flareneld's oven: December 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'No Anorexia' model Isabelle Caro dies aged 28

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'No Anorexia' model Isabelle Caro dies aged 28

Anorexic French actress Isabelle Caro Posters featuring Isabelle Caro were eventually banned in Italy

A French model who posed nude for an anti-anorexia campaign while suffering from the illness herself has died at the age of 28, her colleagues confirm.

Isabelle Caro died on 17 November after being treated for an acute respiratory illness, Swiss singer Vincent Bigler told journalists.
He added that he did not know the exact cause of death.
Ms Caro appeared in posters for an anti-anorexia campaign in 2007, but the ads were banned in several countries.
It was not clear why it took so long for her death to be made public.
The anti-anorexia campaign came amid a debate among fashion circles on the use of "ultra-skinny" models on the catwalk.
The AFP news agency reported her as saying at the time: "I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to - which is death."
The model, who was 5ft 4in tall (1.65m) at the time of the poster campaign, reportedly weighed 32kg (five stones).
Ms Caro's acting instructor, Daniele Dubreuil-Prevot, told the Associated Press news agency that Ms Caro had died after returning to France from a job in Tokyo.
She said family and close friends had held a funeral ceremony in Paris last month.
Mr Bigler, who was a friend of Ms Caro, told Swiss media: "She was hospitalised for 15 days with acute respiratory disease and was recently also very tired, but I do not know the cause of her death."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pedophile guide author arrested

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Pedophile guide author Greaves arrested in Colorado

Philip R Greaves II Mr Greaves has not yet responded to the charge against him

Colorado police have arrested the author of a guidebook that gives advice to pedophiles, and charged him with violating obscenity laws in Florida.
Philip R Greaves II sparked controversy last month after selling the Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct through the online retailer Amazon.
He was arrested after selling his guide to a detective, officials said.
The online retail giant removed the book from its website in November.
Authorities in Colorado arrested Mr Greaves on behalf of police in Florida after he sold and mailed a copy of the self-published guidebook to an undercover detective in the southern US state, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Mr Greaves has not yet responded to the charge and it remains unclear whether he has appointed a lawyer.
The book argues that pedophiles are misunderstood and purports to offer advice to help them abide by the law.
'Obscene material' Mr Greaves gained public notoriety last month after Amazon.com initially defended selling his book on its website - saying Amazon did not promote criminal acts but also avoided censorship - despite angry comments and threats of boycotts from thousands of the site's users.
Mr Greaves has been charged in Florida with distribution of obscene material depicting minors.
Laurie Shorter, spokeswoman for the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department in Colorado, said Mr Greaves would be held in jail in the state on the Florida charge. It is unclear how soon, if at all, he could be extradited to Florida.
"If he will waive extradition, it's my goal for him to eat processed turkey on Christmas Day in the Polk County Jail," said Mr Judd.

Rare lunar eclipse

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Skywatchers set for lunar eclipse

Total eclipse of the Moon in 2007 (AP) The Moon could turn pink or blood red during the eclipse

Skywatchers around the world are gearing up to observe a rare total lunar eclipse.
The best viewing conditions for the eclipse are from North and Central America, parts of northern Europe and East Asia.
Astronomers say the Moon could turn a pink or blood red hue during the eclipse, which begins early on Tuesday morning GMT.
It will be the first total lunar eclipse in three years.
The Moon is normally illuminated by the Sun. During a total lunar eclipse, the full Moon passes through the shadow created by the Earth blocking the Sun's light.
Some indirect sunlight will still manage to pierce through and give the Moon a ghostly colour.
The west coast of America will see the eclipse start on Monday night; observers in North and Central America will be able to view the whole event.
Total eclipse begins at 0741 GMT on Tuesday (0241 EST on Tuesday; 11:41 PST on Monday).
Western Europe will only see the start of the spectacle while western Asia will catch the tail end.
The totality phase - when the moon is entirely inside Earth's shadow - will last a little over an hour.
"It's perfectly placed so that all of North America can see it," said eclipse expert Fred Espenak of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

US gay soldier ban lifted

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US Senate lifts 'don't ask, don't tell' gay soldier ban

Activists rally for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in Washington, DC, 10 December Activists have urged President Obama to deliver on the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

The US Senate has approved landmark legislation allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

Senators voted 65-31 to overturn the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" law, which bars gay people in the military from revealing their sexual orientation.
The House of Representatives had already approved the repeal bill. President Barack Obama says he is looking forward to signing it into law.
Opponents argue that the change will damage troop morale at a time of war.
More than 13,000 service members have been dismissed under the "don't ask, don't tell", policy enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1993 as a compromise.
Saturday's vote was along broad party lines, with a few moderate Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favour of lifting the ban.

The BBC's Iain Mackenzie in Washington says the vote is a major victory for Mr Obama, who had made overturning "don't ask, don't tell" a key policy objective.
The president said it meant "thousands of patriotic Americans" would not be forced to leave the military "because they happen to be gay".
President Obama is expected to sign the bill next week.
The repeal will take effect after a 60-day period allowing the defence department to consider how to implement the new policy.
Defence secretary Robert Gates also welcomed the Senate vote.
"Once this legislation is signed into law by the president, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully," he said.
Click to play
Julian Chang of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and retired US Navy Commander Zoe Dunning gave their reaction to the vote

Aubrey Sarvis, head of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group, said: "Until the president signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no-one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law."
Earlier this month, a Pentagon report said that allowing openly gay troops would have little impact on the cohesion of US forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Democrats, who still control both house of Congress, have said they want to approve the repeal before the start of a new Congress in January.

UN security council holds crisis talks over Korea tension

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Korea tension: UN security council holds crisis talks

South Korean marines on Yeonpyeong island, South Korea, 19 December. The exercises on Yeonpyeong island appear likely to be held on Monday or Tuesday
The UN Security Council is holding an emergency session to discuss escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Russia, which requested the talks, says it wants the UN to send a "restraining signal" to both North and South Korea.
The South insists that, weather permitting, it will go ahead with a controversial military exercise this week near a disputed maritime border.
The North condemned the drill - to be held on an island it shelled last month - and has threatened to retaliate.
The issue threatens to divide permanent members of the Security Council, with China and Russia urging South Korea to put off the exercise but the US saying its ally is entitled to make sure it is "properly prepared in the face of... ongoing provocations".
The South Korean military's determination to hold the drills remains unchanged, an unnamed defence ministry official said.
"There is no plan to cancel the exercise. The factor we're looking at is the weather condition," the official said.
Pyongyang is threatening to retaliate if the South goes ahead with planned military exercises on Yeonpyeong island - close to the two countries' disputed sea border, the Northern Limit Line, and within view of the North Korean mainland.
It says it will deal an "unpredictable self-defensive blow" at the South Koreans, "deadlier" than when the North shelled the island during similar live-fire exercises on 23 November.
Four people - two civilians and two marines - were killed in that clash.
An unofficial US envoy - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - is in North Korea and has held several meetings with senior officials there. The situation is "very, very tense, a crisis situation", he told CNN.
He was speaking after meeting North Korean Maj Gen Pak Rim-su, who leads North Korean forces along the border with the South.
That meeting was "very tough", but "some progress" was made, Mr Richardson said.
"They said there would be a response, but at the same time they hope a UN Security Council resolution would tamp down the situation. It was very clear they were very upset by the potential exercise," he told CNN from Pyongyang.
He suggested a military hotline be set up to address incidents along their border.
 Tight rope
The BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington says the Obama administration in a tough spot, as the US has 28,000 troops stationed in the South and it would almost certainly be drawn in if hostilities erupt.
The US is walking a diplomatic tightrope, trying to avoid that unfavourable option while remaining a strong ally to the South, our correspondent adds.
The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Saturday that artillery guns on Yeonpyeong will be aimed south-west and away from North Korea for the drill, reported South Korean news agency Yonhap.
But the North claims any ammunition fired would inevitably land in its territorial waters.
In the event of an attack from the North, the South's Air Force would put its F-15K and KF-16 fighters on emergency standby, Yonhap quoted the JCS as saying, adding the exact timing of the drill will be announced hours before it begins, depending on weather conditions.
The island is normally home to some 1,300 residents along with hundreds of marines, but most civilians have fled to the mainland, leaving only about 100 remaining, Yonhap said.

Monday, December 13, 2010

the Millionaires' Squadron

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The Millionaires who flew to war

Pilots from 601 Squadron Willie Rhodes-Moorhouse took colour footage of the Millionaires during the Battle of Britain

They were called the Millionaires' Squadron, a dashing young group of well-heeled sportsmen and adventurers with a passion for danger and high jinks. But they were also a very effective fighting unit, placed in the front line of defence against German invasion in the Battle of Britain.
Born into high society in 1914, William Henry Rhodes-Moorhouse was determined to follow a family passion for flying.
His father had built and designed planes and flown in World War I, becoming the first airman to win the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in battle.
Flying at just 300ft (91m), William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse volunteered to drop a single bomb on a strategic rail junction near Ypres in the face of intense ground fire. He made it back to British lines, but died of his wounds shortly afterwards.
Young Willie, his son, was able to fulfil his dream, thanks partly to his school friend George Cleaver, whose family owned a plane. He had his pilot's licence by the age of 17 before leaving Eton.
Amalia Rhodes-Moorhouse Amalia refused a screen test to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind

After extensive travelling, he returned to settle in England where, so family lore records, he "fell head over heels in love" with his wife-to-be, Amalia Demetriadi. A strikingly attractive woman, she was approached in a London restaurant by a talent scout to be screen-tested for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind. A private person, Amalia declined.
For Amalia and Willie, life must have seemed to be bursting with promise. They had a comfortable life and a very good lifestyle, including invitations to the south of France and skiing trips to St Moritz.
A keen sportsman, Willie was selected for the 1936 British Winter Olympics team, but an accident on the ski jump prevented him from competing. But war was looming and short of funds, the RAF had its eyes on amateur pilots like Willie, George and Amalia's brother Dick. It could not maintain a large peacetime force, but if war came, it would need to mobilise fast.

As early as the mid 1920s, the first Chief of the Air Staff, Lord Trenchard, had come up with the idea of auxiliary squadrons, amateur pilots who could be rapidly recruited and deployed on the outbreak of war.
The first auxiliary squadron, 601, later to be known as the Millionaires' Squadron was, according to legend, created by Lord Grosvenor at Whites, the gentlemen's club and restricted to club membership.
Recruitment under Grosvenor involved a trial by alcohol to see if candidates could still behave like gentlemen when drunk. They were apparently required to consume a large port. Gin and tonics would follow back at the club.
Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites," according to the squadron's historian, Tom Moulson.
The squadron attracted the very well-heeled, not just aristocrats but also sportsmen, adventurers and self-made men. There would be no time for petty rules or regulations. But Grosvenor was nonetheless intent on creating an elite fighting unit, as good as any in the RAF.

601 Squadron pilots

  • Roger Bushell, shot down and captured in France, 1940. As "Big X" (played by Richard Attenborough), would mastermind the Great Escape. Executed after recapture in 1944
  • Billy Fiske, an American bobsleigh champion, who pretended to be Canadian to join his friends in 601. First American combatant to die in WWII on 17 August 1940
  • Max Aitken, credited with shooting down 16 planes, later 2nd Baron Beaverbrook, followed his father as chairman of Express newspaper group, but always had time for 'Mouse' Cleaver and other injured veterans of 601
Under their next commander, Sir Philip Sassoon, the squadron acquired a growing reputation for flamboyance, wearing red socks or red-silk-lined jackets as well as driving fast cars.
They also had a reputation for ridiculous games such as navigating around a room without touching the ground. Or a table calibration test in which the subject was distracted to the point at which beer could be poured down his trousers.
There were other auxiliary squadrons such as 600, made up of stockbrokers and city bankers.
And others sprang up around the country, 602 and 603 in Glasgow and Edinburgh and by 1939 there were 14 auxiliary squadrons made up of experienced, amateur pilots who would be equipped and deployed almost immediately on the outbreak of war, effectively adding 25% to the strength of RAF Fighter Command.
But while many of the auxiliaries were wealthy and had their own planes, no squadron was as exclusive or elitist as 601. And they certainly regarded themselves as every bit as good if not better than the regulars. "Tradesmen, RAF, etc, entrance at rear by order" read one sign at a 601 officers' mess.
The Millionaires had a reputation for escapades and flouting the rules says Peter Devitt from the RAF Museum. "But they could not have got away with it without being an efficient and effective fighting unit. They were very serious about their flying and their fighting."
Battle of Britain Days before the German invasion of Poland in 1939, 601 squadron was mobilised including Willie, Amalia's younger brother Dick Demetriadi and their friend George Cleaver.
When war finally came to Western Europe in May 1940, Willie was part of 601 Squadron's A flight which was despatched to France under Squadron Leader Max Aitken, son of Lord Beaverbrook the newspaper magnate. It was the pilots' first action in their Hurricane fighters and they performed creditably, with Aitken being decorated.
In July, as the Battle of Britain began, 601 Squadron was right on the front line at RAF Tangmere in Hampshire.
Dick Demetriadi Dick Demetriadi, killed in action at 21

The Luftwaffe was targeting Allied shipping in the Channel in an attempt to lure the RAF into combat.
On 11 August 1940, in one of the opening skirmishes of the war, 21-year-old Dick Demetriadi was shot down off the Dorset coast.
Willie had lost his best friend, but he also had to break the news to Amalia that her brother would not be coming home.
The following weeks saw the most intense raids on southern England as the Luftwaffe attempted to destroy the RAF and seize control of the skies to allow an invasion.
Willie Henry Rhodes-Moorhouse and the Millionaires of 601 Squadron were in the thick of the fighting. After heavy losses, the squadron was pulled back to Essex, only to find themselves in the front line again as the Luftwaffe targeted London.
From an initial strength of about 20, they lost 11 men killed in action with others injured or posted to other squadrons.
The replacements were more cosmopolitan. And while many of the Millionaires' traditions survived, they were no longer the band of aristocrats and adventurers who had started the war.
Other squadrons were also suffering heavy losses but the RAF pilots were also destroying two German planes for every British loss. Willie was responsible for shooting down nine aircraft.
Amalia and Willie
  • Willie's body was recovered from his plane and his ashes buried alongside his father
  • The Victoria Cross was sold to raise money for the W.B. Rhodes-Moorhouse VC Charitable Trust which makes donations to RAF charities
  • He is pictured above with Amalia, who died in 2003
On 3 September, he and Amalia were invited to Buckingham Palace where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
It was to be one of their last times together. Just three days later he was shot down.
Other members of 601 squadron survived the Battle of Britain including Willie's friend George "Mouse" Cleaver who shot down seven planes before an eye injury which ended his flying career.
But by the time the Luftwaffe called off its assault and the invasion of Britain was canceled, the RAF had lost 544 pilots.
Churchill immortalised "the few", but for each man lost, there were wives, parents and sisters left behind, women like Amalia.
"It was very, very hard on Amalia, losing Willie and Dick," says Rupert Pyle-Hodges, who has helped preserve the family history - Willie and Rupert's grandmother were cousins and were brought up in the same extended family house.
Amalia was godmother to Rupert's father and he remembers visiting her for tea. It was not fashionable for women like Amalia to go to work and she lived within modest means, tending her garden and - like many of the wartime generation who had lived through rationing - recycling everything.
She never re-married although there were certainly offers and she lived a quiet life until her death in 2003.

Chinese archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old 'soup'

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Chinese archaeologists unearth 2,400-year-old 'soup'

A Shaanxi Provincial Archeological Institute official displays the bronze vessel thought to contain the ancient soup Experts say the 'bone soup' in the vessel turned green due to the oxidation of the bronze

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed what they believe is a 2,400-year-old pot of soup, state media report.

The liquid and bones were in a sealed bronze cooking vessel dug up near the ancient capital of Xian - home to the country's famed terracotta warriors.
Tests are being carried out to identify the ingredients. An odourless liquid, believed to be wine, was also found.
The pots were discovered in a tomb being excavated to make way for an extension to the local airport.
"It's the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history," the newspaper quoted Liu Daiyun of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology as saying.
"The discovery will play an important role in studying the eating habits and culture of the Warring States Period (475-221BC)."
The scientists said the tomb could have held the body of either a member of the land-owning class or a low-ranking military officer, the report said.
Xian served as China's capital for more than 1,100 years.
In 1974, the terracotta army was found there at the burial site of Qin Shihuang, China's first emperor.
He presided over the unification of China in 221BC and ruled until 210BC.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bloomberg rules out running for US president

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Michael Bloomberg rules out running for US president

Michael Bloomberg on Meet the Press Mayor Bloomberg says rumours that he may run for the presidency are just media speculation

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has said there is "no way, no how" he is going to run for the US presidency in 2012.

Appearing on NBC television's Meet the Press programme, he said that those urging him to seek the presidency "should cease and desist".
Mr Bloomberg, 68, said he intended to remain focused on being mayor.
But he said he would continue to speak out on national issues that impact on New York, such as immigration.
Mr Bloomberg, who is in his third term as mayor, said: "The bottom line is that I've a great job."
He added: "I want to go out being, having a reputation as, a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever."
While some of his backers have urged him to run, Mr Bloomberg said talk of a White House bid in 2012 came "because the press wants something to write about".
The founder of the Bloomberg news media empire, Mr Bloomberg is a former Democrat turned Republican turned independent.

Debates is on over learning English in India

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India debates whether to learn English

By Peter Curran
BBC News, Chennai (Madras)

Schools across India have been debating the rights and wrongs of Indians learning English. The debates themselves were conducted in English, as is much of this multilingual country's national life.
A banyan tree grows next to the buildings of Indian Institute of Technology Madras
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras has 250 hectares of woodland
Sitting there at the side door of the lecture theatre is a rhesus monkey.
Education for all? Well, not quite. This is the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Madras - a university in the midst of a city yet with deer, snakes and monkeys moving freely around the sprawling campus.
Huge banyan trees rise up between low concrete buildings - slowly overwhelming man's puny attempt to impose himself on this fecund landscape.
At Chennai airport, rather than use trucks to pull luggage trailers around they deploy big-wheeled farm tractors - as if they believe tractors will always be needed for the perpetual business of working the land, if this air travel lark turns out to be just a passing fad.
One of my fellow judges is the university's director, Professor Anath - a tall symphony of green cotton and graceful moves.
He gives me a small book detailing the flora and fauna of the college he has taught at for nearly 40 years.
As a student-filled car passes us, horn blaring, he confides: "We have 4,500 students and many other creatures here. It's a place of ecological dynamism."
Passionate debate
We walk into the main lecture hall as the young debaters marshal their thoughts.
Student's talking at the Debating Matters competition
Eight schools qualified for the final series of debates in Chennai
Sunipa Dev goes to school in Calcutta and loves maths. She says she dreams of making it through to the Indian Statistical Institute.
I ask her about the difference between this and normal school debating.
"This is a shock. We usually stand up, make our speech and sit down. The debates are a bit like elocution exercises.
"Here we get to argue and test our ideas and have our minds changed by people our own age - not teachers."
Today's motion - "The importance of learning English in India is overstated" - is ripe for nuanced debate.

The disastrous attempt to enforce Hindi as the national language of India in 1965 is cited as a reason why English could be the language of Indian unity

There are 22 constitutionally recognised languages in India and the debaters portray English as either the smouldering dog-end of colonialism or the passport to economic growth, as evidenced by the IT and service industry explosion.
But there are unexpected angles.
One team highlights the need for English to liberate Dalits - the Indian underclasses, formerly "untouchables" who can use English to vault over the social barriers of the officially banned caste system.
The pressure on rural teachers not equipped to teach English to a sufficient standard is highlighted.
The disastrous attempt to enforce Hindi as the national language of India in 1965 is cited as a reason why English could be the language of Indian unity.
Some complained that as doctors were trained in English, they would either go abroad or into cities rather than struggle with local languages, thus denying some areas decent medical care.
Poetic road signs
After lively interventions from the floor we run from the hall through a thunderstorm to minivans and on to lunch.
Two men riding a motor bike in Chennai
Millions of people are injured on India's roads every year
Every inch of the interior of our minibus is lined with highly varnished pale wood panels, carved scrolls and brass handles - if you turned this van inside out, it would resemble a giant coffin.
Perhaps a witty acknowledgement of the perils of travelling on the roads of Chennai.
Even here amid the pinballing cars, trucks and bikes, English is not used as a blunt instrument.
Whereas in the UK the phrase "Speed Kills" is a familiar sight on road signs, in Chennai official signs read "Speed Thrills, But Kills". Rhyme and reason.
Back for the afternoon session I meet Mr Srinvas, a teacher who has brought four boys from The Army School Ramakrishna Puram in Hyderabad.
He is quiet and watchful as his excited pupils ricochet ideas around the room after their debate.
Mr Srinvas' father died when he was a toddler and his mother was illiterate, so his induction into a mission school - and particularly joining its library - was life-changing.
He says with a smile that he could not learn to read English quickly enough to understand the big science books that he cradled in wonder, but his older sister tried to bring him closer to Einstein via the Jane Austen novels she read to him at home by tallow light.
As a successful science teacher, what does he feel about the English language debate? He leans forwards, conscious of young ears nearby and says:
"I love the English language and you know, we don't actually lose anything of ourselves by using it, because although we might speak in English, we think in our native tongues."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kate Middleton's Fashion Hits America

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Royal wedding: Kate Middleton fashion fever hits NY

Kate Middleton and Prince William Kate Middleton's fashion choices are likely to be closely followed and imitated, experts say
It used to be Michelle Obama, but now women across America are looking to another fashion icon for inspiration - Kate Middleton.
Ever since her engagement to Prince William last month, US media have delved into her wardrobe with magazines and newspapers printing pictures of the future British royal in a portfolio of outfits.
In New York, where fashion is a necessity rather than an option, her feather hats, knee length dresses, and fitted tweed coats have already sparked interest. Ask locals to describe the Middleton look, and the words "beautiful", "elegant", and "sophisticated" are frequently among the responses.
But it's not just what she wears that is creating inspiration in this part of the world. Her hairstyle - chocolate, wavy, tumbling - is also starting to be emulated.
At Cutler Hair Salon on 57th Street, stylist Kelsy Osterman says dozens of women have been coming in and asking for a Kate Middleton cut.
'Tremendously sexy'
"People get really inspired by all these big beautiful photos of her and I think the one thing they can try to obtain of that beautiful look is the hair," she said. "There could have been 20 women in a day that ask for it."

MacKenzie Doughtery, before and after the Kate Middleton makeover
MacKenzie Doughtery, 24, already has deep brown hair, but wanted a cut that would mirror Ms Middleton's after the man she is dating told her that it was tremendously sexy.
"I love Kate Middleton's style appeal," she said. "She's going to be royalty which is exciting, and the hairstyle is user-friendly and good for a busy girl who's always on the run."
Twelve blocks south from Cutler Hair Salon is another business seeing a boom because of the bride-to-be. The Natural Sapphire Company operates on the 20th floor of an office building. A transparent bullet proof screen welcomes visitors as they enter.
It has the air of an office in overdrive, with staff scurrying around answering phones and typing away on computers. CEO Michael Arnstein said the Middleton-effect - specifically demand for jewellery modelled on her sapphire engagement ring - was leaving him exhausted.
"I've had four hours sleep," he said. "We're being pushed to the limits. We need more staff, we need more stones, more setters, we need more jewellers. It's fantastic but we just can't meet the demand. Kate Middleton has just created this massive market for us and its overwhelming".
Ms Middleton's ring consists of a large sapphire surrounded by small diamonds, and once belonged to William's mother, Princess Diana. Prince William said he gave it to his fiancee because "it was right to put the two together".
Selling sapphires
The design seems to have been revived more than 25 years after the Princess of Wales wore it. A style that fashion-conscious women in Manhattan may have considered quite orthodox now seems to be experiencing a resurgence.
"This time of year before Christmas, we're usually selling anywhere from three to 10 rings a day and now we're selling 50 to 75 rings a day," Mr Arnstein said. "We've sold hundreds and hundreds of sapphires. Within hours of the engagement we were just inundated with orders."
The rings range in price from $1,000 (£635.80) to more than $100,000, depending on the size of the stone.
Kate Middleton wearing her engagement ring which once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales Ms Middleton's engagement ring, once worn by Princess Diana, has also sparked interest

As for Ms Doughtery, she has no plans to invest in a ring but she hopes her new hairstyle will bring her plenty of luck.
"Oh I love it, it looks amazing!" she cried. "Hopefully now I'll find my prince!"
So will these Kate inspired trends last - or are they a passing fancy of Americans ahead of the big day in April?
American Vogue's European Editor Hamish Bowles believes Ms Middleton could have an enduring impact in Manhattan, and beyond.
"I think she's extremely elegant and that idea of being manicured and groomed and effectively pulled together actually resonates with New York women," he says.
"There is a classicism in her choices that projects fashion but not outrageously so. I think what's remarkable is that so early in the process she has found an identity of her own and that is something that will enhance her authenticity.
"This is someone we are going to be deeply compelled by for a long time to come."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Facebook founder Zuckerberg to donate most of wealth to charity

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Facebook founder Zuckerberg to give away most of wealth

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Mr Zuckerberg is estimated to be worth almost $7bn

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has become one of the latest billionaires to pledge to give away the majority of his wealth.

He is one of 17 new people to support a group, founded by Bill Gates and his wife along with Warren Buffett, which encourages America's wealthiest to publicly promise to donate to charity.
At 26, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the youngest to sign up.
Earlier this year, he gave $100m in shares to schools in New Jersey.
"People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?" he asked in a statement.
"With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts."
Mr Zuckerberg, estimated to be worth $6.9bn (£4.4bn), was placed 35th in this year's Forbes list of the richest people in the US.
The Giving Pledge initiative was launched earlier this year. It was announced in August that 40 individuals or families had taken the pledge.
Encouraging others

Billionaire pledgers

  • Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
  • Larry Ellison, Oracle
  • Bill Gates, Microsoft
  • Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
  • George Lucas, Film producer
  • Ted Turner, CNN founder
Some of the super rich prefer to give to charities anonymously, but the Giving Pledge stresses the importance of being open about donations.
"Research shows that when people know that others are giving, they are themselves more likely to give," said Princeton University's Peter Singer in a statement released by the Giving Pledge.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who also signed up this month, said he had not previously considered going public.
"However, I certainly see the value of a project that encourages wealthy individuals to step forward and commit to use their wealth for the common good," he said.
"I hope that by adding my voice with those who are supporting this project, we will all encourage others to participate."
There was also a sign that the founders may take the Giving Pledge outside the US.
Warren Buffett and the Gateses are talking to other billionaires from around the world to learn about their philanthropy efforts, a statement said.

Egypt shark attacks

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Egypt shark attacks: 'Multiple species' behind attacks

A couple in Sharm el-Sheik, 8 December The Egyptian authorities are concerned about the impact on tourism

Sharks of different species are behind a series of attacks on tourists at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a US investigator says.

Marine biologist George Burgess said a single shark had carried out two of the attacks, while a different species was responsible for two others.
Mr Burgess told the BBC that environmental effects had caused the "highly unusual" spate of attacks.
A German woman was killed and four people injured in last week's attacks.
Many of the main beaches have been closed to swimmers and snorkellers since Sunday's fatal attack.
The Egyptian authorities are concerned about the impact on tourism to the country, which provides a crucial source of foreign currency and jobs in the country.
'Rational' attacks Mr Burgess said the attacks were "undoubtedly" caused by environmental factors, as two separate shark species had been identified from photographic evidence provided to international investigators called in by the Egyptian authorities.
A man holds the shark which was identified by Egyptian officials as the shark which attacked tourists off Sharm el-Sheikh. Photo: 2 December 2010 Egyptian authorities say this mako shark was behind some attacks

A shark hunt was useless, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, as the team had ruled out the existence of a so-called rogue shark that was acting like "a deranged human being taking lives".
"What you have here are rational attempts by a predator to find food," said Mr Burgess, of the International Shark Attack File based in Florida.
He said the dumping of animal carcasses in the area by a cargo ship last month might have contributed to the attacks by attracting the sharks nearer to shore, but said the investigation was ongoing.
In the meantime, he advised people to swim in groups in areas inside the reef, and to stay out of the water at night.
An elderly German woman was fatally mauled just metres from the shore on Sunday, just a day after beaches were reopened following shark attacks that injured two Russian snorkellers on 30 November and another one on 1 December.
The governor of South Sinai, Muhammad Shousha, said on Wednesday that one of the sharks involved in the attacks - a mako - had been caught.
But an oceanic white tip, believed to have killed the German woman, was still at large, he added.
The Egyptian government is keen to protect the tourism industry, which generated revenues of $11.6bn (£7.3bn) in 2009.

Royal car attacked in protest

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Royal car attacked in protest after MPs' fee vote



Eyewitness chases royal car as it is surrounded by protesters, using mobile phone to capture the incident


A car containing Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall has been attacked amid violence after MPs voted to raise university tuition fees in England.
 A window was cracked and their car hit by paint, but the couple were unharmed.
In angry scenes, protesters battled with police in Parliament Square. Hundreds were later contained on Westminster Bridge by officers.
Police say 12 officers and 43 protesters have been injured, while 22 arrests were made.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "shocking and regrettable" that protesters had attacked the prince's car.
Clarence House said the royal couple were safe and attending the Royal Variety performance as scheduled.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said there would be a "very serious and very detailed investigation" into the disturbances, in which 10 police officers have been injured.
The vote will mean fees will almost treble to £9,000 a year. The government's majority was cut by three-quarters to 21 in a backbench rebellion. Three ministerial aides resigned.
Only 28 Lib Dem MPs - less than half - voted for the government's plans for tuition fees. Six Conservative MPs voted against.
Violent scenes
There were angry clashes as protesters - some throwing missiles - fought to break through police lines.
Riot police had to force back protesters who were smashing windows of the Treasury and the Supreme Court.
Earlier, protesters had largely taken over Parliament Square and pressed against lines of police in front of the Houses of Parliament.
Mounted police were used to control crowds, at one point charging a group of protesters, as thousands of demonstrators protested outside the Houses of Parliament.
Other reported actions taken by the protesters include:
  • Setting the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square alight
  • Smashing windows at shops in Oxford Street
  • Vandalising statues in Parliament Square, including that of Winston Churchill
  • A sit-in by about 150 students at the National Gallery
Superintendent Julia Pendry said officers had come under sustained attack and condemned "acts of wanton vandalism, wanton violence" by protesters.

In violent scenes earlier, the BBC's Mark Georgiou said there had been injuries to both police and protesters near to Westminster Abbey.
The Metropolitan Police say there have been attacks using "flares, sticks, snooker balls and paint balls".
Students from around the UK gathered in London for a day of protests and a rally - with police expecting about 20,000 demonstrators.
The coalition government faced its first major backbench rebellion in the vote.
The BBC's Ben Brown, outside Parliament, said protesters shouted "shame on you" as news of the result filtered out to the crowd.
Mounted police Police clashed with protesters in the streets around the Houses of Parliament
The package of measures will see fees rising to an upper limit of £9,000 per year - with requirements for universities to protect access for poorer students if they charge more than £6,000 per year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

US scraps Israel settlements freeze bid

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US scraps Israel settlements freeze bid to revive talks

breaking news
The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.

Washington had been negotiating with Israel to try to meet Palestinian conditions for restarting direct talks.
The Palestinians suspended talks in September after a 10-month freeze on Israeli building in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired.
The US says it will continue to explore ways to bring the two sides together.
A senior US official told the BBC that attempts to get Israel to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in occupied territory had failed.
But he said this did not meant the end of Washington's efforts to revive the peace talks, which resumed in September after a break of almost two years ago but were suspended almost immediately when Israel decided not to extend the ban on settlement building in the West Bank.
The Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table while settlement building continues.
A second official said the administration had determined that the moratorium extension was not the best basis to resume talks.
Last month, the Obama administration offered Israel a sizeable package of incentives, including jet fighters and security guarantees, in return for a 90-day extension of the previous moratorium.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to renew the freeze if the Palestinians recognised Israel as a Jewish state, but the Palestinian Authority dismissed the idea.
It is unclear how the US is planning to proceed, says the BBC's Kim Ghattas at the state department in Washington.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will be in Washington next week and Hillary Clinton will make a speech about the Middle East on Friday.
Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

UK snow viewed from space

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UK snow cover viewed from space

UK covered in snow (Pic courtesy of NEODAAS/University of Dundee)
The University of Dundee has published another image captured by its satellite receiving station showing much of the UK covered in snow.
The picture was received at 1203 GMT on Thursday.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Russian satellites fail

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Russian satellites fail to enter orbit after launch

Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the three Glonass satellites is carried to the launch pad - 2 December 2010 One Russian aerospace source said the carrier rocket veered off course after launch

Three Russian satellites have failed to enter orbit after they were launched on a rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russian aerospace experts said the satellites and the upper stage rocket carrying them probably fell into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
Officials said the satellites went off course after separating with a booster rocket from the main launch rocket.
The satellites were to be part of a navigation system meant to rival GPS.
They were being carried on a Proton-M rocket launched earlier on Sunday.
A source in Russia's aerospace industry told Ria-Novosti news agency that the rocket had veered off course by eight degrees after its launch.
Russia has already successfully launched a number of the Glonass satellites this year. The navigation system is meant to be in place next year.

Seven cyclists killed in collision in Italy

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Seven cyclists killed in collision with car in Italy

Medics inspect the bodies of eight cyclists killed in a collision with a car near Lamezia Terme in Italy (5 December 2010) The Sunday-morning cyclists were affiliated with a gym in Lamezia Terme

Italian police have arrested a man after his car ploughed into a group of cyclists, killing seven of them.
The driver was overtaking on a two-lane road near Lamezia Terme in the southern region of Calabria when he hit the oncoming cyclists, officials said.
Four people were also injured in the collision, including the driver, who is a Moroccan national.
He is being held under police guard in hospital on suspicion of manslaughter, according to the Ansa news agency.
Earlier reports had put the death toll at eight.
Police said the arrested man had been driving without a licence, having had it withdrawn seven months ago for dangerous driving, and that blood tests showed he had been driving under the influence of marijuana.
Visibility and driving conditions were reportedly good at the time.
Ansa reported that the dead men were members of a local amateur racing team affiliated with a gym in Lamezia Terme. They were aged between 35 and 58, it added.
The head of the Italian Cycling Federation, Renato Di Rocco, has denounced the violent "massacre".

North Korea warns South

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North Korea warns South against 'provocations'

North Korean soldier - file photo The border between the two Koreas is heavily fortified and guarded
North Korea has warned the South against "provocations", including planned military live-fire drills near the disputed maritime border.
A North Korean statement said the South was causing "extreme" tension.
It is Pyongyang's first response to South Korea's new defence minister, Kim Kwan-jin, saying Northern attacks would be met with air strikes.
He spoke following North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island that killed four people.
In a statement carried by North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, Pyongyang blamed the South's government for ratcheting up tension.
"The political situation on the Korean peninsula is reaching an uncontrollable level due to provocative, frantic moves by the puppet group," said the statement.

The shelling of Yeonpyeong island on 23 November killed two South Korean civilians and two soldiers, and shocked Seoul into reviewing its rules of engagement for such incidents.
The island lies south of the Northern Limit Line, the maritime border declared by UN forces at the end of the Korean War in 1953, but not recognised by Pyongyang.
The bombardment of the island came after Southern naval drills in the area.
The shelling, and the tough statements from both sides that have followed it, have stoked tensions in the region.
At a parliamentary confirmation hearing on Friday, incoming Defence Minister Kim said: "If North Korea provokes again, we will definitely use aircraft to attack North Korea."
The South has also engaged in a flurry of military preparations, including a forthcoming live-fire drill along its coast, naval manoeuvres with the US and plans for further exercises with the US.
The just-completed naval manoeuvres were planned long before the shelling of Yeonpyeong. The live-fire exercise, a routine training drill, was also scheduled before the bombardment, military officials said.

Wikileaks files reveal secret US-Yemen bomb deal

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Wikileaks files reveal secret US-Yemen bomb deal

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh The cables suggest Yemen's president insisted on taking responsibility for US air strikes

US cables released by the Wikileaks website suggest that Yemen allowed secret US air strikes against suspected al-Qaeda militants.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh claimed raids were conducted by Yemen's military when they were in fact carried out by the US, according to the cables.
The files also reveal that Mr Saleh rejected an offer to deploy US ground forces in Yemen.
The US fears Yemen has become a haven for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The cables detail how Mr Saleh claimed responsibility for two US air strikes in December 2009, according to the Guardian .
A few days after the second attack on 24 December, Mr Saleh told the then head of US central command, General David Petraeus: "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."
On 21 December, US ambassador Stephen Seche reported in a dispatch that "Yemen insisted it must 'maintain the status quo' regarding the official denial of US involvement."
Mr Seche quotes Mr Saleh as saying that he wanted operations to continue "non-stop until we eradicate this disease".
The messages are among more than 250,000 US cables obtained by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
The files are released in stages by Wikileaks, and details are also being published in the Guardian, the New York Times and other papers around the world that investigated the material.
According to the files released on Friday, Gen Petraeus had flown in to Yemen's capital Sanaa to tell Mr Saleh that the US would also allow its ground forces to be deployed in Yemen on counter-terrorism operations.
Mr Saleh rejected the offer, although he had told President Barack Obama's national security adviser, John Brennan, in September 2009 that he would give the US full access.
"I have given you an open door on terrorism," Mr Saleh is quoted in a US cable after the meeting with Mr Brennan.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is suspected of having launched a number of attacks on targets in the West, including failed plots to bomb several cargo airliners in October.
The cables also reveal Mr Saleh to be an erratic partner in negotiations, the Guardian reports.
US security officials who met Yemen's long-standing leader in the course of 2009 described him as "petulant" and "bizarre".
After one meeting with Mr Brennan, the US ambassador reported that Mr Saleh had been "in vintage form". Mr Seche wrote that the President was "at times disdainful and dismissive", while he was "conciliatory and congenial" on other occasions.
Mr Saleh told Mr Brennan that should the US not help Yemen, "this country will become worse than Somalia".