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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    mosul dam isis

    A major Iraqi fightback against the jihadists of ISIS will not start until next spring, according to leaks of Washington's strategy for the war.

    Iraqi ground troops will lead a counter-offensive in the west and north of the country, aiming to cut Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIS) supply lines to Syria, force them back on Iraq's second biggest city Mosul, and retake it by the end of 2015.

    They will be supported by 1,600 American troops currently advising and training the Iraqi army, and possibly more to be sent, but not taking part in operations. The United States will provide air power, as it is doing at present.

    The leak, published in the New York Times, gives one answer to a key issue for America's plans identified by analysts: the problem of training Iraqi troops even as they are trying to hold ISIS at bay.

    It says in the first instance only nine brigades of Iraqi troops, and three more Kurdish ones, will be trained, perhaps 24,000 men in total.

    The report assumes that the Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Shia militias currently fighting will be able to hold out until the spring. It also demands that a new Iraqi national guard will find recruits from among the Sunni population of ISIS-held areas to hold recaptured territory without alienating the local population.

    However, an ISIS offensive near Baghdad last week captured an area controlled by the Albu Nimr tribe, which had allied itself to the government. Around 200 captives, including women and children, have since been shot dead by ISIS, as a warning to other Sunni groups tempted to follow suit.

    SEE ALSO: Footage shot by ISIS shows one of its most horrific war crimes in detail

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    Albert EinsteinA new study from the University of Aberdeen suggests that Britons have been getting smarter every decade. Is it true — and if so, why?

    Since we all know that kids today are stupid and modern education is rubbish, it might seem unlikely that, in fact, humans have been getting steadily more intelligent for at least 100 years. But that is what a study, carried out by the University of Aberdeen, says; and, specifically, it says that during the years of rationing during and after the Second World War, there was a particular leap in smarts among Britons.

    Counterintuitive though they may be, the Aberdeen study's findings are not new. They are a confirmation of something called the "Flynn effect", which has been well documented for more than 30 years. (Note: I know intelligence and IQ scores aren't necessarily the same thing; however, there is almost certainly a large overlap, since scores in IQ tests are correlate very well with test scores in school and academia, as well as life success and social abilities.)

    James Flynn, an American political scientist, realised in the early Eighties that companies which sell IQ tests periodically recalibrate the tests. The average IQ of the population is, by definition, 100. But the actual number of questions you get right in the test depends on how hard the questions are. So if the population gets better or worse at answering the questions, the number of questions they get right will change, so the average will keep moving. Hence the need to change the scoring system, to keep 100 the average.

    What Flynn noticed was that the scores kept moving in one way, everywhere. They kept getting higher. The companies had to keep making it harder to get a 100, because people keep getting more intelligent and doing better at the tests.

    According to Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of our Nature, the effect has now been found in 30 countries, in both the developed and the developing world, and has been recorded for as far back as the First World War, when IQ tests were first issued in large numbers (there is a suggestion that it goes back even further, to Britons born in 1877, although the data is confused as those people were tested as adults).

    The gains are surprisingly large: about three IQ points per decade. That might not sound all that much, but, as Pinker puts it, "An average teenager today, if he or she could time-travel back to 1950, would have an IQ of 118. If the teenager went back to 1910, he or she would have an IQ of 130, besting 98 per cent of his or her contemporaries." To do it the other way, the average person in 1910 who stepped through a time-warp to today would have an IQ measurement of 70. That is, to quote Pinker again, "at the border of mental retardation".

    What's changed? One thing, which the Aberdeen study has noted, is straightforward: improved diets and health. For the same reason, each generation tends to be taller than the last. Your genes give you a maximum potential height, but if you are undernourished during childhood, or suffer from disease or parasites, you won't reach that potential: the equivalent is true of the brain, as well as the rest of the body.

    The more interesting reason, though, is that we seem to have become better at abstract reasoning. When you break down where the improvements have come, it's not so much on the general knowledge questions, or those involving vocabulary or maths; it's on the abstract questions, such as "GLOVE is to HAND as SHOE is to what?" or the puzzles where you have to work out what the fourth picture should be.

    Flynn hypothesises that people nowadays have far more use for this sort of abstraction. For instance, he quotes a study in which rural peasants in Russia — people who lived lifestyles much more like those of our ancestors — were asked logical, IQ-style questions. The responses were interesting. If the questioner asked a modern, Western person "All bears are white where there is always snow; in Novaya Zemlya there is always snow; what color are the bears there?", the respondent would probably complete the syllogism and work out that the Novaya Zemlya bears are white. But a typical answer was: "I have seen only black bears and I do not talk of what I have not seen."

    When the questioner pushed further, asking "But what do my words imply?", the respondent said: "If a person has not been there he can not say anything on the basis of words. If a man was 60 or 80 and had seen a white bear there and told me about it, he could be believed."

    As Flynn says, this is perfectly sensible. The peasant is saying that he doesn't know what colour bears are in Novaya Zemlya, so what's the point of asking? But those sort of answers don't get points in IQ tests. In modern, Western societies, though, what Flynn calls "scientific" thinking has become standard. We are used to dealing in logical abstractions. And this has had huge advantages: it represents, at least according to Flynn, "nothing less than a liberation of the human mind. The scientific world-view, with its vocabulary, taxonomies, and detachment of logic and the hypothetical from concrete referents, has begun to permeate the minds of post-industrial people. This has paved the way for mass education on the university level and the emergence of an intellectual cadre without whom our present civilisation would be inconceivable."

    So, yes, we have become smarter — at least in the IQ sense, which is the form of intelligence most important to modern living.

    The question is whether it will continue — after all, at some point, presumably, we will reach a sort of maximum, the limit to which environmental and cultural changes can improve intelligence. A study in 2009 found that in Britain, the Flynn effect may have slowed or even reversed. Similar results have been found in Denmark and Norway (NOTE: although since this piece was published Stuart Ritchie on Twitter has pointed out that a meta-analysis in September of this year found no such result ).

    If the Flynn effect in the Western world is slowing, it may mean that the apparent IQ gap between the developed and developing worlds will begin to close, since the low-hanging fruit of dietary and health improvements and cultural changes are still there to be plucked in poorer countries.

    SEE ALSO: A Virus Found In Lakes May Be Literally Changing The Way People Think

    SMARTEN UP: 3 Things You Can Literally Learn In Your Sleep

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    Italy busA northern Italian town has been accused of introducing "apartheid" after its mayor put forward a proposal to run a separate bus line for Roma people.

    The controversial initiative to operate a double bus line along a route used by Roma people to arrive at their large encampment in the town of Borgaro was proposed at a community meeting on Thursday by Democratic Party mayor Claudio Gambino. It came in response to ongoing abuse and theft on the now-infamous Bus 69.

    "Two lines. One for us and one for them," Mr. Gambino said to applause, according to Italian media reports. "I will talk to the police commissioner about it. It seems to be the only solution. This way we will resolve the problem without anyone losing out."

    Residents of Borgaro, a small suburb of 13,000 residents north of Turin have long complained of pickpocketing and abuse by Roma on Bus 69, known locally as "the gipsy bus," which runs along the ring road of Turin and stops near a camp near the airport where nearly 1,500 Roma live in makeshift barracks. Passengers have reported being spitted on and bullied physically, including one girl whose hair was cut.

    The latest incident was an aggressive attempted theft of a mobile phone from a 13-year-old girl whose father demanded a meeting with the mayor.

    Writing in the Italian daily La Stampa, editorialist Massimo Gramellini defended the mayor's approach, calling it "apartheid not linked to racial prejudices but rather illegal behaviour."

    "For too long the 69 Line has been a nightmare for the residents of Borgaro," he said.

    But Borgaro's plan drew criticism nationally for its racist undertones. Undeterred, the "sheriff mayor" Mr Gambino has vowed to push forward, noting that other solutions such as having municipal police on the bus have failed. On Friday he urged police and transport authorities for a "rapid and radical" solution for the "no-man's land" bus line.

    "I reject every accusation of racism," Mr Gambino told Italian media. "It is not about xenophobia, but security and legality."

    Politicians in the far-right Lega Nord party chided the "hypocrisy of the left," but also suggested similar measures be extended to buses in Rome.

    Nationally and regionally, however, a number of centre-left politicians distanced themselves from the proposal, calling it indecent and unacceptable.

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    Amanda KnoxAmanda Knox, the American woman twice convicted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy, has begun working as a cub reporter on her local newspaper in Seattle.

    The 27-year-old has taken on freelance assignments for the small circulation West Seattle Herald, initially under a pseudonym but lately in her own name.

    Among her first reports was a review of a high school production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the play by British writer Tom Stoppard which is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

    Knox was found guilty for the second time in January of the 2007 murder of Kercher, who was found with her throat cut in the house they were sharing in the Italian town of Perugia.

    She has denied always killing Kercher with her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito and another friend while trying to force her to take part in a group sex session.

    While “Foxy Knoxy” as she became known during the long legal process which followed the murder is seen as a sinister figure in the UK and Italy, she is viewed with sympathy in the United States, and in her home city of Seattle in particular.

    Her family conducted a high profile campaign to attempt to clear her name before she was freed in 2011 after serving four years in an Italian prison.

    She is appealing the second conviction, which was accompanied by a 25-year sentence, and has been allowed to remain in the US while she waits for the appeal to be heard.

    Patrick Robinson, the West Seattle Times' Web Editor, said the paper contacted Knox and invited her take on the role in order to help her adjust to life outside of jail.

    amanda knox reporter

    He told the Daily Beast: “We approached her originally to give her the opportunity of a normal life.

    “We simply asked her as we would ask anyone of that age and stage, if they would be interested in writing for us as a qualified writer of that scale and this level of journalism.

    “She’s certainly been through as lot and been very easy to work with and very interested and eager in doing stories.”

    “It doesn’t matter what people say or think - the truth is that she’s a West Seattle resident, she grew up here. Why not give her the opportunity to be an actual human being versus a celebrity?”

    In her review of the West Seattle High School’s Drama Club performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, based on the minor Shakespeare characters who Hamlet sends to their death, Knox praised the director for deliberately confusing the audiences by having different actors play the characters.

    She wrote that the play: “is notorious for turning Hamlet on its head and questioning everything one takes for granted: time, space, identity, reality, fate, freedom.”

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    turkey palace

     Turkey’s new president has been accused of behaving like a “sultan” after he installed himself in the biggest residential palace in the world, built for a price tag of £384 million.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan now resides in the White Palace, which was constructed in breach of court orders in protected forest land in the capital, Ankara.

    turkey palace

    Boasting 1,000 rooms covering a total floor area of 3.1 million square feet, the palace is four times the size of Versailles, allowing Mr Erdogan to exceed the residential grandeur of Louis XIV, the “Sun King” of France.

    Inside the palace, a majestic hallway leads up to a sweeping staircase. The quixotic architectural style seems to cross the Ottoman and Seljuk traditions with that of a modern Chinese railway station.

    The bathrooms have silk wallpaper and the whole edifice is surrounded by a forested park. Hundreds of trees were felled to make way for the president’s new home.

    turkey palace

    Mr Erdogan, who designed much of the White Palace himself, has also taken the precaution of installing an underground bunker.

    Mehmet Simsek, the Turkish finance minister, said the total cost of the complex amounted to £384 million – twice the earlier estimate.

    turkey palace

    Critics of Mr Erdogan, who won the presidency in August, denounced the project as a folie de grandeur. “The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s party.

    “You cut down hundreds of trees to build yourself this palace.”

    turkey palace

    Mr Erdogan served as prime minister for 11 years before ascending to the presidency. Although his AK party does not hold the two thirds majority in parliament required to amend the constitution, his ambition is to turn this traditionally ceremonial post into the new centre of power in Turkey.

    Unlike all previous presidents, Mr Erdogan routinely chairs cabinet meetings. He has also spent £115 million on a new presidential jet, designed and supplied by Airbus to his own specification.

    As for critics of his new palace, Mr Erdogan said: “No one can prevent the completion of this building. If they are powerful enough, let them come and demolish it.”

    Here is a video tour of the palace:

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    rurik jutting

    Four days after two Indonesian sex workers are found dead at the home of University of Cambridge graduate Rurik Jutting, police crack down on Hong Kong’s red light district

    Dozens of police raided neon-lit prostitution joints and bars in Hong Kong on Wednesday night following the vicious murders of two women at the nearby home of British banker Rurik Jutting.

    At around midnight, plainclothes and uniformed agents swept into the Neptune III Disco, a basement dance club in the Wan Chai red light district, past a sign, in English and Chinese, that read: “No immoral activities, No soliciting”.

    Inside the smoky nightclub dozens of scantily clad women, the majority Filipinas, crowded around the bar and mingled with western men in suits.

    Police officers demanded to see work and immigration documents from the women and left around 10 minutes later without making any arrests.

    Officers and police vans were also positioned on street corners around the red light district – an unusual sight, according to locals. The sale of drugs and sex went on unabated.

    Asked if the police operation was connected to the murders of two Indonesian women at Mr Jutting’s nearby flat, one officer told The Telegraph: “There is a little bit of a relationship.”

    The raids came nearly four days after the bodies of two Indonesian women were found at Mr Jutting’s nearby home, which is just two blocks from Hong Kong’s gritty entertainment district.

    Sumarti Ningshi, a 25-year-old mother-of-one, was killed at Mr Jutting's flat on October 27 and subsequently stuffed into a suitcase, police believe. Her friend Seneng Mujiasih – a 32-year-old better known as Jesse Lorena – is thought to have been stabbed to death in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    Just hours earlier she stopped outside her local Wan Chai pub and told friends: “I’m going to have fun”.

    Rurik Jutting victimsMr Jutting, who until recently worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, appeared in court on Monday morning to be charged with the crimes. A reconstruction is expected to take place on Friday.

    Wan Chai’s sex workers – impoverished young women who in many cases work to support young children back home - say they have been left shaken by the killings. Their reluctance to speak openly about the crime is compounded by the fact that many are working illegally in the former British colony.

    “I’ve seen him in here a few times,” one Filipina sex worker, who was at the Neptune III Disco, said of Mr Jutting.

    Another woman, who is from the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, ran her finger across her throat. “It could have been one of us,” she said.

    Police say they found a small quantity of cocaine at Mr Jutting’s flat and the second sex worker said it was common to see well-off expats using drugs, particularly cocaine, in Wan Chai. A gram of the drug costs around HK$1,000 (£80.50). “It’s so normal here,” said the woman.

    Mr Jutting, a 29-year-old University of Cambridge graduate, is believed to have met both of the murdered women in bars near his 31st floor flat at the upmarket “J Residence”.

    He met Ms Lorena late last Friday night at the New Makati Pub & Disco, a first floor nightclub which the Lonely Planet guide describes as “sleazy pick up joint” frequented by “white male booze-hounds". On Wednesday night a man who identified himself as the club’s manager refused to allow journalists into the club or to answer questions. Local sex workers said Mr Jutting had been a regular patron of the New Makati.

    The British banker is believed to have met Sumarti Ningshi at another nearby club called the Hong Kong Café.

    However, Anthony Chan, its manager, denied ever having seen Mr Jutting.

    “I would remember it,” he said. “He was a big guy. He looked like an American.”

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    o neill navy sealFor all of his professional life, Rob O'Neill lived in the shadows.

    Indeed, his job was not to be seen. He would stalk Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and hunt down targets in Iraq. On over 400 different missions, his role was behind-the-scenes tracking and coordination of operations.

    His exploits were turned into three Hollywood films — yet still his identity remained a secret.

    But he has now thrust himself firmly into the spotlight, with his decision to reveal that he was in fact the man who pulled the trigger and shot dead Osama bin Laden.

    Breaking the Navy SEALs' code of secrecy, O'Neill has given an interview to Fox News in which he describes the events of May 2011. He had spoken previously, once giving an interview to Esquire magazine, but in that report he was referred to only as "The Shooter."

    And his decision to speak out has already angered military commanders, who have written a letter to all SEALs reminding them of their pledge to shun publicity.

    "A critical tenant of our ethos is 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'" wrote Rear Admiral Brian Losey, head of NSWC, and Michael Magaraci, the force master chief.

    O'Neill has left the SEALs and become a motivational speaker — but in military eyes, that does not release him from his vows.

    "Our ethos is a lifelong commitment and obligation, both in and out of the service. Violators of our ethos are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare."

    speaker o neill sealO'Neill was aware of the condemnation he would face — a colleague, Matthew Bissonnette, wrote a book under a pseudonym and has since found himself a social pariah. But he went ahead anyway. Having left the force after 16 years, instead of the standard 20, O'Neill was angered at his reduced pension and healthcare benefits and so decided to speak out.

    His career began when he walked into a recruitment centre in his hometown of Butte, in Montana — he has said he signed up because he was left distraught by a girlfriend dumping him, while his father said it was because he had met a former SEAL who inspired him.

    His father, Tom, still lives in the town — in a single-storey house where the garage is filled with stuffed moose, elk, and bears from their childhood shooting trips. A full stuffed kodiak bear — a large brown bear, found in Alaska — has pride of place in his living room.

    "My ex-wife gave birth to a man. We shouldn't be cowering in fear," Tom O'Neill said when asked by the Mail Online if he was concerned about his son's decision to speak publicly. "I support him in everything he is doing."

    O'Neill advanced through the ranks to become one of the most senior of Navy SEALS.

    In Afghanistan, in 2005, he oversaw an operation to track down and hunt a senior Taliban commander. That mission, titled Operation Red Wings, was intended to capture Ahmad Shah but went terribly wrong.

    Three of the four SEALs were killed and a helicopter sent in for their aid was shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all eight SEALs and all eight special forces soldiers on board. O'Neill was part of the team that helped bring the surviving SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, back — in an operation turned into the film "Lone Survivor," starring Mark Wahlberg.

    In April 2009, when the captain of the Maersk Alabama ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates, O'Neill led the SEAL team to rescue him — being the first person to jump from the helicopter onto the floundering ship. That rescue was made into the film "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks.

    And, of course, then came the May 2011 raid on the Abbottabad compound that became the film "Zero Dark Thirty."

    On leaving the force, O'Neill became a motivational speaker — describing himself as "one of the quiet professionals performing the most difficult tasks in the most difficult circumstances, serving his remarkable career in the shadows and keeping America safe in the process."

    He is no longer the man in the shadows. 

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    Mikhail_GorbachevMikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, has warned that the world is edging closer to a new Cold War, in comments made on the eve of celebrations to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    "The world is on the brink of a new Cold War," said Mr Gorbachev, speaking at an event, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, to mark the 25th anniversary. "Some are even saying that it's already begun."

    The 83-year-old, who ordered his Soviet troops stationed in East Germany to remain in their barracks on the night of November 9 1989, has been scathing in his view of what he termed Western "triumphalism".

    "Taking advantage of Russia 's weakening and a lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world. And they refused to heed the word of caution from many of those present here," he said.

    "The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one's will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one's partners."

    President Barack Obama appeared to share some of Mr Gorbachev's concerns for Europe – although he blamed Moscow for the current tensions.

    Paying tribute to the East Berliners who pushed past border guards to flood through the Wall, Mr Obama said on Friday that "as Russia's actions against Ukraine remind us, we have more work to do to fully realise our shared vision of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace."

    But Mr Gorbachev pointed the finger of blame for current tensions firmly back at the West. Making reference to Nato expansion, military intervention in Syria and Iraq, and simmering troubles in Kosovo, he said that Europe was becoming "an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict."

    And he described the Ukraine crisis as a "blister turning into a bleeding, festering wound."

    His comments came as five more coffins carrying victims of the MH17 plane crash – which was downed by a rebel-fired missile on July 17 – were flown out of Ukraine and back to the Netherlands, which is leading the investigation into the accident.

    Bert Koenders, the Dutch foreign minister, warned on Saturday that the remains of the last nine victims on MH17 might never be fully recovered.

    On Monday the Netherlands – which lost more of its citizens in the crash than any other country – will hold a national commemoration service in Amsterdam for the victims. Hundreds of grieving relatives are expected to attend, along with politicians and the Dutch king and queen.

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    lenovo sisley gizmobic 9

    Lenovo Group Ltd. said the era of “hypergrowth” is over in China’s smartphone market after the company reported its slowest sales growth in six quarters.

    Shares fell to their lowest since June 24 after Lenovo’s revenue rose 7.2pc in the three months ended September, the smallest increase since March 2013 and missing analysts’ estimates. Lenovo was the biggest decliner today on Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

    Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing has expanded in computer servers and mobile phones, including the $2.91bn purchase of Motorola Mobility, to help combat a shrinking personal-computer market. Growth in China is slowing amid intensifying competition from local smartphone producers, including Xiaomi Corp., which surpassed Lenovo and became the third-biggest global vendor in the quarter ending in September.

    “The industry is changing from in the past, when China grew much faster than the rest of the world,” Yang said in an interview. “The market is changing and China will not see further hypergrowth.”

    Lenovo shares fell 4.8pc to HK$10.26 at the close of trade in Hong Kong, adding to a 5.1pc drop yesterday that was the biggest decline since Feb. 4.

    Chinese producers have packed high-end features into cheaper smartphones to drive growth. Lenovo boosted global smartphone shipments by 38pc in the quarter to 16.9m units, ranking it fourth behind Samsung Electronics Co., Apple Inc. and Xiaomi, researcher International Data Corp. said Oct. 29.

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    rurik juttingJust minutes before meeting one of two Indonesian women he is alleged to have murdered, British banker Rurik Jutting invited another woman back to his luxury Hong Kong flat but she turned him down because she thought he was behaving "strangely".

    The woman, an Indonesian nanny who asked not to be named, claimed that at around 1.30am last Saturday – just over two hours before police were called to Mr Jutting's home and found two corpses – the Cambridge graduate approached her and a friend at a nightclub called the New Makati Pub & Disco.

    "He said, 'Hi, girls. Where are you from? How old are you?'" the mother-of-three told The Telegraph.

    Mr Jutting, 29, bought a round of drinks – an orange juice and two shots of tequila – for the group and after around ten minutes talking invited one of the women to accompany him home.

    However, she turned the former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee down because she wanted to stay with her friends and had felt unnerved by his erratic behaviour.

    "I said, 'No, I'm with my friends. I'm just here to party with my friends,'" recalled the woman, who is from Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, and has lived in the former British colony for four years.

    The woman, who gave her age as "thirty something", claimed she had watched Mr Jutting pacing repeatedly around the packed nightclub, occasionally grabbing women, before he came to talk to her.

    "He was just walking around and around and around," said the woman, who works as a nanny for a Hong Kong Chinese family.

    "It was strange. I didn't understand why. He looked happy but I didn't understand why he was moving around all the time."

    After Mr Jutting's invitation was declined, he turned his attentions to another Indonesian woman who was at the same club, the woman claimed.

    That woman was Seneng Mujiasih, 29, one of two women Mr Jutting has been accused of murdering, according to the nanny.

    Police believe the British banker invited Ms Mujiasih, who was better known as Jesse Lorena, to his 31st floor flat before killing her there.

    Five days earlier, on October 27, Mr Jutting is alleged to have murdered another woman, a 25-year-old mother-of-one who has been named as Sumatra Ningsih.

    Mr Jutting, who resigned from his high-paid job at the end of October, has been charged with double murder and is reportedly being held at the maximum security Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.

    The prison was founded in 1972 and describes itself as a unit for "male and female prisoners in all categories (sentenced or on remand) and detainees who require psychiatric observation, treatment, assessment or special psychological care".

    Mr Jutting is due back in court on Monday.

    The Indonesian nanny said she had been shocked to learn that two women had been found dead at a flat to which she had been invited shortly before the second murder.

    "I felt sad," she said. "I was lucky."

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    If were wondering what useful object you could actually print with that much-hyped 3D printer you bought, or just fancy making your own laptop computer but are not sure where to start, the Pi-Top is an exciting proposition.

    Everything you need to build your 3D-printable laptop, bar the printer itself, comes in a pack currently on sale for $286.

    pitop4The Pi-Top pack includes a customizable template for the 3D printer, so you can print your laptop in any colour or even have your name embossed on the shell. It also contains a screen and a “Raspberry Pi” – a desktop tower the size of a credit card – that need to be slotted into the shell to form the final laptop.

    The Pi-Top has all the functions of a normal laptop, but its inventors hope it will be used to teach children to become more computer literate by learning how to dismantle and reassemble it.

    The laptop, which officially launches in May, is available to buy on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, which enables thousands of people to pledge seed capital to a new idea rather than relying on a loan.


    Here's what the Pi-Top package on Indiegogo comes with: 

    1)  Injection molded case

    2)  3D printer STL files compatible for most print bed sizes (5" x 5" bed size and up)

    3)  PCBs - Power Management, HDMI to LVDS Bridge and Keyboard & Trackpad Controller.

    4)  Electronics breadboard

    5)  Battery

    6)  Keyboard

    7)  Trackpad

    8)  13.3”HD LCD Screen

    9)  Wifi adapter

    9)  Acrylic slice

    10)  Wiring

    11)  DC wall plug

    12)  Build instructions

    13)  Online & integrated lesson plans

    The idea with Pi-Top is to teach users how to build their own devices with Raspberry Pi, not just laptops but home automation devices, robots, and other hardware. To do that, the Pi-Top has its own gamified learning environment to teach users step-by-step how to build. pitop3

    Here's one of Pi-Top's founders talking about the device:

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    Acapulco Missing Students Relatives

    Nestle has been forced to apologize after joking about the disappearance in Mexico of 43 trainee teachers, whose abduction and probable murder has outraged the nation.

    The students were abducted on September 26 by police thought to be working in collusion with drugs cartels. They have not yet been found, but on Friday the attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, gave a press conference in which he said that three cartel members had confessed to shooting the students in a rubbish dump, then burning their bodies.

    But just after midnight on Sunday, a tweet published by a Mexican account dedicated to Nestle's "Crunch" brand chocolate bar, said: "A los de Ayotzinapa les dieron Crunch" - a pun on a slang Mexican expression, which translates as: "They crushed those from Ayotzinapa".

    A spokesman for Nestle Mexico said on Monday that the tweet was removed shortly after publication, and that it was "unauthorized".

    She said the company had initiated an investigation to find out who had sent the tweet but would not to say whether the account had been hacked.

    On Monday, the company issued a fresh tweet that read: "Once more we offer the sincerest apology for this offensive tweet which is completely contrary to our values."

    The company has since published a stream of apologies to angry Twitter users.

    "We share your concern, and that of the public. This message was totally contrary to our values," it wrote on Monday night.

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    the gherkin london

    The Gherkin, one of London’s most recognizable skyscrapers, has been bought by the billionaire Brazilian banker Joseph Safra, in a deal thought to be worth more than £700m ($1.1 billion).

    Safra, who has a $14.9bn (£9.4bn) fortune according to Forbes magazine, bought 30 St Mary’s Axe – better known as the Gherkin – from the receivers. No price was disclosed but the Financial Times said Safra paid £726m(£) for the 180 metre-high Norman Foster-designed tower.

    “While only 10 years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential,” Safra Group said in a statement. “We intend to make the building even better and more desirable through active ownership that will lead to a range of enhancements that will benefit tenants.”

    The building was put up for sale earlier this year with a guide price of £650m after its previous owners, private equity firm Evans Randall and German property investor IVG, defaulted on a loan. They bought the tower from reinsurer Swiss Re – the largest tenant – for £600m in 2007.

    The Gherkin is the second-tallest tower in the City of London and the sixth-highest in London. The glass dome at the very top of the building – which boasts 360 degree views of London – can be hired out for business functions and weddings. Tickets for a New Year’s Eve party in the dome cost £290 per person for people who are not members of Searcy’s, the club that runs the top three floors of the Gherkin.

    Safra, 74, was born into a rich banking family in Lebanon. The family moved to São Paulo, Brazil, in 1952. Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra, now Brazil’s eighth biggest bank in 1955.

    Safra Group recently announced a $1.3bn deal to buy US banana giant Chiquita in partnership with Brazilian juice company Cutrale.

    This article originally appeared on

    SEE ALSO: 43 Meals Everyone Should Eat In Their Lifetime

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    Black Sea Fleet Russia has dispatched a convoy of warships to Australia’s northern maritime border in what some in the country are calling a “puerile” display of Moscow's military muscle — and just weeks after Australian prime minister Tony Abbott threatened to confront his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the MH17 plane attack.

    The Australian Defence Force said it was monitoring the passage of the Russian vessels through the Coral Sea and dispatched two frigates and a surveillance aircraft to track the ships. The ships have reportedly been tracked for a week.

    "The movement of these vessels is entirely consistent with provisions under international law for military vessels to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters," the statement said.

    Mr Abbott sought to play down the surprising appearance of the warships in the Coral Sea and noted that Russia frequently links military deployments to international summits. Mr Putin is due to attend the G20 summit in Brisbane this weekend.

    "Certainly it is unusual for Russian naval elements to be in Australian waters,” Mr Abbott said.

    "Unusual, not entirely unprecedented, but unusual … Let’s not forget that Russia has been much more militarily assertive in recent times.

    "So it’s not really surprising and we are doing what you’d expect us to do — we are carefully monitoring the movements of these ships when they are in Australia’s approaches.”

    The Russian embassy in Canberra said the deployment was a routine exercise and was “not directly related to Australia.”

    "Your reaction is not that surprising because we do rarely go this way," spokesman Maxim Raku told Fairfax Media. "We really don't break any rules, we stick to international law, so why should we be seen as a danger?"

    Mr Abbott personally signaled plans to confront Mr Putin at the G20 summit in Brisbane this weekend over the MH17 attack, saying he would “shirt-front” the Russian leader, an Australian football term which describes aggressively grabbing an opponent or knocking them to the ground. Of the 298 passengers on the aircraft shot down over eastern Ukraine, 38 were Australians.

    Mr Abbott met with Mr Putin in Beijing this week at this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (Apec) and, though there was no physical altercation, the Australian leader pointed out that MH17 was destroyed by a missile from a launcher that had come from Russia, was fired from inside Ukraine and then returned to Russia. During an earlier group meeting, the two leaders were seated side by side but did not look at each other.

    Australia’s military said that Russia deployed vessels in conjunction with the Apec meeting in Singapore in 2009 and to accompany former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev during a visit to San Francisco in 2010.

    But analysts in Australia said the deployment was unnecessary and meddlesome and marked yet another sign of Russia’s military muscle-flexing.

    “The Russian action is petty, puerile and more than a bit silly,” said commentator Greg Sheridan in The Australian. “Any G20 nation could send warships to the waters near to Australia, but they don’t do so because their governments have a little more maturity and self-respect than Vladimir Putin’s outfit.”

    Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government newspaper, said the ships from the Pacific Fleet were one of two Russian naval convoys now undergoing exercises “in distant parts of the World’s oceans.”

    The Varyag missile cruiser, the Marshal Shaposhnikov destroyer, the powerful Foty Krylov tug and the Boris Butoma tanker were in the Pacific “not only to demonstrate the St Andrew’s flag” (Russia’s navy ensign), but also for crew-exercises including “real firing from onboard weapons,” it said.

    In a report titled “The Australians were scared by the Russian fleet”, the pro-Kremlin daily, Izvestiya, said the convoy had left Vladivostok and entered the Pacific on October 23 on a “standard assignment.”

    Roman Martov, a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet, told reporters earlier that the ships planned to visit the South Korean port of Incheon.

    SEE ALSO: These are the border disputes that could tear Asia apart

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    oil pump

    China is secretly providing North Korea with oil, with shipments over the border either intentionally omitted from its export statistics or broadly identified as aid, according to South Korean intelligence officials.

    Customs data released by Beijing indicates that no crude oil went over the border to North Korea in the first nine months of the year, although analysts in Seoul say that such a drastic halt in imports would have played havoc with the North's industrial capability and its military forces.

    Instead, analysts point out, industry appears to operating as usual and the military has to be unaffected by any shortages of fuel.

    "Without China providing crude oil, the operation of many of North Korea's industrial facilities and vehicles would have been suspended," intelligence sources told Yonhap news agency. "But there have been no such indications as yet."

    China's refusal to provide Pyongyang with fuel was interpreted as evidence that Beijing had finally grown weary of the unpredictable and destabilising behaviour of its neighbour and ally.

    crude oil north korea

    Beijing has long supported the Kim dynasty in North Korea but constantly cautioned the regime against being over provocative. Kim Jong-un, installed as dictator in December 2011, has chosen to ignore that advice and has carried out an underground nuclear test, launched a rocket into space, fired dozens of ballistic missiles and carried out a series of provocative moves against South Korea.

    In an apparent show of displeasure that was applauded by the international community for putting pressure on the Kim regime, China ostensibly halted oil shipments suddenly in January. Previously, the North imported around 500,000 tons of crude from China every year.

    North Korea has been busy in recent months developing new trade and political ties with Russia, with the two nations pushing ahead with the development of industrial zones in the North and a rail link over the border.

    South Korean government officials deny that Russia has replaced China as the source of the North's crude oil, pointing out that imports from Russia have come to just 100,000 tons so far this year.

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    Oscar PistoriusOscar Pistorius has been training in prison with a notorious Czech fugitive who is charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.

    In a letter sent to prison officials, Radovan Krejcir complained that his treadmill and exercise used by the double-amputee sprinter had been removed.

    According to the letter, Pistorius began using the private gym equipment – without Krejcir's permission – when he arrived at the maximum security facility. The athlete was sentenced to five years in prison last month for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

    In the letter, also sent to Amnesty International and the South African Human Rights Commission, Krejcir wrote that in July he requested the exercise bicycle and treadmill so that he could exercise for health reasons. The request was approved and the equipment was installed in a hallway next to his cell at the maximum security Kgosi Mapuru II prison in Pretoria.

    "My equipment was offered to Mr Oscar Pistorius, to train on, on his arrival at this facility ... without my knowledge," Krejcir wrote, according to the South African Press Association. "I did not object to Mr Pistorius utilising my equipment after he arrived at this facility and in fact Mr Pistorius and I started training together."

    But the bicycle and treadmill have since been moved twice, away from his cell, Krejcir said.

    "I have been deprived of my training since November 9 2014 as a result of this unfounded and unexplainable change, which I submit has been directed directly at me, in just another form of mental and emotional torture," he wrote.

    South Africa's department of correctional services said in a statement that inmate complaints were dealt with individually, and not in the media.

    Pistorius was found guilty of manslaughter last month and sentenced to five years behind bars, though he could be released to house arrest after just 10 months .

    The National Prosecuting Authority has described Pistorius sentence as "shockingly light". An application by state prosecutors to appeal the conviction and sentence will be heard on December 9 .

    According to local media reports, Pistorius was moved from the hospital wing of the prison to a heavily-guarded block of six cells, where Krejcir is being held along with other high-security remand prisoners.

    Krejcir, who has been charged with kidnapping, attempted murder and drug dealing, is allowed greater prison privileges than Pistorius because he has not been convicted of any crime. The businessman fled tax fraud charges in the Czech Republic in 2005, arriving in South Africa in 2007 on a fake Seychellois passport. He has described his life as "like James Bond".

    In November 2013, two of Krejcir's associates were killed when a bomb went off at his diamond and gold exchange shop in the Johannesburg suburb of Bedfordview, in an apparent assassination attempt.

    In another assassination attempt last year, a dozen remote-controlled guns hidden behind the licence plate of a car sprayed rounds into Krejcir's bulletproof Mercedes-Benz.

    Last year a Czech court decided that Krejcir's villa near Prague could be put up for auction. The opulent estate includes squash courts and a giant aquarium where Krejcir kept a pet shark.

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  • 11/14/14--13:47: Fad Diets Don't Work
  • john cisna mcdonald's diet before and afterPopular diets such as Weight Watchers are no more effective than living healthily for weight loss and are unlikely to provide long term health benefits, a study as shown.

    Researchers at McGill University compared diets against traditional methods such regular exercise and healthy eating.

    They discovered that while people initially lose weight in the short term, they regain the pounds within two years and would be better off by simply cutting fat out of their diets and being more active.

    More people than ever before are overweight or obese - putting them at higher risk of health problems including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

    Senior author Dr Mark Eisenberg, Professor of Medicine at Jewish General Hospital/McGill University in Canada, said: "Despite their popularity and important contributions to the multi-million dollar weight loss industry, we still do not know if these diets are effective to help people lose weight and decrease their risk factors for heart disease.

    "With such a small number of trials looking at each diet and their somewhat conflicting results, there is only modest evidence that using these diets is beneficial in the long-term."

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

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

    And children are getting larger as well. Three in every 10 children aged between two and 15 are currently overweight or obese.

    The researchers analysed clinical trials on four popular diet plans - Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone. All claim to promote weight loss and improve cardiovascular health.

    They found that the diets helped people lose some weight in the short term, but it soon crept back.

    In trials, Weight Watchers dieters lost between 7.7 to 13.2 pounds after a year, just slightly better than following traditional methods, like cutting fat out of diets and exercising more. Those on traditional plans lost between 1.8 to 11.9 pounds.

    Results from trials on the Atkins diet also showed no lasting benefit. In the only trial comparing the South Beach diet to traditional methods , no difference in weight loss occurred in 12 months, however the participants in this study were both severely obese and had undergone gastric bypass surgery.

    Trials involving head-to-head comparisons between Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone and usual care suggest that all four result in a modest weight loss at one year – but so did the control group who did not follow a plan.

    Those on the Atkins diet lost an average 4.6 to 10.3 pounds; Weight Watchers participants lost an average 6.6 pounds; Zone dieters lost an average 3.5 to 7 pounds; and control lost about 4.85 pounds.

    There was also no differences between Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets at improving cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, or other cardiovascular risk factors.

    Dr Eisenberg said to better understand the potential benefits from any one or all of these diets, researchers need to conduct large clinical trials directly comparing all four popular diets for long-term weight loss and changes in other heart disease risk factors.

    He added: "A broader lifestyle intervention, which also involves doctors and other health professionals, may be more effective.

    "This also tells doctors that popular diets on their own may not be the solution to help their patients lose weight."

    The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

    The Diets

    Weight Watchers

    The Weight Watchers plan works by giving all food a points system. No food is off limits but users can't go over a certain number of points each day based on height, weight, gender and age.

    Regular motivational meetings are also help where weight is measured and tips are shared.

    South Beach Diet

    The diet has three stages, and gradually increases the proportion of carbohydate consumed as it progresses while simultaneously decreasing the proportions of fat and protein. It includes a number of recommended foods such as lean meats and vegetables, and has a concept of "good"—mostly monounsaturated—fats.

    It makes no restriction on calorie intake, includes an exercise program, and is based around taking three main meals and two snacks per day.

    The first stage of the diet aims for rapid weight loss (13 pounds in 2 weeks), and risks depleting necessary levels of water and carbohydrate, causing unpleasant side effects such as dehydration and constipation.This would only be rectified once the less extreme phases of the diet then began.

    Atkins Diet

    The diet involves limited consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body from metabolising glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy.

    There are four phases, induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance.

    In the induction stage, carbohydrate intake is limited to less than 20 grams per day. It usually lasts two weeks before 5 grams is added per week during the 'ongoing weight loss' period. Berries and nuts are added to the diet.

    The following phase sees 10g of carbohydrate added per week until a level is reached where no more can be eaten without gaining weight.

    Zone Diet

    The Zone" is creater Barry Sears's term for proper hormone balance. When insulin levels are neither too high nor too low and glucagon levels are not too high, then specific anti-inflammatory chemicals (types of eicosanoids) are released, which have similar effects to aspirin, but without downsides such as gastric bleeding.

    Sears claims that a 30:40 ratio of protein to carbohydrates triggers this effect, and this is called 'The Zone.' Sears claims that these natural anti-inflammatories are heart- and health-friendly.

    Additionally, the human body in calorie balance does not have to store excess calories as fat. The human body cannot store fat and burn fat at the same time[citation needed] and Sears believes it takes time (significant time if insulin levels were high because of unbalanced eating) to switch from the former to the latter.

    Another key feature of the Zone diet, introduced in his later books, is an intake of a particular ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Sears is believed to have helped popularize the taking of pharmaceutical-grade Omega 3 fish oils

    SEE ALSO: Here's Why Eating McDonalds Every Day Is A Bad Idea (Even If You Do Lose Weight)

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    T-Mobile StoreA widow took her dead husband’s ashes into a mobile phone shop to get them to cancel his monthly contract.

    Maria Raybould, 56, was threatened with bailiffs by T-Mobile and ordered to pay a cancellation fee after her husband David, 57, died from cancer.

    But despite showing the mobile phone giant the urn full of ashes, a death certificate, and funeral bills, it still refused to end the contract.

    Mrs Raybould, from Cardiff, continued to receive threatening letters from bailiffs, and suffered a panic attack when she confronted T-Mobile staff.

    "I've been up to the shop with the death certificate, with a letter from the crematorium, the funeral bills – even his ashes”, she said.

    “I took in everything I could.

    "I lost it in the shop. I gave them 20 minutes to sort it out. I went outside and had a panic attack.

    "When I went back in the girl told me she had spoken to the manager and they were going to stop the contract.

    “Then I had another letter about the bailiffs."

    Mrs Raybould said her son called T-Mobile the day after her husband’s death to try to cancel the contract, but was told they needed to see a death certificate.

    She visited the store three times to try to convince staff that he had died, but continued to be inundated with demands for £129 in unpaid bills or a cancellation charge.

    Mrs Raybould said: "It's gone downhill since then. I've had texts since then asking if David wanted to pay an extra £2.50 for broadband and letters saying that bailiffs would be coming."

    Mr Raybould died on August 29 after a long fight with cancer. Before his death he was paying £26 a month by direct debit for a Samsung Galaxy mini SII on a T-Mobile contract.

    Mrs Raybould said it had been easier to bury her late husband than to get his phone contract terminated.

    "How dare they put me and my sons through this after all we have been through already?”, she said.

    "I wouldn't want anyone to go through what we have gone through over the last few months. It was easier for us to bury him than sort this out."

    T-Mobile has now apologised for the mix-up, saying there was a delay to the automated process that cancels the balance which resulted in the letters being issued.

    A spokesman said: "We apologise to Mrs Raybould for any distress caused at this difficult time. We can confirm that the account has been closed and the balance cleared."

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    x factorAn award-winning musician to the stars has been exposed as a benefits cheat after being spotted playing guitar alongside boyband JLS on the Xtra Factor.

    Joseph Ross’s $36,000 benefits scam was rumbled when a YouTube video emerged of his performance on the X Factor spin off show.

    The guitarist, from Walsall, West Midlands, claimed his work had dried up when he signed on for financial support three years ago.

    But when a flood of celebrity gigs came up, he failed to stop the payments from the Department of Work and Pensions.

    Ross is due to tour with X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in March next year, and has an impressive rostrum of past collaborators, including R Kelly, James Brown, Girls Aloud, and Lionel Richie.

    He was awarded the Black Entertainment, Film, Fashion, Television and Arts Excellence Award last year to mark his 26 years in the music business.

    He has also raked in thousands as a regular performer on The X Factor and BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

    But at Walsall Magistrates Court last week Ross was handed a 26-week suspended jail sentence after admitting benefits fraud.

    Prosecutor Maggie Meakin said Ross received $35,726 in Jobseekers Allowance, council tax and housing benefit that he was not entitled to.

    "In his interview, he admitted signing on due to lack of work and when he found work he did not tell the authorities”, she said.

    The court heard his ruse was foiled when DWP investigators received a tip-off about the YouTube video of Ross and JLS.

    Ian Henery, defending, said Ross, a father-of-five, had mounting debts from paying his band members and an expensive divorce settlement.

    "My client was seen performing with JLS on YouTube”, he said.

    “He's had payments from the likes of X Factor, Sony Entertainment, and BBC's Strictly Come dancing.

    "He is highly regarded in the industry, but the divorce left him high and dry financially."

    He said Ross stopped his benefits before going on tour with JLS, as work started to pick up again.

    "He has worked with Girls Aloud and made a lot of money working for them for two years”, he said.

    Ross is due for a $39,000 payday from the tour with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, but has so far paid back just £400 of the money he overclaimed.

    The musician, who has also played for David and Victoria Beckham, Saturday’s star Frankie Bridge, and Joss Stone, performed at the London 2012 Olympics.

    The court ordered him to complete 12 months of supervision sessions, a 20-day benefits fraud workbook, and pay $133 costs and a $125 surcharge after he admitted making a false statement to the Department of Work and Pensions and two offences of failing to notify Walsall Council of a change in his circumstances.

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    Divide Nasdaq

    British tech firms tempted to go public are being urged to go to the US, where - it is claimed - they can get proper analyst coverage, find more suitable investors and raise more money overall.

    According to the head of the NASDAQ, the US technology exchange that is home to Apple and Facebook, London is taking the “right first steps” in developing its technology sector, but is still a long way behind behind the US.

    Bruce Aust, NASDAQ’s vice-chairman and head of new listings, said: “The UK is getting there. The Government is recognizing that most jobs are going to come from these entrepreneurial companies. But Europe, and the UK in particular, needs to build that analyst community. When you go public, you want analysts to write about your stock. In the US, the average tech company has 20 analysts covering its stock. You don’t have that kind of numbers in the UK.”

    Mr Aust pointed to the recent example of London-based financial data company Markit, which raised $4bn when it listed on the NASDAQ earlier this year.

    The financial data company was created in a barn in Hertfordshire 12 years ago and is now based in London’s square mile. When listing on the NASDAQ in June, founder Lance Uggla said that Markit would continue to be headquartered in the UK and pay UK corporate taxes, but that listing in the US would give it the best access to capital to grow.

    There are currently 14 UK companies listed on the NASDAQ, including Vodafone, WPP and Aviva.

    Mr Aust, talking on a trip to London, added that 2014 has been a record year for the exchange, which has seen firms including wearable camera maker GoPro, Chinese microblogging website Weibo, and Virgin America join the market.

    The exchange is close to hitting the 5,000 mark last seen in March 2000, the peak of the dotcom bubble.

    Mr Aust said it is down to investors to decide whether we’re in another bubble, but that firms are now staying private for longer, an average of 8 to 10 years, to prove they are a stable investment.

    He added the index will continue to surge next year, carried along by the wider economic environment. “Interest rates are at all time lows. We are expecting an interest rate rise mid-next year in the US, but it will be gradual. People are constantly looking for new things to invest in. There’s still a lot of money that can be put to work in the equity market.”

    Applications to join the NASDAQ are almost double what they were a year ago. Around two thirds of applications, which each cost $25,000, are successful.

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