Articles on this Page
- 04/01/13--10:23: _DIONNE WARWICK: The...
- 04/04/13--03:38: _'Russian Banksy' Pa...
- 04/05/13--05:58: _Advertisers Are Wor...
- 04/08/13--05:33: _550 Pounds Of Dead ...
- 04/09/13--03:55: _Smell Of Rosemary F...
- 04/09/13--12:50: _There Were Violent ...
- 04/10/13--15:30: _An Iranian Scientis...
- 04/11/13--04:00: _Iranian Scientist S...
- 04/12/13--04:36: _Google Wants To Kno...
- 04/14/13--08:08: _Skin Cancer Is A Mu...
- 04/14/13--09:47: _New Genetic Test Re...
- 04/15/13--04:19: _Facebook Advertiser...
- 04/15/13--10:13: _PROFESSOR: Cocaine ...
- 04/15/13--11:14: _After An Incredibly...
- 04/16/13--02:34: _GRANTHAM: It's Too ...
- 04/17/13--03:53: _Study Explains Why ...
- 04/17/13--04:23: _Facebook Is Talking...
- 04/21/13--06:37: _Family Of Missing S...
- 04/21/13--12:18: _5-Year-Old Victim A...
- 04/25/13--11:09: _The Victoria’s Secr...
- 04/01/13--10:23: DIONNE WARWICK: The Dizzying Downfall Of A Bankrupt Diva
- 04/04/13--03:38: 'Russian Banksy' Pasha P183 Dies Aged 29
- 04/09/13--03:55: Smell Of Rosemary Found To Boost Multiple Types Of Memory
- 04/10/13--15:30: An Iranian Scientist Claims To Have Invented A Time Machine
- 04/12/13--04:36: Google Wants To Know What To Do With Your Gmail After You're Dead
- 04/14/13--08:08: Skin Cancer Is A Much Bigger Problem Than People Realize
- 04/14/13--09:47: New Genetic Test Reveals If You Can Post A Good Marathon Time
- 04/15/13--04:19: Facebook Advertisers Enraged By Their Ads On Pages About Rape
- 04/15/13--10:13: PROFESSOR: Cocaine Caused The Financial Crisis
- 04/17/13--03:53: Study Explains Why Men Struggle To Read Female Emotions
- 04/17/13--04:23: Facebook Is Talking To Apple About Creating A 'Home' For The iPhone
- 04/25/13--11:09: The Victoria’s Secret Angel Who Gave Up Her Wings For God
Her name is among the brightest in recording industry history, her songs providing the soundtrack for a generation and earning her a place as one of the most successful hit-makers of all time.
After more than five decades of music-making that won her five Grammy awards, more than 60 charted singles and global album sales totalling more than 100 million copies, Dionne Warwick might have been assumed to have earned herself a comfortable retirement.
Yet her bankruptcy filing last week reveals financial tangles that belie her musical success. At the age of 72, the pop and R&B legend who once reaped seven-figure pay cheques and a glittering lifestyle is down to her last $1,000 in cash and mired in $10 million of tax debt, it claims.
The 50-page document, lodged in a New Jersey bankruptcy court, provides in humiliating detail the particulars of Warwick's personal finances, even down to her monthly $90 bill for garbage disposal and the fact that, on March 17, she underwent a debt counselling session over the internet.
Her income exceeds her outgoings by just $10 a month, she owes $20,000 on her credit card, and debts totaling $505,737 to a former lawyer and a former business manager. Personal assets total just over $25,000.
"We had no other resort other than to file bankruptcy so that we could get this off her back finally," her bankruptcy attorney, Daniel Stolz, told Rolling Stone, declaring his client an "innocent victim of terrible mismanagement" during the 1980s and 1990s.
Though Warwick is up to date with her taxes, her debt to the Internal Revenue Service is the result of dues accumulated on tax bills dating back to 1991.
"Before she knew it, she owed a gazillion dollars in taxes. She's actually paid more than the face amount of the taxes, but with all of the crazy interest and penalties that they add, the number kept mushrooming," said Mr Stolz.
A cousin of singer Whitney Houston, who died of a cocaine-related drowning last year, Warwick first performed professionally in 1961 after she was discovered by the songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
She had her first hit within a year with Don't Make Me Over and, over the ensuing decade, released 18 consecutive Top 100 singles, including Walk on By, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie, Say a Little Prayer, I'll Never Fall in Love Again, and Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Later hits included Then Came You and Heartbreaker. She has had more hits in the charts than any other female vocalist except Aretha Franklin.
In the 1990s, she became the public face of the Psychic Friends Network, a telephone service that connected callers with clairvoyants for $3.99 a minute. It earned her $3 million a year before the corporation that owned the service went into bankruptcy.
Critics of Ms Warwick's own bankruptcy filing have taken to web forums to joke that, given her experience with the Psychic Friends Network, she should have seen her money troubles coming. Some question the extent of her financial suffering.
"I have no pity for any celebrities who make more in a month than most Americans make in a year AND file their taxes on time, who cannot pay their debts," stated one.
Another wrote: "Where did all the money go? Good God, she must have more than $25,000 in assets."
With two children's books, a best-selling autobiography, a fragrance line, a new album and a current world tour to supplement her 50 years of showbusiness cheques, the question of Warwick's disappearing fortune is indeed baffling.
It is not the first time that money woes have surfaced; in 1993, she filed for so-called "Chapter 11" protection from tax debts – a case that was resolved after she surrendered three cars including her BMW.
Mr Stolz said: "Just because someone is a well-known, prominent celebrity doesn't mean they're conversant in their financial affairs. They rely heavily on people and frequently wind up waking up someday saying 'Jeez, how did I get in this mess and how do I get out of it?'"
In Warwick's case, the unnamed manager blamed for her financial troubles was fired years ago. Attempts have been made over the years to strike a deal with the IRS, to which she owes $7 million, and the California Franchise Tax Board, to which she owes $3 million, that would bring her debts under control, but without success.
Quite what she offered is unclear. In her bankruptcy filing, Warwick – who lives in a rented detached home in the village of South Orange, New Jersey - details monthly expenses of $20,940 and monthly income of $20,950, leaving her just $10 in float.
The monthly outgoings include $5,000 in rent, $5,000 for "housekeeping/sitting", $4,000 for a personal assistant, $1,000 for electricity, $500 for the telephone, $500 for food and $750 for laundry and dry cleaning.
Most of her income comes from a $14,000 monthly pension, which is supplemented by $2,200 a month in Social Security benefits.
She also receives an average $6,250 a month in wages from Star Girl Productions, the company she lists as her employer. Successful artists commonly set up such entities - known as "loan out corporations" - through which to provide their services and reap legal tax benefits.
David L Neale, a Los Angeles-based bankruptcy attorney who has studied Warwick's court filing, said: "If an entertainer's business people show to the IRS figures stating that the person's income is X amount and that there is Y amount available, then either the IRS buys into it or they don't.
"The loan-out company could cover costs such as staff, travel, and pay the entertainer a salary that may be equal only to what that person requires to meet their monthly outgoings. It may be that there's more money, in the form of royalties or other income, that's paid to the loan-out company but which is not personal income to the entertainer.
"This is speculation, but part of the complication may be that the IRS sees her showing income equal to her expenses, but also having an interest in a company where money is coming in and going to others. That may lead the IRS to say 'Wait a minute'."
He added: "A bankruptcy filing is done under penalty of perjury and there's no suggestion that Ms Warwick has been anything less than honest."
Intriguingly for a woman who only last October told an interviewer, "My mainstay is shopping. I love going down to Givenchy and the boutiques. I don't shop for what I need, just what I want," Warwick lists her monthly clothing expenses as zero.
She is down to her last two fur coats and two pairs of diamond earrings, collectively worth $13,000, plus a wardrobe of "gowns and everyday clothing" valued at $5,000, her court filing reveals.
Her living room furniture, beds, dining room set and laptop computer are together valued at just $1,500. "Assorted artwork and paintings" make up the $5,000 remainder of her total $25,500 assets.
She personally owns no property, Mr Stolz said. A home she used to own in Bahia, Brazil, was sold in 2005, Warwick told an interviewer three years ago, though she has subsequently alluded publicly to living part-time in Brazil.
She tried marriage twice - both times with the same man, William Elliot, a television actor. They wed in 1966, divorced in May 1967, but then remarried three months later. "It was a case of can't do with, can't do without, so I married him again," she later stated.
They had two sons, David and Damon - both of whom now also work in the music industry - but divorced for a second time in 1975. Mr Elliot revealed during divorce proceedings that his wife was, at that time, earning $100,000 a month - 200 times his own income. His demand for $2,000 in spousal support was denied.
"It's hard when the woman is the breadwinner. All my life, the only man that ever took care of me financially was my father. I have always taken care of myself," she stated in a 2002 interview.
She has been romantically linked since then with French singer Sacha Distel, Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas and The Godfather star Gianni Russo.
Mr Stolz described her as having been reluctant to take the bankruptcy route because she is a "very proud woman .a very honourable person."
He told a New Jersey television station: "Dionne's a very warm, wonderful, giving person. She's been extraordinarily philanthropic throughout her life. Not only has she not accumulated great wealth, but she is now living hounded by the IRS."
Warwick's work for good causes has been a major feature of her career. She was one of the first celebrities to become involved in the crusade against HIV and Aids, founding the Washington-based Warwick Foundation in the late 1980s to fund research, healthcare and public education and preaching compassion at a time when Aids was still taboo.
Her 1985 recording of That's What Friends Are For, with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, raised over $3 million for Aids causes, won a Grammy and topped the Billboard charts.
She served as both a UN ambassador for health and an ambassador for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and has raised millions of dollars for causes including children's hospitals, world hunger, disaster relief, music education and her old elementary school in East Orange – now named the Dionne Warwick Institute for Economics and Entrepreneurship.
In a poorly typed note posted to her official website, she tells fans: "i'm sure you have been made aware via the enternet that i have filed bankruptcy i am okay and don't want any of you to worry about this as with so many things in our lifetime objects that are sometimes unavoidable will crop up just keep a positive thought going around me and as i have been told on many occasions 'THIS TOO SHALL PASS.'"
A prominent Russian graffiti artist who hid his identity behind the tag Pasha P183 and has been compared to Britain's Banksy has died aged just 29.
The Teatralnoye Delo theatrical production company, which recently commissioned him to create scenery for the musical Todd, said he died on Monday in Moscow. It gave no further details.
Teatralnoye Delo's spokeswoman Regina Vartsan, who knew the artist, described him as a "sincere and open person of remarkable talent and unique vision."
Like Banksy, and late US artist Keith Haring, Pasha P183 started out painting graffiti in the dead of night, and recalled being detained numerous times by Moscow police.
One of his most famous works was painted on the ground in a snow-covered yard and features a huge pair of glasses, with a lamppost serving as one arm. Another piece showed chocolate bars painted on a panel of concrete, an image he said reflected his abhorrence of the commercialisation of art and life.
"I wanted that work to carry the most important message... that a person mustn't sell himself," he said in a rare interview posted on adme.ru last year. "I made a chocolate bar that can't be bought, using a giant panel of concrete."
He said the work provided a more optimistic ending for a film he made - the original one had the hero jumping out of the window to his death, while the alternative had him landing safely in front of the chocolate bar.
Little was known about the artist, who carefully protected his identity. In the same interview, he described himself as an "anarchist" and spoke with contempt about the "constant run for money" in Moscow.
Many of his street works had political undertones and carried an apparent reference to a recent wave of massive street protests in Moscow against president Vladimir Putin's rule. One showed a protester lighting a flare and another work had shield-carrying riot police on a subway station's glass doors.
"Put simply, I want to teach people in this country to tell lies from the truth and to tell bad from good," he said in an interview with Russia Today television, wearing a black ski mask that covered most of his face. "This is what our people still cannot do."
Despite all that, he said he did not consider himself a political artist and hated politics just as much as he hated advertising.
The artist has claimed to have had many professions since graduating from a university, working as a computer expert, photographer, cameraman, film director and even child psychiatrist. He scoffed at comparisons to Banksy, saying they belittled his own style.
The rock musical Todd is currently showing in Moscow.
"It was a colossal work," Pasha P183 wrote on his Facebook page of the production of the scenery. "If I die tomorrow, I can at least feel that I have left something real behind."
Advertisers warned Facebook today that its Home application needs to avoid irritating users with its adverts.
“Invasive, tedious or over-frequent marketing in such a personal space will be an instant switch-off for Home users,” Angus Wood from iProspect, a digital marketing agency, said.
“Facebook are unlocking a vast amount of consumers' time. But alongside that, the closer you come to the consumer, the softer you need to tread, and the bar for content quality will be higher than ever,” Mr Wood added.
The Cover Feed on Facebook Home will not display advertising on April 12 when it becomes available, but future versions will carry adverts.
Analysts were also asking whether Facebook would be able to gather too much personal data about users from Home.
“Facebook Home should put privacy advocates on alert, for this application erodes any idea of privacy,” Om Malik, founder of GigaOM, a technology news website, said .
He noted that smartphones would be able to send GPS data to Facebook, potentially telling the social media giant where the phone, and likely its owner, is at any time.
“So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home,” he said.
“We need to ask our legislative representatives to understand that Facebook wants to go from our desktops and browsers right into our home — the place where we need to be private,” he wrote.
The expected partnership with HTC was also confirmed as the smartphone manufacturer launched the HTC First, which will have Home built in.
“Our phones are designed around apps, not people. We want to flip that around,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
He introduced “Chat Heads”, a "layer" feature that would allow users to read and send Facebook and text messages without needing to switch back to Home.
Facebook Home will be available to install on other Android devices such as the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 from April 12 in the US.
It will be available worldwide “in the coming weeks”.
The HTC First will be available on EE in Britain from this summer.
Shanghai's rivers are in hot water for the second time this year after hundreds of kilos of dead fish were found rotting in one of the mega-city's waterways.
Just weeks after over 16,000 putrefying pigs were pulled from Shanghai's Huangpu river, more than 250kg [550 lbs] of dead carp had to be retrieved from a river in the city's Songjiang district.
Mystery still surrounds the cause of death, but numerous explanations have surfaced in the Chinese media since residents first complained about the foul-smelling fish last Monday.
Theories reportedly include climate change, electrocution, an explosion or even a drug overdose.
The Shanghai Daily quoted a local government official who "speculated" the fish could have been "drugged".
"Small fish died earlier because they're more sensitive to toxins," the official, named as Mr Gao, told the newspaper.
China has become notorious for its polluted rivers, largely as a result of decades of unbridled economic growth. Last year a senior official conceded 20 percent of the country's rivers had become "too toxic for human contact".
Shanghai authorities have so far denied the "fish kill" was caused by water pollution, citing the absence of chemical plants near the river.
Whatever the cause, authorities insist there is no risk to public health or drinking water sources.
"The river's quality hasn't been affected by the dead fish so far. It remains the same level as usual," an official named as Mr Zhang told the China Daily. He did not explain what the usual level was.
Nor was there a connection between the dead carp and the thousands of rotting pig carcasses pulled from Shanghai's Huangpu last month, local environmental official Liu Fengqiang said.
One river-dweller told the China Daily he had stopped using tap water in the wake of the two scandals. "I need to trust my sources of water. I'm still haunted by the dead pigs," Shi Hua said.
Meanwhile, samples of the dead fish have been sent for testing and the fish themselves have been laid to rest.
"All the dead fish plucked out of the water were buried safely," the Shanghai Daily reported.
Shakespeare was right - the smell of rosemary is good for your memory, according to a new study.
Essential oil of rosemary boosted healthy adults' ability to recall past events and remember to perform future tasks, which could include taking medication or sending a birthday card, at the correct time.
The improvement was unrelated to the participants' mood, suggesting it was having a chemical influence which improved their memory, the study found.
Researchers, who will present their findings at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Harrogate on Tuesday, said the results could improve the everyday lives of people with age-related memory loss.
Rosemary has long been linked to memory and fidelity, and was used by ancient Egyptians in weddings and funeral rituals.
Shakespeare, it seems, was also aware of its properties. In "Hamlet," Ophelia remarks: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance: pray you, love, remember."
Previous studies had already suggested that compounds in rosemary aroma could improve long-term memory and mental arithmetic, by inhibiting enzymes which block normal brain functioning.
Dr. Mark Moss, who led the study, said: "We wanted to build on our previous research that indicated rosemary aroma improved long-term memory and mental arithmetic.
"We focused on prospective memory, which involves the ability to remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to complete tasks at particular times [which] is critical for everyday functioning."
Sixty-six participants were divided into two groups and asked to wait in different rooms, one of which had been scented with rosemary essential oil.
The volunteers then completed a series of memory tests, which included hiding objects and finding them again at a later stage, or passing a specified object to a researcher at a particular time which had been specified earlier.
People who had been assigned to the rosemary-scented room performed better at both types of test, and were also found to have higher levels of 1,8-cineole, a compound found in rosemary oil, in their blood.
The compound has previously been shown to influence chemical systems in the body which have an impact on memory.
Jemma McCready, a research intern who carried out the study, said: "These findings may have implications for treating individuals with memory impairments.
"Remembering when and where to go and for what reasons underpins everything we do, and we all suffer minor failings that can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous. Further research is needed to investigate if this treatment is useful for older adults who have experienced memory decline.”
North Korea's army was deeply split over whether to accept the command of Kim Jong-un, a former officer has revealed, giving a possible clue to the tensions lying behind the young leader's calls to war.
First Lieutenant Kim, 42, said he had been forced to flee North Korea after he murdered a rival officer as the factions within his army unit battled for control.
"I killed a three-star company commander, the same rank as me," he said. "He was the head of the faction supporting Kim Jong-un. There were two fights. In the first fight, they surrounded us and arrested a lot of people.
"But I got away and gathered others from the barracks. We found them and I shot the commander. After that, I escaped".
The battles occurred at the end of 2011, shortly before Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the "supreme commander" of the Korean People's Army, the 1.2 million-strong standing force that remains at the heart of North Korea's "military-first" society.
"It was before he came to power, but we all knew for a long time that he was going to be made the leader. There were a lot of people who were against him. But everyone in that faction got arrested after he came to power," said Lt. Kim.
His group, he said, supported Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's 85-year-old president.
Divisions within the military, and the desire of a leader who may be only 30-years-old to consolidate his position, could be one factor behind the current spate of aggression.
"The further north you go (in North Korea), the more you hear rumours of dissension and divisions over who is or who would have been a better leader," said Joseph Bermudez, an expert on the North Korean military and an analyst at DigitalGlobe.
He added that there had been rumours last year of a possibly violent falling-out between two major departments over who would be in charge of army reconnaissance. That, he said, might have alarmed Kim Jong-un, who subsequently reshuffled a host of leading generals.
Lt Kim, who would not give his first name, said he was from Uiju county, close to the Chinese border city of Dandong. He has spent the last two years lying low in China, rarely venturing out, and waiting for his chance to travel to South Korea.
"We knew that South Korea was on a path to democracy and they had a good life and they had enough food. I had never eaten rice, and I cried the first time I smelled it cooking here in China," he added.
Wearing a pair of cheap Chinese trainers, a patterned jumper and a green Chinese army surplus great coat, a palpably scared Lt Kim was unable to offer any formal identification. His left arm hung awkwardly from an old wound to his shoulder.
If he is caught by the Chinese, he will be sent back to face either the death penalty or life in a gulag.
A halting interview with him, in the back of a taxi parked in the sparse countryside outside Dandong, was arranged through an agent who is helping to smuggle him to the South, and who charged £100 to speak to the former officer.
"I give him food," the agent said. "He used to be skinny, but after staying indoors these years, he has eaten well.
"I have contact with the South Korean spies who are here in Dandong. They keep an eye on relations between China and the North, but they also pay for me to deliver North Koreans to them. He will probably be sold next month, but until then the North Koreans are searching for him." The agent, a trim ethnic Korean in a nylon bomber jacket, declined to give his name.
He claimed that he had smuggled out 60 to 80 people out last year, many of whom were escaping after internal riots last year in Manpo, another city close to the border. "Only three in 10 defectors are successful," he said. "The others are arrested or are shot as they escape."
After two years outside of the country, Lt Kim said he had "no idea" what lay behind this month's aggression. "I do not know why they are doing what they are doing now," he said.
"Before I left, we used to hear that there was fighting between Kim Jong-un and his brother, who does not like China. They have different mothers so they are struggling against each other."
But he predicted there would be "no war" and that the regime would continue its hold on power, despite the desperate problems in many parts of the country.
"The situation is very bad. People are starving. There are some rich people, some rich politicians, who have a lot of money, but the rest of the people do not have anything. My father and mother both starved to death and my older brother died of illness," he said.
Lt Kim said he had commanded a construction company which excavated mountains for military installations.
"We were digging fortifications to prepare for war," he said. "Some of the projects would last for six years."
Mr Bermudez said there was still not enough information to establish the motive for North Korea's war footing. "We have not seen this before. We might be seeing that the generals have been given far more room and they are exploiting that, without really understanding the effect on the international community."
When asked if the North Korean army is still strong, Lt Kim answered automatically: "Yes, very strong". The man who smuggled him out of North Korea, however, doubled up laughing at the officer's response.
"They are taught that they are the strongest army in the world, and the best equipped. But in reality, their equipment is what we were using in China 60 years ago!" he said.
An Iranian businessman claims to have mastered time with a machine that allows users to fast forward up to eight years into the future.
Ali Razeghi, a Tehran scientist has registered "The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine" with the state-run Centre for Strategic Inventions.
The device can predict the future in a print out after taking readings from the touch of a user, he told the Fars state newsagency.
Razaeghi, 27, said the device worked by a set of complex algorithims to "predict five to eight years of the future life of any individual, with 98 percent accuracy".
As the managing director of Iran's Centre for Strategic Inventions, Razeghi is a serial inventor with 179 other inventions listed under his own name. "I have been working on this project for the last 10 years," he said.
"My invention easily fits into the size of a personal computer case and can predict details of the next 5-8 years of the life of its users. It will not take you into the future, it will bring the future to you."
Razeghi says Iran's government can predict the possibility of a military confrontation with a foreign country, and forecast the fluctuation in the value of foreign currencies and oil prices by using his new invention.
"Naturally a government that can see five years into the future would be able to prepare itself for challenges that might destabilise it," he said. "As such we expect to market this invention among states as well as individuals once we reach a mass production stage."
Razeghi said his latest project has been criticised by friends and relatives for "trying to play God" with ordinary lives and history. "This project is not against our religious values at all. The Americans are trying to make this invention by spending millions of dollars on it where I have already achieved it by a fraction of the cost," he said. "The reason that we are not launching our prototype at this stage is that the Chinese will steal the idea and produce it in millions overnight."
Serial inventor Ali Razeghi registered "The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine" with Iran's state-run Centre for Strategic Inventions
An Iranian scientist has claimed to have invented a 'time machine' that can predict the future of any individual with a 98 per cent accuracy.
Serial inventor Ali Razeghi registered "The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine" with Iran's state-run Centre for Strategic Inventions, The Telegraph reported.
According to a Fars news agency report, Mr. Razeghi, 27, claims the machine uses algorithms to produce a print-out of the details of any individual's life between five and eight years into their future.
Mr Razeghi, quoted in the Telegraph, said: "My invention easily fits into the size of a personal computer case and can predict details of the next 5-8 years of the life of its users. It will not take you into the future, it will bring the future to you."
Razeghi is the managing director of Iran's Centre for Strategic Invention and reportedly has another 179 inventions registered in his name.
He claims the invention could help the government predict military conflict and forecast fluctuations in the value of foreign currencies and oil prices.
According to Mr Razeghi his latest project has been criticised by his friends and family for "trying to play God".
Iranian authorities are keen to showcase the technological prowess of the country but have been criticised in recent months for allegedly faking pictures of a new jet fighter flying over mountains.
Prior to that the government was accused of also faking claims that it successfully sent a monkey into space when before and after pictures appeared to show a markedly different animal.
Google has launched a new service to help its users make an online will that dictates what happens to their data after they die - either permanently deleting it, or passing it on to loved ones as a digital inheritance.
Inactive Account Manager lets users of all Google services choose "trusted contacts" who will have access to their data once their account has laid dormant for three, six or 12 months, depending on their preference.
As a final warning before releasing the data, Google will send an email and text message to the user to make sure that they have passed on, and not merely left their accounts inactive.
Alternatively, users can choose to have their data deleted permanently.
Google product manager Andreas Tuerk said, in a blog post announcing the launch : "Not many of us like thinking about death — especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind.
"We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife — in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone."
To setup the service you need to visit your Google Account settings page, where you will be able to select options for all of Google's services, including YouTube, Gmail, Google+ and Picasa Web Albums.
Research shows one type accounts for 200,000 operations a year with cases rising 80 percent in a decade
Skin cancer is now nearly as prevalent as all other cancers put together, with more than 200,000 basal cell skin cancers treated with surgery a year. New research has found that, over the past decade, there has been an 80 percent rise in cases of the skin cancer which are treated with surgery alone. But doctors who carried out the study warn that official government skin cancer figures seriously underestimate the true levels. With costs of treating each case of this form of skin cancer estimated at around £1,000, the financial burden to the NHS could be more than £200m a year.
"Our study shows that the number of basal cell carcinomas (BCC) in the UK is approximately twice that indicated by government statistics," said doctors from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Eastern Cancer Registration Centre, Cambridge, who carried out the study. "The effects on population health and on costs to the health services of BCC in the UK should be recognised. Resources to prevent, diagnose and manage the disease should be prioritised to help control BCC, which now appears to be the commonest malignant disease in the UK."
They added: "Cancer registries acknowledge that data collection for BCC is imperfect, and consequently data on BCC are excluded from national statistics. Unfortunately, this means that the commonest cancer in the UK is often overlooked by politicians, the public and the media."
Catherine Thomson, of Cancer Research UK, said: "Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and we need to find better ways of recording the number of people diagnosed with it. This means they are not routinely reported and the true workload and treatment burden on the NHS is not widely understood. The good news is that generally it's one of the easiest forms of cancer to treat and it is rarely fatal."
BCC, which accounts for around 75 percent of all skin cancers, develops in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, and it is linked to overexposure to ultraviolet light. Surgery is the main treatment and involves removing the cancerous tumour and some of the surrounding skin. Treatment for BCC is completely successful in approximately 90 per cent of cases, and unlike melanoma skin cancer, which is linked to around 2,000 deaths a year, it is rarely fatal.
However, projected government figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday show that melanoma cases are also expected to rise dramatically. The Department of Health strategy paper, which outlines a "vision" of how skin cancer in the UK might develop by 2015, reveals that medical advisers working in 2010 anticipated a significant increase in cases. "If current trends continue, it is anticipated that there will be around 15,500 cases of melanoma diagnosed per year within the next 15 years," it warns. Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) of which BCC are a type, were also projected to increase by the paper, which said: "Similarly, the incidence of NMSC is set to increase over the next five years due to factors including an ageing population and a general increase in UV radiation exposure of the skin through altered behaviour."
According to the new study, cancer registries have difficulty in collecting and dealing with data on the incidence of BCC because of the sheer volume of work and the complexity of accurately identifying cases. The main aim of the research was to estimate the number of cases of BCC requiring surgical treatment in the UK each year.
This is corroborated by the government paper from 2010, which said: "Progress in improving national skin cancer registration has been slow. Better data (including data on co-morbidity, staging and performance status) is essential for informed cancer service planning, evaluation of prevention strategies and improved management of patients"
The team from East Anglia used data from the eastern registry to estimate the incidence of skin cancer and how it has changed over a decade. Results show that over the 11-year study, the number of patients with surgically treated BCC increased by 81 per cent. The team then extrapolated the findings to the UK population to estimate that around 200,000 patients had 247,000 cases of BCC treated surgically. The researchers say these may be underestimates because BCC is treated with other therapies too, including cryotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. That compares with around 114,000 non-melanoma skin cancers which are registered annually in England and Wales.
In all, around 300,000 cancers a year, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, are registered in the UK, which means, they say, that BCC is nearly as common as all other cancers combined.
"We found a far higher incidence of BCC in our analysis than is stated by the cancer registries, implying that BCC is far more common than previously thought.
"BCC occurs predominantly on sun-exposed areas of elderly people with lighter skin. Elderly people with paler skin should be strongly encouraged to avoid excess exposure to UV. Cancer registries should be supported to record more accurately the incidence of BCC."
Dr Bav Shergill, consultant dermatologist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "This is an interesting study that suggests the incidence of skin cancer may be substantially higher than was thought. As dermatologists, we are seeing more cases of skin cancer, especially BCC. It is a challenge because the numbers of cases are projected to keep on increasing. It is thought that this is due to a number of factors, including people living longer, and greater exposure to the sun through outdoor hobbies, travel and package holidays, and so on."
Degrees of danger
Three types of skin cancer are prevalent.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form. It is slow growing and almost never spreads to other areas of the body. If treated in the early stages of growth it is usually completely curable.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form in the UK, making up one in five diagnosed skin cancers. It is treatable in the early stages through surgery.
Malignant melanoma is a malignant tumour and is usually fast growing. Approximately 11,000 people will be diagnosed with this type annually. It must be treated in the early stages. Tumours can require extensive surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
A new genetic test can reveal whether runners are likely to be able to complete a marathon in a good time.
If months of marathon training fails to deliver the kind of finishing times you were hoping for this year, there is no need to beat yourself up - you were not born to do it.
Scientists have discovered that to run a marathon in a good time requires the right combination of genes and that nearly a fifth of the population lack this special mix.
For runners with the right genes, it means their bodies can quickly adapt to carry large amounts of oxygen to their muscles, allowing them to run faster and for longer.
Those who lack these genes, however, will never improve, no matter how much they train, and their performance may even get worse the harder they push themselves.
It may help to explain why some overweight runners can go streaking past other apparently fitter competitors.
A new DNA test developed by the researchers behind the study could now help tell anyone hoping to achieve a decent marathon finishing time whether their efforts will be worthwhile.
Professor Jamie Timmons, head of systems biology at Loughborough University, has found more than 100 genes responsible for determining how the human body responds to stamina training.
He and his colleagues have found they can use 30 of these key genes to predict whether someone is capable of running a marathon well.
Professor Timmons said: “If someone’s ambition is to do a marathon in a decent manner, we can tell them if they can based on their baseline fitness and their potential for responding to training.
“From our work, we know that 20 per cent of people do not respond at all to training and in fact can get worse. They push themselves as hard as everyone else, but their muscles do not extract the same amount of oxygen.
“About 15 per cent have the genes that mean they will respond highly to training. But of that number, only those with a good inherited baseline fitness and good resistance to injury will ever become elite marathon runners, so that is an even smaller percentage.”
The test works by looking at genes that are responsible for remodelling muscle fibres to allow small blood vessels to grow in between. These help to carry as much oxygen as possible to the muscles during exercise.
Those that have the right mix of these genes can grow new blood vessels and remodel their muscles effectively in response to regular intense aerobic exercise such as long distance running.
Roughly 20 per cent of the population have genes that do not do this remodelling effectively under the kind of regular high intensity training runners use to prepare for marathons and it can even reduce their body’s ability to get oxygen to their muscles effectively, resulting in a reduction in performance.
Anyone falling into this category would be better tto give up on their dream of completing a marathon and turning their attention to a different sport, said Professor Timmons.
He said: “It is plausible that by pushing it though training, they get a maladaptation. What is clear is that there is no one recipe that fits all.
“These low aerobic responders would be better going to the gym to build up their strength and muscle tissue or taking up other competitive sports like martial arts or strength related sports.”
The findings may come too late for those who have signed up to this year’s marathons, with the season already under way and the country’s biggest, the London Marathon, due to take place next weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of competitors take part in marathons around the country each year and Professor Timmons has now set up a company with his colleagues at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana and the Medical Prognosis Institute in Copenhagen to offer runners the chance to have their DNA tested.
They hope the test, called XRPredict+, will help people decide how hard to push themselves when training.
Last year one marathon runner collapsed and died less than a mile from the finish line. An inquiry later revealed she had taken a drink containing a performance enhancing stimulant as she strove to beat her personal best of four hours.
For some marathon hopefuls, the intensive training they do to prepare for the race can result in them not taking part at all. Of the 48,323, accepted applicants for this years London Marathon, just 36,000 are expected to start.
Roughly 600 of those who started the race last year did not finish while the St John’s Ambulance estimates that it helps around 4,000 runners each year before, during and after the event.
Professor Timmons also hopes to conduct new research to understand how the genes he has identified play a role in runner’s susceptibility to injury.
He said: “The genes that underpin the development of the oxygen transport system also play an important role in ligaments and tendons as well.
“There may be a link between people who respond poorly to this sort of training and susceptibility to injury, but that still needs a lot of work.
“We are still early in the life of this kind of use of genomics, but hopefully we will get better at being able to understand how genes determine people’s performance and be able to offer them advice.
“This is important not just for those involved in sport for fun, but also from a health point of view – we want to be able to tailor the exercise people are doing so it is right for them.”
Dove Cosmetics, the RSPB and audiobook site Audible are also among those who have complained to Facebook that group pages with titles such as “Raping!”, “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth” and “This is why Indian girls are raped” have all featured their adverts.
Facebook has been criticised in the past for failing to remove graphic material quickly, despite making $1.33 billion (£869 million) from advertising revenue in the last quarter alone.
Advertisers were alerted by Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, the Times reported. Shelter said on Twitter that it would be “contacting Facebook to see if there's anything we can do to stop this from happening” after its advert appeared on “Raping”, a page ‘liked’ by 4,400 people.
The RSPB contacted Facebook after its adverts appeared on a page called "Indian girls", as did those from Audible. The charity said "Unless they can assure us that they are working out a way to guarantee this kind of thing doesn't continue, we will be forced to consider our advertising options."
On another page, called "Drop kicking sluts in the teeth", an advert for Dove cosmetics appeared. Dove said it was “shocked to see our advert” on “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth”, and added the company has “spoken to Facebook who have removed this page completely". The ‘closed group’ page is however still active, listed with a “controversial humor” warning.
Dove claimed it would be "refining our targeting to reduce the chance of any adverts appearing on similar pages".
Miss Bates told The Times "If advertising on Facebook means your ad could appear on hundreds of rape pages, advertisers should consider that very carefully indeed."
Vodafone contacted Facebook after its commercial content was featured on a page called "This is why Indian girls are raped", alongside pictures of scantily clad Indian women.
Although the page was removed by Facebook it was swiftly replaced by an identical page.
Facebook said adverts on its site are targeted towards individual users, not towards pages. It claimed it aimed to act quickly to remove offensive material deemed to be "genuinely or directly harmful".
Academic, who was sacked for claiming that horse riding was as safe as taking ecstasy, said abuse of cocaine caused the financial meltdown.
The former Government drugs tsar, Professor David Nutt, has said the financial crisis was caused by too many bankers taking cocaine.
The controversial academic, who was sacked for claiming that ecstasy was as safe as horse riding, told the Sunday Times that abuse of cocaine caused the financial meltdown.
"Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess," he told the paper adding that the drug made them "overconfident" and led to them taking more risks.
Nutt, who is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, claimed that cocaine was perfect for a banking "culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more. It is a 'more' drug".
He goes on to claim in the interview that abuse of cocaine led to the financial meltdown, "and the Barings crash".
Prof Nutt was sacked from his role as the Government’s most senior drugs advisor in 2009 following the publication of a paper in which he argued there was "not much difference" between the harm caused by riding a horse and taking ecstasy. He also claimed that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.
His most recent foray into the drugs debate was equally controversial.
Last week he attacked the Government over the laws dealing with magic mushrooms, ecstasy and cannabis, which he claims hinder medical research. Magic mushrooms were banned in 2005.
Prof Nutt said he deems the laws surrounding mushrooms "absurd" and "insane" and says it makes it hard to procure one of their ingredients - psilocybin, which is used to treat depression.
The Home Office countered that there was no evidence that regulations were a barrier to research.
Prof Nutt told the BBC: "We have regulations which are 50 years old, have never been reviewed and they are holding us back, they're stopping us doing the science and I think it's a disgrace actually."
Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan election by a slender margin. But with the opposition demanding a recount and the economy in turmoil, what is next for the new president and the divided country?
In his first rally for the presidency of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro claimed that his predecessor Hugo Chavez came to him in a dream.
Launching his campaign from Chavez's house in the town of Barinas, a tearful Mr Maduro claimed that the firebrand ruler – who died in March – was reincarnated as a bird and flew over his head, blessing the campaign and promising victory.
On Sunday the "prophecy" from beyond the grave came true, with Mr Maduro winning the election and – in theory – governing the country until January 1919.
But the dream of victory could yet become a nightmare for the children of Chavez, Venezuela's charismatic ruler who dominated the country from 1999 until his death last month. Far from leaving a stable, peaceful nation for his followers, Chavez's legacy is that of a deeply divided and rudderless country.
Mr Maduro, 50, won the election by the slimmest of margins, gaining 50.7 per cent of the vote. His challenger Henrique Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state, won 49.1 per cent – a difference of just 235,000 votes in this country of 29 million.
Mr Capriles refused to recognise the result and said his team had a list of 3,000 voting irregularities, ranging from gunshots being fired at polling stations to the illegal reopening of voting centres after they had officially closed.
"I didn't fight against a candidate today, but against the whole abuse of power," he said, demanding a recount.
"Mr Maduro, the loser was you ... This system is collapsing, it's like a castle of sand – touch it and it falls."
Mr Maduro said he would accept a full recount, even as he insisted his victory was clean and dedicated it to Chavez. The election board said Maduro's win was "irreversible" and gave no indication of when it might carry out an audit.
"We've had a fair, legal and constitutional triumph," Mr Maduro told a victory rally. "To those who didn't vote for us, I call for unity. We are going to work together for the security and economy of this country."
Yet creating that secure and economically-successful country will be an immense challenge.
Whereas Hugo Chavez was a former paratrooper who could count on the doggedly-loyal support of the army – they even rescued him when Right-wing rivals staged an aborted coup in 2002 – Mr Maduro does not have that guarantee.
"I think Maduro has an enormous problem, he doesn't understand the military world," said Rocío San Miguel, head of Citizen Control, a Venezuela non-profit that tracks military issues. He told the Wall Street Journal : "Without Chávez, who is going to sit on top of this military hierarchy that has co-opted public administration?"
Nearly half of Venezuela's 23 states have a former military officer as governor, while a quarter of the cabinet is currently composed of members of the armed forces. The army also controls the ports – an influential role in a country where currency controls have created shortages and a thriving black market.
"The president commanded the country like a barracks," said retired army Gen. Raúl Salazar, who was Chavez's defence minister during his first year in office in 1999, but eventually broke with him. Mr Maduro "will have to win over the military and be attentive to them if he wants to stay in power."
Mr Maduro's main rival is Diosdado Cabello – a former army officer with powerful friends in the military – and the dynamic between them is key to the stability or otherwise of the government.
Many expected Mr Cabello, a colleague of Chavez from the military academy who took part in Chavez's 1992 failed coup attempt, to be named as successor rather than the plodding Mr Maduro. Mr Cabello, who is the head of the National Assembly, has pledged to respect Chavez's decision. But he is also known to harbour his own strong political ambitions, and commented cryptically on Twitter that "these results require deep self-criticism."
Another key challenge for the newly-elected president is the economy. Inflation is rampant and the economy is slowing, hampered by Byzantine currency controls and one of the world's worst crime rates. The country was ranked 165th out of 176 in Transparency International's corruption index, and businesses have been scared off by the Chavez regime's policy of nationalisations.
And yet despite the political, economic and social headaches, the result could be seen as the best outcome for Venezuela.
The opposition has been enormously strengthened, with Sunday's close-fought battle in stark contrast to Chavez's 11 per cent victory over Mr Capriles in October's election.
Mr Maduro will also have realised that reliance on the ghost of Chavez will not be enough: he needs to actively improve the life of Venezuelans nationwide, and try to reunite the riven country. The country still has the world's largest oil reserves, and Chavez's memory still resonates just enough to keep his project alive.
But Venezuelans everywhere will be hoping that Mr Maduro can now draw on more than dreamy visions of victory.
My interview with Jeremy Grantham, the environmental philanthropist and legendary fund manager, was published in the Guardian on Saturday. As I have done for my interviews with the likes of Al Gore, Bill McKibben and James Lovelock (in 2010 and 2012), I have taken the time to transcribe the full interview so readers can see what Grantham said in the kind of detail that the print edition of the Guardian can't provide. The interview lasted three hours, so I have split the transcript in two. I will publish part two tomorrow, but here's part one...
Jeremy Grantham on why he has stepped up his environmental activities:
It's data driven. We [the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment] were gracefully moving into the environment, save these animals and habitats, and all these good things, then the data on resources - starting about four years ago – made me realise that some of these were really urgent. That we were already entering a food crisis, for example. This time last year I thought it was clear from the data that we were already five years into a food crisis and it is highly unlikely to go away. And unless we get our act together it is likely to become a cascading problem.
On how much time we have to tackle the world's environmental problems:
We're already in a bad place. We're on a sliding scale. The language "it's too late" is very unsuitable for most environmental issues. It's too late for the dodo and for people who've starved to death already, but it's not too late to prevent an even bigger crisis. The sooner we act on the environment, the better. The sooner we cut off the carbon dioxide going into the air, etc. The worse accidents we will prevent from happening are 20, 30, 40 years from now. The same applies to food. The faster we act to improve the situation, the fewer Africans – North Africans, in particular – will come to grief. What is happening through the market mechanism is that the rich countries, by being unnecessarily sloppy – and by the Chinese getting richer in a real hurry and eating more meat – we are pricing up grain so that the poor are getting hungry. It's hard to see this stopping in the immediate future. It's also very hard to see the poor and hungry getting richer at the same speed as the way we are driving up the price of grain.
On feeding a growing human population:
There is a stretching disparity between the haves and have nots. It's not the win-win of globalisation that we all grew up with studying in Econ 101. The irony is that as China gets richer, it burns more coal. They put pressure on the global environment and on global grain prices. So in order to give them a nice middle class, variegated diet, they could cause poorer Asians and Africans to starve. There is no mechanism to prevent that. Egypt runs a trade deficit. Their population is programmed to grow dramatically. Three million at the time of Napoleon. Eighty-three million, said their standard when they marched into the Olympic Games last year. And they're on their way to 140m. They've always been very efficient, but they can't feed much more than half their people. The price of grain from about 2002-2008 – a tiny window – tripled. Why did it grow so sharply? We knew population was growing, but it was growing steadily, if dramatically. When I was born there were two billion, now there are seven billion. It's the kind of curve than anyone in finance would look at and jump nervously, when you see an exponential curve like that. That's one factor, but nothing particular to the period of 2002-2008…
On the rising price of oil:
…2002 was a nothing year. The only numbers I was paying attention to in 2002 was for oil. A little wheel was turning at the back of my brain that noted that oil was beginning to act differently. Our firm specialises in the study of investment bubbles. We have the best data. Over the years, we have put together a database that has 330 bubbles of which about 40 are really important ones. What we found about the important bubbles is that every single one had burst completely back to the original trend. Three years up to something triple, and then three years down. They actually tend to go down a little more quickly than they went up, which is surprising. But they always broke. I used to specialise in asking financial audiences to give me an example of the paradigm shift, a major shift in a major financial asset class. And never was one offered. Six years ago I wrote about the paradigm shift in the New York Times. It had 100 years of oil prices – very volatile, but a very central, steady trend line of about 16 dollars a barrel in today's currency. But then around OPEC in 1972/3, the price trend leaps up to $36.
On the unwillingness to process unpleasant data:
I find the parallels between how some investors refuse to recognise the trends and our reaction to some of our environmental challenges very powerful. There is an unwillingness to process unpleasant data. In a bull market you want to believe good news. You don't want to hear that the market is going to go off a cliff. You don't want to listen to the climate people who are telling you it is getting worse and even worse unless you do this and that. You want to listen to the good news. There were always people willing to tell you that smoking was OK and that stuff about cancer was exaggerated. There's a professor at MIT who defended tobacco who now defends carbon dioxide saying it seems to have lost its greenhouse effect, or whatever. And then there are the vested interests. They are the single most powerful force because you are dealing with an audience who wants to hear good news and into the stock market come all the bullish stock market giant firms telling you everything's fine because they love bull markets because they make a fortune. They don't even mind crashes because they don't do so badly there either. What they would die at is if the market went up at its long-term trend line at 1.8%, plus inflation, a year. But we're not going back to 2% growth. Maybe we'll do 1% and it will be reported as 1.5% and once again people don't want to hear that. They want to hear Ben Bernanke's news that it should return to 3%...
Me calling bubbles correctly is all data driven and based on the optimism that is built into humans. Every time we see a bubble, we see an army of people screaming, "No, no, it's not a bubble, everything is fine." We see the climate and scores of people screaming the same that everything is fine, or that it's a plot. It's par for the course. The general public don't want to hear it and will choose to listen to the optimistic interpretation. It's a real uphill struggle. You don't stop the bubble really until the damage is done. It goes so high that it can't sustain itself and just pops. And maybe that will happen here and our job is to try to do a better job than we did in the tech bubble.
On climate sceptics:
The misinformation machine is brilliant. As a propagandist myself [he has previously described himself as GMO's "chief of propaganda" in reference to his official title of "chief investment strategist"], I have nothing but admiration for their propaganda. [Laughs.] But the difference is that we have the facts behind our propaganda. They're in the "screaming loudly" rather than the "fact based" part of the exercise, because they don't have the facts. They are masters at manufacturing doubt. What I have noticed on the blogs and in the comments section under articles is that over several years, as the scientific evidence for climate change gets stronger, the tone of the sceptics is getting shriller and more vicious and nastier all the time. The equivalent on the other side is a weary resignation, sorrow and frustration and amazement that people on the other side can't look at the facts. The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…
One of the problems is that typically you are not dealing with the facts. Putting in more facts makes the sceptics more angry. They have profound beliefs – as opposed to knowledge – that they are willing to protect by all manner of psychological tricks. So you have people who are very smart - even great analysts and hedge fund managers - who on paper know that their argument is wrong, but who promote it fiercely because they are libertarians. Libertarians believe that any government interference is bad. Anyone with a brain knows that climate change needs governmental leadership and they can smell this is bad news for their philosophy. Their ideology is so strongly held that remarkably it's overcoming the facts. They are using incredible ingenuity to steer their way around facts that they do not choose to accept philosophically. Laying down more facts just makes them more angry. You may win over a few neutrals. They are the people you can win over. But it's very hard to win over the hardcore sceptics, of which there are plenty.
We can try to bypass them on one level and we try to contest the political power of the sceptics. They are using money as well as propaganda to influence the politicians, particularly in America. It almost doesn't even exist in countries outside the US, UK and Australia. A cynic would say that the petrol-chemical industry also happens to be Anglo-Saxon. Where are the great oil companies based? They still have great power. The oil companies seem to have pulled back from directly supporting climate sceptics over the past few years because - in England, in particular - they were embarrassed and it became untenable to be so obvious. But they're still influential. You don't have go via back-channels any more, courtesy of the US Supreme Court, because it is completely legal for a corporation to invest tons of money in advertising programmes to say who is good and who is bad in a race for the Senate without even asking permission from the people who actually own the company. Corporations are treated as human beings and money is treated as having the right to speak. There's dark money and light money. The anonymity they adopt is legal. They don't have to say who their donors are. It is quite remarkable. And then you get the Something Something for the Environment, which are actually just sceptics funded by the bad guys. And then there are the thinktanks who have become propaganda-tanks. I used to respect the Cato Institute when it came out with reports on this, that and the other, and they have received a lot of hydrocarbon funding. But when the University of East Anglia break-in was engineered they had something like 20 press conferences the following month. The response to the break-in was almost immediate and co-ordinated. I don't think it was suspiciously rapid, but I do think it was unusually and unexpectedly rapid. It's very likely that it was simply a terrific response of their behalf. They moved very fast. The good guys are learning slowly, but surely, to step up their response time…
If you're saying something that people don't want to hear or accept, a significant proportion of them will reply with hostility. Not because they know the facts, or because they have researched it themselves, but because they're so psychologically involved in believing good news that they will oppose it with a reflex. In addition, if the solutions proposed sound like they involve the government, you will have all the political rightwing try to block it as a reflex, even if it means them overriding hard science, which is what's going on today. Changing people's minds is almost impossible, even among scientists. Max Planck said, to paraphrase, that science advances one funeral at a time. You could add that economics advances the same way. You have to wait to get rid of the people who have career investment in a topic before a new generation can see the light.
On the UK's unseasonably cold spring in 2013, and recent icy winters:
The scientists are getting very concerned privately – they are conservative in public and have yet to write it up – that blocking processes are sticking in the system. The jet stream is behaving very strangely. One very senior atmospheric scientist said to me recently off the record that we are liable to wake up one day and find ourselves on the latitude – which we are in the UK – of Montreal. It's a liveable place, but not like London. They have underground tunnels because of their winters. The Gulf Stream is having a few wobbles, too, and the theory there is the melting in Greenland and the Arctic is creating a lot of cold, fresh water, which is a possible source for loss of power in the conductor, so it moves less warm water up from the Caribbean.
On how he chooses where to spend his foundation's money:
We don't fund the hard science of solar technology. That would take hundreds of millions. But what we are funding is bringing together the data and put it together and representing it conveniently to the outside world. And we want to train people with a good range of skills so they can produce good PhDs for the future at LSE and Imperial. We also fund old-fashioned style investigative journalism which is dying out in newspapers because the newspaper industry has become incredibly tough. The first people to get fired were the environmental journalists. We had a prize for environmental journalism which we brought in at the top of the market, but we discontinued it last year because there was basically no leverage left for the two-and-a-half environmental journalists left. All we were interested in was the net result of whether it could produce a more effective presentation of the facts. We got going in the nick of time to see that it could drag up environmental journalism, but then all the "dragees" were suddenly looking for different jobs, or put on different beats. Or that they were already working for the handful of independent investigative organisations. We fund about a dozen fledgling journalistic projects. Our argument was they are all fledgling so let's fund them all first, then winnow them down later – come back in 3-4 years and pick eight and, a couple of years later, pick five. In the end, it doesn't matter if there are one or two, but that they are the best. They whole point really is to allow these people to do their thing and to play to their skills and to pick the people who are highly motivated and very skilled. None of them would be very happy if we tried to tell them what precisely to do and we don't know what they should do.
On assessing if the money his foundation spends has achieved its objectives:
It's a great problem for philanthropists and NGOs. The problems where you can measure the impact are not common in the environmental field. If you can measure them, they tend to be over decades. One is the wildlife population of Namibia. That is by far and away the most successful [conservation project the foundation has funded], by the way. You can see the population of the various types of antelope have improved. But that is unusual. But the ones you feel are most important are the vaguest of them all. How do measure the shift in attitudes towards processing the data? There are guys working on studying the changes in attitudes in the media. But you have to take a leap of faith that they are smart and dedicated.
On whether he tries to persuade other philanthropists to support his causes:
No, I don't. We might discuss such things informally over lunch. There's a handful of hedge fund managers, mainly, who have decided to be aggressive about the environment, thank heavens. This doesn't exist in England where you could get them all on the finger of one hand. I can try to persuade them. I gave a talk in London recently at the head office of a major financial player and someone went to considerably effort to make sure a couple of hundred potential philanthropists and wealthy individuals were there for me to have a go at them. A lot of them left their business cards and if you do that you are kind of asking for trouble. [Laughs.] I believe the majority left their cards, which as things go, is a huge potential hit because even if you get one or two that could be significant. They were a receptive audience. I try to paint the picture of how I got to where I am [as an investor] and then of how fact based the issues appear to be to me. I now try to add my thoughts about food and the "carbon math"…
On the "carbon math":
…It's simple, comprehensible maths, as Bill McKibben explained in Rolling Stone last year. There are five times the amount of proven carbon reserves as we can possibly allow to be burned if we want to remain under 2C of warming, which is now not even considered to be a safe margin. We must burn just a fifth of what's there. We will burn all the cheap, high-quality oil and gas, but if we mean to burn all the coal and any appreciable percentage of the tarsands, or even third derivative, energy-intensive oil and gas, with fracking for shale gas on the boundary, then we're cooked, we're done for. Terrible consequences that we will lay at the door of our grandchildren. Some things might change very quickly, though. For example, the business mathematics of alternative energy are changing much faster than the well-informed business man realises.
On the falling costs of alternative energy:
Read my next quarterly newsletter entitled, "The Race of Our Lives", [will be available here] on why civilisations fall and why they've always fallen and why we may not because we have two advantages that they did not - a voluntary fall in fertility, which is just amazing, and alternative energy. Every wave of technology has seen an incremental increase in energy needed – steam engines, cars, air conditioning, iPads – they all add to our energy needs and mean we dig a deeper hole, but we feel we are making wonderful progress. But now we have a technology wave which protects us from needing to burn every last ton of coal. Solar, wind, biomass, intelligent grids, and storage - please, more storage - protect us. That is the best part of capitalism. The price of solar panels is now 25% of what it was two years ago and that's the bit people have missed. If these prices were to be held – they may not be – we are competitive, without a carbon tax, in the areas that have the sun - California, North Africa, Spain, etc. You can build a solar farm and it can be commercial. Meanwhile, the price of hydrocarbons are getting more expensive all the time, because you've extracted all the easy stuff first and with China rising and still growing at 7% a year. And that's just China. Don't forget India which actually has more coal power plants down to be built on the books at the moment than China. Now you start to get an idea of, wow, why this does not compute. If it computes, it's only at the enormous increase in cost of digging and shipping coal. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, solar and wind power are getting cheaper and cheaper. Those lines are going to cross big time in the next 20 years. There is no such thing as "locked in and committed" because you can reverse. They might build a few more coal-fired plants, but then they will stop completely. The pay-off for China of getting out of the way of those lines crossing is so great.
On why China is his big hope:
China is my secret weapon. I call them the Chinese cavalry riding to the rescue. They have the capital. They have an embarrassment of capital – 50% of their GDP is capital investment. We have a shortage of capital and also have debts. Their problem is how to invest all that capital. My partners worry all the time about them wasting their money. What better programme could they possibly have, with huge social pay-off, than a massive replacement of sustainable energy? When you think what it would mean to them – it would get rid of their pollution – it makes sense. Because of that pollution, they announced recently an incredible increase of 65% in their plans to install by 2015 – just three short years away – 36GW, which is equivalent to 20 vast, state-of-art coal plants, of solar. Throw in wind, too. And, by the way, we will have many breakthroughs in storage. If I had to make a bet, I would say that's the most promising, important breakthrough of the next several years. Everyone is working on this. If you have a big smart grid – and all the desert of Xinjiang and all the wind of Inner Mongolia – and it's all swirling around with relatively little loss and you have a grid smart enough to go in there Chinese-style and turn your fridge off for half an hour to save energy, and do this and do that, you don't need nearly the back-up. The bad guys will tell you that you need 100% back-up and messianic environmentalists will tell you that you need 0%. But maybe 20% back-up will be needed as everyone is working on storage. I'm certain it will happen. Some technologies take time then go, "Bang!". Look at video conferencing. It has been around forever and the quality was terrible. But now it is so clear and instant. Technology has a habit of boring you to death and disappointing you for 20 years then suddenly it delivers a new world…
I have very high hopes for China because they have embedded high scientific capabilities in their leadership class. And that is huge. They know this is serious. They can calculate the social threat of getting this pollution, weather instability, water out of control. And they are acting much faster now than we are. They have it within their capabilities of coming back in 30 years with the guarantee of complete energy independence – all alternative and sustainable forever. They have an embarrassment of capital. We have an embarrassment of debt. So they can set a stunning pace, which they are doing. And they could crank it up. To hell with their five-year plans, they should move up to 25-year plans for alternative energy - energy security, reducing pollution and low cost. They would have such low-cost energy at the end of it they will be the terror of the capitalist system. With low energy and low labour, that's the ball game. Five years into a 25-year programme and any capitalist will be urging their government to copy them.
On the Scandinavian countries:
I am inspired by [them]. They have to cope with short-term election cycles and a parliamentary system and all four of them nevertheless act responsibly, not just on alternative energy and environmental issues, but also on social issues that matter. They are, by and large, models of good behaviour. They say in America to me what's the solution to all this, I say cede your government to Denmark. [Laughs]. They are good enough that they would get the job done.
On environmentalism's track record of making predictions:
Go and read Limits to Growth, which I did recently. They pretty much predicted doom and gloom 20 years from now. They have been grossly misinterpreted and are pretty much on schedule. There are details that are over and under, but it is amazingly accurate. The William Ophuls model is that we are hard-wired to collapse. Given half a chance we will over-reach. We are over-confident that we will solve every problem. But we will leave it too late and we will crash. All the confidence that people try to give you – the "infinite capacity of the human brain", unquote – all of that hinges on the apparent infinite supply of hydrocarbons. No civilisation looked durable and resilient until coal and then we acquired this amazing power. We are now coming to the end of that era. If we don't use that window to fix it and have a sustainable replacement, we are toast. Don't worry about peak oil, worry about peak temperature. All our flora and fauna has thrived in the last 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age, a period which has seen unbelievable stable weather by long-term standards. Now it is becoming unstable. If you drive the temperature above 40C, well-known brands of corn will not produce. They just stop. You might be able to twist and turn and get it to produce at 41C, and you might move further north in latitude, but temperatures rises are very bad news for grain. The wider point is it [temperature rise] is generally bad for everything that evolved in one stable environment. It has no resilience to produce outside the temperatures experiences during this 10,000 year period. Quite a few grains are now topping out in terms of productivity. I look around and I say just look at the food-producing problems we face. In fact, let's make it even simpler: look at the grain-producing problems we face around the world. We've just had three consecutive monster-bad grain harvests. Not one of those three poor harvests was more likely than a one-in-25-year harvest. But the terrible thing is they went, "whack, whack, whack". I took some grief when I wrote about the first one and said next year was bound to be less bad, but the next year became a monster. I've done more research and reading in the last two years than I ever did at college. I've read all the classics. All the limits to growth, all the end of civilisations stuff, all the peak everything stuff, all the soil destruction stuff.
On confronting our environmental problems:
Asking, "Are we too late?", is not the logic for this problem. It is too late for the dodo. It is too late for the one third of arable land that we have destroyed in 10,000 years. It's too late for 10% of global biodiversity, and almost certainly another 10%, and 50/50 for yet another 10% after that. But it would be nice to end up with a planet that we can still relate to, that still has a fairly handsome biodiversity. We can still do that. There is one chance that the real pessimists are right. The chance that on our way to a 4-8C rise, and a 10-15ft rise in the oceans, which is probably what's going to happen over the next two centuries, that things will get worse before they get better, because there is inertia built into the system. You can easily imagine resource wars breaking out unless we put our best foot forward on alternative energy. This would buy us time for everything else to be solved. If you can become energy sustainable in the next 40 years and suck up the pain that will have been paid by then, then you have probably bought the time for another 40 years to transfer the whole of global agriculture into a fully sustainable system before we run out of the resources to run old-fashioned agriculture. And if you do that then, in turn, you have probably bought enough time to deal with the intractable long-term issue of metals, which are entropy writ large. No matter how careful you are with them, they slip through your fingers. In the end, you will need to use organic replacements, which will take a long, long time [to develop]. We'd better start working on it now, but not too many are and they're not getting much funding. You've got to get the population down and you've got to ignore the Economist magazine and others talking about rising population as a terrible economic problem. It is a necessary, short-term, intermediate pain to pay for the absolute minimum hope of survival, which is a gracefully declining population, because if you don't do that you will have a rapidly imploding population one day.
In part two tomorrow: Jeremy Grantham on genetically modified food, capitalism vs the environment, and why he still invests in oil and gas
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
Scientists have now found proof for something many women have been claiming for years: Men find it difficult to read female emotions.
Men found it twice as hard to guess a woman’s mood than a man’s after being shown pictures of people’s eyes and estimating how they were feeling, researchers found.
However, the study showed that it is not because of men’s lack of trying — the male volunteers were given brain scans while they looked at the pictures, and the data suggested an unusual reason for the difficulty in reading women’s feelings.
When looking at male eyes, men related what they saw to themselves, with the parts of their brains linked to past thoughts and feelings lighting up, the Daily Mail reported.
The study suggested that they understood what other men felt by remembering similar moments in their own lives, and then used them to evaluate the image, the researchers said.
But when they looked at female eyes, the men were baffled, as their brains searched for memories of when they had seen another woman who looked similar to the image, and that meant men found it harder to empathise with women’s feelings.
The scientists found that the amygdala, a part of the brain believed to be important for empathy with others, showed more activity when men looked at a man, rather than a woman.
The researchers, from the LWL University Hospital in Bochum, western Germany, said the male ability to decipher a woman's thoughts from her expression relates to earlier periods of history when being able to tell what another man was thinking — and whether he posed a threat — was much more important.
Commenting on the results of the study, published in journal PLoS ONE, the researchers said: “As men were more involved in hunting and territory fights, it would have been important for them to be able to predict and foresee the intentions and actions of their male rivals.”
Facebook Home was introduced to the British market on Tuesday evening. The free software is designed to convert Android handsets into “Facebook phones”, with a Facebook home screen and prominent roles for Facebook’s communication features such as instant messaging and free voice calls.
The software is designed to keep Facebook members engaged on the move for longer as they increasingly access their accounts from smartphones and tablets, and attract more mobile advertising.
The social network did not need Google’s approval or cooperation to build Facebook Home because of the permissive rules governing what developers can change in Android. Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on Tuesday it would be "counter to our public statements, our religion" to restrict the software, even though it effectively takes over Android devices for Facebook's benefit.
Apple’s iOS is much more restricted, however.
Yet Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s director of product, has now claimed Apple is discussing allowing Facebook Home or something like it on iOS. The talks are in progress and nothing has been finalized, he said.
“We’ve shown them what we’ve built and we’re just in an ongoing conversation,” Mosseri said, referring to discussions with Apple.
On iPhone devices, the Home software would be tailored to what Apple prefers, Mosseri said. It could look much different than the Android version.
“It may or may not be Home,” he said. “We could also just bring some of the design values to the iOS app. That might be how it ends up. Or we could build just the lock screen. Maybe then it’s not called Home, it’s called something else.”
Apple declined to comment.
Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook and Apple have a “great relationship”.
“We are integrated into the operating system with them,” Zuckerberg said. “We have an active dialogue to do more with them.”
Already, Facebook has issued an update to its iOS app that brings Chat Heads, a new feature in Facebook Home, to the iPhone.
But the suggestion that Apple could allow Facebook Home or anything similar on iOS drew scepticism from industry observers. Many doubt that Apple would bend its strict rules to allow any other company to influence the user interface of iOS. At the unveiling of Facebook Home last month, Zuckerberg admitted it would not be possible on iOS in the same form as the Android version.
“We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today, and we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can within what they want,” he said.
Sunil Tripathi, a 22 year old philosophy student at Brown University was falsely identified as one of the suspects on Twitter after photographs of the two wanted men were released by the police.
His name was circulated around millions of people on social networking sites amid false rumours that his name had been overheard on police radio scanners. The fact that he had been missing for more than a month was cited as corroboration.
His father, Akhil Tripathi, a mechanical engineer and businessman, said Sunil had been missing since March 16th and that he and his family were co-ordinating their search for him from Provident, Rhode Island, when they were suddenly targeted as the parents of a "terrorist."
They were forced to suspend their Facebook page 'Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi' as it was targeted with abusive messages denouncing him and his wife as the parents of a "terrorist," Mr Tripathi told the Telegraph. "We had a team of people deleting messages, not even reading them. How could you raise a terrorist? that kind of stuff. Nasty messages. We just tried to get them out fast," he said in a telephone interview.
"It was absolutely horrible. The FBI released pictures of the suspects and somehow somebody thought it was Sunil. We couldn't understand it, they looked nothing like Sunil. And then the social media went crazy. There was no corroboration from the authorities. It was a terrible experience. We didn't eat or sleep and we had to take down our Facebook page. It was a horrific ordeal. They posted outrageous, illogical and nasty messages on it. There were a lot of media trucks at our home 30 miles from Philadelphia.
"All the authorities knew he was not a suspect. It was just people on Twitter and it went wild. It was the most horrific experience and I wouldnﾒt wish it on anybody. These kind of rumours must be corroborated with the authorities, but it was just individuals speculating and radio talk shows. It was the most harmful experience for 18 hours," he added.
Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited them to offer support, he said, and were forced to name the real suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar, earlier than they had planned.
But while Boston police and residents celebrated the capture of the Chechen brothers, the Tripathi family revived their campaign to find Sunil who has now been missing for 35 days. Their Facebook page was relaunched and received "tens" of apologies, Mr Tripathi said.
While he, his wife Judy, son Ravi and daughter Sangeeta remain deeply worried, he said the publicity given to the fact that Sunil is missing was a "silver lining" which they hope will help them find him.
No-one knows why he went missing last month, he said, because he had no obvious problems. He was an A student at Brown, he said, and he had spent the evening before he disappeared chatting to his girlfriend. "It's an awful feeling but we are relentless, we will not stop, we'll keep looking," he said.
"We have no clue where he is, but our optimism is higher now. After 35 days if he was not alive someone would have found him. We believe he is alive and it is a question of whether he is in a homeless shelter in some city. We'll keep looking We ae more optimistic in the light of this event and we hope to find him soon because there is more awareness now," he added.
A five year old girl who was raped and left in a critical condition has been abandoned by her parents at India's leading hospital, an opposition leader has revealed amid growing anger over sexual assaults on children.
Sushma Swaraj, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, was visiting another five year old rape victim in a critical condition whose case had sparked protests throughout the capital when she was told by nurses of the abandoned girl and other victims they had treated.
The discovery of more child rape victims at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has revived the intense debate and national introspection over the scale of sexual violencein the country which followed the gang rape of a 23 year old student on a Delhi bus in December. She died two weeks later from chronic internal injuries.
Mrs Swaraj said she had believed that debate would lead to improvemed public safety for women, but Indian women are now more at risk than before. "I had thought that after Damini case thinking will change. Unfortunately, the situation has worsened," she said.
Human rights campaigners said there had been a 336 per cent increased in child rapes in India since 2001, from 2,113 cases to 7,112 in 2011. But even this figure is likely to be an underestimate because only a minority of cases are reported to the police, they said.
In this latest case, the family had reported their daughter missing soon after she disappeared but the police were reluctant to investigate and later offered them 2000 rupees, around 25 pounds, to remain silent about it, the family said. When the family and their friends demonstrated over their treatment, one officer, who has since been suspended, was seen slapping a young female protestor.
Their daughter had been kidnapped on April 15th and raped and object-raped in an hour long ordeal before she was locked in a room and left to die. She was found 40 hours later and was rushed to hospital where doctors said she had suffered chronic internal injuries and that they had found a bottle of hair oil inside her. She has since had a colostomy operation and may face further reconstructive surgery, but is now in a stable condition, doctors said.
Sushma Swaraj said when she went to the hospital to visit the victim, who has been identified as 'Gudiya', she was shown another, unidentified, five year old rape victim who had suffered an almost identical ordeal but had been abandoned there by her parents.
"I saw another five year old girl child in the next room. She is also a rape victim. She was found abandoned in the AIIMS Campus. She says her father is a Rickshaw puller. She misses her mother but does not want to go home. Doctors told me that only few days back, they discharged a male child who was a victim of sodomy. I think we should hang these criminals and save our children," she said.
An 11 year old girl who was gang-raped in Rajasthan last August is also undergoing a series of operations at the hospital to reconstruct her internal organs.
Police have since arrested a 22 year old man in Bihar for the kidnap and rape of ﾑGudiyaﾒ. He had been working as a casual labourer in Delhi.
Kylie Bisutti reveals how she had the modeling world – and perfect body, at her feet, but gave in all up in favour of her faith.
Her name might not ring a bell, but Kylie Bisutti could have become a multi-millionaire and as famous as supermodels Heidi Klum or Gisele Bundchen.
Instead, she’s chosen the quiet life with her husband in Montana over lingerie shoots, revealing her lifestyle choice in a new book which slams the modelling industry.
I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model, is Bisutti’s way of spreading the message that “beauty isn’t about what you look like, it’s about what’s in your heart.”
Now 23, Bisutti was 19 and happily married when she won a competition to become the new Victoria’s Secret ‘Angel’. The lingerie giant has over 1,000 stores and despite never advertising, enjoys a healthy amount of public attention thanks to its annual catwalk extravaganza and product campaigns starring its hand-picked Angels, who are regularly cited as some of the most beautiful women in the world.
But Bisutti, a devout Christian, was not comfortable with her new, titillating image. “It wasn’t about modeling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat,” she says in an extract from her book, which as been serialized in the New York Post.
In it she lifts the lid on the pressures to lose weight (when her castings once dried up her agent told her it was because she looked like a “fat cow”) and how she was encouraged to play down her marriage in order to behave like a flirt.
The straw which broke the camel’s back came when a photographer kept urging her to pose too provocatively. “This is what Victoria’s Secret models do,” he told her. “This is why they hired you. If you want to be like Gisele, this is what you have to do.”
She called time on her career via Twitter with the message: “I quit being a VS model to be a Proverbs 31 wife” (Proverbs says ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised’).
She also has a ‘Christian clothing line’ in the works, aimed at women of all shapes and sizes.
I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model is out in the U.S from May 14.