

"Jonny took a number of bangs and heavy blows," added Johnson. "You need a strong squad. Going forward the next 18 months towards a World Cup, we are going to need at least two of everything.

"It's great that we've got Toby there and Jonny fighting it out and obviously the younger guys beneath them as well all pushing to get up. We would have been happy to pick Toby in every game so far."

And Flood told BBC Radio 5 live: "If you want to play international rugby you have to take your opportunities when they come. If it is France on Grand Slam night in Paris then fantastic - these are the reasons you play rugby.

"I am really looking forward to it. The good thing for us is that the pressure is all on them. We have not got anything to worry about.

"We are frustrated that we have not gone out there and expressed ourselves. People like Mike [Tindall] and Riki [Flutey], these are guys that play well with the ball in hand.

"We have to play that sort of rugby and use everybody's strengths."

Foden will make his long-awaited first start this weekend after two impressive performances from the bench against Ireland and Scotland.

England wing Chris Ashton
Ashton joined Saints from rugby league side Wigan in 2007

London Irish full-back Delon Armitage has struggled for form since returning from injury and has dropped out of the squad completely.

Wing Ugo Monye has a neck injury after a nasty clash of heads against Scotland and his absence allows the highly rated Ashton to win his first cap.

The 22-year-old rugby league convert has been in prolific form for Northampton this season, scoring 19 tries in 25 games, and is the Premiership's leading try-scorer, although he normally plays for his club on the right wing.

Veteran Gloucester centre Tindall missed England's autumn internationals because of a hamstring injury but has been picked for his physical presence, with a view to countering destructive Frenchman Mathieu Bastareaud in midfield.

"Mike coming into the centre is a tough call on Taity, who hasn't done much wrong but Mike brings a physical edge to our midfield," said Johnson.

"And Ben's form has been so good we have included him at full-back. Delon has not been playing as well as he can. That was a good call for Ben, who is playing very well. Chris Ashton's form has been very good."

Shaw, 36, started the first three games of this year's Six Nations and returns to the second row in place of Louis Deacon after missing the match against Scotland with a shoulder problem.

England go into the match aiming for a third win of the campaign, after beating Wales and Italy, while France are chasing victory in a bid to land their first Grand Slam since 2004.

Playboy accidentally played out on children's TV

Playboy accidentally played out on children's TV

Playboy TV
Preview clips from the Playboy channel were shown for two hours

TV bosses in the US have apologised after preview clips of the Playboy channel were accidentally played out on two children's channels.

A Time Warner Cable (TWC) spokesman said a "technical glitch" was to blame for the mistake, which lasted two hours in parts of North Carolina on Tuesday.

The company was made aware of the error after parents called in to report it.

TWC said it had procedures in place to catch errors, but it was not picked up as it affected only a small area.

'Worst time'

"We're very, very sorry it happened - we know parents are concerned," spokesman Keith Poston told local news station WRAL.

"It took about an hour or so once we were notified of the problem to actually get it fixed.

"It was a technical glitch and unfortunately it hit at the worst possible time on the worst possible channels," he added.

The error occurred on the Kids On Demand and Kids Preschool On Demand channels where clips from Playboy TV appeared in the top right hand corner.

Although a menu of available children's programming was listed on the left side of the screen, previews showing nude women engaged in explicit conversations were shown where previews of children's shows normally would appear.

Mr Poston said the explicit content aired from about 0615 to 0815 local time in parts of Cary, Garner, Morrisville, Wilson, Goldsboro, Willow Spring and Johnston County, but added most areas just went black when the equipment failed.

Time Warner said it regretted the glitch and had fixed the problem so it would not happen again.

Monkeys learn more from females

Monkeys learn more from females

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Vervet monkey

Monkeys pay more attention to females than to males, according to research.

Scientists studying wild vervet monkeys in South Africa found that the animals were better able to learn a task when it was demonstrated by a female.

The team compared animals' responses to demonstrations of a simple box-opening task, which was demonstrated either by a dominant male or female monkey.

Their findings are described in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Biologist Erica van de Waal, from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, and her team, studied six neighbouring groups of wild vervet monkeys in South Africa's Loskop Dam Nature Reserve.

They gave the monkeys boxes containing fruit, which had doors on each differently coloured end.

During an initial demonstration, the researchers blocked one of the doors, so there was only one correct way to solve the box-opening puzzle and access the fruit reward.

Vervet monkey opening fruit box

In pictures: Monkeys pay more attention to females

For three of the groups, a dominant male monkey was selected as a "model" to demonstrate the task and for the other three a dominant female was chosen.

"The models learned by trial and error how to open the box," explained Ms van de Waal. "Once they understood how to pull or slide the door open we let them perform 25 demonstrations."

After this "demonstration phase", the other monkeys were far more likely to try - and to succeed in - opening the fruit box if their demonstrator was a female.

"We found that bystanders paid significantly more attention to female than male models," said Ms van de Waal.

"[This] seemed to be the only factor influencing this social learning."

Social bonds

Watching and learning from dominant females could be advantageous for the monkeys. While males tend to wander and find mates in other groups, females usually return to the group in which they were born.

"Females are core group members with higher social status than males, and more knowledge about food resources in the home range," explained Ms van de Waal.

She said the results revealed valuable insights into "the evolution of traditions and culture in species living in stable groups, including humans".

"To our knowledge, [this is] the first experimental field evidence for social learning in primates," she added.

"Experiments on social learning have been conducted mainly in captivity and it is time to know if the results are the same on wild animals."

French policeman 'shot dead by Eta'

French policeman 'shot dead by Eta'

Police at the site of a shooting in which a French policeman was  killed, 17 March 2010
Police have been investigating at the car depot where the killing occurred

Spain's prime minister has blamed the killing of a French policeman shot dead near Paris on the Basque separatist group Eta.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was quoted as calling the killing "a criminal action carried out by the terrorist group Eta".

A man arrested after the shooting identified himself as a Basque Eta member, Spanish newspapers reported.

If confirmed, it would be the first killing of a French policeman by Eta.

Earlier, French authorities told AFP news agency that the involvement of Eta was one of several leads being followed.

The exchange of fire happened late on Tuesday when police checked the identities of a group suspected of stealing cars from a depot in Dammarie-les-Lys, a a south-eastern suburb of Paris.

'High price'

As officers were checking their papers, a second car drove up and opened fire. The officer who died was hit in the chest, French officials said.

I know the extent to which [the French] co-operate with us, they feel the cause of freedom and of the end of Eta as we feel it
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Later, police mounted a search operation in the area.

Eta is blamed for the deaths of more than 800 people since the late 1960s in its campaign for an independent Basque state.

There have been frequent arrests of Eta suspects in France, often in the south-west.

However, last month one of the group's top leaders, Ibon Gogeascoechea, was arrested in north-western France.

He was detained with two other Eta suspects in a joint French-Spanish operation in Normandy, in one of a series of recent setbacks for the group.

Mr Zapatero was quoted on Wednesday as saying that France had "paid a high price for its help against Eta".

"I know the extent to which [the French] co-operate with us, they feel the cause of freedom and of the end of Eta as we feel it."

He added: "The terrorist group is being pursued relentlessly but it maintains its criminal intent."

Eta, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU, resumed attacks in June 2007 after a truce of 15 months.

Mobile application sales to reach '$17.5bn by 2012'

Mobile application sales to reach '$17.5bn by 2012'

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

shot of iphone with apps
The success of Apple's App store has spawned an industry of imitators

The global appetite for mobile applications will explode over the next two years, new research suggests.

A study done for Getjar, the world's second biggest app store, said the market will grow to $17.5bn (£12bn) in the next two years.

The study claimed downloads would climb from 7bn last year to 50bn by 2012 - a 92% year-on-year increase.

It found there had been a gold rush with the number of app stores rising from four before 2008 to 48 today.

The study also suggests Apple's domination of the market could be challenged.

"We wanted to find out the real value of the industry because we felt certain segments like the iPhone were being over-hyped and so-called feature phones were being under-hyped," said Getjar founder and chief executive officer Ilja Laurs.

Feature phones are less powerful than smart phones but can still run some third-party software.

Smart rush

While Apple's App Store is regarded as the dominant player, there are many more to choose from including those from BlackBerry, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, and Samsung.

Nokia Ovi Store
Nokia is just one of the many players with its own app store

Google's Android Marketplace, for instance, has more than 30,000 apps made for smartphones running on its mobile operating system.

Mr Laurs said the figures attributed to the iPhone's value have been unbelievable in some cases.

"The value of the iPhone App store ranges from as low as $700m (£466m) to $2.5bn (£1.66bn). You can see the range is huge," he said.

Mr Laurs said the research found that feature phones should not be ignored in the rush to create apps for smartphones.

"It is almost as if these phones don't exist. We know smartphones are an extremely important phenomenon, but in terms of consumer mindshare and revenue share, feature phones represent 90% of the global market compared to 10% for smartphones and data cards."

Industry shake-out

Researcher Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting said that the charging model which dominates the app ecosystem is changing.

"Advertising and the sale of virtual goods has helped expand choices for developers and we will see all of that ramp up in the next couple of years," he told the BBC.

But most commentators think Apple's paid model will survive for the foreseeable future.

Steve JObs at ipad announcement
Developers are looking at what opportunities the iPad offers them

"I wouldn't say it is going to die, but the industry is going to evolve in alternative directions ," said Getjar's Mr Laurs.

Apple's iPad, for example, is expected to boost the app market according to statistics from analytics firm Flurry.

It reported that developer activity for the iPhone has risen 185% in advance of the iPad's April arrival. Applications for the iPhone can be ported over to the new device.

"We have definitely seen a shift back to the iPhone with the anticipation of the iPad and a little bit of the disappointment with the Nexus 1 (Google phone)," Simon Khalaf, chief executive of Flurry Analystics told business site

"Definitely there has been a rush of applications. It will invite a new wave of developers and it is a very cool device so people are going to develop for it."