Articles on this Page
- 03/12/13--04:55: _Medical Scans Show ...
- 03/13/13--03:34: _Argentine President...
- 03/14/13--03:19: _China Completes Sec...
- 03/14/13--04:48: _Cardinal Used Googl...
- 03/17/13--04:16: _Pope Francis Laughs...
- 03/17/13--10:12: _Apple's Next iPhone...
- 03/18/13--04:14: _Hijacked Helicopter...
- 03/18/13--04:22: _The Times Admits To...
- 03/18/13--04:28: _Police Charge Ten I...
- 03/18/13--04:34: _Amazon Wants To Be ...
- 03/18/13--06:26: _Obama Look-Alike Ca...
- 03/19/13--04:04: _Drinking Skim Milk ...
- 03/19/13--07:06: _Fake Official Duped...
- 03/20/13--03:29: _South Korean Banks ...
- 03/22/13--03:45: _Google Is Working O...
- 03/25/13--03:41: _Israel's 'Prisoner ...
- 03/26/13--05:05: _The New BlackBerry'...
- 03/28/13--07:15: _Parents Are Lying T...
- 03/28/13--07:30: _Now You Can Hire Fa...
- 03/30/13--15:20: _Here's What We Know...
- 03/12/13--04:55: Medical Scans Show Leonardo Da Vinci's Drawings Were Right All Along
- 03/14/13--04:48: Cardinal Used Google Search To Learn More About Papal Candidates
- 03/17/13--04:16: Pope Francis Laughs, Jokes And Shakes Hands
- 03/17/13--10:12: Apple's Next iPhone Might Be Unlockable By The Owner's Fingerprint
- 03/18/13--04:22: The Times Admits To 'Massive Mistake' Over Qatar Dream League Story
- 03/18/13--04:28: Police Charge Ten In World's Most Expensive Car Crash
- 03/18/13--04:34: Amazon Wants To Be HBO, Too
- 03/18/13--06:26: Obama Look-Alike Cast As Satan In History Channel Series On Bible
- 03/19/13--04:04: Drinking Skim Milk May Be Making Toddlers Fat
- 03/19/13--07:06: Fake Official Duped China's Communist Party For Years
- 03/20/13--03:29: South Korean Banks And Broadcasters Paralyzed By Cyberattack
- 03/22/13--03:45: Google Is Working On A Smart Watch, Just Like Apple And Samsung
- 03/26/13--05:05: The New BlackBerry's Launch Has Been A Disaster
- 03/28/13--07:15: Parents Are Lying To Cut Their Kid's Car Insurance Costs
- 03/28/13--07:30: Now You Can Hire Fake Mourners To Cry At Your Funeral
- 03/30/13--15:20: Here's What We Know About What North Korea Can Hit
Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings were "startling" in their accuracy, new medical scans have shown, putting him hundreds of years ahead of his peers.
He has long been praised as one of the finest artists of the Renaissance, working far ahead of his time and producing some of the world’s most recognisable works.
But Leonardo da Vinci has finally received the credit he deserves for his “startling” medical accuracy hundreds of years in advance of his peers, as scientists match his anatomical drawings with modern day MRI scans.
The project, which will be unveiled at the Edinburgh International Festival in August, compares the work directly for the very first time, unveiling the minute details recorded by the artist.
In a series of 30 pictures, the Royal Collection Trust will show da Vinci’s distinctive anatomical drawings alongside a newly-taken MRI or CT scan.
The comparison is intended to show just how accurate da Vinci was, despite his limited technology and lack of contemporary medical knowledge.
The drawings, which were hundreds of years ahead of their time in some areas, remained among the artist’s personal papers when he died, effectively “lost” for several hundred years.
Had they been published at the time, the exhibition curators believe, they would have “formed the most influential work on the human body ever produced”.
“Five hundred years on, comparisons with CT and MRI scans show that Leonardo’s work is still relevant to scientists today,” they said.
Martin Clayton, exhibition curator, said the project was intended to examine the medical relevance of da Vinci’s “astonishing” drawings for the first time.
Speaking at the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival, he admitted it had been a “voyage into the unknown”, which could have led to the conclusion da Vinci’s work was simply of historic curiosity, irrelevant to modern day anatomists”.
Instead, he revealed, doctors found the detailed drawings were “startling” in their accuracy.
The pictures, largely produced in the winter of 1510- 1511 when da Vinci completed around 20 dissections, show the muscles, bones and sinews of the human body.
One, of the heart, comes “agonisingly close” to showing how the pump action worked, with the movement of blood remarkably similar to that in a modern day medical video.
The artist also produced the first accurate depiction of the spine, as well as drawing a child in the womb in the correct position.
The Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man exhibition, part of the festival showing the influence of technology on art, will open at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, in August.
It will be based on da Vinci’s ‘Anatomical Manuscript A’, on which he crammed more than 240 individual drawings and notes running to more than 13,000 words in his distinctive mirror-writing.
It has never before been displayed in its entirety in the UK.
Mr Clayton said: “Royal Collection Trust’s association with the Edinburgh International Festival, in a year when its programme focuses on the theme of technology, has prompted us to examine the modern relevance of Leonardo’s astonishing drawings.
“For the first time we will be displaying the artist’s works alongside stunning examples of medical imaging, showing how the concerns and methods of the world’s leading anatomists have changed little in 500 years, and how truly groundbreaking Leonardo’s investigations were.”
Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said: “In a year when the Edinburgh International Festival is focusing on the myriad of ways in which technology seizes and shifts the imaginations of artists, there is no better example of that than the genius of Leonardo da Vinci and his sophisticated and poetic understanding of the human condition.”
Following the referendum in the Falkland Islands in which islanders voted to remain British, the President of Argentina said that it was as if as if "a bunch of squatters were to vote on whether or not to keep occupying a building illegally."
Residents of the remote outpost in the South Atlantic voted this week on whether to remain a British Overseas Territory.
On Monday evening, the results showed that 99.8 per cent had voted yes, with a 92 per cent turnout among the approximately 1,650 Falkland Islands eligible to vote.
Speaking at an event at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, President Kirchner said that "it's as if a bunch of squatters were to vote on whether or not to keep occupying a building illegally."
She quoted British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire as saying that the referendum result didn't change the situation "from a legal point of view".
But President Kirchner also said she wanted to "reiterate our commitment to dialogue, our compliance with United Nations resolutions".
"That is the only way to really achieve a solution that also takes into account the interests of the people that live there," she added.
The United Kingdom has sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, but Argentina considers the "Islas Malvinas" to be part of their national territory, taken from them by the British more than 180 years ago.
China's parliament formally elected heir-in-waiting Xi Jinping as the country's new president today, completing the country's second orderly political succession since the Communist Party took power in 1949.
The largely rubber-stamp National People's Congress chose Xi in a tightly scripted ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing, putting the final seal of approval on a generational transition of power.
Xi was appointed party and military chief - where real power lies - in November.
The 59-year-old was also elected head of the Central Military Commission, the parallel government post to the party's top military position which he already holds, ensuring that he has full power over the party, state and armed forces.
There was virtually no opposition among the carefully selected legislators to Xi becoming president. Xi drew just one no vote and three abstentions from the almost 3,000 delegates.
Xi bowed deeply and shook hands with his predecessor Hu Jintao upon the announcement of the result, carried live on state television. Xi and Hu exchanged a few inaudible words.
Li Yuanchao was also elected vice president.
There were five other candidates put forth for the vice-presidential position including Wang Yang, the reformist former party chief of southern Guangdong province, and propaganda tsar Liu Yunshan. Xi had fended off a bid by influential former president Jiang Zemin to install Liu, a source with ties to the leadership said.
Vice Premier Li Keqiang is set to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao in a similarly scripted vote on Friday.
Hu, 70, relinquished the presidency after serving the maximum two five-year terms.
Hu's accession to president a decade ago marked Communist China's first peaceful transition of power. Violent events such as the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators had overshadowed previous hand-overs.
Greg Barker, the Climate Change minister, has recalled how Cardinal Peter Turkson used Google ahead of his decision to vote for Benedict XVI to be pope.
Greg Barker has given Mandrake an intriguing insight into how the cardinals go about the business of choosing a new pope.
The Climate Change minister was seated beside Cardinal Peter Turkson at a dinner he attended last year as a member of the delegation that Baroness Varsi led to the Vatican to mark the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic links between Britain and the Holy See.
“I asked the cardinal if he had taken part in the vote for Benedict XVI and he said that he had, but, as a relatively new cardinal at the time from sub-Saharan Africa, he wasn’t altogether familiar with the form,” says Barker.
“It was explained to him that all the cardinals who were taking part in the vote would be given folders with information about the candidates to assist them as they made their choices. When he got his folders, he found, however, the barest biographical information in them, which wasn’t, really, a lot of help.”
So Barker wondered how Turkson, who has been talked about as a potential successor to Benedict XVI, managed to make his choice.
“Well, I digested what information I had, listened to the conversations that took place in the room at the Vatican the cardinals had, and then I got down on my knees in prayer to ask for guidance.
“And then I went online and looked up the main candidates to find out what I could about them.”
Barker’s advice to anyone wanting to be the next pope? “Make sure your Facebook page is looking good”.
Around 1,000 people thronged a narrow passageway outside the Church of Sant'Anna, his local parish church just inside the Vatican gates, as he arrived for mass.
In dramatic contrast with the reserved style of his predecessors, he walked along a hastily constructed barrier reaching deep into the crowd, shaking hands, laughing and joking.
It is the first time he has had a chance to meet members of the public up close since being elected on Wednesday.
There were chants of "Francesco, Francesco" as he turned and walked through the iron gates out onto the main street, where most of the crowd were waiting, leaving his anxious security men rushing to keep up.
When two clerics were brought up and introduced to him, attempting to drop to their knees, he hurriedly ushered them back onto their feet.
"He touched me, he touched me!" said one French woman holding her hand aloft.
"We just came for the weekend we never expected to meet the Pope."
As the service began, he was led inside the building, which is cloaked in scaffolding, waving as he went.
"To me, I say this humbly, the strongest message of the Lord is mercy," he said. "The Lord never gets tired of forgiving."
The mass led by the first Latin American pontiff was held in the Santa Anna Church within the Vatican walls ahead of his first appearance in a window of the papal apartments at noon (1100 GMT).
The delivery of the traditional Angelus prayer, followed by remarks expected to touch on international issues, will be the pope's second appearance before the general public since his surprise election on Wednesday.
But to the obvious surprise of the onlookers, who were starting to leave, he reappeared minutes later, wearing a purple bishop's mitre and robes, as part of the procession at the start of the mass.
Instead of simply processing up the aisle, they diverted out into the street. Initial shrieks of surprise were quickly hushed as the crowd recognised they were part of the service.
Maria Hakolinen, who prays at the church every morning at 7am, said she had never seen Pope Benedict there on a Sunday morning.
"I come here every day so I thought of course I should come to say hello you are welcome," she said.
"I see that he is a very natural, very sensitive and very special person," she said.
"We really took him into our hearts in that same moment when he prayed the Our Father in St Peter's square and started to pray with us and asked us to pray with him."
Later this morning he will give his first Sunday Angelus address in front of an expected 200,000 people.
The end of the smartphone passcode could be at hand, if technology companies have their way.
Apple is said to be planning to introduce an iPhone that can be unlocked by the owner's fingerprint, while other manufacturers are thought to be experimenting with iris scanning and voice recognition.
Speculation about Apple's plans for fingerprint recognition began last summer when the iPhone maker bought biometric security firm AuthenTec for £235 million. Earlier this month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his firm expected the results of that takeover to be revealed this summer with the new iPhone 5S .
He said: "We expect [that] iPhone 5S will have a fingerprint chip under the Home button, improving security and usability."
Samsung has had a "Face Unlock" feature in its phones since last year's Galaxy S3. However, the phone's camera would often unlock if it recognised a photograph of the owner. The firm says the feature has been improved in the Galaxy S4, released in New York last week .
The Galaxy S4, like Apple's iPhone, has voice recognition software but at present it cannot identify a particular person. In future, it's possible that a smartphone could recognise its owner's voice and unlock accordingly.
Many companies are hoping that these security features could soon be used in place of passwords for websites and mobile applications. Instead of having to remember complicated passwords, fingerprint identification would be quicker, easier and more secure.
"We’d like your smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorize a new computer via a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity," wrote Eric Grosse, Google's vice president of security, and engineer Mayank Upadhyay.
Two prisoners in Canada have made an audacious, but short-lived, bid for freedom after being hoisted away in a helicopter reportedly commandeered by their accomplices.
In scenes reminiscent Hollywood film, the pair were spirited away in broad daylight on Sunday afternoon, only to be recaptured hours later along with two others.
According to CNN, two men posing as tourists hi-jacked a helicopter owned by a tour company and ordered the pilot to fly over the St Jerome prison near Montreal and used either cables or ropes to pick up the prisoners.
Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36 and Danny Provencal, 33, were recaptured after the helicopter was tracked to Mont Tremblant, about 53 miles from the prison.
A man claiming to be Hudon-Barbeau, who was in prison in connection with an attempted murder investigation, had called a Montreal radio station to explain his reasons for escaping.
“I know that it wasn’t the best thing to do, but I didn’t want to stay in prison anymore,” he told 98.5 FM. “It was not my idea to get away, but Danny convinced me, it was his friends who arranged it outside.”
The pilot, who is being treated as key witness, was found inside the abandoned helicopter but the men had fled in a white Cadillac. However, police tracked the car to a house in the town of Chersey where arrests were made, six hours after the escape.
Provencal, who was serving a seven-year sentence for various offences including arson, was not found at the house but was later detained in Chersey on Monday morning.
Yves Galarneau, the deputy director general of Correctional Services Western Quebec, admitted that the jail did not have a security protocol in place for such an event.
“As far as I know it’s a first in Quebec,” he said. “It’s exceptional.”
The Times newspaper has published a full climbdown following an internal investigation of the 'Qatar Dream League' story it ran last week, an episode the paper on Monday described as a “journalistic nightmare”.
In a column headlined 'When we are wrong, we will hold our hands up. It's the right thing to do', the newspaper's Football Editor Tony Evans said it had appeared increasingly clear that the newspaper had been duped, and that their checks had not been stringent enough in the rush to publication.
The Times had initially launched a spirited defence of its March 13 story that Qatar was to launch a "Dream Football League" even though a French website said the scoop was based on its own spoof and that the paper had been the victim of a hoax.
"It all came out of my imagination," Jerome Latta, the editor of Les Cahiers du Football, told Reuters of the tale that the Qataris were proposing a new moneyspinning summer tournament offering stunning financial rewards.
The Qatar Football Association swiftly distanced itself from the story, saying they had no involvement and had heard nothing, but the Times stood firmly behind reporter Oliver Kay, insisting their scoop had nothing to do with the website's version.
Kay, the newspaper's chief soccer correspondent, was equally adamant, at the time telling Reuters: "I've been amused by the speculation about the source of this story. I can guarantee you 100 percent, 1,000 percent, 175 million percent, that my story had nothing to do with any website, spoof or otherwise.
"I've no idea about their modus operandi. What I know is that my source is very good, the information is very good and that there is more where that story came from."
Still, though, intense speculation on social media websites continued and on Monday Evans conceded that the Times had made a "massive mistake".
"Because so many significant people in football did not laugh off the idea, it seemed that the story could be genuine," Evans wrote.
"The warning signs - that no one had heard specific details of the DFL or seen its plans - were missed. In principle, the idea was possible. There were plenty to attest to that.
"In reality, the story appears to have been invented and had just enough plausibility to be seductive."
The Times's climbdown was mostly welcomed by those following the story online, many applauding the newspaper for its transparency and for admitting it shortcomings with regard to the story.
Police in Japan said Monday they want to charge 10 drivers over a £2.6 million, multi-car pileup involving eight Ferraris, one Lamborghini and a Mercedes-Benz.
The chain-reaction smash in December 2011 occurred when a convoy of expensive sports cars were on a freeway in Shimonoseki in western Japan, said Yamaguchi prefectural police official Shinji Tanaka.
The driver of the lead Ferrari lost control of his luxury ride and those behind the wheels of nine supercars and three other vehicles failed to apply their brakes in time.
One car driving on the opposite carriageway was also affected.
The Sports Nippon newspaper said around $4 million (£2.6 million) worth of damage was done. Media reports at the time branded it "the world's most expensive car crash".
Police sent the case against a 61-year-old man and nine others to prosecutors last Thursday on suspicion of violating traffic laws.
The final decision on whether to charge the drivers rests with prosecutors.
Police say 10 drivers, aged between 38 and 61, were exceeding the speed limit or not paying enough attention to the road, Tanaka said.
At the time of the accident, television showed footage of the badly crumpled cars - most of them red - some with airbags deployed after a smash that left six people hurt but killed no one.
"It's rare to see a chain-reaction accident like this involving expensive cars," said Tanaka.
"Some of the drivers told us they didn't really know the specifications of their cars or just how powerful their acceleration was."
The drivers were on their way to a supercar event in Hiroshima.
Amazon has commissioned a series of big-budget, web-only shows as it takes on Netflix in the battle to capitalise on the growing appetite for watching programmes on smartphones, tablets and internet-enabled televisions.
The online retailer is producing at least 11 pilots - starring big names such as John Goodman and Bill Murray – which will be shown to the public from this spring and then either made into series or shelved, according to the audience reaction they get.
The pilots will be shown free on a service called Amazon Instant Video, with viewers given a chance to input feedback on the shows.
In Britain, the pilots will be also be available on LoveFilm, the internet video service owned by Amazon.
The completed series, however, will only be available to LoveFilm subscribers in Britain and Amazon Prime subscribers in the US.
The pilots, mainly focusing on comedy and children’s programmes, include Alpha House, which stars Goodman, with a cameo from Groundhog Day star Bill Murray.
"I'm always worried I'm going to be in a YouTube Video,” said Goodman, who made his name in the 1980s television series Cheers, but went on to star in Hollywood films such as The Big Lebowski.
He added: “But this is just the same as a TV set — full production values, great director, good technical people."
Another pilots include Onion News Empire, a television news satire, and a musical comedy called Browsers.
"I think the distinction between a regular TV show and an online TV show will soon fade away," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, the unit making the pilots. "It just makes sense that if you're trying to decide what TV show to make, it might be a good idea to ask customers which one they like."
Netflix last month launched House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey. It invested $100m in the remake of the classic British series, making all 26 episodes immediately available to subscribers, who could sign up free for one month.
Todd Yelin, Netflix's vice-president of product innovation, said the project had done “excessively well”.
Whilst declining to give actual viewing figures, he said it was the most-viewed show ever on the internet video service, and had done “better than our wildest dreams".
His right-wing critics were probably nodding sagely in approval – but Barack Obama may have reason to feel aggrieved after hit American mini-series The Bible cast an actor with a striking resemblance to the US President in a key role – Satan.
Viewers in the USA were left bemused following the first appearance of actor Mehdi Ouzaani in role of the Devil in the glossy History Channel series, which has become a surprise hit with American audiences, attracting 13.1 million viewers for a recent episode.
Right-wing commentator Glenn Beck was among the first to note the actor’s resemblance to the 44 president of the United States, tweeting that the Devil as portrayed on screen “looks exactly like That Guy”. The TV personality, a vociferous critic of Obama, has vowed not to say the president’s name all year and referring to him as “That Guy” ever since.
The Bible, produced by British-born Mark Burnett, the man behind the American versions of The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice has already been criticised for the dubiously good-looking cast of actors selected to play biblical characters in the series. However, its slick production values and religious theme has won over millions of viewers in the USA.
The series retells bible stories from Genesis through to Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, in a scripted format.
Mr Burnett has told Entertainment Weekly that “the hand of God” was on the series.
Giving toddlers skimmed or one percent fat milk could cause them to become overweight or obese, according to the counterintuitive results of a study.
US researchers found healthy-weight two-year-olds who regularly drank these types of milk were 57 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese at four, as those who drank full-fat milk.
Parents with overweight children might like to give their offspring low fat milk to help curb their waistlines, but the researchers said this logic might be misplaced.
Full-fat milk may satisfy children’s appetites better, thereby making them less likely to raid the cupboard for truly unhealthy snacks like biscuits and cakes, they argued.
They drew their conclusions after asking the parents of almost 11,000 two-year-olds what type of milk they gave them: skimmed, one per cent fat, two per cent fat, or full-fat. They then followed up the children two years later.
All the children were participants of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which tracks the long term health of a representative sample of US children born in 2001.
Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, the authors noted: “One per cent / skimmed milk does not appear to restrain body weight gain between two and four years of age.”
The Department of Health advocates children “gradually move to semi-skimmed milk as a main drink” from the age of two “as long as they are eating a varied and balanced diet and growing well”.
However, it warns against giving skimmed or one per cent milk as the main drink until they are at least five, because these “don’t contain enough vitamin A and skimmed milk doesn’t contain enough calories”.
Skimming fat off milk does not affect its calcium content. According to the Department of Health, children aged one to three need around 350mg of calcium a day, which is provided by just over half a pint of milk.
With his bouffant black hair, white short-sleeve shirt and endless boring speeches, he certainly seemed like a high-ranking Communist party official.
But Zhao Xiyong, who has claimed since 2010 to be the head of China 's State Council Research Office - giving him the rank of vice-minister - was an artful impostor.
For years, Mr Zhao pulled off a pitch-perfect impersonation of a leader from Beijing that local officials in the south western province of Yunnan, being subordinate in rank, did not dare to question.
He was allowed to give keynote talks at important conferences, seated with pride of place at the banquet table, and grovelled to by local officials.
He would also frequently tour the province, delivering vague and empty speeches and greeting local Communist party chiefs.
A local radio station dutifully reported one of his visits, to a vegetable farm to the city of Yuxi, where he met the county's agriculture officials and led a delegation of 89 people on a tour of drought-affected areas.
"The government should make full use of its economic advantage, actively learning from other's experiences, and explore a new path that incorporates scientific research, production and marketing," he said, without any obvious meaning, to polite applause.
A chubby and jovial figure who often dangled a cigarette, Mr Zhao was an adept politician. In one speech, he praised the Yunnei car engine company as a well-loved brand in Europe and claimed it would "open a UK manufacturing base in January 2013".
He only seems to have overreached himself last November, when he promised delegates at a conference in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, that the government had approved a new free-trade zone to boost the city's economy.
"Kunming, as the core city in the plan, will receive a huge boost to its industry and economy," he said. "I sincerely hope the local government and party creates a good environment for companies that invest here."
Perhaps to his dismay, his surprise announcement made the headlines in the local newspapers and prompted a flood of queries to the State Council for confirmation.
On March 8, the State Council, China's cabinet, responded unambiguously.
"We have recently received reports that Zhao Xiyong is pretending to be the head of the State Council Research Office and an official of vice-minister level. We announce that he does not work for the State Council, and that no research team has ever been sent to Yunnan province," said a statement.
Mr Zhao's current whereabouts, and indeed his true identity, are unknown.
If caught, he could face three to ten years in prison.
"He performed his official duties without a secretary, he organised events, made speeches, handled social activities, wrote calligraphy and cut ribbons, he successful cheated the State Council and provincial officials. He is in no way different from a real official!" commented one wag on the Chinese internet.
Additional reporting by Valentina Luo
Skulls pop up on the screens of some computers — a strong indication that hackers planted a malicious code in systems
Computer networks at two major South Korean banks and three top TV broadcasters went into shutdown mode en masse today, paralyzing bank machines across the country and prompting speculation of a cyberattack by North Korea.
Screens went blank promptly at 2 pm (0500 GMT), with skulls popping up on the screens of some computers — a strong indication that hackers planted a malicious code in South Korean systems, the state-run Korea Information Security Agency said. Some computers started to get back online more than 2 hours later.
Police and South Korean officials investigating the shutdown said the cause was not immediately clear. But speculation centered on North Korea, with experts saying a cyberattack orchestrated by Pyongyang was likely to blame.
The shutdown comes amid rising rhetoric and threats of attack from Pyongyang in response to U.N. punishment for its December rocket launch and February nuclear test. Washington also expanded sanctions against North Korea this month in a bid to cripple the regime's ability to develop its nuclear program.
North Korea has threatened revenge for the sanctions and for ongoing routine US-South Korean military drills it considers invasion preparation.
Accusations of cyberattacks on the Korean Peninsula are not new. Seoul believes Pyongyang was behind at least two cyberattacks on local companies in 2011 and 2012.
The latest network paralysis took place just days after North Korea accused South Korea and the US of staging a cyberattack that shut down its websites for two days last week. The Thai-based Internet service provider confirmed the outage, but did not say what caused the shutdown in North Korea.
"It's got to be a hacking attack," Lim Jong-in, dean of Korea University's Graduate School of Information Security, said of today's events. "Such simultaneous shutdowns cannot be caused by technical glitches."
Shinhan Bank, a lender of South Korea's fourth-largest banking group, reported a system shutdown, including online banking and automated teller machines. The company couldn't conduct any customer activities at bank windows, including retail and corporate banking.
At one Starbucks in downtown Seoul, customers were asked to pay for their coffee in cash, and lines were forming outside disabled bank machines. Seoul is a largely cashless society, with many people using debit and credit cards.
Broadcasters KBS and MBC said their computers went down at 2 pm, but officials said the shutdown did not affect daily TV broadcasts.
YTN cable news channel also said the company's internal computer network was completely paralyzed. Local TV showed workers staring at blank computer screens.
The South Korean military raised its cyberattack readiness level today following the shutdown, the Defence Ministry said. Defence officials reported no signs of cyberattacks on its ministry's computer network and had no immediate details about the broader shutdown.
LG Uplus Corp., South Korea's third-largest mobile operator, which also operates landline services, said the company's networks are operating normally and it did not see any signs of a cyberattack, company spokesman Lee Jung-hwan said.
The companies whose networks shut down this afternoon use not just LG Uplus' services but also other services from SK Telecom Co. and KT Corp, he said.
The investigation will take months, Lim said.
"Hackers attack media companies usually because of a political desire to cause confusion in society," he said. "Political attacks on South Korea come from North Koreans."
Massive shutdowns of the networks of major companies take at least one to six months of planning and coordination, said Kwon Seok-chul, chief executive officer of Seoul-based cyber security firm Cuvepia Inc.
Google’s Android unit is reportedly working on a wearable smartphone that would be a rival to Apple’s much talked about – yet still unseen – iWatch.
Whilst Google Glass has been tested in public and is due for launch towards the end of this year, details about Apple’s iWatch have come from a series of rumours and supposed leaks.
The leak would, however, seem to be confirmed by the fact that last year Google had a patent application approved for a “smart watch” with dual-screen “flip-up display”, and a camera.
The patent filing also mentioned a “tactile user interface” – or touchscreen.
The reported Google device is separate from the Samsung smartwatch, which the Korean firm this week confirmed that it is working on.
Concept for a Samsung watch by Johan Loekito - Google is working on a separate device.
“We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, told Bloomberg during an interview in Seoul.
“We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”
The challenge facing smartwatch designers is miniaturisation. All the main technologies – screens, processors, GPS, mobile software, Bluetooth wireless networking – are already mature and in mass use.
The problem is fitting them into something small enough to look stylish on a wrist.
The Australian known as "Prisoner X", who died in an Israeli prison in 2010, had been arrested after a bungled and unauthorised bid to recruit a double agent with links to Lebanon's Hizbollah, according to reports.
The man, Ben Zygier, was arrested in early 2010 and was held in secret under the name of Prisoner X on unspecified security charges. A judicial inquiry in Israel found Zygier, 34, hanged himself in a high-security jail cell.
Israel has refused to disclose details of the case, even refusing a request for information from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the case has been the subject of gag orders in Israel.
But Australia's Fairfax newspapers and Germany's Der Spiegel magazine said after a joint investigation that Zygier had unwittingly given away secret information about Lebanese informants, who were later arrested and jailed in Lebanon.
"Zygier wanted to achieve something that he didn't end up getting," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted an unidentified, highly placed Israeli official as saying.
"Then he ended up on a precipitous path. He crossed paths with someone who was much more professional than he was."
The newspaper said Zygier, who took Israeli citizenship in the mid-1990s, was recruited to Israel's spy agency Mossad in 2004 and worked in Europe.
He was assigned to infiltrate companies with links to countries hostile to Israel, including Iran and Syria. It said Zygier was eventually pulled back to Tel Aviv and assigned to a desk job within Mossad.
In an attempt to prove himself and return to a field assignment, Zygier then set about trying to recruit a European man known to be close to Hizbollah militants, setting up meetings in late 2008 with the hope of recruiting the man as a double agent.
But the plan went wrong when Zygier tried to prove his credentials by giving up the names of Israel's top two Lebanese informants, Ziad al-Homsi and Mustafa Ali Awadeh, who were both arrested in 2009 and jailed for 15 years, the paper said.
When he was arrested in early 2010, Zygier was carrying a compact disc loaded with more intelligence files that he might have planned to pass on to his Hizbollah contact, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
An Australian government inquiry earlier this month said it found no evidence any Australian passports had been misused by either Zygier, a dual Australian citizen, or by Mossad.
Bob Carr, the Australian foreign minister, has confirmed Zygier was working for the Israeli government but stopped short of confirming he worked for Mossad.
Edited at telegraph.co.uk by Sarah Titterton
BlackBerry shares have continued to fall after a disappointing US launch of the new Z10 smartphones prompted Goldman Sachs to downgrade its financial rating for the Canadian company.
The BlackBerry maker, formerly known as RIM, has been keen to talk up the global reception of the Z10 handsets, which were unveiled last month ahead of an initial launch in Canada and the UK.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins was quick to declare the introduction of the Z10 a success, but his claims that stocks of the new phones were running low were met with scepticism as shops insisted they had "plenty" left.
Earlier this month it was reported that retailers in the UK were already cutting the prices of the handsets.
Following the US launch at the end of last week, sales were also said to be disappointing.
The shares fell as much as 9.4 per cent to $14.64 in Friday trading, the biggest one-day decline since the end of January.
Before the recent drop, the stock had climbed 36 per cent this year, fuelled by optimism that the company’s new handsets and the much-touted BB10 operating system would spark a turnaround for the company which has seen its market share swallowed up by Apple and Samsung.
Then Goldman Sachs reduced its investment rating on BlackBerry from “buy” to “neutral”, citing “disappointing” sales in the US and saying the Z10 had only a 20 per cent chance of success.
“While we thought the international launch was solid, the US launch is critical for BlackBerry’s ultimate success,” Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski wrote in a research note.
In Monday’s trading, BlackBerry shares fell a further 4.6 per cent to $14.23.
Citigroup also downgraded BlackBerry after finding that less than 5 per cent of shops in the US had sold out of the Z10, despite each only stocking around a dozen of the phones.
Apple, by comparison, sold out of the iPhone 5 in most shops on the first day of its September launch and Samsung last year struggled to meet huge demand for its Galaxy S3 smartphone, and is also anticipating a great appetite for its recently unveiled Galaxy S4.
One in ten parents are prepared to break the law in order to save money on their child's car cover, new research suggests.
A tenth of parents are happy to commit fraud to help their children save money on car insurance, according to figures from comparison website GoCompare.com.
With the average best premium for 17- and 18-year-old’s costing more than £3,205 per year, more than one in ten parents surveyed said they would insure their child’s car on a policy in the parent’s name in an attempt to reduce the premium their child would have to pay – this is a practice known as "fronting" and is illegal.
Fronting is when a lower risk – usually older – driver, insures a vehicle in their name, but the actual main driver falls into a higher risk category, such as a young or inexperienced driver. Though the idea behind fronting is to save the young driver money on their premium, it could invalidate insurance and lead to a criminal record.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of telling insurers the truth, as any deviation from the facts may result in any future claims being refused," said Scott Kelly, head of motor insurance at Gocompare.com. "There are plenty of perfectly legal ways to reduce premiums for young drivers which don’t result in them being underinsured or criminally liable.”
Premiums have always been higher for young drivers, due to higher risk or traffic accidents. According to figures from road safety charity Brake, one in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing a test and an 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48 year-old.
Road crashes are the biggest single killer of young people in the UK with young drivers being involved in four times the number of fatal and serious crashes, despite only making up one in eight driver licence holders.
“Instead of ‘fronting’, parents should consider adding themselves as a named driver on their son or daughter’s policy," said Mr Kelly. "Having a more experienced driver on the policy should lower the premium and would still allow the younger driver to gain No Claims Bonuses (NCB) which will help lower future premiums significantly.”
For example, according to the comparison website, the cheapest quote for an 18-year-old driver with a 1.0 Vauxhall Corsa; came from Endsleigh at an annual premium of £1,625. However, by adding an experienced driver to the policy as a named driver, the cheapest quote was £1,517 a saving of £108 from the same insurer.
British mourners are renting "professional sobbers" to blub at funerals to make people believe the deceased was really popular.
For £45 an hour, the fake mourners can be rented to cry for the duration of a funeral service in order to swell the numbers at funerals.
Ian Robertson, the founder of Rent-a-Mourner, in Braintree, Essex, admits the idea may be unfamiliar to the British, although the phenomenon is popular in places such as Asia.
The mourners-for-hire are briefed on the life of the deceased and would be able to talk to friends and relatives as if they really had known their loved one.
Rent-a-Mourner has 20 staff on its books to hire out for funerals, which Mr Robertson said were friends of his rather than professional actors.
He added that they are not required to well up, but are mainly there just to make up the numbers.
"We were actually inspired by the market growth in China," said Mr Robertson.
"The Middle Eastern way is to provide wailers - crying women - as opposed to the quiet, dignified methods we use.
"Our staff will meet with the client beforehand and agree 'the story', so our staff will either have known the deceased professionally or socially. They will be informed of the deceased's background, achievements, failures etc. so they can converse with other mourners with confidence."
Mr Robertson set up Rent-a-Mourner in January last year, and said he has had 52 bookings since the company began, with 15 in the first six months.
"It is growing in the UK - our bookings are up 50 per cent year on year," he said.
He added that his biggest source of his bookings were for funerals in Hull, and has sent staff to 12 funerals there, adding that he could not explain why that area showed the biggest demand.
The company also has plans to expand, after having to turn down more than 60 requests because the funerals were too far away for the fake mourners to get to.
Consumer expert Jasmine Birtles, who conducted the research, believes multi-cultural Britain is experiencing a "cultural shift in the way its mourners say their final farewell.
Birtles, the founder of personal finance site MoneyMagpie.com, said: "Hiring a stranger to weep at a funeral may seem strange, but it's a deep-seated tradition in the East.
"It's still a niche market at the moment but demand for professional mourners is increasing year on year as more people from East Asian and Middle Eastern countries move to the UK, bringing their customs with them.
"The rise in popularity shows a cultural shift taking place in how we choose to pay our last respects and like with many other cultural imports, it's only a matter of time before it crosses over into mainstream culture."
"At the moment it's not the sort of thing most people can treat as a career, but if it continues to increase in popularity then crying on demand could soon become a highly-prized skill."
Despite North Korea's highly-publicized missile tests, relatively little is known about the actual size and capabilities of its arsenal.
The regime is understood to have substantial numbers of short- and intermediate-range missiles such as the Nodong, a variant on the Scud missile.
With a range of around 1,000km, the Nodong could in theory strike in South Korea and Japan. However, its poor accuracy makes it an ineffective battlefield weapon and it is unlikely North Korea would be able to pinpoint U.S. military bases in the region, although it could cause serious civilian casualties.
The middle-range Musudan missile is of major concern to Japan as its 4,000km capability would allow the North Korean regime to strike anywhere in Japanese territory. Estimates of the size of North Korea's Musudan arsenal vary widely, with figures ranging from only a dozen to more than 200.
The Taepodong 1 was North Korea's first multi-stage missile, a significant technological development where the weapon depends on different thrusters at different times. However it has proved a poor performer, with limited range and unreliable accuracy.
However, its older brother, the Taepodong 2, is treated far more seriously by U.S. defense authorities. The 40m missile is believed to have a range of 6,000km, meaning it could in theory hit Alaska. In December 2012, a variant of the Taepodong 2 successfully launched a satellite into space.
Barry Pavel, a former senior director for defense policy at the White House's National Security Council, described the launch as "a milestone."
"It's the same general technology as is required for intercontinental nuclear missile, so it's a concern," he said