A British teenager has become the youngest person to row solo across any of the world’s oceans.
Lukas Haitzmann – The Wild Oarsman – rowed 3,000 miles (4,800km) from the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
Arriving in Antigua on Saturday, the 18-year-old, from Windsor, Berkshire, beat two world records by becoming the youngest person to row across any ocean solo, and the first Austrian – his father is from Austria – to row solo across the Atlantic.
He was also the fastest solo rower from the 2018 challenge, completing it in 59 days, eight hours and 22 minutes.
While most young people leaving school last summer were thinking about the universities they would be going to, the jobs they could get or where they would travel, Lukas decided he needed a serious challenge.
Having grown up rowing and sailing, he decided to put university off for a year to row across the Atlantic.
His dyslexia was put to the test trying to fundraise enough money to buy a specially-built ocean rowing boat and everything he would need, from food to suncream.
He told Sky News: “To be honest, the fundraising bit was harder for me than the training – I already had the fitness from rowing for the past five years.
“I really like to challenge myself and think it’s important to. My mum wasn’t so impressed when I first told her but I managed to persuade her eventually.
“I didn’t realise I was going to be the youngest person to ever cross an ocean solo until I started doing a bit of digging, because others who have done it have broken some records.
“It wasn’t why I did it, but that did help push me along during the row.”
Many people who do the Atlantic Challenge hallucinate and struggle with the loneliness, but Lukas said he felt it was quite peaceful.
He would sleep for about five hours in the middle of the night as his boat drifted, then a couple of hours around lunchtime to get his energy back up in the heat of the day.
“I didn’t really talk to myself, it was more talking my thoughts out loud. My music ran out after a month so that was a bit hard for the second half.
“I think the most difficult part was my water changer broke after 10 days so I had to use a manual pump to change sea water into drinking water which was very tiring, but I finally managed to fix it.”
During his nearly two months at sea Lukas said he saw dolphins, which he swam with, a whale swam under his boat, and he saw a turtle and fish.
“I had a storm petrel, a type of bird, following me for a while which was really great, he kept me company, although he wasn’t great at conversation!
“I thought I’d see a lot more though, it wasn’t like there was wildlife every single day, which was quite sad.
“I did see a lot of pollution, some which had been there for a long time, which was awful.
“Being out on the ocean for that long made me really respect it. There’s no messing around, and you really have to have your wits about you.”
The teenager is hoping his feat will help inspire other youngsters to push themselves at whatever they want.
“I’m just a normal kid really, I’m not Superman, I just really enjoy a challenge and this was a way of really pushing myself,” he added.
“I hope it shows people that no matter what age you are, you really can do more than you think. If you don’t succeed, it doesn’t matter, just keep trying and try something else to challenge you if that doesn’t work.”
Not one to remain on terra firma for long, Lukas is going to use his time in Antigua to go sailing with his family before going back to the UK where he wants to go to university.
“After uni, we’ll see, I want to get an education, and actually being at sea really made me appreciate learning more because I couldn’t Google what fish that was, or why the clouds were forming like they were.
“I did miss not being able to pick up my phone all the time, but actually I really relished it because it made you appreciate the ocean.”
Jeffrey Epstein: The mysterious life and death of the disgraced billionaire | US News
Jeffrey Epstein’s sex scandal and suicide has prompted huge conversation about the mysterious life of the New York financier.
The billionaire money manager and convicted sex offender hanged himself in his cell earlier this month while awaiting trial for charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy.
But despite being ruled a suicide by New York’s medical examiner, the financier’s death has sparked widespread conspiracy theories relating to his celebrity social circle, and to whether justice in his case would be reached.
Here, Sky News looks at what we know about Epstein’s life and death and why his case is clouded in so many questions.
:: Who is Jeffrey Epstein?
Born into a working class family in Brooklyn, New York, the university dropout started his career as a maths and physics teacher at Dalton School, where he taught the son of Alan Greenberg, the chairman of investment bank Bear Stearns.
He left teaching after just two years – reportedly after being scouted by Mr Greenberg – and later founded his own company J Epstein and Co in 1982.
Described by New York Magazine in 2002 as a “moneyman of mystery”, Epstein catapulted himself to the height of the global elite by looking after billions of dollars of assets from a mostly-secret client base.
He later founded the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, based in the US Virgin Islands, to “support cutting edge science and science education around the world”, and donated $6.5m (£5.3m) to Harvard University for a mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics programme.
But aside from this, the 66-year-old’s life was one full of question marks from his secretive work, his notoriously high-profile friends and his evasion of serious punishment for dozens of alleged sex crimes.
:: Sex trafficking and the ‘Lolita Express’
At the time of his death, Epstein was being held in custody on charges related to running a sex-trafficking scheme that involved dozens of underage girls.
He had pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
Epstein was specifically accused of using his private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express”, to shuttle girls as young as 14 between his lavish residences in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005.
It was alleged the girls were recruited under the guise of being paid to massage the money manager – but would be molested instead.
According to FBI records, Epstein had relied on an entire staff of recruiters and employees who had allegedly lined up such victims for him.
His former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late press baron Robert Maxwell, is among those accused of recruiting some of the girls.
The charges came after Epstein had notoriously evaded potential life behind bars for a similar sex crime case around a decade earlier.
It was a case that received enormous publicity, even more so due to his plea deal – described in a Miami Herald investigation as “the ultimate break”.
Dozens of women had accused the financier of sexual assault – some of whom have since spoken about their experiences publicly – and it looked likely that the 53-page federal indictment built against him would see him answer to a lengthy prison sentence.
But a plea deal struck by then US Attorney Alexander Acosta, who went on to become labour secretary under US President Donald Trump, led to Epstein avoiding federal charges.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges on two counts of soliciting prostitution from a minor, which ultimately led to a lesser punishment.
As a result, he was registered as a sex offender and was handed an 18-month sentence, of which he served 13 months.
Of those months, he was also allowed to spend 12 hours a day, six days a week, at his private office.
The deal also meant the extent of any further crimes and victims were concealed, and the names of his co-conspirators were buried.
Following criticism of his handling of the case, Mr Acosta announced his resignation as labour secretary several days after Epstein was arrested on fresh charges earlier this year.
:: Celebrity connections
Epstein’s celebrity circle of connections famously included the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Prince Andrew.
His longtime friendship with the Duke of York came after they were introduced to each other in the 1990s, and they were known to holiday together and spend time at each other’s residences.
Their friendship appeared to also survive Epstein’s guilty plea to child prostitution charges in 2008, after pair were photographed together following the financier’s release from prison.
But the relationship came under pressure in 2015 when Andrew was dragged into the widely-discussed scandal after one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, said she had been forced to have sex with the prince on several occasions when she was 17 years old.
Buckingham Palace has repeatedly denied the claims, deeming them “false and without any foundation”.
On Monday, Andrew said in a statement that he was “appalled by recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes” and “deplores any exploitation of any human being”.
He added that “the suggestion he would condone, participate or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent”.
The statement was released after the Mail on Sunday surfaced video showing the duke inside Epstein’s residence in New York in 2010, waving goodbye to a woman, two years after Epstein’s 2008 conviction.
Among Epstein’s other high-profile connections is Bill Clinton, who is said to have flown on the “Lolita Express” 26 times, while Mr Trump has previously joked about his Epstein’s appetite for younger women.
In a 2002 interview with New York magazine, Mr Trump quipped: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy.
“He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
:: Where do the conspiracy theories stem from?
The rumour mill was fast pushed into motion after Epstein’s suicide at the New York Metropolitan correctional centre earlier this month.
The 66-year-old had recently returned from suicide watch and was to be checked every 30 minutes after an incident in which he was found on the floor of his cell with bruises on the neck.
This prompted questions after his death whether prison officers had simply dropped the ball with their inmate, or if someone in Epstein’s high-profile social circle had wanted him silenced.
US media reported that two staff members falsified the prison log to cover the fact they had fallen asleep and failed to check on Epstein when due to do so.
They have since been suspended, and the FBI and justice department are continuing investigations.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who insisted in a media interview that he was “not a conspiracy theorist by nature”, said that “something is way too convenient” about the case.
He added: “It means that sometimes you see a series of events that you cannot give a normal explanation for, and there needs to be a full investigation.”
Mr Trump also joined the conspiracy conversation.
The US president retweeted a right-wing comedian’s unsubstantiated claim surrounding the incident, which suggested Bill Clinton was involved.
A spokesman for Mr Clinton said previously that the former president “knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York”.
Sardinia: Tourists who took sand from beach face jail sentence | World News
Two French tourists could be jailed after being caught with sand allegedly stolen from a Sardinian beach.
The white sand was taken from the beach of Chia, in the island’s south, and was crammed into 14 plastic bottles.
The bottles were found by police in the boot of the tourists’ vehicle as they prepared to board a ferry to France
In total, there was 40kg of sand, police said.
According to Italian news agency Ansa, the tourists said they had taken the sand as a souvenir and were not aware they were breaking the law.
The pair could be jailed for up to six years on the charge of theft, with the aggravating circumstance of having stolen an asset destined for public utility, Ansa said.
Sardinia is blessed with many stunning beaches and the French tourists are not the first to try to bring some of that beauty home.
But Italian authorities have become stricter about the problem in recent years.
Signs on beaches warn visitors that taking sand, or others things such as stones, is illegal and that they risk being fined up to £2,700.
In 2018, an Italian resident in the UK was fined after stealing sand from a beach near the northern city of Olbia.
And during the summer of 2017, more than a tonne of sand was found in tourists’ luggage at Cagliari airport, according to reports.
There is also a Facebook page called Sardinia Is Being Robbed And Pillaged, which documents damage done to various beaches and the seizures of items such as sand.
The page has more than 30,000 followers and its introduction says: “With the excuse of [acquiring a] souvenir, tourists every year take from the island what nature has taken thousands of years to create.
“Sand theft is a crime.”
EU: Britain will suffer most if there is a no-deal Brexit | Politics News
The European Union is ready for a no-deal Brexit and Britain would suffer most under such a scenario, Brussels has claimed.
European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said no deal would never be the bloc’s preferred outcome.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to take Britain out of the EU on 31 October, with or without an agreement in place.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Johnson said Britain can “definitely” get ready for no deal.
But the EU was decidedly more downbeat on the prospect of this happening.
“This will obviously cause significant disruption both for citizens and for businesses and this will have a serious negative economic impact,” Ms Bertaud said, referring to a no-deal Brexit.
“That would be proportionally much greater in the United Kingdom than it would be in the EU 27 states.”
She cited European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as having said that if it a no-deal Brexit happened “it is the British who will unfortunately be the biggest losers”.
The comments come after a British government document detailing the potential impacts of a no-deal divorce was leaked at the weekend.
According to the Operation Yellowhammer assessment published in the Sunday Times, Britain could be hit with a three-month “meltdown” at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine.
Downing Street said on Monday that the dossier was “out of date” and the government was “making all necessary preparations ahead of 31 October”.
A “large-scale public information campaign” is expected to begin shortly, Number 10 said.
A spokeswoman said: “In relation to business we have been engaging widely and will continue to do so and that’s been significantly stepped up in recent weeks.
“We have published numerous documents on how businesses can prepare.
“You can expect to see further information being published in the coming weeks in relation to how the public… can further prepare and the changes that they are likely to see across a range of areas.”
Asked about the leaked dossier, Mr Johnson said: “If you look at the preparations the UK had made by March 29, we were very far advanced.
“Things then slipped back a bit, but we’re very confident that by 31 October we will be ready and that’s the crucial thing.
“I think that’s what people want. People are very confident themselves that they can do it.
“I’m not pretending that there won’t be bumps on the road, there will be. I said that on the steps of Downing Street.
“But if everybody puts their minds to it, I have absolutely no doubt that we can get ready.”
Mr Johnson will this week head to Berlin and Paris as he tries to secure a new Brexit deal.
During trips to Germany and France, the PM will tell Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron “there must be a new deal to replace the failed Brussels deal” – but if one cannot be struck, the UK is prepared to leave the EU without an agreement.
Number 10 said it expected there to be “very little discussion” of Brexit during the visit to Berlin on Wednesday and Paris on Thursday, with other topics to be the focus.
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