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Boy aged 14 is stabbed to death



A 14-year-old boy has been stabbed to death in east London, police have said.

Police were called shortly before midnight on Saturday to St Thomas's Place in Hackney.

The teenager, who suffered a single stab wound to the stomach, was taken to hospital but died on Sunday morning.

A girl, thought to be about 16, was also found with slash wounds and is in a stable condition at a hospital. It is believed they were attacked after an argument with a group of youths.

The boy's death brings the number of teenagers killed in violent circumstances in London this year to 25.

No arrests have been made and police are now appealing for witnesses.

Detectives believe they know the identity of the boy, who was pronounced dead shortly after 0800 BST on Sunday, but are awaiting formal identification before naming him.

A post mortem examination is scheduled to take place on Monday at the Royal London Hospital.

The attack came just hours after a 16-year-old boy was fatally stabbed after an argument at a party in Liverpool.

Luke Howard was found injured by police who were called to a house on Ashcombe Road, Old Swan, Liverpool, at about 0700 BST on Saturday.

The teenager was taken to hospital with stab wounds but later died.

A 15-year-old has been charged with his murder.

International Space Station is attacked...by computer virus from Earth





A computer virus has made the leap from Earth to outer space after hitching a ride on an astronaut's laptop.

The worm known as Gammima.AG was carried on board the International Space Station in July, according to NASA. It works by stealing passwords and login names for popular online games, then sends them back to a central server.


However, NASA were quick to point out that the malicious program did not put any essential systems of the ISS at risk and described it as a mere 'nuisance'.

The virus had infected laptops used to run nutritional programs and let the astronauts send e-mails back to Earth.

The space agency is now working to track down the culprit for the embarassing error. They believe it may have infected the laptop via a flash or USB drive owned by an astronaut.


The virus travelled 215 miles to the research facility which is in a low Earth orbit and surprisingly was not a one-off event.

'It's not a frequent occurrence, but this isn't the first time,' Nasa spokesman Kelly Humphries admitted.

That's one swell of a doggy paddle: The hilarious video of Labradors learning to surf

Dogs Branston and Pickle have stunned beachgoers - by learning to surf.

The pair of chocolate Labradors have become addicted to the sport since owner Mark Berry took them on a trip to the seaside.

Without any tuition, the four-legged beach bums have learnt to stand up on a surfboard and ride waves in to the shore.


And while the surf was only knee-high and unridable for their human counterparts at West Wittering, West Sussex, the pooches enjoyed tail-high waves to themselves.

The surf-mad mutts swim out to where the waves are breaking with Mark, 39, and then take it in turns to ride the 7ft board while the other one howls until it’s their go.

With a gentle push off from their master, they can manage rides of more than 10 seconds, barking all the way to the beach without wiping-out.

But unlike people learning to surf, the dogs aren’t content just to ride the whitewater - they've even started turning the board and riding along the face of each wave.

Their ability has stunned fashion photographer Mark, who now admits his pets are better at the sport than he is.

Dog Branston and bitch Pickle, both aged two, began surfing after Mark and his wife Gill, 39, a hairdresser, took them for a day on the beach.




While throwing a ball out to sea for the dogs to fetch, the couple were shocked when they spotted them riding back to the shore by body surfing in on the waves.

Realising their natural talent in the water, Mark and Gill decided to try them out on a surfboard.

And they were staggered when immediately the pair, who are half brother and sister, were able to balance on the board and catch waves.

The pooches are now hooked on the sport and have lost interest in trips to lakes or rivers - where there are no waves to be had.

And the couple from Ickenham, Middlesex, have even invested in a 7ft foam surfboard for the dogs.

Mark, who is a keen snowboarder and windsurfer, said: ‘Branston and Pickle have gone absolutely mad for surfing - they've really got the bug.

‘They're both very laid back, chilled out dogs for most of the time, but when they get to the beach they just go bananas.

‘They love water and we used to take them on walks to lakes and rivers so they could go for a swim but now they turn their noses up at anywhere that hasn’t got good waves.

‘When you get them in the sea, they howl and bark each other into waves and when one of them hasn’t got the board they paddle about waiting their turn and whining.

‘As soon as I get their board out they go crazy and it’s a race to see which one of them will get the first go - I think we might have to get them a board each now.

‘I can’t believe how good they are at surfing - it’s a bit embarrassing because they're already much better than me.



‘Maybe it’s something to do with having four paws on the board but they've got great balance and they're really competitive.

‘I just give them a little push off so the wave can pick up the board and then they're off - they've even starting to ride down the line - along the face of the waves.

‘Next thing they probably won’t need me at all and they’ll be paddling the board out themselves and doing tricks.’ Mark and Gill, who have their own artistic hairdressing business, are planning to buy the dogs a 9ft longboard, so they can try tandem surfing.

The dogs have also been invited by Wittering Surf Shop, which supplied them with their board, to provide a dog surfing demo at a contest later this year.

Dramatic pictures reveal damage caused by mid-air explosion on Qantas jet - and how passengers were lucky to survive

A Qantas jet crippled by a mid-air explosion will be repaired and flying to London again by November - as dramatic pictures today revealed how close to disaster the aircraft had come.

Officials said the Melbourne-bound 747 jet, which made a forced landing in Manila on a flight from Heathrow, could be repaired for less than £5 million, despite extensive damage in the fuselage.

The news came as photos suggested only luck had prevented a chain reaction of exploding oxygen cylinders destroying the entire plane.

One exploding cylinder was officially blamed yesterday for the devastating blast, but what was not previously known was just how close the bottle was to six other green tanks, lined up along the right side of the cargo hold.






A preliminary report issued by inspectors from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday found the faulty cylinder, fourth in the row of strapped-in bottles, 'sustained a failure that allowed a sudden and complete release of the pressurised contents'.

And photographs of the positioning of the other containers revealed the risk of an explosive chain reaction that, given the damage caused by just one tank, could have sent the aircraft plummeting.

The aircraft, with 365 people on board on July 25, immediately lost cabin pressure when the explosion tore a 5ft high and 6.5ft wide hole in the fuselage.





The ruptured bottle was blasted up through the passenger cabin floor but everyone on board escaped injury.

'It happened very quickly,' said Mr Julian Walsh, director of the safety bureau when he released the preliminary report in Canberra.

'The oxygen bottle went from the base of the aircraft to the ceiling of the first floor cabin.'

On the way, he said, it hit the handle of the cabin door, tore a hole in the fuselage and disabled the instrument landing system and the anti-skid brake system.


While it did not discuss the risk of a possible chain reaction among the other cylinders, the initial report also gave no explanation why the exploding bottle failed under pressure.

It was part of a batch of 94 that had been made in February 1996 and had undergone regular three-yearly checks and investigators will now be tracking down other cylinders made from the same batch by the US manufacturer.

So far, said Mr Walsh, no other problems had been identified.

Qantas said the aircraft would be safe to fly again once the damage had been repaired and could resume service as early as November.

The curious young cow who got into a spin after getting her head stuck in an old washing machine drum

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but fortunately for this inquisitive cow it only brought embarrassment.

The unlucky heifer was exploring the drum of a fly-tipped washing machine when its head became trapped.

The young cow was unable to free herself and it wasn't until a member of the public informed the RSPCA, who sent officers to free her, that she emerged unscathed from her ordeal.

The incident has prompted the animal charity to issue warnings about the dangers fly-tipping can cause.

'It is one of the more unusual things we had had to rescue an animal from,' said RSPCA spokeswoman Jo Barr.

'Young cows are quite curious, and she probably thought there was some food inside the drum.'

RSPCA inspector David Hobbs eventually freed the frustrated cow and she joined the rest of her herd near Higher Fraddon, St Columb, Cornwall.




Mr Hobbs said: 'Most people hate to see fly-tipping as it is an ugly blight on the landscape, but incidents like these highlight that as well as the visual impact the rubbish can also endanger animals.

'The heifer was probably curious to see a new item dumped in the field and curiosity would have turned to panic once she got her head stuck in the drum and was unable to get it out.

'If people disposed of their rubbish properly many animals would be saved from injury and death.'

He added that a large proportion of the injuries the Society's inspectors, animal collection officers, vets and wildlife hospitals dealt with are usually caused by people who carelessly discarded rubbish.


Horrific scars suffered by boy, 8, stung by deadly Man o' War on British coast





An eight-year-old boy was left in agony with horrific red weals on his leg after being attacked by a Portuguese Man o' War.

Jonathan Asplin was the second swimmer to be hurt in a fortnight, as record numbers of the jellyfish-type creatures appear on beaches in the South and South-West.

The youngster was lucky to get out of the water alive after being stung as he swam in a giant rockpool.

He needed hospital treatment for the sting - and was only spared even more serious injury because he was wearing a cut-off wetsuit which protected the top of his leg.

Jonathan did not see the Man o' War as he swam at Combesgate, near Ilfracombe, North Devon, but was left with livid red marks running above his knee to the middle of his calf.



Men 'o War normally live in warmer waters but can drift North on the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean in the height of summer.

They are not actually jellyfish but floating colonies of closely related animals called hydrozoans which float from the bottom of an 18-inch wide air-filled bladder.

The hydrozoans form a mass of 3ft-long tentacles which give multiple and agonising stings if a swimmer even brushes against them.



The sting can kill through anaphylactic shock and by paralysing swimmers so they drown.

The latest case comes after reports of a massive increase in the numbers of Men o' War spotted off British beaches or washed up on shore.

Jonathan was on holiday from his home in Kent with his mother Carolyn when he went swimming in the pool at the side of the beach at Combesgate.

His grandparents Alan and Jen Forbes helped give him first aid after he was stung on his left leg, and he was then treated at Ilfracombe Hospital.

He needed antibiotics and hydrocortisone cream to reduce the painful inflammation.

His mother Carolyn, aged 33, said: 'It was lucky he was wearing a short wetsuit or it could have been much worse.

'We aren't sure it was a Portuguese Man 'o War but we have looked it up on the internet and the rash on his leg looks as if it was caused by one.'

Oh mummy! Archaeologists unearth ancient tribe members sacrificed 1,300 years ago

Piercing blue eyes undimmed by the passing of 1,300 years, this is the Lady of the Mask – a mummy whose discovery could reveal the secrets of a lost culture.

She was found by archaeologists excavating a pyramid in Peru’s capital city Lima,
alongside two other adult mummies and the sacrificial remains of a child.

It is the first time a tomb from the region’s Wari culture has been discovered intact and gives historians the chance to pin down exactly how the pre-Incas buried their dead.



The mummy - assumed to be a noblewoman because of the ornate mask - was found in a crouching position surrounded by ceramics and textiles associated with female weavers.

“Her face startled me at first,” said 19-year-old Miguel Angel, one of the workers who carried her body out of the tomb.

“I wasn’t expecting to find anything like that.”

Earlier in the week, workers at the Huaca Pucllana site removed two adult mummies found lying near the lady of the mask.






Archaeologists have been excavating the area for three years and while they found plenty of artefacts, the 30 other tombs uncovered had been looted.

The Wari, who came from Peru’s southern highlands and ruled a vast area of the country from 500 to 1000 AD, conducted multiple burials and sent their loved ones into the afterlife with provisions and the tools of their trade.

“We’d discovered other tombs before,” Isabel Flores, the dig’s director, said. “But they always had holes or were damaged. Never had we found a whole tomb like this one – intact.

“The sacrifices were very common, particularly of children and young girls. They were part of their ritual offerings to the sea and the land.”









Two other masks were found near the bodies but the archaeologists believe the blue-eyed mummy was the only important woman among the dead.

“The mask had very firm eyes, they seemed very strong, and it shocked the workers as much as the archaeologists,” Ms Flores said.

Tests are being carried out on the other adult mummies to find out what sex they are but Ms Flores said identifying the noblewoman’s gender was relatively simple.

When in good condition, Wari tombs can be identified by the ceramic and textile offerings placed around the dead.

Small children were often sacrificed and it is common to find their bodies alongside adult ones.

Archaeologists said the child discovered with the adult mummies at Huaca Pucllana was most likely sacrificed.

The discovery confirms the Wari people buried their dead in what is now Lima and offers a more complete picture of how burials were carried out.

Why your email response time reveals if you're relaxed, driven or stressed


The familiar 'ding' of an e-mail landing in a colleague's inbox has become as common a sound in offices across Britain today as the 'ring, ring' of the telephone.

But, according to researchers, the speed at which workers respond to a new message provides a fascinating insight into their character and mental state.

In a recent survey, experts discovered that email users fall into three categories: relaxed, driven and stressed.

Dr Karen Renaud, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow, who carried out the research, said that while some people were happy to respond to emails in their own time, others felt compelled into reacting as soon as they arrived and became stressed if they had too many to deal with or were delayed in responding.

Women, in particular, felt more pressure to respond quickly to a new email than men, she said.

'The relaxed group don't let email exert any pressure on their lives,' Dr Renaud, an expert in computer science, said.

'They treat it exactly the way that one would treat the mail: "I'll fetch it, I'll deal with it in my own time, but I'm not going to let it upset me".

'The second group felt "driven" to keep on top of email, but also felt that they could cope with it. The third group, however, reacted negatively to the pressure of email.

'That causes stress and stress causes all sorts of health problems.'

Dr Renaud, psychologist Judith Ramsay of Paisley University and her colleague Mario Hair, a statistician, surveyed 177 people, mainly academics and those involved in creative jobs, to see how they dealt with emails received at work.

They found that 34 per cent of workers, who fell into the 'stressed' category, felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of emails they received each day and obliged to respond quickly to meet the expectation of the sender.

A further 28 per cent were 'driven' email users because they saw them as a source of pressure, while around 38 per cent were 'relaxed' email users because they felt comfortable not replying until a day or even a week later.

The research revealed that employees working on a computer typically switched applications to view their emails as many as 30 or 40 times an hour, for anything from a few seconds to a minute.

While half the participants said they checked more than once an hour and 35 per cent said they did so every 15 minutes, monitoring software fitted to their machines for the experiment showed it was more often.

On average people waited only one minute and 44 seconds before acting upon a new email notification, however two thirds of alerts got a reaction within six seconds, or faster than letting the phone ring three times.

Dr Renaud added: 'Email is the thing that now causes us the most problems in our working lives. It's an amazing tool, but it's got out of hand. Email harries you. You want to know what's in there, especially if it's from a family member or friends, or your boss, so you break off what you are doing to read the email.

'The problem is that when you go back to what you were doing, you've lost your chain of thought and, of course, you are less productive. People's brains get tired from breaking off from something every few minutes to check emails. The more distracted you are by distractions, including email, then you are going to be more tired and less productive.'

Dr Renaud said that the research also revealed that people who were 'driven' or 'stressed' email users were more likely to have lower self-esteem than those who felt relaxed about responding to emails.

'We do not know yet what trips people from being driven to respond to their emails to becoming stressed out about them,' she added.

'That is something we will need to do more research on.

'It was really surprising that so many people were negative about their email and the fact that the stressed group were predominantly female was also worrying.'

Another study, carried out last year, revealed that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email. This means that people who check their email every five minutes waste a whole working day - or 8.5 hours a week - figuring out what they were doing moments before.

Workers in creative occupations or jobs involving periods of concentration focusing on getting an important project finished - such as academics, writers, architects and journalists - were likely to be worst affected, while those in call centres for whom constant emails were integral to their work would not have the same problem.

US was behind conflict--- Putin



Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the US of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia, possibly for domestic election purposes.

Mr Putin told CNN US citizens were "in the area" during the conflict over South Ossetia and were "taking direct orders from their leaders".

He said his defence officials had told him this was to benefit one of the US presidential candidates.

The White House dismissed the allegations as "not rational".

Georgia tried to retake the Russian-backed separatist region of South Ossetia this month by force after a series of clashes.

Russian forces subsequently launched a counter-attack and the conflict ended with the ejection of Georgian troops from both South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, and an EU-brokered ceasefire.


Diplomatic wrangling



Mr Putin said in the interview: "The fact is that US citizens were indeed in the area in conflict during the hostilities.


"It should be admitted that they would do so only following direct orders from their leaders."

Mr Putin added: "The American side in effect armed and trained the Georgian army.

"Why... seek a difficult compromise solution in the peacekeeping process? It is easier to arm one of the sides and provoke it into killing another side. And the job is done.

"The suspicion arises that someone in the United States especially created this conflict with the aim of making the situation more tense and creating a competitive advantage for one of the candidates fighting for the post of US president."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino rejected the allegation.



"To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate - it sounds not rational," she said.

"Those claims first and foremost are patently false, but it also sounds like his defence officials who said they believed this to be true are giving him really bad advice."

Diplomatic wrangling over Russia's actions in Georgia continued on Thursday with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner suggesting some EU countries were considering sanctions.

Mr Kouchner insisted France had made no proposals for sanctions itself but, as current president of the EU, would aim to get consensus among all 27 countries of the bloc if sanctions were envisaged.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described talk of sanctions as the working of "a sick imagination".

Such talk was an emotional response that demonstrated Western confusion over the situation, he said.

The US has said it is now considering scrapping a US-Russia civilian nuclear co-operation pact in response to the conflict.

"I don't think there's anything to announce yet, but I know that that is under discussion," Mr Perino said.

The White House has also announced that up to $5.75m (£3.1m) will be freed to help Georgia meet "unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs".

Unwanted tattoos can be removed by cream injected into skin - without pain or scarring

Tattoos can often be a case of ink now, regret later.

Extracting the dye from the skin has usually been a painful process.

However, cosmetic surgeons are now offering what they say is a more efficient and less painful way of removing body art.






A cream called Rejuvi can be injected into the skin in much the same way as the ink is injected into the top layers of the epidermis to create the tattoo.

The Rejuvi is absorbed by the pigmented cells and bonds with the pigment, say experts.

This softens the ink and pushes it to the surface of the skin where it forms a scab.

When the scab falls off after six to eight weeks, the ink goes with it.

Experts claim the technique, first used in the U.S., has a higher success rate than laser treatment, is cheaper, less painful and has a minimal risk of scarring.

Stuart Harrison, director of Oxford Skin Clinics, which has just started using the process in its Harley Street, Richmond and Oxford clinics said: 'It is uncomfortable rather than painful but it is less painful than having the tattoo itself and certainly a lot less painful than having laser treatment.

'Laser works by breaking up the ink pigmentation. However this works by using the body's natural processes.

'The reason that a tattoo stays there is that a coating is put around the ink to protect it from the body's immune response.

'But this cream makes the ink identifiable to the body so that it realises the ink is there and starts rejecting it and healing itself.'

The technique was first pioneered in the U.S. but until recently the only way of using the cream was forcing it into the skin which had a 'cheese grater' effect on the skin.

Now a new micropigmentation gun can apply cream under the surface of the skin without scarring.

Previously the most popular method of removal in the UK has been laser treatment which breaks up the tattoo pigment in the skin, flushing the particles away through the immune system.

However, it can take several treatments and some complain the ink never completely fades.

Other treatments include a skin peeling acid or dermabrasion which involves freezing the skin and sloughing it off with a rotary tool.

It can lead to scarring and even a skin graft.

Some tattoos are surgically cut out but only when they are too deep to be treated with laser.

But Mr Harrison claims that this cream has a minimal risk of scarring.

He added: 'There is a risk of scarring but it is probably no worse than an ordinary cut.

'Aftercare is important to minimise the risk of any scaring.'

However, the efficacy of Rejuvi has been questioned on some U.S. chat forums.

Revealed: The mystical symbol that holds the key to your personality and could change your life

Simon Parke is best known to Mail readers as the man behind our Shelf Life column in Weekend magazine...




For 20 years, he was a priest in the Church of England - then gave it up to start life anew. Today, he is a writer and a leader of spiritual retreats. In a remarkable new book, he reveals the secrets of the Enneagram: an ancient symbol that can offer you life-changing insights into your own personality and that of those around you...





When I was young, I remember seeing a televised version of The Man In The Iron Mask - and heart-wrenching stuff it was. This famous story by Alexandre Dumas is built around a fascinating premise: that the true king of the land is bound and imprisoned in a castle, while his unworthy brother rules wastefully in his place.



The true king is denied sunlight, honour and the right to speak - while his country suffers in his absence. I find it a very good metaphor for the way we all live our lives.





Deep inside every one of us lies our true self - imprisoned by our false, outward personality. This false personality is not just the face we show to others, it's also the face we show to ourselves and which we've come to believe in as true. But it is a usurper.







To enter the castle of our psyche, disarm the guards, unlock the door of the cell, remove the iron mask and set free the rightful heir within - well, this requires much courage. Yet, even more than courage, it requires honesty.


Is this something you possess? I suspect it is - which could make the Enneagram a rather enlightening friend for you.

It is an odd word - pronounced Enny-a-gram - but announces a time-honoured way of understanding the human psyche, which is at once ancient and modern. Developed more than 1,500 years ago by both Sufi and Christian mystics, it was overhauled in the 20th century using the disciplines of Western psychology.

It starts with a symbol that looks like a nine-pointed star contained within a circle. The symbol identifies nine types of personality - nine ways of being. Each type is different, with different genius and darkness attached to it. And the intriguing truth is that one of these nine types is you.

Shortly, we will describe these nine ways of being. In this portrait gallery, you will find everyone who has ever lived - past, present and future. Every prime minister, pope, president and parent; every conman, murderer and tyrant; every boss, sporting hero and celebrity; every sister, every brother, every teacher, every friend.

It is fascinating to turn fresh eyes on such people. Most of all, however, you will find yourself - and it is a homecoming you deserve.

The Enneagram will describe you even better than you can describe yourself. Almost unbelievable, perhaps, but after 20 years of working with the Enneagram, in many and varied settings, I have seen it happen too often to doubt it.

Here you will find your true self, perhaps for the first time in your life. Because strangely, self-knowledge is often the last treasure we dig from the mine of our experience - and some never do.

It's not an easy process. The Enneagram has uncomfortable truths to tell us about the compulsions and fears that we each allow to govern our lives. So long as we are ruled by these desperate habits, the false king is on the throne. But the Enneagram also lets us glimpse the very best part of ourselves - and invites us to set that inner self free.

The following descriptions are brief - doorways into larger halls of understanding - but they are a start. Read slowly, don't judge, ponder all things and jump to no quick conclusions.

But as you wander through this gallery and gaze on these nine faces of humanity, can you sense yourself?








PORTRAIT ONE




There is a sense in which these people were good little boys and girls who learned to behave properly. And because their natural desires were forbidden when young, they rarely ask now what they want from life. Instead, they focus on what they perceive to be the correct thing to do.

They will be familiar with feelings of guilt, for there is within them a strong inner critic. This critic rarely gives them a break. It often tells them what they could have done better, but rarely tells them what they have done well.

It is hard for Ones not to pass on this critical attitude to others, and they can become a rather judgmental presence. 'Ought' and 'should' may well be significant words for a One. They have a clear sense of how things should be done, and tend to want others to do it in that way.

Anger is felt to be a bad emotion by these people, so they do not wish to express it. They do not react well to anger, either theirs or that of others. Within themselves, they work to keep it from view, hidden safely 'below stairs'.

When asked if they are angry, they will probably say no. If Ones do get angry, they feel bad afterwards, until able to rationalise it away.

Ones are concerned with how others perceive them. They are anxious to be seen to be doing the right thing and worry about this. There may also be lingering resentment about others not doing the right thing.

Homecoming and delight arrive for these people when their turbulent inner life and active outer life merge in a harmonising pool of self-acceptance. It is a place where no one condemns them. They feel entirely held by the water and know nothing but their own worth.

The energy and clarity of Ones makes them great reformers in their different walks of life. Their integrity and passion for truth make them truly inspiring. But to be free, they must leave behind guilt and shame, and learn to see the sweet perfection in all things - including themselves.










PORTRAIT TWO





These people are seen as life's carers. They love to be in contact with others, to help others, and to some, they look like saints - busy saving everyone.

As their sense of self is found mainly in external value, Twos move outwards, towards people, with remarkable energy. They may find it harder to find value in themselves, however.

It is hard for Twos to face their own needs. They were perhaps their mum and dad's little helper. They felt such help won them approval, and as adults, they both need and seek this approval still. They display a strong desire to be needed, and work to create dependence.

Because they have little sense of inner belonging, these people can become clingy in their need to belong in the world. In particular, they crave the approval of those they regard as important.

They are adept at flattery, knowing instinctively what people want to hear, and tend to merge with a strong leader. They are able to lead, but are much more comfortable as a power behind the throne.

Pride is an issue, as they impose their caring will on situations. They rescue people - but such rescue is not offered freely. Twos look for a sense of gratitude and dependence in the helped, and resentment is felt if this is not forthcoming. They can be angry and aggressive in such circumstances.

They tend not to seek mutual relationships but dependent ones. Like a cat, Twos can display both affection and extreme independence. They don't seek the help of others - just their admiration.

Homecoming and merriment come to Twos when they give up the self-image of saviour and dare to approach their own needy selves. They fear there is nothing within, yet they will find so much - a strength and beauty they never believed possible.

The compassion and generosity of Twos will always draw in outsiders. Their challenge is to do this with humility and freedom - and without manipulation.

When they realise they can save no one but themselves, they can truly save the world.








PORTRAIT THREE






These people like to be active, and are often perceived as successful. They tend to be seen as effortless achievers in their chosen spheres and possess a competitive edge.

They also possess a deep fear of failure and put much energy into avoiding it. Threes are skilled at succeeding, but often at great cost to themselves.

There is a schism between their performing self and their real self. They are attracted by the heart, but to go there seems a journey too far - so they stay active and busy instead; it drowns the pain.

Their background may reveal someone who valued them only for their achievements. The ambition of another is absorbed by them and becomes their own - a false self they carry into adult life. It proves a joyless taskmaster, however.

Threes instinctively find the right image and effective means of self-presentation in order to further their ambitions. Friends can become little more than those who serve the Three's self-image and may find themselves dropped if they no longer do this. These people have little sense of self-worth beyond that of achievement. They just wish to stay ahead of the rest. To this end, deceiving themselves, as well as others, can become a way of life.

Feelings are not welcome in this life-script, and no space is allowed for them. If feelings appear, they provoke great anger or sadness, and disable Threes quite seriously. There can be an inner crisis when activity stops.

Homecoming and hope come to Threes when they discover their world doesn't collapse if they are truthful to themselves and others; when they find that, they can fail and still be loved.

Adaptable, energetic, practical, they can lead and inspire in remarkable ways. But they must realise the pursuit of success is not the same as the pursuit of wholeness. Then they can soar like a caged eagle set free.








PORTRAIT FOUR




These people live with a sense of both beauty and abandonment. There is within them the sense that something-is missing from life. It is important they feel special as an adult, for they did not feel special when young. Certainly, they do not wish to be ordinary, and struggle with the common things of life.

There is often a sense of style in the way Fours do things. They tend to be creative people, whether laying a table or choosing clothes.

Beneath the surface is a melancholic sense of tragedy. Their feelings are up and down, and Fours remain acutely aware of any perceived rejection or sense of being misunderstood. Any hint of abandonment brings deep pain.

Yet, in a strange manner, they invite it. They may talk of a desire for a deep relationship, but tend to push it away if it comes too close. They are frequently negative to what is close, and positive towards the unobtainable and far away.

Their envy of others grows from an inability to love themselves and what they have. Everything within reach is unsatisfying. They feel the present is not quite real, but the future may be, in some golden and loved way.

In the face of their swirling inner emotions, these people can become controlling. Unable to control their inner environment, they desperately try to impose order beyond.

Homecoming and wonder come to

Fours as they connect with their beautiful origins. They can then begin to relate to people, not through sadness but through a sense of their own worth.

Their challenge is to live in the present, to leave behind their grandiose mourning. If only they can do so, they will bring style, awareness and deep creativity to everything they touch.








PORTRAIT FIVE




These people drift towards the corner, wishing to hide themselves. They tend to be quiet loners and unemotional.

They are inclined to pause before they speak, and choose their words carefully when they do. They know what they think, but find it hard to state what they feel.

They may stockpile knowledge of some sort, for fear of inner emptiness, and in order to help them in the world. Knowledge is their weapon in a world perceived by them to be hostile. If they can know more than others around them, they may just be OK.

These people tend to be observers, trying to understand the world before taking part. Some Fives never get round to taking part, however, lacking both the energy and social skills to connect with others.

They are stingy with the time they offer relationships. Life is compartmentalised to keep the contradictions at bay; every commitment has a box, and every box a time limit.

Fives may be experts in particular areas of knowledge, large or small, but they are frightened. In a heated situation, their first step is always back, and they fear spontaneous confrontation.

They struggle to be present to anything, delaying emotional response until after the event, when they are alone. Fearful Fives greatly value self-control and seek predictability, wishing to know what will happen and when.

They gain strength from solitude - but need be aware of when solitude becomes isolation.

Homecoming and engagement come to Fives when they submit to instinctive action, and say 'Yes' to the emotional flow of the world around them. Perhaps they became adults too early. It is time for them to play again.

Challenged to step beyond their own small constructs, Fives can step happily onto the public stage and bring gifts of understanding, focus, clarity and wit.








PORTRAIT SIX






These people are much concerned with issues of trust, security and authority. The big question for them is: what or who will bring me security?

They have mixed feelings about authority. In one sense, they gave up trusting it a long time ago. Yet neither do they trust themselves. They look elsewhere for identity, and their desperate search for someone or something to trust does not always result in good choices.

They have powerful imaginations, with a tendency towards a paranoid version of reality. They constantly scour the horizon for danger in order to be prepared. Sixes either plunge recklessly at what they fear, or run away.

These people are very aware of rules, of norms, and have no desire to be regarded as deviant. They tend to be loyal to the institutions they are part of, and submissive followers if a leader is found.

They may be little bigots in their own quiet way, overly sure of their opinions; and they tend to create baddies and heroes in their relationships. They are instinctive supporters of the underdog, perceiving themselves in that role.

Dominated by their head, internal debates can go round and round inside a Six, paralysing their decision-making. These are fearful people - and, fearful of making a bad decision, they can end up making no decision at all.

Homecoming and wholeness come to Sixes when a trust in themselves replaces an apprehensive conformity to authority. Instead of valuing the values of others, they grow to value their own. They must find their own voice, for it is a good voice. Rooted in their own inner strength, they will reveal the humorous, engaging, confident, loyal and assured people they are.






PORTRAIT SEVEN






These people are always looking to the future. They are instinctive planners, working to keep options open and escape routes clear, with a deep fear of being bored. With plots, maps and back-up plans, their life-script is one of uneasy activity, like that of a colourful but restless butterfly. They seek out social contact - but remain individualists in all settings.

Sevens often smile - but the smile does not always reach their eyes, which may reveal fear. Their defence mechanism is often a mind-circus of thinking, associated ideas populating their brains like monkeys swinging through trees. They love their mind - and often confuse it with genuine emotion.

These people often bring optimism to situations. Under stress, however, they can lose their natural optimism and acquire instead a critical and carping attitude towards others. There is negativity close to the charming surface of Sevens.

Sevens are head rather than heart people. Genuine emotion can be hard for them - either to recognise or participate in. They plan to avoid such things, with a natural inclination to keep things light and on the surface.

But a persistent feeling of alienation can leave these sociable souls wondering whether they are loved in this world - for true connection always seems denied them.

To compensate, they seek a variety of experience, greedy always for the new. Pain and sadness are what they most fiercely reject; they will do anything in their power to avoid these.

Sevens know how to get to places - but not always what to do when they have arrived. They prefer a feast of many adventures to the deep experience of just one.

Homecoming and peace come for Sevens when they allow themselves to be touched by the sheer depth of existence. They become aware that to run towards pleasure is not necessarily to run away from pain. They learn to live in the honest moment, with level-headed calm.

They will always possess a butterfly quality, colourfully touching many things. But at their best this becomes a joyous dance, a celebration of goodness and beauty, while also accepting that existence brings pain.







PORTRAIT EIGHT






These people take pride in their power and strength, and if they are not in charge, they will take on the one who is. Life is warfare, so it is best to hit hard and hit first. They believe that everyone needs testing, and that truth comes out in a fight.

The talk style of Eights is to make others hear and understand what they want to say, and can be more a monologue than dialogue. Natural leaders, these people enjoy using their strength.

In their better moments, they use their vibrancy and daring on behalf of the weak. In their less good moments, they use it to build their own kingdom. They have a great lust for life with all its tastes and experiences. Consequently, they can feel constrained by society's rules.

They live by confrontation, and when there is none, they may need to create it. They seek to pull down all those who have power. They might call this 'the pursuit of justice', but it may equally be about vengeance or getting even.

Beneath the surface of the Eight, though perhaps strongly denied, is guilt and self-blame. They despise weakness in others, just as they cannot face it in themselves. Eights seek to control people rather than relate to them.

Homecoming and healing come for Eights when they discover their own innocence, and grow to seek truth in engagement rather than battle. Then, the great force of Eights can be used on behalf of others.

Compassion replaces domination as the guiding principle. Friendship rather than competition fills their great heart. Seeing the harmony in the world, their strength becomes the beautiful power of gentleness.








PORTRAIT NINE






These people feel happiest amid peace and unity. Conflict is the last thing they wish to face. Nines tend to present a calm demeanour, and may be considered easy-going by some people. But beneath the surface is a stubborn streak, and they will do nothing they do not wish to.

Nines are the queens and kings of self-forgetfulness, sacrificing their own identity in order to accommodate the attitudes of those around. Sensing they were beyond the reach of goodness, they fell asleep to themselves long ago.

They turn now from real wishes to small comforts and substitutes for love. They can inhabit the lives of others just as enjoyably as they can inhabit their own.

These people fear conflict. They prefer to say 'yes' even if they mean 'no' - if it means they do not have to grasp the nettle. As leaders, they are at their best when there are no decisions to be taken. There is a tendency towards the unfocused use of time, and they can be easily diverted by the non-essential.

With little sense of their own self-worth, like a dry sponge in water, they absorb praise or attention. Some Nines develop an elaborate and posturing self-importance as a bolster to poor self-esteem.

Anger is Nine's primary issue, but is repressed, and usually expressed in passive ways - through catty remarks, a depressed or surly attitude or just plain laziness and sloth. Just occasionally, the anger may come to the surface and explode terribly.

They are attracted to the familiar and the old, and fear the learning of new tricks.

Homecoming and happiness come to Nines when they wake up to their own value, their own deep goodness. They leave the lethargic pit of self-abasement and take their authentic, individual place in the world. They become the strong reconcilers and mediators they were born to be. Like no other number, Nines can hold the world in their big arms - arms of deep and knowing love.







THE NEXT STEP






So there it is - a gallery of small portraits. Perhaps you saw others there: family, friends. But did you see yourself?

There is no rush to find your number. And don't worry if you see aspects of yourself in all nine types. You're seeing that because it's true - all the numbers are connected, just as all human beings are connected.

Some of the most important connections are shown by the lines that zig-zag across the face of the Enneagram, linking various numbers (see box above).

But don't get distracted by this. If you listen long enough, and patiently enough, one number above all will call out to you. It may come slowly, like the breaking dawn, but it will come.

Ponder on these things, without judgment. Tomorrow, we will fill the portraits out a little and discover more about how the Enneagram can free our better selves. There's too much good news to stop now.
The paths to pain that bring out the worst in all of us

The zig-zag lines that cross the Enneagram show important connections between the nine personality types. There are connections that reveal problems we must face, and others that reveal paths of healing.

Today, I want to look at how the lines lead us to our 'stress points'.

These are traps that we fall into when we come under strain and pressure.

At our most vulnerable, we adopt ways of being that are far, far away from our best selves.

Interestingly, the face we show in these situations will strongly resemble the dark side of another number on the Enneagram.

The lines across the circle show us how this works.





ONES
: Your stress point is number Four, and takes the form of self-loathing. You yearn to be correct in the world, but in times of stress your inner critic tells you that you're a failure. You try to hide what you really feel - smiling when you are furious, for instance - but the compulsion to judge turns inward, and guilt and self-condemnation overpower you.






TWOS
: Your stress point is number Eight, and takes the form of vengeful desires. You yearn to be a saviour for others, but in times of stress you resent their failure to respond as they should to your care. If they do not respond to your manipulation, it can provoke a sense of humiliation and anger. Suddenly, the carer wants to punish.






THREES
: Your stress point is Nine, and takes the form of numbing self-distraction. You yearn to be successful, a superhero who can always deliver, but in times of stress you come under siege from feelings of failure you've tried to deny. Your response is to enter emotional shutdown. The great 'doer' slumps from hyperactivity into lethargy and depression.







FOURS
: Your stress point is Two, and takes the form of proud separation. You yearn to be accepted by those around you, but in times of stress you feel rejected and misunderstood. You respond by building barriers and become a separate, rather superior soul, with the sensitivity of the insecure. Yet, how you envy the common world!






FIVES
: Your stress point is Seven, and takes the form of disconnection, avoidance and scattered mental activity. You yearn for a life free from fear, but in times of stress you feel overwhelmed by a world you think you lack the resources to deal with. You respond by cutting off from your feelings, lest they overpower you.







SIXES
: Your stress point is Three and takes the form of desperate pretence. You yearn for stability and certainty, but in times of stress your soul is flooded by anxiety and doubt. You try to bury your fear by rushing around, insisting all is well and that you're coping brilliantly. There can be bluster and aggressive selfassertion. But you fool no one - least of all yourself.







SEVEN
: Your stress point is One, and takes the form of negative and judgmental thoughts. You yearn for life's good things and freedom from pain, but in times of stress your dreams can crumble because they were flighty and unreal. When your pursuit of joy is thwarted, you respond with anger and blame.










EIGHT
: Your stress point is Five, and takes the form of brooding, solitary despair. You yearn to avoid weakness and vulnerability, so in times of stress, rather than admit those qualities in yourself, you project them onto others. But this reduces everyone else to pawns in your game. You can possess, protect or attack them - but you struggle to relate or belong.








NINE
: Your stress point is Six, and takes the form of paralysed caution. You yearn to be invisible, as a way of escaping your feelings of inferiority, and in times of stress find it impossible to assert your own needs. You may sometimes look busy - but inside, all is confusion and indecision because you've lost your sense of truth and value.

So HOW did you get that black eye Kelly Osbourne?

Kelly Osbourne cut a miserable figure as she left her London home yesterday sporting a heavily bruised face.

The 23-year-old singer-turned-radio DJ had a black eye and a bandaged temple as she left her flat to visit her doctor.

While Kelly may have looked like she had been in a fight, her spokesman said the reality TV star had fallen prey to some bad DIY when the contents of a cupboard fell on top of her.






Kelly had a low-key bank holiday weekend at home after suffering from a tummy bug.

Her illness was made even worse when she reached to get a glass from a cupboard in her kitchen and the whole piece of furniture fell off the wall on on top of her, cutting her temple and hitting her in the left eye.

Her spokesman Gary Farrow said: 'She was suffering from a stomach upset all weekend, which meant she couldn't go out anywhere, and then this happened.

'She is fine now, though.'


And it seems bad luck comes in threes - after being struck down with a tummy bug and being injured, Kelly's TV show Project Catwalk has been dropped.

Kelly took over from Liz Hurley as the host of the Sky One TV show last year, which aimed to discover new fashion designers.

The third series of the show earlier this year attracted 110,000 viewers, compared to the second series 300,000.

A Sky One spokesman said yesterday: 'Project Catwalk was a great addition to Sky One's schedule. Kelly Osbourne, Ben de Lisi and the team have provided a fantastic platform for genuine talent, introducing the rising stars of fashion to the UK.

'We felt the series had come to a natural end and we're now looking for some new female-skewed formats for the 8pm slot to complement our success in the 9pm and 10pm hours.'

'I am a proud supporter of Barack Obama'--Hillary Clinton




Hillary Clinton has delivered a rousing speech at the Democratic convention imploring her supporters to set aside their grudges and disappointment to rally behind Barack Obama.

"Whether you voted for me or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose," she said as a sea of more than 4,000 Democrats waved Hillary signs along placards hailing Obama and proclaiming Unity.

Democratic leaders hope that the emphatic and enthusiastically-received speech will help heal the wounds that are still raw after a fiercely fought primary battle in which Mrs Clinton secured 18 million votes but was just defeated by Mr Obama.

Her husband former President Bill Clinton and many other supporters dotted around the arena in Denver wiped away tears as she reeled off the reasons she had run for the White House and told the story of a marine who needed medical care.

“Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too. I want you to ask yourselves, were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young marine and others like him.”

The former First Lady, now a New York senator, also delivered the sharpest attack yet against john McCain, Mr Obama’s Republican opponent in November, saying Democrats could not sit on the sidelines and watch Mr McCain win and "squander the promise of our country".

She urged: “No way, no how, no McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate and he must be our president.”

It was a strongly feminist speech by the woman who was vying to become the first female American president. To laughs, she thanked the “sisterhood of the travelling pantsuits” for their backing.

At one point Mr Clinton, who speaks on Wednesday night and remains angry at the way Mr Obama defeated his wife, mouthed the words "I love you".

“We don't need four more years of the last eight years," Mrs Clinton said, bracketing Mr McCain with President George W. Bush.

"John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's okay when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.

"With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the twin cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."

The slogan of “the twin” in the twin cities – Minneapolis-St Paul, where the Republican convention will be held next week – was greeted with a roar of approval from the crowd and is sure to be adopted by Mr Obama.

Most Clinton supporters said afterwards that they would respond to Mrs Clinton’s plea by voting for Mr Obama. But some still said they might support Mr McCain of stay at home.

“I need him to remember that there were 18 million voices that recognised the potential of that woman to lead this country and I don’t think he’s done that,” said Anne Price-Mills, a Washington state delegate.

Pantheism as " Atheism"

Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, has described Pantheism as “sexed-up atheism.” That may seem flippant, but it is accurate. Of all religious or spiritual traditions, Pantheism - the approach of Einstein, Hawking and many other scientists - is the only one that passes the muster of the world's most militant atheist.



So what's the difference between Atheism and Pantheism? As far as disbelief in supernatural beings, forces or realms, there is no difference. World Pantheism also shares the respect for evidence, science, and logic that's typical of atheism.



However, Pantheism goes further, and adds to atheism an embracing, positive and reverential feeling about our lives on planet Earth, our place in Nature and the wider Universe, and uses nature as our basis for dealing with stress, grief and bereavement. It's a form of spirituality that is totally compatible with science. Indeed, since science is our best way of exploring the Universe, respect for the scientific method and fascination with the discoveries of science are an integral part of World Pantheism.

If you are looking for atheist groups or freethought groups or brights groups and email lists, and if you would like ones that do a lot more than just attack religion, then you may well find World Pantheism the place you were looking for.




Why go beyond straight atheism?





Does atheism need sexing up? As such, atheism answers only a single question: is there a creator God, or not? That's an important question, but if your answer is "no" it is only a starting point. You may have reached that viewpoint based on your respect for logic, evidence and science, and those too are vital values. Yet after you've reached that initial "no God" answer, all the other important questions in life, all the options for mental and emotional wholeness and social and environmental harmony, remain open.




If atheism, humanism and naturalism are to advance, then they need approaches that don’t simply leave the individual alone in the face of an increasingly threatening physical, social and international environment. They need ways of life that offer as rich a range of benefits as traditional religious ones.



Atheism is advancing. Growing numbers of people, across almost all nations, declare themselves to be non-religious or atheistic. Atheistic books on religion, like those of Dawkins, Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens, are best-sellers.

But so far atheism and atheist groups have focused on attacking conventional religions, especially the Western theistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It’s true that these religions often come with high costs: submission to written or priestly authority, belief in terrifying concepts such as demons, Apocalypse, Last Judgment and Hell, or the drive to impose one’s beliefs or religious values on other people. In many cases they give cachet and endurance to backward, repressive or destructive social values, developed in agrarian societies many centuries ago. And it's valuable to highlight these costs.






The attractions of religion






But negative critiques will not suffice. There are many motives beyond fear or habit why people hold fast to old religions or convert to new ones. There are many reasons besides ignorance and folly why they make religion the center of their personal and social lives.




Religions are not just a confidence trick on the part of prophets and preachers, or a self-destructive aberration on the part of believers. They have had social survival value in the past, and they continue to provide individual and personal benefits today, and these benefits are the source of their continuing numerical strength.



Religions provide communities of mutual support.

They overcome existential isolation and alienation, giving people a meaning for their lives and a sense of their place in the universe and nature.

They provide remedies for grief at the death of loved ones, and for the fear of one’s own death.

They combat the feeling of helplessness in a threatening world full of crime, conflict and disaster.

These benefits show up in the form of better health and longer life.



Of course, if you’re buying these benefits at the price of abandoning logic, ignoring evidence, believing in contradictions and impossibilities, teaching your children to fear a God who is getting ready to destroy the planet, signing on for social values that repress the rights of others, let alone sacrificing your life to slaughter those who disagree with you, then maybe the price is too high.





A naturalistic spirituality




Are these negatives an inevitable part of the bargain? They may well be an inevitable part of belief in the unbelievable or of uncritical adherence to ancient scriptures.




But is it impossible to get the benefits that conventional religions offer, without giving up one penny of the value offered by reason, science, and progressive respect for the human rights of everyone? Don’t we need approaches that offer the same range of advantages as supernatural religions – but without the costs?



Can there be such a thing as a religion without god, an atheistic religion or a religious atheism? The Buddhism of the Pali scriptures does not have a God or gods. Nor does the Taoism of Lao Tzu or ChuangTzu.



Can there be such a thing as a completely naturalistic form of “spirituality” with no supernatural elements?



At World Pantheism we have been exploring this possibility since the beginning of 2000 CE. We do so through our global and local mailing lists, through our magazine Pan, and through a growing number of local groups. We have lists about scientific and philosophical ideas, as well as about practical ways of developing our naturalistic spirituality. You can find links to these on our main page.



Our completely naturalistic Pantheism does not believe in any supernatural beings, forces or realms and is fully compatible with atheism and skepticism. As Richard Dawkins writes:

Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a nonsupernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.

In practice, while a significant minority of our members like and use the word God to express the depth of their feelings for Nature and the wider Universe, the majority do not use the word about their own beliefs.



There are other names for similar approaches, such as religious naturalism or naturalistic paganism. We have gone with Pantheism simply because it's the best known, and has a long pedigree.

15 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR WOMAN

1. Don't imagine you can change a man - unless he's in nappies.


2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.


3. If they put a man on the moon - they should be able to put them all up there.


4. Never let your man's mind wander - it's too little to be out alone.


5. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.



6. Men are all the same - they just have different faces, so that you can tell them apart.


7. Definition of a bachelor: a man who has missed the opportunity to make some woman miserable.


8. Women don't make fools of men - most of them are the do-it-yourself types.


9. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.


10. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener..


11. If you want a committed man, look in a mental hospital.


12. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.


13. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him cheque books .


14. Remember a sense of humour does not mean that you tell him jokes, it means that you laugh at his.


15. Sadly, all men are created equal!

Plot to kill Barack Obama uncovered



Four people have been arrested after plotting to assassinate Barack Obama.


One of the group said he was "going to shoot Obama", who is in Denver, Colorado, for the Democratic National Convention, "from a high vantage point using a rifle sighted at 750 yards".

Police said that one of the suspects "was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative".

The shooting was planned for Thursday, when Mr Obama is set to accept the nomination as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate for the November election at the 75,000-seat Invesco stadium.

Tharin Gartrell, 28, who was wanted on numerous warrants, was arrested on Sunday after police found two high-powered rifles, boxes of ammunition, a rifle scope, a bullet-proof vest, walkie-talkies and methamphetamine in a rented truck he was driving.

Gartrell then led police to a hotel, where a second man, Shawn Robert Adolph, 33, tried to jump out of a sixth-storey window. After landing on an awning and trying to escape with a broken ankle, Adolph, who had a handcuff ring and was wearing a swastika, according to reports, was eventually arrested.

An associate of Gartrell and Adolph, Nathan Johnson, 32, and his girlfriend, Natasha Gromek, were also arrested. Johnson is understood to have told authorities that the two men "planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech."

It is thought the men may have ties to Sons of Silence, an outlaw biker group, with suspected connections with white supremacists. However, federal sources have said that the incident may have had more to do with drugs than with a plot to assassinate Mr Obama, despite local police claims.

The federal officials said that the verbal threats against Mr Obama were made during one of the arrests, but were not considered credible. "It could turn out that these were nothing but a bunch of knuckleheads, meth heads," a US government source has claimed.

The US Attorney's Office in Denver has scheduled a press conference to discuss the incident, but Attorney Troy Eid said he did not believe there was a real threat to Mr Obama.

The alleged plot was being investigated by the Secret Service, which is co-ordinating security for the Democratic Party convention, as well as the FBI and the joint terrorism task force.

Mr Obama has been under Secret Service protection for over a year after receiving credible death threats.