Duchess with most titles in world dies in Spain

MADRID (AFP): Spain's eccentric Duchess of Alba, one of the nation's richest women who has more titles than any other aristocrat on earth, died on Thursday at the age of 88, a spokesman for her family said. Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart passed away at her Duenas Palace in the southern city of Seville on Thursday morning, a family spokesman told AFP. She had been moved to her home on Tuesday night after being hospitalised with pneumonia. The socialite is survived by her husband, who is 24 years her junior. Known for her frizzy hair and colourful dress sense, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart owned swathes of real estate, palaces, great houses and treasures including paintings by Great Masters from Goya to Velazquez.




Luxury cars in pole position at LA auto show

LOS ANGELES (AFP): Luxury cars lead the grid at the LA Auto show: limited editions, $200,000+ price tags, 3D dashboards for drivers and champagne on ice for passengers. What more could the ultra-rich motorist want? Red-hot stock markets, historically low interest rates and cheaper gas prices are fueling a surge in sales of top-of-the-range cars at the West Coast show. ‘The market is very robust,’ with 5-6 percent growth expected next year, said Johan de Nysschen head of General Motors’ high-end brand Cadillac, presenting the new ATS-V on Wednesday. The sports car will cost from $63,000 but Nysschen noted that the market is stronger for more expensive models, at over $100,000 - a segment dominated by European automakers, but where Cadillac soon hopes to compete. Those carmakers from across the Pond have in recent years extended their range to smaller and less expensive models, accessible to more customers notably due to low-interest financing.




Job authority spells depression for women

WASHINGTON (AFP): Women in authority appear to be more vulnerable to depression than their male counterparts, a study by sociologists in the United States said. Researchers looked into 1,500 middle-aged women from Wisconsin and compared their workplace experiences with 1,300 men in the same age bracket from the same US state. They found that women with job authority - the ability to hire, fire and influence pay - exhibited significantly more symptoms of depression than those who did not. ‘In contrast, men with job authority have fewer symptoms of depression than men without such power,’ said University of Texas sociology professor Tetyana Pudrovska, who led the study.




Taiwan orders hit record on iPhone 6 demand

TAIPEI (AFP): Booming shipments of smartphones including Apple’s iPhone 6 pushed Taiwan’s export orders to a new record high in October, the ninth straight month of gains, the government and media said Thursday. Orders, a key indicator for the island’s export-reliant economy, jumped 13.4 percent year-on-year to $44.91 billion, according to the economic affairs ministry. Orders for information and mobile devices surged 21 percent from a year ago to a record $12.9 billion, thanks to brisk sales of new mobile devices, the ministry said. The ministry did not identify the brands but the state-funded Central News Agency said strong demand for the iPhone 6 continued to boost export orders. Apple said last month it sold 39.3 million iPhones in the three months ending September 27, up 16 percent from the same period a year earlier.




Horrific record 1,020 rhino killed in S Africa

JOHANNESBURG (AFP): A record 1,020 rhinos have been poached in South Africa this year, the government said Thursday, scuppering multiple efforts by authorities to curb the slaughter of the endangered species. The vast Kruger National Park, has been hit the hardest by poachers, with 672 killed inside the park, which is roughly the size of Wales. ‘To date, a total of 1,020 rhino have been killed for their horn since 1 January 2014,’ the department of environmental affairs said in a statement. The poaching crisis has forced the authorities to move a number of rhinos to ‘safety zones’, some in neighbouring countries. Last year, 1,004 beasts were poached in parks across the country.  Demand for rhinoceros horn - which is made of keratin, which is also found in hair and nails - has skyrocketed in recent years, largely driven by the market in Asia, where the powdered horn is valued for its supposed medicinal properties.



Prince Charles to speak out as king

LONDON (AFP): Britain's Prince Charles plans to make ‘heartfelt interventions’ in national life when he becomes king, the Guardian newspaper reported Thursday, citing sources close to the outspoken heir to the throne. The prince, who has long courted controversy with what some see as political meddling, will remain ‘true to his beliefs and contributions,’ an unnamed source told the newspaper. ‘Rather than a complete reinvention to become a monarch in the mould of his mother, the strategy will be to try and continue with his heartfelt interventions, albeit checking each for tone and content to ensure it does not damage the monarchy,’ the source said.

Members of the royal family by convention do not comment on political affairs, and Queen Elizabeth II is famous for keeping her own counsel.  However, her 66-year-old son Charles has come under criticism in the past for his outspoken remarks about everything from genetically modified food to architecture.  Earlier this year he came under fire after he reportedly compared the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler.

‘The prince understands the need to be careful about how he expresses concerns or asks questions, but I do think he will keep doing exactly that,’ Patrick Holden, an organic farmer and friend of the prince told the Guardian.  ‘He is part of an evolving monarchy that is changing all the time. He feels these issues are too serious to ignore.’ The prince's office, Clarence House, declined to comment on his future intentions. ‘Speculation about the Prince of Wales's future role as king has been around for decades but it is not something we have commented on and nor will we do so now,’ a Clarence House spokeswoman told the Guardian.

‘The Prince of Wales cares deeply about this country and has devoted most of his working life to helping individuals and organisations to make a difference for the better - and not for his personal gain.’ She said the prince carries out over 600 engagements a year, adding: ‘This gives him a unique perspective which has often led to him identifying issues before others which might otherwise be overlooked.’ On Tuesday Charles spoke of the ‘soul destroying tragedy’ facing Christians in the Middle East, as he addressed the congregation of the St Yeghiche Armenian Church in central London. He said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to hear of attacks on Christians and churches in Syria and the wider region.