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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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A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 35.6% of all women around the world will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, usually from a male partner. The report says that 30% of women are attacked by their partners. It also says that a large percentage of murders of women – 38% – are done by their partners. The highest levels of violence against women are in Africa, where nearly half of all women – 45.6% – will experience physical or sexual violence. In poor and middle-income Europe, the percentage is 27.2%. But, richer countries are not always safer for women – a third of women in rich countries (32.7%) will experience violence. 42% of the women who experience violence have injuries, which doctors and nurses may notice. The report says that injuries are often the first opportunity to discover violence in the home and to offer the woman help. Violence has a big effect on women’s health. Some come to hospital with broken bones and others have problems related to pregnancy and mental illness. The WHO has two reports – one report is on violence; the other report tells doctors and nurses how to help women. Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, of the WHO, and Professor Charlotte Watts, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, wrote the reports. “For the first time we have compared data from all over the world on partner violence and sexual violence by non-partners and the effect of these sorts of violence on health,” said Garcia-Moreno. These included HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, depression, alcoholism, unwanted pregnancies and babies that are born too small. There were differences in the levels of violence against women in different regions of the world but, said Garcia-Moreno, “it is too high” everywhere. Data from 81 countries shows that, even in rich countries, 23.2% of women will experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lives. The global figure for women attacked by partners was 30%. Women report more sexual assaults and rapes by acquaintances or strangers in rich countries than elsewhere. The report says that 12.6% of women in wealthy countries will be sexually attacked by a non-partner in their lives. The percentage in Africa is 11.9%. The report says that their previous research shows that better-educated women and working women are less likely to experience violence, but not in all regions. There is a need to change some attitudes, said Watts. “In some societies, are certain forms of violence against women acceptable?” she asked. “In some societies, violence against women is not OK – but, in some societies, it is OK.” Garcia-Moreno said that the percentages show that we must pay more attention to this question. Over the past ten years, more people see that there is a problem, she said, but “it is a complex problem. We don’t have a vaccine or a pill”. The WHO now recommends teaching doctors and nurses to recognize the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. But they do not recommend asking every woman who arrives in a clinic if she has been the victim of violence. “If a woman comes back several times with injuries she doesn’t mention, you should ask her about domestic violence,” said Garcia-Moreno.
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Angela Erdmann never knew her grandfather. He died in 1946, six years before she was born. But, on Tuesday April 8th, 2014, she described the extraordinary moment when she received a message in a bottle, 101 years after he threw it into the Baltic Sea. The bottle is possibly the world’s oldest message in a bottle. It was presented to Erdmann by the museum that is now exhibiting it in Germany. “It was very surprising,” Erdmann, 62, said, when she described how she found out about the bottle. “A man came to my door and told me he had post from my grandfather. Then, he told me that someone had found a message in a bottle and that on the card was my grandfather’s name.” Her visitor was a family-tree researcher who found her in Berlin after someone gave the letter to a museum in the northern city of Hamburg. The brown beer bottle was in the water for 101 years. A fisherman found it. Holger von Neuhoff, a curator at the museum, said this bottled message was the oldest he had ever seen. “There are documents without the bottle that are older and they are in the museum,” he said. “But, with the bottle and the document, this is certainly the oldest at the moment. It is in very good condition.” Researchers believe that Erdmann’s grandfather, Richard Platz, threw the bottle into the sea when he was on a hike in 1913. He was 20 years old at the time. A lot of the message on the postcard was impossible to read, but the address in Berlin on the front of the card was legible. Platz asked the person who found it to send the postcard to his home address. “He also included two stamps from that time that were also in the bottle, so the finder would not have to pay for postage,” Erdmann said. “But he did not think it would take 101 years.” She said she was moved by the arrival of the message, but she did not known her grandfather because he died, at the age of 54, six years before she was born. “I knew very little about my grandfather. But I found out that he was a writer. He was very open- minded, and he believed in freedom and that everyone should respect each other,” she said. “He did a lot for the young and later travelled with his wife and two daughters. It was wonderful because I could see where my roots came from.” Erdmann said she also liked culture and travelling around the world, just like her grandfather. She described herself as open-minded, too. She was very happy to receive the bottled message, she said, but she hoped other people would not do what her grandfather did and throw bottles with messages into the sea. “Today, the sea is so full of bottles and rubbish that we shouldn’t throw more in there,” she said. The message and the bottle will be on display at Hamburg’s Maritime Museum until the beginning of May 2014. Then, experts will try to decipher the rest of the text. It is not clear what will happen to the bottle after that, but Erdmann hopes it will stay at the museum. “We want to find a few photos to put with the bottle and give it a face, so visitors can see the young man who threw the bottle into the water,” she said.
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Not sleeping very much used to be a sign that you were busy and important. Sleep was for wimps. But now, Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution, a book that says we need to sleep more and promises to change your life, is a New York Times best-seller. Businesses have realized that they can make money from the sleep revolution. A whole range of businesses are interested in where, when and how we sleep and, also, how much we will pay for it. Luxury hotels give people “sleep retreats”; more than $1,000 gets you dinner and a movie about sleep. And, if you’re staying home, you can improve your bedroom with a mattress cover with a sensor that monitors your sleep ($249) or a sleeping mask that monitors your brainwaves and lets you sleep more efficiently ($299). Sleep has not only become big business – it has also changed companies. Many companies already have sleeping areas and Huffington says that nap rooms in offices will become “as common as conference rooms” in the next two years. So, how did this happen? How did sleep suddenly become so fashionable? Many people these days find it normal to pay $10 for green juice and $34 for an indoor cycle class. And these people have made getting enough sleep a part of their lifestyle. Our bodies have become machines that we monitor for better efficiency and sleep is now another set of data for us to follow. Huffington does not say that sleep rests you; she says it restores you. Sleep is now an important status symbol for some people. But, it is not always easy to get enough sleep; you have to go to bed in the right neighbourhood and in the right body. Many studies show that you’re more likely to sleep badly if you’re poor. It’s hard to sleep if you’re worried about your safety or haven’t had enough to eat. It’s hard to sleep if you’re one of the 15 million Americans who work irregular hours. Research has also found that there’s a black/white sleep gap. One study shows that white people sleep an average of 6.85 hours but African Americans only sleep an average of 6.05 hours. They also have a lower quality of sleep. Do you know who gets the most sleep and the best quality of sleep in America? Rich white women. And, they are probably the people Huffington wrote her book for. Huffington describes her ideas about sleep as a “revolution” but, in fact, it’s a rebranding. The real problem with sleep isn’t that a few rich people think it’s a waste of time; the problem is that 99% can’t afford to spend time sleeping. Sleep may make you perform better but it’s an inefficient way to improve your performance. The real prize is finding a way that humans can work on less sleep. It is no surprise that the US military is researching this. In 2008, the Pentagon published a report called “Human Performance” which examined the possibility of a future in which soldiers could perform at their best with only a couple of hours’ sleep. “Imagine that you could make a human who slept for the same amount of time as a giraffe (1.9 hours per night). This would reduce the number of deaths and injuries. An enemy would need 40% more soldiers to be able to fight us.” One day, humans will find a way to remove the need to sleep completely. Spending a third of your life asleep won’t be a luxury anymore; it will be something only the poor will have to do. Then, we may need a whole new sort of sleep revolution.
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The brand and logo of Apple are the most valuable in the world. They are worth nearly $119 billion – that is more than the economies of Morocco, Ecuador or Oman. The brand value of Apple, the world’s biggest company, has increased by 21% in 12 months, the Interbrand Best Global Brands report said. People all around the world recognize Apple by its simple “Apple with a bite missing” logo. Other technology companies have also done very well in the 2014 report. The technology companies pushed more traditional brands – such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Gillette – down the table. Google’s brand value rose by 15% to $107 billion to take second place. Coca-Cola, in third place, is up 3% to $81.5 billion. IBM’s value is $72.2 billion and Microsoft’s $45.5 billion. They are in fourth and fifth places. Facebook’s value has increased the most in the table. Its brand value increased by 86% to $14.3 billion. It is at 29th place in the table, ahead of older global companies such as Volkswagen, Kellogg’s and Ford. Apple was started by Steve Jobs in his Los Altos garage in 1976. It only appeared in the top ten of the Interbrand annual study in 2011. Its logo was created by advertising executive Rob Janoff in 1977. It was designed with a bite taken out of it so that it would not look like a cherry. Graham Hayles, Interbrand’s chief marketing officer, said, “Apple makes a lot of money because it has a very strong brand. If you have a strong brand, you make more money.” Many technology companies rose up the chart but some fell, too. Finnish mobile-phone company Nokia dropped 41 places to 98th at $4.1 billion, just ahead of Nintendo in 100th place (down 33). A Chinese company has appeared in the top 100 for the first time, with mobile-phone and broadband company Huawei at 94th place. It has a brand value of $4.3 billion. Most of the brands in the top 100 are American. The most valuable non-American brands are South Korea’s Samsung (6th), Japan’s Toyota (8th) and Germany’s Mercedes-Benz (10th). The most valuable British brands are HSBC (33rd), Shell (65th) and Burberry (73rd). Other fashion brands in the top 100 include Boss, Prada and Ralph Lauren. Designer label Louis Vuitton is the top fashion name, in 19th position with a value of $23 billion, just ahead of clothing chain H&M, with a brand value of $21 billion in place 21. Sports brand Nike is at place 22 with a brand value of nearly $20 billion, ahead of its rival Adidas at place 59 with a value of $7 billion. Jez Frampton, chief executive of Interbrand, said that customers now have more control than ever over a brand’s reputation. This is because they can make comments about a brand on social media, such as Twitter. “Customers expect interaction, 24/7 accessibility, customization options and high levels of personalization,” he said.
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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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Dr Ben Brabon of Edgehill University teaches a MOOC – a massive open online course. The course is one of only two accredited MOOCs in the UK at the moment. Brabon says that many students enrol on MOOCs because they are free and they enjoy communicating with other students. MOOCs have no entry tests and no fees, so MOOC students behave very differently from students on normal higher education courses. MOOCs are the newest idea to try to make higher education available to everyone. Companies are investing a lot of money in new websites that offer sophisticated and interactive courses to tens of thousands of students. Investors hope to find a business model for MOOCs that will make them profitable. They could earn money by finding out why and when millions of students enrol, interact with their material, submit their assignments, message each other and stop the course. Nobody can say exactly who MOOCs are for. Universities that want to attract fee-paying international students onto postgraduate courses by showing them their best programmes online? Students in developing countries who really want access to first-world universities? Employees who wish to develop their professional knowledge? People without qualifications who want to use MOOCs as a bridge to higher education? Or hobby learners, who want to learn about a subject they find interesting? MOOCs may be popular at the beginning but very few people complete them, says Dr Brabon. His literature course had 1,000 enrolments but only 31 people completed the course. “And almost all of those had a first degree or had been educated to degree level,” he says. “So it seems MOOCs do not make higher education available to people who couldn’t go into higher education before.” “Learning online is a different thing and needs quite advanced learning skills,” says David Kernohan, an expert in digital technology. “With MOOCs, there’s very little support: the student does not get any individual attention.” Students get support from other students in online discussions. This may mean that online study is unattractive or difficult for someone without high-level qualifications, but it suggests that MOOCs could be “a really good tool for continuing education,” he added. The number of part-time students has reduced as the cost of studying at university increases, so could open and free courses provide a new path to university education? Could you teach a whole degree via MOOCs? “I don’t think that’s how MOOCs work,” says Brabon. Instead, he suggests “blended learning that combines a campus experience with a MOOC; also, perhaps, using MOOCs to create a global degree, with students taking courses from across the world, might be possible.” But that’s in the future. At present, the course content and assessment standards of MOOCs have no quality assurance, so employers will not be impressed by them. Accreditation is now essential for MOOCs so academics and employers will believe they are of good quality, says Brabon. Some people hope that MOOCs will bring the best of first-world teaching to students in less developed countries. Others believe that universities could use MOOCs to advertise their campus courses to bigger numbers of fee-paying students from outside the EU. Mike Sharples, chair of Educational Technology, doesn’t agree. MOOCs are mainly a way to publicize and share universities’ best teachers. They also encourage interaction and feedback from students around the world, he says. He believes that attracting international students onto university courses is not the main aim of MOOCs. But they could certainly be a very clever marketing idea, as he says that “if 20,000 people enrol on a MOOC – well, you only need 20 of those to enrol afterwards to have a master’s course.” “In South America, China and countries in Africa, there are many people who want to learn and some of the world’s best courses are now online,” adds Sharples. “If people are fascinated by learning, then why not? The real challenge is to allow those countries not just to study MOOCs, but also to create them. ”
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An international agreement to improve safety in Bangladesh’s clothes factories could face legal action. This is because factory owners are asking for compensation for the cost of closures and repair work. Some repairs may take months and factory owners say they cannot pay workers while factories are closed. Also, they cannot pay for big works to make buildings safe. The building repairs are happening after the Rana Plaza building in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, collapsed in 2013 and 1,138 people died. The problems come as hundreds of Bangladeshi clothes factories are inspected every month for fire-safety and structural problems under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Accord is supported by over 170 international companies, including Primark and Marks & Spencer, and international trade unions, including IndustriALL. The owner of one Dhaka factory, Softex Cotton, said he will take legal action against the Accord because his factory was closed down as a result of structural problems. He wants around $100 million in compensation. Another factory owner said that, when a factory closed, even for a few months, it would lose orders and close permanently: “There is no such thing as temporary closure,” he said. The factory owner said it was not clear in the Accord agreement who would pay for factory closures. Jenny Holdcroft, policy director for IndustriALL, which has been closely involved in the Accord, said that the agreement made sure that factories would not lose orders during closure because companies agreed to continue orders with suppliers for two years. The Accord has found12 factories that need a lot of work, but Holdcroft said many of those only needed partial closure and production could continue on other floors. The Accord also asks companies to make sure that workers receive pay during factory closures. She said that factory owners who could afford to pay for repairs and compensation for workers should make the payments. “Companies don’t want to pay so that rich factory owners can continue to just take the profits and not spend on their factories for years. It is not surprising that there is disruption. If there was no disruption, there would be no change,” she said. A spokesman for the Accord said negotiations over payments and even legal action would not delay its work to improve safety in factories. But there is now more pressure on the Accord to help pay workers when their factories close. A rival factory-safety group, supported by US retailers including Walmart and Gap, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, has given $5 million to help pay factory workers for up to two months while buildings are improved. “The Alliance is sharing the workers’ salary with factory owners so now there is a big confusion. We had a big meeting with the Accord to make them understand they have to help or how will we help our workers?” said Shaidullah Azim, a director of the Bangladeshi Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
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The small room looks like a classroom. The posters on the walls show letters of the alphabet and a map of Bangladesh. But, it is hard to concentrate – there is the loud hammering and chemicals in the air that hurt the throat and eyes. But, the children who learn in this three-square-metre room are lucky. They have escaped working in the factories opposite. For 14 years, SOHAY, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has worked in slums in Dhaka to send child workers to school. It especially tries to help children who do dangerous work. The classroom is one of 23 centres that SOHAY has set up in Dhaka. The classes at the centres help children enter primary school. When they are in school, the children get extra help with their homework at the centres. Alamin, ten years old, used to work in a plastic factory. He now goes to one of the centres. His parents are happy that he’s now in school and not doing dangerous work. His friend Rabi says he wants to forget his past in the factory. “I like school,” he says. SOHAY also has classes for parents and managers to stop child labour. It can be very difficult for working children to go to school. They are not like other children. After they stop working, they sometimes find it difficult to make friends and adapt to school. It is also difficult to make sure they stay in school – lots of these children don’t finish school. Seven-year-old Zhorna Akter Sumayya has two older brothers – they both work (one at a restaurant, one at a local club). But, she went to a SOHAY centre and she now goes to school. Her family live in the slum and her parents need the money their sons make but they want their daughter to go to school. In 2015, SOHAY helped 1,540 children to leave dangerous work and helped 2,125 more children – those who would soon start work – to go to school. About 780 more children are preparing to start school in 2017. The Labour Law of Bangladesh 2006 does not allow children younger than 14 to work but UNICEF says that, in Bangladesh, 4.7 million children younger than 14 are employed and 1.3 million children aged five to 17 do dangerous work.
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Barack Obama has told young people to reject pessimism and meet people who have different political beliefs if they want to change the world. On the last day of his last visit to Britain as US president, Obama told 500 youth leaders at a meeting in London: “Reject the idea that there are things we can’t control. As JFK said, our problems are manmade and can be solved by man.” “You’ve never had better tools to make a difference,” he told the students at the question-and-answer session. “Reject pessimism and know that progress is possible.” But Obama said he knew that young people had many challenges. He said it was a time of great change, with 9/11, 7/7, and with so much information and bad news, for example on Twitter. The president told the audience to meet and talk with people who have different political beliefs: “Look for people who don’t agree with you and it will also help you to compromise.” Obama said he was proud of his healthcare reforms and talked about the 2008 financial crisis: “I saved the world from depression – that was quite good.” He also said that his talks with Iran and the response to the Ebola crisis were some of the best things about his presidency. Tanya Williams, a community officer, said: “I like Barack Obama and it’s exciting to hear someone who has changed so much.” Oliver Sidorczuk, 26, said: “Everyone is extremely excited to listen to what he has to say.” Furqan Naeem, from Manchester, said: “I recently visited the United States and I saw some really important work the president did – the work brought different people together.” Later, Obama met Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who said they had an “excellent” 90-minute discussion. They also talked about Britain’s membership of the EU. After the meeting, Obama played golf with British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Obama had dinner with Cameron and the US ambassador, Matthew Barzun, and, then, travelled to Germany.
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Two scientists at Stanford University, in the USA, used metadata on people’s telephone calls and texts to find out people’s names, where they lived and the names of their partners. The metadata told them what number people called, when and for how long but it didn’t tell them what people said. But, that was not all. With the same metadata, they could find out private information about some people. They discovered that one man had a gun and that another man had a heart problem. Other data told them that someone was having a baby and someone had a serious illness. The results show the extraordinary power of telephone metadata. It is particularly powerful when you use it together with information from Google, Yelp and Facebook. Then, the scientists used a simple computer program to analyse people’s calls and this helped them to see who was in a relationship. Once they knew the owner of a particular phone number had a partner, it was easy to find out who the partner was, they said. For the final part of the study, the researchers looked even deeper to see what private information they could get from telephone metadata. They collected details on calls made to and from places such as hospitals, pharmacies, religious groups, legal services and gun shops. From these, they produced interesting pictures of people’s lives. Mutchler said the study showed how easy it is to find out private information about people. He says that the results should make governments think twice before they record this information. “Metadata programmes, like the NSA’s, will show very private information about ordinary people,” the scientists said. Stewart Baker, who worked at the US National Security Agency (NSA), said “Metadata tells you everything about somebody’s life.” Patrick Mutchler, a researcher at Stanford, said that people who collect the information understand the power of metadata but that the public was in the dark. For the study, 823 people agreed for researchers to collect metadata from their phones using an app. The app also received information from their Facebook pages, which the scientists used to check their results. The scientists collected metadata on more than 250,000 calls and over 1.2 million texts. With very little money, Mutchler and Jonathan Mayer found out a lot of personal information about the people in the study. Some of the information was private. They found out 82% of people’s names. The same method gave them the names of businesses the people called. When they marked these on a map, they showed groups of local businesses, which the scientists guessed were near the person’s home address. In this way, they named the city people lived in 57% of the time and were nearly 90% correct in guessing, within 50 miles, where people lived.
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There are bird droppings in one of Britain’s most expensive houses. Pigeon skeletons lie among broken mirrors and water is coming through the walls. This is The Tower, a £30m palace in “Billionaires’ Row” in north London. It is one of ten mansions in the middle of The Bishops Avenue that have been empty for many years. The Saudi Arabian royal family bought it. Their Grecian columns are cracking into pieces and mosaic-tiled swimming pools are filled with broken stones. Nature has taken control and owls have moved in. You see the same thing again and again on the avenue. Lloyds Bank says The Bishops Avenue is the second most expensive street in Britain. House prices in London are rising at 11.2% a year. More and more people find it difficult to buy a house, but 16 mansions on the most expensive part of The Bishops Avenue are empty. Their gates are locked and there are guard dogs in their overgrown gardens. Across the street stands another empty mansion worth £18m. It has broken windows and its walls are painted with anti-climb paint. Metal bars block the windows of another mansion, which has sold for £20m. For people who find it very difficult to keep a roof above their heads in one of the world’s most expensive cities, seeing the empty houses can be painful. One security guard who works on the avenue said it was annoying to see so many mansions – enough for many people to live in – falling apart. Rich royals from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia came to this road near Hampstead Heath first. Iranians came here after the fall of the shah. Now, Chinese house hunters are following Russians and Kazakhs who have spent millions to get an address that estate agents tell them is as world famous as the Champs Elysées and Rodeo Drive. Recently, two mansions have been on sale for £65m and £38m. But in the grounds of the empty mansions, stone fountains crumble. Inside one mansion, the ceiling has collapsed and water drips through a huge crystal chandelier onto a thick carpet, which is rotting. Moss grows through bricks and mirrored tiles are lying on a bathroom floor. The swimming pool is filled with dirty water and has flowers growing through its tiles. The wood in the sauna is coming off the walls. But it is the ruin of The Towers, a grand mansion, that is most dramatic. There are pigeons in its huge, high-ceiling halls and its walls are bright green with algae. Today, very few people live on The Bishops Avenue all the time. A security guard outside one mansion said that the owners were not there. Another guard outside Royal Mansion would not say if anyone was home and a member of staff at another mansion warned the Guardian about the guard dogs. Magdy Adib Ishak-Hannah, who has £45m, said he is one of the few residents who lives there all the time. “I have never seen what my neighbours look like. Next door, a Saudi princess spent £35m on a new house and I’ve never seen her. There are about three houses that are lived in 24/7 and half of the houses are lived in three to six months a year. The other half, who knows if they come or not?” he said. The reason for the multimillion-pound ruins is that some of the world’s richest people see British houses as an investment. Anil Varma, who develops homes and then sells them, wants to build £5m apartments, instead of £50m mansions, to try to bring people back. He has decided to rebuild one of the most expensive sites on the avenue as a collection of 20 apartments with a concierge, maid service, 25-metre pool, spa and cinema.
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“I got a Dyson vacuum cleaner but I don’t even know if I want it,” said 56-year-old Louise Haggerty, as she left the Black Friday sales at one o’clock in the morning. “It was crazy in there. It was absolutely disgusting, disgusting.” Haggerty went with a friend to a 24-hour Sainsbury’s supermarket in north-east London. She hoped to buy a bargain flat-screen TV. “But so many people pushed in the queue that we didn’t have a chance,” she said. “The poor woman who was second in the queue was pushed out by a crowd of youths. She didn’t get anything. People were behaving like animals – it was horrible,” she said. “I only saw two security guards.” Haggerty was frustrated when she was unable to buy a TV, which was reduced from £299.99 to £149.99, so rushed to pick up a vacuum cleaner, which was reduced from £319.99 to £159.99. “I don’t even know how much it costs. I don’t know even know if I’m going to buy it. I just wanted something,” she said. “There are young men in there with three, four, five tellies. It’s not fair.” One of those young men was Andy Blackett, who had two trolleys full of bargains. “I got two coffee makers, two tablets, two TVs and a stereo,” he said. “I don’t know the prices but I know they’re bargains.” But his friend Henry Fischer wasn’t as successful. “Someone snatched my telly from me – it’s because I’m the smaller one.” More than 12 police officers attended a Tesco store in another part of London because fights started between eager and frustrated shoppers. Tesco delayed the sale of its most popular sale items – TVs – for almost an hour until police brought the situation under control. One police officer said the manager did not provide enough security and suggested the sale should be stopped completely. Police were called to several other stores just before the doors opened at midnight. Manchester Police said they arrested at least two people at Black Friday sales events. South Wales Police also said they received calls from staff at Tesco stores because so many people came to the sales that they became worried. One of the first people to buy a flat-screen TV, when TV sales began just before 1am, was James Alled. He bought two and was already trying to sell one of them to someone further down the queue. “I bought them for £250 each. I’ll sell it to you for £350, £300 cash,” he said. Further back in the queue, Christine Ball, 62, wasn’t impressed. “I got here at 10.15pm and I’m further back now than when I got here” she said. “These people don’t know what a queue is.” Ball had not heard of the Black Friday sales, which come from the US, until now. She came out especially to buy her grandson a TV for Christmas. “Not one of those massive ones; just a normal one at £100 or so,” she said. Mel Mehmet, 23, went to Black Friday sales in 2013 so she knew there would be queues. But she said the atmosphere in Tesco scared her this time. “It’s crazy to have a sale at midnight – the police have more important things to do at night than come to sales. We’re going to PC World in the morning – their sale starts at 8am.”
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A group of experts say that thousands of people are taking unnecessary medicines and have bad diets because of bogus allergy tests. Allergies and food intolerances are increasing very quickly but people do not understand the difference between an allergy and a food intolerance – this is causing problems, says the charity Sense About Science, who have written a guide to allergies. “It’s a big mess,” said Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science. “There is unnecessary action for people who don’t really have allergies and not enough action for people who have allergies.” Lots of people tell the waiter or waitress in a restaurant that they have an allergy. But some of these people don’t have an allergy – that have a food intolerance, which is not dangerous. Experts fear that restaurants hear so many people say that they have allergies (when maybe that is not true) that they may not be careful enough when they give food to a person who has a real allergy. “It matters very much,” said Moira Austin of an allergy charity. “If a restaurant thinks somebody just doesn’t want to eat a food because it makes them feel uncomfortable, the restaurant may be less careful. There have been deaths where people have gone to a restaurant, told the waiter or waitress that they have an allergy to a food and the meal has been given to them containing that food.” The guide says most allergy tests bought on the internet or in shops do not work. They include a test people can use at home, which looks for specific antibodies against different foods in the blood. These antibodies are part of the body’s response to infections but “the best medical evidence has shown high antibody levels do not suggest an allergy”, the guide says. The test often shows people have an allergy or a food intolerance when this is not true. Another test also does not work. It uses a mixture of acupuncture and homeopathy. Testing hair is also pointless, the guide says. “Hair cannot show if you are allergic or not so testing hair cannot give any useful information on allergies.” “I often see children who are on very limited diets – their parents believe that they have allergies because they have taken 'allergy tests' that do not work,” said Paul Seddon, an allergy doctor for children. “This needs to stop, which can only happen if we prove these 'tests' do not work.” Allergies can cause tiredness, headaches and eczema in children. But you need to check if they have an allergy and this takes a long time and many tests. It may seem like a good idea to do just one test and get a quick answer. But, it will be a wrong answer. Allergies are increasing in developed countries. There are three times more children with certain allergies now compared to 30 years ago. The Sense About Science guide lists a number of myths about the sources of allergies, for example the myths that fast food or E numbers in food colourings cause allergies.
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On the top of a hill, above Northumberland’s beautiful Kielder Water lake, a group of people are waiting in a car park next to a strange wooden building. They are here because of the darkness and this is Kielder Observatory, the centre of Britain’s latest industry – astrotourism. The people who are waiting outside are lucky. Many more people apply for a night of stargazing at the observatory but not everyone can come because numbers are strictly limited. Inside, the observatory’s founder and lead astronomer, Gary Fildes, speaks to his colleagues and volunteers. The team discusses that they might see the northern lights but Fildes doesn’t think they will. Instead, they decide to use their powerful telescopes to look at Jupiter and Venus and, later, to find stars such as Capella and Betelgeuse. An extra attraction is the appearance of the International Space Station. Fildes is a leading figure in the UK’s growing astrotourism industry. The key moment for Northumberland came in 2013 when the entire national park, about 1,500 square kilometres in area, got Dark Sky Park status. It is the only one in England. Dark Sky Parks are rare. Research in 2013 showed that only 5% of the UK population can see more than 31 stars on a clear night. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) gives the status of Dark Sky Park only to places that take big steps to prevent light pollution. The areas must also prove their night skies are very dark. In Northumberland Dark Sky Park, it is so dark that Venus casts a shadow on the Earth. Duncan Wise, visitor development officer for the Northumberland National Park, helped to lead the campaign for dark-sky status. “We usually think that 'landscape' is everything up to the horizon,” Wise said. “But what about what’s above the horizon?” Wise and others spent years preparing their application to the IDA – they collected thousands of light readings. Because of their hard work, many of the 1.5 million tourists who visit Northumberland each year are now aware of its Dark Sky status. “A lot of people come here to see the sky now,” says a man who works for a local car-hire company. “They come in autumn and winter, when it’s darkest. It’s good for the local hotels because tourists come all year round now.” Wise agrees that Northumberland needs to do more to take advantage of its dark skies, which are very rare. He believes the region needs more observatories to make sure that visitors will see what they came for. A new £14-million national landscape discovery centre will have an observatory when it is completed in a couple of years. Fildes has big ambitions. He is planning Britain’s first “astrovillage” – it would have the largest public observatory in the world, a 100-seat auditorium, a 100-seat planetarium, and radiomagnetic and solar telescopes. The multimillion-pound project would also have a hotel and attract 100,000 visitors a year – that is four times the number that are currently able to use the observatory. However, Northumberland has competition. Galloway Forest Park in Scotland also has Dark Sky Park status. Exmoor in south-west England became Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve – one level below Dark Sky Park – in 2011. A number of local businesses there now offer stargazing holidays. The UK is not as good as northern Chile, which has more than ten tourist observatories and some of the clearest skies in the world. So, why do people want to look at the night sky? The media have helped. TV programmes about astronomy have attracted a new generation of stargazers. Technology has also made astronomy more popular. Apps such as Stellarium now turn smartphones into pocket-size planetariums. But Fildes believes that, most importantly, people are starting to appreciate the sky. “If you had to build a visitor attraction from the beginning, what could be better than the universe?”
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A new study shows that there are more and more brown bears, wolves and lynx in the forests and suburban areas of Europe. Rising human populations and use of resources have made many people believe that these animals could soon become extinct. But the study says that numbers of large predators are stable or rising in Europe. Brown bears, wolves and the Eurasian lynx are found in nearly one-third of mainland Europe (excluding Belarus, Ukraine and Russia). Most live outside nature reserves – this shows that changing attitudes and conservation methods are protecting these species very well. Bears are the most common large carnivore in Europe – there are around 17,000 bears. There are 12,000 wolves and 9,000 Eurasian lynx. Only Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in mainland Europe have no breeding populations of at least one large carnivore species. Britain also has none. But the study said these animals live in regions of Europe where lots of people live and this shows that they could live even in the British countryside. Guillaume Chapron from Sweden’s University of Agricultural Sciences and researchers across Europe found wolves living in suburban areas with up to 3,050 people per square kilometre. On average in Europe, wolves live on land where there are 37 people per square kilometre, lynx in areas where there are 21 people per square kilometre and bears where there are 19 people per square kilometre. In the Scottish Highlands there are just nine people per square kilometre. “To have wolves, we don’t need to remove people from the landscape,” said Chapron. He also said that the big carnivore revival shows the success of a “land-sharing” method of conservation – it is different from the method in North America and Africa, where they use fences to separate these animals in “wilderness” areas. “I’m not saying it’s a perfect love story – living together often means conflict – but it’s important to control that conflict and resolve the problems it causes. Wolves can be difficult neighbours,” said Chapron. According to the researchers, countries in other parts of the world could use this “land-sharing” method. Land-sharing works in Europe because there are more and more animals such as wild deer for the predators to eat and there is money for electric fences to protect livestock fences, so farmers do not have to shoot wild predators. Most important, said Chapron, is the EU Habitats Directive, which has forced member states to protect and revive rare species. “Without the Habitats Directive, I don’t think we would have had this revival,” he said. “It shows that we can protect animals, if people really want to help and if politicians make strong laws.” Author George Monbiot was happy about the revival. He is starting a charity called Rewilding Britain. It encourages the return of wild landscape and extinct species. “It is great to see more of these animals in Europe. But Britain is completely different – we’ve lost more of our large animals than any country except for Ireland,” he said. “We accidentally reintroduced wild boar but we’ve done nothing else. In much of the rest of Europe we’ve got bears, lynx and wolves coming back. If it works in the rest of Europe, there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t work in the UK,” he said. He added that bears and wolves live less than an hour away from Rome. “There’s no reason why we can’t have a similar return of wildlife in the UK.”
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The roof is plastic and the desks just old chairs, but the students inside the Chemin des Dunes school are studying hard. They want a new life in France. “The French language is very difficult but we try hard. If we come every day, maybe our dreams will come true,” says Kamal, a refugee from Sudan. He comes to three or four hours of classes every day. “It’s a good thing to keep your brain active.” The 29-year-old electrical engineer is one of many refugees who live in the “jungle” camp outside Calais who have applied for asylum in France. They want to learn the language of their new home. “I want people in the UK to know that not everyone wants to go there. There are a lot of people here who want to stay in France,” Kamal said. France already has more than a quarter of a million refugees. There are also 56,000 asylum seekers who are waiting to see if they can stay in France. While they wait for an answer, France does not give them any money or allow them to work. The wait can take many months. The jungle camp offers a free meal a day and a plastic roof over their heads. So, many people decide to live there and not work illegally because then they will not be allowed to stay in France. Some of the asylum seekers suggested the idea for the school at the start of the summer. They were bored with waiting and nervous about starting a new life in France totally unable to communicate. The school opened on 11 July. “We did it so people can learn French,” said Zimarco Jones, the school’s Nigerian founder. He arrived in Calais in 2013 and is still waiting to hear if he will be allowed to stay in France. “Now, we need to build another school,” he says with a grin. The tiny classroom can hold 30 pupils. There are five rows of desks in front of a big green chalkboard and pictures of cartoon animals for each letter of the French alphabet. There are also classes in English, art and t’ai chi. But the French lessons are the most popular. The teachers are volunteers from Calais and other places. “French is not as easy as English but, two weeks ago, I decided there was no way to get to the UK,” says George, another refugee and student. He wanted to cross the Channel because he speaks fluent English but, with language classes, he says he is happy to stay in France. “Anywhere there is peace, I can stay, no problem,” he says. He is already waiting at the classroom more than half an hour before his teachers arrive. He says he doesn’t know much about France but the classes are slowly helping him understand the country and the language. Many of the volunteers at the jungle school are local teachers who are giving up their summer holidays. Jenny Flahaut, 33, who works at a children’s home, volunteered when she saw an advertisement on Facebook. “I saw these people in Calais every day and I wanted to do something for them,” she said. “Most of them are very good people. They are welcoming and friendly. They want to improve their life and make it better, and learning is part of that,” Flahaut said as she prepared for an afternoon lesson. The teachers and Zimarco now plan a separate classroom for around 200 women and 20 children. There are ten times more men than women in the Calais camp. Most of the women feel uncomfortable going to classes with male students they don’t know, the volunteers say. Zimarco has more dreams for making the camp a place to live, not just survive. He wants to start a football team for migrants and dreams of changing the camp name. He hates “the jungle” because he says it sounds like the residents aren’t people. “We have a discotheque, a house, a mosque, a school, shops,” he says. “We are not animals.”
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When Larry Pizzi first heard about electric bikes nearly 20 years ago, he asked: “Why would anyone want to spoil a bike by putting a motor and batteries on it?” It’s a question that some people still ask. Many bicycle shops in the US do not sell e-bikes. Pizzi is CEO of Currie Technologies, the number one seller of e-bikes in the US. He believes that things will change very soon. Other people who sell bikes agree. Familiar brands including Trek, Raleigh and Specialized all offer electric bikes and they believe that the market is going to grow. The US is different from other countries when it comes to electric bikes. Nearly 32 million e-bikes were sold in 2014, most of them in China, where people mostly use them for transportation. They are popular in many parts of Europe, too. They’re common in the Netherlands and Switzerland; German postal workers use them and BMW sells one for about $3,000. Electric bikes are different from motorcycles or mopeds, which use motors; you pedal an electric bike with – or without – help from an electric motor. Riding an e-bike feels like riding a normal bike with a strong wind behind you; the motor just helps you go faster or climb hills. You can usually ride e-bicycles on bike lanes and they can’t travel faster than 20mph. E-bikes are banned in some states in the US, including New York. Some bike shops don’t like putting motors on bicycles because it makes them too heavy. Some e-bikes weigh nearly 30kg. E-bikes are also expensive. While cheap bikes sell for just $700, you will pay at least $1,500 for a quality e-bike with a good battery. The best bikes cost more than $3,000. But e-bike technology, particularly the batteries, is improving. “Batteries are getting smaller, they’re getting lighter, they’re getting more reliable and they are lasting longer,” says Don DiCostanza, the CEO of Pedego, an electric bikemaker and retailer. Perhaps most importantly, more cities are building bike lanes so bicycle commuting has become more popular. Electric bikes make commuting more practical – and fun – because people don’t have to worry about hills, strong winds, tiredness and sweat. Most of our customers are “baby boomers who want to have the cycling experience they had as a kid,” says Pedego’s Don DiCostanza. “The main reason they stopped riding bikes was because of hills.” Pedego has opened nearly 60 stores in the US. ElectroBike has 30 stores in Mexico. It opened its first American store in Venice Beach, California in 2014 and hopes to have 25 US stores in a year. CEO Craig Anderson says: “We want to help reduce traffic, help reduce our carbon footprint and encourage a healthy lifestyle.” He tells customers: “Ride this bike once and try not to smile.” Currie’s Larry Pizzi thinks that e-bikes will become popular in North America. “A lot of young people are using e-bikes for transportation, instead of cars.” There is even a cargo bike with a stronger motor and rack at the back. “You can carry two children,” says Pizzi. “You can carry 45kg of shopping. It’s a minivan alternative.”
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A Canadian man became famous because he gave a free round-the-world trip to a woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend. The man has now returned from the trip with the woman he chose. Unfortunately, people who followed the story were disappointed because the pair did not fall in love. Jordan Axani, a 28-year-old from Toronto who started a charity, arrived back in Canada with Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher and said the pair were like brother and sister. Axani became famous in 2014 when he offered an air ticket to any Canadian named Elizabeth Gallagher. He reserved a three-week holiday with his girlfriend but they split up and he was unable to change the name on the tickets. Axani’s new travelling companion, was, of course, called Elizabeth Gallagher. She was a 23-year-old student from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. This Elizabeth Gallagher, who calls herself Quinn, replied to an online posting from Axani and he chose her. Before the trip, she already had a boyfriend. But people still hoped that the globetrotters might fall in love. Unfortunately, they didn’t. “I’m going to be very clear,” Axani said, soon after the pair returned to Toronto. “The trip was never a romantic idea. It was completely platonic. I do not think of Quinn in a romantic way at all. She is a good friend. I think of her as a little sister – that is all.” But it was difficult to create that brother-sister relationship. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t immediate. It took us about a week to really understand each other,” Axani said. They made some mistakes as the pair got to know each other. “At the end of the trip, we’d developed a really great rhythm – one second, we had really funny jokes and, the next second, we knew when the other person needed time alone.” The pair did not fall in love, but Axani said the trip was “fantastic”. They visited Milan, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Khao Lak (in Thailand) and Hong Kong. A favourite place was Prague, Axani said, where they met more people than anywhere else on the trip. “During two and a half days, I think we met about 24 people. So that’s a lot of stories, that’s a lot of people and that’s a lot of love for their home city of Prague.” People followed the pair on Twitter and Instagram, Axani said. And they were even recognized in the street in Hong Kong. “It was an adventure. We had a great time. We learned a lot about ourselves and about each other.” Axani arrived back in Toronto at 3am and went directly to a meeting at his charity, A Ticket Forward. Axani started the charity after his online posting went viral – he plans to offer round-the-world-trips to victims of abuse, cancer and war. Axani also wants to turn his story into a television show or film, he said. “There’s been lots of interest from many production companies.” Axani said he was not looking for his next Elizabeth Gallagher yet. “I’m not looking for anything. But we’ll see,” he said. “As always, life is a journey.”
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When two people on a remote Pacific island saw a small boat washed up on the beach, they decided to take a closer look. Inside the boat, they found a very thin man with long hair and a beard, who said he drifted for 16 months after leaving Mexico, more than 12,500km away. The man, who was wearing only underpants, told his rescuers that he drifted in the 7.3-metre boat since he left Mexico for El Salvador in September 2012. A friend died at sea several months before, he said. “His health isn’t good, but he’s getting better,” said Ola Fjeldstad, a Norwegian anthropology student doing research on Ebon Island, one of the Marshall Islands. The man said his name was José Ivan. He said he survived by catching turtles and birds. There was no fishing equipment on the boat, but a turtle was inside when it washed up. “The boat looks like it has been in the water for a long time,” Fjeldstad said. According to Fjeldstad, the people who found the man took him to a nearby island – which is so remote it has only one phone line and no internet – to meet the mayor. The mayor contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Majuro, the Marshall Islands capital. People at the ministry said that they were waiting for more details and that the man will probably go to the capital. “He’s staying at the local council house and a family is feeding him,” said Fjeldstad. He also said that the man had a basic health check and had low blood pressure but no serious problems and was able to walk. “We’re giving him a lot of water and he’s getting stronger.” Fraser Christian, who teaches people how to survive at sea, said that if the man’s story was true, it would be amazing but not unique. It was possible to catch turtles or small fish by hand, he said, because “they will come close to a small boat to shelter underneath it”. Christian advises people who have to eat turtles to start with their eyes – “lots of fluid” – then drink the blood. The main dangers for castaways are cold and a lack of drinking water. “The basic rule is: no water, no food. You need water to digest protein. If you have no fresh water and it doesn’t rain for a few days, so you can’t collect rainwater, you will die.” Also, some people are more able to survive than others. Stories of survival in the Pacific Ocean are not rare. In 2006, three Mexicans made international headlines when they were found drifting near the Marshall Islands, also in a small boat. They said they survived for nine months at sea on a diet of rainwater, raw fish and seabirds. But Cliff Downing, who teaches sea survival to sailors, said he wasn’t sure about the latest story. “It just doesn’t sound right to me. There are 1,001 hazards that would make his survival for so long very unlikely.” More castaways Poon Lim, a Chinese sailor from a British ship that was sunk by a German submarine in 1942, survived 133 days on a wooden boat floating in the South Atlantic. Brazilian fishermen rescued him. In 1971, Scottish sailor Dougal Robertson and his family were sailing to the Galápagos Islands from Panama when their boat was sunk by killer whales. They survived 38 days on a lifeboat. A fishing boat rescued them. In 2006, three Mexican fishermen were found drifting in a small boat near the Marshall Islands, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing trip. In 2011, two fishermen, aged 26 and 53, from the Republic of Kiribati drifted for 33 days. The US coastguard rescued them. A Panamanian fisherman sued Princess Cruises in 2012 after one of their ships ignored cries for help from him and two other people in their broken boat. He survived 28 days at sea, but his friends both died of thirst.
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Every morning, before India’s capital gets too hot, some old friends meet. On the dry grass not far from the India Gate monument at the centre of Delhi, they stretch, breathe and meditate. “It is the only healthy way to start the day. Much better than an egg or a sandwich or a cup of tea,” said Arvind Singh at 6.15am as he did his breathing exercises. Singh, a 42-year-old salesman, and his friends are not alone. All across India you can see people doing yoga together. On 21 June – the new International Day of Yoga – Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, hopes the world will join in. On the grass near India Gate, up to 45,000 people will take part in a 35-minute class. They hope it will be the biggest yoga session ever. The participants will include 64-year-old Modi, most of his government and celebrities. Modi wants to encourage Indians, and others, to stretch. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won the Indian election in 2014. In May 2015, he told schools to make sure students attended yoga events on the International Day of Yoga. Everybody in India knows that their police officers are out of shape. So, India wants to introduce compulsory yoga for them. And, three million civil servants and their families will get free daily yoga lessons. Air India, the national airline, has also said it will introduce yoga for trainee pilots. Modi is a vegetarian and a yoga practitioner. He suggested an international yoga day when he spoke to the United Nations on a visit to New York in 2014. Modi said that yoga is a gift of India’s ancient tradition. He said that, when you do yoga, you bring together mind and body, thought and action, and create harmony between man and nature. He added that “It is not about exercise – it is about feeling in harmony with yourself, the world and nature”. Yoga is between 3,000 and 6,000 years old. It is connected with local religious traditions including Buddhism and Jainism, as well as Hinduism, which is practised by 80% of Indians. In ancient India, yoga was part of daily life. Modi has been criticized for creating a view of Indian culture that doesn’t give other traditions a fair place. Suneel Singh, a guru in south Delhi, said that yoga does not just belong to one religion: “Is t’ai chi just Chinese? Is football just English? It is the same with yoga – yoga is for everybody. It is a cheap way to stay healthy.”
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The bestselling book on Amazon in the US is a colouring books for adults by Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford. Basford’s pictures of animals and plants in Secret Garden have sold more than 1.4 million copies around the world and her next book, Enchanted Forest , has sold 226,000 copies already. The books have celebrity fans like Zooey Deschanel, who shared a link about the book with her Facebook followers, and the South Korean pop star Kim Ki-Bum, who posted an image on Instagram for his 1.6 million followers. “It’s been crazy. The last few weeks have been madness, but fantastic madness,” said Eleanor Blatherwick, head of sales and marketing at the books’ publisher, Laurence King. “We knew the books would be beautiful but we didn’t realize they would be such a big success.” and calm”. And it is not just Basford’s books that adults want to colour in. In the UK, Richard Merritt’s Art Therapy Colouring Book is in fourth place on Amazon’s bestseller lists, Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – detailed pictures of animals to colour – is in seventh place and a mindfulness colouring book is in ninth place. Basford’s books are in second and eighth place – so half of Amazon. co.uk’s top ten is filled by colouring books for adults. Independent UK publisher Michael O’Mara has sold around 340,000 adult colouring books. Ana McLaughlin works for them. She says the craze has happened because they are telling people that the books will help them to relax. “The first book we did was in 2012, Creative Colouring for Grown-Ups . It sold well but it was in 2014 that adult colouring books became really popular with Art Therapy . We tell people they are anti-stress books so people are allowed to enjoy something they thought was childish before,” she said. The Mindfulness Colouring Book says that it is filled with beautiful scenes and intricate, sophisticated patterns. This makes you relax “as you fill these pages with colour”. The book suggests that people “take a few minutes, wherever you are, and colour your way to peace “I think it is really relaxing to unplug,” said Basford. “And it’s creative. For many people, a blank sheet of paper is very daunting; with a colouring book you just need to bring the colour. Also, people do it because they feel nostalgia for their childhoods. So many people have said to me that they used to do secret colouring in when their kids were in bed. Now, people don’t feel silly. These are books for adults. The art in my books is super intricate.” The illustrator, who lives in Aberdeenshire, is creating a third book. “The pictures are all over Twitter and Instagram. People are really proud of them – they are so intricate,” she said. “People send us pictures of them,” said McLaughlin.
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He was a normal millionaire. He had a gold and silver Rolex watch and lots of expensive cars. He liked to buy modern art. This Chinese businessman had many companies and a large villa in Madrid. But, he had almost no money in the bank. This interested the Spanish authorities. Gao Ping sold goods to 4,000 Chinese markets in Spain. But, authorities suspected he was not paying taxes on the clothes, furniture and other goods he was bringing in from China. When police went to his warehouses in 2012, they found lots of cash: €100, €200 and €500 notes. Police took away around €12m, the most cash ever found by Spanish police. Police have been worried about €500 notes for a long time. Small and easy to transport, they are the favourite banknotes of criminals. The sum of €1m in €500 notes fits easily into a small laptop bag. The same amount in €50 notes would need a small suitcase. The UK stopped using the €500 note in 2010 because they were used “almost entirely by criminals”. In 2009, Italy’s central bank said that mafia money launderers and terrorists used the notes. Canada got rid of its $1,000 note in 2000 because the police advised them to. These days, we have electronic payment systems and contactless cards so people are asking why it is still necessary to have these banknotes. Peter Sands, the former head of Standard Chartered Bank, said we should get rid of large notes, including the €500, the $100, the 1,000 Swiss Franc note and the £50. Sands said it was time to get rid of high-value notes that make life easier for “bad guys”. Criminals would instead use smaller banknotes, or gold or diamonds, but these are big so criminals cannot carry them easily”, he said. The purple €500 note was introduced in 2002: it replaced the 1,000 Deutschmark, the 10,000 Belgian franc and the 500,000 Italian lira. In Germany and Austria, people still pay with paper money and coins more than half the time. Europol would like central banks to take more responsibility for what happens with €500 notes. EU finance ministers have asked banks and authorities to look at whether countries should limit high-value notes or get rid of them.
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Hundreds of young Cubans are using a free, unrestricted internet service in the communist island nation. A small cultural centre in the capital city, Havana, has suddenly become a rare source of free wi-fi. The internationally known Cuban artist Kcho is providing the service. Perhaps more surprisingly, the state-owned telecommunications company, Etecsa, is allowing the service. People say the service is very slow, especially when the centre gets crowded. But, in a country where only about 5% of the population has open access to the internet, a facility that is both free and has no restrictions is very welcome. The chance to visit international news websites, communicate with friends and family overseas and use sites like Facebook and Twitter has created a lot of excitement. “I come as often as I can,” said Adonis Ortiz, 20. He is video-chatting with his father, who lives in the US and whom he has not seen in nine years. Diplomatic and trade relations between the US and Cuba are improving and American tech giants such as Google and Apple may soon enter the Cuban market. In the meantime, Cuba has installed a high-speed fibre-optic cable under the sea from Venezuela and internet users have some access to Chinese equipment. Another estimate is that a quarter of Cubans have access to the internet – still one of the lowest rates in the Western Hemisphere. But this estimate measures residents who use a restricted domestic intranet that only has certain websites and has limited email. Kcho, who has close relations with the Cuban government, said that his actions are allowed by the Ministry of Culture. The artist said he wanted to encourage Cubans to become familiar with the internet. “It’s only possible if you are determined and if you pay for it,” Kcho told the Associated Press. “It is expensive but the benefit is tremendous. I have something that is great and powerful. I can share it and I am doing so.” Kcho’s real name is Alexis Leiva Machado. He became famous internationally for his painting, sculpture and drawings when he won the grand prize at a festival in South Korea. Born on one of Cuba’s islands, he is known for contemporary art with rustic, seaside and patriotic themes and imagery. In the centre’s courtyard, tech-savvy young people relax throughout the day or just sit outside when it’s crowded. They use laptops and tablets or are glued to their smartphones. Cuba has some of the lowest internet-use rates in the world – dial-up accounts are restricted and at-home broadband is extremely rare. Only foreigners can pay for it because it costs hundreds of dollars a month for the service – in Cuba, the average salary is between $17 and $20 a month. Kcho pays $900 a month to provide the free wi-fi. Since 2013, Cuban authorities have opened hundreds of internet salons, where an hour online costs $4.50. The speeds are far lower than the speeds at Kcho’s studio, where they are about two megabytes per second (mbps). A 2014 report says that average internet connectivity speeds are about 10.5mbps in the US. South Korea has the fastest speeds in the world – 23.6mbps. The average speed in the world is about 3.9mbps. Lots of people usually use Kcho’s wi-fi at the same time so the signal strength is usually not strong. One user said he sometimes visits in the middle of the night, when nobody else is around, and, then, the speed is extremely fast.
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Until the end, David Bowie, who has died of cancer, still surprised us. His latest album, Blackstar, appeared on his 69th birthday on 8 January 2016. It showed that he hadn’t stopped making challenging, disturbing music. Throughout the 1970s, Bowie was a trailblazer of musical trends and pop fashion. He became a singer-songwriter, a pioneer of glam-rock, then became involved in “plastic soul”. He then moved to Berlin to create innovative electronic music. Bowie was born David Robert Jones in south London. At 15, David formed his first band, the Kon-rads, but it was soon clear that David should go solo. David took the name Bowie so people wouldn’t confuse him with Davy Jones of the Monkees. Bowie’s first album, released in June 1967, was titled simply David Bowie. In July 1969, Bowie released Space Oddity, the song that would give him his first big success. Timed to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was a top five UK hit. The Man Who Sold the World was released in the US in late 1970 and in the UK the following year. With its daring songwriting and hard-rock sound, it was the first album to really show his talents. He followed it with 1972’s Hunky Dory, a mix of wordy, elaborate songwriting. It was an excellent collection that was not a great success. But that all changed with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars later that year. This time, Bowie appeared as Ziggy Stardust, a science-fiction character – an intergalactic glam-rock star visiting planet Earth. The hit single Starman brought instant success for the album. Everything Bowie touched turned to gold. He had his first UK number 1 album with Aladdin Sane (1973), which included the hit singles The Jean Genie and Drive-in Saturday. His interest in funk and soul music could be heard on the album Young Americans (1975), which included the single Fame (with John Lennon as a guest singer). With the album Station to Station (1976), Bowie turned himself into a new character, the Thin White Duke. Bowie and his wife divorced in 1980. This was a year of more creative success, with a good album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and its hit single, Ashes to Ashes. After this, he played the title role in The Elephant Man on the Broadway stage. He achieved a number 1 single with his 1981 partnership with Queen, Under Pressure. 1983 was the year in which he put his energy into the album Let’s Dance and his concerts. Let’s Dance turned Bowie into a global rock star – the album and its singles Let’s Dance, China Girl and Modern Love all became huge international hits. The early 80s was the heyday of MTV. Bowie’s talent for making eye-catching videos increased his popularity and the six-month Serious Moonlight tour attracted lots of people. It was to be the most commercially successful period of his career. At the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium, Bowie was one of the best performers. Also, that year, he worked with Mick Jagger to record the fundraising single Dancing in the Street , which quickly went to number 1. A few days after he performed at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in April 1992, Bowie married the Somalian model Iman and bought a home in New York. For the album Black Tie White Noise (1993), he included elements of soul and hip hop. It went to the top of the UK album chart and gave him a top 10 single, Jump They Say . Bowie performed at the Concert for New York City in October 2001, where he joined Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, the Who and Elton John in a benefit show six weeks after the 9/11 attacks. During his Reality tour in 2004, Bowie had chest pains while he was performing in Germany and needed emergency surgery in Hamburg. He saw the medical emergency as a warning and started to slow down. In February 2006, he was given a Grammy lifetime achievement award. He was entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The Next Day (2013) was his first album of new songs in ten years. It included the single Where Are We Now? The album went to the top of the charts in Britain and around the world. In 2014, Bowie was given the Brit Award for Best British Male – he was the oldest person to get the award. He leaves behind his wife, Iman, their daughter, Alexandria, his stepdaughter, Zulekha, and his son, Duncan, from his first marriage.
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The critics usually analyse the novels of well-known British author David Mitchell in detail. But, he is not worried about the critics this time. He completed his latest book at 1am one Tuesday morning before a car arrived to take him to the airport to catch a flight to Norway. No one will see this novel until 2114. Mitchell is the second author to be part of the Future Library project. For the project, they planted 1,000 trees in 2014 in Oslo’s Nordmarka forest. The first author, Margaret Atwood, gave the manuscript of a text called Scribbler Moon to the project in 2015. Each year for the next hundred years, an author will write a novel that people will only read in 2114, when the trees are cut down to make paper to make the books. Each author will travel to the place in the forest high above Oslo, where they will give their manuscripts to the project in a short ceremony. “It’s a little bit of hope at a time when there is lots of very depressing news. It shows that we have a chance of civilization in a hundred years,” said Mitchell. “Everything is telling us that we’re doomed but the Future Library brings hope that we are stronger than we think: that we will be here, that there will be trees, that there will be books and readers, and civilization.” Mitchell said that writing this book made him feel free “because I won’t be around to know if people think it’s good or bad. But, before me was Margaret Atwood and next year I’m sure there will be another brilliant writer. So my book had better be good. I would look such a fool if they opened my book in 2114 and it wasn’t any good.” Mitchell says that he usually “polishes and polishes” his writing. “I polish too much. But, this was very different – I wrote till the final minute. So, the first two-thirds are polished and the final third I didn’t have time. And, I felt free.” The creator of the Future Library asked writers to write on “the theme of imagination and time”. Mitchell revealed only the name of the manuscript, From Me Flows What You Call Time , during a ceremony in the Norwegian woods next to where the 1,000 trees are planted. The title comes from a piece of music by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Mitchell only told us that his book is “longer than I thought it would be.” He said nothing more. In the forest, Mitchell read a short story and a poem. This small section of forest will be carefully managed for the next 98 years before it becomes Future Library’s manuscripts. “How vain to think my writing will be of interest to future generations. But, it is the opposite of vain to work hard on a manuscript that nobody will ever congratulate you for and say: 'Good job' or 'I loved the bit where she did that and he did this ...'” Mitchell wrote. They will seal his manuscript and put it next to Atwood’s manuscript in a room in Oslo’s new public library, which will open in 2019. The manuscript is now, says the author, “gone from me like a coin I’ve dropped in a river”.
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Some cities have pigeons. Lima has black vultures. They fly in groups over the city and sit on the city’s buildings. With their wrinkly heads and small, round eyes, they remind Lima residents of the poverty and filth in their city. But the vultures’ taste for dead and decaying things has become a good thing. Environmental authorities are putting GoPro video cameras and GPS trackers on the birds – the birds now work in the fight against fly-tipping and illegal dumping. Samuel is one of the project’s ten black vultures that are looking for rubbish. He wears his tracker and flies above the city, where he finds secret or hidden dumps. The exact positions of the rubbish dumps are recorded on a live map. His trainer at Lima’s Huachipa Zoo, Alfredo Correa, says, “They can eat dead animals because their bodies protect them from viruses and bacteria,” he says. USAID and the Peruvian Environment Ministry are working together on this project to try to solve Lima’s rubbish problem. The vultures are fighting disease, while most humans ignore the danger. Lima has nearly ten million inhabitants but just four landfills so there are many illegal dumps. A fifth of the city’s rubbish goes into the illegal dumps, according to the Environment Ministry. The rubbish makes the water of Lima’s main water source, the Rimac river, dirty. It also makes the water of the Chillon and Lurin rivers, which flow into the Bay of Lima, dirty. Three poorer districts have only 12% of Lima’s population but they have much more illegal rubbish than other neighbourhoods: Villa Maria del Triunfo (39.4%), Villa El Salvador (25.3%) and El Agustino (18.3%). Part of the problem is unpaid taxes. Many residents don’t pay their taxes. That means some of the 43 districts of the city do not have enough money for rubbish collection. It also means that it is possible that nobody is going to clean up where the vultures find illegal rubbish. “We tell the local governments where the vultures found illegal dumps,” says Javier Hernandez, the project director. “It’s their job to collect the rubbish and to try and change the habits of their residents.”
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Europe is trying to reduce air pollution. Europe will become the first part of the world to force car makers to use 'real-world' emissions tests. New regulations will introduce tests that will demonstrate clearly what cars’ emissions are like when they are driving on roads and in traffic, not in ideal conditions, similar to a laboratory. The European Commission has approved the tests. The tests will make sure all cars meet a limit of 80mg of nitrogen oxide per kilometre. At present, only one car in 16 meets this limit. Other countries, such as China and Korea, are also considering real-world emissions tests. They will watch what happens next closely. In the UK, 29,000 people die every year because of pollution. Pollutants from diesel engines such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide are responsible for at least one quarter of those deaths. The current laboratory test for measuring emissions is 25 years old and it needs to change. Car makers can cheat during the tests on their cars using various techniques. For example, they can tape up doors and windows to reduce air resistance, drive on really smooth roads and test at very high temperatures. “The Commission will introduce a new emissions test that will properly check the cars in real driving,” said Lucia Caudet, a Commission spokesperson. “One key reason why air pollution kills 400,000 European citizens each year is that car makers cheat the tests for diesel cars – this causes much more pollution on the road,” said Greg Archer, the clean vehicles manager for Transport and Environment. “The development of a new, real-world driving emission test is an important step towards reducing air pollution in cities. European Union (EU) states should now support the Commission’s idea. They should ignore the complaints from car makers, who say that the rules are too tough.” According to research by the International Council on Clean Transportation in 2014, actual nitrogen oxide emissions from cars are seven times higher than the 80mg per kilometre standard and some cars are 22 times above the recommended limit. About one third of all nitrogen oxide pollution comes from road transport – mostly diesel – and, in cities, concentrations can be as high as 64%, according to European Environment Agency data. Campaigners say that car makers have tried to delay reforms to car tests. But car makers do not agree – they say that they need five years to introduce the changes for technical and economic reasons. “Real Driving Emissions is a totally new regulation that will force significant changes,” said Cara McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). “But ACEA fully accepts that the regulation will apply to new types of cars from September 2017.” When EU representatives finally agreed a regulation for nitrogen oxide limits – with stricter road trials and monitoring of exhaust fumes – ACEA sent the European Commission their own draft regulation. ACEA’s draft regulation covered fewer pollutants and they wanted to introduce the regulation only in 2020. It included shorter test distances (from 1,300 metres to below 700 metres), raised minimum temperatures from -7C to -3C and wanted to use more country roads for the tests. The Commission rejected ACEA’s draft regulation. The new regulation will now probably be introduced in September. By 2017, the first real-world car emissions tests should begin. Countries around the world will watch the introduction of the EU’s new emissions tests carefully.
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It was a beautiful summer evening and I decided to go for a swim from Doolin Pier in County Clare, Ireland, where I moved in 2012. There was a woman in the water with Dusty, a dolphin who has a great relationship with a group of people she regularly swims with. Dusty arrived in Doolin in about 2008. Hundreds of people have swum with her, so everyone thinks that she’s totally tame. That evening, the woman was tickling Dusty’s tummy and it looked so nice in the water. There were about 20 tourists and locals on the pier. They were looking at this lovely sight. Just after I got into the water, Dusty left the woman she was with and went crazy – I found out afterwards that she’s very territorial when she is with somebody. Her tail was flapping wildly and, at first, I thought it was a display but, then, I realized she was angry. I knew I had to get out of the water so I swam towards the pier. But, within seconds, Dusty crashed into me with her nose. It was very powerful and painful, and the speed was amazing. All the people on the pier were staring at me with their mouths open. Dusty was still in the water beside me, her tail flapping crazily. That was the most frightening thing: I thought, if she hits me with her tail, I could go under the water and drown. I was at the pier but I couldn’t get out because of my injuries. I was terrified. I shouted for help and a man put his arm in and pulled me out of the water. Then, another man appeared and said he was a doctor. I was so cold and very worried – I didn’t know how bad my injuries were and my biggest fear was internal bleeding. The doctor said he didn’t think I had internal bleeding but he thought I probably had broken bones. I found out later that I had six spinal fractures, three broken ribs and a damaged lung. I was in hospital for five days and I couldn’t work for five months. I couldn’t move normally and I was in pain. Then, doctors told me I had post- traumatic stress. My near-death experience made me anxious about everything. I felt that people were looking at me in the wrong way, I began to have problems with loud noises and I suffered from memory loss. I could no longer work. It was the hardest year ever but, now, things are better. I had therapy, osteopathy and massage. I work as an osteopath now. I understand how the patients feel because I have been a patient myself. I am grateful that I am healthy. I really want to prevent other people being injured. We think dolphins are lovely and we have faith in them – who would think a dolphin would ever attack a person? If you see a dangerous animal coming towards you with big teeth, it’s scary, but dolphins have this lovely, wide smile. I don’t have any anger towards Dusty. I respect her. But I was in her territory and she’s a wild, unpredictable animal. People need to know that. So many people come here to swim with her and they don’t understand how dangerous it can be. Several other people were injured that summer. After the man pulled me out of the water, Dusty swam away but, then, she came back and looked at me. Our eyes met and I felt she was sorry for what she did to me. She was a totally different dolphin; the anger was gone. The people on the pier were amazed. When she had that little moment with me, that was the end of the terror. I forgave her.
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We all know about wildlife emergencies such as the possible extinction of the tiger in India, the orangutan in Indonesia and the panda. Everybody loves these animals and no one wants to see them disappear. But, now, scientists are worried that the threat to creatures such as ladybirds is a much greater danger to biodiversity. Climate change, falling numbers of animals, rising numbers of humans and extinction mean that more and more scientists now believe that we are in the Anthropocene age – the age of extinction. A recent report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) confirms that worrying idea – statistics from the report show a very big reduction in the numbers of many species. The number of vertebrates has declined by 52% over the last forty years. We are losing too many species. Some populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have reduced even more, with freshwater species declining by 76% over the same period. But it’s the creatures that help us the most that are worrying many scientists. Three quarters of the world’s food production depends on bees and other insects. Pandas are cute and tigers are beautiful but other animals are more useful – it’s worms that turn our waste into nutrients and bats that catch mosquitoes and keep malaria rates down. “It’s the loss of the common species that will affect people. The loss of the rarer creatures will not affect us much because we’re not reliant on them in such an obvious way,” said Dr Nick Isaac, who studies the environment. He says that Britain’s insects and other invertebrates are declining just as fast as vertebrates. He says that this will cause serious problems for humans. He said that between 23% and 36% of all birds, mammals and amphibians that we use for food or medicine might become extinct. In many parts of the world, wild animals are an important part of the diet, particularly for the poor. Most people also blame humans – humans damage ecosystems, create climate change and destroy habitats. But, this time, it’s not just the “big, cuddly mammals” we have to worry about losing but the smaller creatures that are less easy to see. We depend on insects, creepy-crawlies and even worms. They might not become extinct very soon, but a decline in their numbers will affect us all. “We are going to feel the effect of those losses. The numbers of both invertebrates and vertebrates are declining. It’s not so simple as 'fish die and people starve' – it’s more complex,” said Isaac. Humans, said TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough in 2013, are a “plague on earth”. But the WWF claims there is still time to stop the decline. Its UK Chief Executive David Nussbaum said: “The amount of destruction shown in this report should make us all change our behaviour. We all – politicians, business and people – have a responsibility to protect what we all value: a healthy future for people and nature. “Humans are cutting down too many trees too quickly, fishing too many fish, taking too much water from our rivers and producing too much carbon,” he said.
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The Canadian tennis player Frank Dancevic criticized the people who organize the Australian Open because they forced players to play tennis in terrible conditions. Dancevic collapsed during the second set of his match against France’s Benoît Paire on the uncovered court six at Melbourne Park. He said conditions were dangerous for the players. He also said the heat caused him to hallucinate: “I was dizzy from the middle of the fi rst set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, 'Wow, Snoopy – that’s weird.'” “I don’t think it’s fair to anybody – to the players, to the fans, to the sport – when you see players passing out,” he added. “Passing out with heat stroke, it’s not normal. “I, personally, don’t think it’s fair and I know a lot of players don’t think it’s fair.” Other players agreed. The British number one, Andy Murray, said: “It’s de fi nitely a problem. It only takes one bad thing to happen. And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people watching are collapsing. That’s not great. “I know the conditions at 2.30 –3pm were very, very hard. If it’s safe or not, I don’t know. There have been some problems in other sports with players having heart attacks.” Caroline Wozniacki said: “I put the water bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit. So, you know it was warm.” John Isner said: “It was like an oven when I open the oven and the potatoes are ready. That’s what it’s like.” Victoria Azarenka said, “It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan or something like that.” Organizers said the highest temperature was 42.2C in the early evening on Tuesday but it was never hot enough to stop the matches. “The weather was hot and uncomfortable, but the humidity was quite low, so play could continue,” tournament director Wayne McKewen said. Dancevic, who said he felt dizzy from the middle of the second set, unsurprisingly lost 7 –6, 6 –3, 6 –4. “I nearly stopped completely,” he said. “I wasn’t really running too much towards the end. I wasn’t tired; I just felt my body temperature was too high.” A ball boy needed help from doctors when he collapsed during Milos Raonic’s 7 –6, 6 –1, 4 –6, 6 –2 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver on exposed court eight. China’s Peng Shuai also said the heat had made her cramp up and vomit, and someone had to help her leave the court after her 7 –5, 4 –6, 6 –3 defeat to Japan’s Kurumi Nara. Organizers said most matches were completed without anyone needing help from doctors. “Of course, there were a few players who had heat-related illness or discomfort, but none needed much help from doctors after their match,” Tim Wood, the tournament’s chief medical of fi cer, said. Roger Federer said that the weather was hot, but it was the same for both players. “It’s just a mental thing,” the Swiss said. “If you’ve trained hard enough all your life, or the last few weeks, and you believe you can do it and come through it, there’s no reason. If you can’t deal with it, you throw in the towel.” Dancevic disagreed. “Some players are used to the heat – their bodies can deal with the heat and others’ can’t,” Dancevic said. “It’s dangerous. It’s an hour and a half since my match and I still can’t pee.”
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Swiss police recently entered the Baur Au Lac hotel in Zurich at dawn and arrested 16 football officials, including five current or former FIFA executives. They were later charged with corruption in the US. The officials included the former Brazilian federation chief Ricardo Teixeira and his successor, Marco Polo Del Nero. They were among 16 individuals accused of fraud and other crimes by the US Department of Justice. The US has now charged 27 defendants, including former FIFA executives. “The level of corruption is completely unacceptable,” said the US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Swiss police arrested the president of the South American football confederation, the Paraguayan Juan Ángel Napout, and Alfredo Hawit, the head of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body. Hawit started his job after Jeffrey Webb left the job in May 2015 because he was arrested. This was part of the US operation that led to a crisis at FIFA and caused Sepp Blatter to lose his job and reputation. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said of the latest arrests: “They are in custody before their extradition. The US believes they accepted bribes of millions of dollars”. Webb and the Colombian former executive Luis Bedoya entered guilty pleas in the US. Eleven current and former FIFA executives have now been charged in the investigation, which alleges $200m in bribes, mainly from TV and marketing contracts but also FIFA’s development programmes. “The message from this announcement should be clear to everyone who hopes to escape our investigation: you will not escape,” said Lynch. Teixeira, the former son-in-law of the FIFA ex-president João Havelange, was charged together with Del Nero and his predecessor José Maria Marin, who was charged in May 2015. Fourteen men were charged in May 2015. Days later, Blatter won a fifth term as president but then agreed to leave his job as the crisis grew. He was then suspended together with the UEFA President, Michel Platini, because of an alleged £1.3m payment to the Frenchman. Both men might get life bans when the FIFA ethics committee hears their case in December if they are found guilty. Among those also charged on Thursday were Rafael Salguero, a Guatemalan who left the executive committee in May; the former South American confederation secretary general Eduardo Deluca; former Peruvian football federation president Manuel Burga; and Bolivia’s football president, Carlos Chaves, already jailed in his own country. Lynch said: “The Department of Justice really wants to end the corruption in the leadership of international football – not only because there is such a lot of corruption but also because the corruption is an insult to international principles.” The acting FIFA President, Issa Hayatou, refused to comment on the detail of the latest arrests. But he said neither he nor the organization was corrupt. Hayatou appeared for the first time before the media since he started the job in September, when Blatter was suspended, and said the current crisis was the fault of a few bad people. “FIFA is not corrupt. We have some people that have shown negative behaviour. But not everyone in FIFA is corrupt,” said Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football for more than 25 years. “There are lots of people who have been in FIFA for more than 20 or 30 years that have not been accused of anything.”
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A fifth of young adults in the UK are staying in the family home until they are at least 26 and a fifth are not paying any rent. A recent survey found that the percentage of adults who live at home was different in different parts of the country – it was less than 9% in the East Midlands and more than double that in London, where house prices and rents are highest. Many young people pay their parents some money to live at home but 20% pay nothing at all. Young adults are suffering from low wages and high rents. The cost of renting is too much so young people who want to buy a house can’t save enough to get on the property ladder. Recent research showed half of tenants were unable to save any money for a deposit and a quarter could only save £100 or less each month. Mortgages are cheaper than ever before but people who have large deposits still get the best mortgages. As a result of this, more and more young adults are returning to the family home to save money. And, parents who cannot afford to give their children money for a deposit seem happy to let them live at home again. The survey found that 28% of adults live at home because they are trying to save for a deposit. But it also found that 30% are not saving any money. Michael Day, 30, who lives with his parents in Bristol, says it’s difficult to save for a mortgage deposit when rents are so high. Rents for a one- bedroom home in the city are between £500 and £800 a month. Buying a similar flat would cost about £130,000. “I don’t really want to move out to rent because it’s more than a mortgage but you need such a big deposit to get a mortgage.” Sue Green, who works for Saga, a business that sells insurance to people over 50, said most parents did not think their children would live with them in their 20s or 30s. “Most will be more than happy to have them in the family home rent-free because it might help their kids get on the property ladder sooner,” she said. “Children who don’t pay rent may pay for other things like groceries or they may do odd jobs around the home.” Angus Hanton, of the Intergenerational Foundation, said older people caused the housing crisis and we should not blame younger people for staying at home. “The under-30s earn, on average, 20% less since the 2008 downturn. Rents and car insurance have never been so high,” he said, “and many jobs – zero-hour and short-term contracts – turn younger workers into second-class citizens.” Jenna Gavin, 29, lives in the family home where she grew up. She works as a medical receptionist nearby so she wants to stay in the area. But renting a one-bedroom flat would cost more than £420 a month not including bills, which would use a lot of her earnings. “I don’t want to rent – I don’t want to spend all that money and have nothing at the end,” she said. “I’ve thought about buying and seen mortgage advisers but I just can’t borrow enough to get on the property ladder.” She is trying to save for a deposit. “It’s difficult to save enough money – even a 5% deposit is such a lot of money,” she said. Her parents are happy not to ask her to pay rent. “They want me to try to save and I do other things – I buy food and I do things around the house.” She gets on with her parents and has the same room that she had when she was 14 but she said she had always imagined she would have her own home before she was 30.
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Women have traditionally had a minor role in professional football but this may be changing. France has just employed its first female professional team manager. It did not matter that it was a second-division club. It did not matter if it was, as some people suggested, just a publicity stunt for a minor team, Clermont Foot 63. Clermont is 14th out of the 20 teams in its league at the moment. What mattered was that they gave Helena Costa the top job. This has made football history because she is the first female manager in the top two divisions of any professional European league. “As a woman, it’s made me happy,” said Véronique Soulier, president of the club’s supporters’ association. “When I first heard the news, I was surprised, but, then, we all agreed that it’s good news. We all agree that a woman at the head of a group of men is no bad thing.” The new manager of Clermont Foot 63 was born in Alhandra, Portugal and has a master’s degree in sports science. She is also a UEFA-licensed coach. She previously coached Benfica’s male youth teams, the Qatar women’s team and, more recently, the Iranian women’s national team. The president of Clermont Foot 63, Claude Michy, gave Costa, 36, a two-year contract. Michy is very good at keeping his club in the news. In 2013, he told everyone the team had signed Messi. They had. Not the Argentinian and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, but Junior Messi Enguene, a 20-year-old midfielder from Cameroon. Carolina Morace, an Italian who was the only previous woman coach of a men’s professional team, said: “I don’t know Helena, but, if she has been hired by a team, then it means that she knows how to do her job. I hope that, one day, this can become normal.” Morace played for Italy in 153 internationals. In 1999, she became coach of the men’s team Viterbese. But, after only two games, she resigned from the job because of a disagreement with the club’s owner. She added: “I see too many men, even in the women’s game, who do not have the same expertise as women but are working. And the women are not working.” Raymond Domenech, former manager of the French national team, said: “Women know how to play football and how to manage and are good at doing it. Why shouldn’t they manage men’s teams? The opposite happens and doesn’t cause any problems. It’s a natural choice and reflects our society in which women are equal to men. I say well done to President Michy. I told myself that, if I took control of a club again, I’d hire a woman as my number two. Michy did it first.” Clermont Foot 63 says that Costa’s becoming the team’s manager will allow the club to enter “a new era”. On the club supporters’ website, reaction to Costa’s becoming the manager was mixed. “In my opinion, it’s just a publicity stunt to get people talking about the club. I find it hard to believe she’ll be able to get the players’ respect, above all when she’s the same age as the oldest,” wrote one fan. “Her CV isn’t bad, but now the question is: will she be good enough?” added another. A third wrote: “I wish her welcome and success but I think it’ll be hard for her to do well as a woman in such a macho business.” But Soulier was hopeful: “Hopefully, with the new manager, the club can find the motivation they don’t have at the moment,” she said. “The boys in the team can be difficult to manage. With a woman in control, maybe they will be less demanding.” If we believe Costa’s reputation, she will be the person making the demands. After doing work experience at Chelsea during José Mourinho’s first time as manager of the club between 2004 and 2007, people described her as “Mourinho in a skirt”. Costa’s comment on that description was: “Like Mourinho, I always want to win. In that way, yes, I’m happy to be compared with him.”
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For 85 years, it was just a grey blob on classroom maps of the solar system. But, on 15 July, we saw Pluto in high resolution for the first time. The images show dramatic mountains made from solid water ice as big as the Alps or the Rockies. The extraordinary images of the former ninth planet and its large moon, Charon, were sent four billion miles back to Earth from the New Horizons spacecraft. Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator, said “New Horizons is returning amazing results. The data look absolutely gorgeous, and Pluto and Charon are just mind-blowing.” John Spencer, a mission scientist, said that one of the biggest surprises was the discovery that “there are mountains in the Kuiper belt”. The Kuiper belt is the solar system’s mysterious “third zone” where Pluto is, with about 100,000 smaller icy objects. He said the mountains are around 3,000 metres high and several hundred miles across. Pluto used to be the ninth planet but, since 2006, it has been a dwarf planet. The NASA press conference began with spectacular images of the sun and the eight official planets. Stern said the images from New Horizons were just the beginning and that we would learn more about the planet soon. Scientists believe the mountains on Pluto are made from water ice with just a thin cover of methane and nitrogen. “Water ice is strong enough to hold up big mountains.” The images are the first to show ice mountains, except those found on the moons of giant planets. The images are so detailed that, if the spacecraft flew over London, we would be able to see the runways at Heathrow airport. It is five billion kilometres to Pluto. This means it takes New Horizons hours to send back a picture and it will take 16 months to send back all the data. The team also said that the heart-shaped area on Pluto will be called the Tombaugh Regio, after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the dwarf planet in 1930. The image of Charon shows an area of cliffs about 1,000km long. The image also shows a dramatic canyon 7 to 9km deep. Cathy Olkin, a mission scientist, said: “Charon just blew our socks off when we saw the new image. The team is so excited.” Pluto is two thirds rock surrounded by a lot of ice. The temperature is about minus 230C. The £460m spacecraft is continuing its journey into the Kuiper belt. Scientists hope that it will help us to see and understand more of the ancient solar system and the origins of planets. It may even help to explain how the Earth was made. Andrew Coates, the head of planetary science at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, said: “It’s a really thrilling time for solar system exploration.” NASA says that the spacecraft will be able to keep recording and sending images until the mid- 2030s. Then its plutonium power source will run out and it will drift outwards towards the edge of the solar system and deep space beyond.”
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We talked to five people who do some unusual jobs about how much they are paid, what the worst parts are and why they enjoy their work. 1. Dog-food taster The job: To taste dog food to make sure it is good quality What this person does: Opens tins of dog (or cat) food, smells it and eats it. “Tasting is an important quality check to make sure each different ingredient is perfectly balanced,” says Philip Wells, the chief taster for Lily’s Kitchen pet food. Typical salary: £20,000 for a job in the quality department Worst part of the job: The deadlines. Wells says he likes the food. The meat in pet food must come from animals that humans can safely eat. He also says: “There are some terrible pet foods. I don’t taste them but just the smell makes you feel sick.” Job satisfaction: “Every day is different.” Wells likes knowing that he “helps pets to become happier and healthier”. But he says that someone else in the tasting team is also a very important member: Lily, the dog. 2. Hygiene technician The job: To clean areas that might be dangerous to humans What this person does: Cleans up crime scenes, road accidents and suicides. Clears houses full of rubbish, rats and excrement … and other things, too. “The job is to keep people safe,” says Richard Lewis, a hygiene technician for Rentokil. “We work in some very, very dirty places.” Typical salary: When you start, the salary is usually around £14,500. A top salary can be up to £22,000. Worst part of the job: Cleaning up after suicides. “You get used to the job being disgusting. But the emotional side of the job is still hard,” he says. “You also need to have a sense of humour because some days can be difficult.” Job satisfaction: Lewis finds the variety of tasks exciting. “One day, I’m cleaning up after a dead body; another day, I’m in a prison cell. It’s satisfying to make a dangerous place safe again.” he says. 3. Biogas engineer The job: To set up biogas plants in developing countries What this person does: Helps poor people produce biogas from their excrement and other waste products. This is done by linking a system to toilets. Poor people can use the gas for cooking and lighting. Typical salary: When you start, the salary is around £10,000. A typical salary for a chief technical officer is £30,000. Worst part of the job: For Baburam Paudel, chief technical officer in Nepal for the charity Renewable World, the worst part is seeing people struggling to survive on very little money. “Unsurprisingly, the smell of the waste products can be disgusting. It smells like rotten eggs.” Job satisfaction: “I find it very satisfying to know that I am helping people to earn more money and also allowing girls to go to school because they don’t need to collect firewood,” says Paudel. “My work improves the health and hygiene of whole communities.” 4. Eel ecologist The job: To help the critically endangered European eel to survive What this person does: Checks the size of the endangered eels. They do this by walking into the Thames and other London rivers, which are full of eels. In the rivers, they put their hands into a net filled with up to 20 adult eels and pull an eel out. “Adult eels can be a metre long, or even larger, and weigh up to 2kg. They’re not dangerous but they are almost 100% muscle and they can be a little bit slimy,” says Stephen Mowat, an eel ecologist for the Zoological Society of London. “We have to weigh and measure them and they wriggle … a lot. I look silly when I’m crawling on the ground chasing an eel across the grass.” Worst part of the job: “Eels are really difficult animals to work with” says Mowat. But, for Mowat, the worst part of the job is not the eels – he believes baby eels are “as cute as pandas”: “The worst thing about the job is seeing how much damage humans do to the environment.” Job satisfaction: “Working outside and seeing British wildlife really close is the best part of the job,” says Mowat. “Eels are beautiful animals and working with eels helps whole river systems. That is a great thing to do.” 5. Shopping channel presenter The job: To sell and demonstrate lots of different products on live TV What this person does: Presents hours and hours of boring TV and, at the same time, demonstrates the products and looks enthusiastic about everything that they are selling. “I prepare and research as much information as possible on every product,” says Shaun Ryan, presenter for Ideal World TV. Typical salary: When you start, the salary is a minimum of £30,000. An experienced presenter can get over £55,000. Worst part of the job: “Working at unusual hours of the day,” says Ryan. “An experienced presenter like me has to work weekends and very late evenings. And, sometimes, I have to start work at five in the morning.” Job satisfaction: “I love presenting live TV and having to think quickly,” says Ryan. “I also love knowing that, at times, thousands of people are buying the product that I have just presented.”
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Chemists have waited a long time to find a new element and, now, researchers in Japan, Russia and the US have discovered four. The four new elements will be added to the periodic table. They are the first elements to be added since 2011, when elements 114 and 116 were included. The new elements, all very radioactive, complete the seventh row of the periodic table. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is the global organization that controls chemical names. IUPAC confirmed the new elements on 30 December, 2015. The scientists who found them must now think of formal names for the elements, which have the atomic numbers, 113, 115, 117, and 118. The atomic number is the number of protons in an element’s atomic nucleus. IUPAC said that a Russian-American team of scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California had discovered elements 115, 117 and 118. The organization said a team of scientists from the RIKEN Institute in Japan discovered element 113. The decision means Japan becomes the first Asian country to name an element. Under IUPAC rules, new elements can be named after mythological concepts, minerals, a place or country, or a scientist. In 2012, scientists chose the formal name flerovium for element 114, after the Flerov Lab at Dubna’s Joint Institute of Research. And they chose the formal name livermorium for element 116, after the Lawrence Livermore Lab in the US. The elements were discovered there. Kosuke Morita, who led the research at RIKEN, said his team now planned to “look to element 119 and beyond”. Jan Reedijk of IUPAC said: “Chemists want to see the periodic table finally completed down to the seventh row.” The Japanese team is considering three names for element 113: japonium, rikenium and nishinarium, after the Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, where they found the element. Polly Arnold, professor of chemistry at Edinburgh University, said, “This is very difficult and slow work. The work helps us understand radioactive decay. If we understand it better, hopefully we can find a better way to deal with nuclear waste and things that are important in the real world. And, when they build the equipment to make these discoveries, it also leads to fantastic improvements in technology.” Scientists must find new names for the elements but, also, they must suggest two-letter symbols for the elements. When IUPAC has received the researchers’ suggestions, they will tell the public so that people can comment on the names. That allows scientists and others to find any problems with the names. In 1996, someone suggested the symbol Cp for copernicium, or element 112, but it was changed to Cn, when scientists complained that Cp was already the symbol for another substance. To discover the elements, researchers at the three labs crashed lighter nuclei into one another and looked for the radioactive decays that should come from the new elements. 113 and 115 are probably metals. 117 could be a metalloid – a material with some metallic characteristics. The fourth element, 118, may be a gas. Paul Karol, chair of the IUPAC panel that checked the elements, said: “It will be a long time before we can find practical uses for the new elements.”
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Glastonbury Festival wants to fight a war against plastic water bottles. They plan to become the world’s most environmentally friendly outdoor music event. Each year, disposable bottles leave the Somerset festival site covered in plastic. About one million plastic bottles are used during the festival. The festival organizers will give stainless-steel reusable bottles to all band members. Thousands more bottles will go on sale to festival-goers to stop them using plastic bottles. Organizers have asked the 140,000 festival-goers to bring reusable bottles that they can fill at 400 drinking water taps across the site. Lucy Smith, Glastonbury’s green issues organizer, said: “We have amazing water quality in the UK but everyone drinks bottled water.” There is currently 150 million tonnes of plastic rubbish around the planet and oceans, poisoning ecosystems and killing wildlife. The festival organizers hope to make Glastonbury the world’s greenest music festival. They want to be like America’s Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where people have to take away everything that they take to the festival. Organizers have also asked Glastonbury festival-goers to travel to the site on public transport or to share a car with friends. “We want to be as environmentally friendly as we can,” said Smith. Plastic water bottles can take hundreds or even thousands of years to completely biodegrade. Millions of barrels of oil are used to make plastic bottles and transporting mineral water across the planet produces even more carbon emissions. Around 13 billion plastic water bottles are sold in the UK every year, but only one in five is recycled. Smith said that festival-goers should not buy bottled water; they should use the water on tap, which comes from big underground reservoirs. The charity WaterAid will also set up water kiosks around the site. They will sell reusable bottles and cups and offer free refills. Organizers say that almost half of all the rubbish left at the site was recycled in 2013. They also say that there will be 15,000 bins for recycling across the festival site in 2014.
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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

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Data Fields

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

Data Splits

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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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