Thousands Fleeing IS Are 'Barred From Baghdad'

Islamic State fighters have vowed to take the capital, and they are just 70 miles away. 

Over loudspeakers in the mosques, IS announced to their followers in Mosul that Baghdad would be in their control soon.

At checkpoints, soldiers look for militants who may be trying to sneak in with displaced Iraqis. 

Dozens of new checkpoints have been set up around Baghdad, with names being checked against a database.

The commander in charge admits there is a real threat but says his men are prepared. 

Brigadier Jabbar al Taee, who heads the 17th Division of the Iraqi army, told Sky News: "I'm ready with my soldiers to fight and to protect my country.

"ISIS are trying to kill everyone, old people, children - my concern is to protect my citizens."

But with recent defeats, the Iraqi government and US led coalition's strategy for pushing back IS may be unravelling. 

There is a fear that the problem is not so much that IS is gaining in strength, but that there simply is not a force strong enough to confront them. 

The militants now control most of Anbar, the country’s largest province.

In the past few days IS fighters have taken control not only of Ramadi, but also towns and villages around it, as well as the Albo Kamal crossing point between Iraq and Syria.

The result has been a mass exodus of people forced to leave almost everything they own behind. 

Their homes have been looted and burned by the militants.

It is mainly women and children walking miles to get to Baghdad in the heat and dust.

In a makeshift tent near the Bzabz bridge into Baghdad a woman told Sky News how her family had to walk over dead bodies to escape IS in Ramadi. 

Brothers, sisters and parents were left behind with the extremist group. Another man told us he saw the militants kill his brother just before he fled.

Every displaced person has to register to be able to enter Baghdad.  

But if you don’t have a sponsor in the capital that can vouch for you then you are not let in. 

Thousands are stuck near the entrance with nowhere to go and little food or water.  

The Iraqi government says it is doing all it can for the displaced, but they have to make sure they are not letting militants into the capital.

The choice for thousands of people is impossible: live in fear back home or in humiliation in the camps.

Email Blunder Reveals Bank's 'Brexit' Risks Probe

The existence of the confidential work, codenamed Project Bookend, came to light as David Cameron met with other European leaders in Riga, Latvia, to start talks on reform "in earnest".

The Prime Minister has promised an in/out vote on Britain's membership of the 28-nation group by the end of 2017, based on a new deal with Brussels.

Businesses have already warned over the dangers of a so-called Brexit, with the Confederation of British Industry pressing to remain part of a reformed EU.

Aerospace giant Airbus recently became the latest company to warn it would reconsider investing in the UK were to leave.

And it has now emerged work is being carried out in Threadneedle Street to assess the impact of a potential UK exit, after an email was inadvertently sent to The Guardian newspaper by the Bank's head of press, Jeremy Harrison.

The newspaper said it revealed the task force would be made up of a select group of senior staff, headed by Sir Jon Cunliffe, who as deputy director for financial stability is responsible for monitoring the threat of another market crash.

Following the email blunder, the Bank said in a statement: "Today, information related to planned confidential Bank work on the potential implications of a renegotiation and national referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union made its way into the public domain, due to an internal email sent inadvertently to an external party.

"It should not come as a surprise that the Bank is undertaking such work about a stated government policy.

"There are a range of economic and financial issues that arise in the context of the renegotiation and national referendum.

"It is one of the Bank's responsibilities to assess those that relate to its objectives.

"It is not sensible to talk about this work publicly, in advance.

"But as with work done prior to the Scottish referendum, we will disclose the details of such work at the appropriate time.

"While it is unfortunate that this information has entered the public domain in this way, the Bank will maintain this approach."

Alps Murders: Victim Fought With Brother

But Zaid al Hilli again insisted he had no involvement in the murders, and claimed the killer's target had been a cyclist who was also gunned down in the deadly September 2012 attack.

The 56-year-old was arrested on suspicion of the murders in June 2013 but was later told he would face no further action due to lack of evidence.

No one has ever been charged over the fatal shootings.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Mr al Hilli, admitted he fought with his younger brother in October 2011 after months of arguments over a £1m property, which the family owned in Claygate, Surrey.

Saad believed he was entitled to sole ownership of the house following their parents' deaths, Mr al Hilli said.

Recounting the row, Mr al Hilli told the Mirror: "He's a much bigger guy than I am.

"He pinned me down on the bed and he calls his wife and says, 'He's hitting me, he's hitting me'.

"I was underneath!"

It was the last time he spoke to his brother, with all further contact made through a lawyer.

Engineer Saad al Hilli, his wife Ikbal, and her mother Suhaila al Allaf were shot dead on a forest road in Chevaline in September 2012.

The couple's daughter Zainab, who was seven at the time, recovered after being shot and pistol-whipped.

Her sister Zeena, four, was found unhurt, hiding beneath her mother's body inside the bullet-riddled BMW car.

Local cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also murdered.

Mr al Hilli told the newspaper: "Saad was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I think they twisted it around.

"It's not fair on the families and the victims this went on for such a long time with not a shred of evidence.

"There is a cover-up. I think they know who is behind it, who is the gunman and everything.

"It's absolute nonsense what they came out with.

"I think they know exactly who was the target, and it was Sylvain Mollier."

Earlier this year, a motorcyclist arrested over the murders was eliminated from police enquiries.

Clarkson Back In The Driver's Seat In Live Show

It was Clarkson's first public appearance with Richard Hammond and James May since he was dropped by the BBC in March following a fracas with a producer.

The live show opened with footage of Clarkson throwing a hefty left hand. The man himself then made his entrance in a hovercraft to the music of boxing anthem Eye Of The Tiger.

The performance at the city's Odyssey Arena, which kicks off a six-month tour of the event, was packed with irony, with repeated swipes at paperwork and lawyers, and was predictably politically incorrect.

Clarkson, 55, told of his liking for the Alfa Romeo, with an engine he compared to somebody screaming in your ear, which he demonstrated on Hammond.

"All of us have friends who have got flaws, they turn up late, they have smelly armpits," he said.

"To err is human, that is the great thing about the car, it has faults like we all do, that is the great thing about that car, it has faults like we all do, me in particular."

The trio told the 5,500-strong crowd that they decided to start the tour in "Bel-Fast" because "it is a long way from the Daily Mail offices".

Clarkson made a reference to his former BBC career: "This TV lark is much harder, you have to remember your lines, remember where to stand, you cannot be rude about your colleagues, you cannot swear."

He also hinted at a return to television when he said the team were not in America - yet.

"We have had a lot of interest from all around the world in our TV programme and who knows what may happen," he said.

The global tour of the rebranded Clarkson, Hammond And May Live team will end in London in November.

Top Gear Live had run for several years but the BBC stripped its branding from the show after announcing on 25 March that Clarkson's TV contract would not be renewed.

Royal Belt-Tightening Sees Palace Job Cuts

But a spokeswoman dismissed claims of low morale among those working for the Royal Household.

The Palace response follows reports that at least four senior officials had lost their jobs in recent months and that porters had had their overtime stopped.

Servants, including some with young children, were threatened with losing their homes after being made redundant, according to the Daily Mail.

One source is quoted as telling the newspaper that staff morale was at "rock-bottom - the worst I have ever known".

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman would not be drawn on the number of job cuts or if an overtime ban was in force.

She said: "As a public institution, scrutinised by Parliament, the Royal Household constantly reviews structures and staffing to ensure that it is run in the most effective and efficient way possible.

"In rare instances this can involve redundancies; those affected are routinely offered a severance package and support, including retraining.

"Internal surveys consistently show that employees are proud to work for the Royal Household and represent the Queen.

"Morale at Buckingham Palace continues to be high, with low staff turnover."

Snoop Has 'No Regrets' Over Old Sexist Lyrics

But the US rapper insisted he does not regret portraying women in a negative light in past lyrics of his songs.

He said: "Definitely, my attitude has changed towards women.

"I am more sensitive and more vulnerable writing-wise and accepting a woman for being a beautiful person, as opposed to me saying she is a b**** or a w**** because that was how I was trained when I first started, so I have no regrets.

"As I grew I fell in love with my wife and started to love my mother, my grandmother and my daughter.

"I understood what a woman was and I started to write about and express that."

Snoop revealed he has learned to "live a better life" after realising it was his "job" to "better himself".

"Once I figured out there was room to grow and learn and to be a better person then I incorporated that in everything I was doing," he said.

"I don't feel like you can be ashamed or mad about not knowing - if you don't know, you don't know."

'At Least 44' Killed In Huge Mexico Gunfight

The incident happened in Tanhuato, in Michoacan state, after a convoy of police and soldiers was ambushed, according to a government official.

Almost all of the dead are suspected criminals, said the official - speaking anonymously, but several police officers are also thought to have been killed.

The gunmen took cover in a nearby ranch during the battle with police.

The area between Michoacan and Jalisco states is a stronghold of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Mexico's newest and fastest-growing cartel.

The gang has mounted several attacks on federal and state forces in recent months, killing at least 20 police.

Six military personnel also died when it shot down an army helicopter on 1 May.

On the same day, the cartel torched cars, banks and petrol stations around Mexico's second city, Guadalajara.

Violence in the region started to escalate in 2006 when the government deployed troops to take on the gangs.

More than 80,000 people have been killed nationally since then, and another 22,000 have gone missing 

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was elected on the promise to gain control of the cartels, is already under intense pressure to reduce the bloodshed.

Last year saw several incidents make headlines internationally - an alleged army massacre of gang suspects and the presumed slaughter of 43 students by a police-backed cartel in Guerrero state.

Plans To Speed Up Adoptions In Queen's Speech

Under the proposals, local authorities will be forced to merge their services, allowing children to be matched with new families sooner.

The government has claimed adoption is "happening at too small and localised a scale". There are more than 3,000 children waiting to be matched at present – and the majority of them have spent more than 18 months in care.

Edward Timpson, children and families minister, has said the current system "isn't good enough".

He added: "Every single day a child spends waiting in care for their new family is a further delay to a life full of love and stability.

"By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker – regardless of where they live."

More than 5,000 children were found a permanent home last year, according to the DfE – a record increase of 26% over 12 months.

Big Turnout In Ireland Same-Sex Marriage Vote

Polling stations have closed, with returning officers reporting higher turnout than usual for a referendum "more comparable with a general election".

There are no postal votes in Ireland but some emigrants felt so passionately they caught the boat home to vote.

Oonah Murphy said: "It feels really exciting to travel home with a group of people who not only see a 'yes' as necessary but they almost believe the question to be irrelevant, the question about gender and sexuality."

Joey Kavanagh added: "The hashtag 'HomeToVote' has been trending worldwide, people at home seem very inspired and encouraged by the fact that people are going to such great lengths to come home and vote."

Whatever the result, the bitter nature of the campaign has revealed the battle going on for the soul of a nation.

A former bastion of the Roman Catholic Church, Ireland has undergone dramatic social change in the space of just 40 years.

Contraception was illegal here until 1980, couples could not divorce until 1995 and homosexuality was only decriminalised 22 years ago.

Little towns like Boyle, where Sky’s BAFTA-winning comedy 'Moone Boy' is set, have not changed in appearance but they have in character.

Actor Chris O'Dowd, who heads the cast, grew up here in County Roscommon, where his Dad has witnessed cultural evolution.

Sean O'Dowd said: "I think people accept that change must happen.

"If you’re going through life with a closed mind, you just can’t have progress.

"We’re not saying that societal changes in general are all for the better but I think, on balance, they probably are."

The Irish Government could have just legislated for same-sex marriage but feared a legal challenge unless the constitution was amended.

When they announced a referendum, only five of the country’s 226 Members of Parliament publicly announced that they would vote 'no'.

When issues are emotive, it is difficult to predict the result - the winning margin in the divorce referendum was 0.56%.

But that was 20 years ago and the church no longer holds sway over hearts and minds here in Ireland.

Mum Found Pushing Dead Toddler On Park Swing

Police say the unidentified woman and the dead child may have been at the recreational area in the town of La Plata all night.

Officers went to Wills Memorial Park after receiving a call at 6:55am on Friday. 

Police immediately realised the toddler was dead, said the Charles County Sheriff's Office.

The child's body - which has been taken for a post-mortem - showed no signs of trauma.

The mother was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Diane Richardson told the Washington Post the child and his mother were seen at the park the day before, but it was unclear if the child was alive then.

La Plata is located about 30 miles (48km) southeast of Washington DC.