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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    williston oil man

    One piece of the jigsaw puzzle is missing to complete the deflation landscape across the West: a slide in oil prices. This is becoming more likely each month.

    Turmoil across the Middle East and parts of Africa has choked supply over the past two years, keeping Brent crude near $110 a barrel despite a broader commodity slump. Cotton and corn prices have halved, as has the UBS index of industrial metals. Such anomalies rarely last.

    "We estimate that crude oil is now the mostly richly priced commodity in the world," says Deutsche Bank in a fresh report.

    Michael Lewis, the bank's commodity strategist, said markets face an "new oil supply glut" as three forces combine. US shale will add 1m barrels a day (b/d) to global supply for the third year running; Libya will crank up shipments after a near collapse in 2013; and Iran will come out of hibernation. "This will push OPEC spare capacity to levels last seen in the depths of the financial crisis in 2009," he said.

    America is on track to overtake Saudi Arabia as the top global producer of oil by 2016. It will account for more than half of non-OPEC world supply this year. The US Energy Department says US oil imports will drop to 5.5m b/d by next year, half the level a decade ago. This turns the world's 89m b/d market upside-down.

    Deutsche Bank said Saudi Arabia may have to slash its output by a quarter to 7.5m b/d this year to stop the bottom falling out of the market. The Saudis no longer have such money to spare. They are propping up an elephantine welfare nexus to keep a lid on explosive tensions in the Eastern Province, home to Saudi oil and its aggrieved Shia minority. A cut of this size would push the budget into deep deficit.

    This comes as Iran makes its peace with the West. Its 30-year vendetta with US - Iran's natural ally in many ways - no longer makes sense. President Hassan Rohani is no doubt pushing his luck by describing the nuclear deal as a "surrender" to Iran by the great powers, but let him have his flourish to save face. "It does not matter what they say, it matters what they do," retorted the White House.

    The facts are that Mr Rohani has agreed to eliminate Iran's stocks of 20pc enriched uranium. Iran will submit to daily inspections of its Fordo enrichment site and monthly inspections of the Arak reactor. The deal is on track and the first phase will come into force next week.

    The UN oil sanctions have been crippling. They reduced the economy to rubble last year. The real is almost worthless. Mr Rohani is desperate to break out of the impasse. The US, in turn, is carrying out a "Kissingeresque" pirouette in its Middle East policy. President Barack Obama says he will veto any attempt by Congress to scupper the accord.

    Julian Jessop, from Capital Economics, says the existing sanctions cut Iranian supplies of oil by 1m to 1.5m b/d. In the end they would have knocked out up to 3m b/d in various ways. This will start to come onto the market instead as the sanctions are softened.

    Meanwhile, Libya is picking itself up from the floor after separatist militia forces reduced the country to anarchy last year, blockading key export terminals. The oil minister said this week that crude output has tripled since the summer to more than 600,000 b/d as the El Sharara field comes back on stream. Libya may add 1m b/d to global supply this year.

    Bank of America says a simultaneous return of Iran and Libya could add up to 3m b/d. Just a third of this "positive supply shock" could shave $20 off the world oil price, unless OPEC's fractious cartel can slash output quickly enough to offset it. We should expect hot words at OPEC summits, and plenty of cheating.

    It is hazardous to make any assumptions about Mid-East politics, not least with the Shia-Sunni conflict spreading from Iraq and Syria to threaten the whole region in what looks disturbingly like the onset of the Catholic-Lutheran showdown in Europe's Thirty Years War - a blood-letting that ended only with mutual exhaustion and bankruptcy at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.

    The uprising by Sunnis in the Iraqi region of Anbar has revived fears of a full-blown civil war. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has seized control of Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraqi oil output has crashed to 2m b/d as Al Qaeda attacks the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. The United Nations said 8,868 people were killed last year in Iraq, nearly all civilians.

    Iraq is clearly a long way from becoming a 6m b/d petro-superpower by the end of the decade, as predicted by the International Energy Agency last year. Yet the latest turmoil cuts both ways for oil prices. Any calming of tensions could lead to a rapid rebound in output. Indeed, HSBC expects Iraqi and Kurdish production to rise to 3.5m b/d by the end of the year despite the conflict.

    Oil bulls says global economic recovery is strong enough to soak up any rise in supply. Perhaps, but Simon Ward at Henderson Global Investors says the world money supply rolled over in November and is now flashing amber warnings.

    His key gauge - real six-month M1 - for the G7 rich states and E7 emerging market economies has slowed to 2.3pc from 3.7pc last May. It acts as an early warning indicator, six months ahead. This suggest that global growth may soon fade. "Global risks are rising. The cycle already looks mature by historical standards," he said.

    The growth of broad M3 money in the US has slowed to 4.6pc even before Fed tapering cuts off stimulus. In the eurozone it is has been near zero for the past six months.

    The latest data from China are very weak, with M2 growth falling to 13.6pc in December from 14.2pc in November as the authorities tighten. It is the change in pace that matters. China looks eerily like the US in 2007 when broad money buckled.

    The sheer scale of money creation in China has worldwide implications. Zhang Monan from the China Foundation says the money supply is 200pc of GDP, and 1.5 times larger than the US money supply in absolute terms. She said debt deflation is now setting in as the central bank tries to rein in credit.

    As readers know, my view is that China is riding a $24 trillion credit tiger that it cannot control. Fresh data show that fixed investment surged to $5 trillion last year, more than in the US and Europe combined. This implies yet more excess capacity, transmitting a deflationary impulse worldwide.

    A sudden slide in oil prices against this background may not be entirely benign. While it will boost spending power in the US and Europe, we also know from academic studies that oil shocks are asymmetric at first.

    The losers take an immediate hit, and that will be Bahrain, Nigeria and Algeria with a “fiscal break-even point” above $120, Russia at $117 and Venezuela at $110, among others. Some will face crises.

    The winners in Europe, America and Japan will enjoy slower and less concentrated gains. It is, in any case, double-edged. The risk is that it will "unhinge" inflation expectations as the headline rate keeps dropping. Half of Europe already has one foot in deflation, with prices falling over the past five months once austerity taxes are stripped out. Any shock at this point could start to frighten the horses.

    Albert Edwards, from Societe Generale, said investors are strangely nonchalant about the deflation risk, seemingly taking it for granted that there is no risk of recession and that central banks can and will bail out equities. "They do not seem to care that they are sitting on the edge of a cliff. They believe with all their heart that we are at the start of a self-sustained recovery," he said.

    To avoid confusion, let me be clear that the dangers of dwindling oil supplies in the long-run have not gone away. Easy reserves of crude are being depleted. New fields are more costly. Peak oil may have the last laugh. Yet this should not be confused with the short-term risks of deflationary shock.

    I recently attended a Transatlantic Dialogue on Energy Security with senior military officers in London and Washington. The message was that shale will come and go - with US tight gas peaking by 2017 - creating a false sense of security as the deeper strategic threat continues to build. That is broadly my view as well. Much drama can intrude along the way.

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    shell oil gasAs oil major Shell starts a disposal programme, we look at the assets that could be sold

    Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has started one of the largest asset disposal programmes in the global oil industry with the £700m (1.15 billion) sale of natural gas assets to Kuwait.

    Ben van Beurden, who recently took over from Peter Voser as chief executive, needs to sell assets in order to balance the books at Shell, as the FTSE 100-listed group continues to invest heavily in oil exploration in harder to reach places.

    Analysts from investment bank JP Morgan Cazenove recently drew up a shopping list of assets that could be on the chopping block:

    1 - 23.1pc stake in Woodside Petroleum worth $7bn

    Shell wanted to own the whole refinery located in Perth, western Australia, but the deal was blocked by the Australian government, now it has an orphaned stake. Shell has already sold down a third of its holding in November 2010 for $3.3bn, so the remaining $7bn stake tops the list of assets that could be for sale. Rumoured buyers would be sovereign wealth funds interested in the long-term earnings potential of the facility.

    2 - 10pc of global retail network worth $4.4bn

    Quite literally a garage sale, in early January Norwegian newspapers highlighted that Shell was considering selling more than 400 gas stations across Norway, this would be the beginning of a continued shrinking of the global network of Shell stations.

    3 - Pipelines worth $3.5bn

    Shell has huge amounts of pipeline infrastructure that expose the group to maintenance and running costs that are arguably outside the group's main focus of finding oil.

    4 - Shale oil assets worth $3bn

    Shell has interests in US shale oil in Mississipi Lime, Kansas and Oklahoma. However, after drilling test wells this shale oil, or tight oil, does not meet with Shell's long-term investment targets, basically it is too complicated and costly to get out of the ground in reliable amounts. Fine for a smaller operation but not suitable for an oil major.

    5 - Eagle Ford shale asset worth $2.1bn

    Sale plans for the 106,000 acre shale oil site at Eagle Ford in South Texas were announced in September of last year. Once again smaller firms have thrived in this business but larger players have had an unhappy time and are looking to exit.

    6 - Nigerian Delta licenses worth $1.8bn

    Oil exploration in Nigeria is fraught with difficulties. Theft, corruption and sabotage have been grabbing the headlines rather than profitability. Shell will probably want to distance itself from the region the sale of licenses in the East Niger Delta and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line would help this process.

    7 - Refinery operations around the world worth $1.8bn

    Oil and gas refineries located around the world in places such as Geelong, Australia, and Buenos Airies, Argentina, are earning lower margins as competition increases.

    8 - Showa Shell stake worth $1.4bn

    The Japanese based oil refinery operator in which Shell owns a 35pc stake could be sold off so the company can focus on exploration.

    9 - Liquefied Petroluem Gas (LPG) business worth $1.2bn

    The oil major has been slowly exiting its LPG businesses around the world and the sale of remaining interests in Vietnam and elsewhere could be speeded up under a new strategy.

    10 - Property portfolio worth $545m

    The group has built up some significant property holdings around the world during its history. As property prices rise it would make sense to capture some record high prices with well timed sales of around a third of the global portfolio.

    The top ten assets make up $25bn of a potential $30bn in assets that Shell could sell during the next two years.

    Monday's sale comes after Shell warned on Friday that full-year profits would be "significantly lower" than expected, sending shares down 1.2pc. They fell another 0.9pc on Monday morning.

    Mr van Beurden is expected to reveal his long-term plan for further asset disposals when he presents full-year results next week.

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    terminator 3 rise of the machines large pictureThe US Army is studying whether robots could take the place of thousands of soldiers

    The US Army is considering replacing thousands of soldiers with robots as it deals with sweeping troop cuts.

    A senior American officer has said he is considering shrinking the size of the Army’s brigade combat teams by a quarter and replacing the lost troops with robots and remote-controlled vehicles.

    The American military is still far from fielding armies of Terminator-type robotic killers though.

    Ideas under discussion instead include proposals to see manned lorries and transporters replaced by supply trains of robots vehicles.

    Generals are studying proposals as the US Army is to slim down from 540,000 to about 490,000 soldiers by the end of next year. Some reports suggest it could dip below 450,000 by the end of the decade.

    In response, Gen Robert Cone, head of the army's training and doctrine command, is considering shrinking the army’s brigade combat teams from about 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 and using more robots, according to Defense News, a US military magazine.

    He told a seminar: "I've got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of manoeuvrability, in terms of the future of the force."

    Options under discussion, he said, included trains of robot vehicles that would following vehicles with human drivers in long supply convoys.

    He said the army should also follow the lead of the navy in using technology to cut manpower. "When you see the success, frankly, that the Navy has had in terms of lowering the numbers of people on ships, are there functions in the brigade that we could automate - robots or manned/unmanned teaming - and lower the number of people that are involved, given the fact that people are our major cost?"

    However, there are no immediate plans for autonomous robots to be deployed with lethal firepower. Huw Williams, an expert on military robots and unmanned vehicles at the defence publication IHS Jane's, said armies were focusing on investigating robots vehicles for transport.

    He said: "If you have a lead manned vehicle, you could have several unmanned vehicles following behind, or a train solely of unmanned vehicles."

    Research into remote-controlled military vehicles had so far largely concentrated on allowing commanders to keep soldiers out of harm's way, but they could also see a reduction in the number of troops, he added.

    Several robot ground vehicles have already been tested in Afghanistan, including the Squad Mission Support System, a six-wheeled robotic buggy to carry soldiers' kit and baggage.

    America has meanwhile waged an aggressive drone campaign targeting insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists in the border regions of Pakistan.

    Campaigners claim the secretive campaign has killed hundreds of civilians. Britain already has hundreds of remotely-piloted drone aircraft ranging from tiny surveillance helicopters to large Reaper drones armed with deadly hellfire missiles.

    The rise of the new technologies has provoked fears of future battlefields one day stalked by unaccountable robotic killing machines, and in 2012, Human Rights Watch called for a pre-emptive ban on killer robots “before it’s too late”.

    Former US commander General Stanley McChrystal, who oversaw Nato forces in Afghanistan, warned yesterday that America’s drones programme created “a tremendous amount of resentment” in the areas it targeted.

    Asked by the BBC’s Today programme what the future was for drone warfare, he said: “There’s a danger that something that feels easy to do and without risk to yourself, almost antiseptic to the person shooting, doesn’t feel that way at the point of impact. And so if it lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s danger in that.”

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    The United States and Gulf countries have been secretly backing efforts by opposition rebels to destroy al-Qaeda's most extreme wing in Syria, diplomats and rebels involved in the plan have told The Telegraph.

    As Western leaders publicly push the Syrian regime and the opposition to the Geneva II peace conference that begins Wednesday Washington has also been quietly supporting moves by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to give weapons and cash to rebel groups to fight al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) in Syria.

    One source said the US was itself handing out millions of dollars to rebel groups best equipped to take on the extremists while another confirmed America was providing non-lethal aid.

    The development marks a new phase in the conflict, with international backers working directly with rebel commanders to target al-Qaeda cells, who are seen as a major threat by Western intelligence agencies.

    "Everyone is offering us funding to fight them," said one commander in a rebel group affiliated to the Western-backed Supreme Military Council. "We used to have no weapons with which to fight the regime, but now the stocks are full."

    In the past year ISIS has "hijacked" the Syrian revolt. Made up partly of foreign jihadists, it has sought to impose a medieval style Islamic caliphate run under a strict interpretation of Sharia law in rebel-held areas. They assassinated rival rebel commanders who they feared might be conspiring against them, or whose power they perceived as a threat.

    The final affront, in rebel eyes, came in December when ISIS tortured and killed Abu Rayyan, a popular doctor and commander in a rebel brigade.

    The subsequent battle against ISIS, which began a fortnight ago and has already claimed more than 1000 lives, is being touted by local commanders as a spontaneous reaction to the spate of assassinations of comrades.

    However, the Telegraph can reveal that in late December, a delegation including US and Saudi officials met in Turkey with senior rebel leaders.

    According to two sources – one whose brother was at the meeting: "They talked about the fighting with ISIS, and the Americans encouraged the commanders to attack."

    The Syrian Revolutionary Front, whose main commander, Jamal Maarouf, is allied to Saudi Arabia, and the Army of Islam, a new coalition of the moderate rebels sponsored by Qatar, have continued to liaise with the CIA and Saudi and Qatari intelligence, others close to meetings said.

    These groups received a boost in arms supplies. According to a source who facilitates governments' lethal and non-lethal aid to Western-friendly groups: "Qatar sent arms first. Saudi Arabia didn't want to be out done, so one week before the attack on ISIS, they gave 80 tons of weaponry, including heavy machine guns".

    A resident living close to bases for the Army of Islam and the Syrian Revolutionary Front in Syria's Idlib province said he had seen 15 trucks "filled with weapons going to the bases".

    Washington did not directly give arms, he said, but backed Saudi Arabia in its funding of the groups. The United States has, however, also been giving $2 million in cash every month as an unofficial hand out, splitting that amount between western friendly rebel groups, the source added.

    Senior commanders in both groups confirmed they had received some funds, but refused to say whether it was specifically for the purpose of attacking ISIS. They are wary of being compared to the so-called "Sunni Awakening" of 2006 in Iraq, when the US military encouraged former insurgents to rebel against their al-Qaeda allies, as many Islamist groups in Syria consider the term offensive.

    Nonetheless, the recent fighting marks a dramatic change in the pace of battle, after months of stalemate in the fight against Mr Assad.

    On the same day earlier this month, rebel groups, confident and well armed, launched coordinated attacks against ISIS at militarily strategic points across three different provinces in the north of the country, as well as in the central city of Hama. ISIS was also at the same time engaged in fighting across the border in Iraq's western Anbar province, where its forces tried to capture the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

    Muhannad Issa, a rebel commander who led an assault against ISIS in the Syrian town of Salqeen, in Idlib province, said: "All the commanders united for a meeting and we agreed they had to be finished. We gave them six hours to surrender after they took one of our bases. When the ultimatum expired, we cleaned them out. In one hour we pushed them from four of their strongholds."

    One activist in Salqeen, who watched local members of ISIS coming under attack, said: "Jamal Maarouf's group attacked with full force. The ISIS guys were besieged. Jamal Maarouf was screaming over the radio, 'Give up or we are coming to kill you, just as we kill the Syrian regime.' There was an Australian jihadist there, and he was trembling."

    In recent days al-Qaeda's retreat has slowed. The group has retaken the Syrian city of Raqqa – its main stronghold until now – and several towns on the outskirts of Aleppo. It is also surviving, in smaller numbers, in the city of Saraqeb in Idlib province.

    Nevertheless it is hoped that the inroads made against ISIS will improve support for the Syrian opposition on the ground, thereby boosting their credibility at Geneva.

    In answer to suggestions that the US and Saudis are helping the rebels against the al Qaeda linked extremists a Western diplomat told the Telegraph: "Coordination is continuing with the main international supporters of the armed groups. ISIS has fought back but the momentum of the other groups is continuing and that is a good springboard for the Geneva conference".

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    French networking company Alcatel-Lucent and BT, the firms behind the joint-test, said speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were reached, the equivalent of sending 44 uncompressed HD films in a single second.

    The test proves that greater amounts of data can be sent through the existing broadband structure than previously achieved, allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to increase their capacity without the need for expensive upgrades.

    Conducted over the 255 mile distance between London's BT tower and Ipswich between October and November last year, the test made use of existing fibreoptic cables already installed in much of the country.

    Researchers used a 'flexigrid' infrastructure to create an 'alien super channel', consisting of seven channels each transmitting 200 gigabits per seconds, combining in a total capacity of 1.4 terabits of data per second.

    This results in a 42.5 per cent increase in data transmission efficiency compared to the current standard of broadband networks available.

    However, customers are unlikely to benefit from the greatly increased speeds for at least several years.

    Kevin Drury, optical marketing leader at Alcatel-Lucent, told the BBC the development was similar to increasing the amount of lanes available to traffic during rush hour.

    The Government recently announced a £10m fund to pilot alternative broadband technologies in Britain's most rural areas in the hope that 95 per cent of the UK will be connected to superfast broadband by 2017.

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    It may be the world’s easiest weight loss plan, involving no exercise or dieting.

    Scientists claim you can shiver yourself slim by simply turning the heating down a few degrees.

    Most houses in the winter are heated to around 69F (21C) but researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre advise turning the thermostat down to between 62F (17C) and 59F (15) for a few hours a day.

    Experts claim that because we spend so much of our time indoors, often in overheated homes and offices, are bodies do not naturally burn calories to keep warm.

    It is a trend that has crept up on us over the past century as we have become more adept at controlling the temperature in our surroundings through central heating an air conditioning.

    But temperatures closer to what it is like outside may be more beneficial to health.

    Simply being colder raises metabolic rate (the speed at which calories are burned) by 30 per cent, while shivering can burn around 400 calories an hour as it increases metabolic rate by five fold.

    Researchers say although shivering can feel uncomfortable, lowering the temperature so you just feel chilly may an easy option for people who struggle to keep up diets and exercise regimes.

    “We suggest that regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure,” said lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt

    “Thermal comfort in the built environment may increase our susceptibility to obesity and related disorders.

    “Mild cold exposure increases body energy expenditure without shivering and without compromising our precious comfort.

    “More frequent cold exposure alone will not save the world, but it is a serious factor to consider in creating a sustainable environment together with a healthy lifestyle.”

    One in four adults in England is obese and these figures are set to climb to 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, and 25 per cent of children by 2050.

    Three in every 10 children aged between two and 15 are overweight or obese.

    Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years.

    The Dutch team found that that people who spent six hours at 59F (15C) for a period of 10 days had increased levels of calorie burning brown fat, felt more comfortable and eventually shivered less. Although they do not recommend giving up exercise, they say it could be added to an ongoing regime.

    Previous Japanese research has shown a decrease in body fat after people spent two hours per day at 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees F) for six weeks.

    “A little cold a day keeps the doctor away,” said Marken Lichtenbelt.

    “In the past century several dramatic changes in the daily living circumstances in Western civilization have occurred, affecting health. For example, we are much better able to control our ambient temperature.

    “Consequently, we cool and heat our dwellings for maximal comfort while minimizing our body energy expenditure necessary to control body temperature.

    “By lack of exposure to varied temperatures entire populations may be prone to developing disease such as obesity.

    "Since most of us are exposed to indoor conditions 90 per cent of the time, it is worth exploring health aspects of ambient temperatures.”

    Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum said: " A cold environment switches on brown fat deposits which are said to generate 300 times more heat than any organ in the body. They are its natural thermal resource.

    "The heat kept us warm as babies and is still capable of keeping us warm now. Losing weight at the same time is a bonus. Turn your stat down now and see for yourself! “

    The study was published in the journal Cell Press publication Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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    girls texting walking beachIt has taken millions of years of evolution for humans to walk upright but it appears texting could be undoing our natural posture.

    Hunching over to type or read a text message causes people to hunch, swerve, slow down and lose their balance, a study suggests.

    Researchers asked 26 volunteers to walk at a comfortable pace without a phone then monitored them as they read or text or typed a message.

    A computer which tracked the body’s movements revealed that texting altered the posture and changed the way people walked.

    Hunched over with the heads down, texters were less able to walk in a straight line and more likely to topple off balance.

    Dr Siobhan Schabrun from the University of Queensland said: "Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance.

    “This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time."

    Most people adopt a forward-and-down head position while they text.

    Holding your head in such a posture can add up to 30 pounds of extra weight to the upper vertebrae which can pull the spine out of alignment.

    Physiotherapists have previously dubbed the pain experienced from hunching over a mobile phone as ‘text neck’ which can put strain on the muscles in the neck and shoulders.

    A previous study by San Francisco State University discovered that 83 percent of subjects reported some hand and neck pain during texting — but also displayed other signs of tension, like holding their breath and increased heart rates.

    The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    SEE ALSO: BMW: Here's Why Our New Electric Car Is Better Than Tesla's

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    solar panels china

    The US Commerce Department has opened an investigation into whether China and Taiwan are dumping a certain class of solar cells into the US market at below fair market value.

    Launching the latest round in an ongoing dispute with China over solar energy products, the department took aim at some $2.6bn in imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the two countries.

    The imports include crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, modules and panels, by themselves or integrated into other products.

    The probe will also extend to whether China is also unfairly subsidizing the same class of products, or a countervailing duty investigation.

    The probe was requested by a large US solar panel manufacturer, SolarWorld Industries America of Hillsboro, Oregon.

    In 2012, the US imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China and Taiwan valued at an estimated $2.1bn and $513.5m, respectively.

    The scope of the new investigation excludes crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China that already are under anti-dumping orders.

    Solar products have been a focus of friction between China and the US, which accuses the Chinese government of unfairly subsidising the industry to gain a trade advantage.

    The US International Trade Commission will make its preliminary decision on whether the US company has been injured by underpriced and subsidized Chinese and Taiwanese products by February 14.

    After that, the Commerce Department will decide whether to levy anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on the products between March and June.

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  • 01/24/14--04:38: The 10 Best Boxing Films
  • rocky iv balboa boxing

    Boxing and cinema have enjoyed a long relationship. The first boxing match to be filmed was way back in 1894, when early American producer and Thomas Edison protégé William KL Dickson filmed a contest between Jack Cushing and Mike Leonard, aka the ‘Beau Brummell’ of pugilism. Only 37 seconds of the match were recorded, and nobody today seems to care that Leonard won, but the bond forged between boxing and the movies 120 years ago shows no signs of breaking.

    On the day when the new Stallone/De Niro vehicle Grudge Match is released, Let us guide you by the glove, then, as we run down the finest boxing films of all time…

    Raging Bull

    Martin Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece is at once one of the best sport films ever made – few films have ever got so under the skin of just why someone would make such sacrifices to excel physically, and what it can do to them – and possibly the best film ever made about masculinity.

    Taking a professional fighter with jealousy and rage issues as his representative for half the human race, Scorsese is unafraid the show both the ugliness of uncontrolled male rage, and the fear of the little boy who can so often lie behind it.

    With fights that are at the same time exhilarating, disgusting and perfect representations of the main character’s psychology, and dazzling performances all round, this is the peak of Scorsese’s glittering career.


    A thousand ad men may have tarnished Rocky by overplaying the theme tune in lazy commercials, but there’s a reason the film has become a reference point for three generations of people. In these irony-drenched days, stories of genuine uplift are met at best with a raised eyebrow – but when they’re delivered with this much sincerity, they’re pretty much irresistible.

    It speaks volumes that one of the most uplifting films ever made (Rocky) and one fo the darkest (Raging Bull) were both about boxers.

    When We Were Kings

    Boxing as a staged event is inherently cinematic. Months of training and trash-talking are followed by an explosion of action in a tiny space, with cameras and a braying audience avidly watching on. It makes sense, then, that one of the finest boxing films should be a documentary, and it especially makes sense that this doc should focus on boxing’s most titanic figure: Muhammad Ali.

    Covering the dramatic circumstances the 1974 rumble in the jungle, the film looks at the confluence of black nationalism, culture and Ali’s unique status as part-martyr, part-loudmouth. It's a thrilling look at a period of intense sporting and social tension.

    Million Dollar Baby

    It’s tough to talk about Million Dollar Baby without giving away some of the surprises that make it one of the best boxing movies, and one of the best of director/star Clint Eastwood’s long career. Suffice to say, what starts out looking like yet another triumph-of-the-underdog tale turns into something else, taking on enormous moral weight that ultimately lands with the force of a knock-out punch.

    Fat City

    Legendary director John Huston was a boxer himself, and had his fair shares of knocks in a life that saw ups, downs, and some serious drinking, so this examination of failure has the ring of bitter truth.

    Stacy Keach is a has-been fighter, Jeff Bridges is a future has-been, and this meandering look at their relationship steers clear of phony heroics, and instead uses the boxing ring as the metaphorical arena where every man must take life’s jabs and do what they can.

    Sounds depressing, but really isn’t.


    Michael Mann’s legendary eye for detail gets a workout in this epic look at the key years of Muhammad Ali’s life, which also functions as a backdoor history of the civil rights movement in Sixties America.

    How many sports or athletes could be used for the same purpose? Will some hologram maker of the 2030s tell the history of our era through the story of David Beckham?


    The Fighter

    American Hustle director David O Russell’s comeback film is an unusual hybrid of many of the familiar elements of various boxing films, packing in the brothers dynamic of Ragin Bull, the underdog element of Rocky, the period detail of Ali, and much else besides.

    Even in 2010, though, these ingredients were still fresh, and combined with a new focus on the role of the women in the eponymous boxer’s life, it built into one of the year’s most satisfying films.

    Rocky IV

    If the first Rocky is a parable of the triumph of the common man shot with a realism well-suited to the gritty Seventies, the gloss and glitz of the Eighties required a different approach.

    By the time of second sequel, the franchise was pure camp (Rocky III has both Mr T and Hulk Hogan), but Rocky IV is where the silliness became transcendent. Clint Eastwood’s examinations of mortality and morality are all very well, but do they have James Brown belting out ‘Living in America,’ Dolph Lundgren playing a robot, an actual robot, and a lovably naff pro-détente message?

    Somebody Up There Likes Me

    James Dean was set to play Rocky Graziano in this true-life Fifties classic, but died before the cameras began turning. A young Paul Newman stepped in, was electrifying, and a star was born.

    With beautiful black and white photography, and solid direction from Citizen Kane editor Robert Wise, this little-seen gem is proof positive of the virtues of old Hollywood.

    Cinderella Man

    Russell Crowe is a Very Serious Actor, and actors love boxer parts because it gives them the chance to flaunt months spent in the gym learning a new skill (not to mention the fact that it places them in tradition of De Niro et al).

    Crowe clearly put the time in for Cinderella Man, and although the script occasionally segues into the schmaltzy, his portrait of a decent man amid the depredations of the Great Depression has taken on an added resonance after the 2008 crash.

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    Edward Snowden Moscow airportA new book looks at the damage the fugitive American whistleblower and his Snowdenistas are doing to Western interests

    Edward Snowden is, in the eyes of many, a secular saint. The fugitive NSA contractor has sacrificed his career and risked his freedom to expose systematic wrongdoing by Western intelligence agencies: America and Britain spy on other Western countries; they hoover up and store vast quantities of information about domestic emails and phone calls; they use secret court orders to force cooperation, and they can bug almost any international communication.

    After his daring heist of secrets from America’s National Security Agency, the 30-year-old has fled to a secret hiding place where he awaits deserved vindication. It is the stuff of spy movies – played out in real life.

    I disagree. My new book, The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster, depicts him as at best a “useful idiot”, whose actions serve our enemies. The theft and publication of secret documents is not a heroic campaign but reckless self-indulgence with disastrous consequences.

    For all the media hype in The Guardian, the BBC and elsewhere, Snowden’s published material does not prove systematic, sinister wrongdoing or abuse by the NSA or its British counterpart, GCHQ.

    The typical revelation consists of Powerpoint slides showing how the agency bugs, snoops, and searches the vast warehouses of information it collects. But the revelations come devoid of context. Much is ambiguous and out-of-date. The story is told without elementary editorial scrutiny or fact-checking.

    The Snowdenistas – as I call his supporters – use this largely underwhelming material as proof of systematic abuse by out-of-control spy services. Did anyone really think that the hackers and code-crackers in Cheltenham (home to GCHQ) or in Fort Meade, Maryland (headquarters of the NSA) spent all day playing Sudoku? Their capabilities are indeed colossal. So they should be, given the taxpayers’ money they consume.

    Spy agencies engage in espionage, an inherently disreputable trade: it involves stealing secrets. When details leak, they look shocking. But the hypocrisy of the Snowdenistas is as jarring as their naivety.

    Our enemies – notably Russia and China – are spying on us. So too are our allies. France runs a mighty industrial espionage service for the benefit of its big companies. Germany has an excellent signals intelligence agency, the Kommando Strategische Aufklärung. Germany’s spies were recently caught spying on their Nato ally, Estonia, using an official who was also spying for the Russians.

    Far from denigrating American intelligence, we should applaud it. It helps catch terrorists, gangsters and spies. Moreover, its oversight and scrutiny is the toughest in the world. America has taken the most elusive and lawless part of government and crammed it into a system of legislative and judicial control.

    America is also part of the world’s only successful no-spy agreement, with its close allies – notably Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A list of countries that would trust Germany or France not to spy on them would be rather shorter.

    Snowden’s published revelations include material that has nothing to do with his purported worries about personal privacy. They reveal how countries like Norway and Sweden spy on Russia. Why is it in the public interest to reveal how democracies spy on dictatorships? The Snowdenistas’ outrage is based on the fact that this spying takes place in cooperation with the NSA, the fount of all evil.

    Other disclosures are similarly hard to justify. Why is it in the public interest to reveal how the NSA intercepts emails, phone calls and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan, or to show that the agency is scrutinising the security of that country’s nuclear weapons? Snowden even revealed details of the NSA hacking computers and mobile phones in China and Hong Kong. The result is to cast a distorting and damaging light on agencies’ work. The harm is catastrophic.

    In the spy world, the damage-control involved when even a handful of secret documents is leaked is colossal. When the breach involves tens of thousands, it is paralysing.

    Our agencies have to assume that the material is either already in Moscow and Beijing, or will get there eventually. Many operations must be shut down or started anew: a serious spy service does not put lives at risk on the assumption that the other side will not exploit our blunders.

    It is fatuous for Snowden’s allies to say that they are keeping the stolen material safe: they lack the knowledge and skills to do so. With equal fatuity, they assert that they redacted the published material in order not to breach security. How can they know what will be damaging or harmless?

    As I argue in the book, the damage done by Snowden’s revelations neatly and suspiciously fits the interests of one country: Russia. As the dissident journalist Masha Gessen has observed: “The Russian propaganda machine has not gotten this much mileage out of a US citizen since Angela Davis’s murder trial in 1971.”

    The sensationalist, misleading interpretation of the stolen documents has weakened America’s relations with Europe and other allies; it has harmed security relationships between those allies, particularly in Europe; it has corroded public trust in Western security and intelligence services; it has undermined the West’s standing in the eyes of the world; and it has paralysed our intelligence agencies.

    These shifts will change our world for the worse. The Atlantic Alliance was already in a parlous state before the Snowden revelations. Now anti-Americanism in Germany and other European countries is ablaze.

    Yet an accelerated American withdrawal from Europe would benefit only Russia. The Russian-Chinese campaign to wrest control of the internet from its American founding fathers, and hand it over to national governments (meaning more censorship and control) has gained momentum.

    Western protestations of concern for online freedom and privacy ring hollow. The reputation of the biggest Western internet and technology firms has taken a pounding for their supposed complicity in espionage. Their rivals in Russia and China and elsewhere are gleeful. The Snowdenistas seem oblivious to the idea that we in the West have enemies and competitors.

    Instead, the great grievance of the Snowden camp is what they see as the arbitrary power of the NSA and GCHQ. Who gave these agencies the power to bug and snoop? The real answer to that is simple: the elected governments and leaders of those countries, the judges and lawmakers charged with supervising the intelligence services, and the directors of those agencies in the exercise of their lawful powers.

    The question deserves to be posed in the other direction. What gives the Snowdenistas and their media allies the right to leak our most closely guarded and expensive secrets?

    To be fair, the recklessness, narcissism, and self-righteousness of the Snowden camp do not invalidate all their aims. A debate on the collection and warehousing of meta-data (details, for example, about the location, duration, direction of a phone call, but not its content) was overdue. Collected and scrutinised, meta-data can breach privacy: if you know who called a suicide-prevention helpline, from where and when, the content matters less than the circumstances.

    The revelations have also shown that intelligence agencies make mistakes, that they operate up to the limits of their political, judicial and regulatory constraints, and that they sometimes clash with lawmakers and judges. Perhaps the most troubling disclosure (so far unproven) is that the NSA deliberately weakened the hardware and software sold by American companies in order to secretly exploit those vulnerabilities.

    But none of this remotely justifies the damage caused. Even Snowden himself justified his leaks not by alleging that we live in a world akin to Orwell’s 1984, but because he fears we are heading that way.

    Indeed, Snowden seems to have conducted his activities within the NSA to be as devastating as possible. He stole far more documents than he needed to support his case, and did so in an exceptionally harmful way, making it hard for his victims to work out which systems were breached.

    The most controversial issue is whether Snowden acted alone. I am stunned that some journalists and commentators who are so extraordinarily paranoid about the actions of their own governments are so trusting when it comes to the aims and capabilities of the government of Russia – the country where Snowden arrived in such curious circumstances, and lives in such secrecy. (Scanty clues suggest that he is in or near the Russian foreign intelligence headquarters in Yasenevo in southern Moscow.)

    I am not arguing that Snowden or his allies are Russian agents. But history gives plenty of examples of indirect Kremlin involvement in political movements which were damaging to Western interests.

    Like the anti-nuclear movement of the early Eighties, modern campaigners for privacy and digital freedom see their own countries’ flaws with blinding clarity, and ignore those of repressive regimes elsewhere. Their mistrust means that little said by governments carries any weight.

    But the Snowdenistas go far beyond the anti-nuclear campaigners in their thirst for damage. Disagreeing with your government’s actions is one thing. Sabotaging them is another.

    The Snowden affair is a story of secrecy and deception – but not on the side of the intelligence agencies. Far too little attention has been paid to the political agendas of the most ardent Snowdenistas – people such as the bombastic Brazil-based blogger, Glenn Greenwald, hysterical “hacktivist” Jacob Appelbaum, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

    They cloak their extreme and muddled beliefs in the language of privacy rights, civil liberties and digital freedoms. But where they part company with most of their fellow citizens is that they appear not to support the right of an elected, law-abiding government to keep and defend its secrets. They could found a political party based on such ideas. But it would get nowhere. They are bringing about the greatest peacetime defeat in the history of the West. That is not a noble crusade. It is sabotage and treason.

    Edward Lucas writes for 'The Economist’. 'The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster’ is available at

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    Chlorhexidine mouthwash

    Using antiseptic mouthwash can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, a new study has found.

    Scientists branded the products, regularly used by half a million Britons, a health “disaster” claiming they raised blood pressure by killing off vital bacteria which helps blood vessels to dilate, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    Using Corsodyl, which contains a powerful antiseptic and widely available in stores across the UK, can push up blood pressure within hours, the team discovered after testing it on a group of healthy volunteers.

    Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, who led the study, said: “Killing off all these bugs each day is a disaster, when small rises in blood pressure have significant impact on morbidity and mortality from heart disease and stroke.”

    When 19 volunteers started using Corsodyl twice a day their blood pressure went up by between 2 and 3.5 units (mmgh).

    The differences in blood pressure were apparent “within one day” of the mouthwash being used, the study published in the journal Free Radical Biology And Medicine revealed.

    A two-point rise in blood pressure increased the risk of dying from heart disease by seven per cent and stroke by ten per cent, according to separate research.

    Heart disease and stroke are currently the biggest killers in Britain.

    Prof Ahluwalia, from Queen Mary University of London, said: “We are not telling people to stop using antiseptic mouthwashes if they have a gum or tooth infection - but we would ask why anyone else would want to.”

    Corsodyl contains 0.2 per cent by volume of the antiseptic chlorhexidine.

    Antiseptic mouthwashes made by Boots and Superdrug contain the same concentration of the chemical.

    By killing off bugs which help create nitrite, needed for the healthy dilation of blood vessels, the mouthwash caused nitrite production in the mouth to fall by over 90 per cent, and blood nitrite to fall by 25 per cent.

    A number of mouthwashes, including Listerine, do not contain chlorhexidine.

    Prof Ahluwalia said: “Other mouthwashes could still disrupt the healthy bacteria.”

    But dental professionals have cautioned against drawing conclusions from such a small study.

    GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Corsodyl, said it was meant for short-term use to stop plaque and fight gum disease.

    The pharmaceutical giant makes another product Corsodyl Daily, which contains just 0.06 per cent chlorhexidine for everyday use.

    The spokesman said their own research had “not highlighted any concerns regarding the use of Corsodyl 0.2 per cent mouthwash as directed and increases in blood pressure.”

    The mouthwash market is worth an estimated £180 million a year.

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    paris cafe

    These recommendations, and hundreds more, can be found in the free Telegraph Travel Guides app. The app features expert guides to destinations including Paris, Rome, New York and Amsterdam, with Edinburgh, Barcelona and Venice among those to be added in the coming weeks.

    See and do

    Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont

    This is one of my favourite Paris churches, both for its architecture, which is an endearing mix of renaissance and gothic, and as an insight into Paris' history: it is home to the shrine of Saint Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, who saved the city from invasion by Attila the Hun in 451. Inside is a magnificent 16th-century stone rood screen, possibly designed by François 1er's architect Philippe Delorme, and a massive baroque pulpit. The ornate neo-gothic shrine, transferred here when the adjoining abbey church of St Geneviève was demolished in 1807, is surrounded by ex-voto plaques. Combine this visit with the Panthéon on the same square.

    Fondation Le Corbusier

    The modernist houses and studios of the 16th arrondissement were one of my great discoveries when I first moved here. They are a reminder that for all its historic heritage, Paris is also one of the birthplaces of modern architecture. Corbusier designed these two adjoining villas in 1923-25. Here you find all of his five principles of architecture (stilts, reinforced concrete, roof terraces, strip windows, ingenious built-in furniture), with a fascinating play of volumes and a use of colour that goes far beyond the white box cliché. The foundation also runs Corbusier's apartment-studio at 24 rue Nungesser et Coli, open on Saturdays.

    Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil

    Also known as "the municipal gardener", these elaborate, late 19th-century greenhouses were built to cultivate plants for municipal parks. The ensemble is grouped around a magnificent central tropical greenhouse, filled with steamy palms, an aviary and pools of Japanese carp. Other greenhouses are devoted to orchids, azaleas, succulents and ferns, while the formal gardens contain many rare trees. Get there before the site is decimated: there are plans to demolish some of the greenhouses to allow room for more tennis courts for Roland Garros next door.

    Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

    Of all the parks created in the 1860s by Baron Haussmann and his engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, this is the one that I find the most Romantic with a capital R, with its lake and fake crags, bridges, waterfall, giant cedars and unlikely palm trees. There's even a cave, with fake stalactites. Pony rides and playgrounds make it great for kids. The rolling lawns are pleasant for sunbathing or a picnic, although you can also eat at the trendy bar/restaurant/nightspot Rosa Bonheur. Climb up to the Temple de la Sybille, modelled on the temple at Tivoli, for a superb view over Paris.

    Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet

    This Second Empire villa is one of Paris’s secret gems, with its wonderful array of Empire furniture and the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet, most of them donated by the artist’s family. Among the paintings are Monet’s Impression, Soleil Levant, which gave its name to impressionism. I adore Monet's vibrantly coloured late canvases of his water garden at Giverny, as well as Berthe Morisot's affectionate paintings of children. Other impressionist painters on display include Pissarro, Renoir, Manet, Degas and Caillebotte. Don't miss the Sèvres porcelain geographical clock, either, which shows when it is midday around the world.

    Musée Bourdelle

    This little-known museum built around Antoine Bourdelle's studio and apartment gives an insight into Montparnasse in its artistic heyday. While not a major sculptor, Bourdelle is an interesting in art history, as he was an assistant of Rodin and teacher of Giacometti. He specialised in monumental sculptures, including the frieze for the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and an equestrian monument to Argentine general Alvear. Another gallery shows how he endlessly reworked the head of Beethoven in different moods. At the rear, a row of studios includes those of Bourdelle and Eugène Carrière, left in atmospherically dusty state. Montparnasse is still littered with artists' studios – look out for the big north-facing windows.

    La Conciergerie

    While hundreds queue for the Sainte-Chapelle a few doors up, far fewer visit the Conciergerie, yet both were part of the medieval palace of the Capetian kings. With its two impressive vaulted halls, it is one of France's finest secular gothic structures but for me it is also the sight that best evokes the French Revolution. After the monarchy moved to the Louvre, the Conciergerie became a prison and hundreds passed by here on their way to the guillotine. Refurbished prison cells show how conditions varied according to status from communal cells with straw on the floor to furnished individual cells for the privileged. The cell where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned is now a chapel.



    Tucked just behind the Promenade Plantée viaduct walk in the historic furniture makers' district of the Faubourg St-Antoine, the friendly, cooperative-run L'Encrier has been one of Paris's best-kept, budget secrets for 20 years. An essentially local crowd and a few in-the-know visitors squeeze in around its simple wooden tables, drawn by the remarkable-value menus and attractive beamed setting. The kitchen, visible behind the white counter, sends out trustworthy, no-nonsense French cuisine with southwestern touches, such as pear with roquefort, duck confit and goose magret, and virtually everyone ends with the excellent chocolate profiteroles.


    Located in the heart of Paris's Little Japan, Michi is a tiny, canteen-like hole in the wall, indicated only by a fish and the word sushi on the facade. It was recommended by a Japanese friend, for some of the best, authentic, and least expensive, sushi and sashimi along rue Sainte-Anne. If you're lucky, bag one of the half-a-dozen places along the counter where you can watch the chef at work, otherwise you'll be squashed into the tiny cellar. There are good-value formules, but go à la carte if you want rarer offerings such as sea urchin and eel.

    58 bis rue Sainte-Anne, 75002


    Reopened after a lengthy restoration of the 17th-century building, this is one of my favourite bistros. I like it for its reliable cuisine, relaxed chatty atmosphere and eclectic Left Bank clientele. Sylvain Danière was part of La Régalade clan in the days of Yves Camdeborde, and he keeps up the credo of revisited regional cuisine, produced from a tiny kitchen spied through a wooden dresser at the rear. Fresh fish delivered daily from Brittany and seasonal game in autumn are particularly good, and there are also plenty of fans for the delicious chocolately desserts.

    Bistrot du Peintre

    This listed, art nouveau café-bistro has a gorgeous 1902 décor of sinuous woodwork and tiled, allegorical figures of spring and summer. It is much loved by a laidback Bastille crowd for its satisfying, inexpensive cuisine. The choice goes from utterly trad snails or oeuf meurette ((egg poached in red wine), steak tartare and some southwestern French touches – my daughter's a fan of the confit de canard – to inventive salads and creative tomato Tatin with red pepper sorbet, so there's sure to be something to suit different tastes. All-day service is very useful when you’re on holiday. Try to be seated on the more atmospheric ground floor rather than upstairs.


    Marché Place Monge

    Paris has over 80 outdoor food markets but this is my favourite, especially on Sunday when it's a busy local rendezvous. Several stalls where you can buy direct from producers remind that the Ile de France and nearby Picardy are still market gardening regions. Specialists sell organic (biologique) salads and vegetables, apples and potatoes, and there are also excellent cheese stalls, fresh fish from Boulogne and Dieppe, and a few other options – DVDs, saucepans and Turkish jeweller Mr Saygi. There's all you need for a picnic in the nearby Jardin des Arènes (the ruins of Paris's Roman arena), including roast chickens, Lebanese snacks and a charcuterie stall that does steaming choucroute.

    Marché Aligre

    Aligre is actually three markets in one. The outdoor fruit and veg market, famed for the lowest prices in Paris, is an experience all of its own for its crowded, noisy atmosphere and the cries and banter of rival stallholders. Produce, including exotic hot peppers and mounds of coriander, often gets cheaper as the morning progresses, and the crowds are almost suffocating on Sunday. The covered Marché Beauvau is a more upmarket affair with good butchers, a wine stall and Italian deli. There's also a small and very shabby flea market on the square, mainly a source of second-hand books, household china and piles of old clothes.

    E. Dehillerin

    The legendary kitchen emporium has been supplying professional chefs and keen amateur cooks for nearly two centuries, a relic of the days when cooks came to buy their supplies at the nearby Les Halles wholesale market. Inside, wooden shelves are stacked high with every imaginable pan and utensil, spatulas and ladles, obscure paring knives, moulds and truffle graters, and items come in every size, whether you are cooking for one or for five hundred. Experienced staff can lead you to exactly what you want.


    Le Comptoir Général

    Le Comptoir Général bills itself as a "ghetto museum", a not-for-profit exhibition space, bookshop, bric-a-brac store and bar, all of whose takings go back to the entreprise's charity concerns. The bar, Le Rade, is arguably the centre of attention. The "shabby chic" furniture is accompanied by African curiosities, school chairs and stuffed animals. The signature cocktail, the "Secousse," is a secret recipe containing bissap, an infusion of hibiscus flower. Check the calendar of events on the website or ring in advance: though the bar is generally open to the public, it is often hired out for private events. It's also worth coming in the week, as queues at the bar at weekends can be horrendous. Although drink prices are low, a donation is required on entry.

    These recommendations, and hundreds more, can be found in the free Telegraph Travel Guides app . The app features expert guides to destinations including Paris, Rome, New York and Amsterdam, with Edinburgh, Barcelona and Venice among those to be added in the coming weeks.

    About Natasha Edwards

    Natasha Edwards moved to Paris 20 years ago and has been exploring the city's restaurants, galleries and hidden courtyards ever since. A former editor of Time Out Paris, she is the author of several guide books, and writes regularly for the Telegraph and numerous magazines about art, design, food, travel and all areas in between. She is currently compiling a guide to Modernist architecture in France.

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    Queen Elizabeth II In Carriage

    The Queen’s household finances were at a “historic low” with just £1 million left in reserve, MPs said on Monday. Her courtiers were advised to take money-saving tips from the Treasury.

    A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances while the royal palaces were “crumbling”.

    MPs said her advisers had overspent to such an extent that her reserve fund had fallen from £35 million in 2001 to just £1 million today.

    The Royal household had made efficiency savings of just 5 per cent over the past five years compared with government departments, that are cutting their budgets by up to a third.

    MPs on the committee said the Treasury must “get a grip” and help to protect the royal palaces from “further damage and deterioration”.

    Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairman of the committee, said: “We believe that the Treasury has a duty to be actively involved in reviewing the household’s financial planning and management — and it has failed to do so.”

    Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are reported to be in urgent need of repair. Staff must catch rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities, while the Queen’s old boilers were contributing to bills of £774,000 a year.

    Mrs Hodge said: “The household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog. It has not even costed the repair works needed to bring the estate back to an acceptable condition. Again, the Treasury has an oversight role here.”

    In April 2012 the Sovereign Grant replaced the old way of funding the Royal family through the Civil List and various Government grants.

    The Sovereign Grant represents 15 per cent of the net surplus income of the Crown Estate, land holdings that generate money for the Treasury.

    A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the sovereign grant had made the Queen’s funding “more transparent and scrutinized” and was resulting in a “more efficient use of public funds”.

    He said that repairing the royal palaces was a “significant financial priority”, and that the Royal household had almost doubled its income to £11.6 million since 2007.

    The spokesman said: “The move to the Sovereign Grant has created a more transparent and scrutinised system, which enables the Royal household to allocate funding according to priorities. This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds.”

    A Treasury spokesman said: “The new arrangements established by the Sovereign Grant Act have made the royal finances more transparent than ever while providing the long term stability necessary for good planning.”

    Read more

    Queen's advisers wasting money while royal palaces are 'crumbling'

    Royal adviser enjoyed £7,000 pay rise

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    Google has launched a range of frames designed for use with its wearable Glass computer that also accept prescription lenses.

    The “Titanium Collection” of frames includes four designs: Bold, Curve, Thin and Split. Each one costs $225 (£136) but customers will need to have a Google Glass to use them with, which currently come at a cost of $1,500.

    All four frame designed are delivered with plain lenses, leaving the customer to get prescription lenses fitted at an optician. This means that the total cost will be $1,725 plus the optician's charge. Google advises that the Glass unit is removed from the frames and kept safe while the frames have lenses fitted.

    There are also a range of tinted glass clip-ons which cost an additional $150. The existing Glass – which does not feature lenses at all - will remain on sale in five different colours.

    Steve Lee, Glass product director at Google, told CNET: "We think they'll accommodate most people's tastes,” but added that the company hopes third parties will begin to design their own frames for use with Glass.

    Lee said that all four of the Titanium Collection designs were created in-house at Google but manufactured in Japan. The clip-on shades are being manufactured by Hawaii-based sunglasses manufacturer Maui Jim.

    Although the new designs are intended for corrective lenses, those with extreme prescriptions outside of +4 or -4 will be out of luck.

    Google is facing a challenge in making Glass socially acceptable. Last week a man and his wife were told to leave an Ohio cinema during a film because he was wearing the device.

    The customer was ordered to leave the cinema by a policeman who removed the Glass from his face, before reportedly questioning him for several hours. They claimed he was attempting to illegally record the film, although the man invited them to check the Glass to prove he had not been recording. He claimed to have been using them because they had prescription lenses, which Google later said was not an official product, showing that some users had already worked on creating their own workarounds.

    The unnamed man said: "I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything – my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear ‘I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass’.”

    Read the Telegraph's review of Google Glass

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    oil iraq

    Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia's grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

    "We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth," Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference.

    Al Shahristani said on Tuesday that Iraq plans to boost its capacity to produce oil to 9m barrels a day (bpd) by the end of the decade as Baghdad rushes to bolster its economy, which is still shattered by war and internal conflict. Iraq was producing 3m bpd in December, according to the International Energy Agency.

    Iraq's intention to challenge Saudi Arabia's status as the "swing producer" in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group's quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market.

    "It's very difficult to predict actual world (oil) demand by 2020 because the world economy is unpredictable," said Mr al-Shahristani.

    British oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell are also poised to benefit from Iraq's ambitious production plans. Both companies are already managing two huge oil fields in southern Iraq which are vital if Baghdad is to achieve its goal.

    However, even if Iraq is able to achieve its target of boost production capacity it is unlikely to be able to put in place sufficient pipeline and port infrastructure to export the additional crude.

    Iraq's main export terminal for loading oil tankers at Al Faw near Basra will require billions of pounds worth of improvements in addition to the refurbishment of its pipeline network.

    Iraq's ambitious plan could see it clash increasingly with the regime in Saudi Arabia, which has used its influence in OPEC over the last decade to keep oil prices above $100 a barrel. Saudi itself is now under pressure to boost output to maintain market share. The kingdom pumped 9.8m bpd in December up by about 100,000 barrels from the previous month.

    Experts say that attention within OPEC, which pumps 30pc of the world's crude, could increasingly focus on compliance with more of the group's members tempted to pump more barrels to protect their share of the market as the cartel grapples with the rise of US shale oil production.

    OPEC agreed in early December to renew for six months its 30m bpd output cap for the first half of the year to keep prices above $100. However, quotas have in the past proved difficult for OPEC as a group to enforce without any binding penalties for over-producing. Since its restoration to OPEC following the 2003 Gulf War, Iraq has been excluded from the group's quota system to allow its economy to recover but pressure is mounting for it to comply this year.

    The International Monetary Fund this week warned that Iraq's weak economy remains vulnerable to fluctuations in oil markets. Crude oil exports account for 93pc of government revenues. The IMF estimated that Baghdad required an average oil price of $106.1 per barrel in 2013 to balance its budget, up from $95 in 2011 because of higher spending.

    Despite Mr al-Shahristani's hopes for boosting Iraq's energy sector there are severe concerns over security amid fears the country may again be slipping toward a civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslim factions.

    In a further challenge to Saudi Arabia, which is mostly closed to international oil companies, Mr al-Shahristani revealed that Baghdad is working with Iran to help it attract investment ahead of the possible lifting of sanctions. Oil companies are understood to be queuing up to win Iranian oil deals.

    "Iran has been in touch with us," said Mr al-Shahristani. "They want to share our contracts model and experience."

    Combined, Iran and Iraq hold greater reserves of oil than Saudi Arabia and the potential with the help of international investment to match its capacity to produce oil, which currently stands at around 12.5m b/d of crude.

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    It may sound like a back-handed compliment to describe the labels on these pages as “under the radar”. A number of them have deliberately adopted a low-key presence because they believe that not every woman wants to be wearing the ubiquitous “must-have” that’s advertised everywhere.

    Some, such as Suzannah, who have discovered a craving among women for one-off bespoke outfits that, satisfyingly, cost around the same as ready-to-wear from the big brands, want to stay niche. Others have just started, or in the case of Bimba y Lola, only recently launched in Britain.

    From made-to-measure cocktail and wedding dresses to slouchy weekend wear, via breezy chic pieces for the office, they all deliver – we believe – value for money, and prove the dynamism of the fashion scene.

    Even if you’re someone who likes the reassurance of shopping with established names, there are plenty of reasons for investigating our selection here, not least their size and service.

    You’re unlikely to spot your favourite item from them on dozens of other women – yet. None of the companies here have the clout to promote their designs endlessly. We think that’s a good thing. In an era where big brands seem to dominate, here are 10 reasons to take heart


    The low-down: Ultra-luxurious, impeccably made to measure for those who think discretion is a key part of being beautifully dressed.
    What makes this different from the rest: All pieces – and some of the fabrics – are designed and made in-house. Her studio is in a picturesque mews in London’s Marylebone – clients are treated like royalty. But then some of them are.
    What’s the damage: Think Céline but more luxurious and less ubiquitous – very pricey, but timeless. From £850 for made-to-measure knitwear.
    What you should know: Valentine, a trained ballerina, set up her business in 1986, and has assiduously avoided the limelight ever since. Although her clothes are beautiful, they never dominate the woman wearing them.
    Bottom line: Best known for streamlining the Duchess of Cornwall, who never puts a sartorial foot wrong in Valentine, Valentine also has a rigorously modern, minimalist side. LA


    The low-down: An unstudied edit of everyday staples for men, women and children, with a whiff of Scandi functionality.
    What makes this different? John Lewis’s own brand, Kin, offers well-cut separates in smart, clean fabrics. We’re taken with the culottes and quilted-jersey bomber jackets.
    What’s the damage? That famous never-knowingly-undersold promise holds true: from £25 for a slubby jersey T-shirt and £120 for a tuxedo jacket.
    What you should know: This season Kin does shoes; metallic-heeled sandals look school-run-appropriate but not mumsy. We’re undecided on the mini-me looks – adult lines available in child sizes.
    Bottom line: A simple roster of basics. EP


    The low-down: Classic, beautifully made-to-measure dresses, suits and wedding dresses with a vintage-but-not-too-vintage vibe.
    What makes this different from the rest? Whether you visit her boutique in London, near Selfridges on Oxford Street, or online, the first thing you’ll see is ready-to-wear styles. If you’re looking for modifications or want to ensure you have a one-off, that is available. All customized pieces are made in London.
    What’s the damage? From £295 for an off-the-peg jacket, £425 for a silk tea-dress, up to £900-plus for bespoke, depending on fabrics. Wedding dresses are under £2,000.
    Why you should know: Suzannah Crabb worked for both M&S and Karen Millen. Made-to-measure takes a up to 12 weeks and requires a couple of fittings. It’s worth the investment, these are deceptively simple dresses in silks and satins that won’t date, glamorous yet playful. No wonder they appeal to all types, from fashion editors to young royals (who look their best when wearing her).
    Bottom line: Because her bespoke is adapted from her ready-to-wear, you get a clear idea of what your made-to-measure will look like; that takes the stress and fear out of ordering. LA


    The low-down: Relaxed, easy-to-wear pieces that play with ideas of androgyny.
    What makes this different from the rest? Atea’s focus is well-cut wardrobe building blocks that can be worn every day and to everything. All fabrics are sourced in New Zealand – origin of creative director Laura Myer – and colours are refreshingly muted.
    What’s the damage? What they call “affordable luxury”. T-shirts in the softest modal jersey are £80, cotton shirt dresses £235. Tailoring is the priciest part, at £500 for a lined, double-breasted blazer.
    Why you should know: Only in its second season, Atea is gaining a cult following. These classics won’t go out of fashion.
    Bottom line: Simple, timeless and well-made. SW


    The low-down: Good-sized leather bags made in the factories used by the designers.
    What makes this different from the rest? Desa has stuck a balance between size, weight and price. The bags are fashion-led but aren’t painfully cool.
    What’s the damage? Reasonable, for leather – £117 for a mini bag and go up to £529 for a large leather tote.
    Why you should know: Set up in the Seventies, Desa has made bags for Marc Jacobs, McQueen and “premium French, English and Italian houses” for years.
    Bottom line: The website’s photos do not do them justice, so go to one of the London stores. SW


    The low-down: Everyday basics that extend beyond skinny jeans and oversized jumpers – although they’re there too.
    What makes this different from the rest? Although clearly put together by someone who keeps an eye on Céline and Givenchy, this is about easy, chic style that works at work and at the weekend, rather than one-season trends – and genuinely likes to keep it real. Clare Hornby (related to Nick Hornby), the founder and creative director, has a blog on the website in which she models looks.
    What’s the damage? Nothing major. Block-colored merino knits around £90, trousers £120, jackets £200 and the clothes are generally better quality than you’d expect at this price range.
    What you should know: You may have stumbled across this website a few years ago when it was a “lounge-wear” range, selling upmarket jogging pants and wrap cardigans in modal and silky jersey. It’s come on a long way, but the comfort remains: this is effortless smart-casual dressing.
    Bottom line: If you like modern, understated androgyny, you’ll like most of this. If you live near the Blairs in London, check out its first shop. LA


    The low-down: Cashmere that doesn’t look like it’s been festering in a golf club locker.
    What makes this different from the rest? Cashmere snobs abound in these jumper-clad times, but Madeleine Thompson’s look cool and keep you warm. Her pieces come with a twist: boxy jumpers with a slit at the hem, arm-warmers in neon pink, draped cardigans with asymmetric hems.
    What’s the damage? Cashmere this soft doesn’t come cheap. A neon beanie will set you back £95, a full-length silk-cashmere mix dress £370 (and the silk means it holds its shape). There are still sale bargains left.
    What you should know: Hong Kong-born Thompson founded the line in 2008. Tamara Mellon saw her collection and bought the whole lot. Sienna Miller’s a fan.
    The bottom line: Sophisticated loungewear that’s not just for the sofa. EP


    The low-down: Eye-catching shoes that don’t cost the Earth. They’re comfy too.
    What makes this different from the rest? The price of shoes seems to have risen faster than that of London houses, but Loeffler Randal bucks the trend. Founder Jessie Randall makes them elegant but fun. Lots of British designers have the same idea; expect to pay twice the price for theirs.
    What’s the damage? From around £100 for leather sandals. Court shoes and heeled sandals sit at £200, boots at £300-400.
    Why you should know: Started in 2005, the brand has 200 retailers worldwide but is yet to crack Britain. Made in Brazil, their shoes are a step above US brands often found wanting in quality. Celebrities and numerous New York fashion editors swear by them.
    Bottom line: Great for the office and black tie. Available at selected department stores. SW


    The low-down: Another style hit from the Spanish, who seem to excel at affordable chic
    What Makes This Different from the Rest? Excellent though Zara and Massimo Dutti are, Bimba y Lola has a more niche feel. That’s partly thanks to them only having two UK stores (so far), both of which have an unrushed, upmarket feel. The Notting Hill branch, with its dark wooden floors and airy green views is particularly luxe.
    What’s the damage? Less than you’d imagine. A viscose crepe blouse costs around £65 (£52 in the sale); Tailored jackets, around £175 – this is upper end high street but with a niche approach.
    What You Should Know: Founded by two sisters, this covers every base – from hats to shoes, casual to cocktail – and offers a huge choice. There are bags too, although these are somewhat marred by the logo. Stick with the clothes and belts. Minimalist or maximalist you’ll find what you want here.
    Bottom Line; Look a million euros without spending anything like that. Savvy fashionistas line up – this won’t stay secret much longer. LA


    The low-down: If you like Margaret Howell, you’ll love Studio Nicholson.
    What makes this different from the rest? A nonchalant cut in light fabrics; we like the softly tailored trousers, oversized wool T-shirts and cotton shirting. You can throw these on, knowing you look like you’ve given it some thought. Phoebe Philo has made this sartorial torpor her signature – Nicholson’s prices are more palatable.
    What’s the damage? A paneled wool top is £240 (£120 in the sale); a fleeced wool car coat is £572 (now £286).
    What you should know: Launched in 2010 by a menswear designer, Nick Wakeman, the designs are reworked from a masculine silhouette. They work better on taller women – curves and hips are less catered for.
    The bottom line: Girls who like borrowing from the boys can add it to the list. EP

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    North Korea is expanding its primary missile launch site, enabling the facility to fire weapons capable of striking the mainland of the United States, according to a leading US think tank.

    New satellite images analyzed by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, released on the 38 North web site, indicate that work is under way to modify the gantry tower at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.

    The improvements will allow the launch of a rocket as much as 25 per cent larger than the Unha-3 vehicle that was test-fired in December 2012.

    North Korea claims the launch was to put an earth-monitoring satellite into orbit for peaceful scientific purposes. The rest of the world disputed that claim, with the United Nations imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang for what was widely seen as the test-launch of a ballistic missile.

    "Recent satellite imagery indicates definitively that the work is intended to allow future launches of larger rockets by adding an upper platform to the tower as well as making changes to the mobile launch stand," the report said. "One possibility is that the gantry and pad are being modified to handle a large 40-meter [131 feet] long rocket based on the mockup reportedly spotted at the Sanum-dong missile facility outside Pyongyang in April 2012."

    The institute estimates that the work will be completed in March or April, although it is not clear whether North Korea has been able to overcome technical problems to develop the larger rocket.

    The satellite images also suggest that tests have been conducted in late December or early January on an improved engine, including the presence of the first stage of a rocket and heavy lifting equipment. The pads are empty in the next series of pictures, but analysts have picked out scorch marks in the snow consistent with tests being carried out.

    Edited by Bonnie Malkin

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    We all know the story. Boy meets girl. Boy dates girl. Boy realizes she's not the one, or he's not the one, or someone else is the one, or no one will ever be the one, or ... whatever the reason, it has to end.

    But how?

    Ever keen to grill my friends on their private lives, I got in contact with a bunch to quiz them on the best and worst break-up techniques. Here's what they said.

    Don't dump from under the covers."This is definitely the most horrible way," said a friend, speaking from grim personal experience.

    As all suave (or even vaguely reasonable) gentlemen know, there really is no worse time to end a relationship than closely after the act of physical romance. So don't do it.

    Be honest, but not evil."This isn't the time to be brutal, but some indication of what's behind your desire to split can be a big help," said another friend. She wanted to hear why the relationship ended, without the dissection lingering on anything particularly spiteful or painful.

    "This gives us something to analyze and to be angry/sad/happy at, something to talk over with our friends, which is all part of the healing process."

    Bin the clichés. Apart from being grimace-inducing, we can spot the standard lines a mile off. It makes things feel a bit fake, even cheap.

    One friend cited the risk of over-analyzing clichés and jumping to the wrong conclusions. "For instance, 'it's not you, it's me' can mean 'I'm totally sleeping with other women', while 'I'm not ready to settle down' will be taken as 'I want to sleep with other women.’”

    Time it right. Timing is complicated. I get it. In December and January, you have the holidays. In February, Valentine's Day. In summer, picnics and Pimms, and everyone knows drinking alone is no fun. So when do you do it?

    According to one friend, the golden rule is to avoid birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and other people's weddings. Breaking up at these "is not multitasking, it's mean."

    Also, don’t do it alongside a tragic event. "Someone I know was dumped by the bloke she was with for three years within a month of her dad passing away!"

    Do it face-to-face. More than anything else, this was the most common request. Don't text. Don't email. Absolutely don't use Facebook. Come on, you’re better than that.

    "Don't even think about using social media unless you are 12-years-old and have only been going out with someone since lunchtime," said one previously-burnt friend.

    Another friend suggested a café. "Take me out to coffee and tell me to my face. Yes, it's harder and might lead to embarrassing squirming and awkward silences, but it's more courteous and easier to talk things through.

    Don't linger in the 'possibly maybe' space. If you break up with someone, make sure to end it properly. The awkward 'I don't think I love you but maybe I do?' will just draw things out and add a bad shadow to what was possibly a fantastic relationship.

    "So many of my girlfriends – in fact pretty much all of them – have had relationships where the guy has broken up with them without drawing a clear line in the sand. You need to be really clear. Say 'I think it would be unwise to see each other for a while', or something along those lines," advised one friend.

    On no accounts should you break up with someone and then immediately seek to get back in their bed for one last hurrah.

    Be careful when it comes to getting back together. It's easy to question the break-up once it's all over. Think about why you're missing your ex. Is it because you're just lonely? Do you want a bit of a cuddle? Or is it because you feel you've made a mistake and that the reasons you broke up in the first place have changed?

    So there we go. Good luck with the boy meets girl thing. Hopefully the above makes the painful process of breaking up a bit less horrible – but fingers crossed that your relationship goes so well you won't ever have need to call upon it in the first place.

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    date couple view city dinner

    The human brain is our equivalent of the peacock's tail, according to experts who claim our superior intelligence evolved to help us attract mates, rather than survive.

    A mystery of our evolution is why our brains continued to grow despite the fact that our early ancestors functioned perfectly well with half as much between their ears.

    Having a larger brain boosted our intelligence but also placed a greater burden on our bodies, sapping 20 per cent of our energy metabolism despite accounting for just 1.5 per cent of our body weight.

    The answer could be that the growth of our early ancestors' brains was linked not to survival but to sexual selection, performing a similar role to a peacock's tail or a stag's antlers, claim experts in a new exhibition at the Norwegian Natural History Museum.

    Petter Bøckman, a zoologist who helped curate the exhibition, said this could explain why our courtship takes the form of chatting over a coffee rather than the physical or vocal displays performed by most animals.

    "One question we are asking at the exhibition is whether the brain is an organ for sexual selection, like the peacock's tail," he said.

    "The idea is that people functioned well also in earlier times, even though their brains were only half as big. Thus, the growth of the brain is not driven by survival, but by something else.

    "Just as the elk measures the size of the antlers, we humans measure each other's brains before we mate."

    SEE ALSO: Why Playing It Cool Is Psychologically Attractive

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    A Ukrainian protest leader who was abducted over a week ago has been found caked in blood, saying that he suffered crucifixion and mutilation at the hands of his captors.

    Dmytro Bulatov, 35, staggered into the village of Vyshinsky, five miles south of the capital, Kiev, on Thursday night. His captors had dumped him in a nearby forest after holding him for eight days.

    Mr Bulatov, a prime mover behind the anti-government demonstrations which have paralyzed central Kiev, told local television: “I was crucified. All my body is covered in blood. I didn’t even see them because they kept my eyes blindfolded. They had Russian accents. I couldn’t even see because all the time I was in darkness.”

    Pictures showed that Mr Bulatov’s hands carried puncture wounds, possibly consistent with having been driven through with nails. The left side of his face appeared to have slash injuries. His chest was covered in blood.

    Mr Bulatov also said that his captors mutilated his ear. A piece of his right earlobe appeared to have been severed.

    Mr Bulatov went missing in Kiev on the night of Jan 22.

    “Dmytro and a friend were at home. Dmytro left to see someone and he didn’t come back. Then the friend tried to call him, but he didn’t answer his phone,” said Oleksiy Gritsenko, a friend and fellow opposition activist.

    A series of kidnappings have taken place in Ukraine, targeting leaders of the protest movement and ordinary activists alike. Mr Bulatov, who is married with three children, specialized in organizing demonstrations using convoys of vehicles. These motorcades would drive through Kiev, flying opposition flags and sometimes blockading government ministries.

    One of the draconian anti-protest laws, which Parliament repealed on Tuesday, had been specially drafted to ban Mr Bulatov’s protests. This measure made it illegal to drive in a convoy of more than four cars.

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