Jolie Feared Being A Bad Mother.

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie nearly opted out of adopting her first child because she feared she wouldn't be a good mother.The star adopted her son Maddox, six, from Cambodia in 2002, but admits it wasn't until she held him that she realised she was ready for the challenge of motherhood.She says, "They put him (Maddox) in my arms and I stared at him and I started crying and he smiled."I hadn't held children before in my life. I was always considered so dark and I thought maybe I shouldn't be someone's mom because I'm not so sure about myself - am I going to be the best mom?"The fact that this little kid seemed so at ease gave me the courage to feel I could make him happy and so we became a family".Jolie has two other adopted children with her partner Brad Pitt - Pax, three, from Vietnam; and Zahara, two, from Ethiopia - as well as their own biological daughter, 19-month-old Shiloh.

Jennifer Aniston Sexy Weekend With Mystery Man?

Who is Jennifer Aniston spending the weekend with? One thing is known, she is with her BFF Courteney Cox and her husband David Arquette. But there is a mystery man involved and that has gossips' tongues wagging. Who is the guy? No one has yet been able to get a positive ID on him.The story hit early on Saturday and Jennifer is now in Mexico. Flynet has video and even more photos from the group of A-list stars and the mystery guy as it appears they will ring in the New Year in Cabo together.There are two very clear photos of the man. He is wearing a Fedora and appears to be a pretty good-sized guy so this could be much ado about nothing as he could be nothing more than a bodyguard. He looks like a large Ben Affleck. The pictures and even a video are here at Flynet.There has been a ton of speculation of late about Jen's love life and the rumors have placed her back with old flame Vince Vaughn and with Sex and the City star Jason Lewis. The man in the photo is certainly neither one of them unless it is the best disguise ever.Several reports claim that the entire group made their way south of the border on Saturday and the speculation is that they will spend the rest of the weekend there and likely celebrate New Year's Eve together in Cabo.

Island Nuptual's for Murphy and Edmonds?

Are Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds planning to wed by the end of the year? It sure sounds like it. I’m told the Hollywood power couple will wed any minute now in the South Pacific.A source tells us guests and members of the wedding party are expected to arrive in Tahiti sometime yesterday. "It’s a small, private affair," the source says.Last-minute preparations took place earlier this week. "The bridesmaid dresses are all custom from somewhere in Beverly Hills," my source reports. "They just had their final fittings."Edmonds, 40, hinted at the holiday-season nuptials back in the fall. "I’ll say it’ll be before the end of the year," she told People magazine in October. "And someplace far away and fun."This is the second marriage for both. Edmonds and music impresario Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds divorced after 13 years of marriage. They have two sons.Murphy, 46, has five children with his ex-wife, Nicole, and one with former girlfriend Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown.Shortly after Murphy popped the question in July, Babyface insisted he and Tracey were "really good.""It’s as good as it could get," he said on Aug. 28 at a private concert at L.A.’s House of Blues. "We’re still very good friends."

'I'm pregnant' says delighted Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman and her husband of 18 months are expecting their first baby, the Daily Mail can reveal.The Oscar-winning actress and Keith Urban, the country and western singer she calls the "love of my life", broke the news to their families over the Christmas holiday.The 40-year-old Australian star had already spoken of "winding down" her film-making activities as much as possible next year.The baby, whose expected arrival date has not yet been revealed, will be the actress's first natural child.She adopted Isabella, 14, and twelve-year-old Conor during her first marriage to Tom Cruise.Miss Kidman was stunned when he filed for divorce in 2001.Shortly after they split, she revealed that she had suffered an ectopic pregnanacy and a miscarriage during the marriage.Miss Kidman spent her Christmas holiday in Syndey, after finshing work on Baz Lurhmann's epic romantic adventure film "Australia" on December 21.She is due to film The Reader with Ralph Fiennes and British director Stephen Daldry in Berlin next month, but has no more cinema work planned after that."I just want to spend as much time as possible with my husband," she told the Daily Mail.Earlier this month the actress also dismissed the idea of returning to the stage next year."It wouldn't fit in with the logistics and dynamics of my family", she said - a remark given extra meaning by the news of her pregnancy.Her most recently-released film is the extravagant fantasy The Golden Compass.Although the film was attacked by some critics, the actress's performance as the glamorous villain Mrs Coulter won wide praise.

Addiction Specialist: Britney May Kill Herself

Marty Brenner is a little concerned about Britney Spears after her crazy weekend of driving around, visiting numerous gas station restrooms, and possibly even sleeping with one of the paparazzi that follow her around almost daily.Brenner, who has two decades of experience and practices in posh Beverly Hills says, “Britney appears to be crazy. She is disconnected from life. She’s losing it now, and she’s going to eventually lose it altogether if she doesn’t get the help she needs. She’s exhibiting bipolar signs and she’s clearly fighting depression.Britney also doesn’t listen to anybody. Her mum is out of the picture, her kids are gone and everyone surrounding her is enabling her world of illusion.”He adds that Britney may be creating a circus atmosphere in order to steal the attention away from her little sister’s pregnancy.“Britney now needs to cry out for even more attention. She’s really going for it… No one stops to pee that many times. She has a major problem.” Well duh! It doesn’t take an addiction specialist to figure that one out. But I do agree that Britney is trying to get the attention from Jamie-Lynn back to herself. I also agree that she may be bi-polar. Combined with cocaine psychosis, and mental illness, suicide could definitely happen here. And if it does, everyone will be left wondering - why didn’t anyone do anything?

Christina Aguilera wants pregnant nude snaps for wall

Singer said to have approached mag for images from photoshoot Pregnant Christina Aguilera is hoping to get hold of nude photos of herself to hang on her wall.The singer, 26, recently posed naked for a glossy magazine cover, showing off her baby bump.Now she's requested enlarged versions of the images to decorate her home.'Christina loved those pictures, and wants to put them up in her house so everyone can see them,' a source tells The Sun.'She also wants them to be up when the baby is born so she can show him or her what their mum looked like while she was pregnant.'In her interview with Marie Claire, Christina revealed how she conceived within weeks of trying for a baby.'I had gone off the contraceptive pill to prepare my body, because I didn't know how much time it would take,' she explained.'I just can't believe it happened so quickly!'Christina is due to give birth in the New Year.

Jolie enjoys sex scenes

Angelina Jolie says she loves filming sex scenes. The 32-year-old mother of four says during sex scenes you can “just enjoy each other” with no strings attached.“A physical thing is, for some people, like me, very easy. You find something about that person that you love and you enjoy, that you truly embrace and have fun with, and you just enjoy each other,” said Jolie. “You’re two adults and you enjoy each other and you know that doesn’t mean anything – whatever it was is left there.”Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt filmed a sex scene in Mr and Mrs Smith and soon after began a relationship and a family. The couple now have a biological daughter and three adopted children.Earlier this year Jolie had to film a sex scene for The Good Shepherd with one of Pitt’s best friends, Matt Damon. Jolie still insisted the scene wasn’t awkward saying, “In reality both people we’re involved with couldn’t have cared less about that because they know us. It’s one of those things where it’s like the least threatening person. You know, ‘Good luck to you guys, I hope it’s not too awkward.”“The difference between kissing Matt and kissing Brad is simple,” added Jolie. “One’s a friend and the other is my lover.”Jolie to celebrate a multi-cultural xmas
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will ensure their children celebrate a variety of different cultures this Christmas. The couple, who have three adopted children as well as their own biological daughter, hope to educate their family about customs from their native cultures — but they’re planning Christian celebrations too.Jolie says, “We haven’t decided what we’re doing for Christmas (but) we try to celebrate as many cultures as possible. We celebrate the Moon Festival for my boys, who are from Asia.”

Jordan Gets Breast Reduction for Christmas

Britain's most busty model Katie Price aka: Jordan has gone under the knife again. Katie accepted a boob job gift from hubby Peter Andre to get her famous ta-tas reduced.

Apparently Katie had the procedure done here in LA because photogs caught her at the airport departing for London's Heathrow with her new rack. I wonder how much she'll auction off the old ones on eBay?

Britney Spears takes late night trip to buy stuffed horse

Troubled star decided to go shopping in the dark Britney Spears was spotted driving down LA's Sunset Boulevard late on Friday night in a white car with the boot flapping open.

If she was hoping not to attract attention, that's certainly not the way to do it.

The troubled singer, 26, was heading to the Rite-Aid drugstore to buy 'stuff for her babies' and, after parking in a disabled bay - she obviously couldn't see the sign in those dark sunglasses - she picked out a stuffed horse.

By then, the paparazzi had gathered and she had to negotiate her way of the car park to continue her shopping trip.

Alesha Dixon: Dancing makes me feel sexy

Singer says she feels aroused Alesha Dixon has revealed her stint on Strictly Come Dancing has made her feel very aroused.The talented finalist, 29, has been training 7 days a week for the dancing competition with partner Matthew Cutler, 34.'When you're dancing with somebody all day and spending that much time up close together, it makes you feel very sexual,' she admits. 'I'm more toned and I feel fit.'The former Mis-Teeq singer - who split with husband MC Harvey in November 2006 - says being in the competition has realy helped lift her spirits.'This year has ended better than I ever could have imagined,' Alesha tells the Sunday Mirror.'Why should you spend your life depressed over somebody else? Life is too short.'Well said, girl.

'The Hottie and the Nottie' Poster Dares to Call Paris Hilton 'Hot'

As sad as it is that they had to turn the "nottie" into a lanky Garbage Pail Kid for Paris Hilton to look comparatively hot, and that Hilton is so desperate for roles that she's resorted to playing a less-caricaturized version of herself, it's even sadder to learn that the plot of this is exactly what you think it would be. A guy in love with Paris Hilton hates having to deal with her hideous best friend, but eventually learns the friend has something called personality that might make up for her deformities. At least once she gets that inevitable 11th-hour makeover.After pondering why an ugly person's legs would age so prematurely, try to figure out exactly what point the filmmakers decided the ugly makeup was "too much." I'm guessing they got somewhere between an extra limb and full-on leprosy before deciding to reel it in.

Eminem’s a sham: Mom

Controversial rapper Eminem is about to court more controversy as his mother is set to release a book that reveals that he is not all he claims to reports that Debbie Nelson will reveal all in her book My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem. She claims he made up his whole difficult childhood in order to be successful in the rap music business.In the introduction she writes, “After his first album, Infinite, flopped, he reinvented himself as White trailer trash with a crazy welfare mom. I was shocked when I first heard the lyrics, but he constantly reassured me it was all a big joke. I went along with it for Marshall’s sake.”Nelson has been attacked both physically and mentally by her son’s fans and now she feels she has had enough of it.“This book is my way of setting the record straight,” she said.Some other claims she makes include that Eminem was a shy child and that he was so jealous of her new man that he wouldn’t let him sleep with her on their wedding night.He also reportedly beat her up on his 23rd birthday and was “so strung out” that he doesn’t remember.But even with all this the mother doesn't hate him: “My son never intended for me to become an object of hatred.”

Lindsay Lohan lesbian?

Lindsay Lohan has fuelled lesbian rumours after holding hands with new best friend Courtenay Semel.The 'Mean Girls' star and her pal, the daughter of Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel, have become inseparable recently and last week attended a housewarming party at the Los Angeles home of "Power Lesbian" Jeanette Longoria together.A fellow partygoer told the New York Post newspaper: "Lindsay came with Courtenay to the party around midnight and they stayed for an hour."The girls held hands and were with each other the whole time. Every time I see Lindsay, there's Courtenay. They are always together."While at the party, Lindsay, 21, and Courtenay, 28, referred to themselves as "roommates" and told guests they had been living together in Los Angeles for about a month. They left the party together and were seen shopping in Beverly Hills the next day.A representative for Lindsay: "The two are good friends, nothing more."Lindsay - who split from snowboarder Riley Giles, who she met in rehab this summer - has previously been linked to her DJ friend Samantha Ronson, the sister of producer Mark Ronson.The troubled actress - who was treated at Utah's Cirque Lodge for drug and alcohol addiction after being charged with DUI (driving under the influence) - was said to be nervous at Jeanette Longoria's party, where other guests included Diana Ross' son Evan Ross and Brandon Davis.
The party insider said: "Lindsay seemed really nervous. It was the first time she's seen a lot of people from her past life and she seemed socially awkward - like she was sticking by Courtenay for support."Semel infuriated her billionaire father by agreeing to star in E! reality show 'Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive' alongside Fabian Basabe, Brittny Gastineau and Katy Benetar. The show, produced by Joe Simpson, featured a group of spoiled, rich kids trying to rough it on a Colorado ranch.

Was Britney 'slimmed down' in new video?

Britney Spears' video for her new single Piece of Me has received a mixed response from critics, amid reports the singer was digitally-slimmed down for the promo.The troubled singer hits out at the paparazzi and tabloids in her second release from her latest album Blackout.The 26-year-old appears much slimmer in the official video than a previous un-edited version, which was leaked onto the internet earlier this month.
The promo, which cost a reported $500,000 (£247,000), was directed by Wayne Isham, who worked with Britney on her 2002 single I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.It was filmed over two days last month at the Social Hollywood and is alleged to be Britney's most expensive video since her 2004 hit Toxic. In the video, Britney and a group of lookalikes sneak out of the house dressed in wigs in a bid to trap the paparazzi.The group take over the dancefloor at a Hollywood nightclub, as Britney sings: "They still take pictures of my derriere in the magazine. You wanna a piece of me?"At one point, Britney drags a man into the club bathrooms and rips open his shirt to find a hidden camera. The disgusted singer writes 'Sucker' across the photographer's forehead with red lipstick before calling her girls in to join her for a dance session in the toilets.As fans and music critics rush to watch Britney's new video, American Idol producer 'Nasty' Nigel Lythgoe says the singer shouldn't hope to perform the song on the hit TV talent show.

Speaking to Us magazine, Lythgoe said: "I would have had Britney Spears last year when I thought she was trying to get it all back together again."Britney, at this moment in time, I don't think is well enough to do anything. "I think she needs looking after. I think she needs to pull herself together."Britney needs taking care of right now."Still, director Isham praised Britney's efforts, saying: ""he was very professional, excited to work and beautiful as always."I was impressed with her focus as she choreographed the dance herself. Her endurance was remarkable, as we had a long day.""She almost outlasted me, which is amazing! It was a pleasure to work with her again."

Miss Belgi-Ummmm: Alizee Poulicek Doesn’t Speak Dutch

Alizee Poulicek can take comfort in this fact: her beauty pageant scandal pales in comparison to other recent controversies from this field.There are no naked, lesbian photos (we’re looking at you, Katie Rees).Cocaine doesn’t play a role (hello, Tara Conner).Police were not misled about any pepper spray (way to go, Ingrid Marie Rivera).Instead, Poulicek is involved in a far funnier scandal: the newly crowned Miss Belgium doesn’t speak Dutch.Alizee Poulicek looks good in a bathing suit. Just don’t ask her to translate that sentence into Dutch.See, Poulicek comes from the country’s French-speaking region, which led to her being booed by a handful of the 4,000 people in the crowd during her pageant march to victory. On Saturday night, the contestant admitted she couldn’t understand a question put to her in that language.This led the Flemish tabloid daily Het Laatste Niuews to lead its Monday edition with: Miss Belgium does not speak Dutch.The paper underlined that the “community crisis in our country” - where there is no government six months after general elections amid bickering between leaders of the main French and Flemish parties - “has insinuated itself into even the lightest sector.”Poulicek’s victory “is not going down well,” the newspaper reported, making it the opposite of Rees and Antonella Barba… if you know what we mean!

Amy Winehouse to be quizzed by police

Fragile diva must answer questions about Blake's alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice Amy Winehouse is to be questioned over husband Blake Fielder-Civil's alleged £200,000 plot to rig his trial for GBH.The fragile jazz diva, 24, is expected to be questioned under caution and will be required to give fingerprints and DNA samples.The result of the interview could change her status from 'witness' to 'suspect'.'Amy's had her problems but she's really terrified this time,' says a pal. 'She's teetering on the brink.'If they're both handed lengthy jail sentences she's determined they'll end it together rather than face years apart.'She can't live without Blake. Her family are worried sick.'A Scotland Yard source told The News Of The World: 'This is a very significant development.'Blake was originally arrested after an alleged incident at the Macbeth public house in Hoxton, east London, last June.Barman James King, 36 - who was seriously injured - was allegedly offered a £200,000 bribe to change his story.

Jessica Alba Flips Off Photographers

As men all around the world wept at the news that Jessica Alba was pregnant yesterday, she was out trying to relax with a friend by having a mani-pedi and ended up flipping off photographers. Pregnancy hormones are a biatch.So for all you guys out there hating on Cash Warren for the being the lucky duck that knocked-up the most gorgeous woman in the world, just remember hot chicks get morning sickness and go pregnant/crazy too.

Shark eats swimming kangaroo in Australia


When businessman Daniel Hurst claimed he saw a surfing kangaroo being attacked by a great white shark many people asked whether he had been drinking or was suffering from hallucinations.But 32-year-old Mr Hurst insisted that he had seen the kangaroo bound out from bushes near the beach at Torquay, Victoria, jump into the sea – and then fall victim to a huge shark which leaped up and grabbed it.But the critics were silenced when other proof emerged that he was right.First, a second witness came forward to support Mr Hurst's claim.
Then local council authorities confirmed that they had found the mangled carcass of a kangaroo on the beach and had buried it.Finally there was confirmation that kangaroos do like to go for a swim if they get the chance, when a fisherman produced a snap taken recently of one enjoying a bathe in a nearby river.When Mr Hurst told of the shark attack, local newspapers asked for other witnesses – and yesterday Mick Boucher, who had been riding a surfboard at the time, came forward to say he also saw the incident.He watched in astonishment as the kangaroo hopped down the beach and entered the water.

"It was about 200m from shore when the shark struck. I could see its back clearly visible above the choppy waves as it attacked the roo," he said.The local coastal committee confirmed that workers had removed a dead kangaroo found on the beach the day after the attack and had buried it deep in the ground above the high tide mark.To support the claim that kangaroos swim, John Winkler sent in a picture to his local paper showing a roo enjoying an afternoon in the water at the mouth of the Aire River, a few miles from where the other unfortunate animal was grabbed by the shark."I was out on my kayak when I had to look twice because there was this kangaroo swimming along not far from me," he said."It was quite capable in the water, perhaps a little on the slow side, but it wasn't impressed by my appearance."Luckily I was able to take a picture to prove that roos do like to take a dip."

Coming Soon: Jessica Simpson Nude


The Jessica Simpson sex tape proved to be just a rumor, so the following may also be nothing more than a tease.But a credible source has gone on record to say that Simpson is sick of starring in movies that bomb at the box office. Just how tired of her faltering career is this wanna-be actress?“Jessica is in the running for a role that, if she gets it, will put her right on the map in terms of acting,” the insider said, “The only hitch is that the script requires a number of quite graphic scenes including a full-frontal nude scene.Jessica is so desperate to land the role and get the industry’s respect that she’s ready to go against her better judgement, and her family, by agreeing to bare all.”Good thinking, Jess. Those Tila Tequila nude photos have totally earned that celebrity the industry’s respect.

Just a few months ago, of course, Crazy Joe Simpson had been confident enough in his daughter’s career to turn down a role that required nudity:“The last script that came to us was for Jessica to be a porn star,” Joe said. “We were promised we would win an Oscar with that. I told them, ‘I think we’ll just buy a statue of a little man and keep our clothes on.’”Now? Tony Romo may no longer be the only person seeing Jessica Simpson naked. How the mighty, not-so-talented have fallen.

Oil spill spread over 17 km of S Korean coast


More than 100 ships and thousands of troops were deployed to clean up the worst oil spill at Mallipo beach in Taean, 170 km from Seoul Taean: South Korea deployed more than 100 ships and thousands of troops on Sunday to clean up the worst oil spill in its history, which has blackened beaches, coated birds in tar and cast a foul smell over a nature reserve.The slick has washed up in an area spanning 17 kms of the west coast, about 100 km southwest of Seoul, that is home to popular tourist beaches, a national park and oyster beds. The spill is threatening to become a major environmental disaster.The slick extends about 20 km from the Hong Kong-registered tanker that began leaking an estimated 10,500 tones of crude oil on Friday, after a barge carrying a crane punched holes in its hull while it was anchored, the coast guard said.The leak was patched early on Sunday, it said.“We have approximately 5,600 people who have been working from 2000 GMT Saturday... doing all we can to prevent the situation from growing worse,” said Ryu Hung of the Taean coast guard. “Considering the tide, direction and velocity of the wind, the oil slick is not expected to expand further for now.”

It will likely take more than one month to clean up the mess, maritime minister Kang Moo-hyun told reporters.Volunteers and government personnel have been scooping oil with buckets and absorbent cloth, treating birds covered in oil and scrubbing blackened rocks. Large numbers of fish and waterfowl have been killed.Ships deploying containment fences and oil skimmers have been trying to lessen the spill’s impact. The largest slick was spreading in Mallipo Bay, a maritime ministry official said.Police are questioning officials of Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd, which had the crane on the barge, the barge’s crew as well as the tanker's owner, captain and crew, Yonhap news agency reported.The very large crude carrier Hebei Spirit was 5 miles outside port and waiting to unload some 260,000 tonnes of crude oil from the Middle East when it was struck by the barge.

South Korea’s worst oil spill hits its beaches


Residents of Taen, S Korea, help in the clean-up of the region’s beaches following the oil spill caused by a tanker (below)Seoul: South Korean workers using skimmers and containment fences battled on Saturday to clean up the worst oil spill in the country’s history, as part of the slick hit the shore near a nature preserve on the west coast. A Hong Kong-registered tanker began leaking an estimated 10,500 tonnes of crude oil on Friday after a barge carrying a crane slammed into it while the tanker was anchored off Daesan port about 110 km southwest of Seoul.“A part of the slick reached the shores of Taean and on to the beaches. There are about 1,200 residents helping in the clean-up,” said Cheon Myeong-cheol, a Taean coast guard official.
The region is popular for its beaches and home to a national park. It is also an important rest stop for migratory birds. There has been no major impact yet on marine life where the first oil reached shore, according to the coast guard but that batch was only a small part of the entire spill.The largest slick was about 13 kms (8 miles) long and spreading in Mallipo Bay, about 90 km southwest of Seoul, a maritime ministry official said.“We’re installing oil-containment fences to prevent further inflow,” said Song Myeong-dal, head of the maritime ministry’s Information and Policy Monitoring team.The main slick is about a day or so away from hitting a west coast area that has marine farms and oyster beds, Song said.

Victoria’s Vocal Defence

Victoria Beckham insists she can sing. The Spice Girl, who has been given a catwalk strut instead of her own solo singing spot during the band’s reunion tour, has defended her vocal ability. Victoria said, “I’m no Mariah Carey, but I can sing. It became very obvious from the start that I was never going to be the best singer or the best dancer or the best actress. I was never a ‘natural’. You know, I’ve never been that good at anything, to be completely honest.” The 33-year-old mother - who has three sons, eight-year-old Brooklyn, five-year-old Romeo and two-year-old Cruz with husband David Beckham - revealed she agreed to the Spice Girls reunion because she wanted her sons to see her as a star.She said, “I wanted my children to see that Mummy was a pop star. It was the last opportunity for them to stand in a crowd full of people screaming for the Spice Girls.”Victoria also revealed the family’s move to Los Angeles, when soccer star David was signed to LA Galaxy, has made her children happier. She added to Elle magazine, “Going to school here, the kids are much happier. Their confidence level has gone through the roof. I’m very proud to be British, but here it’s a lot more relaxed. It’s the happiest as a family that we’ve ever been. I just love America.”Posh styles Jack Nicholson Victoria has lent her discerning eye to Jack Nicholson, styling the actor for a US magazine fashion shoot.Victoria dressed the 70-year-old About Schmidt actor in Armani with “vintage pieces mixed in here and there” for the shoot with Parade.She was asked to style Nicholson after her husband David bumped into photographer Lorenzo Aguius at a car wash.Aguius told Beckham that he was snapping Nicholson and the footballer said that Victoria would love to help dress the Hollywood legend. The magazine editors then asked her to act as stylist.Victoria said, “I’ve always been a big fan of Jack and when the opportunity arose to work with him I was delighted.”A source added, “Jack was a lot of fun.”

The Christmas sex war...or how men and women can avoid those yuletide rows


There are presents to buy, cards to write, relations to invite and turkeys to be bought.

But let's be honest here - it'll be women who are doing most of the shopping and organising in the hectic days up to Christmas.Why? Because for some reason, most men just don't seem to be able to 'do' Christmas. They buy their presents as the stores are closing on Christmas Eve - then leave them under the tree in their carrier bags.Ask a man to pop out for brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce and it's almost guaranteed that he'll come back with a singing Santa and a Terry's chocolate orange instead.And if you're hoping for a romantic gift? Well don't. Let's just say you're more likely to find a new vacuum cleaner or a foot spa under the tree from your beloved than diamonds or a weekend in Paris. Yes, Christmas can be an incredibly pressurised and stressful time, particularly for couples, who, despite it being the season of goodwill, often find themselves falling out a lot more than usual.But according to best-selling Australian self-help gurus Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of Why He's So Last-Minute & She's Got It All Wrapped Up, it needn't be so.They claim that with a little understanding of the unique ways male and female brains work, we can all learn to live with - and benefit from - our different approaches to the festive season.Why Men Leave Their Christmas Shopping To The Very Last MinuteShopping is most men's least favourite occupation. That's part of the reason they leave buying Christmas presents to the very last minute (or, better still, get their partners to do it for them).It's also why, when men go clothes shopping, they buy enough to last for the next nine years.

British psychologist Dr David Lewis found the stress men experience while Christmas shopping ranks level with that felt by a police officer dealing with an angry mob.For most women, on the other hand, shopping - even Christmas shopping - is a much-loved form of stress relief, provided they have enough time.The reasons for these two completely different attitudes lie in the different ways men and women have evolved over the centuries.As a hunter, ancient man liked to make a quick kill then go home - and today, that's exactly how men like to shop. They know who they have to buy presents for, they probably have a vague idea of what to get, and they go out and buy all the presents in one go.No agonising over whether Auntie Gladys will like that scarf, no deliberating over how much to spend on little James. If they possibly can, they also get the presents wrapped at the store. Problem solved.Women, on the other hand, shop the same way as their ancient ancestors would gather food: heading off for the day with a group of other women to a place where someone remembered seeing some tasty things growing.Women tend to start Christmas shopping much earlier than men, and it's not uncommon for some women to start next year's shopping in this year's Christmas sales - storing up bargains as they would have squirrelled away seasonal foods in prehistoric times.Often women don't know exactly what they are looking for, or even which people they are going to buy for.As long as they know they have plenty of time, they are happy to spend the day wandering from place to place with a friend, squeezing, smelling and tasting all the interesting things they can find, at the same time chatting to each other on a range of unrelated topics.

This is because, historically, women would go out in groups to gather and pick fruit. If nothing was available or ready for picking and they returned home at the end of the day with little to show for their efforts, then so be it.For men, this is an inconceivable concept. For a man to go out for the day with a group of other men with no clear destination, no clear goals, objectives or time limits and to return home emptyhanded would class him as a failure.To men, doing all your Christmas shopping at the last minute in one go is resourceful. There simply isn't time to deliberate - he has to buy 25 Christmas presents in the next hour, so he gets what's available in the time available and leaves.Why Women Are Good At Wrapping Presents - And Men Aren't
Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.Most men see wrapping presents as a fruitless exercise. A present is a present whether it's tied up with a bow or not. To them, it is pointless covering something in paper when you're just going to rip it off.A woman on the other hand likes to see that the giver has taken care and attention in wrapping her gift. To her mind, it is a display of love and affection to see that a present has been wrapped thoughtfully.But there is a scientific reason why men don't like wrapping presents. Men and women's eyes are constructed differently. Men suffer greater eyestrain than women because, as hunters, their eyes are genetically configured for long distances - for scanning the horizon for the next kill.As a gatherer and nurturer, a woman's eyes are better suited for close-range activites, making it easier for her to work on the fine detail.Being dextrous would also have been an advantage to the process of gathering fruit and berries as it gives twice the speed, so women have evolved to be more quick fingered and more likely to be ambidextrous than men, which means the average woman is excellent at tying bows and wrapping fiddly presents.

What's more, when it comes to choosing ribbons and wrapping paper, women's eyes are better at putting colours together than men. The retina contains about 130 million cells to deal with black and white, and seven million to handle colour.The X chromosome in our DNA provides these colour cells and while men have only one X chromosome, women have two, which gives them greater variety.This difference is noticeable in how women describe colours in greater detail. A man will use basic colour descriptions like red, blue and green, but a woman will talk of aqua, teal, mauve and apple green.Why Men Can't Find Sellotape, Scissors And Anything Else They NeedMost woman have had the following conversation with a male who is standing in front of an open fridge:David: "Where's the brandy butter?"Jan: "It's in the fridge."David: "I'm looking there, but I can't see any brandy butter."Jan: "Well, it's there. I put it in ten minutes ago!"David: "No. You must have moved it. There's definitely no brandy butter in this fridge!"
At that, Jan strides into the kitchen, thrusts her arm into the fridge and, as if by magic, produces the brandy butter.

Men sometimes feel that this is a trick and accuse women of always hiding things from them in drawers and cupboards.At Christmas, the list of things that men 'can't find' is seemingly endless - they can't find the Sellotape, or the scissors, or the ribbon, and, now they think about it, they're not really sure where the presents have got to either.They're all there, they just can't see them. Men don't just say this to cause a festive feud - there is actually a scientific reason why they can't find things.As a nest-defender, a woman has brain software that allows her to have an arc of at least 45 degrees clear vision to each side of her head and above and below her nose. This was needed to keep an eye out for potential predators.A man's eyes are larger than a woman's and his brain configures them for a type of long-distance tunnel vision, which means that he can see clearly and accurately directly in front of him and over greater distances, almost like a pair of binoculars - useful in times gone by for tracking down prey, but not so helpful when it comes to finding things in cupboards.The female hormone oestrogen also prompts nerve cells to grow more connections in the brain and makes it easier for a woman to identify matching items in a drawer, cupboard or across a room and later remember objects in a complex random pattern - such as where the ribbon is in relation to the Sellotape in the cupboard.New research suggests that male brains are usually searching for the word to go with an item, so if the tub is facing the wrong way and he cannot read the label, he virtually can't see it.

This is why men move their heads from side to side and up and down as they scan for a 'missing' object.Why Men Buy Women Foot Spas As PresentsTo men, present-giving is another opportunity to help solve problems and give solutions. That's why functional, 'useful' gifts such as foot spas, vaacums and kitchen appliances are so commonly given as gifts to women by men.
To appreciate why a man insists on giving solutions to every little thing, there are several things that need to be understood about the way the male brain works.Evolving as hunters, their main contribution to the survival of the human race was the ability to hit a moving target so everyone could eat.Men measure their own success by results, accomplishments and their ability to come up with solutions to problems. Therefore, men will usually buy women something they think will solve a problem and be useful.A woman wants a man to buy her an 'emotional' present, something personal, possibly something romantic. It's not that men don't like romance, it's just that they don't understand its importance to women.

Advice For Men - Why Shoes Are The Ultimate GiftIf a man is serious about buying his female partner a gift she'll love this Christmas, maybe he should consider buying her shoes.Shoes aren't something most men would think of giving as a present, but research shows that whether it's moccasins or sandals, women everywhere are shoe-obsessed. For example: on average, female Inuit (Eskimos) own four pairs of snow shoes to every one pair their male counterpart owns. In the Philippines, studies revealed that women own 12 pairs of shoes to every pair owned by a man.Clothes often disappoint women because most things won't fit, they look bad or highlight a woman's liabilities. But shoes don't fall into those categories because women don't have to diet to fit into them.Women are as obsessed with shoes as men are with sports. So if you want to be a big hit this Christmas, take her shoe shopping and make a secret note of the brands, size and colours she likes - then secretly return to the store, and buy them as her Christmas gift.Buying a woman shoes can have other benefits, too. Women unashamedly point, stare and comment on a great pair of shoes. It's a normal part of the female psyche.That means that once her friends hear that you bought her shoes for Christmas you'll not only become the girl-talk of the town, your love life will dramatically improve, too.Why Men Can't Write Christmas Cards And Watch TV At The Same TimeWomen are experts at multi-tasking. A woman can be writing a Christmas card list while making mince pies and asking her husband to test the Christmas tree lights are working.She can have a phone conversation while decorating the tree. Most women can do several unrelated things at the same time, and brain scans reveal a woman's brain is never disengaged, it's always active - even when she is asleep.

Men, on the other hand, find multitasking extremely difficult. If a woman asks a man to write Christmas cards while watching TV, he will find it very challenging. If she didn't turn the TV off when she was asking him, he probably won't even have heard her!In order to understand why this is, we need to look at how the brain works. The left and right brain hemispheres are connected by a bundle of nerve fibres called the corpus callosum. This cable lets both sides of the brain communicate and exchange information.Neurologist Roger Gorski of the University of California at Los Angeles confirmed that a woman's brain has a corpus callosum that is 10per cent thicker than a man's, and has up to 30 per cent more connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.He also proved that men and women use different parts of the brain when working on the same task. This, and other research agrees that men's brains are compartmentalised.A male brain is configured to concentrate on one specific, dedicated task at once, giving him a 'one thing at a time' approach.A woman's brain is configured for doing several unrelated things at the same time. To get a man to help you out over Christmas - present him with just one clear idea at a time. Don't ask him to pick up a Christmas present for your daughter in the middle of a conversation about what you're going to do for New Year's Eve.Choose your timing carefully - and ask him to do just one task.

Essentially, Christmas is so hard on relationships because it highlights the differences between men and women more than any other time of year. As Allan and Barbara Pease say: 'Men and women have evolved very differently because they've had to. Women evolved as child-bearers and nest-defenders, and as a result, the modern female brain is hard wired to nurture, nourish, love and care."Men evolved with a completely different job description - they were hunters, chasers, protectors, providers and problem solvers."And so, over time, the brain structures of men and women have continued to change in different ways. We think differently, believe different things and have different perceptions, priorities and behaviours."To pretend otherwise the Peases claim is a recipe for heartache, confusion and disillusionment - especially where Christmas is concerned.It's all a matter of learning to accept our loved ones as they are and not expecting them to be like us.Because - as the Peases painstakingly explain - they're not.In fact, just about the only thing men and women have in common is that they belong to the same species.• Extracted from Why He's So Last Minute & She's Got It All Wrapped Up, by Allan and Barbara Pease, published by Orion at £6.99. Allan and Barbara Pease 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

Lorraine Kelly makes an exhibition of herself in a plunging dress


She may have been posing beside an iconic photograph of sultry silver screen icon Jean Harlow, but Lorraine Kelly was not to be outdone.The GMTV presenter raised eyebrows in a very daring plunging black dress during an appearance at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland today.

She was almost falling out of her outfit as she posed for a photocall to promote the opening of the Vanity Fair Portraits Exhibition.At one point, the 47-year-old was forced to reign in the gaping neckline, but appeared to laugh off any threat of an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.It's not the first time her cleavage has been the centre of attention in recent times.

Last month, Miss Kelly's cleavage was criticised by royal corsetiere June Kenton, who told her she had been wearing the wrong bra for years.The Queen's 71-year-old underwear fitter said her breasts looked like they were "talking to each other".She asked: "How can you go on television like that?"A rather embarrassed Lorraine - who wears a 36B - adjusted her top but still managed to maintain a sense of humour, quipping: "My talking boobies."

Chimps beat people in memory task

A chimpanzee named Ayumu takes a memory test at the Primate Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan. Photograph: Tetsuro Matsuzawa/AP They are better than us at climbing trees, they have a more impressive bite and they would make a formidable opponent in a fight. But the brain is one area where humans have come to regard themselves as superior to the great apes.
No longer. Japanese researchers have found three young chimps that can beat people at a numerical memory task. The performance of the best chimp did not drop off even when it was given a fraction of a second to remember where the numbers were - suggesting it has an ability akin to photographic memory."There are still many people, including many biologists, who believe that humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions," said Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto University, who led the study. "No one can imagine that chimpanzees - young chimpanzees at the age of five - have a better performance in a memory task than humans.

"Here we show for the first time that young chimpanzees have an extraordinary working memory capability for numerical recollection - better than that of human adults tested in the same apparatus, following the same procedure."The team began by testing three pairs of mothers and young on a game that involved touching numbers from 1 to 9 in the correct order. The numbers were randomly scattered across a computer screen. To make things harder the team then changed the task so that some digits were missing. The chimps had to realise that if there was no 3 for example, then 4 was the next in the sequence after 2.To make things harder still, the researchers changed the game so that once the chimp had hit the first number in the sequence, the rest would disappear and be replaced by blank squares. To complete the task correctly, the chimps had to remember the locations of the numbers behind the squares and hit them in the right order. Again the chimps were up to the task.Finally, the researchers made the experiment even tougher by steadily reducing the amount of time the chimps had to memorise the sequence of numbers.

When the team compared the chimps' performance with student volunteers they found they left the humans standing. The difference was most noticeable when the chimps and human volunteers had least time to memorise the numbers. Top of the class among the chimps was Ayumu, who got the number order correct 80% of the time when the digits appeared on screen for just two tenths of a second. That compared with a 40% success rate for the humans. He also did no worse at this speed than when he had more time to memorise the positions.The team report their results in the journal Current Biology.Ayumu has had the advantage of playing this game for most of his seven years of life - and receiving a treat each time he did the task.

But the researchers do not think training is the only reason he is so good. Three of Matsuzawa's students received six months of training and never approached his abilities.Ayumu and the other young chimps' abilities are reminiscent of "eidetic imagery", an ability to retain a detailed and accurate image of a complex scene or pattern. This memory ability is present in some children, but declines with age. The experiment compared the chimps with human adults, but not children and the performance of Ayumu's mother, Ai, was not as good as the humans. Ai, now 31, was the first chimp to be taught the meaning of Arabic numerals in counting.

Do giant footprints found in the Himalayas prove the yeti does exist?

For the moment he remains resolutely invisible. But, as these pictures show, a new set of footprints has been found which offers evidence, albeit highly circumstantial, of the existence of the creature known as the yeti.An American television documentary team has spent a week in the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himlalayas, in the shadow of Mount Everest, hunting for the so-called abominable snowman.

Evidence: American TV presenter Josh Gates claims this is a yeti footprintAlas, the expedition failed to see the creature of myth, let alone bring back a pristine example for analysis.But it claims to have come across three enormous footmarks on sand and rock along the banks of the Manju River, almost 10,000ft above sea level.The best preserved would appear to be a right footprint about 13in long and almost as wide between the ends of its first and fifth toe.That is almost as large as a Daily Mail printed page. A cast was taken, which is what you see photographed here."I don't believe it to be (that of) a bear," said Josh Gates, a member of the expedition and a trained archaeologist."It is something of a mystery for us."He said that the prints were "relatively fresh, left some 24 hours before we found them".

Bigfoot: The yeti's 8ft cousin
Whether or not the prints were left by a bear, a hominid or a bare-footed mountain man with grotesquely swollen feet, the discovery will breath new life into a legend which first captured the Western imagination almost 90 years ago.The yeti - Tibetan for "rock bear" - has long been part of the local folklore in the Himalayan region.Accounts of its size, shape, colour and habits vary from valley to valley.Most agree, however, that it is rooted in magic and generally to be avoided.The first authoritative description of the creature and its legend was in 1889 by the British explorer Major L.A. Waddell.While journeying through the snow in north-east Sikkim he came across a set of large footprints which his servants claimed were made by the yeti.The servants said it was highly dangerous and fed on humans.

The Major wrote: "Some large footprints in the snow led across our track and away up to the higher peaks."These were alleged to be the trail of the hairy wild men who are believed to live among the eternal snows, along with the mythical white lions whose roar is reputed to be heard during storms."The belief in these creatures is universal among Tibetans. None, however, of the many Tibetans I have interrogated on this subject could ever give me an authentic case."The Major thought the tracks had been made by a bear.Few were interested in this piece of local colour, until an expedition in 1921, which catapaulted the yeti into the international imagination.A royal Geographical Society (RGS) expedition to Everest reported footprints in the snow at 21,000ft.Team leader Lieutenant Colonel Charles Howard Bury thought they were those of a wolf, but his Sherpa guides attributed them to a wild man of the snows, which they called metoh kangmi, one translation of which is "manbear snowman".

When the expedition returned to India, the porters were interviewed by a freelance journalist called Henry Newman.He is responsible for the term "abominable snowman" having mistranslated the word 'metoh' to mean "filthy", which he then exaggerated to "abominable".A legend was born.Shortly afterwards, another Englishman reported an encounter with a creature he said he assumed to be "the snowman"."Almost stark naked in that bitter cold... He was a kind of pale yellow all over, about the colour of a Chinaman, a shock of matted hair on his head, little hair on his face, highly splayed feet, and large, formidable hands."His muscular development in the arms, thighs, legs and chest was terrific. He had in his hand what seemed to be some form of primitive bow."In 1925, during another RGS expedition, there was one more alleged sighting."Unquestionably, the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes."It showed up dark against the snow, and as far as I could make out, wore no clothes."The locals claimed it was a demon.

The 1950s were the golden years of yeti-spotting. The interest was sparked by the British Everest Reconnaissance expedition of 1951 which brought back clear photos by Eric Shipton of strange tracks high on the mountain."They seemed to have come over a secondary pass at about 19,500ft, down to 19,000ft where we first saw them, and then went on down the glacier," one climber later explained."We followed them for the better part of a mile. What it is, I don't know, but I am quite clear it is no animal known to live in the Himalaya, and that it is big."Sceptics said they were animal tracks which had been distorted by wind or ice movement.Nonetheless, the pictures caused a sensation. Yetimania was reborn.

The conquest of Everest two years later only heightened interest, especially as more strange footprints were noted during the assault.For the record, the two men who reached the summit disagreed on whether or not the yeti existed. Sherpa Tenzing Norgay claimed to have seen one in 1949 - reddish brown-haired and "half-man half-beast".Sir Edmund Hillary remained very sceptical.The most determined effort to prove or lay the legend to rest was made by this newspaper in 1954.The Daily Mail funded a 16-week "Abominable Snowman Expedition" to the Himalayas.No creature was seen, though a number of unexplained footprints were noted.Relics which locals claimed to be yeti scalps were found to be taken from the hides of other animals.It was a great adventure, but not the conclusive scoop that had been hoped for.And so other unsubstantiated reports have followed down the years.In 1958, villagers reported having found a drowned yeti. It was not produced as evidence.Western climbers have seen strange animals at altitude from a distance. Others have heard wild cries in the night and found tracks.It all added to the myth. Indeed, inspired by the Mail expedition, Hammer Films made a horror flick called The Abominable Snowman."It was too horrible to bring back alive!" screamed the poster. "A cave was the trap: a human being was the bait!"Naturally, the actors find the yeti. And, it being a Hammer film, a yeti's death unleashes horrible revenge amid the snows.You mess with a yeti at your peril.The myth continued to grow. Sightings of an 8ft yeti-like creature named Bigfoot were claimed in America, with photographic "evidence".But what of these new footprints. Is fact as strange as fiction?
Ang Tshering, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said he had talked to the U.S. film crew and heard their story, but was not convinced they had found yeti prints.
"It could most likely be footprints of the mountain bear which is found in the area," he said.
"They showed five toes in the footprint cast they brought back, but according to the legends we hear from the villagers the yeti is only supposed to have four toes."However, Tshering does believe that there is something out there, wandering the high Himalaya, of which man has yet to learn fully."A mysterious animal does exist in this region, but that does not mean it is a yeti," he said.One day, perhaps, the world's most elusive biped will prove itself to be more than just a spine-chilling myth.For the moment we will have to follow in its footprints.

Posh's 'bacofoil' corset leaves her looking undercooked

Style queen Victoria Beckham famously wrote a book detailing how to get that extra half an inch.But in her revealing gold 'bacofoil-style' corset, the Spice Girl looks as if she is in need of it herself.Victoria, 33, showed off her metallic look corset, which had the unfortunate effect of making her resemble a trussed up Sunday roast, as she rehearsed with her fellow Spices, in advance of their comeback reunion tour.

Tin cups: Geri Halliwell checks out Posh's 'bacofoil' style gold corset as the Spice Girls prepare for their reunion tour which starts Sunday
Not only that, but compared with a similar corseted look at a photocall for the group when they announced their reunion tour earlier this year, Victoria has clearly lost inches from her once prominent bustline.Earlier this week, the Spice Girl was seen at the filming of fellow Spice Girl Mel B's recording of Dancing With the Stars looking much less perky in a certain area.With her once gravity-defying assets appeared to have deflated somewhat.

Deflation: Posh appears to have lost inches from her bustline compared to when the Spice Girls first announced their reunion tour, and now, right, as they prepare for the first concert in Vancouver on Sunday
Embarassingly, the self-styled fashionista was once forced to admit she had had breast implants in a court document for a libel trial.It is unclear whether her new look is the result of further surgery.Posh's 'bacofoil' look came as sketches of their tour costumes, designed by Roberto Cavalli, were released.

Designer threads: Roberto Cavalli's sketches show how the Spice Girls will look onstage in their specially created costumes
The Spice Girls reunion tour starts Sunday. And a nervous Posh is reported to have banned husband David from attending.David said: "One minute Victoria is saying she wants me there and then it's 'No, don't come to the first show, as we'll all be too nervous'."But, he added: " I'll be at the show a couple of days later in San Jose and have the boys with me. And I know Victoria will ring me as soon as the first show ends."

Rehearsal time: Geri, Posh, Mel C and Emma, seen during rehearsals for their world tour

Mother charged with murder after walking into hospital carrying body of disabled daughter

A mother was charged with murder yesterday after walking into a hospital with the body of her disabled four-year-old daughter.Joanne Hill, 31, had driven her daughter Naomi, who suffered from cerebral palsy, to hospital in the back of her car.Mrs Hill arrived at the accident and emergency department in the early hours of Tuesday morning carrying the girl.Eyewitnesses said the child was already dead and the distraught mother was in a confused state.Staff at the Countess of Chester Hospital tried to revive Naomi but she was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.Police launched an investigation into the death and arrested Mrs Hill. She appeared before magistrates in Chester yesterday charged with murdering Naomi.Last night the curtains were closed at her semi-detached house in Connah's Quay, North Wales.She is estranged from her husband, Simon Hill. The couple married in 2003 shortly before the birth of their daughter.

The family were said to be "devastated" by the death and were too upset to comment last night.
But friends described Mrs Hill as a dedicated mother who doted on her daughter.One said: "She was absolutely committed to that little girl and was a lovely person. We had no problems with her at all and always found her bright, helpful and friendly."A neighbour said: "Naomi was a delightful girl and we just can't believe she has gone. It is totally devastating."A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "There is an on-going police investigation into the death of the four-year-old girl from the Connah's Quay area. As part of that, 31-yearold Joanne Hill, also of Connah's Quay, has been charged with murder."Yesterday, staff and pupils at Golftyn Primary School in Connah's Quay, where Naomi was in a reception class, were said to be "dazed" by news of her death.Headmaster Paul Schleising said: "Everyone in the school is absolutely devastated."She was a lovely little girl who had a special gift of lighting up our day. She had the gift of bringing the best out in people.

"Our thoughts are with Naomi's family right now."Mr Schleising sent a letter addressed to parents on Tuesday informing them a pupil had died.It read: "It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the sad loss of one of our children. Naomi Hill, of Mrs Floyd's class, passed away earlier today."Our sincere condolences go to Naomi's family at this dreadful time. The children have been given the sad news by their teachers earlier today."A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday at Liverpool's Alder Hey hospital to establish the cause of death. The results have not yet been disclosed.Mrs Hill was remanded in custody until December 10 when she will again appear before magistrates.

Venus 'was once Earth's twin and could have supported life'

Venus may once have been a pleasant place to live, scientists said today.Data from an orbiting European space craft show that the planet is even more like a wayward twin of Earth than was previously realised.Venus is the Earth's closest planetary neighbour. The two worlds are about the same size and occupy similar orbits, although Venus is slightly closer to the Sun.

Billions of years ago, Venus would have had conditions very similar to those on Earth and may even have been habitable, scientists now believe.But a runaway carbon dioxide greenhouse effect, atmospheric erosion by solar radiation, and a slower rotation rate sent Venus down a very different development path.Today the planet is stripped of water with a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead, and ravaged by hurricane-force winds and lightning storms.

The findings from the European Space Agency's Venus Express probe, which has been studying the planet for a year, offer a sobering view of how Earth might evolve if there were catastrophic changes to its climate.Professor Fred Taylor, from Oxford University's Department of Physics, one of the Venus Express mission leaders, said:"It is now becoming clear why the climate on Venus is so different from the Earth, when the planets themselves are otherwise quite similar."These differences are not just down to Venus being closer to the sun, we now know that the lack of a protective magnetic field and the differing planetary rotation rates also play a role in ensuring that many of the atmospheric processes we observe on Earth occur at a much faster rate on Venus."Our new data make it possible to construct a scenario in which Venus started out like the Earth - possibly including a habitable environment, billions of years ago - and then evolved to the state we see now."

Scientists used an infrared imaging spectrometer on Venus Express called VIRTIS to take 3D "soundings" of the planet's atmosphere.The measurements showed a turbulent region near the equator with much smoother air flows at higher latitudes.Both poles were marked by swirling vortices several thousand kilometres across and unusual "double eye" cloud formations. These features were similar to winter atmospheric circulation on Earth.The vortex-like structures extended down to where clouds began to form 50-55 kilometres above the surface of the planet.Nine papers from the first year of Venus Express observations appear today in a special edition of the journal Nature.Key findings help to explain how Venus lost its water through the action of atmospheric molecules being torn apart by ultraviolet radiation and blown into space.A water molecule is composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. The new data show for the first time that large amounts of oxygen have been stripped from the Venusian atmosphere along with lighter atoms such as helium and hydrogen."In fact oxygen is lost at about half the rate for hydrogen, consistent with the source being water," said Prof Taylor."This happens at a faster rate on Venus than on the Earth, not just because Venus is closer to the Sun, but also because it lacks the magnetic field that protects the Earth from the solar wind and rotates more slowly than the Earth."These loss processes must have stripped away large amounts of water from Venus during the first billion years or so after the formation of the Solar System."Scientists have also found the first reliable evidence of lightning on Venus.Lightning strikes appear to be more common on Venus than they are on Earth.

Judge allows Britney to spend Christmas with sons while fresh reports claim she's pregnant again

Troubled pop star Britney Spears will be allowed to spend Christmas with her two sons, according to US reports.While ex husband Kevin Federline continues to maintain full custody, a judge granted the Toxic singer access to Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, for the holiday.The decision comes as fresh reports claim Britney is pregnant with her third child.

Britney's on-off love interest music producer J.R Rotem allegedly confirmed the news, telling a reporter from American magazine InTouch: "It's true."However, Britney appears to be struggling with parenthood enough as it is - she currently has three weekly visits with her sons, including one overnight stay, all supervised by a court-appointed parenting monitor.Spending Christmas with her boys is minor victory for Britney, who has struggled to prove to the court that she is a responsible mother after regularly failing to turn up for mandatory drug tests.

Pregnant again? Reports claim Britney is expecting another child
Meanwhile the 25-year-old, who received a disastrous response to her Gimme More clip, has begun work on a new video for her latest single, Piece Of Me.A team of Britney lookalikes converged on a Hollywood set for the shoot, wearing matching blonde wigs, dark sunglasses and black berets.Later, the woman herself emerged looking slightly less glamorous in a pair of pyjama pants and an oversized zip up jacket.
Will the real Britney Spears please stand up? Lookalikes kept onlookers guessing as Britney taped her new videoThe clip is being directed by Wayne Isham, the man behind the video for her 2002 hit, I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.A source told Us Weekly magazine: "In the video, Britney and her dancers enter a club in matching wigs and trench coats in order to sneak her in. But once they get in she takes off her disguise, and ends up being followed by the paparazzi anyway."Kevin, meanwhile, has been named on Details magazine's "Power 50 list" of influential people under the age of 45.Wig out: Britney doubles left the Hollywood set after shooting the film clip The former back-up dancer landed in seventh place and is described by the publication as a "good father".Kevin told Details: "To be a father is everything. It shows me how little I am.""My TVs are pretty much G-rated right now. Anything from SpongeBob to Finding Nemo, and you know, I'm still trying to decide which one of those I like more."He also plans to continue to pursue a career in acting, saying: "At some point I'd actually like to play somebody other than a bad guy or an ass."


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