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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    nick yarris

    Nick Yarris was jailed for rape and murder in Pennsylvania only to be cleared after DNA evidence was retested in 2004. In total he spent 8,057 days behind bars.

    In June 1982 I was given a three-day trial and sentenced to die at the age of 21. I was accused of being the Ian Huntley of the day. They said I murdered a complete stranger for no reason other than that my girlfriend had broken up with me.

    It is the stuff of night terrors for women around the world – some stranger abducts you when you are leaving work. They used that as a lie against me. I had never met the woman but it was an unsolved crime and they made me out to be a psychotic nut job.

    When they read the guilty verdict nobody could look me in the face. The worst part was in the hallway outside the jury room. The families of people I grew up with were making sizzling noises of my flesh being cooked in the electric chair. People whose children's birthday parties I had attended, people who use to hug me when I was a small boy made those noises.

    That night I was taken off the bus after every other prisoner and stood against a wall. A very militant officer explained to me that because I was a dead man I was never allowed to speak. He asked me if I understood. When I tried to respond verbally he smashed me across the face with the back of his hand so hard I almost fell to my knees.

    It is horrific what goes on in hardcore maximum security prisons. One prisoner took a bounty that was on offer to murder me and stabbed me in the chest. I had my throat slit; I was beaten with a chair. I had all kind of things done to me physically.

    The guards made me fight other prisoners for their own amusement. It was called gladiatoring. They would take two prisoners, one white and one black, and put them in a cage. The officers would amuse themselves while the two men beat themselves for about 10 minutes. If you didn't do it you would just get beaten yourself.

    The worst beating I took was after briefly escaping in 1985. The press had criticised some guards after I got out and a few had been fined. Not long after I returned they led me to a room where four men beat me with clubs for four minutes. By the end I had a detached retina, my eye socket was all beaten up and I urinated blood for two weeks.

    What were the other people like on death row? Imagine every horrible person you know on the streets. If they truly are evil, I have met them. I have lived next to them; I have been assaulted by them; I have been hunted and almost murdered by them.

    But I was embraced and loved by the good ones. Those people who went to prison because of their social circumstances, those who turned out to be beautiful in mind and personality, I still miss and sometimes dream about them.

    In 2002 I decided I wanted to die. I was very ill with Hepatitis C and my little brother had just died of a drug overdose. I just could not live another day in that agony. So I wrote a letter to the federal judge and asked to be executed. I finally posted it off right before Christmas.

    It was that letter which led to new DNA testing that proved my innocence months later. When I heard the results I immediately called home. Mum broke down crying, but had to go as my brother suddenly began having a seizure. It felt like I was robbed of my moment. I sat in the shower and cried for 40 minutes.

    Finally on January 16 2004 I was released with $5.07 of my own money. My first year was very traumatic as I was dealing with survivor's guilt. I grew up in that prison and I left my friends in there. I do not hate death row, I actually miss some of it. I had some of the most beautiful and wonderful moments of my life in that cell.

    I miss the smell of the air after being locked up all night. When they opened up the doors in the morning the spring air from the mountains would breeze through. There was no sound except the birds which could be heard beyond the bars. You felt this beauty coming in, it was magical.

    Some 80 per cent of people who served 20 years in solitary confinement kill themselves or attempt to within 10 years of becoming free. If I can live to January 16 2014 I will have passed that milestone. To celebrate, I am getting married to my fiancé Jessie. That way we can make it our own milestone, a celebration of our history together.

    SEE ALSO: Why Private Prison Giant CCA Is Getting Rich

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Cayle Royce amputees rowingBarely 18 months ago Cayle Royce was fighting for his life after being blown up by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

    He lost both legs and most of his left hand and spent months undergoing painful rehabilitation.

    But on Wednesday Trooper Royce will undertake a challenge that would defy even the most fit and able-bodied.

    Shortly after midday, he will begin a 3,000-mile journey rowing across the Atlantic, from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

    Over the next two months Tpr Royce and his three fellow crew members, Captain James Kayll, 31, Captain Mark Jenkins, 34, and Corporal Scott Blaney – who lost much of his right leg in a similar attack – will face mountainous seas, tropical storms and stifling heat as they battle to reach their destination.

    Tpr Royce, 27, stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device in May last year, while on patrol with the Light Dragoons in Helmand province.

    In the resulting explosion he lost both his legs above the knee and the fingers of his left hand and it was touch and go as to whether he would survive the initial blast.

    After pulling through he had to spend months undergoing physiotherapy and rehabilitation, first at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, and then Headley Court hospital, near Tadworth, Surrey.

    It is the memory of what he and other wounded soldiers like him have gone through that will drive South African-born Tpr Royce to keep going over the coming weeks.

    “One reason I’m taking part is to inspire all the other guys who have been injured – just to show them it’s possible to do things like this, even now,” he said.

    Reflecting on his own ordeal, he said: “After I woke up from a 48-day coma, I had to face an extreme change in my body, having lost both my legs and suffered extreme damage to my left hand and face.

    “My weight had dropped from 176lbs to 114lbs, so the first thing the doctors did was feed me up. I had to learn how to sit up and that was the first step to a very long road to recovery, which is still ongoing.”

    Tpr Royce and the crew of the Row2Recovery charity team are among 17 international teams taking part in the Talisker Whisky Challenge, described by those who have taken part in it as “the world’s toughest rowing race”.

    They include 11 from the UK, four from Sweden, one from Spain and one New Zealand, each determined to raise thousands of pounds for charities, ranging from breast cancer care to animal welfare groups and terminally ill children.

    By the time the crews reach English Harbour, in Antigua, some time in January, those taking part in the race are likely to have lost 20 per cent of their body weight, suffered intense sleep deprivation and endured the physical and psychological stress of surviving in one of the world’s most dangerous and unpredictable environments.

    Row2Recovery’s 30ft glass fibre boat, the Endeavour, has been specially adapted for rowers without legs, such as Cpl Blaney, 27, and Tpr Royce.

    Each member of the crew will row two hours on and two hours off, 24 hours a day, with only a diet of ration pack meals, cereal bars and chocolate to keep their strength up – though they have packed a Christmas pudding for December 25.

    As an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be Cpt Jenkins’s responsibility to ensure his colleagues remain as healthy as possible, given the challenging circumstances during the long crossing.

    Rests will be taken in one of the two small, cramped cabins at either end of the boat but, at most, the men will get a total of five hours sleep within any 24-hour period.

    Not that this seems to worry Tpr Royce and his colleagues unduly.

    He said: “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always loved big, exposed spaces and you can’t get more exposed than in the middle of the Atlantic.

    “All the guys have got a great sense of humour and I think we’ll know when’s the right time to support each other and when’s the right time to back off. We’ll get each other through it.”

    Tpr Royce said he planned to listen to audio books and music on his iPod to help keep him motivated, along with the comradeship of his colleagues.

    “I’m feeling really good, the team is well prepared and, having served in the army, we are all well-trained mentally and will adopt the coping strategies we use at work. Our combined experience will help us to cope in the hostile environment and get to the other side quickly,” he said.

    Tpr Royce’s parents, who will gather at La Gomera harbour tomorrow, along with other relatives to wave farewell to the men, have no doubts about the sheer grit and determination Tpr Royce and the others will muster to reach Antigua.

    His father Richard, 56, a South African marine engineer based in Majorca, said: “It’s fantastic Cayle is taking up this challenge rather than sitting in a corner moping about his injuries. But he’s always been like that.

    “He’s stubborn. He just doesn’t give up.

    “There’s something deep inside him that motivated him to get through his horrific injuries – losing his hand and both his legs. He is going to face great challenges throughout the rest of his life and this trip is one of those challenges.”

    The crews’ spouses and parents will have to cope with weeks of uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones before the rowers eventually reach their destination.

    Cpl Blaney’s fiancée, Amy Lee, 25, a legal assistant from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, said: “I’m slightly apprehensive about Scott going.

    “It takes a lot of courage – I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it – and I’m going to miss him being around and just being able to talk to him whenever I want, but I’m also so proud of what they are setting out to do.”

    Captain Jenkin’s girlfriend, Louise Gill, 30, who works in sales and marketing, said: “I’m trying not to think about how dangerous it’s going to be. The boys don’t concentrate on the negatives and nor will I.

    “I think Mark is completely mad of course, but what they’ll be doing to raise awareness of the work of those two charities is fantastic.”

    Among the other teams is Team Neas Energy, whose crew Nick Rees, 37, and Ed Curtis, 38, are raising money for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

    The idea of rowing across the Atlantic started life around the dinner table and was given impetus when the pair decided to raise money for breast cancer care after Ed’s wife, Ellen, was diagnosed with the disease in 2009, at the age of 33.

    They point out that the time they will spend at sea will be the same that she spent physically recuperating from her treatment.

    Also taking up the challenge is 16-year-old Eoin Hartwright, who, if he makes it to Antigua with his Atlantic Trio crew members Neil Blackeby, 51, and Hamish Stewart, 49, will be the youngest person to row across the Atlantic, earning himself a place in Guinness World Records.

    Eoin, from Appleford, Oxon, had been was due to start at Hartpury Agriculture College after his GCSE exams, but put it off for a year to take part in the race.

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    beijing china computerMany people will be planning on upgrading their laptop or PC this Christmas, but here are 10 ways of avoiding a costly new purchase

    1) Uninstall unused programs

    New PCs come with a whole load of programs you will never use, and you probably don’t even know they exist.

    Some programs even run background processes when you load your computer, even though you are not using them.

    To remove all these pointless programs, open the Control Panel’s Programs and Features page, and have a trawl through the list of installed software. Uninstall those that you do not need, while being careful to leave programs your computer’s hardware needs (typically their publisher will be listed as the PC maker’s name or as Microsoft).

    If you are still unsure about which programs to use, try a third-party called such as PC Decrapifier– it’s free for non-commercial use – which should tell you which programs you don’t want or need.

    2) Automatically delete temporary files

    Temporary files amass on your computer through everyday tasks and can remain on your hard disk, slowing the computer down. Getting rid of these files, including your internet history and cookies, should give you a larger amount of hard disk space, speeding up your PC.

    To do this, open “My Computer”, and select your local drive (usually C:\). Select the “Windows” folder and then open the folder titled “Temp”.

    Use your mouse to right-click on the folder, and in the “View” options, choose “Details”. Once this is done, select all the files that are older than the current date and press the delete key. Then go to the Recycle Bin on your desktop and empty it.

    3) Install a solid state drive

    Hard drives are the biggest cause of slow speeds and especially slow startup speeds on your PC.

    While they are not cheap, installing a solid state drive, which have extremely fast read times, can speed up your startup considerably.

    4) More hard drive storage

    Even if you make sure to regularly clean out all your temporarily files, if your hard drive becomes 85 per cent full, it’s going to affect your computer’s speed.

    If you regularly film videos or use your PC for recording television, then you will want as big a hard drive as you can get, upwards of 1TB in size.

    Here is a handy video on how to install your new hard drive.

    5) Prevent unnecessary start ups

    This method will primarily affect how long it takes for your laptop or PC to startup, but often many of the programs which are launched on startup continue to run and use up your computer’s memory.

    To do this, click “Start” and “Run”. In “Run”, type “msconfig” and then press enter. You should then see the “Startup” tab, with all the programs ticked the ones which will load upon your computer starting up. There is a good chance the list will contain a number of programs you might not have realised were running on your computer during startup, or even at all.

    You can either manually deselect those which you do not want to load, or click “Disable All” and then select those you want to run, such as particularly important programs like anti-virus software.

    Another trick can be removing all the unnecessary fonts Windows loads. Windows 7 loads more than 200 fonts on startup which can slow down the speed at which it boots up. Go to the Start Menu’s search box, search for the Fonts folder and check off all the fonts you don’t need, and click the “Hide” button in the toolbar.

    6) More RAM

    RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory, is the temporary storage memory used by your computer and is in use when tasks are being executed by different programs. Therefore, the more programs you use, the more RAM you need, and the slower your computer will be if you don’t have enough.

    A clear indicator of not having enough RAM is if your computer slows down every time you try and process large files, or it freezes will carrying out several different actions at once.

    You can either add more RAM with an extra memory stick or two, or buy getting completely new memory if all the slots are taken. There is theoretically no upper limit on the amount of RAM that you can have with a 64-bit operating system, but in practical terms 4GB is more than enough for most people.

    For a handy guide on what kind of RAM you need, look here, or watch the video below on how it should be installed.

    You can also find out how many RAM your computer is using in the Task Manager’s Performance tab (hit Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring this up).

    7) Run a disk defragment

    Sounds complicated, but this is basically a way of reconfiguring how your hard drive stores information for maximum efficiency.

    Go to “My Computer”, right-click on the hard drive and select “Properties”. Under the “Tools” tab there should be an option to “Defragment Now”.

    8) Run disk clean up

    Windows also includes a built-in disk de-cluttering tool called “Disk Cleanup”.

    It searches through the system for unnecessary large files such as temporary Internet files, program installers, and so on.

    Open Disk Cleanup by clicking “Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup”.

    9) Give your computer a static IP

    Another trick for speeding up your computer loading time is to give your computer a static IP address that never changes.

    When you startup your computer, it spends a decent amount of time asking the network for an IP address. Not only does having a static IP address make the network easier to manage (particularly if you have several devices using the same network), but it also cuts time off your startup.

    To do this, visit the “Network and Sharing Center”, and select “Change adapter settings”. Right click on your local adapter and select “Properties”. You then need to highlight what should be titled “Internet Protocoal Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and click the properties button.

    In “Use the following IP address” enter in the correct IP, Subnet mask, and Default gateway which correspond with your network setup.

    Make sure to check “Validate settings upon exit” so Windows can find any problems with the addresses you entered.

    To find out what your IP, subnet mask and default gateway are, go to “Start” and then “Run”, and type in “cmd”. At the command prompt, type “IPCONFIG/All” and it should come up, as shown below.

    10) Hoovering out the dust

    Again, this sounds a tad radical, but dust is your computer’s enemy. It can impede airflow, which is vital to keeping your computer’s temperature down, and if your computer is overheating, it is likely it will slow down its performance to cope.

    (Incidentally, overheating will also make it impossible to use programs such as Skype, because for the person on the other end of the conversation it constantly sounds like an aeroplane is taking off).

    If you have a desktop or a laptop, you can take off the computer’s exterior and use a hoover on a low power setting to try and remove some of the dust. Make sure your computer has been switched off for at least 30 minutes and that all cables are disconnected before starting your clean.

    Use your hoover with a small attachment, and try either the reverse setting to blow air into the vents and push the dust out, or use its standard suction to try and extract some of the dust.

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    christmas holiday party

    Boys and girls as young as 11 struggle to be "just friends" because they are subject to sexual teasing from their classmates, led by a societal pressure to "couple up", according to an in-depth study.

    Research by Professor Emma Renold at Cardiff University, in collaboration with the NSPCC, has highlighted the pressure to turn a close boy-girl friendship into a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship from a young age, because of the stigma attached to girls and boys sharing the same interests.

    During a qualitative study involving interviews with 125 children aged 10, 11 and 12, one boy admitted that he had to pretend his best friend Alice was a cousin for an entire school year, so that they could hang out free from "heterosexual teasing". One boy talked about how his primary school 'girlfriend' of five years helped him cope with the death of his father.

    But, says Prof Renold, the children largely talked about boyfriend-girlfriend cultures as something they had little choice about particpating in.

    "Children are actively learning everyday about the contradictory and often confusing ways in which gender and sexuality shape who they are, how they feel in their bodies, what they can do, where they can go, how they relate to others and how others relate to them," she said.

    However, the majority of children also spoke of the playground advantages of being in a relationship, such as the enhanced "social status and popularity" being a boyfriend or girlfriend could bring - as well as the social exclusion incurred by not being part of the boyfriend/ girlfriend culture.

    One boy admitted it was a "virtual rule" that "if you had a girlfriend you were marked out as cool, if you didn't you were a chav".

    Sexual imagery 'bombardment'

    The study, carried out to understand how pre-teens feel about growing up in an increasingly sexualised society, also paints an alternative picture for how young boys and girls are responding to the bombardment of sexual imagery on TV and in music videos.

    For examples, many girls interviewed for the study said they liked to wear high heels - not to "look sexy" - but to appear older and therefore ward off any bullying or taunts from older girls in their community.

    Looking taller, which you can achieve from wearing 5in heels, was not about looks, but about "not being treated like dirt" and being less bullied. One girl said: "Sometimes we do try and look older... when you’re older you have more independence."

    Similarly, some boys as young as 11 in the study said they had started weight training to gain a six pack - not to look good - but to protect themselves or their friends from being beaten up.

    Prof Renold said: "It wouldn’t make sense just to address this risk by banning magazines advertising high heels for pre-teen girls or tightening up on the age laws of gym membership – it would involve a much broader intervention around physical safety and peer violence, as well as combatting gender and sexual stereotypes."

    When it came to the pressure to conform to being in a relationship - even as young as 11 - more girls than boys found it difficult to resist, and it was often talked about as an inevitable part of being a "normal girl" and "something you had to get used to", according to the study.

    Boys found it easier to admit they weren't ready to be in a couple, whereas girls were more at risk of harassment, control and coercion from boys, the research said.

    Equally, girls were subject to double standards, so they were "frigid" if they didn't want a boyfriend and a "slut" if they talked about it.

    Unlike boys, many girls had to negotiate who they were in terms of their relationship status, "We’re either 'single pringles', or 'taken bacon'," one girl said.

    Unpicking the findings

    Prof Renold said: "When we connect the role of boyfriend to social status, social inclusion and proof of a boys’ masculinity, we can perhaps begin to make some sense of how to intervene in these situations – and again it would involve directly addressing constraining gender norms for boys and girls."

    She added that her research was set up to allow children’s own views to take priority - hence personal interviews with children rather than quantitative research - rather than adults assuming they knew the pressures that children were under. "Because when it comes to sexuality, children’s views have either been absent, sidelined, ignored, sensationalised or simplified in popular debate."

    Another finding from the study shows girls are having to "put up with living in a sexist society".

    "Children also talked at lot about the pressure to conform to gender norms and stereotypes.

    "As one girl told me, 'I feel pushed to be a girl'. In contrast to what we hear in the media, many girls preferred comfy clothes, like tracksuit bottoms and hoodies - clothes that concealed rather than revealed the contours of their body. As Steph, age 12, says: 'If I don’t feel good about myself, the last thing I am going to do is draw attention to myself by wearing rude stuff'."

    Prof Renold's research comes after a national survey by Girlguiding found three quarters of girls and young women believe sexism affects most areas of their lives, with many subject to sexual taunting or sexist jokes at school.

    Nine in 10 of the 1,288 girls and young women interviewed for the Girlguiding study said women are judged for their looks more than their ability, causing one in five girls as young as seven to go on a diet.

    Prof Renold said: "Body anxiety was really strong in most girls’ talk about their bodies but was much less present in boys’ talk. Girls spoke a lot about constantly feeling watched and judged."

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    dove camera shyTaking a picture for posterity at a birthday, wedding or concert may harm our ability to remember the event fully, researchers believe in a phenomenon known as 'photo-taking impairment effect'

    Taking photographs at a birthday or a wedding has become as natural as blowing out candles or cutting the cake.

    But our obsession with recording every detail of our happiest moments could be damaging our ability to remember them, according to new research.

    A study has shown that taking pictures rather than concentrating fully on the events in front of us prevents memories taking hold.

    Dr Linda Henkel, from Fairfield University, Connecticut, described it as the "photo-taking impairment effect".

    She said: "People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them.

    "When people rely on technology to remember for them - counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves - it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences."

    Dr Henkel and her team carried out an experiment in a museum, to learn if taking pictures of the exhibits was hindering the ability of visitors to remember what they had seen.

    A group of university students were led on a tour at the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University and asked to either photograph or try and remember objects on display.

    The next day their memory was tested.

    The results showed that people were less accurate in recognising the objects they had photographed compared to those they had only looked at.

    It was found that their memory of detail for the objects they had photographed was poorer.

    Musicians including Beyonce, Prince and Bjork, have all insisted on photo bans at their performances claiming cameras detract from the performance.

    Dr Henkel is currently investigating whether the content of a photo, such as whether you are in it, affects memory.

    She also wants to explore whether actively choosing what to photograph might influence what we remember.

    A second study by thet eam replicated these findings, but it also presented an interesting twist: Taking a photograph of a specific detail on the object by zooming in on it with the camera seemed to preserve memory for the object, not just for the part that was zoomed in on but also for the part that was out of frame.

    "These results show how the 'mind's eye' and the camera's eye are not the same," says Henkel.

    Henkel's lab is currently investigating whether the content of a photo, such as whether you are in it, affects later memory. She is also researching whether actively choosing what to photograph might influence what we remember.

    "This study was carefully controlled, so participants were directed to take pictures of particular objects and not others, but in everyday life people take photos of things that are important to them, that are meaningful, that they want to remember."

    Previous research suggests that reviewing photos we have taken does help us remember the objects, but only if we take the time.

    "Research has suggested that the sheer volume and lack of organisation of digital photos for personal memories discourages many people from accessing and reminiscing about them.

    "In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them," said Dr Henkel.

    The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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    iceland blue lagoonSporting arenas, theme parks and tourist attractions have dominated an annual list of destinations where Facebook users have checked in most frequently

    The social networking site unveiled the 25 most popular locations of 2013 as part of its end of year review.

    Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, was number one in the US, while Disneyland Paris and Toyko Disneyland were the top sites in France and Japan.

    The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in Iceland, made the top 25, as did St Mark’s Square in Venice, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Sharm el-Sheikh, and the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

    Several sporting venues also featured - the Friends Area near Stockholm, Sweden, where the country’s national football team perform; Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, which also hosts Australian Rules Football; and the Rogers Arena, an indoor venue in Vancouver.

    The O2 arena, which has hosted acts including Fleetwood Mack, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Plan B and Justin Bieber this year, was the most popular British destination.

    Taksim Square in Istanbul, the site of massive protests earlier this year, was the site most frequently checked in at in Turkey.

    The most talked about events of 2013 were also revealed by Facebook. They included the election of Pope Francis, the birth of the royal baby, Typhoon Hainan, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tour de France, and the death of Nelson Mandela.

    The list in full

    Argentina: Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
    Australia: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne, Victoria
    Brazil: Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo
    Canada: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
    Egypt: Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Egypt
    France: Disneyland Paris, Marne La Vallée
    Germany: Reeperbahn, Hamburg
    Hong Kong: Hong Kong Disneyland
    Iceland: Blue Lagoon, Reykjavík, Iceland
    India: Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple), Amritsar
    Italy: Piazza San Marco, Venice
    Japan: Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo
    Mexico: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City
    Nigeria: Ikeja City Mall, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
    Poland: Temat Rzeka, Warsaw
    Russia: Gorky Park of Culture and Leisure
    Singapore: Marina Bay Sands
    South Africa: Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
    South Korea: Myungdong Street, Seoul
    Spain: Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Catalonia
    Sweden: Friends Arena, Solna
    Taiwan: Tainan Flower Night Market, Tainan City
    Turkey: Taksim Square, Istanbul
    United Kingdom: The 02, London
    United States: Disneyland, Anaheim, California

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    Queen Elizabeth II

    The Queen was “furious” after royal protection officers helped themselves to Bombay mix and nuts left out for her around Buckingham Palace, a court heard today.

    Palace officials sent a memo to royal protection officers warning them to “keep their sticky fingers out”, after Her Majesty noticed the snacks were disappearing, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

    The Queen became so incensed that she even began marking the bowls to check if the levels were dropping, it was suggested.

    The extraordinary claims were revealed during evidence at the phone hacking trial, in which jurors were shown a memo sent by News of the World’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman to its then editor Andy Coulson.

    Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, explained that in the email Mr Goodman had claimed the Queen had been irritated after discovering snacks left in the corridors around the royal apartments had been going missing.

    Mr Edis said: "They were all being scoffed by police. That irritated Her Majesty apparently."

    In the email, which was sent by Mr Goodman in 2005, he wrote: “The Queen is furious about police stealing bowls of nuts and nibbles left out for her in the apartments in the BP [Buckingham Palace] Queen’s corridor.

    “She has a very savoury tooth and staff leave out cashews, Bombay mix, almonds Etc. Prob is that police on patrol eat the lot.

    “Queen is no narked she started marking the bowls to see when the levels dipped. Memo now gone around to all palace cops telling them to keep their sticky fingers out.”

    As laughter broke out among jurors, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders quipped: “These are unproven allegations.”

    In the same email, Mr Goodman claimed to have an inside track on the preparations for the royal wedding between the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, telling his editor he had a source who was in charge of vetting those invited.

    He wrote: “Only person to accept so far is Tony Blair.”

    Mr Goodman also claimed there was a “bit of friction” between Clarence House and the Church of England over the ceremony and claimed he was hoping to see an order of service.

    The jury have already been told the Mr Goodman was jailed in 2007 after pleading guilty to hacking the phones of members of the royal household.

    Today they were told he received a payment of £84,600 from News International, after being released from prison.

    Mr Goodman, 56, from Addlestone, Surrey, is charged with Mr Coulson, 45, from Charing, Kent with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between Aug. 31, 2002 and Jan. 31, 2003, and between Jan. 31, 2005 and June 3, 2005.

    It is alleged Mr Goodman, with Mr Coulson’s approval, purchased two royal telephone directories from an unidentified police officer.

    Mr Coulson is also accused of conspiring to hack phones between Oct. 3, 2000 and Aug. 9, 2006.

    That charge is also faced by Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, Ian Edmondson, 44, of Raynes Park, south west London, and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, of Woodford Green, Essex.

    Mrs Brooks also faces two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 31, 2012, and the other between Feb. 9, 2006 and Oct. 16, 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

    She also faces two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, of Chelmsford, Essex, between July 6 and 9, 2011, and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former News International head of security Mark Hanna and others between July 15 and July 19, 2011.

    All the defendants deny all the charges.

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    nelson mandelaNelson Mandela, mourned by millions globally this week, is only rated as the 356th most important person in history by a new internet based programme which ranks the most important 2,000 people of all time.

    The first black South African president did not make the historical top 50 which was topped by Jesus, followed by Napoleon at two, Prophet Mohammed at three and Shakespeare coming in fourth.

    As reported by the Sunday Times, co-author of this programme, Steven Skiena, professor of computer science at Stony Brook University in New York, backed Mr Mandela’s low entry as he is only four slots ahead of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey:

    “In the long term that is probably a fair ranking.

    “Both men could be viewed as founders of their respective nations and therefore of similar significance in the long term.”

    The software programme collates millions of opinions in a similar manner to Google’s ranking of web pages.

    The innovative step is a “reputation decay algorithm” which attempts to chart how the significance of a person changes after 200 years.

    This formula is the brainchild of Google engineer and computer scientist Charles Ward and aims to prevent less impacting personages such as Britney Spears being positioned too highly.

    Ms Spears, who holds a current significance rating of 27th but after the decay algorithm is applied drops to a lowly 689th after the passage of 200 years, is taken into account in regards to her stardom.

    Long-term fame is calculated by the programme by an equal measure of celebrity and gravitas.

    Ward and his colleagues decided that it does not matter whether they are notable for contribution is to mankind or because of their stardom but simply that their fame has a long-lasting quality.

    Baroness Thatcher is ranks above Mr Mandela at 271 with current UK Prime Minister, David Cameron languishing at 1,483.

    The software has been attacked by historians such as Anthony Beevor.

    “The idea that you can create an algorithm that is somehow going to give you a scientific approach to history is preposterous.”

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    chevalblanc_2768764bA French collector has bought a case of 12 bottles of 'mythical’ 1947 Cheval Blanc for €131,000 in one of highest value sales in French auction house history

    A case of 1947 Cheval Blanc wine has been bought for €131,600 (£111,000) in one of the most expensive purchases ever in a French auction, it emerged on Tuesday.

    The sale price means that each bottle costs almost €11,000 (£9,300) and a glass would set the private collector back £1,550 ($2,440 US).

    Packaged in its original wooden case, blackened by time, the bottles were recorked at the St-Émilion château during the 1990s to protect the wine from oxidation.

    “The price may seem high but compared to the true value of this lot, it’s not over the top,” said Aubert Bogé of wine merchant Millésimes, who bought the case on behalf of a private individual earlier this month.

    “1947 was the vintage of the century for this château, it is mythical,” he told AFP. “Bottles of 1947 are very difficult to find.”

    In 2010, Christie’s auctioneers in Geneva sold a six-litre bottle of the 1947 vintage for a world record $304,375 (£190,000), and it remains the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

    “This wine is undoubtedly one of the greatest Bordeaux of all times, not only because of its rare quality but also due to its extensive lifespan, as it could still be kept and enjoyed 50 years from now with no problem at all,” said Michael Ganne, Christie’s wine specialist, at the time.

    Jancis Robinson, the wine critic has describes it as her “last chosen wine on earth”.

    Technically, however, the wine is far from perfect. After a very hot summer and a “tropical” harvest, “fermentation was to prove difficult, and the wine was not perfectly dry and had rather high volatile acidity,” the chateau admits.

    The hot and dry conditions throughout the summer created a deeply rich, overripe and concentrated wine made from about two-thirds Cabernet Franc and one-third Merlot. It is often compared to a vintage port.

    Robert Parker, the revered wine critic, has awarded the wine a perfect 100-point score.

    “The 1947 Cheval Blanc exhibits such a thick texture it could double as motor oil,” he wrote. “The huge nose of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, coffee, and Asian spices is mind-boggling. The unctuous texture and richness of sweet fruit are amazing,” he said.

    “Consider the fact that this wine is, technically, appallingly deficient in acidity and excessively high in alcohol. Moreover, its volatile acidity levels would be considered intolerable by modern day oenologists.”

    To those who ask whether this might be the most expensive faulty wine in the world, Adam Brett-Smith, managing direct of Corney & Barrow, said: “I’ve only drunk it once in my life and certainly the bottle I had was unbelievable.”

    “The amazing thing is that such a wine is still available. You would have thought that most of them would have been drunk.

    “Those wines can’t exist any more, that’s part of the attraction. During the war years, it was impossible to husband the vineyard in the way you should do because there weren’t the people to do it. So there were a lot of naturally old vines with a ridiculously low yield, leading to a profound concentration.”

    He added: “To drink something of that value would be pretty earth shattering. You’d just have to shut your eyes and think of England, or France.”

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    The fountain of youth may have been discovered after scientists found they could reverse the aging process in mammals.

    Harvard researchers managed to turn the clock back for mice by helping their cellular DNA communicate more efficiently.

    After just one week of restoring this communication scientists found two-year-old mice now had the body tissue of a six-month-old.

    "In human years, this would be like a 60-year-old converting to a 20-year-old in these specific areas," said Professor David Sinclair, an expert in genetics at Harvard Medical School.

    Researchers discovered that the nuclear DNA — found in the nucleus of a cell — and the Mitochondrial DNA — found in other parts of the cell — stop communicating as we age. Over time this loss of communication reduces the cell's ability to make energy, and signs of aging and disease become apparent.

    "This particular component of the aging process had never before been described," said Dr Ana Gomes, a scientist in Sinclair's lab

    The team found the communication problems were down to a depletion in a protein called NAD. When they upped the levels of NAD in the cells of mice, the ageing process reversed.

    Prof Sinclair added: "The ageing process we discovered is like a married couple — when they are young, they communicate well, but over time, living in close quarters for many years, communication breaks down.

    "And just like with a couple, restoring communication solved the problem. There's clearly much more work to be done here, but if these results stand, then many aspects of ageing may be reversible if caught early."

    His team are now looking at the longer-term outcomes of the NAD-producing compound in mice and how it affects the mouse as a whole.

    They are also exploring whether the compound can be used to safely treat rare diseases or more common diseases such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Longer term, the professor plans to test if the compound will give mice a healthier, longer life.

    They also discovered that a molecule which switches on during ageing also switches on during cancer, in a finding that could improve treatments for the disease.

    "We're starting to see now that the physiology of cancer is in certain ways similar to the physiology of aging," said Dr Gomes. "Perhaps this can explain why the greatest risk of cancer is age. "

    The findings were published in the journal Cell.

    SEE ALSO: Some Parts Of Your Body Age Faster Than Others

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    Pavel Khodorkovsky

    The son of the pardoned Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky told yesterday of the tearful moment when he was reunited with his father, ending a decade-long separation that has defined his adult life.

    "Actually, you know, I didn't get the first word," revealed 28-year-old Pavel Khodorkovsky in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph. "My daughter just ran out to him. She got the first hug and the first kiss - but that was cool with me."

    It was the first time that Mikhail Khodorkovsky had met his four-year-old grand-daughter, Diana, and the start of a deeply emotional weekend as friends and family flew into Berlin to be reunited with the man who grew from being a reviled oligarch into a focal point of Russian opposition during his time in jail.

    "There was a lot of hugging, a lot of thanks," said Pavel. "I certainly knew that it hasn't been easy for him. He knows that he has had a lot of support form a lot of different people across the world, but he knows how much the family has been waiting to see him. He said to me: 'thank you for not giving up on me' which was so important to me."

    The reunion was made possible by the sudden release of Mr Khodorkovsky senior on Friday, following two years of German diplomacy to broker a deal that – according to rumours circulating in the German media – may have been clinched with the offer of an exchange involving two Russian sleeper agents jailed in Germany earlier this year.

    Der Spiegel magazine reported yesterday that the deal to free him was brokered by the former German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who spoke personally with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, during up to two years of negotiations.

    Mr Khodorkovsky telephoned the The New Times, an opposition magazine for which he wrote a column from prison, to thank its staff for their support. He told them: "The most important thing today is freedom, freedom, freedom,"

    In a reference to his former business partner, who was also jailed for defying the Kremlin, he added: "A lot lies ahead, the release of those hostages who still remain in prison, first and foremost Platon Lebedev." He is expected to say more today at a press conference called at the Berlin Museum, next to Checkpoint Charlie.

    Pavel confirmed that his father's release – involving a top secret German diplomatic back-channel that was approved by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel - had come as a complete surprise to the family and the legal team.

    Mr Putin announced the decision after a press conference on Thursday. "It was a big surprise - to my father as well - because no-one thought it was going to happen," Pavel said. "Once we knew from the press conference we had no idea when or how it would happen. Certainly, no-one knew it would happen so quickly.

    "He got put on a plane. He got out of there in the middle of the night and he wound up in Germany. There wasn't much room for explanation. It was just pick him up and go. He was woken up in the middle of the night. The prison authorities said 'Wake up, let's go' and he was driven to a plane, and that's it."

    Pavel Khodorkovsky was settling into business school in Boston in the summer of 2003 when he last saw his father, who knew that when he returned to Russia he faced almost certain arrest.

    In the 10 years since, Pavel met and married his Russian wife Olesya, and the couple had their first child with one more on the way. Being unable to travel to Russia himself for fear of arrest or harassment by Russian security services, the only contact Pavel had with his father was occasional letters and photos and, more recently, a weekly phone call.

    But he said: "He hasn't really changed much; he's in great shape he looks very much the same as 10 years ago when I last saw him in person.

    "He's fit, very energetic. He slipped right back into his working routine. He's trying to get a sense and a hold over everything."

    After a decade in Russia's unforgiving penal system, the former billionaire boss of Yukos, the now-defunct oil giant, did not crave a particular luxury or a favourite food when he emerged, Pavel said. Instead he preferred to indulge his passion for electronics.

    "One of the first things he did was get hold of an iPhone and an iPad and start learning. He couldn't wait. He had read about them in prison but never seen one. He doesn't care about food and luxuries, but with the iPad he was, like, 'This is amazing'.

    "He always loved technology. He was ecstatic and has asked me to buy him a Kindle, so I'm going out to look for one for him in Germany."

    In an interview with The Daily Telegraph in October, Pavel admitted that his father's decision to put principle before family – above the needs, even, of his own son – had left him with a complicated set of emotions, which he now looked forward to talking through when the time came.

    "We're definitely going to have those conversations, but later. I don't want to go there now because so much has happened, there is so much emotion."

    Yesterday he backed up his father's insistence, in a statement released on Friday, that no admission of guilt had been made before Mr Putin issued his pardon.

    Pavel, who has himself been a fierce and public critic of Mr Putin's human rights record, founding his own New York-based NGO, the Institute of Modern Russia, to promote the cause of democracy in Russia, said: "There are no conditions or anything, however it is common sense right now that my father does not go back to Russia.

    "I would strongly discourage my father from going back – it's a dangerous situation for him. It was then, and it remains so now."

    One of his greatest regrets is that his father's imprisonment came just as he was beginning to understand his passion for business, spending the odd day as a teenager at the offices of Yukos.

    Now, 10 years on, Pavel has his own business in New York making smart-meters and energy-saving software, and looks forward to discussing expansion plans with his father.

    "He's been actually giving me advice through the years, but now we are able to have a proper conversation, I'm going to be picking his brains a lot, you can bet on that."

    Pavel was speaking to The Telegraph by phone after giving a brief statement to the world's media outside the hotel where the family is staying. He thanked them on his father's behalf and announced that Mikhail Khodorkovsky would speak publicly for the first time on Sunday at the Berlin Museum, next to Checkpoint Charlie - the former crossing point between Communist East Berlin and the capitalist West.

    He said he did not expect his father to outline his plans for the future in detail, but that he would try to answer as many of the world's questions as possible.

    The former German foreign minister, Mr Genscher, was reportedly seen in November at the Valdai Club meeting of diplomats and academics in conversation with Mr Putin. When the deal was approved he called up his friend, businessman Ulrich Betterman, to persuade him to lend a Cessna 525 jet to fly Mr Khodorkovksy from Russia to freedom.

    Alexander Rahr, who assisted Mr Genscher in the talks and was with him to meet Mr Khodorkovksy on the tarmac on Friday afternoon, called it "a triumph of German diplomacy".

    He told Russian television: "It was a matter of secret German diplomacy. And thank God Germany still has such closed, or semi-closed, channels which other European countries or America perhaps no longer have with Russia, and which can work in such situations."

    For Pavel, however, the only concern is that his father is now free, and that he has an opportunity to rebuild a relationship that was snatched away from him on the very cusp of adulthood. "There is so much to day, but for now, I just want to enjoy him being here. This Christmas is literally the best ever, the best to date."

    Additional reporting: David Crossland, Berlin

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  • 12/24/13--06:42: How To Cure A Hangover
  • hangover stuQ: Is there really such a thing as a hangover 'cure’ or is it all nonsense? If there is any 'science’ to it, what do you recommend?

    Pete Waters, by email

    A: The concept of a hangover cure is generally considered a myth as none have been proven to work. But there are a number of things that you can do to help avoid hangovers and alleviate the symptoms.

    Don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach as this increases the rate of absorption. Having a meal or snack containing carbohydrate and some fat before you start drinking will slow down the rate of alcohol absorption in the body. A baked potato with cheese, vegetable chilli with rice, spaghetti bolognese or a cheese or ham sandwich would be good choices.

    Choose lighter coloured wines and spirits rather than dark coloured drinks such as red wine and whisky as these contain compounds (congeners) which can make a hangover worse.

    As alcohol is a diuretic, drinking excessively dehydrates your body which causes many of the symptoms of a hangover such as headaches and nausea. To avoid this, try to drink water or non-carbonated drinks in between each alcoholic drink (but avoid fizzy drinks, as they speed up alcohol absorption) and drink lots of water before you go to bed.

    You will also need to drink plenty of fluids the morning after. Most people find that sugary drinks and foods help with a hangover as they provide a quick energy boost to combat the fatigue and dizziness you may experience.

    However, slow-release carbohydrates will sustain your energy level for longer, and if you are feeling nauseated, bland foods and drinks are best. So try a whole-grain breakfast cereal, a poached egg on wholemeal or granary toast or a fruit smoothie.

    Avoid having too many caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, however much you might feel like you need them. Caffeine also works as a diuretic so it can make the symptoms of dehydration worse.

    Despite a greasy fry-up being commonly touted as the ultimate hangover cure, it will probably make you feel worse as fatty, salty or spicy foods can aggravate hangover symptoms.

    The idea that alcohol may itself be a cure for hangovers (the "hair of the dog") is also unproven. Drinking more alcohol may well delay the symptoms but it is unlikely to avoid them. If you've had a really heavy drinking session the advice is to wait at least 48 hours before drinking more alcohol to give your body time to recover.

    Dr. Dan Rutherford adds:

    Plenty of research has been done on what a hangover is, what causes it and what you can do about it, and the answers are pretty inconclusive. Studies of hormone levels, levels of dehydration, blood glucose, toxins etc, all seem to point in different directions.

    This probably means there are lots of types of hangover but they all feel much the same. I agree with Sara that adequate non-alcoholic fluid intake is important, as alcohol stimulates excess urine output and dries you out. Blood glucose can dip very low after a binge so it makes sense to boost this.

    About the only reasonable evidence for medication that helps is for non-steroidal drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac) taken before bed.

    Sulphite preservatives are common in wine and beers and many people are sensitive to this preservative, so look for low sulphite brands. Goodness knows what's in some cheap wines to make them drinkable but it's a fair bet they can give you a headache too.

    For the rest of this article, click here

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    Lam Kok_2772717bFrance has stepped up its search for the two missing businessmen and their interpreter after the body of the Chinese billionaire's son is pulled from wreckage

    A massive search continued for the bodies of a Chinese billionaire and a French winemaker who died in a helicopter crash after going on a flight to celebrate the sale of an historic Bordeaux chateau.

    Police have found only the body of hotel magnate Lam Kok’s 12-year-old son, whose remains were pulled out of the wreckage after the helicopter plunged on Friday into the Dordogne river in the southwest of the country.

    Mr Kok’s interpreter was also on board the aircraft piloted by Mr Gregoire, who was taking the Chinese businessman on a tour of the Chateau de La Riviere estate he had just purchased from him for a reported £25 million.

    Police helicopters with thermal imaging cameras were hunting for the three missing bodies, while divers probed the fast-flowing Dordogne and more than 100 gendarmes with sniffer dogs searched the riverbanks.

    The body of the yellow-and-black Robinson R44 helicopter was due to be lifted from the water on Monday. Officials said it would likely take weeks for the cause of the crash to be determined.

    Mr Lam’s wife, Liu Xiangyun, who had posed for photographs with the two men earlier in the day, pulled out of the flight at the last minute, saying she was “scared of helicopters”, according to eyewitnesses. By an unusual twist of fate, a previous owner of the Chateau de la Riviere was also killed in an aircraft crash in 2002.

    Mr Gregoire’s helicopter was on a short tour of the vineyard and the grounds of the chateau, which dates back to the 8th century and is associated with Emperor Charlemagne, also known as the King of the Franks.

    Earlier in the day, Mr Gregoire had introduced Mr Lam to the chateau staff and hosted a dinner for him, as well as putting on a press conference for local media. When the helicopter flight did not return after 20 minutes, other people at the event contacted emergency services, who launched a search using emergency helicopters, police dogs and around 100 officers on foot. Witnesses to the crash said that shortly afterwards, they saw two people struggling in the river, which was in full winter flow.

    Michel Galardini, 58, a local duck hunter, told the local newspaper, Sud Ouest: “The helicopter was flying very low, only 10 or 15 metres over the water. I thought that was a bit strange.”

    A few minutes later, he added, he heard a “deafening crash”. “There was a huge amount of foam and I could see two people struggling in the water.”

    Officials from the French gendarmerie said that mangled parts of the chopper’s fuselage had been retrieved, but that strong currents in the icy waters were complicating the search for the three missing.

    Hong Kong-based Mr Lam and his wife were chief executive and president respectively of Brilliant Group, which originally specialised in rare teas and luxury hotels in China. Their purchase of the chateau was the biggest Chinese investment to date in Bordeaux wine, reflecting a growing taste for luxury vintages in newly-affluent China that has pushed wine prices to record levels.

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    iphone 5c siriSmartphones will be talking to their users and the tech giants Google and Apple are determined to have the edge

    Google has predicted its dominant web search engine will mean it will beat Apple in the race to turn the smartphone and other devices into intelligent, voice-controlled personal assistants.

    The rival technology giants are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their competing services, Google Now and Siri, and the field is expected to be a major battleground for their mobile operating systems, Android and iOS.

    Both have teams of engineers working to crack the problems of making machines understand complex spoken questions and answer them in natural sentences. Google has said its goal is to create a service comparable to the computer of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek that will become a new way to interact with the web and myriad other apps.

    Google Now aims to anticipate what people will want from their smartphone by reading their calendar and emails, and analysing their location. On an overseas trip it will serve up flight information based on booking confirmation emails.

    Scott Huffman, the Google engineering director leading the effort, said the company had a headstart on its competition because the way it calculates the rankings of search results give its systems an understanding of the meaning of how language is used in the real world.

    He said: “The reason we feel pretty good in terms of competition is because what we’re seeing and everything we’re building today is built on top of the foundation of core web search rankings.

    “If I say, 'Show me the Eiffel Tower,’ I want pictures of the Eiffel Tower but, if I say, 'Show me the money,’ I don’t want pictures because I’m talking about the line from the Jerry Maguire movie. Google actually knows that because of web rankings telling us.”

    Google Glass, the company’s wearable device which packs the capabilities of a smartphone into spectacles that allow hands-free operation, is among the first of a new generation of mobile technology it hopes will spur people to talk to its services. Google Now will also target smart watches, cars and the living room, allowing people to ask the television questions.

    Apple has apparently recognised Google’s advantage. This month it paid more than $200m (£122m) to acquire Topsy, a start-up focused on finding patterns in the 500m tweets posted on Twitter every day.

    Observers, including Nick Halstead, chief executive of Topsy’s British rival DataSift, have speculated that Apple will use the language analysis technology to improve Siri’s understanding of queries before it processes them or delegates them to third-party web services. It uses Microsoft Bing for web searches, for instance.

    Mr Huffman said: “It does feel like a bit of a race. For us the race part often has a lot to do with talent, a little more than finding a start-up with a magic idea that we have to buy before anyone else. It’s more about the engineering talent in this being in a lot of demand.”

    But as well as recruiting the best software engineers, Google has been forced to implement a cultural shift towards accepting there are certain things about the real world that cannot be boiled down to an algorithm. It has assembled a team dedicated to cataloguing information and verifying information so Google Now can answer questions directly rather than provide a list of relevant web links as in a traditional web search.

    Mr Huffman said: “Where the humans come in is identifying which sources of data we should use. The other area is verifying data so that when people ask Google a question like, 'How old is Tom Cruise?’ we’ve got the correct answer.

    “We have had to go over a cultural bump where we accepted there are cases you need human validation if we’re going to answer questions directly.”

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    china poolOne-week borrowing costs tumble as China calms nerves but fears grow that small scale tweaks will not contain credit crunch

    Short-term rates plummeted in China after the central bank injected fresh liquidity to alleviate extreme stress in the money markets, but key borrowing costs remain worryingly high as the authorities try to rein in the world's biggest credit bubble.

    Seven-day 'Shibor' rates in Shanghai fell 265 basis points to 6.20pc, reversing the sharp spike over recent days caused as banks hoarded funds and built up buffers against potential defaults and counter-party losses.

    The closely-watched 7-day repurchase rate fell by the most in almost three years to 5.55pc after the central bank added $4.8bn in liquidity early on Tuesday through open market operations.

    While the move has for now calmed nerves, it remains unclear whether calibrated tweaking on such a small scale will be enough to ease fears of a credit crunch for long.

    The year-end jitters have been the worst since the cash squeeze in June, an episode that briefly span out of control and left lingering doubts about the ability of the Communist authorities to manage the credit system.

    The Shanghai Composite index of stocks has recovered slightly this week but is still reeling from the worst slide in 19 years in the prior nine trading sessions. Chinese equities have fallen by three quarters in real terms since their peak in 2007, once of the worst bear markets in any major economy in recent history.

    Foreign investors are now scooping up Chinese stocks at bargain prices, betting that the Communist Party's Third Plenum in November will lead to a major free-market shake up -- a hotly disputed issue given the intense resistance from vested interests within the Party. Patrick Chovanec from Silvercrest Asset Management said foreign investors may be jumping the gun. "Looks cheap is not the same as is cheap," he said.

    Tuesday's central bank action had no impact on the crucial three-month rates used to price contracts across much of the shadow banking system. The rate has risen 80 basis points since the start of the month, tightening the screw on wealth management products that rely on the wholesale capital markets to raise money.

    Fitch Ratings says half of the $2 trillion in outstanding liabilities in wealth products must be rolled over every three months, and a further 25pc every six months. There have been widespread reports in the Chinese press that many of these funds -- a hidden second balance sheet of the banks - will face losses if they have to refinance at current rates.

    Credit has spiralled up from 125pc to over 200pc of GDP since the Lehman crisis, when the government launched a lending blitz to keep uber-growth alive in the face of a eroding competitiveness and sputtering global demand.

    A report this week by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said the total may have reached 215pc of GDP, warning that local government debt had surpassed $3 trillion by the end of 2012 - double the level two years earlier.

    A task-force audit by the government found that private debt has reached 139pc of GDP. This exceeds the OECD's safe speed limit of 90pc for wealthy countries, and is far above credit levels in other BRICS states and developing economies.

    CASS said the picture is worrying but still under control. The central bank can slash the reserve requirement ratio to support banks at any time if need be.

    Qinwei Wang and Mark Williams from Capital Economics said detailed work by officials at the Economic Work Conference suggests the authorities are determined to curb credit come what may. "Tighter conditions are here to stay," they wrote.

    The pace of credit growth eclipses excesses seen in Japan before its property bubble burst in 1990, or in Korea before its crisis in 1998, or in the US before the subprime bubble burst in 2007.

    The sheer scale of outstanding loans - now $24 trillion, as much as the US and Japanese banking systems combined - leave the financial system highly vulnerable to higher borrowing costs.

    The central bank faces a delicate task trying to wean the economy off such extreme levels of credit, and may have left it too late to avert a stormy landing.

    The US crisis in 1929 and the Japanese crisis after 1990 were both triggered by central bank tightening intended to halt speculation, harder to achieve in practice than in theory. However, any crisis in China would be sui generis since the core of the Chinese banking system is state-owned.

    There is little to be gained from pushing China's debt ratios any higher at this point. The economic return on each extra yuan of credit has fallen from 0.85 as recently as 2007 to barely 0.20 today, a classic sign of credit exhaustion.

    The calculus of risk and reward has turned hostile. The great question is whether the Party can deliver on the Third Plenum reforms soon enough to trigger a fresh surge of economic growth, this time driven by productivity gains rather than debt.

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    2015 audi s3 insideGoogle and Apple are both working on competing technologies that would bring apps, navigation and music together into smart dashboards for cars based on their own mobile operating systems

    Google and Apple are both working on competing technologies that would bring apps, navigation and music together into smart dashboards based on their own mobile operating systems.

    Audi and Google are planning to unveil a new collaboration based on the Android operating system next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, reports the Wall Street Journal. The system will bring apps and in-car entertainment to a dashboard-mounted device.

    Apple has already shown its hand in this market and announced deals with BMW, Daimler, Mercedes and Honda to produce smart dashboards featuring iOS, the same operating system used by iPads and iPhones.

    This ties-in with its Siri application which can dictate emails or text messages and carry out commands via voice control, a feature which could prove very useful for drivers.

    Apple has taken an approach which sees the iPhone as the brains of the system, which then connects with speakers, microphones and screen inside the car. Google is reportedly taking a different approach and embedding electronics into the car which will run Android natively. It already has some experience in the automotive sector as it has supplied its Maps technology to car makers such as Tesla, Audi and Toyota.

    Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner, told the Wall Street Journal: "The car is becoming the ultimate mobile device. Apple and Google see that and are trying to line up allies to bring their technology into the vehicle."

    Car electronics are becoming increasingly sophisticated and well-connected. GM’s chief executive recently announced that all models from 2015 onwards with 4G chips to provide constant internet connections without the need for a smartphone.

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    lockerbieMuammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime was publicly blamed by the US for the attack

    The CIA secretly held Syrian militants, rather than Libya, responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, according to newly unearthed testimony from a former US spy in the Middle East.

    Dr Richard Fuisz said in a sworn deposition in 2001 that he was told by up to 15 senior Syrian officials that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) had carried out the attack.

    He also testified that CIA bosses told him the PFLP-GC was responsible, according to a lawyer's note of a second deposition. Ahmed Jibril, the group's founder leader, who is still alive at 75, was singled out as being to blame for the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988, killing 270 people.

    "Numerous high officials in the Syrian government were quite affirmative on Jibril's involvement in Pan Am 103," Dr Fuisz told lawyers, during his deposition in Virginia in 2001.

    Dr Fuisz gave his depositions in 2000 and 2001 at the request of Megrahi's defence lawyers. However, the evidence came too late to be used in the trial. They were first published by Channel 4 News. The CIA declined to comment.

    Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime was publicly blamed by the US for the attack, and Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing in 2001. He was later released and died last year in Libya.

    But serious doubts about the conviction have been raised by investigative journalists for several years, centring on forensic evidence, and Libya has strenuously denied involvement.

    The PFLP-GC were in fact the first prime suspects in the investigation.

    Experts suggested it may have been ordered by the Iranian government as revenge for the accidental shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet by a US battleship months earlier, killing 290.

    They added that blame may have been diverted from Iran in order to protect secret and delicate negotiations by George Bush's US administration over western hostages.

    Dr Fuisz, a businessman who is said to have been a senior US intelligence asset in the Middle East in the 1980s and 90s, said that the Syrian officials he spoke to interacted with Jibril "on a constant basis" and that he was widely regarded to be the mastermind behind the bombing.

    Asked who the Syrian officials cited as their source for the information, he said: "My recollection is they were direct. They were not hearsay sources on their part." Asked if that he understood that to mean that he was "being told by members of the Syrian government that Jibril, and or members of the PFLGC were taking credit for the bombing," he replied: "Yes".

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    Thumb Drive WideA gang of thieves targeted cash machines belonging to an unnamed European bank by uploading malicious software that would spit out banknotes on command

    Criminals targeted a string of cash machines by cutting holes in the fascia to reach a USB port and upload malicious code that would spit out banknotes on command.

    Speakers at the Chaos Computing Congress in Hamburg described the attacks, which affected an unnamed European bank that noticed several cash machines had been entirely emptied without the safe at the rear being damaged.

    The bank increased security after the first attacks and were able to spot the gang drilling holes in the front of the machines, briefly inserting a USB flash drive and then patching up the damage afterwards to cover their tracks.

    They were then able to return at a later date and instruct the compromised machine to dispense a specific amount of cash. To gain access they had to enter a 12-digit code, followed by a second code – this is believed to have been a failsafe to prevent individual members of the group from stealing money on their own. The second code constantly changed and the correct response could only be discovered by phoning another gang member.

    Researchers found that the software then showed how many of each denomination banknote were in the machine, and asked how much of each it should dispense.

    The BBC reports that the researchers, who asked to remain anonymous, said the gang must have had a “profound knowledge” of the workings of the cash machines in order to develop and successfully install the software.

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    bump appBump application, which lets smartphone users easily share data by gently knocking knuckles while holding devices, was bought by Google just four months ago

    Google is to shut down smartphone file-sharing app Bump at the end of the month just four months after buying it.

    The US search giant bought the Bump Technologies start-up behind the app for a deal reportedly worth between $30m and $60m.

    Google will also close location app Flock.

    "We are now deeply focused on our new projects within Google, and we've decided to discontinue Bump and Flock," Bump co-founder and chief executive David Lieb wrote in a blog post.

    On January 31, Bump and Flock will be removed from both the App Store and Google Play, after which neither app will work and all user data will be deleted.

    Over the coming weeks, users can export their data by opening either app and following instructions. They will then receive an email with a link containing their photos, videos, contacts and other data.

    Mr Lieb thanked users for their feedback, enthusiasm and support over the years, saying it "brought much meaning to our work".

    "In many ways, Bump was a revolutionary product that inspired many subsequent advances and helped push the world forward," Mr Lieb wrote. "We hope our new creations at Google will do the same."

    The Bump application lets smartphone users easily share data by gently knocking knuckles while holding devices.

    Flock software taps into smartphone location-sensing technology to note when friends are in proximity of one another and lets them contribute to sets of photos reflecting shared experiences such as a concerts or sporting events.

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    drink waterFeeling bloated and unfit after the Christmas season? Nutritionist Dale Pinnock says swift and efficient detoxing is easier than you may think

    It's the New Year, which means it's time for the flood gates to open with information on the latest detox gadgets, gizmos, lotions, and potions.

    When I first got into healthy living, I did quite a few - and for a while, I genuinely thought they worked. I tried water fasting (five days on just water), food combining (not consuming proteins and carbohydrates together at the same meals), eating only raw food, and taking all manner of herbal formulae meant to cleanse my soul (and colon, supposedly). I even went as far as doing colonics a couple of times.

    I have to admit, these detoxes gave me a buzz at the time. However, as the years have passed, I've come to realise - both personally and professionally - that I was overplaying the effects of the various techniques. I'm just not convinced any of them were necessary for staying clean. Today, I think of 'detox' as a bit of a dirty work.

    Here's why: the fact is, the only time that you are not detoxing is when you are dead. Our bodies are constantly sifting through the stuff we put into them and forcing out waste and toxins. Every minute of every day. We don't need any weird rituals or routines for this to happen.

    Rather than turning to mad detox regimes, I recommend that you simply trust your body's complex, impressive, and entirely natural detoxifying system. Learn how it works, and how you can help it go about its business, and an easy-to-follow detox path stretches out in front of you.

    Your natural detoxifying system

    Every cell in the body has the ability to detoxify itself and break down environmental and metabolic waste. Enzymes in the cells either break down waste or render them less harmful for long enough to be kicked out of the body. Once such substances have been neutered, cells excrete the remains out into fluid that gets carried away by....

    The lymphatic system. This is almost like a secondary circulatory system, which forms a vast network of organs and tissues throughout the body. It carries roughly three litres of fluid (recycled blood plasma, cellular waste, white blood cells, etc) around the body, moving it all in the direction of the neck, where it joins the blood stream. Once in the blood, the waste gets assimilated for removal from your body by...

    The kidneys. Your kidneys have an incredibly sensitive filtration and waste removal system. In just five minutes, your entire blood supply passes through the filtration network in the kidneys, where soluble waste material is extracted and sent straight to the bladder for final ejection.

    A healthy liver is the key to detoxed life

    The liver, like the kidneys, filters the blood. Unlike the kidneys, it mainly deals with substances that come in via the digestive tract (which explains why it is so often affected by drugs and alcohol). A two-step process allows it to nullify harmful substances and make them stable for removal.

    The first stage mainly involves the oxidation of substances, which makes them soluble and therefore ready to be ejected from the body via the urine. The second stage is called conjugation, whereby compounds that aren't easily removed via the urine find another way out. Many of them travel away from the liver in bile, which eventually gets removed via the bowel.

    Detox without the stress

    All this is happening. Right now. And there's not a coffee enema in sight! (They exist. I'm not joking.)

    Don't get me wrong: there are diet and lifestyle factors that can make these normal routes of elimination start to resemble the M25 on a Monday morning. You know the ones: too much booze, smoking, being a sofa spud, eating a diet devoid of anything that resembles a nutrient. But treat your body well in the first place and there should be no need to follow a diet that resembles munching the contents of a lawn mower bag, or that requires you to rinse your rear out with a litre of nescafe twice a day.

    'But it's the New Year', I hear you say, 'I've been mistreating my body for the past four weeks!' That be as it may, there's still no need to rely on anything other than your body's natural detoxification process to put you on the right track.

    What you can do, however, is aid the natural detox process using a couple of handy dietry tricks. Increase your water intake to support the kidneys by upping urinary output, for example - but don't be tempted into taking up a water-only diet, as you won't get the nutrients necessary to run the rest of your detox system. Do some daily exercise to increase lymphatic circulation. Try to eat a good amount of fibre to keep your digestive system operating at a healthy rate.

    The message here is isn't very glamorous: it really is just a case of following a healthy lifestyle that provides the body with everything it needs to get on with sorting itself out.

    Your body is capable of marvelous magic. Let it do its work... naturally.


    NOW WATCH: 12 Simple Ways To Be Happier And Healthier In 2014


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