First World War officially ends

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The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power.

“On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany,” said Bild, the country’s biggest selling newspaper.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the ‘war guilt’ clause, accepting blame for the war.

France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.

The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.

“Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,’ he warned.

When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.

Hereford hosts 2010 World Blind Football Championship

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England opened their tournament with a win against South Korea.

Ten countries, including hosts England and current World Champions Argentina, will join France, Spain and six other qualifiers at the Championships next August.

Rare vintage racing Bugatti could fetch world record price

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A Bugatti Type 51 race car in the 2007 ‘Grand Prix de l’?ge d’Or’ in the pitlane of Dijon-Prenois Photo: Akela NDE

The 79-year-old Type 51, which contested 17 European Grand Prix races, is considered one of the finest surviving of its kind, boasting its original bodywork, engine and gearbox.

It is set fetch $4.5m (£2.9m) in the sale at the Pebble Beach motoring week in Monterey this Saturday. That would be the highest price ever paid for a grand prix racing Bugatti.

It is being sold by the British private collector who paid the current world record sum for a Type 35 Bugatti two years ago, at £2.5m.

Along with other alternative investments, the collector car market has been boosted over the past year and a half as the wealthy move towards more tangible assets in the wake of the credit crunch.

Bugatti historian David Sewell said the latest sale, 1931-built chassis 51132, is “a remarkably complete and original car and there is no doubt to its authenticity.”

He said it “ranks among the finest survivors of the highly desirable Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix”.

The last time a Bugatti Type 51 came to auction, nearly ten years ago in 2001 it made in excess of £1m.

Dan Warrener, car specialist at RM Auctions, which is holding the sale, said: “Many of our clientele have been disgruntled with the anxiety caused by the wild fluctuations in the world stock markets, and while the past two years have demonstrated that ‘blue chip’ stocks can be reduced to zero, serious depreciation in rare car values has never happened.

“Rare collector cars, like fine art, have increased in value dramatically in the past decade. Many price records have been broken in the past two years, while more traditional investments have gone down.”

World Cup 2010: Paul the psychic octopus ‘could transfer to Spain’ after bidding war

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Red letter day: fans in down town Madrid celebrate.Photo: REUTERS

Madrid zoo announced a transfer bid for the oracle octopus, which became a worldwide sensation after correctly predicted the outcome of as many World Cup matches as he has legs.

The invertebrate is due to retire after predicating all of Germany’s World Cup. He finished his career by calling Spain’s final 1-0 win over Holland in the final at the weekend.

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The one blemish on its record was when he wrongly predicted Germany would beat Spain in the Euro 2008 final.

In what may prove to be this year’s biggest transfer story, negotiations have began for the world’s most famous cephalopod to head to Spain, still giddy from its win.

Officials from Zoo Aquarium in Madrid told Paul’s aquarium in Germany it would trump all others and give him a warm welcome in gratitude for predicting Spain’s World Cup win.

They believe the eight legged creature, named after a German children’s book by Boy Lornsen, will attract thousands of visitors and become a star attraction.

Madrid zoo contacted the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen “to ask them to transfer the animal” while making, what they said, was an offer to the Germans they could not refuse.

Officials promised to “improve on any offer received so far”. It said the bid to came in response to “dozens of petitions from all over Spain”.

They have offered an unspecified amount of cash and have also attempted to negotiate through an animal exchange programme.

“The zoo also guarantees that Paul will receive the best attention, reflecting the great affection in which he is held by all the Spanish people since he predicted that the Spanish team would win the football World Cup,” said Zoo spokeswoman Amparo Fernandez.

“We hope that within the next few days we will be able to confirm news that the admirable Paul will be part of the club of the most loved and charismatic animals of the Madrid Zoo.”

But a spokeswoman for Paul said he was not for sale.

“We are not in contact with Madrid Zoo. And we know nothing about swapping Paul for another animal or him going to Madrid Zoo for a transfer sum,” Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said.

In octopus terms, Paul is already a pensioner, at the grand old age of two-and-a-half. Octopuses generally live three years at most.

Paul is so popular in Spain that a northwestern Spanish town tried to borrow him.

Officials in O Caraballino, population 14,000, also declared the octopus an honorary citizen.

It mayor is due to travel to Oberhausen next week to present him with a commemorative plaque and sculpture while Paul has also been presented with a miniature World Cup trophy.

He had also become at the centre of an international bidding war, after Spanish businessmen offered 38,000 euros to bring him to Spain.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the goal which won the World Cup final for Spain, said after the game: “As for the octopus, what can I say? We won. The octopus will be very popular in Spain”.

Octopus is a delicacy in restaurants throughout Spain, but Mrs Fernandez insisted there was no way Paul would end up being served up on a restaurant plate if he is moved to the Madrid Zoo.

The art of match predicting became a dangerous job for the clairvoyant cephalopod with bitter fans sending death-threat emails to his German aquarium, saying “we want Paul for the pan”.

Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, even jokingly suggested sending in a squad of octopus bodyguards.

Some people, however, won up to half a million pounds between them during the tournament by placing bets based on the octopus’s predictions.

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Sepp Blatter given embarrassing nickname on World Cup award

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Sepp Blatter was accidentally referred to as Bellend after an internet hoaxPhoto: GETTY IMAGES

The 74-year-old was recognised with the Order of The Companions of O R Tambo for his contribution over the World Cup.

However, an official website announcing the accolade referred to the Swiss as “Joseph Sepp Bellend Blatter”.

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It is thought that Blatter’s profile on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, was targeted by pranksters who altered his name, which was then copied onto the government website.

Both websites have since been amended, removing the reference, which is a slang term for a penis.

The joke follows criticism of the football chief for refusing to allow goal-line technology in the tournament, which would have proved Frank Lampard scored against Germany.

Online football forums were awash with comments about the blunder after it spotted on the website for the South African presidency.

One England fan remarked: “It just goes to show that 50 million people are not wrong!”

Another added: “So is this the first official, presidentially sanctioned bellend in history?”

Blatter received his Gold award at a gala dinner on Monday South African President, Jacob Zuma.

The accolade is one of the country’s highest distinctions and is bestowed on foreign citizens for contributions to peace, co-operation and the active expression of solidarity and support.

Announcing the award, Mr Zuma said: “After FIFA awarded us the opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup on 15 May 2004, we embraced the tasks that you entrusted to us, working together as a nation.

“The hosting of the 2010 World Cup has helped us consolidate the gains we achieved after attaining freedom in 1994.”

Oliver Tambo was a former president in exile of the African National Congress (ANC) and played a significant role in mobilising international opposition to apartheid, setting up the first liberation movement missions in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana and London.

Accepting his award, Blatter said: “I just have to express my thanks but my emotions are now overcoming my voice.

“I’m touched by this honour. I would like to thank President Zuma and all the people of South Africa for this gesture. I take it for FIFA, the football family and my own family.”

Asked for a comment about the name blunder, a spokesman for FIFA’s Swiss HQ told The Sun: “I need to communicated the meaning of the word internally first.”

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