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World’s oldest known holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, dies aged 110 in London

The world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor has died aged 110. Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor has died aged 110, her family have said Alice Herz-Sommer, who lived in London and was originally from Prague, survived two years in the Nazi camp in Terezin, or Theresienstadt, in Germany during the Second World War. Ms Herz-Sommer was a talented musician and an adept pianist and a film about her life is nominated for an Academy Award. She is said to have counted esteemed existentialist writer Franz Kafka among her family friends and, more recently, was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary about her life. The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life, a 38-minute film, is up for best short documentary at the Academy Awards to be handed out next weekend. Her grandson, Ariel Sommer, said tonight: ‘Alice Sommer passed away peacefully this morning with her family by her bedside. ‘Much has been written about her, but to those of us who knew her best, she was our dear ‘Gigi’. ‘She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us. ‘She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side. We mourn her loss and ask for privacy in this very difficult moment.’ Ms Herz-Sommer’s devotion to the piano and to her son sustained her through two years in the Nazi prison camp, and a film about her has been nominated for best short documentary at next week’s Academy Awards. She died in a hospital Sunday morning after being admitted on Friday, daughter-in-law Genevieve Sommer said. ‘We all came to believe that she would just never die,’ said Frederic Bohbot, producer of the documentary ‘The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.’ ‘There was no question in my mind, “would she ever see the Oscars.”‘ An accomplished pianist, Ms Herz-Sommer, her husband and her son were sent from Prague in 1943 to a concentration camp in the Czech city of Terezin — Theresienstadt in German — where inmates were allowed to stage concerts in which she frequently starred. An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent to Terezin and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were moved on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most of them were killed. Ms Herz-Sommer and her son, Stephan, were among fewer than 20,000 who were freed when the notorious camp was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945. Yet she remembered herself as ‘always laughing’ during her time in Terezin, where the joy of making music kept them going. ‘These concerts, the people are sitting there, old people, desolated and ill, and they came to the concerts and this music was for them our food. Music was our food. Through making music we were kept alive,’ she once recalled. ‘When we can play it cannot be so terrible.’ Though she never learned where her mother died after being rounded up, and her husband died of typhus at Dachau, in her old age she expressed little bitterness. ...

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Nets’ Jason Collins becomes first openly gay player in NBA

Veteran basketball player Jason Collins has become the first openly gay athlete to play in a competitive game for a major US professional sports league. Jason Collins has signed with the Nets, and with it, the N.B.A. has its first openly gay player. Earlier on Sunday, he signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Collins entered the court at the start of the second quarter in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The 35-year-old centre has played for five other NBA teams, but only revealed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated magazine interview last April. At the time he was not signed to a team. Needing another big man, the Nets turned to the seven-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s. “The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” general manager Billy King said in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.” The news comes as Michael Sam, another US sportsman who recently revealed he is gay, prepares to take part in American Football’s NFL Scouting Combine – a showcase of college players looking to be signed by NFL teams. Last May, Los Angeles Galaxy footballer Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a US professional league. However Major League Soccer is not regarded as one of the four main sports competitions in the US. Agencies

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Sydney Skinny dippers attempt world record for largest nude ocean swim

Hundreds of people stripped off on Sunday to take part in the second annual Sydney Skinny in an attempt to break the world record for the largest nude ocean swim. Competitors enter the water at the start the second annual Sydney Skinny. Photo AFP Over 700 people took part in last year’s inaugural swim, which aims to promote a positive body image. Held at Cobblers Beach, Middle Head, in Sydney Harbour National Park, the event sees participants swimming 900m amid the waters of Middle Head. There is also a 300m nudie novice swim. As well as promoting “greater self-acceptance”, the ticketed event also raises money for Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Projects. Starting at 9am, participants set off in quarter-hourly waves, before celebrating their achievements in the site’s festival area. Creator Nigel Marsh said that people use the Sydney Skinny “to throw aside concerns of body image, to connect with nature and celebrate living with more courage and kindness”. Writing on the event’s Facebook page after the swim, Andrew Gee said: “Did everyone enjoy today? Was such a great event. Thank you to all those who took time to organise it – see you next year!” And Karuna Elliot added: “Such an amazingly fun and well organised event. Thank you to all behind the scenes and those making it smooth today. “MoMo and I had a REALLY enjoyable swim and fun nudie festivities. We are looking forward to next year already.” Source Independent

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Drama teacher charged with having sex with schoolboy she met while directing production of hit musical

A drama teacher from North Somerset has been charged with a series of sexual offences against a teenage boy. Kelly Burgess. Facebook photo Kelly Burgess, from Newport, south Wales, faces four allegations of sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17, the MailOnline reports. The 26-year-old has been suspended from her post at a school in North Somerset and is due to appear in court next month. She will face four charges of adult abuse of a position of trust – sexual activity with a boy between 13 and 17 years. An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman told the MailOnline: “Kelly Ann-Marie Burgess, aged 26, of Newport, has been charged with four sexual offences against a teenager.” “She is due to appear at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court at Worle on March 17. “She has been charged with four counts of adult abuse of position of trust – sexual activity with a boy between 13 and 17 years.” A spokesman for North Somerset council confirmed a teacher had been suspended from their post while the allegations were investigated. The spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff at a North Somerset school has been suspended. “As the matter is currently the subject of a police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.” Agencies

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Baby boy died after nurse removed him from a ventilator without permission at scandal-hit hospital trust

The parents of Rohan Rhodes, a baby who died at St Michael’s Hospital, have spoken out about their ordeal ahead of his inquest tomorrow. The Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital – which is part of the same trust as St Michael’s where Rohan died Alex Rhodes and Bronwyn Vincent told MailOnline how they used wood which was originally to be used for their son’s cot to build his coffin. Ten days ago, the medical director of NHS England Sir Bruce Keogh ordered an independent review to investigate the care received by youngsters at the University Hospitals of Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and tomorrow, Monday, Avon coroner Maria Voisin will rule over the fourth inquest of a child’s death at the UH Bristol between 2011 to 2012. The jury in the fourth inquest are expected to be sworn in and Rohan’s mother’s statement will be read out. Rohan was born on August 27, 2012 at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, with a Patent Ductus Arteriosus. This is a congenital condition where one of the blood vessels in the heart remains open. The clinical team felt Rohan would require a ligation of the PDA, an operation where the open vessel is tied off. On September 28, at five weeks old, Rohan was transferred on ventilation to Bristol’s St Michael’s Hospital to undergo the procedure. At the time of his transfer, Rohan was in a stable condition, but against a backdrop of “poor care” which his parents claim he received, he deteriorated rapidly. They claim that on September 29, without senior authorisation, a nurse took Rohan off the ventilator on which he was dependent, and failed to monitor his blood readings. Following the extubation, Rohan crashed and nurses struggled to resuscitate him

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Las Vegas mother’s fight to save prostitute daughter Hannah Swanson from pimp

A heartbroken mother has told how she lost her teenage daughter to the violent, vice-ridden streets of Las Vegas, where she now works as a prostitute. Andrea Swanson has spoken out about the heartbreak of losing her daughter Hannah, now 18, to Las Vegas prostitution. Photo: Sky 1 Andrea Swanson’s daughter, Hannah, was just 16 when she met a boy her parents thought was ideal but who turned out to be a pimp who lured Hannah away into the casino city’s seedy underworld. Andrea, speaking to Britain’s Ross Kemp on a television special, said there was little she could do to get her daughter back, despite the involvement of police. Hannah Swanson, now 22, was led into a life of prostitution by her ‘pimp’ boyfriend trying to cash in on the seedy underbelly of the Las Vegas strip “In the autumn of her junior year at High School, she met this boy,” Andrea told Kemp. “All of a sudden, she’s not angry anymore and it all seems to be because of this new boyfriend. We were delighted.” “All of a sudden, he ends up in prison for stealing cars. That’s where the grooming happened. “He was writing her letters, filling her head with all these promises… Writing me letters, telling me he cared for my daughter…” The “boyfriend” spent two years in prison, returned to Hannah and her family but within weeks they were gone. Chris Boffman, the head of Las Vegas police department’s human-trafficking section, told the MailOnline that middle-class girls were becoming an increasingly common sight on the streets. “The catch is, they aren’t selling prostitution. It is legal to run an escort company but some of these escort companies are run by pimps,” Mr Boffman said. “With three girls, they can make $1m a year. One of the reasons they’re so violent and protective of the women that they’re trafficking is that they have so much to gain. “I’ve seen everything from women sexually assaulted, group raped, burned with irons, tattoos burned off them with irons, water boarding.” Andrea says her Hannah admitted to being a prostitute, saying her daughter told her: “You find the drunkest motherf***er on the strip, you proposition him…. then you steal him… you steal him blind. You take his wallet, his watch, whatever. I did it.” Andrea remains estranged from her daughter and has no idea where she currently is. ‘We need tourist money in this town, we just don’t need it off the backs of our daughters,’ she adds. ‘The attitude of Vegas is do what you would never do anywhere else, and leave. And you don’t ever have to think about it again but my family has been ripped apart.’ Agencies

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Teenage girl victim of grooming gang ‘raped by 30 men in just six hours including father and schoolboy son’

A teenage girl was groomed and raped by up to 30 Asian men – including a father and his schoolboy son – during an horrific sex attack lasting six hours, an inquiry heard. Hassan Abdulla, left, and Jan Kandrac were part of a gang jailed for a total of 54 years at the Old Bailey in London for raping and sexually abusing girls as young as 12 in Peterborough Campaigner Shaista Gohir MBE detailed abuse of the young vulnerable Asian girl in a shocking report highlighting how rife grooming was within ethnic communities. She claimed that sexual exploitation and grooming of young Asian girls by men of the same ethnic origins was happening under the noses of authorities – with community leaders, schools and families are all too ready to dismiss the attacks or even cover them up. Muslim and women’s rights activist Ms Gohir used the harrowing Birmingham case, involving a teenage girl who was allegedly raped by between 20 to 30 men, to call on authorities to do more to tackle the issue. The attack was said to have taken place over six hours and included a father and son, who was in school uniform, and taxi drivers who turned up in groups. The report, presented to Birmingham City Council, followed interviews with 35 victims, as well as several sex attackers from Muslim communities throughout the UK. Ms Gohir also challenged the popular view that grooming and exploitation, as in high-profile cases in Rochdale and Oxford, was mainly carried out by gangs of Asian men abusing white girls.

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