Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tony Blair insists the migration of two MILLION EU workers to Britain has been GOOD for the UK

Tony Blair insists the migration of two MILLION EU workers to Britain has been GOOD for the UK

Former PM tells Italian newspaper his passion for Europe is undimmed
Blair insists 'only by joining together' can EU nations defend themselves
Latest intervention comes as David Cameron finalises his deal with the EU

Tony Blair today insisted economic migration was good for Britain as employment data showed two million EU workers have jobs in the UK.
The former prime minister intervened on the European debate in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Mr Blair's remarks come as David Cameron battles to finish his renegotiation ahead of a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU - which Mr Blair said he was against.
In a translation of the interview, Mr Blair insisted the 'interest' of the UK staying in the EU should be 'evident to all'.
Employment data out today showed the number of EU workers with jobs in Britain grew by 200,000 in 2015 and now stands at 2.1 million.
Mr Blair said: 'There are three types of immigration.
'The economic one (it) is shown that is good, with appropriate rules, it has been seen in the US, as in Britain.
'Then, one of the refugees: Europe must open the door, for moral reasons, to those who flee from persecution.
'But we have to check the third type of immigration: that among those who flee do not hide extremists.'
Mr Blair said it would be 'unreasonable' for Britain to stand alone in the world when there were giant nations such as China, India and the United States.
He said: 'From the economy to security: only by being together we can defend ourselves.'
The former Labour leader repeated his belief that there were some areas for Europe to integrate further.

He said: 'There are fields in which integration would be more advantageous, from security to energy, others in which diversity is celebrated.
'However, instead of continuing an endless discussion about the type of institutions to give to the EU, sometimes an excuse for inaction, we must ask ourselves what we really want from Europe.
'And strive to give Europe greater economic growth, less unemployment and more innovation.'
Mr Blair's intervention comes as the Prime Minister was warned he will get nothing else from EU leaders as France digs in over City regulation and Eastern Europe rebels over migrant benefits.
The Prime Minister will travel back to Brussels tomorrow for a crucial summit he hopes will allow him to formally call the referendum as soon as Friday night.
But ahead of what could be all-night talks, Mr Cameron will be forced to defend his draft deal on several fronts.
EU Council president Donald Tusk has warned the leaders will have to 'walk an extra mile' to conclude the deal, while Polish Europe Minister Konrad Szymanski warned 'unless something changes we are in for a very long night'.

David Cameron, pictured in Brussels yesterday, is due back at talks on Britain's membership of the EU tomorrow as he hopes to conclude a deal
An English breakfast - which could become a brunch - has been planned in Brussels for Friday morning where the deal could be finalised.
Mr Cameron was said to be 'stressed' at yesterday's meetings in the European Parliament.
But following the latest talks, a new version of the agreement will emerge later today as behind the scenes discussions continue furiously until the EU leaders formally sit down tomorrow afternoon.
A review of every country's negotiating position, published in The Telegraph, have revealed Mr Cameron's last minute visit to Paris on Monday night has failed to resolve French issues.
It makes clear Mr Cameron can expect no additions to his agreement.
Francois Hollande has set out a series of red lines, including a bar on any veto of non-eurozone countries over the euro members.
Concessions to Britain must not 'affect the operation of the euro area', France has insisted.
A block of eastern European nations have raised a series of objections to the draft deal on migrants.
Czech Europe minister Tomas Prouza yesterday insisted changes must only apply to new migrants.
He said the deal must mean 'people already in the UK can play according to the existing rules'.
Sources told The Times some MEPs could be like 'monkeys with guns' when they get their hands on the deal - which will not happen until after the referendum.
Hungarian MEP Gyorgy Schopflin later told the BBC: 'I do like the idea of myself being a monkey with a gun.'
Even close allies such as Denmark, which is supportive of the deal, is eager to ensure the 'emergency brake' on migrant benefits is not picked up by other member states.

Tony Blair defends special relationship with Colonel Gaddafi

Tony Blair defends special relationship with Colonel Gaddafi PM tells Italian newspaper his passion for Europe is undimmed Blair insists 'only by joining together' can EU nations defend themselvesLatest intervention comes as David Cameron finalises his deal with the EU

Posted by Oppo on Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Harry Potter and the bank with the magically vanishing tax bill: Bailed-out RBS gets £1BILLION of tax breaks by investing in movie blockbusters

Harry Potter and the bank with the magically vanishing tax bill: Bailed-out RBS gets £1BILLION of tax breaks by investing in movie blockbusters

RBS used Labour tax break to invest in movies in return for a tax relief
Bank, which nearly went bust, invested in Troy, Harry Potter and Batman
Cash was handed to producers who would use the cash to invest in films
RBS could write off the upfront cost of the movie against its own profits

It is better known for financial wizardry such as manipulating interest rates and foreign exchange markets.
But Royal Bank of Scotland has also made £1billion disappear from its tax bill by investing in a host of hit films, from Harry Potter to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
The taxpayer bailed out the bank to the tune of £45billion in 2008 when its losses spiralled under casino capitalist Fred Goodwin - nicknamed 'Fred the Shred' because of his ruthless approach to business.

The Government still owns around 70 per cent of the bank and can't sell the shares without making a huge loss.
Yesterday it emerged that the state-backed giant gained generous tax breaks by exploiting controversial financing deals and is still earning an income from them to this day.
Set up by the Labour government in 1998, these ‘sale and leaseback’ arrangements were established to boost the UK’s film industry.
But they were exploited by wealthy individuals, including footballers and pop stars, as well as blue-chip firms to legally avoid paying tax.
The Inside Track fund allowed wealthy individuals to put money into films - in return for a tax break.
Put simply the investor formed a partnership with the producers to finance the movie, which Labour said brought more films to the UK, but it also gave the rich major tax relief.
The terms of the arrangement allowed the investors to claim tax relief against virtually the total sum ploughed into the film by the partnership formed with a producer - not just the amount that they had personally put in.
The partnerships were normally arranged under a two-for-one basis, meaning that if a celebrity put in £100,000 it would be matched by £200,000 from a film's other backers - but the celebrity could claim tax relief on the full £300,000.
The rebate had to be paid back over 15 years, but by investing the cash wisely investors could beat the taxman.
The minimum sum invested was £50,000 and films did not have to qualify as British.
Such schemes have now been outlawed, but were legal at the time as long as the investors said they were genuinely using their cash to invest in films and not to avoid tax.
The incentives were finally scrapped in 2007. But between 2003 and 2006 RBS avoided or delayed paying around £1bn in corporation tax, according to an investigation by news agency Bloomberg.
The High Street giant still owns the rights to more than 20 films, with its impressive portfolio also including Troy and Batman Begins.
These schemes allowed film studios to spread their huge distribution costs, and were designed to encourage them to make movies in the UK.
RBS, or another investor, would typically buy a completed film from the studio. They would then receive a regular fixed income by leasing it back to the studio for distribution to cinemas, on DVD, on television or online.
These arrangements – which typically lasted between 15 and 21 years – would give the studio an immediate cash return on the film to invest in other productions.
Meanwhile RBS could write off the upfront cost of the film against its profits – slashing the amount of corporation tax due.
In theory the schemes simply deferred RBS’s tax bill because the ongoing lease payments from the film studio are taxable.
But the bank has not paid corporation tax since 2008.
Secretive companies were set up by RBS to complete these sale and leaseback deals. Patelex IV Productions is listed as the producer of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire – starring Daniel Radcliffe – which was released in 2005 by Warner Brothers.
RBS said ‘these leases were compliant with tax law’, adding: ‘We have worked with HMRC to make sure that all our tax obligations in regards to this portfolio have been met.’


Before the 2008 financial crisis, Royal Bank of Scotland was one of the largest and most aggressive banks in the world.
The bank was founded in Edinburgh in 1727, but by the end of the 20th century it was a major player in the City of London too as the UK capital became the world's leading financial centre.
RBS sealed its place at the top table of British banking in 2000 when it bought NatWest, which dates back to 1650 and was considered one of the 'Big Four' retail banks in the UK.
Fred Goodwin, right, became chief executive of RBS the following year and pioneered a gung-ho expansion strategy with resources poured into its investment banking division.
One of the biggest deals came when RBS joined a consortium to buy Dutch bank ABN Amro for £49billion, which was later revealed as a major overvaluation.
With the advent of the 2007 credit crunch and subsequent global financial turmoil, RBS was exposed as being dangerously indebted and unable to meet its obligations.
The Labour Government felt it had no option but to step in, and in October 2008 it took a 57 per cent stake in the bank in return for £37billion of new capital.
As the bank's losses spiralled and it required even more bail-out money, the state share of the firm rose to 82 per cent.
Much of the blame for RBS's troubles was attributed to Goodwin, who was forced to resign and subsequently stripped of the knighthood he had received in 2004.

UFOs over Kent? Experts are baffled as at least six mysterious lights appear in the sky and stay there for half an hour

UFOs over Kent? Experts are baffled as at least six mysterious lights appear in the sky and stay there for half an hour

Six strange lights spotted over Hythe and Folkestone in Kent
The UFOs remained in the skies for half an hour, baffling experts
Ministry of Defence bosses denied they were flares used for training

UFOs have been spotted in UK skies after a group of mysterious lights were spotted hovering in mid-air.
At least six lights appeared in the sky over Hythe and Folkestone in Kent and remained there for around half an hour, with several people taking pictures.
Experts are baffled by the phenomenon and the Ministry of Defence, which runs training ranges nearby, have denied they had any part in it.

Six strange lights, pictured, appeared in the skies above Kent and remained there for 30 minutes
One suggested explanation was they were military flares sent up to illuminate a mock battlefield, but an MoD spokesman said: 'There were no military exercises taking place at the time.'
It is the latest in a series of strange sightings in Kent, with the county becoming something of a UFO hotspot.
A spokesman from Kent Unidentified Flying Objects Research Group said: 'The coastlines around East Kent and South Kent are major UFO areas.
'The towns in these areas have large amounts of UFO sightings on a continual basis.
'People are observing UFOs over the Thames Estuary and the English Channel all the time. UFO sightings in these areas have increased dramatically in the past few years.'

In 2014 Matt Law, 29, was driving towards Dymchurch to take his dog Jessie for a run at about 9pm when a string of UFO lights hovered in the sky in front of his car.
As he got closer, they did not move so he came to a halt directly below, opened his window but there was no sound from them.
Perplexed, he said he watched as the lights, in a triangle pattern, eventually flew off and disappeared.
'I'm not saying it was a flying saucer - I'm a bit of a sceptic - but it was no plane or helicopter' he said.
'There is nothing I know of which can remain stationary in the sky and make no noise.'
Last November came two reports of UFOs over Dover - just days after strange bright lights dazzled a driver on the nearby A2.

Kent has a history of UFO sightings, including this strange 'floating circle' (ringed) pictured in Dover
Dover port worker Ross Edwards, 26, filmed a weird 'floating circle' in the sky at about 9pm.
'I haven't the foggiest what it was' he said.
Forty five minutes later Rockie Lerata, 36, was walking with a friend when they saw 'something out of this world'.
Miss Lerata, of East Cliff, Dover, said 'I was astonished by the lights I saw. It was not fireworks nor planes.
'I couldn't sleep afterwards - this has changed my mind completely about the universe. It's amazing. I can't explain it.
'When I looked up I couldn't believe it. I kept looking at it. It would go away and come back. I was scared to look at it directly on the camera.'

GPs are prescribing £10,000-a-year drugs to wean punters off betting in a bid to tackle Britain's gambling epidemic

GPs are prescribing £10,000-a-year drugs to wean punters off betting in a bid to tackle Britain's gambling epidemic

Naltrexone, costing £800 monthly per patient, usually given to drug addicts
Its use is now extended to compulsive gamblers unable to fight 'cravings'
First clinic to give out drug was National Problem Gambling Clinic, London
Figures show there are now more than 500,000 problem gamblers in Britain

GPs are prescribing the worst gambling addicts £10,000-a-year drugs in an attempt to tackle Britain's betting epidemic.
The medication naltrexone is usually given to those with severe drug and alcohol problems, at a monthly cost of £800 per patient.
But it was revealed today that it is now being used to help compulsive gamblers unable fight their 'cravings' - at a cost of thousands of pounds to the NHS.

GPs are prescribing the worst gambling addicts £10,000-a-year drugs in a bid to tackle Britain's betting epidemic
According to The Times, the first clinic to prescribe the drug was the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which handed the medication to a patient two months ago.
Last year, GPs referred almost 1,000 problem gamblers to the clinic.
Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a researcher from the clinic, said: 'The medication is used to stop the most compulsive gamblers who are resistant to treatment. It helps stop craving.'

Recent figures show there are now more than half a million problem gamblers in Britain, indicating the impact of the expanding industry.
Meanwhile, calls to GamCare, the country's leading helpline which offers counselling to addicts, rose by one third last year.

According to the charity, half of the 40,000 people who called the helpline were suffering either financial difficulty or relationship breakdown as a result of gambling.
The worrying statistics have led campaigners to accuse ministers of allowing the gambling industry to spiral out of control, despite links to mental health problems, family breakdown and crime.
Their main argument centres around fixed-odds betting terminals, dubbed the 'crack cocaine' of gambling, which cause untold misery by allowing users to stake £100 a time on games including roulette and poker.
In the past five years, the number of people addicted to FOBTs has jumped more than 50 per cent.
FOBTs were introduced on to Britain’s high streets a decade ago after tax reforms by then Chancellor Gordon Brown left a loophole in the law.
The machines were initially declared illegal by the Labour Government on the basis that roulette bets may only be made in a casino.
However it backed down after bookmakers argued that since the ‘spin of the wheel’ was made offshore in tax havens such as Gibraltar, such machines should be allowed.
Under new controls introduced last April, players now have to seek permission from staff to stake more than £50.

Figures show there are now more than half a million problem gamblers in Britain, while calls to the country's leading helpline GamCare, which offers counselling to addicts, rose by a third last year (posed by model)
But figures obtained last month by the Fairer Gambling campaign group reveal that Ladbrokes alone now makes more than £1,000 per week per machine – up 9 per cent in just one year.
Ladbrokes said its growth came mainly from £2 stakes and it took responsible gambling very seriously. But Adrian Parkinson from Fairer Gambling said the rise in profits showed that self-regulation had failed.
Paddy Power’s weekly FOTB profits went up 4 per cent from £1,319 in the first six months of 2014 to £1,373 in the first six months of 2015.
And at Coral, profits went from £957 to £986 between the first nine months of 2014 and 2015 – up 3 per cent.
Last year, David Cameron’s former speechwriter, Claire Foges, urged him to clamp down on the ‘fiendishly seductive’ machines in an article for the Mail.

Fixed-odds betting terminals (pictured) cause untold misery by allowing users to stake £100 a time on games including roulette and poker
Miss Foges, the Prime Minister’s former speechwriter, wrote that FOBTs were ‘sirens on the rocks to the weak-willed’.
In 2011, MPs previously launched a contentious year-long investigation into the betting trade.
In that report, MPs called on the Government to relax rules restricting gambling venues and machines.
In order to work, addictive drugs stimulate brain receptors and produce a euphoric feeling.
Naltrexone is attracted to the same receptors. Once it has latched on to them, the drugs have no effect and negate the 'high' feeling that makes users want to take them.
The medicine is not a cure for addiction but is used as part of programme for addicts that may include counseling, support group meetings and other treatment.
The culture, media and sport select committee said councils should be able to allow more gambling machines in betting shops and casinos. The MPs also said the Gambling Commission should charge operators lower fees.
But Tory MP Philip Davies, member of the culture, media and sport select committee, was later criticised for receiving more than £10,000 in benefits from companies with links to the gambling industry which he did not declare.
When campaigners said changing the rules would lead to problem gambling, Mr Davies called the viewpoint nonsensical in the Commons.
The Association of British Bookmakers said: 'The industry works closely with government and regulators on responsible gambling initiatives.'
A spokesman for the culture and media department said: 'We introduced strong gambling controls last Apirl. This includes putting an end to unsupervised stakes about £50 on FOBTs and giving more power to local authorities to stop new betting shops opening up in the area.'

Shocking moment lorry driver REVERSES back up dual carriageway… before the police arrive

Shocking moment lorry driver REVERSES back up dual carriageway… before the police arrive

Driver reverses the red lorry up the A90 near Fife in Scotland
Reports say the driver realised too late that HGVs were not permitted to cross an upcoming bridge during the day
Police Scotland are unable to confirm what action they took last night

The stunning moment a lorry driver reverses down the A90 in Scotland as shocked motorists are forced to move aside before the police show up.
Realising the vehicle is banned from passing the Forth Road Bridge near Fife during the day the driver of the red lorry decides going backwards is the best idea.
After yesterday's incident Police Scotland are unable to confirm what action they took last night.

See lorry REVERSE slowly along the busy A90

See lorry REVERSE slowly along the busy A90 reverses the red lorry up the A90 near Fife in Scotland Reports say the driver realised too late that HGVs were not permitted to cross an upcoming bridge during the day Police Scotland are unable to confirm what action they took last night

Posted by Oppo on Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Backing up: The driver reverses up the A90 in Scotland as shocked motorists are forced to move
Parked in a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) of his own Christopher Bain from Fife starts to film the action from the driver's seat.
He zooms in to a red lorry which is shockingly reversing down the inside lane on the approach to the bridge.
The scene is captured near to the exit to North Queensferry as the lorry reverses on the southbound lane.
Stunned motorists are seen moving out the way as a steady stream of cars have to move to the outside lane.

Too late: Reports say the driver realised too late that HGVs are not permitted to cross the bridge during the day
The flashing lights of the police then appear as officers roll up to stop the driver.
Mr Bain, who then shared the clip on Facebook, wrote, 'Couldn't believe what a was watching this morning - feeling shocked at Forth Road Bridge.'
Reports say the driver realised too late that HGVs are not permitted to cross the bridge during the day.
After a full closure the bridge reopened at the end of last year and restrictions on HGVs mean they can only cross between 11pm and 5.30am. Drivers face a detour via Kincardine at other times.

Stop it's the police! Flashing lights appear as police officers roll up to stop the driver from backing up further
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said on Monday that good progress was being made as the bridge strengthening work continued.
'Work to restore the bridge to its full capacity is continuing at pace and this is another step towards that goal.
'The HGV trial has been running for more than a week now and our careful monitoring shows that we can now allow more vehicles across the bridge.'

Conditions on Ben Nevis still too bad to resume search for climbers missing since they went on Valentine's Day hike up mountain

Conditions on Ben Nevis still too bad to resume search for climbers missing since they went on Valentine's Day hike up mountain

Major hunt for couple Rachel Slater and Tim Newton sparked on Monday
Rescue teams called off the search yesterday due to 'treacherous' weather
Hoped to resume this morning - but high winds and snowfall stopped them
Rescue leader said they were hoping for news despite 'worrying' situation

The search for two experienced climbers who went missing on Britain's highest mountain during a Valentine's trip has been delayed for a second day due to the weather.
A major hunt for couple Rachel Slater, 24, and Tim Newton, 27, was sparked after they were reported missing on Monday.
Mountain rescue teams and police officers spent hours desperately searching for the couple, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, before the hunt was suspended yesterday afternoon due to 'treacherous' weather.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team planned to resume the search at first light on Wednesday but heavy snow, fog and blustery winds have forced them to review their plans.
Two members of the rescue team were caught up in an avalanche during the search of Tuesday but survived unscathed.
Leader John Stevenson told BBC Radio Scotland: 'We're expecting more bad weather so we've put everything on hold and are reviewing it.
'There were high winds yesterday, which have died down a bit but it's still very blustery on the hill.
'The areas we want to look at have had a lot of fresh snowfall blown in so they are very unstable and we wouldn't like to put people in there until there is a bit of settlement.
'It's always a worry when you're putting people in to these areas. It's quite scary and very hard work in these conditions.'
It is believed the couple had been camping behind the Charles Inglis Clark memorial hut on the north side of the mountain.
Seasoned climber Ms Slater is a graduate of Manchester University and is employed as an environmental consultant near Bradford.

Mountain rescue teams and police officers spent hours desperately searching for the couple, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, before the hunt was suspended yesterday afternoon due to 'treacherous' weather. Above, pictures released by the search party showing the conditions
Mr Newton, originally from Leicester, also lives in Bradford and studied physics at the Universities of Manchester and Leeds, according to his Facebook profile.
Mr Stevenson said it is hoped that teams can take to the mountain later.
He said: 'We'll just have to wait and see - it's the snow conditions that will determine what we can do and where we can go.

'We'll keep reviewing it and as and when we'll try and send people out.'
He added: 'As time goes on it's very difficult, the weather conditions have been really bad and no-one has heard from them or seen them is a worry.
'You always have hope but as time goes on that diminishes quite rapidly.'

Seasoned climber Ms Slater, pictured above, is a graduate of Manchester University and is employed as an environmental consultant near Bradford
Friends and fellow climbers have been posting messages on social media praising the search teams and voicing hope that the couple will be found safe.
One wrote on the UKClimbing forum: 'Great, enthusiastic young climbers. Such good role models for the sport.
'I've seen them out and about in the past and follow their logbooks cos they climb routes I'd like to. I hope they are found OK. I'm crossing everything and thinking of them and the search teams' (sic).
Anyone who was climbing or walking in the Ben Nevis area over the weekend and saw the couple is being urged to contact police on 101.

One man shot dead and three others wounded after string of gun attacks in Brooklyn

One man shot dead and three others wounded after string of gun attacks in Brooklyn

One man killed and two others injured in Brooklyn gun attacks last night
A 29-year-old man was taken to hospital but died from gunshot wounds
Hours earlier, police were called to another address after reports of gunfire
String of attacks thought to have left three people injured and one dead

One man was killed and three others injured, in two separate shooting incidents twenty blocks and ten minutes apart in Brooklyn last night.
Police were called to an apartment building at 666 Hancock Street around 7.20pm, where they found a 29-year-old man who had been shot in the head and chest.
He was rushed to Interfaith Hospital, however efforts to save him proved unsuccessful and he died from his injuries.

The scene of the homicide at 666 Hancock Street. The victim, believed to be a 29-year-old man, was later pronounced dead at Interfaith Hospital
According to police, only moments earlier two men walked into Woodhull Medical Center with bullet wounds that were not life-threatening.
Police are yet to confirm whether the two incidents are linked.

According to local reports, police conducted a search at Sumner Houses at Vernon Avenue, by Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
Earlier in the evening, police were called to another address following reports of gunfire.

Police attended Ocean Avenue in Flatbush-Ditmas Park, earlier in the evening, where one victim was taken to Kings County Hospital with non life-threatening injuries
Police attended Ocean Avenue by Tennis Court, in Flatbush-Ditmas Park, around 5pm, where one victim was taken to Kings County Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
The follows a double shooting in Brooklyn on Monday night which left one dead and another hospitalized.
Residents reported gunfire outside a home on East 56th Street and a 33-year-old man was pronounced dead on arrival at Brookdale Hospital after being shot in the face. A 31-year-old man was taken to Kings County Hospital with a gunshot wound to the back.
It is not yet known if Monday's shootings were linked to the spate of incidents on Tuesday evening.

Fifa World Beach Soccer Championship in Tahiti Blamed for Outbreak of Zika

EXCLUSIVE: Was Fifa's beach football cup to blame for world Zika outbreak? Sufferers on tropical paradise of Tahiti say players brought mosquito-born disease from Africa then took it to Brazil

Zika declared 'global health emergency', linked to birth defects in babies
Thousands of babies born with microcephaly or 'small head' syndrome
Epicentre of outbreak is Brazil, where 4,000 newborns have microcephaly
But scientists believe virus exploded on tropical paradise island of Tahiti
They accused Tahiti canoe team of bringing disease into South America
Canoe girls competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, 'triggering outbreak'
But MailOnline investigation suggests Fifa Beach Soccer Cup is to blame
16 countries competed in 2013 championships then islanders fell ill
In total, 60 per cent of islanders went sick and 12 babies born with defects
Then the virus made its way to Brazil where millions have fallen ill

The global Zika outbreak that has seen millions fall ill and damaged thousands of newborn babies is being blamed on Fifa's Beach Soccer World Cup, a MailOnline investigation has revealed.
The Pacific paradise island of Tahiti, seen as a key 'staging post' in the worldwide spread of the disease, hosted hundreds of football players from 16 different countries in September 2013.
Just weeks later thousands of islanders fell ill with a rash on their bodies, debilitating fever and general aches and pains.
Now Zika has spread to more than 20 countries worldwide and caused panic in Brazil where 4,000 babies have been born with under-developed brains. There is currently no vaccine or cure.
Initially researchers suggested the deadly virus - a global health emergency - spread to Brazil from Tahiti during a canoe competition in Rio de Janeiro in August 2014.
But an investigation by MailOnline on the French Polynesian paradise found that 60 per cent of the islanders developed Zika after teams from as far afield as Argentina, Paraguay, Senegal, Japan and Brazil flew into the capital for Fifa's beach soccer tournament.

Cause? The stadium that was converted into a beach soccer ground in Papeete, Tahiti, for the World Beach Soccer Championships in 2013 - after which thousands were struck down by the Zika virus
So many Tahitians fell ill during the first Zika outbreak that followed the Fifa beach soccer world cup that they resorted to old wives' tales to 'cure' their ailments or stave away mosquito-borne illnesses.
Papeete taxi driver Taata Tchoung Yao fell ill with the virus and resorted to a friend's advice to drink sea water.
'I had a rash and I was tired. I was sick for three days,' he said.
'I kept drinking a little sea water throughout the day that I collected in a bottle myself from the sea. And on the second day and third day I felt better.
'A friend of mind told me to do it, but I told him "Are you crazy?" But I didn't want to take medicine.'
Another driver who sat underneath the corrugated iron shelter of the taxi rank facing the bay told how he even resorted to drinking cans of Fanta to ward off the effects of the illness.
But unfortunately for him this did not pan out as well as he hoped - he contracted the virus twice.
Within weeks of the championship the first case had been reported in Japan – eight months before the canoe competition in Rio. At least 12 newborn babies were later discovered with defects on Tahiti.
Slowly, the disease began to be discovered in South America.
So far, at least 4,000 newborns in Brazil have been identified with microcephaly, a condition in which the brain does not develop, and millions have fallen ill across the continent.
The infection is now widespread across the Americas, the Pacific Islands and Africa - including El Salvador and Paraguay and cases have been discovered in Ireland and Britain.
Frighteningly, some people carrying the infection show no symptoms at all. Others develop flu-like aches, inflammation of the eyes, joint pain and rashes. There is currently no vaccine or cure.
Researchers are desperately tracking the emergence of the deadly bug to try to find a way of tackling it.
The massive outbreak in the French Polynesian paradise in 2013 is believed to have allowed the disease to make its way to South America - and then to the rest of the world.
Locals on the tiny island of Tahiti are convinced that the international soccer tournament was to blame for the epidemic that brought the island to its knees.

Map shows the spread of Zika worldwide, highlighting how Tahiti is a key staging post in the disease as it made its way to Brazil
Tahiti's city health boss, seventh vice-mayor Sylvana Puhetini, said that ‘the virus spread to Brazil after the beach soccer - that’s the general feeling of the population.
'It was right after the beach soccer world cup that the Zika started.
'I had Zika. I work at the local parliament building and I got Zika in early October - one of the first ones with a fever, pains and trouble walking.
'I don't trust the scientists. They're making all this stuff up to solve the spread of Zika. We never had the virus.
Boss of canoe squad accused of spreading Zika
'I had to stay in bed for three days, I couldn't move.
'A lot of my colleagues were contaminated. I called my doctor and I told him about my symptoms. He thought I had Dengue fever but two days later I had a rash.
'On the television, I saw that there was an epidemic of Zika and that's when I thought I had it.
'I went back to the doctor and he thought I had Zika, so I had a blood test and confirmed it.’
Dr Stephen Donohue, director of the Tropical Public Health Unit at Townsville Hospital, Queensland, agreed that sporting events, such as the beach soccer championships in Tahiti, could be a source for the transmission of Zika.
'If you are in one place, such as attending a sporting event where there are a lot of people and you get bitten by a mosquito and then you travel to somewhere else, within two weeks you will show the symptoms of whatever disease that mosquito is carrying,' he said.
Shopkeepers, taxi drivers, hotel workers across Tahiti all repeated the same story about the the source: It was the beach soccer championships.

Fear: Of the island's 280,000-strong population, some 60 per cent began suffering from symptoms of the virus within a week or more of the international teams arriving for the soccer finals
Tour guide Teiva Tiaipoi has no doubts that Zika was brought to Tahiti by players taking part in the tournament in 2013.
'It was the world cup, there is no doubt about that,' he said as he broke away from his group of tourists near the beach at Venus Point, north of Papeete. 'And I would say it was the Africans because that's where Zika started, wasn't it?'
We said: 'Look what happened with Zika at the world cup. Do you want Ebola to come here next?'
While medical experts insist that the virus that hit Tahiti carried the Asian strain, not the African, Mr Tiaipoi said common sense told him and 'everyone' in Papeete that the world cup was the cause of all the troubles in former French Polynesia.
'I'm not an expert, but I'm telling you the hard facts. Just a short time after the players arrived from around the world and registered at their hotels, guests there and fans who attended the world cup matches had the fever and the rash.
'It's too much of a coincidence to say the world cup had nothing to do with it. How else did the virus arrive here?'
Mr Tiaipoi said his work took him all around the island and he heard the same story - 'blame the virus on the world cup.'
Scientists have previously suggested that canoeists from Tahiti were to blame for carrying the virus to South America - where at least 4,000 newborns have been identified suffering from microcephaly.

Strain: Medical experts claim the virus that hit Tahiti was the Asian strain, rather than the African. But residents claim the timing of the outbreak at the same time as the tournament is too much of a coincidence
April 1947 - Zika virus is first discovered in a monkey in Uganda
1954 - First case of the illness was recorded in humans in Nigeria
1966 - Zika comes to south-east Asia
1970s - Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Indonesia report cases of the disease
2007 - No more records exist until a major outbreak happens in the Micronesian island of Yap
2008 - Two scientists return from Senegal, Africa. One of them is believed to have sexually transmitted the disease to his wife
September 2013 - Beach Soccer World Cup is held in Papeete, Tahiti
October 2013 - First cases of Zika are reported on the island of Tahiti
December 2013 - Japanese man in his 20s presents himself at Tokyo hospital with symptoms of Zika after travelling to Bora Bora
January 2014 - Woman in her 30s arrives at Japanese hospital with similar ailments after she returned from Bora Bora
March 2014 - First case of Zika on the Solomon Islands is recorded
June/July 2014 - FIFA Soccer World Cup happens in Brazil
August 2014 - French Polynesia canoeists travel to Rio, Brazil to compete in world championships
May 2015 - Zika outbreak is confirmed in Brazil by the Pan American Health Organisation
Current - Widespread infection across the Americas, the Pacific Islands and Africa - including El Salvador and Paraguay
A research paper accused the teams who took part in an outrigger championship in Rio in 2014 of picking up the virus on their home island and unwittingly causing the global outbreak that is now being classed as a global health emergency - just as Ebola was last year.
But when MailOnline tracked down the canoeists they insisted they were not to blame.
None of the canoe team were ill before they left or showed any symptoms of being infected by the virus when they returned with their medals.
Charles Villierme, former president of Tahiti's Federation of Canoe-Kayak who went on the trip to Rio in 2014, was astonished at the suggestion his athletes had something to do with the outbreak.
He told MailOnline: 'Zika was a big problem here. All the delegates had check ups before they left for Rio.
'I don't trust the scientists. They're making all this stuff up to solve the spread of Zika.
'We never had the virus. Only the researchers are saying that.
'All our athletes wherever they go, before they go we check for any doping products or any diseases as well.'
Sisters Tehani and Vahinerii Liu, also said the canoeists could not have caused the outbreak - in Tahiti or in South America. 'A lot of my friends got Zika. They were very sick with headaches, weakness and itchy rashes,' Vahinerii added.
'There's not a big chance it happened because of the canoeists - French Polynesia was not the first country to get Zika.
'Like Chikungunya - another debilitating disease that gripped the region in 2014 - it started in another country.'
Concern about the influx of people carrying Zika was so high locally that an international boule championship was even cancelled.
Mr Tiapoi said: 'We'd seen how easy it was for Zika to come in and infect a large number of people.
'Somebody started a protest movement and begged the authorities here to stop planning for the petanque championships.
'We said: "Look what happened with Zika at the world cup. Do you want ebola to come here next?"

At risk: A mother, who didn't want to be named, in Orofara village on Tahiti said she was bitten by mosquitoes before having her baby (pictured), but she was lucky to not develop the Zika virus
Whatever its origins, it appears clear from detailed inquiries that the outbreak that hit 60 per cent of the 280,000 population in the French Polynesian region erupted within a week or more of the international teams arriving for the soccer finals.
The Tahu To’ata stadium was packed with sporting enthusiasts HOW MANY, many of whom were there to support the home team, leading locals to say there could be no other cause for the outbreak that struck the nation a short time afterwards.
Andre Rereao, 29, was one of the fans who sat in the tiered stands looking down on the sandy ground.
Relaxing on the beach at Point Venus, just outside of Papeete, the father-of-one told MailOnline it was only weeks after the last players had left the town that Zika started to emerged.
'There were a lot of strangers who came here from Brazil and all around the world. Some weeks after that the first case of Zika happened. I think the virus came from Rio to here,' he said.

Support: Tahiti resident Andrew Rereao also supports the theory that the Fifa tournament is to blame, rather than the canoe team
Mr Rereao said he caught the bug, and had the typical symptoms - a rash, fever, sore limbs and fatigue. His friends caught it as well, but luckily his wife and son escaped unharmed.
Tahitian team captain Naea Bennett, however, was upset at the suggestion that soccer was to blame. 'I have no idea if Zika really happened because of the African team [or the tournament].
'I'm a player, my concentration was on the team and playing.
'People were saying that the World Cup brought Zika but I don't know. [When Zika started] people said it was the World Cup because it's an easy answer, it's easy to assume.
'Do they have proof or research?
'Someone on the team who was sick or the team brought it to Tahiti - I don't know.
'No one here was sick at the hotel. It was a month later we heard [about the illness] but it was not during the competition.'

Disbelief: Tahiti resident Arnelle Peoch says it's hard to believe canoeists from the island carried Zika to Rio
According to leading scientist Dr Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau, who has written several medical papers about the virus, it carried a strain originating in Asia - not Africa as many feared. She said the soccer championship could have been to blame.
‘It’s basically anybody’s guess,’ she said. ‘There are many explanations for how the virus came to stay.’
'When we first detected it here, we looked at it and found that it was from the Asian genome. And yes, some people are saying it came from the world cup (beach) soccer and that it came from teams from Africa, but the strain was from Asia, not the African virus.'
Asked whether it was possible that players from Brazil had contracted the virus in Tahiti and then taken it back to their country, Dr Cao-Lormeau said there was no evidence to support that, although it was a possibility.

Competition: Tahiti perform the Haka before the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 semi final match between Russia and Tahiti at the Tahua To'ata stadium on September 27, 2013 in Papeete
So how did the virus arrive in French Polynesia - and how did it travel from there to Rio, given that the French Polynesian strain has been detected in South America?
Dr Cao-Lameau, the top scientist who is based at the Institute Louis Mallard in Papeete, told MailOnLine in her laboratory that the exact ‘movements’ of the virus was still under investigation, but pointed out that it ‘travelled when people travel’.
Intriguingly, the Fifa World Cup that took place in Brazil in June/July 2014, with 32 qualifying teams and up to 3.3million supporters flooding into the country, may also have contributed to the spread.

Teams: To the residents' knowledge, the island was Zika-free before the arrival of beach soccer teams from Brazil, Paraguay, Salvador, Argentina, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Japan, Russia, Spain, Iran, the United States, Ukraine, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and the Ivory Coast
What has added to the mystery of how the disease has travelled - springing up, for example in the remote north Pacific island of Yap in 2007 - are the views of Dr Henri-Pierre Mallet, health watch manager for Papeete’s Department of Health.
‘Of course, you can carry the virus without being aware of it - you are asymptomatic,’ he told MailOnline.
The unwitting carriers, scientists agree, are those who have been bitten by the breed of virus-carrying mosquitoes which then bite other people and spread the disease. Those most susceptible are pregnant women in the first month of their trimester, resulting in birth deformities, including child with small heads.
It is understood that about 12 babies have been born with the small head abnormality - microcephaly - in French Polynesia, but there are others with other kinds of defects. MailOnline has learned of one mother in Papeete giving birth to a baby with a badly twisted ear, a result, her doctor told her, of being bitten by a mosquito while in the early stages of her pregnancy.

Open: The country is now believed to be Zika-free, but it hasn’t stopped the locals talking about the outbreak
As scientists in Papeete work on preparing a final report into the spread of the virus - MailOnline found bizarre anomalies in the spread. In Brazil it is poor neighbourhoods that are badly hit. In Tahiti it was focussed on Papeete - supporting the theory that the soccer was the trigger.
While many people in Papeete described the virus as 'being everywhere, we were all bitten' - in small villages on the other side of the island, on the east coast, residents in areas that were rife with mosquitoes said they had not contracted Zika.
Stepping out from his modest home, which is surrounded by banana leaves, a shirtless Leon Luraeva, proudly said: 'No Zika. Not me.'
And further along a dirt track in the village of Mahaena, new mother Raurii Uraeva proudly gazed down upon her one-month-old baby boy, Tiainui Teraiharoa. 'Many mosquitoes, no Zika,' she said.
As you travel along the coastal roads back towards Papeete - the island's capital - more patients of Zika start to present themselves, like Christine Deweerdt.
She contracted Zika while she was pregnant with her two-year-old son, but luckily it was towards the end of her last trimester. It is thought the first trimester is when Zika is most dangerous to women and their babies.
'I wasn't worried [about my pregnancy] because I was at eight months and out of the danger zone,' Ms Deweerdt told MailOnline.
'I got Zika after my older eight-year-old son had Zika.'

Peace: A lone paddle boarder heads home of Papeete, which was struck by the Zika virus just weeks after the September 2013 Fifa beach football tournament
The country is now believed to be Zika-free. But it hasn’t stopped the locals talking about it.
Armelle Peoch, originally from France but who has lived in Papeete for a number of years, reflected on the virus in a Papeete waterfront cafe.
'I think that it is a virus like a lot of others before it. It's another part of human history. It's not a special experience.
'A virus is new but the basics are still the same. This one is a mosquito-borne virus but before that it was another thing. Humans can expel it out of the body.
'A lot of people had been bitten but no one had symptoms. If you're tired, sore and if your morale is good then it will go away,’ she said.
In a statement, Fifa said: 'Fifa is not aware of any scientific evidence that would substantiate the claim you mention.'