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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    great depression bank runDebt burdens in developed nations have become extreme by any historical measure and will require a wave of haircuts, warns IMF paper.

    Much of the Western world will require defaults, a savings tax and higher inflation to clear the way for recovery as debt levels reach a 200-year high, according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund.

    The IMF working paper said debt burdens in developed nations have become extreme by any historical measure and will require a wave of haircuts, either negotiated 1930s-style write-offs or the standard mix of measures used by the IMF in its “toolkit” for emerging market blow-ups.

    “The size of the problem suggests that restructurings will be needed, for example, in the periphery of Europe, far beyond anything discussed in public to this point,” said the paper, by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

    The paper said policy elites in the West are still clinging to the illusion that rich countries are different from poorer regions and can therefore chip away at their debts with a blend of austerity cuts, growth, and tinkering (“forbearance”).

    The presumption is that advanced economies “do not resort to such gimmicks” such as debt restructuring and repression, which would “give up hard-earned credibility” and throw the economy into a “vicious circle”.

    But the paper says this mantra borders on “collective amnesia” of European and U.S. history, and is built on “overly optimistic” assumptions that risk doing far more damage to credibility in the end. It is causing the crisis to drag on, blocking a lasting solution. “This denial has led to policies that in some cases risk exacerbating the final costs,” it said.

    While use of debt pooling in the eurozone can reduce the need for restructuring or defaults, it comes at the cost of higher burdens for northern taxpayers. This could drag the EMU core states into a recession and aggravate their own debt and ageing crises. The clear implication of the IMF paper is that Germany and the creditor core would do better to bite the bullet on big write-offs immediately rather than buying time with creeping debt mutualisation.

    The paper says the Western debt burden is now so big that rich states will need same tonic of debt haircuts, higher inflation and financial repression — defined as an “opaque tax on savers” — as used in countless IMF rescues for emerging markets.

    “The magnitude of the overall debt problem facing advanced economies today is difficult to overstate. The current central government debt in advanced economies is approaching a two-century high-water mark,” they said.

    Most advanced states wrote off debt in the 1930s, though in different ways. First World War loans from the U.S. were forgiven when the Hoover Moratorium expired in 1934, giving debt relief worth 24pc of GDP to France, 22pc to Britain and 19pc to Italy.

    This occurred as part of a bigger shake-up following the collapse of the war reparations regime on Germany under the Versailles Treaty. The U.S. itself imposed haircuts on its own creditors worth 16pc of GDP in April 1933 when it abandoned the Gold Standard.

    Financial repression can take many forms, including capital controls, interest rate caps or the force-feeding of government debt to captive pension funds and insurance companies. Some of these methods are already in use but not yet on the scale seen in the late 1940s and early 1950s as countries resorted to every trick to tackle their war debts.

    The policy is essentially a confiscation of savings, partly achieved by pushing up inflation while rigging the system to stop markets taking evasive action. The UK and the U.S. ran negative real interest rates of -2pc to -4pc for several years after the Second World War. Real rates in Italy and Australia were -5pc.

    Both authors of the paper have worked for the IMF, Prof Rogoff as chief economist. They became famous for their best-selling work on sovereign debt crises over the ages, "This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly."

    They were later embroiled in controversy over a paper suggesting that growth slows sharply once public debt exceeds 90pc of GDP. Critics say it is unclear whether the higher debt is the problem or whether the causality is the other way around, with slow growth causing the debt ratio to rise to faster.

    The issue became highly politicised when German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble and EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn began citing the paper to justify eurozone austerity policies, over-stepping its more careful claims.

    Critics says extreme austerity without offsetting monetary stimulus is the chief reason why debts have been spiralling upwards even faster in parts of Southern Europe.

    The weaker eurozone states are particularly vulnerable to default because they no longer have their own sovereign currencies, putting them in the same position as emerging countries that borrowed in dollars in the 1980s and 1990s. Even so, nations have defaulted through history even when they do borrow in their own currency.

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    Green Bay Snow

    Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers could be the coldest ever played, as temperatures with windchill in Wisconsin could feel as low as -51F (-46C)

    When the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers face off in Sunday's play-off they may make unenviable history in the coldest American football game ever played.

    Temperatures at Green Bay's Lambeau Field in Wisconsin could reach as low as -20F (-29C) but frigid winds will make the stadium feel more like -51F (-46C).

    That would shatter the record held by the iconic 1967 "Ice Bowl", when the Packers narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys in conditions so cold that quarterback Bart Starr suffered frostbite on his fingers.

    A teammate's feet froze so badly that his toe nails fell off from the -13F (-25C) weather, which the wind chilled down -48F (-44C).

    The referee attempted to blow his whistle, only to find that his lips had frozen on the metal.

    In an effort to thaw out their frozen fans, the Packers are offering free coffee and hot chocolate to those brave enough to attend.

    "Can't dodge it, man," said Tramon Williams, a cornerback for the Packers. "Can't dodge it at all."

    The Packers supporters are hoping that the brutal weather may give them an advantage over the visiting Californians, who are more used to playing in the West Coast sunshine.

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    The Japanese government has promised to lend the United States half of the cost of building the first "Super-Maglev" train, reducing travel time between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to just 15 minutes.

    Tokyo is so keen to show off its technology that it will provide loans for half the estimated $8 billion (£5bn) cost of installing the tracks, Japan's Asahi newspaper said on Tuesday.

    Masahiro Nakayama, a general manager at Central Japan Railway Co, told The Daily Telegraph that the American federal government was keen, and that the state authorities were especially enthusiastic about the project.

    "The national government has shown interest," he said. "But a number of the states in the north-east corridor – such as Maryland – are particularly keen for faster rail links and more advanced technology."

    The 37-mile journey between Washington DC and Baltimore presently takes one hour by conventional rail link, and the Japanese government and Central Japan Railway Co. hope to use the project to showcase what it believes will be the transportation technology of the future.

    Eventually, a 453-mile track linking the US capital with Boston will be constructed.

    The proposal for the Maglev route was first put forward by Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, during talks with President Barack Obama in February and interest is increasing among states in the north-east of the US, according to Central Japan Railway Co.

    "I want to propose that (the United States) introduce the Maglev train system to represent Japan-US cooperation," said Mr Abe at the meeting.

    Mr Abe has devoted effort to travelling around the world to promote the export of his country's infrastructure technology. The latest proposal for extending a loan to the United States is part of such efforts.

    Maglev vehicles have no wheels and are propelled along their track through electromagnetic pull – doing away with friction and, hence, providing a smoother and quieter ride at a faster speed.

    Conventional Maglev technology is already in use on a number of short routes around the world, but is limited to a speed of around 267mph.

    Japanese "Super-Maglev" trains are already operating on test tracks at speeds of more than 310mph.

    The latest Series L0 maglev was unveiled in late 2012 and measures nearly 92 feet long – of which 49 feet forms an aerodynamic nose section – and is fitted with 24 seats. A full 16-carriage train will be able to carry 1,000 passengers.

    The state-of-the-art trains are scheduled to go into use in 2027 and link Shinagawa Station, in central Tokyo, with Nagoya. At present, it takes 90 minutes for a conventional "shinkansen" bullet train to complete the journey between that two stations, although that will be cut to 40 minutes by the new technology.

    The aim is to extend the line to Osaka by 2045 and the cost of the new lines has been put at Y8.44 trillion (£64 billion).

    The Japanese government is hoping to have the US maglev operational within the next decade and that it will serve to encourage other parts of the US and countries around the world to purchase Japanese mass transit technology.

    NOW WATCH: Here's What Really Happens At A Tesla Supercharger Station


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    working typing workaholic

    The most successful employees are at risk of isolation, depression and anxiety as they increasingly use the internet to continue to work outside the office, researchers have warned.

    A new study suggests workaholics are increasingly logging on after work, becoming addicted to the web and are more likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they switch off.

    But researchers warned the dangers are being overlooked by companies because those at the most risk are usually the most successful.

    “Compulsive behavior occurs when workers cross an invisible boundary and their internet use becomes unhealthy,” said Nada Kakabadse Professor of policy, governance and ethics at Henley School of Business.

    “They spend increasing amounts of time online, waking up three times in a night to check their emails, eating patterns become irregular, relationships suffer and they become totally absorbed and feel anxious when separated from the computer.

    “For overachievers it is worse and they are more likely to burn-out more quickly. They begin to lose judgement and make mistakes.”

    Researchers said they had expected to find compulsive internet use among the young and the unemployed who had more time on their hands. But they were surprised to find overachievers were actually the most at risk.

    The team found the working excessively was the ‘strongest predictor’ of compulsive internet use.

    Co-author Dr Cristina Quinones-Garcia of Northampton Business School said: “Internet supports all areas of human interaction. However the omnipresence of this phenomenon could have double-edged sword impact on our lives.

    “Those individuals who use technology to enable working beyond office hours tend to be highly successful in their jobs, but are at a high risk of developing problems.”

    Researchers have called on companies to issue guidelines on safe internet use outside the workplace which educates about the dangers.

    “Organisations seem to focus on the extent to which individuals lose working hours using the Internet for personal purposes,” said Dr Quinones-Garcia

    “However those individuals who work long house and use technology to work outside office hours are overlooked mainly due to their success.

    “We urge companies not to underestimate the risks involved in encouraging working excessively.

    “It could be that higher damage to the companies comes from over-achievers who are somehow encouraged to work long hours.”

    The team recruited 516 men and women aged between 18 and 65 both employed and unemployed, to complete questionnaires to measure compulsive internet usage, emotional stability, excessive work, and compulsive work and life satisfaction.

    Over 60 per cent of the participants reported compulsive internet use with many using the internet as a coping strategy and exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when not online.

    Individuals who report a high level of compulsive use were found to be at a high risk of suffering from isolation, depression and anxiety.

    A recent poll found that British workers would rather have no heat and water than lose their Internet connection at home.

    The statistics echo the findings of a study on Internet addiction published in the journal PLOS ONE, which found that when heavy Internet users are forced to go offline, they undergo withdrawal symptoms comparable to those experienced by drug addicts.

    “Although we do not know exactly what Internet addiction is, our results show that around half of the young people we studied spend so much time on the net that it has negative consequences for the rest of their lives," study author Professor Phil Reed of Swansea University

    A 2011 University of Cambridge study found that one in three people are overwhelmed by technology and social media. The study also found that technology-related stress was correlated with increased feelings of life dissatisfaction.

    A separate study of found that three quarters of workers are now afraid to open their emails on Monday morning.

    Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia found that those surveyed were mostly worried of finding among their emails some orders or commands what were sent during the weekend.

    For some it grew so bad that they felt ‘paralyzed’ by the volume of messages , said lead author Mare Teichmann.

    “Demands have been established to be “always online”, “always ready to react”, and “ready to work” she added.

    “Interruptions in non-work time, family, friends, leisure, hobbies etc. have become common and increase the level of occupational stress.”

    The internet findings were presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference while the Talinn report is published in the journal Recent Advances in Telecommunications and Circuit Design.

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    Cute baby

    Cooing at children may be frowned upon by some parenting manuals but new research suggests baby talk helps youngsters pick up language faster.

    Researchers found that infants whose parents talked to them at a higher pitch and with elongated vowels had learned nearly three times more words by the age of two.

    Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Connecticut examined thousands of 30-second snippets of verbal exchanges between parents and babies.

    "What our analysis shows is that the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development." said Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

    The more parents exaggerated vowels – such as "How are youuuuu?"– emphasized important words, spoke more slowly using a happy tone of voice and raised the pitch of their voices, the more the one-year olds babbled, a forerunner of word production.

    Baby talk - also known as "parentese" - was most effective when a parent spoke with a child individually, without other adults or children around.

    "The fact that the infant's babbling itself plays a role in future language development shows how important the interchange between parent and child is," Kuhl said.

    To conduct the study 26 babies about one year of age wore vests containing recorders to pick up whether baby talk or regular voice was used.

    When the babies were two-years-old, parents filled out a questionnaire measuring how many words their children knew.

    Infants who had heard more baby talk knew more words.

    In the study, two-year olds in families who spoke the most baby talk in a one-on-one social context knew 433 words, on average, compared with the 169 words recognized by two-year olds in families who used the least baby talk in one-on-one situations.

    "Some parents produce baby talk naturally and they don't realize they're benefiting their children," said first author Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Connecticut.

    "Some families are more quiet, not talking all the time. But it helps to make an effort to talk more.

    "What this study is adding is that how you talk to children matters. Parentese is much better at developing language than regular speech, and even better if it occurs in a one-on-one interaction," Ramirez-Esparza said.

    The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Developmental Science.

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    fiat 500L trekking forest yellow

    When is a Fiat 500 not a Fiat 500? When’s it’s a Fiat 500L Trekking, of course.

    This tall, SUV-style model is based on the 500L MPV that was launched in spring 2013 and it shares little other than the first part of its name with Fiat’s cute city car.

    The thing is, the 500 is the shining star of Fiat’s range – and is regularly among the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars– so you can understand the company’s desire to attach the nameplate to a wider range of cars.

    Indeed, most of Fiat’s forthcoming models are likely be part of an expanded 500 family, with a 500X crossover due first, rumoured to be followed by a new five-door 500 and, well, Lord knows what else.

    Here, then is the 500L Trekking. For an extra £700 over similarly well-equipped Lounge models it gains an SUV makeover, with a bespoke front bumper, different wheels and plastic cladding around the wheel arches, sills and rear bumper. By rights it shouldn’t work. Strangely, it does, and transforms the 500L from dumpy to funky in one fell swoop.

    A higher ride height also plays its part, and makes the Trekking a touch better suited to any (highly unlikely) off-road excursions. As does the addition of all-season tyres and Fiat’s Traction+ system – an electronically controlled function of the braking system that mimics the behaviour of a mechanical differential to optimise traction on slippery surfaces.

    As well as being the best-looking 500L, the Trekking is also the best to drive. A side-effect of the raised ride height seems to be a slightly more supple ride, and although it still crashes over the worst bumps, the Trekking is comfortable enough to fulfil its brief as a family car.

    fiat 500L trekking beach yellow

    That slightly higher stance means that there’s a bit more lean through corners, but that’s not really an issue for a car that’s more likely to be doing the school run than being thrashed down a country road.

    More relevant is the fact that the gearshift is rather vague and there’s a lot of travel on the clutch pedal. You get used to things soon enough, however, and the 500L has a refreshingly direct, honest quality to the way it drives.

    The 1.6-litre diesel engine - the most expensive of the four available for the Trekking - suits it well. It’s noisy when pushed, and emits a steady hum at motorway speeds, but it’s smooth enough the rest of the time and usefully flexible.

    Inside, the 500L Trekking has none of the 500’s fake-Bakelite charm, but it’s stylish and the quality is generally good. You sit high, with lots of glass around you, but although visibility to the side and rear is excellent, the twin pairs of front pillars can obstruct the view at times.

    Practicality isn’t quite what it could be. There’s lots of legroom in the front and rear seats, excellent access thanks to large door openings and an almost-flat floor. Rear headroom isn't all that you’d expect given the car’s overall height, however, and although the boot is a decent size and shape, the folded rear seat gets in the way if you want to create a longer load space.

    Inevitably, Fiat’s attempts to create a larger, yet cohesive, 500 range will mean a few compromises along the way. There aren’t too many with the 500L Trekking, but in this guise it costs almost £20,000 and in terms of fitness-for-purpose it doesn’t score as highly as its city car cousin.


    Fiat 500L 1.6 Multijet 105 Trekking

    Engine/transmission: 1,598cc turbodiesel engine, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive

    Price from:£19,590 ($32,192)

    Price as tested:£22,590 ($37,122)

    Power/torque: 104bhp @ 3,750rpm/ 236lb ft @ 1,750rpm

    Top speed: 109 mph

    Acceleration: 0-62mph in 12.0sec

    Fuel economy: 60.1mpg EU Combined

    CO2 emissions: 122g/km

    VED band: D (£0 first year, £105 thereafter)

    Verdict: A likeable family car, but there are better options for the money

    Telegraph rating: Three out of five stars

    Follow @TeleMotoring

    SEE ALSO: The $37 Million 'Apostrophe' Luxury Yacht Is Overflowing With Art Deco Style

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    Three Doctors Surgeons In Scrubs Washing HandsThousands of prostate cancer patients should avoid immediate treatment and keep their disease under “surveillance” instead, official guidelines state for the first time.

    Updated guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says men with “intermediate” or “low-risk” prostate cancer should consider having regular check-ups instead of immediately undergoing radiotherapy or surgery.

    The advice is designed to prevent thousands of men with relatively harmless tumours from needless suffering or side effects as a result of unnecessary invasive treatment.

    Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with more than 40,000 cases diagnosed every year, and 11,000 die each year from the disease.

    But prostate cancer can be “slow growing” and many men will have cancer that will not cause them any harm in their lifetime.

    Treatment options, including surgery and radiotherapy, can have serious side effects, such as erectile dysfunction and fertility problems. Under the new guidelines about 20 per cent of patients will be advised to have “active surveillance” instead of treatment, about half of whom may never need to receive treatment or have surgery. The updated guidance sets out a new protocol detailing how men who choose this option should be monitored with blood tests, biopsies and physical examinations, to see if and how the cancer is developing.

    Prof Mark Baker, the director of Nice’s Centre for Clinical Practice, said: “Prostate cancer can be very slow growing and while many men will have a cancer that won’t cause them any harm in their lifetime, nearly 10,000 men still die every year in England and Wales.

    “The updated guideline includes a number of new recommendations on the swift diagnosis and treatment of different stages of the disease and a new protocol for men who choose active surveillance, which involves regular check-ups to see if and how the cancer is developing, rather than radical treatment.

    “The aim of this Nice guideline is to ensure that excellent treatment is provided for men who will benefit from it.”

    Dr John Graham, the chairman of the guideline development group, added: “All treatments for prostate cancer have serious side effects which can affect the quality of life, especially their effects on erectile function and fertility.

    “This is why it is so important that men are able to understand the treatment options available to them and, with the support of their health care professional, are able to make a choice to suit their individual needs, both clinically and related to their quality of life.”

    He added: “It is important that information and support is available and easily accessible to ensure patients can make the most appropriate decision for them in terms of treatment.

    “This guideline acknowledges that, and makes recommendations about supportive care.”

    SEE ALSO: Matt Lauer And Al Roker Got Prostate Exams Live On TV

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    vladimir putin alexei miller sochiBizarre killings, for which no motive has yet been determined, heighten security concerns over Sochi Winter Olympics

    Russian authorities said on Thursday that security forces had been put on combat alert in the southern Stavropol region after the discovery of six bodies with gunshot wounds in four different cars, three of which were rigged with explosives.

    Only one of the bombs went off and no one was hurt. But the killings are further heightening security concerns ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which also lies near the Caucasus region, where an Islamic insurgency is simmering.

    Russia has already tightened security before next month's Games, on which President Vladimir Putin has staked a lot of political and personal prestige, and is on high alert after suicide bombers killed at least 34 people in separate attacks in the southern city of Volgograd last month.

    The corpses were discovered on Wednesday in two separate districts outside the regional capital Stavropol, a gateway to the North Caucasus, where Russia faces an insurgency by Islamist militants who have threatened to try to prevent the Olympics going ahead.

    Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's main investigative agency, said in a statement issued on Thursday that Federal Security Service officers had joined the investigation. He said no motive had yet been determined.

    Mr Putin said after the Volgograd attacks that he would annihilate all "terrorists" in Russia.

    The Winter Olympics open in Sochi on Feb. 7. The Black Sea resort is on the western edge of the Caucasus mountains where the insurgents want to carve out an Islamic state.

    The head of Russia's Olympic Committee has said no more can be done to safeguard the Games because every measure possible is already in place.

    Russian forces went on combat alert in Sochi on Tuesday and about 37,000 personnel are now in place to provide security at the Games, Russian officials say.

    Edited by Hannah Strange

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    baby eye

    Babies will be genetically sequenced from birth within our lifetime so early treatment can be started for a host of diseases, experts have claimed.

    Prof Anne Bowcock, Professor of Cancer Genomics at Imperial College, claims genetic screening of newborns will be the future of medicine and will be widely available within the next 30 to 40 years.

    “We see genetics as being the future of medicine. From the time we are born we will know how at risk we are of disease. I think this will happen within my lifetime,” said Prof Bowcock.

    “Obviously there are ethical problems that run alongside that particularly for parents. But it would mean many diseases could be caught early and treated.”

    Screening infants is likely to raise concerns about the ethics of such testing, particularly if it was to highlight an incurable disease which would not emerge until later in life, or an illness that the child may want to keep private.

    Knowing about future risks may also alter how a child is treated by its parents.

    And there are fears that the technology may throw up false positives and predict diseases that would never emerged leading to needless treatment and worry.

    A number of pilot projects in America are currently screening the genomes of thousands of newborns along with their parents and other relatives for comparison.

    Geneticist Joe Vockley, chief science officer at Inova Translational Medicine Institute, which is carrying out the study said: “We’re trying to figure out what is legal, versus ethical, versus good medicine

    “This is a living, breathing problem, nota static decision that's made, and it lasts for all time.”

    In the US project only diseases that are treatable or preventable, so-called medically actionable findings, are revealed, to the family's doctor.

    Dr. Jonathan Berg of the University of North Caroline, which is carrying out a similar study admitted: “We aren't even sure that genome-scale sequencing in newborns is really a good idea.”

    Dr Berg said he expected screening to be carried out throughout a person’s life rather than at birth.

    “We will use targeted sequencing at certain times in a person's life, when that specific information will actually be medically useful.”

    Genome screening creates a map of each individual child’s genetic make-up to identify health risks that could develop in childhood or later in life.

    It is currently possible to have your genome screened but it is costly and the genetic causes of many diseases are still to be found.

    “I don’t think widespread screening is the right thing to do at the moment,” said Prof Bowcock, “But it will be in the future when we know more.”

    Prof Bowcock speaking a seminar at the Royal Society in London said thousands of lives could eventually be saved through genetic screening.

    About one in ten women have a strong predisposition towards breast cancer because they have inherited genes such as BRCA1 – the gene which caused Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy.

    Up to 7,000 women a year are diagnosed with the disease and 4,500 die. One in 10 ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited faulty gene.

    Those carrying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a 50 per cent risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 50 and 70 per cent over a lifetime.

    But currently women are not genetically screened for the risk unless they have a known family history.

    Prof Bowcock said; “If we could identify which women would get the disease then we could start preventing it.”

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    lisbon portugal container shipping portThe need to export more and import less is really important for the UK’s macro sustainability this decade

    As we begin a new year, the earliest business surveys have confirmed the rising optimism of forecasters about the UK economy, though they have eased from their highest levels in late 2013.

    More and more forecasters are expecting real GDP growth somewhere between 2pc and 3pc this year, with some brave souls thinking we might get more than 3pc.

    For most people, the significance of growth is linked to their own circumstances: do they have a job; how secure is it; how well does it pay and what is their disposable income after taxes and the general cost of living?

    At the core of the political debate is the fact that, unless more jobs are created and incomes keep pace with the cost of living, then the recovery will effectively be dependent on fresh borrowing from consumers. By definition, this makes the recovery itself vulnerable.

    Another possible cause for concern is the possibility of a widening external deficit on the balance of payments, despite the recovery.

    As I have touched on in a number of articles, and in my Radio 4 documentary series, MINTs: The Next Economic Giants, the UK’s exports need to become much stronger relative to other parts of the economy.

    It is in the likes of the MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – along with China and the other so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia and India – where there is the greatest potential for export growth prospects.

    Even though there are reasonable signs of recovery in most of the eurozone, these countries are not going to be great export markets for us, even if they are currently the largest markets in absolute terms. Beyond their own challenges of sustaining domestic demand, most of them have just as strong a need as the UK to export elsewhere in the world.

    In addition, while there are more and more signs of a sustainable recovery in the US, it isn’t going to be the great importer that it once was.

    One of the most remarkable statistics I have seen recently was that in the 12 months to Q3 2013, the US balance of payments current account was “only” 2.2pc of GDP – not far off a third what it approached in its pre-crisis highs.

    This means that the US recovery is taking place but not sucking in imports as it has done in the past. For the rest of the world, the US isn’t likely to be the same easy export market it once was.

    What the US is demonstrating to the likes of the UK and all the other countries so eager to export (and reduce their imports) is that it is possible to do it in today’s world. Indeed, for the US to achieve this scale of external improvement over the past five years must be a good sign for the world.

    I keep talking about the need to export more and import less and it is really important for the UK’s macro sustainability this decade. Beyond its contribution to the balance of payments, an improved relative export-import balance would be likely to contribute to stronger fixed investment for the economy, too, which itself would lessen the dependency on the leveraged consumer.

    It would probably also make the balance of regional growth around the UK somewhat more feasible and reduce the dependency on the seemingly endless rise of London and the South East.

    Saying this is not necessarily another call for the resurrection of manufacturing at the expense of services. Exporting to the rest of the world in this era is more complex than that. It is also probably the case that, in many basic manufacturing industries, the UK and other developed countries are never going to be able to compete with the lowest labour-cost producers, who will inevitably be in the developing world somewhere.

    Exporting more value-added parts of manufacturing goods, as well as exporting value-added services to the rising number of affluent consumers in the emerging world, are areas where we can excel. So, beyond traditional products such as cars, other areas where we should expect to do well include tertiary education and bio-medical sciences.

    This also means that the sorts of investments we might be hoping for as part of the sustainability of the recovery could be different from the past.

    Expecting massive Lowryesque factories to be built is probably not very wise. Investment linked to our universities and other centres of technological excellence is probably more realistic.

    Away from issues related to exports, investment and the regional economic balance, there are huge issues about our infrastructure challenges, including the degree of our genuine national ambition, the raging debate about immigration, whether inflation can remain under control and what happens to those areas of the economy that will be sensitive to higher interest rates as and when that day emerges – all topics for further pieces.

    Jim O’Neill’s new book, The BRIC Road to Growth, is available from The London Publishing Partnership

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    jp morgan chase atmThree of the four biggest commercial banks in the US are expected to report falling revenue in the week ahead as loan activity falls.

    The biggest banks in the US are expected to report falling revenue for the final quarter of last year as loan activity slows and results are dragged lower by potential fines from regulators.

    JP Morgan will kick off the fourth-quarter earnings season when it reports results for the three months ending in December, on Tuesday.

    The bank will be among three of the four biggest US commerical banks to report declining revenue in the fourth quarter, according to consensus figures.

    On Thursday, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are expected to report revenue down 16pc to $7.7bn, and down 1.8pc to $18.3bn respectively. Only Bank of America is forecast to deliver revenue growth up 7.8pc to $21.2bn.

    The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that banks logged $293bn in mortgage originations in the fourth quarter, down from $401bn in the third.

    US banks also had to put money aside in preparation for fines from the Federal Housing Finance Agency for selling bad mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland are among the 10 banks yet to reach a settlement with the FHFA.

    The slow final quarter has not held back bonuses for the industry’s top bankers in London and New York who’s pay is linked to specific deals such as the £84bn sale of Vodafone’s stake in US telecoms giant Verizon Wireless.

    Karen Cook, president of Goldman Sachs in Europe, is expected to receive between £3m and £6m, although it could be her last bonus of this size.

    European laws which came into force on January 1 now cap bonuses at 1 times the executive’s base salary or 2 times that figure if shareholders give their consent.

    The bonuses being handed out now relate to last year, and are expected to be around 10 to 15pc higher than those awarded for 2012, City sources said.

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    Google is working on a new price comparison tool for airline travel which will “blow everyone else out of the water”, according to budget airline Ryanair.

    Speaking to Irish newspaper the Sunday Independent, airline boss Michael O’Leary said that he was helping Google with some “exciting developments” in airline ticket sales.

    The company has shared its pricing information with the company, which is developing a service that will display fares without bias and then direct customers to third party sites where they can buy tickets.

    "Google will say, 'Here are the fares,' then you click straight through to Ryanair or someone else. It blows everyone else out of the water," said O’Leary.

    "Because Google, being Google, want to show all of the prices from all of the airlines on display. They don't want to charge us, they make all of their money out of advertising.

    "They don't want to have a limited or biased search. They want to be able to say they've screened all of these airlines on all of the routes. They need to find who has got the lowest airfare on these routes... and that's us," he said.

    O’Leary also said that Ryanair was working on incorporating more technology into its own services.

    "In five years' time, everyone on Ryanair will be paying on their mobile. You'll pay for your drinks and snacks with your mobile. You'll upgrade to priority boarding on your mobile,” he said.

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    cristiano ronaldo babyIn a move bound to horrify the majority of parents-to-be, the couple are taking suggestions for the first and middle name of their baby girl, who is due to be born in April. Users are able to vote for their favourite name once per household per day.

    Writing on his site namemydaughte r, Stephen said that whilst the couple were open to all non-obscene suggestions, he and his wife maintained the final say on the name.

    "Unfortunately internet I know better than to trust you," he wrote. "We will ultimately be making the final decision, Alas my daughter shall not be named WackyTaco692."

    In a conversation with fellow Redditors, he described the flash of inspiration that drove him to seek the answer to his daughter's name in the arms of the internet.

    "I was sitting on the end of the bed after coming home from work and the idea hit me. I tend to be very forward person (this gets me in a lot of trouble lol) and I just blurted it out - "Hunny, I am going to ask the internet what we should name our daughter! [sic]

    "She was supportive right from the start. I think at first she didn't think I was actually going to do it. But once the domain was registered she knew it was real.

    "Hell when I saw that was available I just knew that was the sign that I HAD to do it."

    At the time of writing the top name was the surprisingly sensible Amelia Mae Mclaughlin, with just under 3,000 votes. Last year Amelia emerged as the most popular name in the UK for girls, though it is unclear where the couple are based.

    The second placed name is the slightly more outlandish Cthulhu, presumably after the cosmic entity created by horror writer H P Lovecraft.

    Other notable submissions of the 1,000 of so name so far include Watermelon, Not Zelda, Megatron, Moonpod and Worldwideweb.

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    shoe headphones

    With New Year's fitness resolutions already beginning to fade, Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University has joined with Spotify to analyse more than 6.7 million ‘workout’ playlists and create the ultimate fitness soundtrack.

    As the excesses of the Christmas season fade into memory, New Year resolutions to stay fit and healthy become increasingly difficult to maintain.

    So sports scientists at Brunel University has joined forces with music-streaming service Spotify to create the ultimate workout playlist - after studying more than 6.7 million fitness compilations to find out which tunes are motivating the country.

    The playlist is based on the global popularity of tracks together with music that are proven to make you work harder based on their tempo (bpm), style and lyrical content.

    It features tracks from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Daft Punk, starts with a warmup and leads into a high intensity and strength training section, and ends with a warm down.

    Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton was the most frequently featured track on workout playlists followed by Wake Me Up by Avicii, ‘Till I Collapse by Eminem and Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin.

    Dr Costas Karageorghis, Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Sport and Education at Brunel University, London and Reader in Sport Psychology said: “When synching your movements to the beat of the music, increase the intensity of your workout by raising the music tempo by one or two BPMs beyond your comfort zone – this will increase your workrate with the added benefit that the difference in effort will be almost imperceptible.

    "A suitably motivational playlist can help to 'colour' the symptoms of exercise-related fatigue, like breathlessness and a beating heart, in such a way that they are interpreted in a more positive manner.

    "This means that at the point when your body is shouting 'STOP', the music has the power to lift your mood and beckon you on.

    "This is why your choice of music for exercise has important implications for how likely you are to stick to a New Year exercise regime."

    During the study, the team found that men and women exercise to different tunes to help them break through the pain barrier and not give up.

    Men prefer to pump iron to the Rocky III theme tune "Eye of the Tiger" but women work out to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, a survey found.

    It seems women are more likely to work out before breakfast to rhythmic pop and dance beats.

    But men prefer lunchtimes or evenings gym sessions to classic rock songs like 'Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor or aggressive hip hop numbers like Till I Collapse by Eminem.

    Spotify's Angela Watts said: "It's no surprise that everyone is hitting the gym hard after Christmas and New Year.

    "Combining an analysis of Spotify's 6.7 million workout playlists with Dr Costas' research, we've created The Ultimate Workout playlist to help give you the best motivation possible to keep that New Year's workout resolution."

    The Ultimate Workout playlist

    1. Roar - Katy Perry - 92 BMP (Mental preparation)

    2. Talk Dirty - Jason Derulo ft 2 Chainz - 100 BMP (Stretching)

    3. Skip To The Good Bit - Rizzle Kicks - 105 BMP (Stretching)

    4. Get Lucky - Daft Punk ft Pharrel Williams - 116 (Aerobic/Warm up)

    5. Move - Little Mix - 120 BPM (Aerobic/Warm up)

    6. Need U 100% - Duke Dumont ft A*M*E - 124 BMP (Cardio training, low intensity)

    7. You Make Me - Avicii - 125 BPM (Cardio training, low intensity)

    8. Feel My Rhythm - Viralites - 128 BPM (Cardio training, moderate intensity)

    9. Timber - Pitbull ft Ke$ha - 130 BPM (Cardio training, moderate intensity)

    10. Applause - Lady Gaga - 140 BPM (Cardio training, high intensity)

    11. Can't Hold Us - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft Ray Dalton - 147 (Cardio training, very high intensity)

    12. Happy - Pharrell williams - 160 BMP (Cardio training, very high intensity)

    13. The Monster - Eminem ft Rihanna - 110 (Stength training)

    14. Love Me Again - John Newman - 126 (Strength training)

    15. Get Down - Groove Armada ft Stush and Red Rat - 127 BPM (Strength training)

    16. #thatPOWER - ft Justin Bieber - 128 BRPM (Strength training)

    SEE ALSO: Paleo And Other Fad Diets Can Work — Sometimes

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    Darth Vader

    You might already know that Casablanca's Sam was never asked to play it again. But what are the other most common mistakes when quoting from classic films?

    Correcting someone on a misremembered line from a film is the behaviour of a true pub bore. As they didn’t say in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: when the misquote becomes the line, use the misquote.

    Still, in a bid to protect you from the pedants, Telegraph Men selects the top film phrases we all get wrong...


    The misquote: Play it again, Sam

    The quote: Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’

    Fact: more people have now said “Did you know they never actually say ‘Play it again, Sam?'” than have said “Play it again, Sam”. This is the misquoter’s misquote, its place in cinema history cemented when compulsive reference dropper Woody Allen used it as the title of his 1972 film.

    Dirty Harry

    The misquote: Do you feel lucky, punk?

    The quote: Being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?

    It’s easy to see how this one became truncated - the misquote gets across Clint Eastwood’s sentiment perfectly while taking a fifth of the time of the original.

    The Silence of the Lambs

    The misquote: Hello, Clarice…

    The quote: Good evening, Clarice…

    Unfortunately nobody seems to be called Clarice nowadays so this one is hard to roll out in a social setting. The important thing is that you say it while wearing a muzzle.

    The Empire Strikes Back

    The misquote: Luke, I am your father

    The quote: No, I am your father

    Out by a single word, this one topped LoveFilm’s list of memorable misquotes. Luke’s reaction to the revelation – an extended, screamed "No!"– is also eminently quotable and has provided the basis for many youtube re-edits.

    Field of Dreams

    The misquote: If you build it, they will come

    The quote: If you build it, he will come

    Kevin Costner’s character walks around in his crop field, repeatedly hearing the words “If you build it, he will come”. He is amazed that his wife, sitting on the porch, can’t hear them too – and it appears a generation of filmgoers wasn’t paying much attention either.

    The Graduate

    The misquote: Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?

    The quote: Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?

    This is one of the few misquotes that gets the tone of the original wrong as well as the words. With the misremembered line, Dustin Hoffman’s character appears much surer of himself, but in the original there’s a moment when he genuinely doesn’t know whether the older woman is trying to seduce him or not.

    The Wizard of Oz

    The misquote: I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto

    The quote: Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

    …we must be over the rainbow! And while we’re there, there are better lines from the 1939 film to quote. What about: “If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with”? Or just “There’s no place like home”.

    All About Eve

    The misquote: Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride

    The quote: Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night

    Unless you can match Bette Davis’s effortless disdain it’s best not to try this one in either version.

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    The misquote: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

    The quote: Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?

    The ‘mirror, mirror’ line is now so standard that it provided the title to the 2012 updating of the Snow White tale.

    Wall Street

    The misquote: Greed is good

    The quote: The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.

    This misquote became a shorthand for the perceived attitude of City traders in the '80s, and the sentiment was recently revived in a speech by Boris Johnson when he claimed that “greed [is] a valuable spur to economic activity.”

    Forgetting the exact wording is going to be the least of your worries if you find yourself quoting it to the wrong crowd.

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    mao statue gold

    A senior military official was caught with an Aladdin's Cave of supposedly ill-gotten goods including a “pure gold” state of Mao Zedong it emerged this week, as China’s president warned “drastic medicine” was needed to rid his country of corruption.

    During a raid on the home of Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, armed police seized four truck’s worth of luxury items including a cellar of expensive wine likely worth tens of thousands of pounds, a golden hand basin as well as the glistening effigy of Chairman Mao.

    Lt Gen Gu was the deputy director of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Logistics Department until January 2012 when he was taken into custody and placed under investigation for corruption. He has not been seen in public since.

    The revelations came as Xi Jinping, China’s president, repeated vows to stamp out graft with the Communist Party and rumours about a potentially explosive corruption investigation into China’s former security chief continued to swirl.

    “Every Party official should keep in mind that all dirty hands will be caught,” Xi told members of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.

    “Senior officials should hold Party disciplines in awe and stop taking chances,” the president added.

    “Not one cent of public money should be appropriated and not a slight bit of official power should be abused for personal ends.”

    The scale of the challenge facing Xi Jinping was laid bare this week with an avalanche of salacious revelations about Chinese government officials, shocking even by the Communist Party’s standards.

    Three men found their faces – and, in one case, private parts - splashed across the Chinese media on Wednesday for all the wrong reasons.

    Lt Gen Gu was the highest profile figure to face public humiliation for his alleged transgressions after Caixin, a leading Chinese magazine, published exclusive details of a January 2013 police raid on his mansion in Puyang, Henan province.

    A group of around 20 armed police officers spent two nights loading the contents of Lt Gen Gu’s luxurious home into four trucks under the cover of darkness, Caixin claimed.

    Among the items confiscated was a “pure gold” statue of Mao Tse-tung and hundreds of boxes of Maotai, a high-end Chinese liquor.

    In the southern city of Shenzhen, the chief of Nanlian village went on trial on Wednesday for allegedly taking 56 million yuan (£5.63 million) in bribes that he used to purchase at least 64 properties, the West China Metropolis Daily reported.

    The chief, named as Zhou Weisi, was arrested last February after online claims he had accrued a fortune of around 2 billion yuan.

    Meanwhile, Qin Guogang, the deputy head of Shaanxi province’s Communist Party School, was facing the obliteration of his political career after photographs of his naked body were made public.

    A woman claiming to be Mr Qin’s student and former mistress leaked the compromising images onto the internet and claimed she also possessed five “sex videos” of the couple, “lasting about an hour”, the Beijing News reported.

    Rumours also continued to circulate this week about a supposed corruption investigation targeting Zhou Yongkang, China’s former spy chief and a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee until 2012.

    Unconfirmed reports suggest Mr Zhou has been under some form of detention since last month.

    Beijing has so far made no official comment about the case but, if confirmed, the toppling of Mr Zhou – who would be the first sitting or retired Politburo member to face such charges in decades – is likely to dominate China’s political agenda in 2014.

    Last week, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post urged Beijing to break its silence.

    “The investigation of Zhou presents a good opportunity for the leadership to not only win the support of a public disenchanted with corruption and injustice, but also to promote the rule of law by signalling that no one is beyond its reach,” wrote editor Wang Xiangwei.

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  • 01/16/14--10:03: Why Cold Air Has A Scent
  • cold jacket hood scarf

    If you have always wondered why cold air smells different from warm air, then here is the answer.

    Scientists have answered the question of why cold air smells different from hot air.

    Odour molecules become airborne much more quickly in a warmer environment than a colder one so there are more smells available on a hot day than a cold one.

    Pamela Dalton, a senior scientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center n Philadelphia, said that when it is very cold people ability to detect smells are reduced:

    "Odour molecules have to get into the air so we can sniff them into our nose

    "In a warm environment molecules are going to be much more available up in our breathing zone for us to sniff in."

    She added that the other reason cold air smells different is that our noses are better attuned to working in warmer environments:

    "When we breathe in even cold very dry air or body brings it up to body temperature and humidifies it very quickly because it needs to do that otherwise it would damage our lungs.

    "If it is doing that on its own the other functions of smell and detection may take a back seat."

    "When the air is warmed and humidified it is similar to what our body temperature would be that is when the nose operates optimally."

    While negative smells, like rubbish trucks, are often associated with overheating, we also may smell these more in the summer because we are much more sensitive to odour at that time.

    According to Dr Dalton smells are also different in the summer months because there is often more rain.

    "Rain makes odour molecules more available and things get deposited on surfaces. This is why after rainfall animals often go crazy and sniff everywhere."

    While cold air and hot air smells different, the scientific process also applies to hot food and drinks compared to cold food and drinks.

    Dr Dalton says: "In something like a cup of coffee there are hundreds of different compounds. If it is cold only some of them might be more available to the nose and so the whole flavour balance would be different.

    "What you would be smelling might not smell like hot coffee when it is cold. You would still smell somethings ut you wouldn't be getting all of those aroma compounds."

    Cold air also triggers the trigeminal nerve which is when the experience of smelling becomes a feel. Dr Dalton said:

    "Anything that goes into our nose we tend to describe as a smell even though it is technically a combination of a smell and a feel at the same time

    "So when people say they like the way something smells they may actually be responding as much to the feel of the cold air as they are to the actual odour.

    "The reason that people like cold air and the way it smells is really a combination of not just smell but also the feel of it.

    "It is refreshing, you breathe it in and it's like if you put menthol in your nose, you get that evaporative cooling affect."

    SEE ALSO: Australia Is Hotter Than It's Been In 100 Years

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  • 01/17/14--04:27: 5 Ways To Hide Your Hangover
  • tobey maguire the great gatsby party hangover

    We’ve all rolled into work with a hangover at some point in our lives.

    Thing is, you don’t always want your boss or work colleagues to know that your below-par performance is due to the booze. And whilst it’s relatively easy to sound bright and bubbly, all the acting skills in the world ain’t gonna hide the fact that you look lousy.

    So here are a few crafty tricks to ensure that you at least appear human even if, thanks to those two extra pints last night, you don’t exactly feel it.

    1. Energize skin with a scrub.

    The simplest way to give skin a post-night out wake-up call is by using a face scrub such as Ele mis’ Energizing Skin Scrub (£26.50, from ). Not only will the tiny exfoliating particles they contain remove the dry, dead cells that litter the surface of the skin making it look dull and lifeless, the very act of scrubbing will bring blood to the surface of the skin, boosting circulation and improving your complexion in the process.

    For the ultimate refresher cleanse yourself top-to-toe with a citrus-based shower gel like Molton Brown’s Orange & Bergamot Body Wash (£18, from ) – the smell of citrus fruits has been shown to enliven the senses.

    2. Rehydrate skin.

    As well as depleting the body of vitamin A (which is needed for healthy cell turnover) alcohol also robs skin of moisture, which can leave it looking dull, dry and grey. What’s more, dry skin ages faster, which might explain why many alcoholics look so care worn.

    You’ll need to rehydrate from the inside by downing plenty of water to restore some balance, obviously, but a moisturizer will instantly give skin a boost and improve its appearance too. Better still, try ClarinsMen Fatigue Fighter (£30 from ) or Nickel’s Morning-After Rescue Gel (£25.50 from ) both of which have been specifically formulated to improve tired, hungover complexions. Great for getting you shipshape after a skinful.

    3. Put some color into your cheeks.

    Like a lot of men I’m pretty cautious when it comes to self-tanners but then if you’ve had a bad experience with one in the past, as I have, you’ve every right to be (I still maintain I was a deep oak color and not "mahogany", but there you go). Frankly, however, there are times – and the morning-after-the-night-before is most certainly one of them – when a little artificial colour really doesn’t go amiss.

    The safe solution is St Tropez Instant Glow Wash-Off Face Lotion (£8.99 from ). An easy-to-use tinted moisturizer, you just apply a tiny amount to your mush, rub it in thoroughly and in seconds your cadaverous complexion is consigned to history. And, of course, because it washes off, if you mess up you just try again.

    4. Disguise tired eyes.

    Eyes may well be the windows to the soul, but in my experience they’re also a doorway onto drunkenness. If fact, nothing betrays a big night out quite like a bloodshot eye framed by an unforgiving dark circle. Any good eye cream will help with the dark circles but look out for one like Clinique’s Even better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector (£29 from ) which contain light diffusing particles as these tend to disguise shadows better. Apply with a gentle patting motion (don’t rub or you’ll irritate the delicate skin under the eye) and keep in the fridge to make it more refreshing.

    Bloodshot eyes – caused by a dilation of the blood vessels in tired, dry eyes – can be corrected on the morning with Optrex Bloodshot Eye Drops (£4.29 from ).

    5. Prevention is better than cure.

    A while back, when interviewing actor and male model Paul Sculfor, I asked him what his best tip for combating tired, hungover skin was. Though he doesn’t drink (clearly the best way to avoid looking like death the next day) he also revealed that he keeps his skin looking A1 for morning photo shoots by moisturizing religiously last thing at night.

    Given that the peak time for skin repair and the absorption of face creams is while you sleep, this makes perfect sense. So, assuming that you’re still conscious by the time you hit the sack, take a moment to slather on a moisturizer or a night cream such as Lab Series Night Recovery Lotion (£36 from ) which is infused with a raft of skin-repairing antioxidants. That way, you’ll give skin repair a head start.

    The headache I can’t help you with, I’m afraid.

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    edward snowdenEdward Snowden's girlfriend was "left to fend for herself" when the former NSA contractor gave up their Hawaiian life together to disclose the scale of America's surveillance state, her father has said.

    Mr Snowden did not leave any financial provisions for Lindsay Mills when he departed for Hong Kong, telling her that he was on a business trip and would return in a few weeks, Jonathan Mills said.

    The 28-year-old Ms Mills has not spoken publicly in the seven months since their lives together were upended by Mr Snowden's to go public with thousands of classified documents.

    In an interview at his home outside Washington, Mr Mills said his only daughter was still "trying to make sense of everything and come up with a plan for herself".

    Mr Snowden had not been in contact with her since leaving Hong Kong for Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum, Mr Mills said.

    He added that Mr Snowden had kept his plans secret from her and she did not realise he was the source of the leaks until he unmasked himself in an interview with The Guardian.

    "He said I'm just going on a trip for business for a couple of weeks and I'll be coming back. She heard what had happened on the news," Mr Mills said. "She was basically left to fend for herself."

    Mr Mills said the couple met on an online dating site. "Up until she heard that he was in Hong Kong she was in the back of her mind planning marriage and a life together," he said.

    Ms Mills detailed their life in a vivid blog and Instagram account, writing after Mr Snowden left "my world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass."

    Mr Mills said his daughter, a graduate of the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art, was "very artistic, free spirit and open - the opposite of me and Mr Snowden".

    He described Mr Snowden as being "rather reserved" and having "very strong convictions of right and wrong and I'm sure that's why decided to throw caution to the wind and do all of this.

    "He saw something that was gravely wrong and he wanted to do something about it. I support him and if I ever got word that I could help him I would try."

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    Valerie Trierweiler HollandeValerie Trierweiler has reportedly told friends that she could be left homeless if Francois Hollande decides to leave her, as the apartment they shared is held in his name

    Valérie Trierweiler has told friends she fears being left homeless if she and François Hollande separate, as the French president claims he needs "more time" before deciding whether their relationship is finished.

    Miss Trierweiler, 48, was on Sunday at the Pavillon de la Lanterne – a presidential retreat in Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris – having agreed with Mr Hollande that she could recuperate there.

    "He apparently said to her that he needed 'more time'," wrote Catherine Schwaab, deputy editor of Paris Match, in the glossy magazine for which Miss Trierweiler also works. "They agreed that she could 'wait' in La Lanterne. But wait for what? Therein lies the problem."

    The apartment which the couple shared before Mr Hollande's 2012 election, in Paris's central 15th arrondissement, is reportedly in Mr Hollande's name.

    "Would it still be her home? You can imagine the worry," Ms Schwaab said.

    Unsure of her future and devastated at the story of Mr Hollande's alleged affair, Miss Trierweiler was taken to hospital last Friday suffering "a severe case of the blues." She was said to have regained her strength with the help of "jambon-coquillettes"– macaroni cheese with ham – and visits from her three children and her mother.

    Paris Match said she had watched Mr Hollande's press conference on Tuesday on her iPhone as she did not have a television, and was "disappointed" that he failed to back her publicly.

    In her first public comment since the news of her partner's affair broke she thanked the public on Saturday night for their support.

    "Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all those who sent supportive or get well messages via twitter, SMS or email. Very touched," she said.

    Mr Hollande, 59, is under intense calls to clear up his personal life after his alleged affair with the 41-year-old actress was splashed across the front page of Closer magazine on Friday of last week. He said on Tuesday we would "clarify" the situation before his official trip to the United States next month, but several sources close to the president and to his official partner are predicting their relationship is over.

    In the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, presidency sources said the couple were preparing the ground for "an inevitable separation".

    But Miss Trierweiler was also briefing journalists that she wanted to fight to save the relationship, seeing herself as France's equivalent to Hillary Clinton.

    "Distraught, humiliated, she found herself torn between her immense distress and her fury. Today, Valérie Trierweiler is perhaps at the end of a trajectory,"Paris Match wrote in an article apparently based on conversations between Miss Trierweiler and her colleagues at the magazine.

    "On Thursday around 9:15pm, the man who remains her official companion paid her a hospital visit of half an hour. They didn't fall into each other's arms, that time is over."

    The president was due to go on an official visit to Holland on Monday on which the First Lady would normally have accompanied him. But Miss Trierweiler will not be taking part.

    Mr Hollande again refused to take questions on his private life, when he gave a speech on Saturday in Correze in central France.

    On Sunday a survey in Le Journal Du Dimanche showed Mr Hollande's approval ratings remained the same after his press conference on Tuesday, in which he refused to clarify who was France's "First Lady". His approval rating remains at 22 per cent – a record low.

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