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When you see the word Amazon, what’s the first thing you think of – the world’s biggest forest, the longest river or the largest internet shop – and which do you think is most important? These are the questions in a debate about the internet. Brazil and Peru have made objections to a bid made by the US online shop for the domain name, “.amazon”. Amazon has asked for its company name to be a top-level domain name (currently “.com”), but the South American governments say this would stop the use of this internet address for environmental protection, indigenous rights and other public interest uses. There are many other disputed claims to names, including “.patagonia”. Until now, the differences between commercial, governmental and other types of identity were easy to see in every internet address by the use of “.com”, “.gov” and 20 other categories. But soon there are going to be more of these categories – or generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as they are technically known. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has had bids (each worth almost $200,000) for hundreds of new gTLDs to add to the 22 that we use already. Amazon has applied for many new domains, including “.shop”, “.song ”, “.book” and “.kindle ”. But the one that has caused most discussion is its application for “.amazon”. Brazil and Peru want the “.amazon” application to be stopped. They say that a private company should not have a name that is also the name of an important geographical area. “Allowing private companies to register geographical names as gTLDs to profit from the meaning of these names is not, in our view, in the public interest,” the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology said. Brazil said other members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty support its views (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela). There have also been other objections over new top-level domains that use geographical or cultural names. Argentina is unhappy that the US outdoor clothing retailer, Patagonia, wants a domain name that has been known far longer as a region of spectacular beauty. “Argentina rejects the '.patagonia' request for a new generic top-level domain. Patagonia is an important region for the country’s economy because it has oil, fishing, mining and agriculture resources. It is also a major tourist destination.” They will discuss the disputed bids again at a meeting of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee in Durban in July. The first new domain names will probably be in use before the end of 2013.
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To tourists, Amsterdam still seems very liberal. Recently the city’s Mayor told them that the coffee shops that sell marijuana would stay open, although there is a new national law to stop drug tourism. But the Dutch capital has a plan to send antisocial neighbours to “scum villages” made from shipping containers, and so maybe now people won’t think it is a liberal city any more. The Mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, says his new plan to solve the problem of antisocial behaviour will cost £810,000. The plan is hopes to protect victims of abuse and homophobia. The camps, where antisocial families will live for three to six months, have been called “scum villages” because last year Geert Wilders, the far-right politician, said that offenders should go to “a village for scum”. Bartho Boer, a spokesman for the Mayor, says that the plans are not illiberal. “We want to defend the liberal values of Amsterdam,” he says. “We want everyone to be who he and she is – whether they are gay and lesbian or try to stop violence and are then victims of harassment. We want to defend them.” According to Boer, the villages are not for “a problem neighbour who has the stereo too loud on Saturday night” but “people who are very violent and in a clear situation where a victim is harassed again and again”. People found guilty of violent harassment will be evicted from their homes and put in temporary homes, including shipping containers in industrial areas of the city. “We call it a living container,” says Boer. The containers have showers and kitchens and have been used as student accommodation. They are going to use the containers because they want to show that if people are antisocial they do not get better accommodation. One Dutch newspaper wrote that in the 19th century antisocial people were moved to villages in Drenthe and Overijssel, which soon became slums. But Boer says that the government has learned from past mistakes and is not planning to put antisocial families together. They are “scum houses” not scum villages, says Boer, “because we don’t want to put more than one of these families in the same area”. After a maximum of six months in these houses, in different parts of the city, the families will get permanent homes. The city government expects to move about ten families a year, which starts in 2013. Police will watch the temporary accommodation, but antisocial families will also be able to see doctors and social workers. “We will take care of them so the whole situation is not going to repeat at the new house they are in,” says Boer.
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Anitta, a music star from Brazil, has millions of fans, but she is at the centre of a debate about skin colour. Some people are saying that Anitta had to give up her black skin to be a success in the mostly white middle-class market. The debate was started by photographs that show that Anitta’s skin has got much lighter since she signed a music deal with Warner. In the first photo, before she was famous, she looked darker. In the second photo – a marketing photo after she became famous – she seems lighter. The difference has started a discussion about whether you need to have light skin to be a success in Brazil. Born Larissa de Macedo Machado, the diva-to-be was a church chorister in her childhood. In her teens, she made a name for herself in Rio de Janeiro’s baile funk scene as a dancer and singer. She now has an album and a huge hit single, Show das Poderosas, which was number one in the charts and attracted 52 million YouTube views. Many people love her because she is a pop idol with a strong message and some good pop songs. Her marketing team want people to see her as a cultural bridge between the poor people living in the mostly black and mixed-race shanty towns on Rio’s hills and the richer and whiter parts below. But now people are asking if she – or her marketing team – have gone too far and changed her too much. This is a sensitive topic in this mixed-raced country. Brazil has the largest population of African descent outside Africa, but race and where your family come from are less important there than colour. There is a clear link between skin colour and inequality. In Brazilian cities, white workers earn twice as much as workers of African descent. Up until 2011, black or mixed-race students also spent two years less at school on average. Most business and government executives are white, but black and mixed-race workers do most of the boring or dirty jobs. Brazil did a census in 2010. Among the 197 million population, 82 million said they were “pardu” (mixed race), 15 million black, two million Asian and 0.5% indigenous. Maycon de Mattos Batista, a financial analyst who used to work with Anitta, said there has been a huge change in Anitta’s image, but not of her colour. “I don’t believe she is whiter; it’s more the makeup, hairstylists and the way she dresses,” he said. “I don’t think that was because of pressure they put on her. She always liked to show off, sing and dance. That was a natural thing for her. I believe that it is because of this naturalness that she has become a success.”
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Google has made maps of the world’s highest mountains, the ocean floor, the Amazon rainforest and even shown us a bit of North Korea. They want to make maps of the whole world, but they have mostly stayed away from the Arctic. Now, however, Google is starting a very important update to hundreds of years of polar map making – and it hopes that the map will help give a better understanding of life on the permafrost for millions of web users. A small Google team has flown to Iqaluit, the largest town in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. They have taken their warmest winter clothes, many laptop computers and an 18kg telescopic camera that they can fix to their backpacks. The team spent four days collecting the images and information that will give the isolated community on Baffin Island something that people across the world who live in cities now take for granted. An Inuit mapping expert helped the Google team and curious locals followed them around. The town of 7,000 people will go on display via Google’s popular Street View application in July 2013. When Google made maps of other parts of the world it used a special camera on a car roof. In Iqaluit that was not possible, so Google’s map makers walked the town’s snowy roads and trails. Some roads are made of ice and disappear in the short summer months. The team also walked along part of a 15km road known as the Road to Nowhere, despite warnings about meeting polar bears. The online map that Google had already created using satellite images was mostly correct, but one road was missing that had been built in the last year. One difficulty was how to place on the map many businesses and homes that have mail sent to the local post office and not delivered to their address. Putting the PO box addresses on the map would mean the new map would show all the companies, banks and schools in the same place, around the Canada Post building in the centre of town. About 30 Inuit elders, business people and high-school pupils helped Google to correct this problem. They were given a laptop computer and told how to make sure their homes, shops and meeting places would show up correctly on the map. The project is more than a novelty. Arif Sayani, the town’s Director of Planning, said that people who are thinking of visiting or moving to the area would be able to use the maps to see the area. It may also help planning decisions in Iqaluit happen more quickly. The project leader for Google said he hoped to see the work continue in other northern towns. But moving people and equipment around the vast Arctic territory is very expensive. So, in the future, Google might send equipment to the area and ask volunteers to complete the map.
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The auction of a Banksy painting that disappeared from the wall of a north London shop was stopped just moments before it was going to be sold. Slave Labour is a spray-painted artwork that shows a child making flags. The expected price was about $700,000. It was going to be in a sale of street art in Florida. But Frederic Thut, the owner of the Fine Arts Auction Miami art house said that Slave Labour and a second work by the secretive British street artist were removed from sale at the auction. He did not want to give the name of the seller. People in Haringey, London, were very happy, because they led a campaign to stop the sale of the artwork that was removed from the wall of a Poundland shop in Haringey. “I will write to the auction house to find out what will happen next, but for now we are really pleased that a people’s campaign in London has had an impact in the US. It’s a real victory for the people.” said Alan Strickland, a Haringey councillor. The auction house said it had told the owners of the two Banksys that they should remove them from the sale. “There are no legal problems with the sale of the artwork by Banksy, but FAAM told its sellers they should remove them from the auction.” Critics have said the auction house was buying and selling stolen property but Thut said that the seller was the real owner and that the sale was legal. He added that his gallery had received many emails and phone calls from the UK, but said he thought it was right to sell the two pieces of artwork because it would keep them safe. The second Banksy that was going to be auctioned was a 2007 artwork called Wet Dog that was removed from a Bethlehem wall. Its estimated price is up to $800,000. Poundland said it had no idea who removed the 4ft x 5ft mural from the side of its shop. Banksy himself has not commented on the sale of Slave Labour, but he has condemned people who have tried to sell his artwork in the past. Stephan Keszler, the dealer at a 2011 auction in New York that also planned to sell Banky’s paintings, believes selling Banksy’s works without his permission is fair. “He does something on other people’s walls and houses without asking. The owner of the property can do whatever they want with it,” Keszler said.
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The huge fortunes made by the world’s richest 100 billionaires are making inequality worse and stopping the world from being able to reduce poverty, says Oxfam. Oxfam said the world could end poverty several times over if the richest 100 billionaires would give away the money they made in 2012. The charity said that the $240bn made in 2012 by the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to end extreme poverty four times over. It is unusual for charities to attack the wealthy, because they are usually seen as a source of money. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are among a group of 40 US billionaires who have said they will give much of their money to aid projects, but there is little information about how much money they give each year. Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese billionaires do not give away money to charity in the same way that US billionaires do. In the report, the charity asks world leaders to end income extremes and reduce inequality. The report said that the richest 1% of people have increased their incomes by 60% in the past 20 years. Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s Chief Executive, said: “We can no longer pretend that wealth for a few people will benefit many people – too often the opposite is true.” The report said the problem affected all parts of the world. “In the UK, inequality is returning to levels not seen since the nineteenth century. In China, the top 10% now earn nearly 60% of the income. Chinese inequality levels are now similar to those in South Africa, which is now the most unequal country on Earth.” In the US, the share of national income that goes to the top 1% of people has doubled since 1980 from 10% to 20%, the report says. The richest 1% are estimated to cause 10,000 times more pollution than the average US citizen. Oxfam said world leaders should learn from countries such as Brazil, which has grown quickly and reduced inequality at the same time. Stocking said that world leaders should agree to reduce inequality to the levels seen in 1990. She said closing tax havens, which hold as much as $31 trillion, or as much as a third of all global wealth, could collect $189bn in additional taxes.
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In 2005, BlackBerry brought instant messaging to the mobile phone and the company was just entering its period of success. Then, the iPhone was still just an idea and BlackBerry’s innovations made its smartphone one of Canada’s biggest exports. Six years later, in the summer of 2011, there were riots in London and other UK cities. Rioters used BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and politicians wanted the service to shut down. But, two years later, the users themselves are leaving BBM. Fewer and fewer people want BlackBerry phones. There are now many alternative products, from Facebook’s and Apple’s instant messaging applications to independent apps such as WhatsApp and Kik (which is also Canadian). They are free to download and use, and they use the internet to swap text messages, pictures, voice clips, 'stickers' and even videos between most types of phones. BBM is trying to keep its customers and you can now use it on Android and Apple phones. There are many other apps people can use, but lots of people want to use the BBM app – more than 20 million people downloaded it. But many people believe BBM will not survive. “The move to bring BlackBerry to the iPhone is four or five years too late,” says James Gooderson, a technology blogger. “WhatsApp has made BlackBerrys unnecessary for young people.” BBM says it has 80 million monthly users after its upgrade, but WhatsApp has 300 million. Other services show BBM’s weaknesses: Skype and Viber have video or voice calls, but BBM doesn’t; Path does location sharing, but BBM doesn’t; there is no video sharing, as on iMessage; and the stickers (a more sophisticated version of the smiley face), that kids around the world adore, are also absent. Even the contacts and calendar sharing that BBM made possible on BlackBerry phones are not on the Apple and Android versions. Messaging is now becoming visual. Photos that are uploaded to Instagram get instant comments and Snapchat’s pictures have opened a world of other possibilities. Like BBM, all of these services are free for any phone with an internet connection. But, in 2011, BBM was so powerful that it helped to start a revolution in Egypt; and at the time of the London riots, people used BBM, not their televisions, to find out quickly what was happening. Nearly 80% of young smartphone owners regularly use a social networking application but two-thirds use more than one. 60% of 16- to 24-year-olds use Facebook every day, but 46% use alternatives. “It’s much more complex,” says Benedict Evans, a digital media specialist. “All of these apps use your smartphone. Apps rise and fall like fireworks. Some, like Instagram, last; others just disappear.” Thirteen-year-old Bennett has three phones. He keeps his BlackBerry for messaging, he uses an iPhone to play games, and he makes phone calls on an Android phone. His friends are still on BBM. At the touch of a few buttons, you can send a single BlackBerry message to several hundred people; on WhatsApp, the limit is 50. But, for Bennett, Instagram is now a major social network. “Instagram is Facebook without parents,” he says. “Facebook is now for older people.” The low cost of buying and using a BlackBerry is still an advantage. Anyone with a second-hand phone and a £7-a-month deal from a telecoms company can use unlimited BBM messages. But people no longer trust the privacy of BBM. Business people, revolutionaries, demonstrators and rioters used to believe that their messages were secret. The arrests that followed the riots showed that wasn’t true. In the rich London district of South Kensington, the older pupils at one school all have Apple phones. They all use WhatsApp. For many, BBM is a distant memory. “I still have a Blackberry, but I’m the only one,” says one teenager. And how does that make him feel? “Isolated,” he says.
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A big international disagreement has started over the right of Bolivia’s indigenous Indian tribes to chew coca leaves, the main ingredient in cocaine. This could have a significant effect on global drugs policy. Bolivia has received a special exemption from the 1961 Convention on Drugs, the agreement that controls international drugs policy. The exemption allows Bolivia’s indigenous people to chew the leaves. Bolivia said that the convention was against its new constitution, which says it must “protect native and ancestral coca” as part of its cultural heritage and says that coca “in its natural state … is not a dangerous drug”. South American Indians have chewed coca leaves for hundreds of years. The leaves give energy and have medicinal qualities. People who support Bolivia’s position said that defending the rights of indigenous people was the right thing to do. “The Bolivian move is very important,” said Danny Kushlick, of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. “It shows that any country that doesn’t want to continue the war on drugs can change its relations with the UN conventions.” But the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which checks global drug agreements, says Bolivia may harm international drug controls. Many countries – including the UK, the US, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and Russia – do not want to give Bolivia what it is asking for. The UK told the UN that it “respects the cultural importance of the coca leaf in Bolivia”, but it adds: “The United Kingdom is worried that the exemption could lead to more coca production and – most importantly – more coca reaching the cocaine trade. The exemption would make it more difficult to control the illegal drugs trade.” The right of indigenous people in South America’s Andean region to chew coca leaf was removed in 1964 when Bolivia was under a dictatorship and it signed the convention. In 2011, Bolivia told the UN that it did not want to be part of the convention any more. It is now part of the convention again, but with an exemption so that its indigenous people can continue chewing coca leaves. The exemption is the first in the history of UN drug-control agreements. It has led to worries that other countries may also ask for exemptions. The Russian government says that the exemption will lead to more illegal cocaine and warns that “it also sets a dangerous example that could be used by other states in creating a more liberal drug-control regime”. The British parliament has recommended that the UK government should support Bolivia’s request. It says that it is important that countries stay in the convention. Bolivia’s return could be blocked only if a third or more of the 184 countries that have signed the convention opposed the exemption. Some people believe that the US and UK are telling other countries that they should block Bolivia’s request. Nancie Prud’homme, of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, said people are wrong to oppose Bolivia’s request. “These objections are not completely legal,” she said. She added that, all over the world, it has become normal to support cultural and indigenous rights, so we should support Bolivia’s efforts. The decision to ban coca chewing was based on a 1950 report. Some people say the report did not use any evidence. It is legal to grow coca leaves in Bolivia. As a result, cocaine production has decreased in the country and some experts see Bolivia as a model for other countries.
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Male bosses are paid bonuses double the size of bonuses given to female colleagues in the same jobs. This means that men get bonuses of £141,500 more than women over their working lives. The numbers, released by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), show that men in UK management jobs earned average bonuses of £6,442 in 2012 – compared with £3,029 for women. Female directors received bonuses of £36,270 over the past 12 months, compared with £63,700 received by male directors. The numbers show that pay in British business is still not equal. Campaigners believe we must do something to improve equality at work. Ann Francke, the CMI’s chief executive, said that there should be more flexibility and less masculine cultures, and that the good work people do should be more important than how much time they spend in the office. Also, there should be more transparency around performance and bonuses. “If we solve this issue, we will improve the performance of organizations and the well- being of people at work,” she said. “What are we waiting for?” Some of the numbers may be affected by women doing jobs where there is less of a culture of bonus payments. But the differences in the sizes of bonuses do make Britain’s pay gap worse. The government says the pay gap is closing but that full-time male employees still earn 10% more than women. Maria Miller, the Minister for Women and Equalities, said that the CMI numbers are another example from the world of work that shows that women still earn less than men doing the same job. “Changes in the workplace are happening and it’s good that the pay gap is closing – but there is still more to do before we see full equality in the workplace. “The government is trying to help. 120 companies have joined our Think, Act, Report scheme, which encourages companies to improve the way they recruit, promote and pay women. “We’ve also looked at other causes of the pay gap, such as having to juggle work and family.” Large companies such as Tesco, BT, Unilever and the international law firm Eversheds are some of the companies that have signed up to Think, Act, Report. The scheme has only attracted 120 companies in nearly two years. But the CMI’s numbers also showed that the pay gap is closing: the difference between the average salaries earned by male and female bosses appeared to be smaller than in 2012.
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More than 100,000 people went onto the streets in Brazil to show their anger at violent police, poor public services and high costs for the World Cup. The demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Belem, Belo Horizonte and Salvador started peacefully, but there were some clashes with police and people set fire to cars and buses. People complained that police used rubber bullets, tear gas and violent beatings. Happening at the start of the football Confederations Cup, the rallies brought together people who are angry with the high costs and poor quality of public services, the large amounts of money spent on international sporting events, low standards of health care, inequality and corruption. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but several police were hurt, at least one car was burned and windows were broken. People were demonstrating for different reasons. “We are here because we hate the government. They do nothing for us,” said Oscar José Santos, 19 years old. “I’m an architect but I have been unemployed for six months. There must be something wrong with this country,” said Nadia al Husin. At a smaller rally in Brasilia, demonstrators entered the high-security area of the national congress. Several climbed onto the roof. In Belo Horizonte, police clashed with protesters who tried to get into a football stadium, where there was a Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Tahiti. In Porto Alegre, demonstrators set fire to a bus and, in Curitiba, protesters tried to enter the office of the state governor. There were also rallies in Belem, Salvador and other places. In São Paulo, there were large groups of people but the marches were peaceful. Most protesters were young and, for many, it was their first experience of such a giant rally. “My generation has never experienced this,” said Thiago Firbida, a student. “Since the dictatorship, Brazilians have never demonstrated like this. They did not believe they had a reason to. But now Brazil once again has problems, with a constant rise in prices, so people are finally reacting.” Brazil’s demonstrations have been given special names – the “vinegar revolution” (because police arrested people for carrying vinegar to stop the effects of tear gas), the “20-cent revolution” (because of the bus price rise) and the Passe Livre (because of the demand for free public transport). Some said the protests did not feel Brazilian but they were liberating. “Our politicians need to see the strength we have as one people. Brazilians are usually too nice; they enjoy partying, not protesting, but something is changing,” said Deli Borsar, a 53-year-old yoga teacher. After people heard about the costs of new and improved stadiums on the news, the Confederations Cup football tournament has been one of the reasons for the protests. Before Saturday’s match in Brasilia, groups of demonstrators were dispersed by riot police. Frightened Japanese supporters ran from the area holding their children, when they heard shots – perhaps rubber bullets or tear gas. Another protest march, near Rio’s Maracana Stadium, also had a heavy police response. President Dilma Rousseff “believes peaceful protests are correct and proper for a democracy and that it is natural for young people to demonstrate.” But people booed the president at the opening ceremony for the Confederations Cup. She will have serious political problems, both now and in 2014, when Brazil will host the World Cup and also have an election.
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The European Parliament have said that health warnings will cover nearly two-thirds of cigarette packs and there will be a ban on menthol cigarettes in the EU. The EU will ban menthol and other flavours from 2022. MEPs also decided that most electronic cigarettes, which are more and more popular as alternatives to normal cigarettes, do not to be need regulated in the same way as medicines. The Department of Health and e-cigarette companies in Britain want to find out exactly what this means – for example, will e-cigarette companies be banned from advertising at sports events? The Department of Health said: “We are very pleased to see tougher action on smoking, with European controls banning flavoured cigarettes and the introduction of stricter rules on health warnings on cigarette packs. “But we are disappointed with the decision not to regulate nicotine-containing products (NCPs), including e-cigarettes, as medicines. We believe these products need to be regulated as medicines. “Smoking levels in England are at their lowest since records began – 19.5 per cent – but we want to reduce the numbers of people smoking even more and believe this important step will help.” UK e-cigarette companies, who were happy with the parliament’s vote, said they were already in talks with the Advertising Standards Authority. But they said that it would not be a good idea to ban all advertising. MEPs decided e-cigarettes should only be regulated as medical products if the e-cigarette companies said they could stop people from smoking. Other groups want e-cigarettes, used by about 1.3 million people in Britain, to be regulated in the same way as gums, patches and mouth sprays, which are aimed at helping smokers to quit. The MEPs voted to put health warnings on 65% of each cigarette pack. At the moment, the warnings cover at least 30% on the front and 40% on the back. The UK government has not decided if they will do the same as Australia and introduce standardized packaging. First, they want to know that this will stop people from smoking. The MEPs’ decision about the bigger health warnings on the packaging could become law in 2014. “The UK continues to believe that medicinal regulation of NCPs is best for public health,” said the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority. Linda McAvan, Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We know that it is children, not adults, who start smoking. There are fewer and fewer adult smokers in most EU countries, but there are more young smokers.” Martin Callanan, the Conservative MEP for North East England, said that banning e-cigarettes would have been totally crazy. “These are products that have helped many people stop smoking more harmful cigarettes.” British American Tobacco said the bigger health warnings were not necessary and that a ban on menthol cigarettes would make more people want to buy from the black market.
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Coal will probably rival oil as the world’s biggest source of energy in the next five years. This might be a disaster for the climate. One of the biggest reasons behind the rise in coal use is the big increase in the use of shale gas in the US. New research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that all over the world people are using more coal, except in the US, where shale gas is now more popular than coal. Because the US is using less coal, coal prices across the world have reduced. This has made coal more attractive, even in Europe. Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the IEA, said that the amount of coal we use “continues to grow each year and, if no changes are made, coal will catch oil within ten years.” Coal is available in large amounts and it can be found in most regions of the world, unlike oil and gas, and it is cheap to extract. The IEA says that China and India will drive world coal use in the next five years, and India will probably overtake the US as the world’s second biggest consumer. China is the biggest coal importer, and Indonesia is the biggest coal exporter. According to the IEA’s Medium-Term Coal Market Report, the world will burn 1.2bn more tonnes of coal per year by 2017 compared with today. With the highest carbon emissions, coal makes climate change a lot worse, especially when it is burned in old-fashioned, inefficient power stations. Coal can also produce sulphur emissions – these lead to acid rain – and mercury and soot-particle pollution. Van der Hoeven says that we should make coal more expensive so that people prefer to use cleaner technologies such as renewable power. Providing cheaper gas is the only way to reduce demand for coal. This has happened in the US because of the big increase in the production of shale gas there in the past five years. She said: “The US experience suggests that a more efficient gas market can reduce coal use, carbon dioxide emissions and electricity bills. Europe, China and other regions should take note.” If something isn’t done soon there will be more climate change.
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Illegal downloading is morally wrong, and it is theft, the same as putting your hand in someone’s pocket and stealing their wallet is theft, says author Philip Pullman. In an article for magazine Index on Censorship, Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, strongly defends copyright laws. He criticizes internet users who think it is OK to download music or books without paying for them. “The technology is so dazzling that people can’t see that what they’re doing is wrong,” he writes. “It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist’s work without punishment. It is theft, just as putting your hand in someone’s pocket and taking their wallet is theft.” His article comes after music industry leaders met British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street to discuss the issue of web piracy. Pullman, writer of the His Dark Materials trilogy, says authors and musicians work in poverty for years to bring their work to the level “that gives happiness to their audiences and, when they achieve that, the possibility of making money from it is taken away from them”. He concludes: “If we want to enjoy the work that someone does, we should pay for it.” “Existing copyright laws don’t work in the digital age and they criminalize consumers. We need new ideas for how artists, writers and musicians can earn a living from their work.” Pullman is writing in the next issue of the campaign group’s magazine in a dialogue with Cathy Casserly, chief executive of Creative Commons. Casserly argues that there is a lot wrong with copyright, which was created a long time ago. She writes: “Copyright closes the door on the many ways that people can share, build upon and remix each other’s work, possibilities that we could not imagine when those laws were made.” She says artists need to think reatively about how they earn money from their work. Index on Censorship agrees. The magazine’s editor, Rachael Jolley, said: Illegal downloading is a very big problem. Between November 2012 and January 2013 in the UK, 280 million music tracks were digitally pirated along with 52 million TV shows, 29 million films,18 million ebooks and 7 million software or games files. 18% of internet users aged over 12 say they have pirated items, and 9% say they are afraid they will get caught. Pullman writes in his article: “The ease and speed with which people can get music in MP3 is still very surprising to people like me who have been building up their iTunes list for some time.” After the Downing Street meeting, Cameron asked the Conservative MP Mike Weatherley to be his adviser on the subject. The BPI, an organization that supports music companies, said: “Mike Weatherley is a strong supporter of copyright and the artists and creative producers it’s there to protect. We hope his influence and the prime minister’s support for copyright will change how we see illegal downloading in the UK.”
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The business idea is to produce a cheap light that gets free power from gravity and could end the use of dangerous kerosene lamps in Africa and India. But when British designer, Patrick Hunt, tried to get money from banks or venture capitalists to help start his business, he hit a problem. “We tried to get funding, but it’s slow and difficult and nobody wants to take a risk,” he said. So he tried crowdfunding on a US website, Indiegogo, which has recently opened up in the UK. Within five days, he made £36,200. His campaign was so popular that within 40 days he had made £400,000 from the public. A 10kg bag of rocks is attached to the light, lifted to a height of about two metres, and while it slowly falls to the ground it makes enough power for half an hour of light. Hunt is one of a new group of entrepreneurs who are trying to get money from the fast-growing crowdfunding industry to start their businesses. Another new crowdfunding site is InvestingZone. It matches wealthy people with entrepreneurs. On Indiegogo, users can offer “perks” for different levels of investment – for example, people who helped to fund Hunt’s light could feel good about helping someone who is less rich, but they also got one of his lights as a present. For Danae Ringelmann, who started Indiegogo, the “gravity light” is a perfect example of how crowdfunding can work and how it can test an entrepreneur’s idea. a European service. It says it is very popular in Britain. International activity has increased by 41% since December. There are other crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, Seedrs and Funding Circle, but Indiegogo is the only crowdfunding site where anyone can start a campaign. No project is too crazy for Indiegogo. The site charges a 4% fee for successful campaigns. Entrepreneurs who do not find the amount of money they wanted to find can either pay back all the money or keep all the money but pay a 9% fee. A British woman made £100,000 to open a “cat café” in London through the site. It will be called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, but it is not open yet. It will be somewhere people can “come in from the cold to a comfortable chair, a hot cup of tea, a book and a cat”. With her Wall Street background and the experience of helping 100,000 businesses and services find money, Ringelmann has good advice for entrepreneurs. “Ideas are a dime a dozen. What is important is how you make your idea happen. If you are afraid that someone will steal your idea, and that that person will make your idea happen better and faster than you, then you are not the right person to make the idea happen. It’s all about confidence to move fast and to learn,” she says. Crowdfunding as an alternative to banks has grown, but, at the moment, big-bucks investors with lots of money are not very interested. That could start to change in the UK when people start using InvestingZone.
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Emmanuel Limal wanted to find love on online dating sites but he was tired of meeting women who said that they weren’t ready to start a family. The 43-year-old actor, who is from France, has lived in Copenhagen for 20 years. He was looking for love and wanted to start a family. He tried to find someone online but without success. “Everyone said that they were really active, always travelling or with a long list of hobbies, but they didn’t talk about children,” Limal said. “On some sites, there was an option to click saying: 'I’d like kids someday,' but I read the person’s profile and thought: 'You will never have time!' If someone’s going to the gym eight times a week and travelling every month, they are not putting a family first.” Limal has a six-year-old daughter from an old relationship but he has always wanted more children. “I couldn’t meet anyone who wanted to start a family”. He said it was difficult to know when to talk about wanting kids when he met someone new. “It’s a difficult subject to talk about when you are on a date,” he said. “Then one day I read a profile from a 38-year-old who said she knew it was 'really bad to admit' but she wanted children. And I thought: 'You shouldn’t be ashamed of this.'” Limal borrowed money to start Babyklar.nu – or 'baby-ready now' in English. It works like a normal dating site but everyone is asked to be honest about their wish to start a family soon. “We ask people if they are OK with someone who already has children and if they want another baby,” Limal said. “But we don’t make them say how many children they would like. That would be like food shopping online.” He has had a very positive response to the site. “Fifty people signed up every hour when we started in June. There are already couples who met through the site and are now together. I think we will have the first Babyklar.nu baby by next summer.” More men have signed up than women (53% to 47%), with comments such as “I can finally be honest about what I want.” The site has come at the right time for the country of five million people. Danes are not having enough children and the current rate of 1.7 children per family means that the population is falling. The usual reasons are given – women are leaving it “too late” and couples are living together without getting married and waiting to start families. “Now, I hope, men and women who want to start a family but haven’t met the right person yet will have another choice,” says Limal. He says that this isn’t just about making babies: “I want this to be about children and love. My goal is to bring together people who really want a family and a partner – and who’ll stay together. I’m a romantic.” He is planning to start sites in France and the UK later in 2013, but at the moment the only site is in Denmark. “Danes have no problem having children before marriage so things can move fast and, because the country’s so small, someone from Jutland can date someone from Copenhagen without too much travel,” Limal said. And Limal has finally found love. “I’ve met a nice woman and she wants a baby too – so we shall see.”
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Mountain climber, Kenton Cool, has just flown down from Everest base camp to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Cool is talking about the three amazing climbs he completed the previous weekend. Early on Saturday morning, he reached the summit of Nuptse, the first of the three main summits in the Everest “horseshoe”. Later that day, he climbed to the summit of Everest, and reached the top in complete darkness early on Sunday. He then continued to the summit of Lhotse, the third of the three peaks, on Monday morning. He says he took advantage of a rare opportunity. “For the first time since the late 1990s, there were fixed ropes on all three mountains. What I did was still a great physical achievement. But the person who does it next will do it without ropes or bottled oxygen.” Everest was first climbed 60 years ago. I asked Cool to look forward and imagine what top climbers might do 60 years from now. “I hate to think,” he says, but he mentions the Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, who fled the mountain in April after an argument with a group of Sherpas. Steck was planning to climb Everest’s west ridge and then immediately climb Lhotse via a new route without fixed ropes. “Ueli trained like a machine,” Cool says. “He’s a fantastic climber. It would have been amazing.” What will tourism look like in the Everest region in the future? One clue is in the amazing helicopter rescue by Simone Moro, Steck’s climbing partner. Moro flew back to Everest on Tuesday in a powerful helicopter to rescue a climber at 7,800 metres. It was the highest rescue ever on Everest and highlights the increase in helicopter flights in recent years. By 2073, there might be a helipad on the mountain that would bring tourists. At the moment, they use helicopters to rescue both climbers and trekkers who walk to Everest base camp. Mountain geographer and environmentalist, Alton Byers, thinks it is not certain that Everest can take more tourists. The combination of climate change and tourism, he says, is putting new pressure on the area. Glaciers in the Everest region are getting smaller, and even disappearing, and this is having a big effect already. “Everywhere you go, people are talking about how there’s less water. There’s less water for agriculture and less water for all the new lodges that they are building.” In the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar they are building a new pipeline to bring water for the tourists. The local stream is contaminated with human waste and does not provide enough water for a place that is full of tourists. “Every village is digging a pit for garbage. Khumbu has the highest landfill sites in the world,” he says. Human waste is now taken away in plastic barrels but then, according to Byers, these barrels are emptied into a huge pit down the valley – it could contaminate the region’s streams and rivers. “We can solve these problems, but we need to be serious about it,” he says. “One climber can spend $85,000 to climb Everest. And that’s fine. But we’re going to have to look at these other problems. For half a million dollars a year, you could solve most of them.” Climate change is another problem. Weather patterns are changing and this is also having an effect on tourism. Cloudy weather is closing Lukla Airport, the entrance to the Everest region, more often. They are building a new road for 4x4s to Lukla, to make sure tourists and their money can reach Everest. But Byers is worried that these new roads, which they are building very quickly, could cause soil erosion and landslides. He says that Everest is the perfect place to study some of these problems, like the effects of climate change and tourism.
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Imagine that you read a headline 'Fit in four minutes' in a health magazine. Would you believe it? Well, Dr Izumi Tabata’s training programme – 20 seconds of intensive effort, ten seconds of rest, repeat eight times – promises that it is possible to be fit with just 88 minutes of training a week. Tabata remembers the first time he tested his training system on his university students in the early 1990s. “After four minutes’ hard exercise they were completely exhausted. They were almost dead! But after six weeks they saw the results and were surprised. We all were surprised.” Tabata created his training programme after he watched Japan’s speed skating team in the early 1990s. He saw that short bursts of very hard exercise were as effective as hours of normal exercise. Tabata tried to prove this with a simple experiment. One group of students did an hour of cardiovascular exercise on an exercise bike five times a week. The other group did a ten-minute warm-up on the bike, then four minutes of Tabata training, four times a week – plus one 30-minute session of exercise with two minutes of Tabata. The results were very surprising. After six weeks of testing, the group who did Tabata’s plan – exercising for just 88 minutes a week – increased their anaerobic capacity by 28% and their VO 2 max by 15%. The other group, who trained for five hours every week, also improved their VO 2 max, but only by 10%. But their training had no effect on their anaerobic capacity. But you have to work very, very hard. You can’t sit on a machine, chewing gum and reading HELLO! magazine. You have to do intensive bursts of activity on an exercise bike or rowing machine, explosive bodyweight exercises, sprints and so on. Remember how you felt after doing a 100m sprint at school? Imagine doing eight sprints with only a ten-second break between them. “Full effort at 170% of your VO 2 max is the basis of the programme,” says Tabata. “If you feel OK afterwards you’ve not done it properly. The first three repetitions will feel easy but the last two will feel impossible. In the original plan, we wanted eight repetitions, but some people could only do six or seven.” One person on an online forum wrote: “Most people cannot do it correctly and they shouldn’t even try.” Tabata doesn’t completely agree. “Everyone can do it but beginners should start with educated trainers so that they don’t work too hard,” he explains. He also says that his programme burns an extra 150 calories in the 12 hours after exercise. Most people use it to get fit or to get even fitter, but the programme also burns fat. So, it’s a little surprising that at the moment only serious athletes are doing the programme. This may change because Tabata says there will soon be Tabata instructors and a series of DVDs at the end of the year. “I decided to do this because I often go on YouTube and some people are doing it wrong because they don’t understand how hard they need to work,” says Tabata. So, should we all start using Tabata in our fitness programmes? Richard Scrivener, a former rugby fitness coach, says that you should not stop your usual training; Tabata training is something extra. “Runners, for example, need to run a lot of miles in their training,” he says. “But they could do fewer long runs by introducing Tabata training. This will give their bodies the chance to rest and recover, especially if they have injuries.” Gym fans can benefit by doing three strength sessions and three Tabatas a week. And the rest of us can slowly increase the number of sessions, but we know that it will never get easier because every session needs maximum effort. That’s the programme: it is hard – but it works.
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Facebook has lost millions of users every month in its biggest markets. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9 million monthly visitors in the US and 2 million in the UK. It has stopped growing in the US, UK and other major European countries. In the last month, the world’s largest social network lost 6 million US visitors, a 4% fall. In the UK, 1.4 million fewer users went on Facebook last month, a fall of 4.5%. People are also using Facebook less in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan. “The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to join Facebook have already done it,” said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis. People get bored, he says, and they “like to try something new”. Other social networks are also very popular with younger people. Instagram, the photo-sharing site, got 30 million new users in the 18 months before Facebook bought the business. Path, the mobile phone-based social network started by ex-Facebook employee Dave Morin, is gaining 1 million users a week. It now has more than 9 million users. 500,000 Venezuelans downloaded the app in just one weekend. Facebook is still growing fast in South America. The number of users in Brazil increased by 6% in the last month to 70 million, according to Socialbakers, whose information is used by Facebook advertisers. And there has been a 4% rise in India to 64 million users – still only a small part of the country’s population, so there is the possibility for more growth. Global numbers of visitors to Facebook reached 1.05 billion a month in January, but they fell by 20 million in February. Numbers rose again in April. The social network has now lost nearly 2 million visitors in the UK since December, with its 27 million total the same as a year ago. The number of minutes Americans spend on Facebook is falling, too. The total was 121 billion minutes in December 2012, but that fell to 115 billion minutes in February. As Facebook has already said, we spend less time using Facebook on our personal computers because we now prefer to use our smartphones and tablets. Wall Street expects Facebook’s income this quarter to be $1.44 billion, an increase from $1.06 billion a year ago. The company said that it might be losing “younger users” because they now prefer to use “other products and services similar to, or as an alternative to, Facebook”. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has created some new initiatives for smartphone users in the last year. One initiative, Facebook Home, is software that you can download onto Android phones to feed news and photos from friends – and advertising – directly to your home screen.
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Scientists have put a false memory in the brains of mice in an experiment. They hopethe results of the experiment will help to explain why people “remember” things that never happened. False memories are sometimes a problem with eyewitness statements in courts of law. Eyewitnesses often give evidence that leads to guilty verdicts, but later those verdicts may be changed when DNA or some other evidence is used. Susumu Tonagawa, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his team wanted to study how these false memories form in the human brain. They put memories in the brains of mice by changing individual neurons. In the experiment, Tonagawa’s team put the mice in a box and allowed them to explore it. As they explored it, their brain cells created a memory. The next day, they put the same mice in a second box and gave them a small electric shock. This scared the mice. At the same time, the researchers shone light into the mouse brains to bring back their memories of the first box. That way, the mice associated fear of the electric shock with the memory of the first box. In the final part of the experiment, the team put the mice back in the first box. The mice froze because they were scared. However, they had not received the shock in the first box and had no reason to be afraid. A similar thing may happen when powerful false memories are created in humans. “Humans are very imaginative animals,” said Tonagawa. “So, just like our mouse, it is quite possible we can associate what we have in our mind with bad or good events. In other words, there could be a false association of what you have in your mind rather than what is happening to you.” He added: “Our study showed that the false memory and the real memory use very similar, almost identical, brain mechanisms. It is difficult to tell the difference between them. We hope our future experiments will show legal experts how unreliable memory can be.” Chris French, of the University of London, is a researcher in false memories in people. He said that the results of the experiments were an important first step in understanding false memories. He added that memory researchers have always known that memory does not work like a video camera, recording all the details of anything we experience. Instead, we build a memory from small pieces of memory of the event, as well as information from other places. He warned that the false memories created in the mice in the experiments were far simpler than the complex false memories people have, such as false memories of childhood sexual abuse, abduction by aliens, or “past lives”. These complex false memories involve many parts of the brain. French says that it will be a long time before we understand how our brains make these memories. The mouse models created by the MIT team will help scientists ask more complex questions about memories in people. “Now that we can change the contents of memories in the brain, we can begin asking questions that used to be philosophical questions,” said Steve Ramirez, who works with Tonagawa at MIT. “Can we create false memories? What about false memories for more than just places – false memories for objects, food or other mice? These used to be sci-fi questions but we can now research them in the lab.”
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The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, will retire at the end of the season after 27 years. He will become a director of the club. He is the most successful manager in British football. He has won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, the Cup Winners’ Cup, five FA Cups and four League Cups. “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a lot about,” Ferguson said. “It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible condition and I believe I have done so.” He said that he thinks the quality of the team will bring continued success at the highest level. They also have lots of good young players, so Ferguson thinks the club has a very good future. “Our training facilities are some of the best in world sport,” he added. “Our stadium, Old Trafford, is one of the most important venues in the world. I am delighted to become both director and ambassador for the club. I am looking forward to the future.” He also thanked his family for their love and support. “I would like to thank all my players and staff, past and present, for an incredible level of professionalism and hard work that has helped to bring so many memorable triumphs. Without them, the history of this great club would not be as rich. In my early years, the support of the board of directors gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, not just a football team. “Over the past ten years, the owners of the club have made it possible for me to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability. I have been very lucky to work with David Gill, a talented and trustworthy chief executive. I am grateful to all of them.” He also thanked the fans for their support and said he had really enjoyed his time as manager of Manchester United. Joel Glazer, one of the owners of Manchester United, said: “Alex has shown us so often what a fantastic manager he is, but he’s also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and his hard work for the club have been remarkable. I will never forget the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow.” Avie Glazer, his brother, said: “I am very happy to tell you that Alex has agreed to stay with the club as a director. His contributions to Manchester United over the last 27 years have been extraordinary and, like all United fans, I want him to be a part of its future.” David Gill added: “I’ve had the great pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years. We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it. Alex’s vision, energy and ability have built teams that are some of the best and most loyal in world sport. The way he cares for this club, his staff and for the football family in general is something that I admire. We will never forget what he has done for this club and for the game in general. Working with Alex has been the greatest experience of my working life and it is a great honour to be able to call him a friend.” First-team coach René Meulensteen told everyone how Ferguson told his staff the news. “I found out this morning when I came to the club,” he said. “He asked us to go into his office and told us his decision. I’m sure he thought hard about it. I wish him well for the future. He’s been fantastic for this club and I hope all the fans give the new manager the same support.”
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Not many exercise classes have a tea break in the middle. But Margaret Allen’s class has one. After a gentle warm-up and a few quick exercises, the 93-year-old great-grandmother lets her group sit down and relax with a cup of tea. Some of the eight people in the class look like they need a break, but Allen is not even sweating. The general rule is that eating just before doing sport is not a good idea and especially not halfway through the class. But, on the afternoon I visit Allen’s class in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, they eat fruitcake during the break. The cake was made for Allen’s recent birthday by her 89-year-old sister, Joan. The ladies have just finished their cake when Allen gets up again. She plays a lively Scottish song and there is lots of toe pointing and leg kicking. Forty-five minutes later, the class is finally over. Allen has been leading classes in the north-east town for 45 years. She wasn’t very sporty at school, but she started playing the piano for a keep-fit class during the second world war and started leading the class in her 40s when the old instructor retired. At one time, Allen’s class had more than 18 regulars, each paying £1 a time. But, these days, the group is getting smaller. During the tea break, the ladies discuss a funeral that most of them went to that week for one of the younger people in the group who died recently, aged 68. Allen, who loves dancing, has never done any formal training to be a fitness instructor. Instead, she got ideas for her own moves from five fitness videos from the BBC. Allen thinks she is healthy because she keeps busy, especially since her husband died in 1997. She started writing poetry when she was 80. Allen is the oldest, her sister the second oldest. The baby of the group is 60-year-old Jean Cunion, who is a bit embarrassed to say that she is perhaps the least fit of the group. “I remember, the first time I came, Margaret said, 'Who’s that breathing heavily?' and I had to say it was me.” Ruth Steere, 76, says Allen always has her back to the class, but she always knows what’s happening: “She always shouts at us if we go wrong. She’s very good at knowing what we are doing.” “I write poems about everything. I just can’t stop,” she says, when she phones me a few days after the interview to read out a poem she has written about the joys of exercise. She still plays the piano and gives speeches. She also did a computer course when she was 88. Ageing is no fun, she says. She reads me a few lines from a poem she has written called ’That Beast Called Age’. She happily remembers a doctor who saw her for the first time a few years ago, who said he didn’t believe she was more than 78: “I said, 'Thank you, doctor. You can go now.'” She also has a practical idea for people who are overweight: “I just think people shouldn’t eat too much. When I hear someone say, 'Oh, I can’t lose weight', I say: 'Sellotape.'” She mimes taping her mouth shut. “I said this the other day to a big fat man. Everything in moderation is my motto.” Earlier in 2013, Allen was watching the news and saw a woman get the British Empire Medal. “The woman said: 'I’m 80 and I’m the oldest fitness instructor in the country!' I thought: 'No, you’re not.'” But Allen won’t write to the Queen to complain.
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Water scientists have given a very strong warning about the world’s food supplies. They say that everyone may have to change to a vegetarian diet by 2050. We believe there will be an extra two billion people in the world by 2050. Humans get about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to decrease to just 5% to feed these extra people, say the world’s top water scientists. “There will not be enough water to produce food for the nine-billion population in 2050 if more people start eating like people in the West,” the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said. “There will be enough water if the percentage of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories.” There are warnings that water shortages will limit food production. At the same time, Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for food items such as corn and wheat have increased nearly 50% on international markets since June. The price increase has been caused by very bad droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people already have serious food shortages across the Sahel. Oxfam says that the effects of price increases will be very bad in developing countries that need to buy food from other countries, including parts of Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Changing to a vegetarian diet is one way to keep more water to grow food, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food uses five to ten times more water than vegetarian food. One third of the world’s farmland is used to grow crops to feed animals. “Nine hundred million people already don’t have enough food and two million people are malnourished, even though we are producing more food,” they said. “70% of all water is used in farming, and growing more food to feed an extra two billion people by 2050 will put more pressure on water and land.” The report was released at the start of the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, UN groups, non-governmental groups and researchers from 120 countries met to discuss global water supply problems. Eating too much, malnourishment and waste are all increasing. “We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future,” said the report’s editor, Anders Jägerskog.
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36-year-old Junior Smart knows a lot about gangs. When he was a teenager, after his mother died, he joined a south London gang. At the time, it helped fill a big gap in his life. “They became my new support group,” he says. “At first it was just a bit of fun but then it became more serious and we got involved in crime.” After he left college, he got a full-time job but he was also making money illegally as part of the gang. Eventually he was arrested for serious drug crimes and was sent to prison for 12 years. “The first night after I was arrested was the biggest shock of my life,” he says. “I had been living a double life. I had been living as one person to my peers and another person to my peers’ enemies.” Today, Junior Smart runs a team of 12 full-time workers and six volunteers, working to help young criminals and gang members to stop committing crimes. Most of the team are ex-criminals like Smart. A few are still in prison but are allowed out during the day to help. They work with the police, the probation service and other, voluntary organizations to help members of the violent criminal gangs of London. Smart’s extraordinary journey from gang member to mentor began when he was in prison. “I couldn’t believe that people kept coming back in and nobody did anything about it. I was talking to the prisoners and they knew what was wrong in their lives, but the problem is that the prison system only deals with the crime.” “One guy spent £300 a week on cocaine and burgled houses to get the money. He told me how he walked into houses, even when he knew people were there. So he had a drug addiction, but that problem was never solved.” Smart started working as a prison “listener” – a prisoner who helps new arrivals during their first days inside. Then he had an idea to run his own scheme when he left prison – using the experience of ex-offenders to help others reject crime. He left prison after five years and started his scheme. So what does he think now? Does he believe that things are getting better? He says the police have done some good work in arresting gang members. But he criticizes the government because they believe that, when the leader of a gang is arrested, the problem is solved. He believes the arrest of gang leaders can even make things worse. “When you arrest the leader, people in the gang start fighting. Who was the most loyal? Who had the most respect? It is a bit like a violent family. It means that the arrest of the gang leaders has no long-term effect.” Can it make the streets more dangerous? “Yes, it can. If one gang knows that an elder [leader] has been arrested, then they suddenly think that gang’s weak ... And so we have fights between different gangs. And what happens when that elder is in prison? He makes friends with other gang members, or when he comes out of prison he tries to take control back. That is when violence happens.” Smart says gangs are now recruiting members in primary schools. The youngest members are called “tinies”. “Over the last years we have seen more and more of this. The tinies can be just eight to eleven years old.” The youngest members protect their seniors from risk. They often sell drugs or even stab people, he says. Smart says that the challenges are very big, particularly because the economy is so bad. “I try to help a young person who has been earning £300 a week illegally. It was difficult before but, with lots of unemployment, it’s even more difficult now.” But his project, which has more than 1,000 clients, is bringing results. Fewer than 20% of the people he helps reoffend. Smart believes that everyone should get a second chance.
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Rare mountain gorillas live in the Virunga National Park in DR Congo. The country could earn $400 million a year from tourism, hydropower and carbon credits, said a WWF report. But a British company want to look for oil there. If they look for oil at the UNESCO World Heritage Site that crosses the equator, as the Congolese government and exploration firm SOCO International hope, it could lead to terrible pollution and conflict, says the WWF. SOCO say that they would look for oil in a part of the park called Block V, and that their work would not affect the gorillas. SOCO Chairman Rui de Sousa said that SOCO knows about the environmental importance of the Virunga National Park. He also said that oil companies have a central role in today’s global energy supply and that a successful oil project could help a whole country. But Raymond Lumbuenamo, country director for WWF Democratic Republic of the Congo, based in Kinshassa, said that security in and around the park would get worse if SOCO started looking for oil. “Security is already bad. The UN is involved with fighting units and the M23 rebel force is inside the park. Oil would be a curse. It always makes conflict worse. The park might become like the Niger Delta. Developing Virunga for oil will not make anything better.” Many people live in the park – over 350 people per square kilometre. Oil would not create many jobs, and many more people would come looking for work, Lumbuenamo said. One danger is that another eruption of one of the volcanoes in the park could damage oil company buildings and machines and lead to oil spills in the lakes. “Virunga’s rich natural resources are for the Congolese people, not for foreign oil companies,” Lumbuenamo said. But Raymond accepted that, although the gorillas were safe now, the park would probably not be able to make $400 million. “It would be difficult to make the kind of money that the report talks of.” The WWF report says that ecosystems in the park could support fishing and ecotourism, and play an important role in providing water and stopping soil erosion. The park is Africa’s oldest and most diverse. It is home to over 3,000 different kinds of animals. “Virunga is a valuable asset to DR Congo,” the report says. “Plans to look for oil put Virunga’s future in danger,” it says.
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Nobody knows which came first: the economic crisis in Greece or shisha, the drug that is called the “cocaine of the poor”. But everyone agrees that shisha is a killer. And it costs only €2 or less. “It is the worst drug. It burns your insides, it makes you aggressive and makes you go mad,” said Maria, an ex-heroin addict. “But it is cheap and it is easy to get, and everyone is taking it.” This drug crisis is making problems for Athens’s health authorities, who already have the problem of large financial cuts. Thousands of homeless Greeks, who live on the streets because of poverty and a loss of hope, are taking shisha. The drug is related to crystal meth. It is often mixed with battery acid, engine oil and even shampoo. It can make users become aggressive. And, even worse, it is easy to buy and easy to make. “It is a killer, but it also makes you want to kill,” Konstantinos, a drug addict, said. “You can kill without understanding that you have done it. A lot of users have died.” Charalampos Poulopoulos, the director of Kethea, Greece’s anti-drug centre, said shisha is an “austerity drug” – it is made by dealers who have become clever at making drugs for addicts who can no longer afford heroin and cocaine. “The crisis has given dealers the possibility to sell a new, cheap drug, a cocaine for the poor,” said Poulopoulos. “You can sniff or inject shisha and you can make it at home – you don’t need any special knowledge. It is extremely dangerous.” In all parts of Greece, there is a lot of depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. Crime has increased because austerity measures have cut the income of ordinary Greeks by 40%. Prostitution – the easiest way to pay for drugs – has also increased. There are more suicides and HIV infections, and drug addicts (around 25,000 people) have become more and more self- destructive. Sixty-four per cent of young people in Greece are unemployed – this is the highest youth unemployment in the EU. At the time when organizations such as Kethea need extra help, the Greek state has cut by a third the money it gives them. The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund asked them to do this to help save the Greek economy. Since the economic crisis began in 2009, Kethea has lost 70 of its 500 staff. They get less money, but studies show that for every euro the Greek state spends on anti-drug programmes such as Kethea, it saves about €6 because there is less crime and fewer health problems. “The cuts are a huge mistake,” said Poulopoulos. On the streets of Athens, there is a fear that austerity not only doesn’t work – it kills.
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Ninety-six people died at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in 1989. During an extraordinary day 23 years later at Liverpool Cathedral, where the families of the victims met to see a report on the disaster, the most important words were: the truth. This was the headline in The Sun newspaper. We now know that the story in the newspaper was false and that the police gave them the story. Margaret Aspinall’s son James, then 18, died at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. She said the families had to fight for 23 years for the truth. She said that the families’ sadness will never go away, but she is very pleased that the Prime Minister said sorry for Hillsborough. An independent panel looked at 450,000 documents written by the police, Sheffield Wednesday and all the other groups involved. The panel then wrote a 395-page report. In the report they criticize official mistakes and say that the victims and other fans were not to blame. We already knew the cause of the disaster but we didn’t know that the police cover-up was so big. It is shocking how the police blamed the football fans for the disaster. The panel found that the South Yorkshire Police, led by the Chief Constable, Peter Wright, told their story that drunken fans or those without tickets caused the disaster. They tested the victims’ blood for alcohol. When victims had alcohol in their blood, the police then checked to find if they had criminal records. The police said that many Liverpool fans were very drunk, were without tickets and were very violent, but the report found “no evidence” for this. The report said that Wright met with police in a Sheffield restaurant to prepare “a defence” and “a story ”. The meeting happened just four days after the disaster. It was the day that The Sun newspaper published its headline “The Truth” and the story by four senior South Yorkshire police officers. The panel found that officers’ statements were changed to remove criticism of the police and emphasize bad behaviour by fans. The panel found that 116 of 164 statements were changed “to remove or change negative comments about South Yorkshire police”. The police said this was done only to remove “opinion” from the statements, but the panel said they did more than that. “It was done to remove criticism of the police,” the report said. The original inquiry did not believe this propaganda. It decided in August 1989 that the police stories of fan drunkenness and violence were false, and it criticized the police for telling lies. It said that Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium was unsafe, that the Football Association chose that stadium for the match without even checking if it had a safety certificate. It did not have a certificate. But “the main cause” of the disaster was the way the police controlled the crowd. The police lost control outside the stadium, where 24,000 Liverpool fans had to go through just 23 small entrance gates. So police opened a large exit gate and lots of people were allowed in. They did not close one of the tunnels and, the inquiry said, this was their big mistake. But the police still repeated their lies at the inquest. The coroner decided not to take evidence of what happened after 3.15pm on the day of the disaster, so he did not look at the chaotic behaviour of the police and the ambulance service. The panel found that if the police and ambulance service had done their jobs better, they could have saved 41 of the 96 lives lost. There may now be a new inquest. There may be prosecutions too, after all these years, of Sheffield Wednesday, South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield City Council, which was responsible for the safety of the stadium. Trevor Hicks, whose two daughters died in the disaster, said: “The truth is out today,” Hicks said. “Tomorrow is for justice.”
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In the West, people do not usually eat insects. But in some parts of the world, insects are an important food and in spring 2013 there will be an effort to show people that eating insects is not disgusting. And we may soon be able to buy insects in supermarkets. In April, there will be a festival in London, Pestival 2013, where there will be a discussion about the question of eating insects. The festival will include a restaurant by the Nordic Food Lab, the Scandinavian team behind the Danish restaurant Noma, which brought extremely popular insect dishes to Claridge’s hotel in London in 2013. Noma has been named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine for three years. Its chef, René Redzepi, says that ants taste like lemon, and a mixture of grasshoppers and moth larvae tastes like a strong fish sauce. Bee larvae make a sweet mayonnaise used instead of eggs and scientists find new ways to use insects all the time. In March, a BBC documentary will show a food writer eating deep-fried locusts and barbecued spiders. But, behind all the jokes there is a very serious message. Many experts believe that if humans eat insects, it will be very good for the environment. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gives money to projects that show people they can eat and farm insects in south-east Asia and Africa. In these places about two billion people already eat insects and larvae as a normal part of their diet. In 2012, the FAO published a list of 1,909 edible species of insect and plans a major international conference on “this valuable food source” in 2013. There are lots of insects – there are 40 tonnes of insects for every person in the world – so they will not become endangered. “I know it’s taboo to eat bugs in the West, but why not?”, Redzepi said. “You go to south-east Asia and this is a common thing. You read about it from all over the world, that people are eating insects. We eat honey, and honey is the vomit of a bee. Think of that next time you put it into your tea.” He said that the basic idea behind Nordic Food Lab is that you can eat everything. Insects are very important to life on Earth and they are the most diverse group of animals on the planet: there are more than a million species. But most people hate them and often kill them. In the next 30 years, the planet’s human population will increase to nine billion. Already one billion people do not get enough food. The increase will put more pressure on agricultural land, water, forests, fisheries and resources, and also food and energy supplies. The cost of meat is increasing – it costs more money now, but also people have to destroy a lot of rainforest to make fields or to grow food for cows. Cows also make methane. The farming of cows, pigs and sheep makes very big amounts of greenhouse gases – 35% of the planet’s methane, 65% of its nitrous oxide and 9% of the carbon dioxide. Edible insects make fewer gases, contain high-quality protein, vitamins and amino acids, and only need a quarter of the food that sheep need to make the same amount of protein. You can grow them on organic waste. China is already building huge maggot farms. Zimbabwe is growing caterpillars and Laos is developing an insect-harvesting project. One study says that eating crickets and locusts, and not eating pork and beef, could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95%.
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A menu scandal at some of Japan’s top hotels and department stores is damaging the international reputation of Japanese food. One luxury hotel group admitted that it lied about ingredients on its menus. Since then, there have been similar stories from restaurants run by famous hotels and department stores in Japan. The story began when the Hankyu-Hanshin hotel group admitted that it gave false descriptions of menu items at some of its restaurants between 2006 and October 2013. For example, the red salmon 'caviar' that customers ordered was in fact the eggs of the flying fish. The hotel group’s president, Hiroshi Desaki, went on television to announce a 20% pay cut for himself and 10% for other executives. But this did not make customers less angry. Days later, Desaki resigned – he said that the hotel group had betrayed their customers. So far, the company has refunded 20 million yen to more than 10,000 consumers. In total, they will refund 110 million yen. Customers who believed they ate expensive kuruma shrimps were told they in fact ate much cheaper black tiger shrimps. The scandal started when a customer complained in a blogpost that a 'scallop' dish he ordered at the Prince Hotel in Tokyo contained a similar, but cheaper, type of shellfish. The hotel investigated the complaint and as a result corrected more than 50 menu items at dozens of its restaurants. Its report scared Hankyu-Hanshin and other hoteliers into admitting that they, too, lied to customers who believed they were paying high prices for top ingredients. The Hotel Okura group – where Barack Obama has stayed – said they also injected beef with fat to make it juicier and incorrectly described tomatoes as organic. “We apologize for lying to our clients,” it said. The list of fraudulent ingredients gets bigger: orange juice from cartons that was sold as freshly squeezed; Mont Blanc desserts with Korean chestnuts instead of the French ones on the menu; shop-bought chocolate cream that the menu said was home-made; imported beef sold as expensive wagyu beef. The menu scandal has come at the wrong time. Japan is trying to persuade South Korea and other countries to start to buy Japanese food again after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Food industry experts said the global financial crisis in 2008 forced luxury hotels to save money. “Menu descriptions were created to sound good to the customers, and, when hotels couldn’t get the ingredients on the menu, they just used food from different places,” Hiroshi Tomozawa, a hotel and restaurant consultant, told Kyodo News.
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Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi thinks Google Glasses are not cool. He may be right. There’s already a website with pictures of people wearing them – the people look ridiculous or smug or, more often, both. If you search Google Images for Google Glasses, one of the first pictures is of a large, naked man wearing them in the shower. Iguchi hopes that this is Google’s weak point. He has designed some glasses that are a bit more stylish and a bit more Japanese. Iguchi’s glasses aren’t really glasses – they are a piece of metal with a camera and a very small projector. The glasses are called Telepathy One. Since he first presented them to the public in Texas, they have attracted $5 million from investors. Like Glass, you will be able to buy Telepathy One in 2014. It’s a more simple version of Google Glass. Glass has many uses – you can surf the internet, read emails, take photographs – but Telepathy will be “more of a communication machine”. Connected to your phone, it will allow real-time visual and audio sharing. You’ll be able to post photos and videos of what you see on Facebook or send them as an email. Or see and speak to a video image of a friend. “It will help bring you close to your friends and family. We are very focused on the communication and sharing possibilities,” says Iguchi, who has worked in the Japanese technology industry for 20 years. “I’m a visionary,” he says. “I have a dream that people will understand other people. When I go to London, I am a stranger. But I believe that everyone wants people to understand them and to understand other people. And, with the glasses, you can know more information about people before you even speak to them.” When Iguchi was growing up, Japanese technology ruled the world: they had the Sony Walkman, which was as popular as the iPhone. Now, to compete, he has had to leave Tokyo and go to Silicon Valley. “Tokyo is very rich in fashion and culture, but it’s still an island. It’s isolated. There is no way to expand. But, in Silicon Valley, everyone is from everywhere. It’s where you come to connect with the world.” They will make the glasses in Japan and the software in the US. It was easy to build the prototype of Telepathy One, Iguchi says. “We have every sort of technology in Tokyo. The problem is presenting it to the world.” The top manufacturers all want to work with him, he says, because they have the technology, they just find it difficult to sell it. “There needs to be a story to the product. Apple had a story with the iPod – 1,000 songs in your pocket. And Steve Jobs was inspired by Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony, and he inspired me, so maybe it will come in a circle.” Like Steve Jobs, Iguchi is a confident man, but his strong Japanese accent makes it difficult to understand him. It is possible that this fact helped him to find the idea for Telepathy One. When he visited London, he stayed with someone he didn’t know. “He was not my friend, but I talked with him for three hours, and now he is my friend. That is how long it takes to understand each other, to share our feelings, and background, and career. Maybe Telepathy makes that quicker. If you are getting information from the cloud and social networks, that will happen more easily.” Iguchi hopes that Telepathy One will help people see other people’s point of view. As a student, he explains, he studied philosophy during the day and taught himself how to code at night. “And, one day, I opened the door of my apartment and I suddenly realized that everything is code. Everything is coded and can be shared between humans. And everything can be encoded and decoded. And, if code can be exchanged between humans, that will end all war.”
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In 2010, it was too dangerous for the police to enter the old part of the city of Srinagar in India. Violent separatists were fighting for an independent Kashmir and they had killed more than 100 people there. But things change very quickly. The same streets are now full of tourists. The mosque where young people threw stones at the security forces will soon be part of an official walking tour. Visitors can take photos in the beautiful gardens by the lake. During the winter, the nearby ski resorts were full of rich Russians. In 2002, only 27,000 tourists came to visit the Kashmir Valley. Others were scared because of the anti-Indian fighting – almost 70,000 people have died during the fighting. So far in 2012, almost one million people have visited the area – this includes more than 23,000 from outside India. But fewer than 150 Britons visited – mainly because the UK government’s advice is that the area is too dangerous to visit. Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has asked the British government to change its advice, but they haven’t changed it. “It’s frustrating,” says Abdullah. “Today, because of that travel advice, people’s insurance isn’t valid when they visit here.” 1995 was the last time foreign tourists were murdered in Kashmir, when an Islamist group kidnapped six westerners and killed five of them. “British citizens have been killed more recently in other countries. I mean, how many British citizens were killed on 9/11? Did you stop people from visiting New York? You’ve lost them in Spain, in Bali,” said Abdullah. “We’ve lost Indians in London. There is still a possibility that al-Qaida could do something stupid, but we haven’t stopped Indians from travelling to London. There is no reason to say Kashmir, or even Srinagar, is a dangerous destination.” Germany changed its guidelines for travellers to the region in 2011. “Foreigners are usually not direct targets,” the new guidelines said, less than a year after the fighting in 2010. A national holiday on 15 August celebrated 65 years of Indian independence – in the past, this was a dangerous day because many people in the state do not feel part of India. But there was no trouble at the independence celebrations on Wednesday. Abdullah says tourists are safe in Kashmir, if they are careful. In other words, do not go trekking near the border that separates the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. Some visitors may feel it is not right to have fun in a place where local people have very high levels of anxiety and lots of mental health problems. But the local people in Srinagar like tourism. Amjid Gulzar, 26, said Abdullah should encourage foreign visitors. “Without tourism, our economy will be in chaos,” he said. “We need better roads, reliable electricity. We need more things for tourists to do in the evening – we don’t even have one cinema in this city,” he said. But will tourists feel welcome? In June, a local Islamic group wrote a “dress code” for foreign tourists. Abdullah says: “Nobody wants tourists to come here and cover their faces. But they should be sensitive to our cultural identity and dress appropriately. I think that’s common sense.” Abdullah said tourism would help the economy. Kashmir’s economy is weak after more than twenty years of fighting. The state receives just £72 million each year in taxes but it pays £155 million in salaries to 500,000 public employees. It is clear why he needs to find more money. He is pleased to see tourists back. “I’m not saying that one million tourists here shows that everything is normal again,” he said. “But it gives me some satisfaction that people can come, have a nice time, and go back.”
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have won the first part of their fight for privacy. A French magazine was told to stop selling or reusing photos of the royal couple. The pictures show the duchess sunbathing topless while on holiday in the south of France. It is possible that the magazine editor and the photographer or photographers will also have to go to a criminal court. The French magazine Closer was told to give digital files of the pictures to the couple within 24 hours. Closer’s publisher, Mondadori Magazines France, was also told to pay €2,000 in legal costs. The magazine will have to pay €10,000 for every day it does not give the couple the files. The court decided that every time Mondadori – the publishing company owned by the ex Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – publishes a photograph in the future in France, they will get €10,000 fine. The couple welcome the judge’s decision. “They always believed the law was broken and that they had a right to their privacy.” The royal couple are pleased with the decision, but they want to have a much more public criminal trial against the magazine and photographer or photographers. Under French law, if you do not respect someone’s privacy, you may have to spend a maximum of one year in prison and pay a fine of €45,000. This punishment would send a message to the world and, the couple hope, stop paparazzi taking photos like this in the future. On Saturday the Irish Daily Star also published the photos. And the Italian celebrity magazine Chi published a special edition of 26 pages with the photos of the future queen.
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A British court has decided that three old Kenyans, who were put in prison and tortured during the fighting in Kenya in the 1950s, can sue the British government. There are thousands of other people who were put in prison and say they were treated badly during the final days of the British Empire, and now they may also try to sue. British government lawyers said that too much time had passed since the seven- year fight in the 1950s, and it was no longer possible to have a fair trial. The court did not accept this. In 2011 the government said that the three claimants should sue the Kenyan government because it became legally responsible after independence in 1963. But the judge did not accept this either. 70,000 people were put in prison by the British in Kenya, and more than 5,000 of them are still alive. Many of them may sue the British government. The court decision may also make it possible for victims in other parts of the world to sue. The Foreign Office said it will appeal against the decision. “The normal time limit for a civil action is three to six years,” they said. “In this case, that period has been extended to over 50 years, but the people who made the decisions are dead and they can’t give their view of what happened.” The victory for Paulo Muoka Nzili, 85, Wambugu Wa Nyingi, 84, and Jane Muthoni Mara, 73, was the result of a three-year battle in the courts. Their lawyers said they had suffered terrible brutality. In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Nyingi and Mara heard the news by mobile phone. They reacted with joy when they heard, hugging, dancing and praying. Nyingi, who was put in prison and beaten, said: “For me … I just wanted everyone to know the truth. Even the children of my children should know what happened. What should happen is that people should be compensated so they can begin to forgive the British government.” Mara said: “I’m very happy and my heart is clean.” The judge said in 2011 that there was a lot of evidence to show that prisoners were perhaps tortured. He decided that a fair trial was possible, especially because thousands of secret documents from the colonial era were found in 2011. The British government’s lawyers accepted that all three of the old Kenyans were tortured. The claimants’ lawyer said: “The British government has admitted that these three Kenyans were brutally tortured but they have tried not to take any legal responsibility. There will be victims of colonial torture from Malaya to the Yemen, from Cyprus to Palestine, who will be very interested in this case.” People who fought in Cyprus in the 1950s are interested in the Mau Mau case. One has already met the Kenyan claimants’ lawyers. Cypriot claimants could use British documents, and also the documents of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Those documents are kept secret for 40 years, and then opened to the public. The Red Cross recorded hundreds of torture cases in Cyprus. There may also be claims from Malaysia, where large numbers of people were put in prison during the 12-year war with communist fighters and their supporters that began in 1948. 24 farm workers, who were without weapons, were killed by British troops – their families are now fighting for a public inquiry. Many ex-prisoners of the British in Aden may also have claims against the British government. But Aden is now part of Yemen, and British lawyers may have problems making contact with possible claimants there.
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Moses King, 48, is HIV positive. HIV is common in Liberia. King gets medicine for the disease from the Liberian government. But King and his family of six children cannot get the right food to eat. A poor farmer, he grew vegetables and bought rice. But he could not afford meat and fish – expensive, luxury products in Liberian markets but essential sources of protein. Pate K Chon, who works with HIV sufferers in Liberia, has found a solution. She watched a film about a fish farm in Thailand several years ago and had the idea of starting a similar project in Liberia, so that HIV sufferers could have work and also get a source of protein. “I saw this film about fish in a cement pool and I thought it was a good idea,” said Chon, who is also HIV positive. “So many of the people I work with don’t have the money to have a balanced protein diet and fish is such a clean source of protein – it doesn’t cause health problems like other sources and it is something we can farm.” Chon began building a pool in which to farm fish. In June 2012, she met John Sheehy. He raised money for the non-profit fish farm in the northeast of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, and started learning about fish farming, doing an online course and speaking to other fish farmers in Africa. “I raised the money and built the farm, learned how to build the tanks and water flow system,” said Sheehy. “I learnt a lot on my own and now I would love to be able to write a book and share my knowledge with other people,” he said. The project is now a fish farm with 12 tanks, each with 5,000 fish – and will give up to 200,000 fish per year to a community of 1,200 mainly HIV-positive people, including King and his family. In addition to the fish, waste from the tanks is collected and used to water crops, also giving food and money to the community. “Many people in the community work on the farm,” said Sheehy, “and what they get in return is fish. They can use those fish to feed themselves and to sell in the market so that they get money to buy other food. The fish farm gives these people with HIV a way of getting back into society – now they are buying and selling with people in the market every week.” 1.5% of Liberia’s 3.5 million people are HIV positive. Good nutrition is particularly important for people with HIV. They need much more protein to stop their health getting worse and to allow healthy growth. “Nutrition is one of the key things if you are taking drugs to treat HIV,” said Chon. “The drugs are toxic and if you don’t have food to eat, they can make you very ill. But food in Liberia is very expensive. We buy expensive rice from other countries and fish is difficult for most people to afford.” “Fish farming is absolutely possible in Africa,” said Paul White, owner of a fish farm in Ivory Coast, which produces 3,000 tonnes of fish each year. But some people criticize farmed fish – they say the fish can be inbred and have high levels of toxins. Sheehy says they do not have those problems. “A lot of farmed fish is inbred, which causes problems, but we are using a process with local fish from Liberia, not fish from another region. And we test the water and watch it all the time.” Sheehy hopes to open more fish farms throughout Liberia and the region. “A rice-growing co-operative in Sierra Leone asked us if we could do this on our property so that they can feed their workers and we have had interest from Nigeria and Central America,” said Sheehy.
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Police and intelligence agencies around the world have, for almost 100 years, used the polygraph, a lie-detector test, to help catch criminals and spies. But, now, researchers in Britain and the Netherlands have developed a new method, which is correct (in tests) over 70% of the time. Police stations around the world might begin using this new method within ten years. It doesn’t monitor movements in the face, talking too much or waving arms – all signs that someone is lying. The new method monitors movements in the whole body, which can show that the person is feeling guilty. The polygraph is often used in the US in criminal cases and by the FBI and CIA but is much less popular in Europe. Many people do not believe that it is reliable. The basic idea behind the new method is that liars fidget more and that an all-body motion suit – the kind used in films to create computer-generated characters – will record this. The new method is over 70% reliable – the polygraph is only 55% reliable. In some tests, the success rate of the new method was more than 80%. Ross Anderson, one of the research team, said: “Guilty people fidget more and we can now measure this.” The polygraph was created in 1921 by policeman John Larson. It records changes in pulse, blood pressure, sweating and breathing to find out if someone is lying. In movies, the polygraph is always correct but, in 1998, the US Supreme Court decided that there was no agreement that the polygraph was reliable. The US National Academy of Scientists said the same thing in 2003. The tests Anderson and his colleagues did involved 180 students and employees at Lancaster University. Half of the people were told to tell the truth and half to lie. The researchers interviewed some of the people about a computer game called Never End that they played for seven minutes. Others lied about playing it. The second test involved a lost wallet with £5 inside. Some people had to bring the wallet to a lost-and-found box. Others hid it and lied about it. The new body-suit method was correct 82.2% of the time. Researchers monitored how much the people moved their arms and legs, to decide if they were telling the truth or lying. All-body suits are expensive – they cost about £30,000 – and they can be uncomfortable, so Anderson and his colleagues are now looking at cheaper alternatives. These include using motion-sensing technology from computer games, such as the Kinect devices developed by Microsoft for the Xbox console.
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On average, a girl born today in the UK will live to the age of nearly 82 and her brother will live to 78. They would have a longer life in Andorra (the girl 85 and the boy 79) but will live a little longer than in the US (81 and 76). If they lived in the Central African Republic, they would die in middle age (49 and 44). Almost everywhere in the world, except countries such as Lesotho, which have problems with HIV and violence, life expectancy is increasing. The best news is that small children die much less often than forty years ago. There has been a reduction in deaths of under-fives of nearly 60%, from 16.4 million in 1970 to 6.8 million in 2010. Over the past five years, the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle has led a very big project to look at the global effects of disease. If we know how many children die and why, the world can try to keep them alive. The big IHME database will help global organizations and governments to better care for us all. The project has been controversial. IHME has been very radical in some of its methods. When they didn’t have death registries or medical records they decided the cause of death by an interview with the family – called a 'verbal autopsy'. The most surprising result has been with malaria. IHME said 1.2 million die of the disease every year – this is twice as many as people believed. The big increase is in adult deaths. It is commonly believed that malaria kills mostly children under five. “We are taught, as doctors, that in areas with malaria, you become semi-immune as an adult,” said Dr Christopher Murray, IHME Director. But he says the evidence tells them that may not be right. “African doctors write on hospital records that adults are dying of malaria a lot.” But their fever could be something different, he adds. The results have led to more studies. Although the Director General of the World Health Organization was happy about the IHME study, other people are not so sure. “We need to be very careful,” said Colin Mathers, a senior scientist. He thinks scientists need to find out if the numbers are correct. One of the most important things in the study, said Murray, was “the very fast change in the main causes of death and the speed of that change is a lot faster than we thought”. Reduced fertility and longer life have led to an increase in the average age of the world’s population in ten years from 26 years old to almost 30. The change has been dramatic in Latin America, for example, where countries like Brazil and Paraguay had life expectancy of below 30 in 1970 and almost 64 in 2010. That is a 35-year increase in the average age of death in forty years. Also important is the change outside Africa from communicable diseases to “lifestyle” diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. That change is very obvious in Latin America, the Middle East and south-east and even south Asia, Murray said. The third big result was, he said, “a surprise to us”. The study showed that there are lots of people with disabilities and it has a big effect on people who are living longer but not healthier lives. “The main causes of disability are different from the ones that kill you,” he said. They were mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, disorders, such as arthritis and lower back pain, anaemia, sight and hearing loss and skin disease. Also, there was drug abuse. “The number of people with these problems is not reducing over time,” he said. “We are making no progress in reducing these problems.”
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A company from the Netherlands wants to turn dreams of reaching Mars into reality. The company, Mars One, plans to send four astronauts to the Red Planet to build a human colony in 2023. But there are two serious problems. Firstly, on Mars the astronauts’ bodies will have to adapt to gravity that is 38% of gravity on Earth. This would probably cause such a total change in their bones, muscles and circulation that the astronauts would no longer be able to survive on Earth. Secondly, they will have to say goodbye to all their family and friends, because there is no return ticket. The Mars One website says that the astronauts cannot expect to return. To return, they would need a rocket that can leave Mars. The rocket would need life support systems for a seven-month journey and would need to either join up with a space station or land safely on Earth. But the project has already had 10,000 applicants, according to the company’s Medical Director, Norbert Kraft. He told The Guardian that the applicants so far were aged 18 to at least 62 and, although they include women, they were mostly men. Mars One says that the astronauts must be resilient, adaptable, curious, trusting and resourceful. They must also be over 18. Mars One says that the basic things people need to live are already present on the planet. For example, they can take water from ice in the soil and Mars has sources of nitrogen, the primary element in the air we breathe. The colony will use solar panels to get power, it says. The project will cost around $6 billion. Some of this money could come from TV broadcasting rights. “The money made broadcasting the London Olympics was almost enough to pay for a mission to Mars,” Bas Lansdorp, the company’s founder, said. Another person who supports the project is Paul Römer, one of the creators of Big Brother, one of the first and most successful reality TV shows. “This mission to Mars could be the biggest media event in the world,” said Römer. “A reality show and a talent show, with no ending and the whole world watching.” Mars One wants to build a permanent human colony, according to its website. The first team would land on Mars in 2023 to begin building the colony, and a team of four astronauts would arrive every two years after that. But some people are sceptical of the project, and some people are worried about how astronauts might get to the planet and build a colony with all the life support and other things they need. The mission hopes to inspire people to “believe that all things are possible, that you can achieve anything,” like the Apollo moon landings. “Mars One believes it is not only possible but necessary that we build a permanent colony on Mars so that we can improve our understanding of the solar system, the origins of life, and our place in the universe,” it says.
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All six numbers match, so now you can buy that Audi, book the holiday in the US and look for a new house. That’s what most lottery millionaires do, says a study of what jackpot winners do with their money. Since it started in 1994, the UK national lottery has created 3,000 millionaires. The 3,000 winners have won an average of £2.8 million each. That’s more than £8.5 billion in total. Together, they have created 3,780 more millionaires among their children, family and friends, according to the writers of the study, Oxford Economics. Most winners (59%) give up work straight away, but 19% carry on working and 31% do unpaid voluntary work. The good news for the British economy is that 98% of the money that the winners spent stayed in the UK. Through their spending on property, vehicles and holidays, it is estimated that each winner keeps six people in a full-time job for a year. Winners have contributed almost £750 million to the economy. Most of their money was spent on property, with £2.72 billion spent on winners’ main properties, and £170 million in paying off existing debt and mortgages. £2.125 billion was spent on investments. £1.17 billion was given to family and friends, and £680 million was spent on cars and holidays. It found that in total the 3,000 winners have bought 7,958 houses or flats in the UK, or 2.7 each, spending £3.3 billion. Most winners (82%) bought a new house, spending an average £900,000. The new home is likely to have a hot tub, with almost a third (29%) putting that on their shopping list. 28% bought a walk-in wardrobe, almost a quarter (24%) bought a property behind electric gates, and 22% had a games room, with 7% installing a snooker table. 30% of winners employed a cleaner and 24% a gardener for their new houses. A small proportion (5%) employed a beautician. Audis were the favourite cars of 16% of winners, with Range Rovers and BMWs also popular (11% each), as well as Mercedes (10%) and Land Rovers (5%). Winners spent £463 million on 17,190 cars. Holidays were also important. Most (68%) choose five-star hotels overseas. The US was the preferred destination for 27%, followed by the Caribbean (9%). Over the past 18 years, 10% of millionaires have bought a caravan. Some winners (15%) have started their own businesses, 9% have helped others to start a business, and 6% have invested in or bought other people’s businesses. Businesses started or supported by lottery winners employ 3,195 people, according to the study.
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The Taliban sent a gunman to shoot Malala Yousafzai in October 2012 as she went home on a bus after school. They wanted to silence the teenager and end her campaign for girls’ education. Nine months and many operations later, she stood up at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. “They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,” she said. It was an unusual 16th birthday. Malala didn’t blow out candles on a cake; she sat at the United Nation in the central seat where world leaders usually sit. She listened quietly as Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, described her as “our hero, our champion”; and as the ex-British prime minister and now UN education envoy, Gordon Brown, said “the words the Taliban never wanted her to hear: happy 16th birthday, Malala ”. The event was named Malala Day after the girl from Mingora in Pakistan. She became famous after she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service – in the blog, she described her difficult experiences of trying to get an education under the power of the Taliban. When she was 11, she asked the US special representative to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to help in her campaign against the Taliban, who wanted to stop education for girls. By 14, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, suggested her for the International Children’s Peace Prize, and, by 15, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history. Then she got death threats, and, on 9 October 2012, after a meeting of Pakistani Taliban leaders, the gunman came to kill her. She has had many operations in Pakistan and the UK after the shooting on the bus. She now lives with her family in Birmingham, England, and does what the Taliban tried to stop her doing: she goes to school every day. “I am not against anyone,” she said. And she doesn’t want “personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group.” Malala replied to the violence of the Taliban with words against bullets. “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he stood in front of me, I would not shoot him.” “The extremists are afraid of books and pens,” the teenager continued. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.” She talked about the attack in June on a hospital in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan, and killings of female teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “That is why they are blasting schools every day – because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring to our society.” The “Stand with Malala” petition, that is asking for education for the 57 million children around the world who do not go to school, has got more than four million signatures – more than a million were added after Malala’s speech. At the start of her speech, Malala said: “I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people are expecting me to say.” She did not have to worry.
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Galina Zaglumyonova was woken in her flat in central Chelyabinsk by a very big explosion that broke the balcony windows and broke pots containing her houseplants. When she jumped out of bed she could see a huge vapour trail in the morning sky and hear car alarms from the street below. “I didn’t understand what was going on,” said Zaglumyonova. “There was a big explosion and then lots of little explosions. My first thought was that it was a plane crash.” In fact, it was a ten-tonne meteorite that fell to Earth in lots of pieces. Almost 1,200 people were injured. More than 40 people were taken to hospital – most of them were hurt by flying glass. There were no deaths. The meteorite entered the atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 miles per hour and broke into pieces between 18 and 32 miles above the ground. The event caused panic in Chelyabinsk, a city of more than one million people to the south of Russia’s Ural mountains. People could see the vapour trail for hundreds of miles, even from neighbouring Kazakhstan. Tatyana Bets was at work in the reception area of a hospital clinic in the centre of the city when the meteorite hit. “First we noticed the wind, and then the room was filled with a very bright light and we could see smoke in the sky,” she said. Then, after a few minutes, the explosions came. At least three craters were found. One crater was more than six metres wide. Another piece of meteorite broke through the thick ice of a lake. In Chelyabinsk, schools and universities were closed and people were told to go home early. About 200 children were injured. Many people, mostly with cuts from flying glass, came into the clinic where Bets works. She said many of the students at a nearby college came to the hospital. “There were a lot of girls in shock”, she said. More than 100,000 square metres of glass were broken and 3,000 buildings were hit. The total cost of the damage in the city is probably more than one billion roubles (£20 million). The meteorite arrived a day before asteroid 2012 DA14 passed Earth very closely (about 17,510 miles). But experts said the two events were not connected. There were lots of rumours in the first few hours after the incident. Reports on Russian state television and in local media suggested that the Russian military blew apart the meteorite. The ultra-nationalist leader of Russia’s Liberal Democrat party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said it was not a meteorite. He said it was a weapons test by the United States. Some people were selling pieces of meteorite through internet sites within a few hours of the impact. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that it shows us that the whole planet is vulnerable.
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There is a time in some men’s lives when the days seem darker, death is more certain, and the only thing they want to do is spend all their money on a sportscar. Radical changes in lifestyle are normal for the midlife crisis. If the midlife crisis is real, then humans may not be the only animals to get it. Now an international team of scientists say they have found evidence that chimpanzees and orangutans are less happy in their middle years. This, they say, is the ape equivalent of the midlife crisis. The study says that the midlife crisis may come from the biology humans share with apes. Alex Weiss, a psychologist at Edinburgh University, told the Guardian that most people agree that our level of well-being reduces in middle age. He said that in the study they asked if it’s possible that the midlife crisis is not just something human. The team from the US, Japan, Germany and the UK asked zookeepers and others who worked with male and female apes of various ages to complete questionnaires on the animals. The questionnaires included questions about each ape’s mood, the enjoyment they got from being with other apes and people, and their success in doing things. The final question asked if the keepers would like to be the ape for one week. More than 500 apes were included in the study in three separate groups. The first two groups were chimpanzees, and the third were orangutans from Sumatra or Borneo. The animals came from zoos, sanctuaries and research centres in the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and Singapore. When the researchers analyzed the questionnaires, they found that well-being in the apes decreased in middle age and increased again as the animals became old. In captivity, great apes often live to 50 or more. The animals felt the most unhappy, on average, at 28.3 and 27.2 years old for the chimpanzees, and 35.4 years old for the orangutans. “In all three groups we find that chimpanzees and orangutans are most unhappy at an age that is roughly equal to midlife in humans,” Weiss said. Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford University, was sceptical about the study. “It’s hard to see anything in an ape’s life that would give a sense of well-being over such a long time.” Alexandra Freund, Professor of Psychology at the University of Zurich, was also sceptical. She said “In my opinion, there is no evidence for the midlife crisis.” But Weiss believes the study could give us a deeper understanding of the emotional crisis some men may experience. “If we want to find what’s going on with the midlife crisis, we should look at what is similar in middle-aged humans, chimps and orangutans,” he said.
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A new computer-assisted autopsy system is becoming more and more popular in European hospitals. Its inventor says that the system could mean that now there will be no such thing as a 'perfect murder'. The method, called 'Virtopsy', is being used at some forensic medical institutes in Europe. It was invented by a group of scientists at the University of Zurich. Instead of cutting the chest, like in a traditional autopsy, pathologists are now able to examine the dead body in 3-D via computer screens. Michael Thali, the Director of Zurich’s Institute for Forensic Medicine in Europe, and one of the inventors of Virtopsy, said it could completely change criminal investigations. “Basically there will be no such thing as the perfect murder any more because a virtual autopsy allows you to find every piece of evidence,” he said. “In order to analyze the colour of the blood, the thickness of body fluids or smells, we’ll need to use traditional autopsy methods,” said Lars Oesterhelweg, Deputy Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, which is using a version of the Virtopsy. Virtopsies use powerful machines. Together, the machines are called a 'Virtobot'. Virtopsies can find injuries that are not seen during a traditional autopsy, as well as air pockets, heart attacks and even cancer. “The Virtopsy could replace the autopsy one day,” said Richard Dirndorfer, one of the first people to use DNA analysis in criminology. “I think we’ll see it happen slowly, just like DNA analysis slowly replaced blood group analysis”. The method allows doctors to see deep inside dead bodies. It can see things that cannot be found during traditional autopsies. Criminologists from around the world have been travelling to Switzerland over the past few years to see the new method. Forensic scientists and pathologists think the method can be used together with the traditional autopsy. He added that the new method was very helpful in re-examining cases where the cause of death was unclear. “It means that investigations can be re-examined and we can try again to find the murderer,” he said. Scientists said that relatives of the dead prefer the Virtopsy method because, during a traditional autopsy, scientists have to cut and damage the dead body.
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The US Senate Intelligence Committee recently agreed a bill to allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to continue to collect US phone records. But it would also make the NSA’s activities more transparent. The committee Chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, introduced the bill. It allows the NSA to continue to collect the telephone metadata of millions of Americans. It also allows the government to keep the data. Eleven people voted for the bill and four people voted against it. The full Senate will now vote on the bill. The bill allows analysts to search through the data if they believe that someone may be involved in international terrorism. The bill also allows the NSA to continue to watch foreigners who come to the US if they enter the country for less than 72 hours. Senator Patrick Leahy introduced another bill (the USA Freedom Act). This bill would stop the collection of phone records in the US. Feinstein defended the NSA phone data collection programme, but said that people didn’t trust the NSA anymore. “The NSA programme is legal and I believe it makes us safer,” she said. “But we can, and should, do more to increase transparency and build public support for privacy protections.” Feinstein said the bill would also make a number of improvements to transparency and checks on the NSA – for example, if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gets some data and then somebody looks at that data without permission, they could spend up to ten years in prison. Feinstein says she strongly supports the NSA’s main US programme. “I think many people don’t understand this NSA database programme. It is very important and helps to protect this country,” she said. Independent legal experts said they were worried about the Intelligence Committee’s bill. Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice said: “The Intelligence Committee bill and the USA Freedom Act are two opposing visions of the relationship between Americans who do not break the law and the national security state. The most important question is: should the government have some reason to suspect wrongdoing before collecting Americans’ most personal information? Leahy says yes; Feinstein says no.” Democratic committee member Ron Wyden said that recent worries about NSA spying on foreign leaders took attention away from the more important problem of the NSA checking the data of people in the US. “My top priority is ending the collection of data on millions and millions of innocent Americans.” Feinstein said that she completely disagreed with the foreign leader spying that the NSA does, for example on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But Feinstein agrees with the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records. “Americans are making it clear, that they never – repeat, never – agreed to give up their freedom so that the country could appear to be safer,” Wyden said. “We’re just going to continue to fight this battle. It’s going to be a long battle.”
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A top-secret document shows that the US National Security Agency (NSA) now has direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other major US internet companies. The NSA access is part of a program called PRISM, which allows the government to collect search history, the content of emails, file transfers, live chats and more, the document says. The document says that the NSA can now get information “directly from the servers” of major US internet companies. It says the companies help them run the program, but all the companies that commented said they have not heard of the program. Google said: “Google cares very much about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government legally and, when the government asks us for data, we think about it carefully first. Sometimes, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.” Several senior tech executives said that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar program. They said they would never be involved in a program like that. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one executive said. An Apple spokesman said he has “never heard” of PRISM. Changes to US surveillance law, introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012, made it possible for the NSA to access the information. The program allows a large amount of in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows the NSA to watch customers of companies who live outside the US or Americans who communicate with people outside the US. The document says that some of the world’s largest internet companies have been part of the information-sharing program sinceits introduction in 2007. Microsoft – whose advertising slogan is “Your privacy is our priority” – was the first, in December 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. Under US law, if the government asks for users’ communications, companies must give that information, but the PRISM program allows the government direct access to the companies’ servers. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was changed in December 2012. At the time, several US senators were worried that the law might increase the amount of surveillance and they could see problems with some of the safeguards in the law. When the change in the law was first introduced, its supporters said that one safeguard would be that the NSA could not get electronic communications without the permission of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the PRISM program makes that permission unnecessary, because it allows the government to take directly from the companies’ servers communications that include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, file transfers and social networking details. A senior administration official said: “Section 702 of the FISA does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person who is within the United States. It targets only non- US persons outside the US. “Information that is collected under this program is some of the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect and we use it to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”
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Nelson Mandela, the most important person in Africa’s fight for freedom and a hero to millions of people around the world, has died at the age of 95. South Africa’s first black president died with his family with him at home in Johannesburg after years of illness. The news was told to the country by the current president, Jacob Zuma, who said Mandela died around 8.50pm local time and was at peace. “This is the moment of our deepest sorrow,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. “South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will say goodbye to him.” Zuma said that Mandela would receive a state funeral. Barack Obama called Mandela by his clan name – Madiba. The US president said: “Madiba transformed South Africa – and moved all of us.” UK prime minister David Cameron said: “A great light has gone out in the world” and he described Mandela as “a hero of our time”. FW de Klerk – the South African president who freed Mandela from prison and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with him in 1993 – said the news was very sad for South Africa and the world. “He was a great unifier,” De Klerk said. In Soweto, people came together to sing and dance near the house where Mandela once lived. They sang songs from the anti-apartheid struggle. Some people were wearing South African flags and the green, yellow and black colours of Mandela’s party, the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela’s death sends South Africa deep into mourning nearly 20 years after he led the country from racial apartheid to democracy. But his death will also be felt by people around the world who thought Mandela was one of history’s last great political leaders, similar to Gandhi and Martin Luther King. After spending 27 years in prison, including 18 years on Robben Island, Mandela won the country’s first multiracial election in 1994, with his party, the ANC. Born with the name Rolihlahla Dalibhunga in a small village in the Eastern Cape on 18 July, 1918, a teacher at Mandela’s school gave him his English name, Nelson. He joined the ANC in 1943. In 1952, he started South Africa’s first black law firm with his partner, Oliver Tambo. When the ANC was banned in 1960, Mandela went underground. After the Sharpeville massacre, in which 69 black protesters were shot dead by police, he took the difficult decision to begin an armed struggle. He was arrested and sent to prison for life. Finally, in 1990, FW de Klerk ended the ban on the ANC and Mandela was released from prison. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said: “He made people believe in Africa and Africans again.” Mandela’s 91st birthday was celebrated by the first annual “Mandela Day” in his honour. He was married three times and he had six children, 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
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According to a new survey, there are more tigers in Nepal than at any time since the 1970s. The number of big cats has been decreasing in south Asia for 100 years, but conservationists now hope that we can save them. The number of wild royal bengal tigers in Nepal has increased to 198 – a 63.6% increase in five years – the survey showed. “This is very good news,” said Maheshwar Dhakal, an ecologist with Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. The survey looked at pictures from more than 500 cameras in five protected areas and three wildlife corridors. More than 250 conservationists and wildlife experts worked on the survey, which cost about £250,000. Dhakal said that there was a similar survey in India and the results from both countries will be published later in 2013. “It will take a few more months for India, which now has 1,300 big cats in several huge protected areas, to finish the survey,” he added. Nepal says it will double the population of tigers by the year 2022 from 121 in 2009 to 242. Some rich people want tiger skins. Tiger body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine. International gangs pay poor local Nepali people large amounts of money to kill the cats. The skin and bones are taken through the border to India, where the big dealers are. One big problem is that some senior officials help the mafia who are involved in the illegal buying and selling. Conservation experts believe that tiger numbers have increased because the police are controlling national parks better, and because there is now better management of tiger habitats in Nepal, where forests cover 29% of the land. But they say Nepal must do more to protect the habitat and animals that tigers eat so the big cats have enough space to move around and food to eat. The number of tigers has increased but attacks on villagers have increased, too. Seven people were killed in attacks by tigers around national parks in 2012 compared to four in 2011, park officials said. Villagers also want better protection. “The government is making conservation plans for tigers. But it should also make plans to protect people from tigers,” Krishna Bhurtel, a village leader, told a Nepali newspaper. Recently, a tiger was captured after it killed two people, including a villager who was pulled from his bed in May. Thousands of tigers used to lived in the forests in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. But their numbers have decreased to about 3,000, a 95% decrease in one hundred years. Chitwan National Park in central Nepal has the most adult tigers, with 120, followed by Bardiya National Park (50) and Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve (17). Tiger skins are popular in Tibet, where rich people use them as festival costumes. In Nepal, kings used to stand on tiger skins for special occasions. Some rich Nepali have tiger heads on the walls of their living rooms. Tiger bones are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine. People can make a lot of money selling tiger skins and bones illegally.
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On the market square in Rjukan stands a statue of the person who created the town, a Norwegian engineer and businessman called Sam Eyde. The great man looks north across the square at the side of a mountain in front of him. Behind him, to the south, is the 1,800-metre mountain known as Gaustatoppen. Between the mountains, along the narrow Vestfjord valley, is the small town that Eyde built at the beginning of the last century for his factory workers. Eyde used the power of the 100-metre Rjukanfossen waterfall to make hydroelectricity in what was, at that time, the world’s biggest power plant. But one thing he couldn’t do was change the sun. Deep in its east –west valley, with high mountains all around, Rjukan and the 3,400 people who live there are in shadow for half the year. In the daytime, from late September to mid-March, the town, three hours north-west of Oslo, is not completely dark, but it’s certainly not bright. Now, high on the mountain opposite Eyde’s statue, 450 metres above the town, three large, solar-powered, computer-controlled mirrors follow the movement of the sun across the sky. They reflect the sunshine down on to the square and fill it in bright sunlight. “It’s the sun!” says Ingrid Sparbo – she lifts her face to the light and closes her eyes. Sparbo has lived all her life in Rjukan and says, “This is so warming. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s mentally warming.” Two young mothers bring their children into the square and stand in the sun. On a freezing day, an elderly couple sit on one of the new benches and they smile at the warmth on their faces. Children smile. Lots of people take photographs. A shop assistant, Silje Johansen, says it’s “awesome. Just awesome.” Electrical engineer Eivind Toreid says “It’s a funny thing. Not real sunlight, but very similar. Like a spotlight.” Heidi Fieldheim says she heard all about it on the radio. “This will bring much happiness,” she says. Across the road, in the Nye Tider café, sits the man who created this happiness. Martin Andersen is a 40-year-old artist who moved to Rjukan in the summer of 2001. Andersen had the idea for an artwork he calls the Solspeil, or Sun mirror , at the end of September one year: “Every day, we took our young child for a walk,” he says, “and, every day, I realized we had to go a little further down the valley to find the sun.” By 28 September, the sun completely disappears from Rjukan’s market square. It doesn’t reappear until 12 March. In the months between September and March, Andersen says: “We would look up and see blue sky above, and the sun high on the mountain, but the only way we could get to it was to go out of town.” Twelve years after he first dreamed of his Solspeil, a German company that specializes in CSP – concentrated solar power – brought in, by helicopter, the three 17-square-metre glass mirrors that are now high above the market square in Rjukan. And it really works. Some people were against the mirrors at first, but now even they agree that it works. “I was strongly against it,” says Nils Eggerud. Like many others, he felt they needed the money for other things – for extra carers to look after Rjukan’s old people, perhaps, or better schools, cycle paths and roads. “And I still don’t know about the maintenance costs,” he says. “What will they be, who will pay them? But ... well, it feels nice, standing here. And, really, you just have to look at the people’s faces.” In his office with a view of the square, Rjukan’s young mayor, Steinar Bergsland, is less interested in the cost and more interested in the benefits the mirrors might bring to the town. Already, Bergsland says, there are more visitors than usual and Rjukan’s shopkeepers are making more money than usual. The town had to pay just 1 million krone – £100,000 – of the mirror’s total 5-million krone cost. The rest came from the government and a local business. “And”, says Bergsland, “just look out of the window. Look at those happy faces. Now it’s here, people love it.”
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Barack Obama flew back to Washington and his desk in the Oval Office on Wednesday, hours after he gave an election victory speech in Chicago. In the speech, he asked the country to join together. Both the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, and the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, think that everyone needs to work together to solve the economic crisis. But it could become one of the biggest fights ever between the White House and Congress during Obama’s presidency. Obama easily beat his Republican opponent Mitt Romney (Obama kept lots of swing states), but the election showed again how divided America is. Obama disappointed many of his supporters in his first four years, so now he wants to become a great President. He wants to work on many issues; for example, continued economic recovery, immigration, education, climate change, Iran and Israel-Palestine. Boehner talked about “the need for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt”. Reid said: “I look at the challenges that we have ahead of us and I reach out to my Republican colleagues in the Senate and the House. Let’s come together. We know what the issues are; let’s solve them.” The trouble will come when talks move to detail. The Republicans want to keep military spending the same, but the Democrats want to reduce military spending. Obama wants more taxes for families that earn more than $250,000; Boehner does not want more taxes. In his victory speech in Chicago, Obama talked about the long queues to vote and said there was a need for changes. He spoke in an impressive and emotional way in his speech. He was famous for this way of speaking during the 2008 election, but he stopped in 2012. But now that he has won, he returned to famous lines from earlier speeches, and he talked again about “hope”. Obama told the happy crowd of supporters: “Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.” In a speech that lasted more than 25 minutes, Obama said 'thank you' to his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha – and also to his Vice-President, Joe Biden. Then he returned to the message that first made him popular. “We are not as divided as our politics suggests,” he said. “We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.”
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Sweden is the best country for older people; Afghanistan is the worst – but rich countries are not always better for people over 60 years old, says the first global study on ageing. Sweden’s top ranking – followed by Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada – is not a surprise, but the Global AgeWatch study gives some surprising results. The US, the world’s richest country, is only in eighth place, and the UK is in 13th place. Sri Lanka is 36th, far above Pakistan at 89th, although the countries have similar economies. Bolivia and Mauritius are in higher positions than the size of their economies suggests. Brazil and China are quite high, but India and Russia are much lower. “This study shows that history is important,” said Mark Gorman, director of HelpAge International. “The top countries are what you would expect, but Scandinavian countries were not rich when they introduced pensions for everyone. Older people in Sri Lanka today have good basic education and health care – those countries decided to help older people. No country has enough money but, when they decide how to spend their money, they should not forget older people.” The study includes 91 countries and 89% of the world’s older people. The study comes at a time of big population changes: by 2050, there will probably be two billion people aged 60 and over, which will be more than a fifth of the world’s population. Population ageing – when older people are a larger and larger percentage of the population – is happening fastest in developing countries. More than two-thirds of older people live in poor countries; by 2050, this proportion will probably be about four-fifths. The fastest ageing countries – Jordan, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Vietnam – are in the lower half of the ranking, which suggests that politicians there need to look at the problem of ageing so that they can give enough support to their populations. There are also differences between men and women in ageing populations – women generally live longer than men. In 2012, for every 84 men aged 60 and over, there were 100 women. However, population ageing does not always mean more health care spending, according to the report, which shows the importance of long-term investments in education and health care for older people. Bolivia, ranked 46, is one of the poorest countries but it has introduced good policies for older people – a national plan on ageing, free health care and a pension for everyone. Chile and Costa Rica introduced good basic health care many years ago and this has helped the ageing populations of those countries. A good education system is very useful later in life – basic literacy is very important for older people when they have to read and complete pensions documents. In the Philippines, the educational reforms introduced after independence in 1946 have helped older people – elementary and high school education became compulsory. The same is true for Armenia, which, like other countries of the ex-Soviet Union, had a strong education system. South Korea is a surprisingly low 67 in the ageing study, partly because it introduced a pension only recently. It is clear that countries all over the world should do more to help their ageing populations.
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Wales will become the first country in the UK that will assume that people agree to donate their organs, if they haven’t opted out. The Welsh Assembly voted to accept the opt-out scheme, which will allow hospitals to assume that people who die want to donate, if they have not registered an objection. “This is a very big day for Wales and, most importantly, for the 226 people in Wales who are waiting for an organ transplant,” said the Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford. “I am proud that Wales will be the first nation in the UK to take this step. We have shown we are ready to take action to increase organ donation and to give hope to those people who wait every week for a transplant. “When family members know that organ donation is what the dead person wanted, they usually agree to the donation. The new law will make clearer people’s wishes about organ donation and so it will increase the number of donations.” The issue is controversial, but the government says they will protect the dead person’s and the family’s wishes. Relatives will have a “clear right of objection”, which will give them the chance to show that their relative did not want to be an organ donor. Wales has acted because it does “not have enough organs for people who need them,” said Drakeford. “About one person every week dies in Wales while on a waiting list. “About a third of the people who live in Wales are on the organ donor register, but more than two-thirds of people say they are happy to be organ donors. That other third is people who don’t find the time to put their names on the register.” The new law would apply to anybody over 18 who has lived in Wales for at least the year before his or her death. Donated organs would not only go to people in need of a transplant in Wales but to anybody in the UK. Doctors are delighted at the scheme. Big efforts have been made in recent years to increase the number of those who carry an organ donation card, with a lot of success. Hospitals have also become better at organizing transplants – for example, they have important discussions with relatives when no one knows what the wishes of the dead person were. But the increase in numbers of organs is still not enough. Some religious groups strongly oppose the scheme. Members of the Muslim Council of Wales and the South Wales Jewish Representative Council are not happy, while the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, said that “donation ought to be a gift of love, of generosity. If organs can be taken unless someone has explicitly registered an objection, that’s not an expression of love. It’s more a medical use of a body.”
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When Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, he said he was “a simple, humble worker in God’s vineyard”. And on a grey, cold, windy Monday in February, he resigned in the same way: like an old workman with pains in his back and no more strength in his arms. The first German Pope in modern times gave an exact departure time. “From 28 February 2013, at 20.00 hours”, he told a gathering of cardinals in the Vatican, “the see of Rome, the see of Saint Peter, will be vacant and there will be an election for a new Pope.” One of the cardinals at the gathering was a Mexican cardinal, Monsignor Oscar Sanchéz Barba, from Guadalajara. He was in Rome for an official meeting. “We were all in the Apostolic Palace,” he said. “The Pope took a sheet of paper and read from it. “We were all …” – Sanchéz Barba couldn’t find the word. The cardinals had just heard the man they believe is God’s representative on earth resign. “The cardinals were just looking at one another,” Sanchéz Barba said. Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who probably already knew about the Pope’s decision, gave a short speech. He told the Pope that the cardinals would be loyal to him and added that he and the others present had listened to the Pope’s words with a feeling of confusion. At the end of his speech, the pope blessed the cardinals and left. “It was so simple; the simplest thing you can imagine,” said Sanchéz Barba. “Then we all left in silence. There was absolute silence … and sadness.” John Thavis spent 30 years reporting on the Vatican and has a book, The Vatican Diaries, that will be published soon. He said he had a feeling before that the Pope was going to resign. Thavis said that in the long interview Benedict gave to a German journalist in 2010, he had said he would resign if he felt he could no longer do the job. “I asked myself: if I were Pope and wanted to resign, when would I choose? He has completed his series of books and most of his projects. Also, there were no dates in his calendar of events he had to attend. I thought the most likely date was 22 February but I got it wrong.” Soon after the announcement, the Vatican was saying that the Pope’s decision was brave. Thavis agreed: “What I find particularly courageous is that he is going now, when he is not sick; and that he’s leaving because he’s tired and not because he’s ill.” But is that the whole story? Does the Pope know more about his state of health than the Vatican has so far made public? Benedict said that he is resigning not just for physical reasons but also for psychological reasons. He said that the position of Pope needed both strength of mind and strength of body, and in the last few months he felt that he was slowly losing that strength. There will no doubt be other theories in future days and weeks, just as there were following the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, 33 days after his election. Already people are saying that there was a secret in Benedict’s past and that somebody was going to tell everyone. The Vatican will no doubt say those stories are nonsense. But we can understand why some people think there might be a secret, because Benedict’s decision is so historic. At St Peter’s Basilica, Julia Rochester, from London, still didn’t know what the Pope’s resignation meant. “If you’re God’s chosen person, how do you choose not be chosen?” she asked. It is a question many Catholics will be asking their priests in future weeks.
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Prince Harry has left Afghanistan at the end of a four-month tour. He spoke about the frustrations of being a royal who doesn’t want a lot of public attention. He also talked about his feelings for some parts of the media and described how his father constantly told him to behave more like a member of the royal family. As a commander of an Apache helicopter, the prince said he had shot at the Taliban. He said he was only doing his job. In interviews during his time based at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, the prince, known as Captain Wales in the army, explained his 'three mes'. “One in the army, one socially in my own private time and one with the family.” He admitted he sometimes disappointed people and also himself with his silly behaviour. He said he was “probably too much army and not enough prince”, but he said he was entitled to privacy, too. In another interview, he criticized the media, especially the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. He said he was very annoyed by articles that compare his role as an Apache co-pilot gunner to Spitfire crews during the second world war. “No, it’s not like that at all,” he said. The prince said he didn’t like the media because of the treatment of his family when “I was very small”. He said that he read the stories written about him. “Of course I read them,” the prince said. “If there’s a story and somebody writes something about me, I want to know what they said. But it just upsets me and makes me angry that people can write those things. Not just about me, but about everything and everybody. My father always says, 'Don’t read it'.” When he was asked if he felt more comfortable being Captain Wales than Prince Harry, his reply was revealing. “Definitely. I’ve always been like that. My father’s always trying to tell me about who I am and things like that. But it’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the army. Everyone’s wearing the same uniform and doing the same kind of thing. I get on well with the lads and I enjoy my job. It really is as simple as that.” Before he went to Afghanistan, the prince was photographed naked in Las Vegas at a private party. Harry said he had disappointed himself and other people, but also blamed the media. “At the end of the day I was in a private area and there should be a certain amount of privacy that one should expect.” When he was asked why he and his brother liked helicopters, he said, “Probably because you can only fit a few people in a helicopter, so no one can follow us, like you guys.”
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Scientists have connected the brains of two rats and allowed them to share information. Researchers say this is an important step towards creating the world’s first “organic computer”. The US team put electronic brain devices on two rats. The devices let the animals work together on simple tasks to earn rewards, such as a drink of water. In one important demonstration of the technology, the scientists used the internet to connect the brains of two rats thousands of miles away from each other. One in North Carolina, USA, and the other in Natal, Brazil. The head of the research team was Miguel Nicolelis, who has made devices that allow paralyzed people to control computers and robotic arms with their thoughts. The researchers say their latest work could make it possible to connect many brains to share information. “These experiments showed that we have created a direct communication connection between brains,” Nicolelis said. “We are creating an organic computer.” The scientists have shown that rats can share information and respond to that information. The scientists do this by electrically connecting the rats’ brains. They trained the rats to press a lever when they saw a light above it. When they did the task correctly, they got some water. To test the animals’ ability to share brain information, they put the rats in two separate compartments. Only one compartment had a light above the lever. When the rat pressed the lever, an electronic version of its brain activity was sent directly to the other rat’s brain. In tests, the second rat responded correctly to the first rat’s brain signals and pressed the lever 70% of the time. Incredibly, the communication between the rats was two-way. If the rat that received the information failed the task, the first rat did not get the reward of a drink. It then seemed to change its behaviour to make the task easier for its partner. In further experiments, the rats worked together on a task where they had to tell the difference between narrow and wide openings using their whiskers. In the final test, the scientists connected rats on different continents and used the internet to send their brain activity. “The animals were on different continents, but they could still communicate,” said Miguel Pais-Vieira, the first author of the study. “This tells us that we could create a network of animal brains, with the animals in many different locations.” Nicolelis said the team is now trying to find ways of linking many animals’ brains at once to solve more difficult tasks. “We do not know what might happen when animals begin interacting as part of a 'brain-net',” he said. “In theory, you could imagine that a combination of brains could find solutions that individual brains cannot find alone.” Anders Sandberg, of Oxford University, said the work was “very important” in helping to understand how brains process information. But the possible future uses of the technology are much wider, said Sandberg. “The main reason humans control the planet is that we are very good at communicating and coordinating. Without that, although we are very clever animals, we would not control the planet.” “I don’t think these experiments will create very smart rats,” he added. “There’s a big difference between sharing information through the senses and being able to plan. I’m not worried about clever rats taking control of the world.” We know very little about how people process thoughts and how they could be sent to another person’s brain, so that will not happen any time soon. And much of what is in our minds is what Sandberg calls a “draft” of what we might do. “And we change a lot of those drafts before we do anything. Most of the time, I think it’s very good that our thoughts are not in someone else’s head.”
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A team at Leicester University has told the world that the body they found under a local car park is the body of King Richard III. There were cheers when Richard Buckley, leader of the team of archaeologists, finally said that they were certain they had found the body of the king. The evidence is very strong. The scientists who did the DNA tests, the people who created the computer-imaging technology to look at the bones in extraordinary detail, the genealogists who found a distant descendant with matching DNA, and the academics who read old texts looking for accounts of the king’s death and burial all gave their findings. Work has started on designing a new tomb in Leicester Cathedral, only 100 yards from the excavation site. There will be a ceremony to lay him into his new grave there, probably next year. Leicester’s Museums’ Service is working on plans for a new visitor centre in an old school building next to the site. Richard died at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485, the last English king to die in battle. The researchers revealed how he died for the first time. One picture showed the bottom of his skull cut off by one terrible hit, probably from a razor-sharp iron axe. The axe probably went several centimetres into his brain and, experts say, he would have been unconscious at once and dead very soon. The injury confirms the story that he died in the middle of the battle without his horse. In Shakespeare’s play, he cries: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” Another hit with a sword, which also went through the bone and into the brain, would also have killed him. But many of the other injuries were after death, which suggests that the king’s naked body was mutilated as it was brought back to Leicester. One terrible injury was certainly after death and could not have happened when his lower body was protected by armour. It suggests the story that his naked corpse was brought back on a horse and mutilated is true. Bob Savage, a medieval weapons expert, said it was probably not a war weapon. It was probably the sort of sharp knife a workman normally carried. Michael Ibsen, identified as the descendant of Richard’s sister, was shocked when he heard the confirmation on Sunday. “My head is still not clear now,” he said. “Many, many hundreds of people died on that field that day. He was a king, but just one of the dead. He lived in very violent times and these deaths would not have been pretty or quick.” It was Mathew Morris who first found the body, in the first hour of the first day of the excavation. At first, he did not believe it was the king. He was digging in the car park, a place that local historians and the Richard III Society said was probably the site of the lost church of Grey Friars. The priests of Grey Friars were brave – they took the body of the king and buried him in their church. Ten days later, on 5 September, when more excavation proved Morris had found the right place, he returned with Lin Foxhall, head of the archaeology department, to excavate the body. “We did it the usual way, lifting the arms, legs and skull first, and then we lifted the torso – so it was only when we finally saw the twisted spine that I thought: 'My word, I think we’ve found him.'” For Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, Richard was the true king, the last king of the north, a worthy and brave leader who was a victim of Shakespeare’s negative propaganda. Many people still believe he killed the little princes in the tower: the child Edward V and his brother Richard, were kept as prisoners in the Tower of London when Richard III became king and they were never seen alive again. Some bones were found at the tower centuries later, but it is not certain they are the princes’. There may be a need for more DNA detective work there.
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Felix Baumgartner stood at the edge of space above New Mexico and paused for a moment. It was a small step away from the capsule, but a 24-mile drop back down to Earth. “Our guardian angel will take care of you,” said mission control, and Baumgartner jumped. Ten frightening minutes later, the Austrian landed back on Earth. He fell at speeds of up to 725 miles per hour, and he broke three world records. He became the world’s first supersonic skydiver when he broke the sound barrier. “We love you Felix,” shouted his team in the control room. He was wearing a special suit to protect him against the very big pressure changes during the jump. Without the suit, a man’s blood would boil and his lungs would explode. Baumgartner later said that all he could think about was getting back alive, but he also said: “Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.” His other two records were for the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive. The jump was on a sunny morning in good weather. Baumgartner went up into clear skies in an enormous balloon – it was 30 million square cubic feet and its skin was one-tenth the thickness of a sandwich bag. At the bottom of the balloon was a capsule, where Baumgartner sat in his suit. At the correct height, Baumgartner went through a checklist of 40 things with his helper Joe Kittinger. Kittinger held the record for the highest altitude manned balloon flight before Baumgartner. Baumgartner had a problem with his visor. “This is very serious, Joe,” he told Kitttinger. “I can’t see when I breathe out.” But they decided to continue, and a record 8 million people watched live on YouTube. The ascent, during which the skies slowly turned black, took two and a half hours. But the descent was much quicker. Three cameras, which were attached to Baumgartner’s suit, recorded his free-fall of just over four minutes and then the parachute opening. Baumgartner has done lots of dangerous things before. He has parachuted off buildings and mountains and once into a 600 foot deep cave. He did two practice free-falls to prepare for this jump – one from 71,000 feet and a second from 97,000 feet. But nothing can compare with his jump above the town of Roswell, a place famous for its UFO sightings. He was trying to break five different records: the first human to ever break the sound barrier in free-fall; the highest free-fall altitude jump; the highest manned balloon flight; the longest free-fall; and his jump platform is probably the largest manned balloon in history. The jump beat two of Kittinger’s records: before, the retired US air force colonel held the high altitude and speed records for parachuting. Kittinger jumped from a balloon 19 miles above the Earth in 1960 and gave advice to Baumgartner during the ascent. Someone asked him, “What do you want to do next?” Baumgartner said: “I want to inspire young people. I’d like to sit in the same place in the next four years as Joe Kittinger. If there is a young guy who wants to break my record, I want to give him advice.” He said the most exciting moment for him was when he was standing outside the capsule “on top of the world”. He added: “The most beautiful moment was when I was standing on the landing area and Mike Todd [the man who dressed Baumgartner in his suit] came and he had a smile on his face like a little kid.” Baumgartner said that he felt like Todd’s son. He said: “Todd was so happy that I was alive.” Earlier, Todd said: “The world needs a hero right now, and they have got one in Felix Baumgartner.” This will be the last jump, Baumgartner said. He has promised to settle down with his girlfriend, and fly helicopters on rescue missions in the US and Austria.
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Felix Baumgartner stood at the edge of space above New Mexico and paused for a moment. It was a small step away from the capsule, but a 24-mile drop back down to Earth. “Our guardian angel will take care of you,” said mission control, and Baumgartner jumped. Ten frightening minutes later, the Austrian landed back on Earth. He fell at speeds of up to 725 miles per hour, and he broke three world records. He became the world’s first supersonic skydiver when he broke the sound barrier. “We love you Felix,” shouted his team in the control room. He was wearing a special suit to protect him against the very big pressure changes during the jump. Without the suit, a man’s blood would boil and his lungs would explode. Baumgartner later said that all he could think about was getting back alive, but he also said: “Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.” His other two records were for the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive. The jump was on a sunny morning in good weather. Baumgartner went up into clear skies in an enormous balloon – it was 30 million square cubic feet and its skin was one-tenth the thickness of a sandwich bag. At the bottom of the balloon was a capsule, where Baumgartner sat in his suit. At the correct height, Baumgartner went through a checklist of 40 things with his helper Joe Kittinger. Kittinger held the record for the highest altitude manned balloon flight before Baumgartner. Baumgartner had a problem with his visor. “This is very serious, Joe,” he told Kitttinger. “I can’t see when I breathe out.” But they decided to continue, and a record 8 million people watched live on YouTube. The ascent, during which the skies slowly turned black, took two and a half hours. But the descent was much quicker. Three cameras, which were attached to Baumgartner’s suit, recorded his free-fall of just over four minutes and then the parachute opening. Baumgartner has done lots of dangerous things before. He has parachuted off buildings and mountains and once into a 600 foot deep cave. He did two practice free-falls to prepare for this jump – one from 71,000 feet and a second from 97,000 feet. But nothing can compare with his jump above the town of Roswell, a place famous for its UFO sightings. He was trying to break five different records: the first human to ever break the sound barrier in free-fall; the highest free-fall altitude jump; the highest manned balloon flight; the longest free-fall; and his jump platform is probably the largest manned balloon in history. The jump beat two of Kittinger’s records: before, the retired US air force colonel held the high altitude and speed records for parachuting. Kittinger jumped from a balloon 19 miles above the Earth in 1960 and gave advice to Baumgartner during the ascent. Someone asked him, “What do you want to do next?” Baumgartner said: “I want to inspire young people. I’d like to sit in the same place in the next four years as Joe Kittinger. If there is a young guy who wants to break my record, I want to give him advice.” He said the most exciting moment for him was when he was standing outside the capsule “on top of the world”. He added: “The most beautiful moment was when I was standing on the landing area and Mike Todd [the man who dressed Baumgartner in his suit] came and he had a smile on his face like a little kid.” Baumgartner said that he felt like Todd’s son. He said: “Todd was so happy that I was alive.” Earlier, Todd said: “The world needs a hero right now, and they have got one in Felix Baumgartner.” This will be the last jump, Baumgartner said. He has promised to settle down with his girlfriend, and fly helicopters on rescue missions in the US and Austria.
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Valdevaqueros is one of the last unspoilt beaches in southern Spain. The road to the beach is filled with camper vans from Germany, France, Italy and Britain. The camper vans bring windsurfers and kitesurfers who are attracted by strong winds in the area. Valdevaqueros beach is very different from the beaches of Torremolinos and Marbella, which are full of hotels and concrete, but earlier in 2012 the local council in Tarifa said’yes’ to plans to build a tourist complex next to the beach. Environmental groups are angry. They say that the project will harm the habitats of protected animals and plants, but most of the council just want to create more jobs. 18,000 people live in Tarifa and 2,600 of them have no work. Spain is having its worst economic crisis for fifty years. “Traditional jobs like fishing are finishing so tourism is the only solution,” said Sebastián Galindo, a councillor from the Socialist party. Galindo says the complex does not break the law. There is a law to stop more ugly developments like those that spoilt a lot of Spain’s beaches in the 1960s and 1970s. This law says that the complex must be at least 200 metres from the coast; it will be much farther than that – it will be 800 metres. Some people say more houses are not needed in Spain because the country already has a million empty houses. Galindo says it is unfair to migrant workers who came to Spain when the economy was good. Many of the workers are from Morocco, which is just 14km away, across the sea. You can see it from Tarifa. Surfers fear that new buildings in Valdevaqueros would make the famous local wind less strong but would not attract people who want a traditional beach holiday. “It’s not really a place for families. The wind is too strong!” said Henning Mayer from Germany. “Ten years ago they said they would build a new highway here. It didn’t happen, so I think it will be impossible to build new hotels.” Tarifa is at the most southern point of Spain. It is where Africa and Europe meet, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic. It is also a very important place for animals. Hours after the Tarifa council voted for the project, a campaign started to save the beach. The campaign has a Facebook page and is supported by groups including Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The Andalusian College of Geographers is also against the project – they say that the complex would disturb two wildlife conservation areas and cross the border of a national park. “They think money is more important than laws,” said Raúl Romeva, a member of the European Parliament. Romeva believes the project is wrong because the site has too little water. The town already has too little water in the hot summer weather of Andalusía. Many local people also want to know why they want to built a complex 10km away. They think it would be better near Tarifa’s beautiful old centre. “We agree with the complex if it creates jobs in the town,” said Cristóbal Lobato, who has worked at the same beach bar in Tarifa for 30 years. “If they put it in the centre of Tarifa, where there is space, then tourists could visit shops, bars and restaurants.” Standing in the green fields where they want to build the complex, biologist Aitor Galán said, “In other countries, they would protect this place, but here they want to build lots of buildings. They want this place to become Benidorm. But what attracts people here is wild animals and the wind.”
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The direct action group UK Uncut plans to make many Starbucks cafés into crèches, refuges and homeless shelters to make people notice that Starbucks does not pay enough tax. The House of Commons questioned Starbucks. They asked why the company paid no corporation tax in the UK during the past three years. UK Uncut wants to show a connection between government cuts, especially the cuts that affect women, and multinational businesses who do not pay enough tax. Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist, said money for refuges would be cut if companies did not pay the fair amount of tax. The government lost about £32 billion in 2011 because multinational businesses did not pay enough tax. Greene said the government could easily collect billions of pounds that could help pay for important services, if they were stricter when they collect taxes. UK Uncut turned its attentions to Starbucks after an investigation found that the company had paid only £8.6 million in corporation tax since opening its cafés in the UK in 1998 despite sales worth £3 billion. Uncut campaigner Anna Walker said “We’ve chosen to highlight the impact of the cuts on women. So we’re going to focus on changing Starbucks into the services that the government are cutting, for example refuges and crèches. “Starbucks is a really great target because it is on every high street in the country so people can take action in their local areas,” she said. Starbucks says it pays the correct level of taxes. The group Chief Executive, Howard Schultz, said: “Starbucks has always paid taxes in the UK. “Over the last three years alone, our company has paid more than £160 million in various taxes, including national insurance*, VAT and business rates.” Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google and Starbucks have avoided nearly £900 million of tax. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: “I’m not happy with the current situation. We need to make sure we continue to encourage these businesses to invest in our country, but they should pay fair taxes as well.” A spokeswoman for Starbucks said: “Tax law can be extremely complex, but Starbucks respects tax laws and accounting rules. “Starbucks spends hundreds of millions of pounds with local suppliers on milk, cakes and sandwiches, and on store design and improvements. When you consider the indirect employment created by Starbucks, the company’s economic impact to the UK economy is more than £80 million every year.”
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The Chief Medical Officer for England compared the problem of antibiotic resistance to the risks of international terrorism. But, each year, the number of deaths around the world from bacterial resistance is far more than the number of deaths from terrorist attacks. The World Health Organization says that each year more than 150,000 people die from tuberculosis because of antibiotic resistance. This is now a war. A hundred years ago, life expectancy in the UK was about 47 years for a man and 50 years for a woman. Lots of young children died. About 30% of all deaths were in children under the age of five, mostly because of infectious disease. But a child born in Britain today has more than a 25% chance of reaching their 100th birthday. We can thank public health systems, vaccination and antibiotics for this. In intensive care, antibiotic resistant bacteria are most common. Here, powerful antibiotics are used very often. These drugs kill ordinary bacteria. But they cannot kill strong bacteria that have begun to learn how to survive antibiotic drugs. When I became a doctor in the 1990s, I learnt about Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to methicillin and all other penicillins. There were just a few drugs that could kill it – for example, vancomycin and teicoplanin. But antibiotic resistant bacteria became more and more common. In our hospitals and our doctor’s surgeries we use antiobiotics too often. Also, we have put antibiotics into the food chain, when we grow food and when we put anti-bacterial drugs into food for farm animals. We thought that antibiotics were something we could use forever. We thought that companies would continue to make more and more antibiotics. But this is no longer true. We have found new, more resistant bacteria. The vancomycin that we used to treat MRSA infection no longer worked. We found Vancomycin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (VRSA) in our hospitals. And other bacteria were becoming resistant too. Today, infections with organisms that are very resistant are common, but fewer and fewer new antibiotic drugs are made. It is more and more difficult to develop new drugs that can kill resistant bacteria. Antibiotics have become drugs that are expensive to develop, that are only used in short courses and that quickly stop working because of bacterial resistance. This war against bacteria is different from all other wars. There needs to be change in the way doctors give antibiotics and we need to use fewer antibiotics in farming. And we have to give companies good reasons why they should make new antibiotics, which will not make them lots of money. Today, antibiotic resistance has become a normal part of life. Less than a hundred years after the discovery of penicillin, we are beginning to lose the fight.
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Swedish prisons have a reputation around the world for being liberal and modern. But are the country’s prisons too soft? The head of Sweden’s prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, said in November 2013 that four Swedish prisons will close because of an “out of the ordinary” drop in the number of prisoner. There has been no fall in crime rates, but, between 2011 and 2012, there was a 6% drop in the number of people in Sweden’s prisons, now a little over 4,500. Oberg said he was confused by the drop in numbers, but hoped that the reason was to do with how his prisons are managed. “We certainly hope that the efforts we put into rehabilitation and into stopping criminals from reoffending has made a difference,” he said. “The modern prison service in Sweden is very different from when I joined as a young prison officer in 1978,” says Kenneth Gustafsson, governor of Kumla Prison, Sweden’s most secure jail. “When I joined, prisoners were treated well – maybe too well. But, after high- profile escapes in 2004, we had to make the prisons more secure.” In Sweden, prison sentences are not usually for more than ten years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of criminals and it continues to keep prison sentences short when possible by using community-based punishments. These have stopped many criminals from reoffending. The reoffending rate in Sweden is between 30 and 40% – to compare that with another European country, the number is around half that of the UK. One thing that has kept reoffending down and the number of prisoners in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 people is that anyone under 15 cannot be responsible for their crime. Also, in Sweden, no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life – this is not the same in many other countries – and they try to keep young offenders out of prison. One reason for the drop in prison numbers might be the amount of post-prison support available in Sweden. A government-run probation service gives treatment programmes to offenders with drug, alcohol or violence problems. Around 4,500 Swedes help the service – they volunteer to make friends with and support offenders. “In Sweden, we believe very much in the idea of rehabilitation,” says Gustafsson. “Of course, there are some people who will not or cannot change. But, in my experience, most prisoners want to change and we must do what we can to help them.”
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It is difficult to know exactly where the noise is coming from, but you can hear it everywhere in Damascus. All day and all night you can hear the sound of guns, rockets or planes attacking rebels – the sound of war is getting closer to Syria’s capital. The Syrian war began two years ago and now the people of Damascus try not to listen to the sound of explosions just a few miles away. “Actually you get used to it after a while,” said George, who lives in the city. “But you never know exactly what they are hitting.” That usually becomes clear later from videos that the opposition puts on YouTube. The constant noise of bombs is more worrying because the government tries so hard to pretend that life is normal. “As you can see, everything here is fine but we have to hit the terrorists, these extremists,” an army officer said. One government official said: “If I was afraid, I would just shut my door and stay inside. I have to work and I am not afraid. If I don’t defend my country, who will?” In private conversation, ordinary people say something different. In the centre of town, a shopkeeper complained sadly that his baby daughter cries at the sound of explosions. Zeina, a student, worries that she has learnt to live with suffering and danger. “In the beginning, when there started to be explosions, I used to have nightmares,” she said. “Now I can sleep through anything.” And, the dangers are increasing even closer to home. Sabaa Bahrat Square was the safest part of Damascus, but recently a car bomb exploded there and damaged the Syrian Central Bank. The square is often used for pro-government rallies, with people shouting slogans under enormous pictures of President Bashar al-Assad. That bombing was not the worst one in Damascus in recent months. In February, reports say that 80 people, including schoolchildren, died near the ruling Ba’ath Party headquarters in Mazraa. You can still see the crater. “I live nearby but luckily I wasn’t there,” says Munir, a university lecturer. Rebels, who are now very close to the city, have recently started to fire mortar bombs. The bombs killed 15 students in a university cafeteria on 28 March. They probably wanted to hit a government building. In July 2012, a bomb killed four of Assad’s senior aides. After that, security increased. Concrete barriers – often painted in the Syrian flag’s black, red and white – now protect official buildings, not just the military or defence installations that are obvious targets. Moving around the city has become difficult and takes a lot of time – another part of life today in a nervous city. Checkpoints on main roads stop traffic for ID checks and bags are searched for explosives. Only drivers with official permission can use special fast lanes to avoid the wait. There is one question on everyone’s mind: will there be a battle for Damascus – one of the world’s oldest cities – like the one that has badly damaged Aleppo? One view is that there will be a battle for Syria’s capital, but not yet – in the summer perhaps. Others argue that there will probably not be a complete victory for either side and hope for a political solution that comes from abroad. But most people here do not expect things to get better.
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At Addis Ababa airport, visitors see pictures of golden grains, tiny red seeds and a group of men around a giant pancake. The words say: “Teff: the best gluten-free crop!” Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries, well known for its difficult food situation. But it is also the home of teff, a highly nutritious grain that you can now buy in health-food shops and supermarkets in Europe and America. Teff’s tiny seeds – the size of poppy seeds – are high in calcium, iron and protein, and also amino acids. You can use the gluten-free grain instead of wheat flour in anything from bread and pasta to waffles and pizza bases. In Ethiopia, teff is a national obsession. It is grown by about 6.3 million farmers – fields of the crop cover more than 20% of all farmland. They make it into flour and use it to make injera, the flatbread that is basic to Ethiopian cooking. The grain is also important in many religious and cultural ceremonies. Across the country, people meet around large pieces of injera. They use it to scoop up stews and to feed one another as a sign of loyalty or friendship – a tradition known as gursha. Teff is now called Ethiopia’s “second gift to the world”, after coffee. Ethiopia’s growing middle class want more teff. This has increased the price of teff, so it is now too expensive for the poorest people. Today, most small farmers sell most of what they grow to people in Ethiopian cities. Teff is the most nutritionally valuable grain in the country. In urban areas, people eat up to 61kg of teff a year. In rural areas, they eat 20kg. The type of teff people eat is different, too: the rich eat the more expensive magna and white teff; poorer people usually eat less-valuable red and mixed teff. They also mix it with cheaper cereals such as sorghum and maize. The Ethiopian government wants to double teff production by 2015. It says that the grain could play an important role in school meals and emergency aid programmes, and help reduce malnutrition – particularly among children. In Ethiopia, around 20% of children under five are malnourished. The government does not allow the export of raw teff grain, only of injera and other processed products. But this could change: the goal is to produce enough teff for Ethiopia and for export. Mama Fresh is a family company that sells injera to top restaurants and hotels in the Ethiopian capital. It also exports the flatbread to Finland, Germany, Sweden and the US, mostly for Ethiopians who live there. But the company wants to double exports to America in 2014 and will soon start producing teff-based pizzas, bread and cookies. Regassa Feyissa, an Ethiopian agricultural scientist, says that, without careful planning, growing more teff for export may mean that farmers do not grow other important crops. There is not much Ethiopian teff on the international market, so farmers in the US have started planting the crop. Farmers in Europe, Israel and Australia have also experimented with growing it.
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Margaret Thatcher, the most famous British prime minister since Winston Churchill, has died at the age of 87. She was in poor health for many years, suffering from dementia. The British government says that her funeral will be at St Paul’s Cathedral. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said: “I was very sad when l heard of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.” He added: “She was our first woman prime minister – and she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country.” He added that he believed she would be remembered as the greatest British peacetime prime minister. President Barack Obama said, “Here in America, many of us will never forget her close friendship with President Reagan.” Margaret Thatcher was the first woman leader of an important western state. She was prime minister for 11 years until members of her own party removed her in 1990. When they heard of her death, politicians from all parties sent tributes. British Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, said: “She will be remembered as a unique person. She changed the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister. She was a huge figure in the world. The Labour Party disagreed with a lot of what she did, but we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.” The former Conservative prime minister, Sir John Major, said that people who worked closely with her would always remember her courage and determination in politics and her humanity and generous spirit in private. The “Iron Lady” was a close ally of the US president Ronald Reagan in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Union broke up because of reforms introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev. He was the Russian leader who Thatcher liked and worked closely with. As a result, many ordinary people in ex-Communist countries still think of her as someone who supported their freedom. It was a surprise when Thatcher became party leader in 1975. Within ten years, she had become famous around the world – people both admired and hated her – for her reforms in the UK and her strong beliefs in foreign policy. She had a long battle with the IRA, which almost killed her with a bomb in 1984. In the UK, Thatcher’s main economic policy was the denationalization of state-owned industry – the new word “privatization” became used in many countries. She also defeated militant trade unions, particularly the National Union of Miners, after a long and terrible strike that lasted almost a year. With money from Britain’s North Sea oil fields, she was able to change the ageing industrial economy and she used the opportunity to defeat her enemies – including some members of her own party. As the British economy became healthy again after the problems that her policies caused, it seemed for a short time that no-one would ever defeat her. But, as her friends and supporters retired or were replaced, she started to make mistakes and became more and more unpopular. Finally, in 1990, after a vote among Conservative MPs failed to support her, John Major took control of the party. After she retired, she wrote her memoirs and continued to promote her values around the world.
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US shutdown: Christine Lagarde calls for stability after debt crisis is averted James Meikle, Paul Lewis and Dan Roberts 17 October, 2013 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the USA to manage its money better. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work after the government shut down for 16 days. US President Barack Obama said that the US has to be more careful with how it manages its money. The IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, asked for more stability. The Senate wrote a peace deal, which included almost nothing that the conservatives asked for. The conservative Republicans nearly caused a new financial crisis because they did not agree to Obama’s healthcare reforms. The House of Representatives agreed the deal at the last minute. The World Bank was also pleased that the world’s economy had “avoided a catastrophe ”. Its president, Jim Yong Kim, asked politicians in all countries to continue to make policies that improve the economy and give jobs and opportunity to all. The shutdown cost the US $24 billion. Obama signed the legislation shortly after midnight on Thursday. The bill passed easily, with support from all parties in the Senate, where Democratic and Republican leaders wrote the agreement. It is a temporary solution. It gives the government money until 15 January and allows the government to borrow more money if they want to until 7 February. But the president made clear that he did not expect another serious budget fight and shutdown in 2014. At the White House, Obama said he hoped the deal would “lift the cloud of uncertainty” that had hung over the country in recent weeks. “When this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately,” he said. “Hopefully, next time, it won’t be in the eleventh hour. We must manage our money better.” A journalist asked the president if the crisis would happen again in a few months. Obama replied: “No.” Earlier, the Republican senator Mike Lee said there would be more trouble: “The media keeps asking: 'Was it worth it?' My answer is, it is always worth it to do the right thing.” He added: “This is not over.” But the political deal on Wednesday was one of the worst of all possible results for Republicans. They did not achieve any of their goals and most people blamed them for the crisis.
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Dataset Card for OneStopEnglish corpus

Dataset Summary

OneStopEnglish is a corpus of texts written at three reading levels, and demonstrates its usefulness for through two applications - automatic readability assessment and automatic text simplification.

Supported Tasks and Leaderboards

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Languages

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Dataset Structure

Data Instances

An instance example:

{
  "text": "When you see the word Amazon, what’s the first thing you think...",
  "label": 0
}

Note that each instance contains the full text of the document.

Data Fields

  • text: Full document text.
  • label: Reading level of the document- ele/int/adv (Elementary/Intermediate/Advance).

Data Splits

The OneStopEnglish dataset has a single train split.

Split Number of instances
train 567

Dataset Creation

Curation Rationale

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Source Data

Initial Data Collection and Normalization

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Who are the source language producers?

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Annotations

Annotation process

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Who are the annotators?

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Personal and Sensitive Information

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Considerations for Using the Data

Social Impact of Dataset

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Discussion of Biases

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Other Known Limitations

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Additional Information

Dataset Curators

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Licensing Information

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Citation Information

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Contributions

Thanks to @purvimisal for adding this dataset.

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