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- 01/31/14--05:29: How To Recover From Strenuous Exercise
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India's neglected holy cows are producing toxic and contaminated milk because they eat garbage while wandering the streets unsupervised, according to lawyers for one of India's top milk-producing states.
The claim was made in India's Supreme Court where judges ordered all of India's states to impose life imprisonment sentences for those convicted of contaminating milk.
Milk has a revered place in Indian spiritual life, which is one of the reasons cows are regarded as sacred.
But despite being wor shipped, many cattle owners allow their cows to wander throughout India's roads and cities where they graze on rubbish dumps and eat plastic bags and other waste products.
When they return to their dairies their milk is adulterated with paint, detergents, caustic soda, urea and shampoo, the court heard.
"Cows have started eating plastic and paper besides grass and green leaves when they are sent to graze," one lawyer said.
Justice K.S Radhakrishnan said he was so concerned about the scale of adulteration that he had not taken milk in his coffee for two years.
Lawyers for the Uttar Pradesh government, where dairies are prized for their creamy milk, revealed that in tests carried out in 2012-2013 more than a quarter of 4,500 samples were found to contain detergent, starch and artificial whitener. In more recent tests after August last year more than one third of 613 samples were contaminated.
They found the scale of contaminated increased significantly in the weeks before festivals when people give milk-based Indian sweets as gifts.
Offenders are liable to a maximum of six months imprisonment but can pay a 1,000 Rupee (£10) fine instead.
Another judge, Justice Vikramjit Singh said the law's teeth had fallen out "after drinking adulterated milk". The court said offenders should be given life sentences and state governments should improve monitoring with random checks.
You probably already know that exercise is good for you, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
The short answer is that exercise hurts your body, prompting a reaction. When you go for a run, lift weights, or play football, any discomfort is like a clarion call to the body, telling it that it needs to be better equipped to deal with the situation. The response - it becomes stronger, bigger, or more efficient - is why we exercise.
This process is natural and normal, but it's easy to disrupt it with too much exercise. We constantly walk a tight rope between adequate stimulation leading to progression, and a lack of recovery which can lead to over-training.
The perils of overtraining are numerous. Not only can it undo all the hard work you put in down the gym, but it can also leave you a husk of the man you were: lethargic, unable to sleep, iritable and without sex drive. What's more, the disruption it causes to your body's systems can actually lead to weight gain - ironic, but definitely not funny.
I find it useful in both my own training and that of my clients to plan for recovery as seriously as I plan the workouts. Below are ten steps you can take to facilitate speedy and complete recovery from your exercise efforts.
1. Structured Rest. Factoring in deliberate rest days is essential to any intense training program. Remember: more is not always better, and you don't get stronger in the gym, you get stronger whilst you rest. I suggest incorporating a 'down' week every 8-12 weeks of intense exercise to allow your body to properly recover. This could be an entire week away from exercise or a time to temporarily reduce weight, intensity or volume. Believe me, your body will thank you for it.
On the flip side, it's important that you don't take too much rest, as your body will decondition and you'll end up with that dreaded muscle ache that lasts for days after each workout section. Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb is three hour-long workouts a week.
2. Sleep. Make sure you get good quality sleep, as running a constant sleep debt can impair both workout intensity and recovery.
Take steps to enhance the quality of your sleep where possible. Investing in a good mattress and pillow often pays dividends. You may also want to take into consideration room temperature, lighting and noise control to create the perfect environment for tranquil sleep.
3. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol intake harms muscle recovery. With each and every 'cheeky' or 'swift' pint you sneak down the pub, you ply your system with toxins. The body has to deal with these as a priority, which means it can't direct as much attention as you would like to helping your muscles heal and grow. As boring as it sounds, staying off the booze will help you recover quicker.
4. Hydrate. After a workout it is very important to replace the fluids lost during exercise. Aim to consume at least two litres of water per day - more if you have been sweating due to vigorous exercise.
5. Stretch. Stretching before and after a workout can help facilitate muscle recovery by reducing lactic acid and improving circulation. Yoga and Pilates can also be great disciples to help with this - however, be aware that due to the new stimulus they may actually temporarily impair recovery. Consider introducing these new activities during a scheduled 'down' period.
6. Ice Baths. Many professional athletes take regular ice baths for recovery benefits. I've tried them and they definitely worked for me. Be warned, though: ice baths are far from pleasant.
You may also want to try water contrast therapy, which involves alternating between hot and cold water to repeatedly constrict and dilate blood vessels, helping to rid the system of waste products. Use a warm shower for one minute followed by a 30 second blast of cold water and repeat.
7. Proper nutrition. Exercise progress is as much concerned with eating the right things as it is with what you do in the gym. Ensure that you are eating enough calories to recover and that you have your macronutrients balanced properly. For example, not enough protein in your diet can lead to loss of muscle mass, whilst too few carbohydrates can lead to poor performance and fatigue.
Avoid heavily restricted diet programs, they are often unsustainable and do not facilitate healthy amounts of vigorous activity.
8. Get a Massage. A good sports massage therapist will be able to help you relieve tension in your muscles, flush toxins from your body and put you in an all around relaxed state. Typically, I aim to have a sports massage once a week.
9. Mind Power. Positive self talk can help stimulate your sub-conscious to aid in your performance and recovery. Personally, each night I ask my body to rejuvenate every cell in my body and allow me to wake fully rested and ready to hit the next morning running. I find great benefit in this practice - but I also appreciate that it's not for everyone!
All in all, the most important factor leading to full and thorough recovery is listening to you body. It'll usually be pretty clear in its desire for what you need, whether that be time off, water, food or a more rewarding frame of mind to approach your exercise regime with. In fitness circles we call this instinctive training: our bodies are naturally very highly attuned to our needs. If we learn to answers those needs well, we stand to get more out of our workouts and ultimately our lives.
Scott Laidler is a personal trainer and personal development coach based in London. Contact Scott at www.scottlaidler.com for personal training and online fitness coaching.
In the US, Amanda Knox is widely regarded as an innocent abroad who was abominably treated by the Italian authorities
When Italy’s highest court last week found Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty of the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Biritsh student Meredith Kercher, the victim’s family were, as ever, quietly dignified in their response.
Their lawyer called the verdict “justice for Meredith and her family”, while Stephanie Kercher, Meredith’s sister, said, “I think we are still on a journey to the truth and it may be the fact that we don’t ever really know what happened that night”.
For six years, the Kercher family has been immersed in grief and legal argument, compelled perpetually to relive the loss of their beloved daughter and sister. They remember Meredith as a clever, caring young woman, full of enthusiasm for life: the discussion circulating around them deals mainly with the painful minutiae of her death. One man, Rudy Guede, is already imprisoned for sexual assault and murder, but the autopsy report strongly argued that more than one person was involved.
The first court verdict in 2009, which found both Knox and Sollecito also guilty, was overturned by the Perugia appeal court in 2011, which acquitted them both. It was subject to a further appeal, in Florence, which ended with their convictions last week. There will be yet another appeal, possibly resulting in an Italian demand for Knox’s extradition. It is not over yet.
Still, the insistent question, “what really happened?”, pulses in the mind. The truth of what occurred on that November night in Perugia exists, of course, but it is now concealed in thick layers of historical accusations and assumptions, protestation and fury. The public cannot get to it. Meredith’s family cannot get to it. And swirling around it, the arguments have become increasingly clouded.
In the US, Amanda Knox – a house-mate of Meredith’s at the time she was murdered – is widely regarded as an innocent abroad who was abominably treated by the Italian authorities. She is helped in this by her photogenic appearance and polite, open manner. When she appeared on Good Morning America last week, the anchorwoman, Robin Roberts, felt moved to clasp her hand.
Many in the US are now seemingly convinced that Knox was coerced by police into false statements, and that the Italian court processes have been a travesty of justice. Yet there seems very little in the way of hard evidence that bears this out.
This much appears undisputed: that Knox – roughly an hour into her questioning – admitted being in the house when Meredith died, and accused her Congolese boss at the bar where she worked, Patrick Lumumba, of killing Meredith. She alleged he was alone with Meredith as she was sitting in the kitchen and heard a single scream.
Much later that evening, she produced a long, garbled note that appeared to be expanding her options, albeit contradictory ones. She said she was “confused” but that she stood by “events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik [sic]” although they now seemed “more unreal to me than what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house”. She said that “everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.” The latter part of that sentence – “the best truth that I have been able to think” – bears consideration.
Numerous Italian witnesses, from a large number of police staff to Knox’s interpreter, testified that Knox was properly treated during her questioning. Mr Lumumba was arrested and held for two weeks, before a customer at the bar provided a definitive alibi and he was released.
We must, of course, bear in mind that Knox was relatively immature and no doubt intimidated by the situation. But the prosecution case is not one to be lightly dismissed: as the Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz put it, the factors that led to Knox’s initial conviction included an admission that she was at the crime scene, her false accusation of an innocent man, an inconsistent alibi and evidence of her DNA on the alleged murder weapon. Those things would not be dismissed as negligible, either in the UK or the US.
I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened, of course, nor the degree of Knox’s innocence or involvement. Yet I do know that the case, as it stands, defies the simplification that flows from prejudice about a pretty American girl caught up with allegedly untrustworthy foreigners. The Italian legal system might be complicated and prolonged, but it does not appear to be routinely unfair.
The public regularly makes all sorts of assumptions about innocence and guilt based on factors that have nothing whatsoever to do with the evidence. Yet crimes frequently defy expectations: as any criminal barrister could tell you, you don’t have to look like a monster to be involved in a murder.
If you've ever encountered it before, the word CrossFit should strike fear into your heart.
This high intensity fitness regime uses a mixture of aerobic exercises, gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting to push the body to its absolute limits of strength, endurance, and flexibility. If that sounds exhausting, then I can assure you: it is - and I've only watched from the sidelines, at the recent Battle of London competition . Dragging your tired carcass through CrossFit's relentless routines certainly looks like it's no picnic. But the physical results are remarkable.
An hour-long CrossFit class typically includes a warm-up, an activity training segment (where you might, for example practise a handstand push-up), the high-intensity ‘Workout of the Day’ (or WOD) section, and a period of individual or group stretching. The WOD, set on the company website, is always fast paced and varied; it changes every day, providing new stimuli for the body and mind. So, while the suggested regime on Wednesday January 29 focused on short runs, pull-ups and squats, the day before it was all about weightlifting (Thursday, mercifully, was designated a Rest Day).
As it has grown in popularity, CrossFit has spawned its own form of competition, where athletes seek to excel in a diverse range of cardiovascular and weightlifting events. Last year in the US, 25,000 spectators turned out at the StubHub Center in Carson, California – football stadium of LA Galaxy and one-time home to David Beckham - to watch honed and toned athletes compete for the crown of 'Fittest on Earth' and a top prize of $275,000. The entry list for qualification for the main event saw 138,000 athletes from across the world register to compete. CrossFit is fast becoming big news.
“It's fair to say CrossFit in the US is a couple of years ahead in its growth,” says Tom Bold, a Briton based in Dallas, and founder of CrossFit Bold and co-founder of Battle of London.
“Over here almost everyone knows exactly what it is; in the UK it’s only starting to break into the public consciousness. This gives the UK an advantage to some degree as we can look at the US for guidance on best practices, learning from their mistakes and successes.”
The appeal stems in part from the sheer variation of exercises on offer and also from a healthy community spirit among those who take part.
“CrossFit caters for all age ranges,” says Andrew Stemler, who was London’s first CrossFit certified trainer. “There are a lot of competitions for the 50+ and 60+ age groups in the UK. It’s very popular - it just grew and grew and grew. An advantage is that most fitness regimes have developed in the media, one example being Zumba, but CrossFit has done it by itself and a community has grown from that.
“As a trainer, if I have a question I don’t have the answer to, I can share it online with the large CrossFit community and someone somewhere will suggest an idea I haven’t tried. It’s great for giving public feedback.”
Bold adds: “The geographical landscape is interesting. The US is so vast that it's hard to build much of a 'national community', whereas the UK CrossFit scene has a distinct sense of togetherness.
“Combining the sense of kinship experienced whilst doing strenuous physical exercise with a group of friends and the efficacy of the workouts and you've got a potent and often life changing training programme.”
Steven Fawcett is currently the UK’s number one CrossFit athlete, having finished runner-up at the recent Battle of London event. The 25-year-old, who co-owns CrossFit JST in Wigan, has been competing for three and a half years.
“I had ankle surgery which meant I had to stop playing football when I was 20,” Fawcett said. “I just planned on getting my fitness back up so I could play football again and I was researching different training programmes and watched a YouTube video of CrossFit and decided to give it a go.
“Three months later my ankle had recovered but I decided I enjoyed doing CrossFit more than I did football. I get a lot more enjoyment out of it because it’s so varied with the Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics.”
Like any exercise regime however, CrossFit is not without its risks. Earlier this month, experienced coach and athlete Kevin Ogar suffered a spinal injury while weightlifting in a competition that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Anyone starting out on CrossFit is advised to join a proper, regulated affiliate, where trainers and equipment are all on hand. In the UK, there are currently 324 CrossFit ‘boxes’ or ‘affiliates’. Chances are they’ll be one in your area.
Bold advises that interested parties "start slowly and make it sustainable". The workouts, by their very nature, are tough and should be treated with respect. Gung-ho CrossFitting can lead to injury, so be sure to prioritize good technique and sound mechanics.
Once you've got up to speed with CrossFit, there are plenty of competitions to enter across the country. Fawcett says these can be a mixed blessing: "when you get to a higher level you’ve got to be careful of how many you do because a weekend of competitions can put a lot of stress on your body. It’s best to pick and choose.”
Last week’s Battle of London event at the Copper Box arena drew strong crowds and, says Fawcett, demonstrated the continued popularity of CrossFit in this country.
“The [standard of] competition was a lot higher than it was the last two years – attracting a lot of people across Europe. As UK competitors, it’s a good chance to see how we match up against them.”
And does the best in the country have any tips for aspiring CrossFitters?
“The main thing is to enjoy doing it and don’t stress yourself about getting PBs and beating certain people.
“Keep the enjoyment and you will only get better. If you start getting good then prioritize the training and work other things around it.”
"What’s your favourite resort?"
As co-editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard, I find the question an occupational hazard . Sorry to seem unhelpful, but the answer is that I don’t have one. If pushed, I’ll say the resort I’m in at the time.
But there are resorts and regions that are more exciting than others. And I’m always energized by the prospect of a trip to western Canada, and the resorts in its provinces of British Columbia (BC) and Alberta. The reason? Many of my best days on the slopes have been there. These resorts offer an irresistible combination of steep but safe terrain, often lightly wooded, and seriously impressive snow.
Not that Canada is uniquely snowy, according to the statistics. Even the snowiest Canadian resorts are matched by American destinations such as Jackson Hole in Wyoming and overshadowed by Alta and Snowbird in Utah.
But the fact is that I’ve encountered a lot of snow in western Canada. I once did a tour of British Columbia that delivered continuous snowfall for 12 days. And even when snowfall is on the light side of average, and the residents of Calgary in Alberta and Vancouver in BC won’t get their skis out of the garage, you may find conditions you’d be delighted to encounter in the Alps.
Canadian resorts, like American ones, work differently from those in the Alps. Every lift-served ski area has a boundary. Within that boundary, all the terrain is made safe from avalanches, so in that respect you can ski safely without the expense of hiring a guide. But in all these resorts adventurous skiers and riders should consider getting some sort of guidance, at least on a first visit, to learn the spots to seek out and the spots to avoid. All these resorts also offer backcountry skiing outside the boundary, where there is no avalanche control and guidance is needed.
Perhaps more relevant to most holiday visitors is that close to all my selected resorts you can go heli-skiing and/or cat-skiing (which like heli-skiing takes you to virgin snow but uses much slower, much cheaper tracked vehicles for uplift).
So which resorts are the best of the west – what’s the shortlist for a keen, adventurous skier? I’m picking three resorts in BC; a tour last winter confirmed the attractions of all three.
Whistler, British Columbia
The big one: North America’s biggest ski area, with snowfall to match. Only 90 scenic minutes from Vancouver. Whistler dwarfs its Canadian neighbours – it’s a big, modern resort village developed with characteristic care and thoroughness by local firm IntraWest, which went on to build Arc 1950 in France among other resorts.
Its two impressive mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, add up to more than 8,000 acres, translating to around 250km of pistes, which puts the area well up the world piste league table, alongside Alpine areas such as Zermatt-Cervinia.
The place has some clear drawbacks: the mountain is the busiest in North America, as well as the biggest – whether you look at lifts, runs or restaurants, you find crowds – and the car-free village, although stylish and quite conveniently laid out, has a rather urban feel.
And then there’s the weather. Whistler is close to the Pacific, and quite low in altitude. It gets a lot of weather, and much of that weather is snowy. But there is also a lot of rain, particularly, but not exclusively, at village level.
Along with many others, I’m willing to overlook these quibbles, because the slopes are superb, at least for competent intermediates and experts – simply one of the best. There are countless wide bowls above the tree line at the top, ranging in steepness from harmless to terrifying, and all kinds of options lower down including long, long runs through the trees to the valley. And all with a good chance of deep fresh snow.
There are good beginner slopes as well, but the crowds on the mountain and the risk of bad weather mean it’s not an ideal place to start.
Resort: 675m; Slopes: from 650m to 2,285m
Lifts: 37; Area: 8,170 acres ( whistlerblackcomb.com )
Guidance: Extremely Canadian ( extremelycanadian.com ) runs daily backcountry groups for $200 (£109) per person; and two-day steep ski clinics, taking you to the best inbounds spots, for $425 (£231).
Heli-skiing: Whistler Heli-skiing ( whistlerheliskiing.com ) offer packages of three runs for $900 (£489) or six runs for £1,280.
Fernie, British Columbia
Varied slopes spread across five blissfully crowd-free bowls. Just in BC, but best reached from Calgary (four to five hours away).
More than one of my best days on the slopes have been in or near Fernie. I’ve known this resort since its early days as a commercial “destination” resort. I happened to be there in 1998 when a pivotal guy in the development of Canadian skiing, Charlie Locke, rolled up to inspect progress on the resort he had recently bought. Half the terrain had trails cut, but no lifts; so Charlie called up a snowcat (a vehicle with caterpillar tracks for wheels) to ferry him around, invited me to join him and we had a great day skiing virgin snow in the trees.
Fernie has developed nicely in the subsequent 15 years, but still has an attractively uncommercial vibe. At the lift base there is only a scattering of hotels and apartment buildings, and “historic” Fernie town a few miles away in the valley retains its own charm despite having a ski resort on its doorstep.
The mountain is one of my favorites, mainly because its five bowls offer lots of single-black slopes that are lightly wooded. For real experts, there are plenty of double blacks too – practically all steeper than any Alpine piste. There are some excellent groomed runs too, but they don’t add up to much; cautious intermediates are much better off in Whistler.
Perversely, it is now quite a good resort for beginners, with a good network of green runs on the lower slopes.
The one real drawback is the lift system, which is a bit skeletal. Some key lifts are slow, and many excellent mountainsides are reached by long traverses, and lead to long run-outs back to the village.
Resort: 1,065m; Slopes: 1,065m to 2135m
Lifts: 10; Area: 2,500 acres ( skifernie.com )
Guidance: The ski school’s two-day Steep and Deep Camps familiarize you with the mountain while improving your skills ($330/£179).
Cat-skiing: There are two long-established operations nearby. Island Lake Lodge ( islandlakecatskiing.com ) operates residential packages of two to four days based at its very comfortable, remote lodge; but sometimes slots are available by the day. Fernie Wilderness Adventures ( powdercatskiing.ca ) offers one-day packages for $450 (£244).
Revelstoke, British Columbia
A newly developed resort in the heart of heli-skiing country, with North America’s biggest vertical, and a snow record to match. In BC, but best reached from Calgary (four to five hours away).
Revelstoke is an extraordinary resort. Until 2007 it was a heli-skiing base with a small lift-served area for locals. Then a single chain of lifts was installed – a two-stage gondola and a fast chair – and suddenly it had displaced Whistler as the resort with the biggest lift-served vertical in North America (1,710m). There’s another fast chair on another flank of the mountain, and that’s it.
The snow record here is top-notch – 450in/11.4m a year – and appreciably better than Fernie’s 360in/9.1m. At 3,000 acres, the ski area is a bit bigger than Fernie’s, too. However, the forest here is generally denser, so how much of the terrain you can actually use will depend on your tree avoidance skills. The obvious exception to this is the steep-to-very-steep North Bowl, accessible by entries ranging from challenging to bonkers.
The cleared trails don’t amount to a great deal, but a distinctive feature is the top-to-bottom black runs. These aren’t super-steep, but all-in-all it’s not a great resort for intermediates.
The lift-base development is still embryonic – little more than one swanky hotel. But the nearby town of Revelstoke – generally a plain place, with some cute backwaters – has quite a few lodging options.
Slopes: 510m to 2,225m
Lifts: 5; Area: 3,120 acres ( revelstokemountainresort.com )
Guidance: The resort runs day ($118/£64) and half-day ($88/£48) Inside Tracks groups for intermediates and experts, taking you to the best spots inbounds.
Cat-skiing: The resort also operates cat-skiing on nearby terrain; available by the day ($475/£258) but gets booked up in advance.
Heli-skiing: Despite the new lifts, Revelstoke is still Canada’s heli-skiing HQ. One of the main heli-skiing outfits, Canadian Mountain Holidays ( canadianmountainholidays.com ) operates here, but doesn’t offer day skiing. Selkirk Tangiers ( selkirk-tangiers.com ) offers days of three or five runs for $895/$1,035 (£486/£562).
Five other great Canadian resorts
Red Mountain, British Columbia
Excellent steep-and-deep resort near the small, remote little town of Rossland (tucked away on the US border – fly to Spokane). Its appeal is broadened this year by a third mountain opening ( redresort.com ).
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
A modern village with mainly intermediate, wooded trails on three hills. Bang in the middle of BC – a long drive unless you fly to Kamloops ( sunpeaksresort.com ).
Big White, British Columbia
A modern village with a good snow record and generally gentle slopes – a great place to learn to tackle powder. Like Sun Peaks, a long drive from Vancouver or Calgary – fly to Kelowna ( bigwhite.com ).
Lake Louise, Alberta
More like an Alpine resort, with an unremarkable snow record but fine scenery (and extensive snow-making). Quite close to Calgary ( skilouise.com ).
Banff-Sunshine Village, Alberta Banff is a summer tourist town full of souvenir shops; Sunshine Village is a mid-mountain lift base, a 20-minute bus and long gondola ride away, with excellent snow (twice as much as Lake Louise) and varied terrain. Close to Calgary ( skibanff.com) .
The 2014 edition of 'Where to Ski and Snowboard’ edited by Dave Watts and Chris Gill is available online to Telegraph readers at a special discount of £14.99, including post and packing – £4 less than it costs in bookshops. See wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/telegraph .
The European Union is secretly developing a "remote stopping" device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room.
Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled "remote stopping vehicles" as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.
"The project will work on a technological solution that can be a 'build in standard' for all cars that enter the European market," said a restricted document.
The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.
Once enabled the engine of a car used by a fugitive or other suspect would stop, the supply of fuel would be cut and the ignition switched off.
The technology, scheduled for a six-year development timetable, is aimed at bringing dangerous high-speed car chases to an end and to make redundant current stopping techniques such as spiking a vehicle's tyres.
The proposal was outlined as part of the "key objectives" for the "European Network of Law Enforcement Technologies", or Enlets, a secretive off-shoot of a European "working party" aimed at enhancing police cooperation across the EU.
Statewatch, a watchdog monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU, have leaked the documents amid concerns the technology poses a serious threat to civil liberties
"We all know about the problems surrounding police stop and searches, so why will be these cars stopped in the first place," said Tony Bunyan, director of Statewatch.
"We also need to know if there is any evidence that this is a widespread problem. Let's have some evidence that this is a problem, and then let's have some guidelines on how this would be used."
The remote stopping and other surveillance plans have been signed off by the EU's Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security, known as Cosi, meaning that the project has the support of senior British Home Office civil servants and police officers.
Cosi, which also meets in secret, was set up by the Lisbon EU Treaty in 2010 to develop and implement what has emerged as a European internal security policy without the oversight of MPs in the House of Commons .
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the plan for threatening civil liberties and for bypassing the parliament.
"The price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique," he said.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the measure as "incredible" and a "draconian imposition".
"It is appalling they are even thinking of it," he said. "People must protest against this attack on their liberty and vote against an EU big Brother state during the Euro election in May."
In 2012, Enlets received a £484,000 grant from the European Commission for its declared mission to "support front line policing and the fight against serious and organised crime by gathering user requirements, scanning and raising awareness of new technology and best practices, benchmarking and giving advice".
The six-year work programme for Enlets also includes improving automatic number plate recognition technology and intelligence sharing. Although the technology for police to stop a vehicle by remote control has still to be developed, Enlets argues the merits of developing such a system.
"Cars on the run can be dangerous for citizens," said a document. "Criminal offenders will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to a lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely."
The introduction of stopping devices has raised questions of road safety. David Davis, the Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, warned that the technology could pose a danger to all road users.
"I would be fascinated to know what the state's liability will be if they put these devices in all vehicles and one went off by accident whilst a car was doing 70mph on a motorway with a truck behind it resulting in loss of life," he said.
"It is time legislators stopped believing technology is a form of magic and realised that is fallible, and those failures do real harm."
Despite seeing the potential fun of a worldwide drinking game, Fiona Parker says it’s difficult to ignore the very public peer pressure involved in NekNominations
The latest student social media craze is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an alcohol-based one.
Apparently originating in Australia, the #neknominate hashtag prompts participants to film themselves downing one or several drinks. Once the 'NekNomination' has been completed, challengers can nominate their friends to do the same within the caption of the video they post on social media.
However, some NekNominations have also included an extreme challenge as part of the game, leading numerous British students to exchange the extreme challenge for an extreme combination of ingredients in their drinks.
Others, more worryingly, have chosen to attribute the “extreme” aspect of the nomination to the sheer volume of alcohol they consume.
Whilst I can see the potential fun of a worldwide drinking game, it’s pretty difficult to ignore the very public peer-pressure which could be involved.
Anybody who sits down with a pack of cards around a pint glass is well aware of what they are letting themselves in for. However, an unsuspecting Facebook user who is “tagged” in a nomination on their friend’s status may feel a little less prepared.
Anna, a student from Sheffield shared from her Twitter account a picture of a pint of beer mixed with wine, cocoa powder and topped with marshmallows. The caption: “#neknominate – what is uni?”
“I genuinely think it's just a bit of fun”, she tells me. “All the people I know who've done it have done it because they found it funny and didn't feel pressurised at all. If they did, they wouldn't have to do it. It's just a bit of entertainment on boring nights in.”
While a boozy hot chocolate may be relatively harmless, other NekNominations have proved more sinister. NekNominate videos, which show young people downing multiple, full bottles of spirits and liquors consecutively, are being accused of promoting over-drinking.
Needless to say, health and policing bodies have wasted no time in pointing out the dangers of this latest Internet trend. However, it's not only student livers and lives that could be at stake. The public aspect of the nominations have raised concerns of cyberbullying for those who refuse to accept.
Yet, even for those who willingly do take part, isn't this challenge simply idolising the dreaded “lad culture”?
"Whilst I thought it started off as a sports team thing, it appears to have gone viral and has now taken up my whole Facebook feed”, explains Tom, a student from York. “I am not really pro or anti it, I just think it is another silly fad that will be gone in a month or so, just like the 'Harlem Shake'. It is kind of promoting drinking and 'lad culture' if there is such a thing. I just choose to ignore it.”
By mid-February 2013, approximately 12,000 Harlem Shake videos had been posted on YouTube, amassing more than 44 million views. We would do well not to underestimate the power of the viral craze.
While students can make up their own minds whether to participate, the glorification of the dangerous levels of alcohol consumed in some of the videos is undeniably disturbing and it's crucial to remember that the dangers of “lad culture” do not centre solely on gender issues.
Fortunately, there are other ways to put your views across. On receiving his NekNomination, Brian, a London-based student, made the brave decision to take the whole thing with a pinch of salt – or whatever the measurements are in a can of Heinz.
"After being nominated, I drank some warm baked beans with a small measurement of beer. I'd like to think that my friends were well aware that I was trying to take a dig at 'lad culture' in a pathetically funny way.
"The NekNominate game is obviously ridiculous; but there are some interesting – and importantly, funny – ways to subvert it other than online police warnings, which was how I first heard of it. Immediately after the NekNomination I had some water and went to bed – I’m a student and essay deadlines are next week."
Some names have been changed to protect identities.
Fiona Parker is a third year English Literature Student at the University of York @Fi_Pee
Q: I am a 45 year-old with a sedentary job. Can you give me any advice on how to generally get some energy back, and to get rid of my beer belly? I work five or six 10-hour shifts each week, driving a taxi. At the moment, I play five-a-side once a week. I am looking for results long term and would be willing to try anything. My diet is not bad but could be better.
Leonard M, by email
A: Sara Stanner writes
Many people with jobs such as yours that require you to sit most of the day, find themselves putting on weight, particularly around the middle – something we are all prone to with age.
Even if you regularly hit the gym or play a sport each week, sitting for most of the day can lead to a gradual increase in unwanted pounds. But it is great that you are thinking about the long term as this suggests that your motivation for trying to lose weight is primarily your health.
A large middle increases your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. But crash diets are not the answer for anyone who needs to keep their concentration sharp at work: they will leave you tired, lacking in energy and irritable. At the end of the day, the only way to lose weight, including around your stomach, is to burn more calories than you consume. But this is difficult for people in sedentary jobs where there is little opportunity to be physically active and it is easy to be tempted by high fat/sugar snacks.
There are some good apps now that make calorie counting much easier and you may find these useful, especially initially to get a good view of how much you are eating and the number of calories you need to cut down to achieve a steady rate of weight loss.
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is an important strategy for losing weight and keeping it off.
To control your appetite during the morning opt for foods containing high levels of fiber and protein, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer. You can get lots of “on the go” breakfasts now like porridge pots (you only need to add hot water), ready-to-eat muesli with fruit and low fat yogurt and a variety of cereal pots – try to opt for whole-grain breakfast cereals or read the food labels to look for those higher in fibre and low in sugar.
As it can be difficult to eat healthily while on the road, be prepared and pack healthy meals, snacks and drinks. Make sure you have some healthier snacks to hand to keep your energy levels topped up, such as whole-grain crackers with a small portion of cheese, fresh fruits like bananas, apples or grapes, dried fruit or a small bag of unsalted nuts.
And watch what you drink – always have water to hand, use lower fat milk for tea/coffee and cut back on sugar-containing drinks including fruit juice as these are an added source of calories.
Look for ways to be as active as possible when you are on breaks – even a short walk will burn excess calories.
A: Tony Gallagher writes
For someone in your occupation immobility is the enemy, in the sense that it diminishes energy levels and retains body fat. Additionally, London taxi driving is particularly demanding on memory as demonstrated in a study led by the University College of London. Exercising your body will help keep your brain alert as well as counteracting the back, neck, shoulder pain, general muscle strain and the lack of energy you describe.
Ideally it would be very useful if you could get up and move about for five minutes or so of every hour.
We should be taking inspiration from New York, where there is an appreciation of the challenge that cab drivers face, given the long stretch of immobility they endure. “Taxi yoga” classes are in place, geared specifically to them. The aim is to promote exercises and breathing techniques for the body and mind with a focus on the lower back, neck, and shoulders. Relaxation techniques, a healthy diet and general body awareness are also emphasized. If you can manage to find a bit of time during your shift, doing simple mobility exercises in a slow, controlled manner will re-energize you.
Starting with your neck, slowly look up and look down 10 times. Follow this by slowly looking to the left then back to the centre and then look to the right. Repeat this five times. Drop your head to the side, trying to touch your shoulder with your ear, then repeat on the other side.
Moving to your shoulders, rotate them forward and then backwards (in a controlled manner) five times. Stretch your chest by pulling both shoulders backwards and holding this position.
Stretch your back by bringing both your arms to the front, crossing them and then pushing them away from you.
If sitting down (but not in the driving seat), slowly kick one leg out in front of you and back in again. Repeat this 10 times, then do the other leg. To rotate your trunk while sitting down, looking behind you, return to centre and then look the other way. Repeat five times.
Rotate your wrists clockwise and anticlockwise several times.
If you can get out of the taxi, hold on to the door handle and place yourself in a squatting position: hold this pose for a few seconds, then return to standing. Repeat several times. This is a great release for your lower back.
Finally, stand with hands on your hips and bend the upper torso backwards as far as is comfortable – this counteracts the effects of sitting with your back bending slightly forward at the steering wheel for most of the day. Try and keep the exercises flowing so you are constantly moving. You will feel the tension abate as you do them.
As regards weight loss, it is not possible to “spot reduce” fat from one area only, so your beer belly is best tackled by a combination of better diet, as Sara says, and an overall increase in exercise. You’ll probably find that if you move more generally, even gently, during the day, you’ll have more energy for a vigorous workout at other times in the week. Can you play five-a-side more than once a week? Or go for a jog when you’re off duty? The more weight you lose, the more energy you will have and it will have a snowball effect.
Nausea with no cause
Q: My daughter is 12 years old and has been feeling nauseous for a year now. For the last six weeks she has been feeling worse. It’s just the constant terrible nausea and we don’t know what it is. I was wondering if you have heard of this before? The GPs we’ve seen don’t know what it is. She has been for blood tests and to see a specialist but still has the constant nausea.
A: Dr Dan Rutherford writes:
Persistent nausea over months, in the absence of vomiting or any other symptom of ill health, is unusual. Nausea and abdominal discomfort, particularly in children, do not always have a physical cause and this makes diagnosis more difficult. A short course of an effective anti-acid medicine like omeprazole should clarify if stomach acid reflux is the problem, as response to treatment is swift. Gallstones are not unknown in children and are easily detected with an ultrasound scan. There are some rare causes such as hormone deficiencies but there would usually be a pointer to them from the blood tests, so these are less likely.
Chronic anxiety should be quite high up the list of potential explanations. Could there be bullying happening, or undue worry over some aspect of schoolwork or home life? Given the length of time this has been going on it may help to now get an opinion from a child psychiatrist. If this points away from a psychological cause then one needs to reconsider the diagnosis, possibly with the help of other paediatric specialists.
Sony is in talks with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners to sell its loss-making Vaio personal computer division, according to reports
A new company would be set up by Japan Industrial Partners to take over the Vaio brand's operations in Japan, Reuters claimed. Financial details and stake holdings in the new entity were still under discussion.
Sony is also considering a withdrawal from overseas PC markets among its options, a source told Reuters.
The Nikkei business daily reported that the Vaio PC unit would be sold for up to 50bn yen (£301m) and that Sony would retain only a small stake in the new company.
The Catholic Church continues to harbour pedophile priests and should immediately turn them over to the authorities, the United Nations said in a scathing report on the Vatican’s decades-long failure to tackle the scandal of predatory clergy.
In a damning critique of the Holy See’s attempts to shield abusive clergy from prosecution, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said that tens of thousands of children had been sexually exploited by priests and nuns in the past and that fresh victims continue to be abused.
The committee of independent experts said it was “gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed...and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by, and the impunity of, the perpetrators.”
Abusive priests in many countries had simply been moved from one diocese to another, allowing “many priests to remain in contact with children and to continue to abuse them.”
Children in many countries around the world were still at “high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children.”
The report was released after the committee last month subjected Vatican officials to a sustained grilling over the Holy See’s failure to protect children in the care of Catholic institutions and its complicity in covering up crimes.
It said "the committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by, and the impunity of, the perpetrators," the report said.
It called for the sex abuse commission that Pope Francis announced in December to conduct an independent investigation of all cases of priestly abuse and the way the Catholic hierarchy has responded over time, and urged the Holy See establish clear rules for the mandatory reporting of abuse to police.
The committee issued its recommendations after subjecting the Holy See to a daylong interrogation last month on its implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the main international treaty ensuring children's rights. During that session, the committee's independent experts grilled the Holy See on its protection of children, working from reports prepared by victims groups and human rights organizations.
The committee's recommendations are non-binding and there is no enforcement mechanism. Rather, the UN asked the Vatican to implement the recommendations and report back by 2017. The Vatican was 14 years late submitting its most recent report.
While most attention has focused on child sex abuse, the committee's recommendations extended far beyond into issues about discrimination against children and their rights to adequate health care. By making specific recommendations to review Vatican policies on abortion and contraception, the committee waded deep into core church teaching on life. As a result, such recommendations will certainly be dismissed by the Vatican, which has a history of diplomatic confrontation with the United Nations over reproductive health care and similar issues.
Church teaching holds that life begins at conception; the Vatican therefore opposes abortion and artificial contraception.
The Vatican had no immediate comment.
Energy savers are, as a breed, a wonderful bunch of optimists and eccentrics. They believe their ideas will work despite sharp intakes of breath from builders, spouses and experts. They enthusiastically measure their energy use with gas and electricity monitors, with leak detectors and digital thermometers. They tirelessly prowl their homes searching for invisible sources of draughts.
Take Martin Normanton, a retired accountant from Walsall. He and his wife, Jane, live in a handsome late-Victorian red-brick semi which Martin has been progressively retrofitting to reduce fuel bills for several years. “I’m an accountant so I’m very keen on what’s effective,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense for your pocket or the environment to let your heat escape outside.”
One of the first pieces of DIY insulation he installed was against the outside ground floor wall, which also forms a wall of a lean-to garage. Martin hung lengths of fiberglass insulation, secured with a batten, from the top of the wall and then clad the fibreglass with reclaimed old doors that his neighbor was throwing out. “This made significant heat savings and so I started insulating walls inside the house too.”
Martin then tackled the main bedroom using rigid expanded polyurethane boards, making sure he sealed the joins between the boards to prevent warm air condensing against the cold external wall. “Although we are in most of the day, the heating goes off at breakfast and doesn’t come on again until 5pm.”
So far, this winter has been reasonably mild, if wet. However, energy bill rises and stagnating incomes are pushing increasing numbers of households into fuel poverty. Many more households now find fuel bills a worryingly high portion of the family budget.
The energy savers recommend starting small, appreciating the savings and then doing some more. Jill Goulden, for example, an archaeologist who lives in a late-19th-century terrace in Lewes has, over the years, reduced her bills by hundreds of pounds. “One of my favourite 'easy wins’ is acrylic secondary glazing, attached to frames with a magnetic strip. It’s unobtrusive, easy to install and stops draughts dead. It’s only about £60 a window,” she says ( diyplas.co.uk ).
Donnachadh McCarthy, who lives in an early Victorian terrace in Camberwell, south London and who now has a “carbon neutral” 170-year-old house, says one of the easiest savings he made was to switch his oven and washing machine off at the wall when not in use. “Just keeping those little red lights on when not being used cost me £28 a year,” he says.
Drummond Richardson, an IT programmer from Redhill says one of the best things he did was to insulate the concrete ground floor of his Sixties home with 5cm of polystyrene before topping it with a reclaimed wood school gym floor. “It cost me £50 and made a huge difference. Most people think about walls and lofts but the floor is as important too.”
Energy Savers’ Top Tips:
Martin: “Chair seat foam cut to shape makes a good chimney blocker. Chimney balloons can work with irregular-shaped chimneys.”
Jill: “I stuff crumpled newspapers in a carrier bag and shove that up the chimney for cost-free draught-reduction. Don’t forget to remove it when you want to light a fire.”
Donnachadh: “Replace halogen spots with LED ones. If you have 10 50-watt halogen lamps in one room, it costs you about £118 a year. Replace them with 10 5-watt LEDs and that reduces to £12 a year. If you can only afford to do one room, make it the living room. I also spent £2,000 internally insulating my living room, where I spend most of my time.”
Drummond: “I sleep on a raised bed, with my home office underneath it. All the warm air rises to where I sleep and I don’t need to have the heating on in my bedroom.”
For more information: superhomes.org.uk
Donnachadh McCarthy advises charities energy costs: 3acorns.co.uk
Cold Homes Week: February 3-7 promotes ways to improve the energy efficiency of homes. See: energybillrevolution.org/cold-homes-week/
When I open my email inbox each morning I am met with half a dozen emails from deal-of-the-day website Groupon.com, having signed up to the site a few months ago to see what it had to offer. I am one of more than 200 million worldwide subscribers to receive emails from them.
The American company, which started up in 2008, now has more competition in the “daily deals” sector, with the launch of Wowcher.co.uk three years ago, and Barclaycard’s Bespoke Offers (bespokeoffers.co.uk) launching in May last year.
These websites work by offering daily deals to their users at a discount. The businesses benefit because they get advertised to a new, wider range of potential customers, while the customers benefit because of the discounts.
For example, a restaurant could set aside 70 vouchers offering half-price dinners for users of Groupon, giving the customer a cheaper deal, and the restaurant a chance to reach new diners.
This model is different from the popular cashback sites, such as Topcashback and Quidco. These sites also offer streams of special offers to their subscribers, but here shoppers collect cashback payments – effectively commission paid by the retailer to the website then passed back to the consumer.
Wowcher and Groupon, by comparison, tend to offer a more random selection of eye-catching deals, with an enticing “lucky-dip” element of stumbling upon a one-off bargain you actually want.
Both Wowcher and Groupon, however, have faced frequent criticism from users regarding customer service, quality of goods and the reportedly exaggerated original price of the items, which are alleged to make it seem as though customers are getting a bigger discount than they really are.
“Get up to 80pc off restaurants, attractions, hotels and more,” Wowcher’s website claims, yet users of the site have taken to internet forums like trustpilot.co.uk to complain about their negative experiences. One user questioned the “real” original prices quoted, while another said “they are misleading with hidden costs”.
Groupon attracts similar complaints on online forums, with one disgruntled user saying: “Each item I have bought through this site has broken within the first week of using. Obviously the companies can’t sell these goods without massive discounts.” Another said: “The deals seem good but Groupon doesn’t live up to what it claims.”
In 2012, the consumer watchdog cracked down on Groupon after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints over its misleading promotional deals. The Office of Fair Trading found that Groupon had breached consumer protection regulations and insisted the company implement changes. It was told to ensure that “reference prices (adverts that compare an original reference price against a sale price), including savings, are accurate, honest and transparent”.
In 2013 the ASA was still receiving complaints about both Groupon and Wowcher, with 87 complaints about adverts by Groupon, two of which were formally investigated and upheld, and 57 complaints in connection with Wowcher.
A spokesperson for Groupon said: “We are committed to the honest and accurate, fair and transparent communication of our prices to our customers, and we strive to ensure that such communications accurately and clearly represent if, what and how customers will save by purchasing a Groupon voucher.”
While Wowcher said: “We take the verification of original prices very seriously. Prior to any product or service going live on the site, Wowcher will undertake a combination of checks, including obtaining invoices from the merchant verifying original price, obtaining current price lists from merchants and performing mystery calls to the merchant to check pricing.”
The offers I receive in my mailbox are often bizarre and entirely female focused. Although the sites would not admit the male-to-female ratio of the subscribers, it appears an overwhelming majority of deals are aimed at women.
One offer sent to my mailbox was “Gastric Band hypnosis”, at £25 instead of the usual £599.98 I could be hypnotized into eating less. For another £24.99 – down from £49.99 – I could buy an “Ab Toning Belt” to firm up my stomach.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “These deal-of-the-day websites often pump out a constant stream of daily offers, and a lot of them aren’t very good. I’m not saying people shouldn’t use them, but be prepared to rifle through all your emails to find the odd gem in there.
“Sometimes consumers can get the same discounts by going directly to the retailer, so always check the retailer’s own website first.”
Barclaycard Bespoke is a relatively new player in the daily deals market, but Mr Lewis said this does not mean the deals are any better. “Barclaycard Bespoke Offers is still trying to build its marketing share, so some of the deals can be quite good. However, it is not very different to the other deal-of-the-day sites, and most of what they offer is fairly poor.”
If you don’t mind browsing through the many emails from deal-of-the-day websites, there are some deals that offer attractive discounts. Barclaycard Bespoke customers can get 20pc off Valentines flowers from Flowers Direct, available until February 13, while Groupon customers can buy tickets to the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester on March 8/9 for £6, rather than £12, available to buy until March 5. See below for more of the best deals.
Morphy Richards 8-piece pan set with free delivery: £59 (originally £199.99) Available to buy until Sunday
Thriller Love, The Lyric Theatre, West End: £24.50 (originally £51). Available to buy until February 15
iPhone 4/5 charging case from Chimp Electronics: £10/14 (originally £20). Available to buy until February 25
9-inch Android Tablet from D2D: £79 (originally £169.99). Available to buy until February 20
Luxury Spa Package at Chester Grosvenor Hotel: £49 (53pc off). Available to buy until February 27
12GB PS3 console from Jak: £134.99 (originally £189.95). Available to buy until February 10
The New York City Police Department is testing Google Glass to see if wearable computers could be useful in law enforcement.
Glass has a built-in camera that can record video and could potentially be useful in gathering evidence. It is also capable of running apps such as NameTag, which entered beta testing this week, that can photograph a person and identify them by scouring social networks for a match. If the device was widely adopted by police it could be set up with an app that allowed officers to search databases of known offenders and outstanding warrants in a similar way.
A ranking New York City law enforcement official told VentureBeat : “We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes. We’re looking at them, you know, seeing how they work.”
A spokesman for Google told VentureBeat that the company was not working with the police in an official test, so the NYPD has seemingly just registered itself on the beta testing program for the product.
In order to get the device a customer has to sign up to the Glass Explorer program and pay $1,500. Newly released frames also support prescription lenses but cost an additional $225 plus the optician’s charge to make and fit lenses.
Widespread adoption of Google Glass by police forces could be a huge sales area for the company, with the NYPD alone employing 34,500 staff.
But Google is facing a challenge in making Glass socially acceptable. Last month 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 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. 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 solution to the problem of corrective lenses.
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’.”
As millions of Chinese attempt to return home after New Year celebrations, irate travelers are seen smashing computers and chairs at one airport
A “riot” broke out at a major Chinese airport on Thursday night after more than 2,000 passengers were left stranded because of heavy snow.
Furious, marauding passengers were seen “smashing computers and chairs” at Xinzheng International Airport in Zhenghou, Henan province, the Global Times newspaper reported.
One passenger gained access to the airport’s control room where she “beat” staff and doused one employee with an unidentified beverage, the Henan Business Daily said.
“Are you allowed to vandalise an airport just because your plane is delayed?” asked one incredulous micro-blogger. “Why didn’t the police take action?”
Photographs posted on Chinese social media showed the aftermath of the disturbance, which came during the annual travel rush at the end of Chinese New Year festivities.
The images showed passengers clambering over check-in counters, debris scattered over the airport’s main concourse and police apparently trying to calm the crowds.
One picture showed a sign for Southern Airlines that appeared to have been half-ripped from the wall while another showed people sitting on top of an X-ray machine.
The violence came on the last day of China’s seven-day “Spring Festival” holiday as tens of millions of travellers attempted to return home after visiting relatives during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
At around 4.30pm heavy snow forced Zhengzhou’s airport to close and caused around 100 flights to be delayed, according to local reports.
Between then and 10pm, when the airport reopened, irate passengers reportedly vented their anger by hurling furniture and equipment around the packed terminal.
One exasperated airport employee took to the Twitter-like micro-blog Weibo to voice her outrage at what state media labelled a “riot”.
“We have been working for 24 hours, non-stop, without closing our eyes,” the woman wrote, in a post that was later deleted. “We dare not go outside [the office] since we would be surrounded and verbally abused.”
China’s commercial airline industry has been growing at breakneck pace since the turn of the century and the country is expected to have at least 230 airports by the end of next year.
Yet the industry has struggled to keep up with demand, leading to frequent delays and increasingly violent episodes of “air rage”.
The pressures on airports are particularly severe during the 40-day “Spring Festival” travel season. This year Chinese travellers are expected to undertake a massive 3.62 billion trips between mid-January and the end of February.
In March last year a British businessman recounted witnessing an elderly man being applauded by other passengers after he attacked a stewardess in response to a four hour delay.
“He went completely mental and stormed up the plane and into the business class. I heard a punch and looked up and he was attacking the stewardess," Graham Fewkes told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
“What surprised me was that passengers were applauding as the man was hitting her.”
Such attacks have prompted drastic measures. Hong Kong Airlines now requires its staff to undergo six hours mandatory training in Wing Chun, a martial art.
“Kung Fu training is widely seen as a way of responding to [air rage],” state media reported last year. “Many believe it will make angry travellers think twice about resorting to violence.”
On Friday, Chinese internet users greeted reports of the riot with a mixture of anger and understanding.
“While we should condemn all the smashing, making passengers wait for hours, without offering them an explanation, food or accommodation [is unacceptable],” wrote one. “How could they expect those with hot-tempers to keep their cool?”
A young soldier who fought off a fierce Taliban assault despite having his back broken by a huge car bomb attack has received the country’s second highest gallantry award at Buckingham Palace.
Cpl Josh Griffiths was presented with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by the Prince of Wales for “exceptionally brave and selfless actions” which saved the lives of his wounded colleagues.
The 24-year-old of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment was sitting down to dinner at his patrol base in Afghanistan’s Nad-e Ali district in March last year when a minivan packed with half a ton of explosive blew a 40 yard hole in the perimeter wall.
The blast demolished the cookhouse where he was sitting and marked the start of an onslaught by insurgent gunmen who tried to storm into the base.
Cpl Griffiths, from Eastham, Wirral, Merseyside, came to amid the chaos of the flattened building, injured and surrounded by the cries of comrades.
He said: "I knew my friends were in trouble so I thought I've got to go out there and take the fight to them before anything happens to my lads.
"As I went out there fighting, I thought I've got to stay there. Rather than me getting killed or my mates getting killed I wanted to kill them first."
Facing what was described as “a torrent of machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades” he fought back with a light machine gun from close range to try to stop the insurgents overrunning the base.
His bravery helped turn the tide of the assault and halt the attack at the perimeter. As he was joined by uninjured comrades, he had the chance to retire from the fight to have his wounds tended, but instead he and the Sergeant Major led a small team to charge forward and defeat the insurgents.
It was only afterwards that he realised he not only had damaged his eye, but had also fractured a vertebra in his back in the original explosion.
The soldier added: "When I got taken back to Camp Bastion and was lying in a hospital bed I thought about what happened - replaying what happened in my head."
Cpl Griffiths received his award, second only to the Victoria Cross, at the same time another soldier was recognised for his bravery rescuing colleagues under fire when their vehicle was hit by a bomb in Helmand province.
Cpl Oliver Bainbridge, of The Royal Dragoon Guards, has been blown up at least three times during his military career and won the Military Cross for “personal courage, selfless commitment and inspired leadership".
The 25-year-old from Retford near Doncaster was commanding an armoured Jackal vehicle in November 2012 when it hit a homemade bomb, catapulting the gunner from the turret and injuring the driver.
The vehicle quickly came under fire from insurgents. Cpl Bainbridge grabbed the injured man, who had a suspected broken leg, dragged him to the bomb crater and shielded him until colleagues were able to evacuate him.
The soldier said: "Everybody on that vehicle was my responsibility, it's just second nature - you have to do what you have to do. He was only semi-conscious at the time and was in shock and didn't know what was going on."
The following month Cpl Bainbridge was blown up by a grenade as he fought insurgents in a compound, shattering his elbow and hitting his leg with shrapnel.
He said: "When my elbow was shattered I thought I had lost my arm - I didn't really know how bad it was. But I just had to get out of there.
"I could still run so you just have to dig in deep and get out - if it means crawling in ditches it's what you have to do.
"It's only afterwards when you get back to base and really think about it, and talk it through with other people involved that it hits home, that things were pretty close and you're lucky to be here."
Q: It seems to me that many of our modern 'ailments’ are linked to the mind as much as the body. Is there anything preventive that we can all be doing to safeguard our brain health and sense of wellbeing?
Julie Prince, Portsmouth
A: Dr Dan Rutherford writes
Many Eastern philosophies and health beliefs do not separate mental and physical health. In the West we’ve been slower to adopt the concept that mental wellbeing is something you can work at, like physical fitness. Most of the lifestyle changes that can improve our bodies will also help our minds and we can all benefit from knowing about them.
1. Exercise: It’s not only the cheapest antidepressant but it lowers the risk of depression happening in the first place. Regular exercise improves school academic performance at one end of the age scale and reduces the risk of memory loss at the other. Some is good, more is better.
2. Nutrition: A rainbow diet of multicolored fruit and vegetables that includes oily fish and watches the calories – your granny was right when she told you fish is brain food. Fish oil supplements, and possibly vitamin D, may add benefit. (Check with your pharmacist if you take prescription medication).
3. Nature: Is for all, not only “New Agers”. Exposure to the outdoors, natural sounds (including silence), sunlight (as opposed to artificial lighting) and fresh air, can all reduce stress and ameliorate or prevent depression. Just getting out of the office for a short walk is better than staying cooped up all day.
4. Relationships: Human beings are hard-wired to be sociable. Spending more time with family and friends and widening social group contacts tends to improve happiness and quality of life. Conversely, social isolation increases the risk of mental and physical ill health. We don’t yet know enough about the impact of social media relationships to judge how well these can replace face-to-face contacts.
5. Recreation: Resurrect an old hobby or try something new. If it’s an outdoor activity all the better but what matters is that it engages your concentration and intellect. Channel surfing with the TV remote does not qualify.
6. Relaxation and stress management: Anything from basic muscle relaxation techniques through to yoga and meditation may be what does it for you. Go to a class or teach yourself – there is plenty of self-help material out there. It will work best if you use it regularly.
7. Caring and service: Altruistic behavior such as voluntary work is positively associated with improved psychological wellbeing. In helping others we help ourselves, provided the level of care input is sustainable.
8. Openness about mental health: Mental ill health is common but remains stigmatized in our society. We are all at risk of being affected. Recognizing when problems are starting, seeking help early and being receptive to the mental health needs of those around us benefits everyone.
A: Sara Stanner writes
Just like other organs, the brain needs essential nutrients to function at its optimum so good nutrition has an important role in mental health and wellbeing, influencing concentration, alertness, mood and memory. It can also help to prevent deterioration of cognitive function, which is associated with diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Healthy eating is something that none of us, at any age, can afford to keep putting off.
Despite all the “super food” claims, no single food can be described as a “brain food”. But many nutrients influence cognitive function, including the B vitamins, the minerals magnesium, iron, iodine and zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and not least carbohydrate. Those following low-carb diets should remember that glucose is the brain’s preferred energy source, and maintaining a steady level prevents “highs” and “lows”. Eating regular meals that include starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, pasta or bread, provides a steady supply of carbohydrate to maintain the brain’s glucose requirement all day.
It is suggested that low glycemic index (GI) foods such as whole-grain foods (wholemeal bread, brown pasta, whole-grain breakfast cereals) are more likely to provide a steady supply of glucose, with benefits for mood, memory and energy levels, than the high GI foods that cause a sudden, short-lived glucose rise. Peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables also provide B vitamins including folate, as well as zinc, which can help to manage depression.
The brain is one of the organs with the highest level of fat, so a good supply of unsaturated fatty acids is also needed. Foods rich in unsaturated fats include vegetable-based oil or spread (olive, rapeseed, sunflower), nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been found in people suffering from depression. Oily fish is the best source of long chain omega 3s (DHA and EPA) but all seafood contains a range of nutrients that may be of benefit (and numerous population studies have concluded that countries with higher seafood intake, such as China, have lower instances of mental disorders). The key nutrients are selenium, iodine, zinc and vitamin B12, all of which are involved in brain function – in fact, low levels of these can be predictive of depression.
Fluid intake is also necessary for normal cognitive function – even mild dehydration can impair concentration as well as influence mood – so, whatever your age, take fluid regularly. However, don’t forget that alcohol has a dehydrating effect; drinking too much of it can lower your B-vitamin levels and make you more depressed and anxious. Make sure to limit your intake to no more than two to three drinks on no more than five days a week.
Caffeine, on the other hand, can aid memory and attention in the short term, especially in those who do not consume it regularly, but a high intake can cause jitteriness and anxiety, and interfere with sleep, all of which compound stress.
A: Tony Gallagher writes
While exercise is not a panacea for all ills, it definitely helps to proactively safeguard and encourage good mental health and general wellbeing. It acts as a de-stressor, improves heart function, promotes weight loss, prevents osteoporosis, reduces asthma problems, improves sleep patterns, prevents strokes and improves brain arousal – just a few of those benefits would make you wonder why we’re not all getting more exercise.
When people get depressed or anxious, they often feel they are not in control of their lives. Exercise gives them back control of their bodies and this is often the first step to feeling better. It could just prevent things from becoming overwhelming.
I know from personal experience, having had cancer treatment 10 years ago, that if I have to be ill, I would rather be fit and ill as opposed to unfit and ill.
There is also increasing belief that the greatest threat to health is not the ageing process itself, but rather inactivity. Despite awareness of the benefits, many of us still aren’t moving enough.
It’s heartening to see that forward-looking employers are now tackling inactivity and stress in the workplace, with exercise classes and seminars on coping with stress or anxiety, developing resilience and sleep issues.
Perhaps schools could introduce something similar for their children, appropriate for their age level, to help prepare them for the challenges in the outside world, and protect the next generation from these “modern ailments” as you call them.
Exactly 20 years ago, on the opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, a version of Edvard Munch's The Scream was stolen from Oslo's National Gallery. To mark the anniversary of the audacious heist here's a guide to the ten most expensive paintings currently on public display.
Painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Artist Gustav Klimt
Price $155.8m (adjusted for inflation) / $135m (original price)
Where can I see it? Neue Galerie, New York
Admission Adults $20, students/seniors $10 (free 6pm-8pm on the first Friday of every month)
Opening times Thurs-Mon 11am-6pm (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Painting The Scream
Artist Edvard Munch
Price $122.2m (adjusted) / $119.9m (original)
Where can I see it? The National Gallery, Oslo
Admission Adults NOK 50, students/pensioners/concessions NOK 30, under-18s free (free admission on Sundays)
Opening times Tues-Weds and Fri 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm (closed Mon)
Artist Jasper Johns
Price $118.3m (adjusted) / $110m (original)
Where can I see it? Museum of Modern Art, New York
Admission Adults $25, seniors $18, students $14, children 16 and under free (free admission Fridays 4pm-8pm)
Opening times Sat-Thurs 10am-5.30pm, Fri 10.30am-8pm
Painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Artist Pablo Piacsso
Price $114.3m (adjusted) / $106.5m (original)
Where can I see it? Tate Modern, London (on long-term loan from a private collection)
Opening times Sun-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm
Artist Vincent van Gough
Price $109.4m (adjusted) / $53.9m (original)
Where can I see it? The Getty Centre, Los Angeles
Opening times Tues-Fri and Sun 10am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-9pm (closed Mon)
Painting Massacre of the Innocents
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Price $99.7m (adjusted) / $76.7m (original)
Where can I see it? Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Admission Adults CAD 19.50, seniors CAD 16, students/youths (6-17) CAD 11, children (5 and under) free (free admission Wednesday nights 6pm-8.30pm)
Opening times Tues and Thurs-Sun 10am-5.30pm, Weds 10am-8.30pm (closed Mon)
Painting A Wheatfield with Cypresses
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Price $92.6m (adjusted) / $57m (original)
Where can I see it? The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Admission Adults $25, Seniors $17, Students $12, under-12s go free accompanied by an adult
Opening times Sun-Thurs 10am-5.30pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
Painting Portrait of Alfonso d’Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a Page
Price $88.8m (adjusted) / $70m (original)
Where can I see it? The Getty Centre, Los Angeles
Opening times Tues-Fri and Sun 10am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-9pm (closed Mon)
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Price $82.9m (adjusted) / $39.7m (original)
Where can I see it? The National Gallery, London
Opening times Daily 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-9pm
Painting Diana and Actaeon
Price $77.9m (adjusted) / $70.6m (original)
Where can I see it? Scottish National Gallery
Opening times Daily 10am-5pm (6pm in August), Thurs 10am-7pm
When it comes to connectivity, not all cities are created equal. But many are getting wise to the internet addiction of 21st-century travelers. Last year, Germany's national tourist board even launched its own Wi-Fi finder app, Youth HotSpot (Android, iOS; free).
And the world's Wi-Fi-friendliest cities are not always where you might expect.
This week Taiwan made it easier than ever for visitors to get online. Travelers can register ahead of arrival to receive 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotspots. The capital Taipei has hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots, all marked on a zoomable map. See itaiwan.taiwan.net.tw/FitTravelRegister.aspx
The city's multi-museum pass, the Firenze Card ( firenzecard.it ), costs 72 euros, but includes most major museums and public transport, and comes with 72 hours of free Wi-Fi at a network of hotspots run by the city. Sites are well spread around the centre, including in popular parks and piazzas. The Loggia dei Lanzi outdoor sculpture gallery must qualify as one of the world's most handsome Wi-Fi zones.
Tel Aviv, Israel
In 2013, Israel's startup capital launched a free Wi-Fi network for locals and visitors. Eighty hotspots are dotted around its centre, including along the Mediterranean promenade and in Old Jaffa. Just look for the “free_tlv” network.
Connecting in the Finnish capital is password-free and easy thanks to a network of hotspots in public buildings, civic squares and even on some buses and trams around the city ( consult the map ). In a hurry to get online? You can connect on touchdown at Helsinki Airport.
No surprises here: one of the world's most futuristic cities is also generous when it comes to laying on free internet. There are several free Wi-Fi networks, the key ones being GovWiFi (at parks, libraries, public buildings, ferry terminals and more) and MTR WiFi, which provides 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device up to five times every day at MTR stations. Buy the official Tourist SIM for your smartphone for HK$69 (£5.40) to add another 12,000 PCCW hotspots to the list.
Keeping up with the neighbours, Macau's WiFiGo service offers free internet for visitors every day between 8am and 1am. The network has around 150 hotspots, meaning there's usually Wi-Fi close by, including at ports, museums and tourist information centers. You are allowed 45 minutes in one session, before having to log off and reconnect. Search for the “wifigo” network, or check the coverage map .
Paris is another European city with a public Wi-Fi network. Visitors are free to use over 200 public hotspots for up to two hours at a time, as many times as they like. Just hunt for the “Paris Wi-Fi” network on your phone, tablet or laptop, including right next to Notre Dame. There is also a map .
New York, USA
There's no need to fork out for hotel Wi-Fi in the tech capital of the East Coast. Fast food restaurants and coffee shops usually oblige. There's also a free network of Wi-Fi in public spaces including in 16 parks and tourist magnets such as Times Square and the Battery Park ferry terminal. The city tourist office publishes several free Wi-Fi maps . At last count, 36 subway stations also offered free Wi-Fi, with another 40 scheduled to follow soon.
Australia's most connected city has thrown a net of free Wi-Fi over its central shopping, eating and business district. Perth Wi-Fi launched in November 2013, and the city already has plans to extend its blanket coverage to outlying areas, too. Visitors are allowed an hour's connection (or 50 megabytes) before they must reconnect.
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A disastrous brain operation left Henry Molaison forever stuck in the same moment. But his amnesia proved a gift to science.
I first met Henry Molaison more than half a century ago, during the spring of my third year in graduate school. I have tried to resurrect the details of my interactions with him that week, but human memory does not allow such excursions.
The explicit minutiae of unique episodes fade as time passes, making it impossible for us to vividly re-experience the details of events in the distant past. What I do know is that I was very excited to have the opportunity to study such a rare case as Henry, and I had spent months preparing.
Looking back at the results of all the tests he did that week, it was clear even then that the consequences of the operation carried out on him in 1957 – an experimental procedure to cure his epilepsy – had been catastrophic. Henry was left in a permanent state of amnesia, unable to retain any new information.
At the time of Henry’s operation, little was known about how memory processes worked. The extensive damage to the inner part of the temporal lobes on both sides of Henry’s brain made him a vital case study for memory researchers then and now.
As the years passed, his fame grew and eventually spread to countries outside North America – and all that time Henry was stuck in the same moment. From time to time, I would tell him how important and well known he was, and he would smile sheepishly, as the praise was already slipping out of his consciousness.
In his lifetime he was known as HM; only after his death, in 2008, was his identity revealed to the world.
I moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. There, we were fortunate to have a Clinical Research Center on campus where my colleagues and I could admit patients for days and weeks at a time to conduct research.
Henry visited us there on 50 occasions, and I got to know him better and better as the years went by. In addition to collecting groundbreaking data in our experiments, we also documented details of his medical condition and daily life.
His nursing home chart was replete with examples of persistently failed memory. Even after living there for years, he needed directions to his room, bathroom, and lounge areas.
Not only was he confused about finding his room but, once there, he was uncertain about which of the two beds was his and which side of the double closet housed his clothes. But occasionally, his memory was surprisingly intact.
In the Eighties, when he was still allowed to smoke, the staff noted, “Henry, at times, seems to exhibit a selective memory. He has absolutely no trouble remembering when and how many cigarettes he’s had and can at times recall staff names.”
During the same period, he was troubled by false memories. On several occasions during a period of three weeks, he insisted that another resident had a pillow that had been his father’s, stating, “It has great value to me.”
Then, one day, many years after his mother died, “Henry came out of the lounge and stated, ‘my mother is coming to visit me, and there are no chairs for her to sit in!’ When the nurse tried to convince Henry his mother wasn’t coming, he became very insistent, throwing himself backwards and almost falling.”
The note in his chart concluded, “It seems you have to agree with him, or he becomes quite upset.” For most of the day, Henry saved a chair “for mother”.
He never really knew who I was but, beginning in the Eighties, he would say that he knew me from high school. We had both grown up in the Hartford, Connecticut, area but he was 11 years older than I, and we attended high schools in different cities.
So, what gave him the idea that we were schoolmates? Over the years, he heard my name over and over, and saw my face on many occasions.
As a result of this constant exposure, he built up a sense of familiarity, a sense that he knew me, and this feeling likely became stronger over time.
I was not the only person he claimed he knew from high school. At his nursing home, there was at least one nurse whom he said he had encountered during those years. One of my fondest memories of him is that he created a special name for me: “Doctress”.
Henry was a gentle person, and also intelligent, friendly, and altruistic. In 1992, when I asked him how he felt about being a research participant, he said, “I don’t mind. What is found out about me helps you to help others.”
And that “I figure that’s more important in a way, and it helps restore my memory, too. And that’s the important part right there, I say to myself. Because I know that if I could get my memory back in a way, that others can do the same; and possibly they learn too.”
In talking with a student who was conducting a research project in my lab, Henry said, “It’s a funny thing, you just live and learn. I’m living, and you’re learning.”
I was able to track down a few of Henry’s high-school classmates, and they all described him as a quiet person who kept to himself, and they noted that he was very polite. He smiled a lot and enjoyed interacting socially, but he lacked initiative. He waited for people to speak to him, but when they did he was very conversational.
Among the memories of Henry that my colleagues and I cherish are his “Henryisms”. These were the trademark phrases that dominated his conversation, such as “I’m having an argument with myself,” “There I have a question with myself,” “Question mark,” and “Knock on wood”.
Why was he always having an argument with himself? His unrelenting amnesia kept him riding on the horns of a dilemma, which must have been unsettling. He could never be sure if he had acted improperly or like a gentleman, whether he had met a particular individual before, how old he was, what month and year we were in, and whether his memory for current events was accurate.
Henry knew that he was different, and unlike many of us who keep our cards close to our chest, he told us what was on his mind. His dream, his ambition, was to be a brain surgeon, yet he believed this career path was closed to him.
He cast himself as disqualified not because his academic credentials were insufficient but because he wore glasses. Even though he was an intelligent man, he did not consider the possibility that some neurosurgeons do wear glasses or that doctors often use a microscope to view the operating field. In this case, reason was trumped by Henry’s overriding concern that he would harm the patient.
Although he was a quiet person, his inner thoughts imagined various catastrophes. When he retreated into his imagination, he witnessed the tragic scenarios that might have occurred. This line of thought was not altogether fantasy because Henry’s neurosurgeon had deemed his operation experimental, and the experiment had failed.
Henry had amazing insight into his tragedy. He knew he had epilepsy and was constantly aware that he forgot things. He also knew that his operation had been tried on only a few people before him, and he had a sense that the outcome was not good.
In 1985, Henry shared these thoughts with a postdoctoral fellow in my lab, Jenni Ogden, a neuropsychologist from New Zealand:
Ogden: Do you remember when you had your operation?
Henry: No, I don’t.
Ogden: What do you think happened there?
Henry: Well I think it was, well, I’m having an argument with myself right away. I’m the third or fourth person who had it, and I think that they, well, possibly didn’t make the right movement at the right time, themselves then. But they learnt something.
We get a sense here that Henry had come to terms with his catastrophe. It is a challenge to fathom what it must have been like to live as Henry did, with his memory decimated.
We can imagine at least two scenarios. In the first, we would wake up every morning without a memory, and it would be like dropping into hell. We would be suspicious of any new person we encountered because we did not know whether the person was a friend or a foe, and we would be hesitant and guarded when confronting new people and places.
We would constantly be stressed, agitated, and mistrustful for fear that something bad would happen.
In a different scenario, we would greet every new person with a handshake and a smile, with a glass-half-full approach to the world. We would judge new people as friends, not foes, and we would be happy to engage in conversation with anyone who spoke to us.
Henry was the latter type, which made his life much more enjoyable than if he had viewed everyone as a potential enemy.
Henry’s operation took a toll on behaviours apart from memory. His sense of smell was almost completely eliminated by the removal of areas in his cortex that process the odours that enter our body through our nose.
All he was left with was the ability to say that one test sample contained an odour and another did not. He could not identify specific odours or tell whether two odour samples were the same or different.
When attempting to name odours, his responses were unusual. On one occasion, he called cloves “fresh woodwork”, and on another he said, “dead fish washed ashore”. We know that the smell of food and drink contributes to our appreciation of them, but fortunately Henry’s loss of smell did not inhibit his desire to eat and enjoy his meals.
Whenever I asked him whether he was hungry, he typically said, “I can always eat.”
In addition to removing the memory circuits in the temporal lobe, the surgeon took out his left and right amygdala, a complex structure that sits just in front of the hippocampus.
The amygdala is one of the main sites in the brain for processing emotions, especially fear, so we wondered whether Henry was ever fearful. His caregivers could not remember his being afraid of anything.
The one exception occurred in 1986, after he underwent hip-replacement surgery. His doctor told me that Henry was afraid of being alone, but that was temporary; he eventually returned to normal after the effects of the anaesthesia had worn off.
The damage to Henry’s amygdala did affect other behaviours, and in particular, he seemed to be out of touch with his internal states.
Even though he enjoyed his meals, he never commented on being hungry or thirsty, and he did not complain of pain unless it was extreme. On one occasion, when a psychiatrist asked Henry in various ways about his sexual desire, he indicated that he did not have any, and believed that he did not masturbate.
In other words, the operation rendered him asexual.
Although not interested in sex, Henry was sustained by a different kind of motivation. Throughout the time I knew him, he clung to the belief that his research participation would benefit other people, and it did.
His case alerted neurosurgeons that they must never remove the hippocampus and surrounding structures on both sides of a patient’s brain because if they did, the person would immediately become amnesic.
An offshoot of this knowledge was that neurosurgeons who wanted to remove key memory structures on one side of a patient’s brain (say the left) had to be sure that the corresponding structures on the other side (the right) were intact. If the right side were damaged, then removing the memory area on the left side would cause a bilateral lesion and guaranteed amnesia.
To protect against the possibility that Henry’s tragedy would be repeated, doctors devised a test that could be given before an operation to see whether the alleged “good side” was in fact undamaged.
The procedure was to inject each side, on separate days, with a drug that would temporarily inactivate one side of the brain. If patients showed impaired memory when the drug was given to the abnormal side, then the conclusion would be that the alleged healthy side was not functioning properly, and the operation would not be performed.
As crucial as this lesson was for science and medicine, Henry’s life had a more universal impact. He showed the world that you could be saddled with a tremendous handicap and still carry on with your life and make a significant contribution.
He did not complain or ask for pity, and he was always a willing and cooperative research participant. Henry engaged his strong intellect to cope as best he could, and his resilience continues to be inspirational to humanity.
He stood tall in the face of his limitations, and never gave in to his tragedy.
The project to impose political union is bringing economic ruin, making the legitimacy of the EU project ever more vulnerable
On the face of it, they seem worlds apart. Switzerland’s referendum vote against the free movement of labour, the ruling by the German Constitutional Court on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) attempts to save the euro, and the warning to Scotland that it won’t be allowed to keep the pound if it votes for independence – these might seem unrelated, but in truth they are all part of an increasingly explosive stand-off between the forces of national sovereignty on the one hand, and political and economic integration on the other.
With elections in May likely to give rise to the most Eurosceptic parliament in the EU’s history, Europe’s long-running financial and economic crisis is threatening to spill over into an all-encompassing political one. According to Berlin and Brussels, Europe’s dark night of the soul – its most serious crisis since the Second World War – is now essentially behind us, with the promise of a slowly recovering economy and renewed political harmony to come.
To my mind, it has hardly begun. Europe’s epic attempt to impose political union on widely divergent countries is being broken on the back of economic hardship, popular discontent, and financial disintegration.
Virtually all successful currency unions start with political union, and then proceed through shared insurance, institutions, and fiscal arrangements to a common form of exchange. Europe, it hardly needs saying, is trying to do it the other way round; it has forced monetary union on an unsuspecting public, and now, via the resulting financial crisis, hopes to bulldoze through the shared fiscal and political arrangements that might eventually make it work, culminating ultimately in a United States of Europe.
Supporters of Scottish independence propose a still stranger approach. They want to scrap what hitherto has proved a relatively successful political and fiscal union but, for the time being at least, keep the pound. Yesterday, George Osborne, Ed Balls, Sir Nicholas Macpherson and other members of the Westminster elite came together to deliver the inevitable verdict: the Scots cannot have national sovereignty as well as monetary union with the rest of the UK, whatever fiscal rules might be put in place to help sustain such an unstable construct. They must choose between self-rule and economic union.
It is a similar choice that now faces Switzerland, and indeed, Europe as a whole. Even in Germany, which so far has largely escaped the ravages of the eurozone crisis, the schism is becoming ever more apparent.
Last week, the German Constitutional Court did a remarkable thing; it outsourced final assessment of the ECB’s policy of doing “whatever it takes to save the euro” to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This seemingly innocuous passing of the buck can be read two ways.
To believers in the European project, it’s a positive development which removes a key threat to evolution of the single currency into a more sustainable form. Germany seems to have given up its right to veto whatever it deems to be monetary financing of struggling governments, and instead given the final say to the ECJ, which because it nearly always adopts an integrationist approach, is almost certain to give the thumbs up.
But there is a less benign way of looking at the German court’s ruling, for it contained a sting in the tail. Yes, the ECJ must decide, but the judges then went on to say that the ECB’s policies did indeed amount to monetary financing and were therefore in all probability illegal.
Next to God and the Bundesbank, there is no higher or more trusted authority in Germany than the Constitutional Court, so when the ECJ determines to contradict it, there’s going to be an almighty backlash. German acquiescence in the euro will begin to fracture.
In countries more obviously affected by the euro’s financial crisis, disillusionment with the European project and its institutions is already extreme. Traditional centrist parties are finding it ever harder to hold the line.
One of the points made in the Treasury’s analysis of Scotland and the pound is that if political commitment to currency union is thought to be lacking, then financial speculation against it will become self-fulfilling, creating capital flight, reinforcing economic problems and increasing the pressures for an exit.
In the eurozone, the will among senior policymakers to make the single currency work is undoubted, but they are increasingly out of touch with voters and are steadily losing their legitimacy. This progressive disconnect between the mainstream political class and its support base was at its most evident in reaction to the outcome of the Swiss referendum. Immediate retaliation was threatened. A similar kind of invective is reserved for British proposals to limit labour migration.
Yet Europe’s elite must know that all high-income countries would vote the same way as the Swiss given the chance. The arrogance of political leaders who think they know better may have been tolerable as long as Europe was growing. But today they deliver only economic ruin, making their position, and the legitimacy of the EU project, ever more vulnerable.
Stir all this together, and we see a possibly irresistible pull back to the principles of national sovereignty at a time when survival of the euro requires the very reverse – greater levels of fiscal, political and economic integration. A titanic struggle looms. And they say the eurozone crisis is over.