Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog

Channel Description:

The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

older | 1 | .... | 42 | 43 | (Page 44) | 45 | 46 | .... | 63 | newer

    0 0
  • 11/17/14--09:44: Why We Cry Tears Of Joy
  • Cry_LaughIt may seem like a strange response: to break down in tears when you are happy.

    But now a group of psychologists say they have found the reason why, and that crying tears of joy may well be the body’s way of restoring “emotional equilibrium”.

    The psychologists say that, by responding to an overwhelmingly positive emotion with a negative one, people are able to recover better from strong emotions.

    Oriana Aragon, the lead author of the report which will be published in the journal Psychological Science, said: “People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions.

    “They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions.”

    The psychologists from Yale University examined subjects’ emotional responses to different scenarios, including happy reunions and "cute" babies.

    They found individuals who expressed negative reactions to positive news were able to moderate their intense emotions more quickly.

    They also found people who are most likely to cry at their child’s graduation are also most likely to want to pinch a cute baby’s cheeks.

    They cited other examples of where people responded to a positive experience with a negative emotion, including concert goers screaming in horror at the presence of their idol and lottery winners breaking down in tears.

    The report authors said: "To give an example, upon winning the lottery, one might appraise the event as an incredibly good thing; feel overwhelmed with happiness, smile and cry.

    "One’s appraisal that winning is a good thing, intense happiness and verbal expression would easily be described as positive, yet there is also an expression of crying which normatively expresses sadness.

    "This expression is not inherent to the situation, the appraisal, or the positive emotions. The negative expression might be merely a facial display, or it might reflect actual negative emotions."

    Miss Aragon said: "I was surprised no one ever asked why that is."

    Miss Aragon, a postdoctoral associate at Yale, said the research went some of the way to explaining a common response that most people did not understand.

    “These insights advance our understanding of how people express and control their emotions, which is importantly related to mental and physical health, the quality of relationships with others, and even how well people work together,” she said.

    The psychologists claimed that there was also some evidence that the reverse was also true and that strong negative feelings may provoke positive expressions.

    For example, people often laugh when they are nervous or confronted with a difficult or frightening situations. They cite previous studies where psychologists found some subjects smiled at times of extreme sadness.

    The study called Dimorphous Expressions of Positive Emotion: Displays of Both Care and Aggression in Response to Cute Stimuli, will be published this month.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    gordon ramsayGordon Ramsay has claimed that his new restaurant opening was sabotaged after 100 people “booked” and failed to turn up on opening night.

    The television chef, who recently opened Heddon Street Kitchen in Mayfair, said that out of 140 parties planning to attend for the “first big day”, just 40 honored the booking.

    Claiming it showed the “level of envy” on the competitive restaurant scene, he alleged an individual had “been on the computer” to make a block booking in order to ruin things.

    Speaking on the Jonathan Ross Show, to be broadcast this evening on ITV,

    Ramsay said his staff would now be compelled to reconfirm every table after becoming frustrated at the “bad spirit” shown.

    He did not disclose who he suspected the rival to be, but hinted it had been done through professional jealousy.

    The restaurant, which opened earlier this month, is described as having a “relaxed, modern European menu” by the head chef Maria Tampakis, ideal for “brisk brunches and post-shopping pit stops through to lunch, dinners and after-work cocktails”.

    Speaking of the mass failure of diners to turn up, Ramsay said: “I think there’s all that level of envy. Saturday was our first big day, we had 140 on the books and we had a 100 no show. So someone would have been on a computer…”

    When asked if this was deliberate, he claimed: “Yep, sabotage.

    “It’s bad spirit and you see the staff and they are down and frustrated, I was there to pick them up and make sure we stay focused.

    “Now we’re going to reconfirm every table.”

    The chef, known for his forthright criticism and robust language on shows including Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, has just opened the latest of his 12 London restaurants.

    His Gordon Ramsay Group now runs 24 establishments worldwide, with seven Michelin stars between them.

    The chef has given an insight into the contrast between his professional life and the real person, claiming his foul-mouthed television persona never reveals itself at home.

    “I like to think it’s an industry language,” he told Ross. “I’ve worked with some great chefs, and when I’ve made a mistake there’s a naughty word that comes out.

    “But do I want Matilda and Jack [his children] walking around swearing? Definitely not.”

    He added: “They know it’s not smart. Kids today get so much more distracted than we did.

    “You don’t need to listen to your parents using foul language, you just have to go on the internet.

    “We’re careful with that, but I don’t swear around them.

    “You need a reason. I watched Jack play rugby a couple of weeks back, it was a full on game and the language on that pitch was insane.

    “It’s like in the kitchen when things go wrong and you want to get things to perfection.”

    “Some people think it’s offensive, I’m not proud of it, I don’t do it often.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    orlando skyscraper coaster

    The world's tallest roller coaster will twist, dive and tumble 500 feet above Orlando, Florida's International Drive resort area when it opens in 2017.

    A mock-up of the ride was released on Monday to give thrill seekers a preview. The hair-raising roller coaster will launch riders from the bottom of the city's Skyplex entertainment complex. 

    US Thrill Rides, the company behind 'Skyscraper', said there will also be a 534 foot-high observation deck for those who would rather watch.

    WATCH: This Is What It Will Feel Like To Ride On The World's Tallest Roller Coaster 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    Israel Soldiers Heron TP Surveillance Drone UAV Tel Aviv

    Few human beings are forced to take life-or-death decisions as routinely - or as rapidly - as those who hold the shattering power of Israeli drones in their hands.

    Major Yair, one of Israel's most experienced drone commanders, served throughout the last three wars in Gaza.

    Day after day, this 31-year-old was compelled to wrestle with the agonising dilemmas that moral philosophers have argued over for centuries.

    As the mission commander of a Heron TP drone, charged with acquiring targets on the ground, it fell to Major Yair to decide whether killing the human beings appearing on his computer screen would save more lives than leaving them unscathed.

    Was the human form striding across the monitor a Hamas operative preparing to fire a rocket? Or was the metal object in his hands an innocent everyday item?

    Major Yair would never have the luxury of time to consider his choice: he was forced to resolve his dilemmas almost instantly.

    "You have to make life and death calls in seconds," he told The Telegraph. "You spot it - what is it? Shall we take it out or not? You have to develop the mental skills."

    And no-one shares responsibility for the ultimate decision. "It's on your shoulders," he said.

    Serving drone commanders rarely speak publicly about their experiences. In his first interview, Major Yair - not his real name - described his part in the 50-day trial of strength between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last summer.

    The recent bloodshed in Jerusalem - with four Jewish worshippers and a policeman killed inside a synagogue on Tuesday - has raised the possibility of a new Palestinian "intifada" or uprising. If so, Israel's drone commanders will confront their dilemmas all over again.

    The Heron under Major Yair's control possessed a wingspan equal to that of a Boeing 737, making it the biggest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in service with the Israel Defence Forces. The sensors at his fingertips provided an all-seeing eye to select targets anywhere in Gaza.

    Israeli Drones ONL_3111137aMajor Yair stressed how he was constrained by rules of engagement designed to avoid innocent deaths. Hamas operatives, he added, routinely exploited this restraint by hiding behind civilians. One sequence shot by a Heron showed four men preparing to launch a salvo of rockets under a screen of trees. Seconds later, the men were shown running to a nearby street filled with children.

    "They're untouchable now," said Major Yair, pointing at the screen. "I know that no mission commander, under current directions given by the chief of staff, will engage in this situation. No way."

    He added: "It is sometimes frustrating because you feel that you're fighting with your hands tied. There are a lot of situations where you see your targets, but you will not engage because they're next to kindergartens, because they're driving with their wives and their kids."

    Major Yair said that he personally refrained from striking one target because the man was about to enter a house where civilians might have been present. Another target was spared because he was running along a narrow alleyway and the "roofs were so close together you have no clue what might be underneath - it might be a family".

    And yet the fact remains that Gaza suffered a crushing toll of civilian casualties. Of the 2,192 Palestinians who were killed during the last conflict, 519 were children under the age of 18, according to the United Nations.

    How does Major Yair account for that? "We do make mistakes," he replied. "But it's nature. People make mistakes. We learn from those mistakes. You'll see no smiling face after an incident where kids were killed. None of us wants to be in a position where he does these mistakes. We learn and try to avoid this as much as we can."

    After three Gaza wars, Major Yair has made some "wrong calls" himself. Can he sleep after going home at the end of a shift?

    "You learn to live with it," he said. "It's not easy. I've made mistakes that, for many years, will come back at me. But it's something that people have to do. It's not easy. We do not shove it back somewhere in our minds and try to avoid talking about it. We talk about it, we support each other."

    The strain on drone operators is such that they often receive psychological counselling.

    Israel Gaza Hamas OffensiveThroughout the last Gaza campaign, Major Yair observed a "10 until 2" shift pattern in a command centre near Tel Aviv. He would take control of a drone at 10am and stay until 2pm. Then he would go off duty for eight hours before returning at 10pm and staying until 2am.

    A Heron is controlled by a two-person crew: a commander and an operator who sit side-by-side, each with a computer screen and a control stick to direct the aircaft's sensors. There is no pilot as such because the Heron essentially flies itself. Focus the sensor on a car and the aircraft will automatically position itself to track the vehicle.

    Safe inside an air-conditioned military building, Major Yair was far away from where missiles were exploding on his orders. Unlike other warriors, he did not see the consequences - save on a computer screen - nor did he run any physical risk.

    Yet the conflict has touched him personally: his parents narrowly escaped death when the family home was destroyed by a rocket launched from Gaza in 2009.

    As for the imbalance of risk, Major Yair said that being in safety meant that he took better decisions and that lives were saved as a result. "Does it change the way you make calls?" he asked. "The fact that you're comfortable - it means you make better calls."

    And the tension was often heart-pounding. As Israeli ground units pressed into Gaza, they would call Major Yair for close air support. "They'd be saying 'we keep getting fire from within those buildings' and I'm sitting at a distance - on a neat floorspace with screens and air conditioning systems - but you're sweating and it's 'what do I do, what do I do'? How do I not cause more damage than help?"

    Today, 65 per cent of Israel's military air operations are conducted by drones. Major Yair represents the future of warfare - and the dilemmas he faces will be those of coming generations of warriors.

    SEE ALSO: Drone pilots reveal debilitating stress beyond virtual battlefield

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    tsa airport security luggage magazineA woman fitted with a pacemaker has died after passing through an airport scanner in the southern Russian town of Ulan-Ude.

    Diana Tolstova, 30, died in the airport minutes after passing through the scanner. Her husband Maxim, 33, said that they had provided papers proving that Mrs Tolstova was fitted with the heart device – which is adversely affected by airport scanners.

    "I don’t know what happened but she went through it anyway," he told Central European News agency.

    "When we got to the departure gate she began to feel dizzy and suddenly collapsed.

    "I grabbed her in my arms and called for medical help.

    "It took a few minutes before hospital doctors arrived, and when they did they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t give her any first aid and they didn’t call an ambulance.

    "My beautiful Diana died in my arms."

    Airport officials said that they are investigating the case.

    "Security and airport personnel are given strict instructions about how to handle people with pacemakers, and we warn them never to let a wearer go through a metal detector," an airport spokesman said.

    "In normal circumstances, they see their papers and let them pass. In this case, the patient seems to either have forgotten about it, didn’t know or became confused by the airport security arrangements.

    "But every patient receives a strict warning."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0


    You are unlikely to hear 'talaq', 'umu' and 'gapo' uttered in in everyday conversation.

    But the words for a type of muslim divorce, a Polynesian earth over and a South American forest near a river, allowed Craig Beevers, 33, from Teesside, to be crowned World Scrabble Champion.

    In doing so, Beevers became only the second English player to claim the title and the first since Mark Nyman in 1993.

    In a tense final at the Excel Centre in London, Beevers, who organises Scrabble tournaments for a living, beat the American Chris Lipe by 440 points to 412 in the final game. it sealed a 3-1 victory for the Englishman in the best-of-five match.

    Proceedings in the decisive fourth game had been more or less neck and neck until Beevers' decisive play of 'talaq'. The word scored 42 points, after which there was no realistic way back for Lipe, a relative newcomer from Clinton, New York, could win.

    These are the words that allowed Craig Beevers, 33, from Teesside, to be crowned World Scrabble Champion.

    Craig Beevers' words

    Ventrous - adventurous (65)

    Gaieties - state of joyful exuberance or merriment (62)

    Diorite - igneous rock (68)

    Umu - Polynesian earth oven (24)

    Zit - spot (36)

    Kaw - Alternate word for Kansa, a member of a North American Indian people formerly of eastern Kansas, now living mostly in northern Oklahoma (34)

    Gleet - inflammation of the urethra with a slight discharge of thin puss and mucus (24)

    Villa - (especially in continental Europe) a large and luxurious country house in its own grounds (14)

    Talaq - Type of Muslim divorce (42)

    Gapo - South American forest near a river (27)

    Barfs - an attack of vomiting (26)

    Chris Lipe's words

    Hyena - doglike African mammal (30)

    Whit - very small part or amount (30)

    Taj - tall conical cap worn by a dervish (28)

    Xenic - of, relating to, or employing a culture medium containing one or more unidentified organisms (60)

    Fond - to like (32)

    Bough - main branch of a tree (22)

    Directer - alternate, US spelling of director (72)

    Mop - implement consisting of a bundle of thick loose strings or a sponge attached to a handle, used for wiping floors or other surfaces (26)

    Lorn - lonely and abandoned (51)

    Lyres - stringed instrument like a small U-shaped harp with strings fixed to a crossbar (36)

    Dense - closely compacted in substance (27)

    Et - forming nouns which were originally diminutives (30)

    Beevers had raced into a 2-0 lead, but a mistake in the third game, in which Beevers opted not to play 'updrags', a portmanteau of 'up and 'drags', allowed Lipe to reduce his arrears to 2-1.

    But Beevers made it over the line in the fourth board with words including 'ventrous', an archaic synonym of 'adventurous' scoring 65 points, 'gleet', inflammation of the urethra with a slight discharge of thin puss and mucus scoring 24, and 'diorite', an igneous rock, for 69 points.

    It brought to a close four days of intense competition, between 100 players from 25 countries, at the World Scrabble Championships 2014, the 13th edition of the bi-annual tournament first held in 1991.

    For Beevers, who takes home a cheque for £3,000, it is also the culmination of a Scrabble-playing career that began after he dropped out of a Maths degree at the University of Sheffield, where, the champion said, he had spent most of his time in the computer room playing online word games, including Scrabble, because he found the course "too abstract".scrabb

    While occasionally unemployed, he slowly got into the real form of the game in the following years, and gradually began to enter, and win, competitions.

    Beevers, who was the British Scrabble Champion in 2009 and was also crowned champion of the Channel 4 words and numbers game-show Countdown in 2007, said he was "absolutely thrilled" and "relieved" to win.

    "Obviously I am delighted. it was stressful really, when you're tired after four days of tough matches, when you know you're not playing your best.

    "I slipped up in the third, so it was a relief to get decent tiles in the fourth and to get over the line."

    Remarkably, the new champion said he had played less Scrabble in the past year than in previous years, because he had moved in with his girlfriend, Karen, 31, and was concentrating on organising, rather than playing in, tournaments.

    He added: "She doesn't really play. We have only played each other once, and it was pretty one-sided."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    london christmas night harrods

    London is losing even more ground to New York in the battle between the world's two leading financial centers, with the UK capital garnering even fewer votes in an influential survey than in 2013 and its transatlantic rival pulling ahead.

    Of the nearly 300 financial services professionals commissioned by Kinetic Partners, a global professional services firm, 59% said New York was the world's number one financial centre and 38% said it was London.

    The UK capital's share of the vote has fallen away dramatically in the past two years. In 2012, 65% of those surveyed said that London was the world's leading financial centre; last year, it was 44%. Respondents appear to expect this slide to continue, with only 28% of those working in the financial services industry saying they believe that London will be considered the world's pre–eminent global financial centre in five years' time.

    Allison Gill, director of the regulatory compliance team at Kinetic Partners in New York, said: "The debate over the relevance and benefit of the seemingly neverending barrage of regulation will continue, but the fact remains that the industry has largely adapted and the global community still has confidence in the importance of New York."

    Julian Korek, chief executive of Kinetic, said: "This shift from just two years ago is a testament to the resilience of the New York market."

    Over half of respondents said Shanghai would be the leading emerging financial centre by 2019.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    denmark fan phoneDenmark has been named the world's "most connected" country based on mobile phone and internet use.

    Scandinavia dominated this year’s rankings, with Sweden in third place, followed by Iceland in fourth, Norway sixth and Finland eighth. Britain came fifth.

    They were compiled as part of a report by the International Telecommunication Union - the Information and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI), which rates 166 countries according to their level of access to, use of and skills in using information and communication technology.

    Hong Kong was the ninth most connected country, coming in ahead of Japan in 11th place, while Luxembourg completed the top 10.

    Other countries in the top 30 included the US (which ranked 14th), Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, France, New Zealand, Estonia and Macau, as well the principalities of Andorra and Monaco.

    The 10 least connected countries were all in Africa, with the Central African Republic being the worst, followed by Niger, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

    All countries were shown to have improved their IDI values in the last year, while the nations with the “most dynamic” improvement in ranking included the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia. Improvements were said to have been driven mostly by better wireless broadband connection.

    Europe proved to be the most connected region, scooping up eight of the top 10 rankings, while Africa had the lowest regional ranking. The continent, however, did show a mobile broadband growth rate of more than 40 per cent in 2014 on last year.

    Nearly three billion people globally will be using the internet by the end of this year, up by nearly 40 per cent on last year. But 450 million people still don’t live within reach of a mobile signal, while 4.3 billion people are not connected to the internet - with 90 per cent of those living in developing countries, the report said.

    Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s technology expert Donald Strachan outlined the “ world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities”, featuring various countries from the top 40 of this year’s IDI report.

    Connecting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki 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.

    Hong Kong, “one of the world’s most futuristic cities”, was said to be generous with free internet access in public areas. 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.

    Taipei offers 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotpsots. Hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots are available throughout the Taiwanese capital.

    Macau was noted for its WiFiGo service which 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 centres.


    Other major cities with free public Wi-Fi access include New York, Paris and Perth, Australia, as well as Florence and Tel Aviv, which has eighty hotspots dotted around its centre.

    Access to free Wi-Fi has been an increasingly important factor for travellers around the world, especially when booking a hotel. Britain's hotels were found to be among the worst in Europe for free Wi-Fi access, while the two best performing cities were both Swedish - Malmö and Gothenburg, where 98 per cent and 96 per cent of hotels were found to offer free Wi-Fi, a survey by the travel search engine KAYAK earlier this year revealed.

    A new website aiming to help travellers in the search for free and fast wireless internet access was introduced earlier this year. lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.

    Several airports around the world also offer free Wi-Fi services, with Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas being among the best, providing free Wi-Fi in all five of its terminals since 2012. Since upgrading its former paid network, the number of daily Wi-Fi connections has risen from 2,000 to 55,000. Helsinki Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol complete the world’s top five for airport Wi-Fi quality.

    Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest airports have been criticised for failing to provide passengers with unlimited Wi-Fi access.

    None of Britain's six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, according to a study by Skyscanner, the flight comparison website.

    Here is the full list:


    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    expensiveAmericans are used to spending a lot at Thanksgiving – feeding a crowd doesn’t come cheap, after all.

    But one New York restaurant has created a feast that could make you want to run away screaming when it comes to paying the bill.

    Dubbed the most expensive Thanksgiving dinner in history, the $35,000 (£22,300) feast for four - that's a staggering $8,750 (£5,500) a head – is being offered by the Old Homestead Steakhouse.

    It lasts nine courses, beginning with foie-gras stuffed squab marinated in a bottle of Courvoisier L'Esprit Cognac.

    The star of the show is organic turkey dressed with imported ground Japanese Wagyu beef, which is renowned for its flavour and succulence, and gravy made with a wine, Château Mouton Rothschil, that costs $1,750 (£1,100) a bottle.


    Sides include sweet potatoes topped with Royal Osetra caviar and black-truffle infused butternut squash, while dessert features bourbon-soaked pears littered with – what else? - real 24-carat gold flakes.

    On top of the decadent menu, partaking guests will be given four grandstand seats at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; a $6,000 (£3,800) gift card to Bloomingdale's; and dancing lessons at Fred Astaire dance studios to learn the Turkey Trot, a dance that was popular in the early twentieth century.

    The restaurant's co-owner Marc Sherry told the New York Daily News: “'Let's face it, Thanksgiving dinner is boring, basic, and frankly, unimaginative. We're taking all of the traditional holiday fare — the turkey, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie — to a creative level never seen before. It's turkey dinner with attitude and personality.

    "We know it's over-the-top expensive, but Thanksgiving comes once a year."

    So far, apparently one group of four has signed up for the feast.

    One thing is for certain: if you decide to splash out on the meal, we wouldn't reccommend wearing tight jeans.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    homeless hotel 22Jimmy hands $2 worth of dimes to the conductor and finds a seat at the back of the bus.

    He settles himself in for what is going to be a long night - taking off his scuffed leather shoes and resting his head against a window opaque with condensation.

    Jimmy, 47, has had the same routine for the last three years since losing his job as a chef at Microsoft.

    He gets on the bus at midnight and rides the same 35-mile journey between San Jose and Palo Alto, California, until sunrise. He can spend up to $8 (£5) a night just trying to keep warm and off the streets - money he can ill afford.

    The 22 bus is the only route that runs 24 hours in Silicon Valley and it has become something of an unofficial shelter for the homeless.

    They call it Hotel 22.

    This small pocket of The Golden State has become the most extreme example in the US of the growing schism between the haves and have nots.

    Santa Clara - the county which encompasses Silicon Valley - has the highest percentage of homeless in America, according to the latest Department of Housing report.

    Yet it also has the nation’s highest average household income and some of the most expensive homes in the country - all down to the high-tech economy on its doorstep.

    Silicon Valley is enjoying the most sustained period of wealth creation in history, but the area is crippled by income disparity. Where once a robust middle-class thrived, there exists only the super-rich and the extreme poor.

    The 22 bus drives past Jimmy’s old employer Microsoft, as well as the headquarters of Google, Facebook and Apple.

    On our journey, we pass a “Google bus” going in the opposite direction towards San Francisco. Employees are ferried to and from work in their own private blacked-out coaches dubbed “Gbuses”, which have themselves come to be a symbol of the inequality.

    “It’s a tale of two cities,” Jimmy says. “At least that’s the poetic way people describe what’s going on here.

    “What these techies don’t realise though is that we’re no different to them - they’re just one misstep, one paycheck away from being us.”

    Jimmy, who moved from Chicago to California in the early 1990s for work, is wearing a slightly mottled suit and tie, as he does most days, in the hope it will help him find a job. He sends off a dozen applications a day from the local library, but he rarely even hears back.

    He keeps a length of rope wrapped round his ankle, hidden under his trouser leg, “just in case one day I decide I’ve had enough.”

    According to the most recent census data, as many as 20,000 people will experience homelessness in the county this year.

    Those who are not sleeping on the streets here are sleeping in what is known as The Jungle - the largest homeless encampment in the US. Hundreds of makeshift tents and treehouses go on for miles in a lawless sprawl.

    Ray Bramson, the City of San Jose’s homelessness response manager, says: “There’s 5,000 sleeping rough on any given night - we just can’t deal with that.”

    Over the last few years rent in the area has skyrocketed, in some cases up to 300% of the national average.

    silicon valley

    “When you think homeless, you think of someone on the streets with no money, no job,” he says. “That’s changed. Being employed no longer guarantees you can afford to rent here. People simply lack the sustainable wages they need to survive.”

    The state’s minimum wage was recently increased from $8 to $10 an hour. “It’s a step in the right direction,” Mr Bramson says, “but unfortunately the self-sufficiency standard is around $15.”

    Our bus jolts to a stop as the driver spots someone waiting in the dark at the side of the road. It is now 2am. He lays down the ramp for the woman, who has a large cart full of her worldly belongings.

    She is not the only woman, Sandra Pena spends one night a week on Hotel 22.

    A well-spoken, well-educated and strikingly beautiful woman of 52, she is not the average night passenger.

    She spent nine years working as a technician for Arantech - which was at one time one of the bigger tech firms in Silicon Valley, until she was made redundant in 1989.

    Shortly after, she decided to start up her own construction business, which enjoyed some success.

    But at the height of the recession in 2009 she lost it all and had her home repossessed.

    She started living out of her truck, doing odd job for neighbours, until she could no longer afford that either.

    “I was hit by everything at once, and sometimes you just can’t pick yourself up from that,“ says Sandra, who is wearing pristine blue jeans and a button-down blouse. “Never, ever, would I have imagined myself in this situation.”

    When there are no free beds at the local shelter, Sandra sleeps on the bus.

    “I get the day pass for $6 - which if you buy at the right time can last you all through the night to the next morning,” she says. “I like it for the quiet …. and the alone time.

    “The only downside is that you get woken up at the end of the line and are made to wait 15 minutes to get on the next one,” she says.

    As a native of Santa Clara she has seen the area change beyond recognition.

    It was once known for its orchids, earning it the nickname the Valley of Heart’s Delight. Until the 1960s, it was the largest fruit production region in the world and Del Monte was the biggest employer in town.

    Then the tech companies started moving in, growing outward from Stanford University, which had begun nurturing start-ups with grants and academic support.

    “Growing up here it was all ranches and orchids, I was a cowgirl. You had everything you could want, and great weather all year round. I don’t blame them all for coming here, but they offer the people who live here nothing,” says Sandra, who is currently completing a building course at an employment centre, which she hopes will lead to a job.

    Chris Richardson, director of programme operations at the homeless organisation Downtown Streets, which has been helping Sandra, said: “Hotel 22 is an open secret in the homeless trade - for a couple of bucks people can get a relatively undisturbed night’s sleep.”

    He says the problem has become so out of control there are twice as many homeless as there are available beds.

    “You see camps of people sleeping rough just two miles from Sergey Brin’s (Google co-founder) house,” he says. “And the irony is, not even his engineers get paid enough to live here.

    “We are trying to get tech billionaires involved in what we’re doing. They donate millions to good causes, but almost nothing to the local community they are helping destroy.

    “It’s not necessarily their fault, but they are stakeholders in the homelessness problem and have the power and brains to change it.”

    Eileen Richardson, Downtown Street’s founder, is a venture capitalist and former tech CEO herself, previously heading up the online music site Napster. She volunteered with the homeless on a sabbatical leave 10 years ago and was so shocked by what she saw she started up her own organisation to help.

    At their weekly meeting, the team leader makes an announcement to the some-100 guests gathered - Google is hiring. The company is holding a jobs fair in a few weeks’ time and they are looking for chefs, cooks and cleaners.

    Some groan, but most are keenly listening and a group stay behind after to sign up. In desperate times you cannot be too proud to “make a deal with the devil”, one guest says.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    Mohommod NawazA rare insight into life in a training terror camp – including being in bed by 10pm – has been unveiled after two brothers became the first fanatics in Britain to be jailed for Syria related offences.

    Mohommod Nawaz, 30, and Hamza Nawaz, 23, were unmasked as jihadists as they returned from a Syrian training camp because they were so desperate to brag about where they had been, a court heard.

    The Old Bailey heard how one of the brothers had only gone to the Syria to try "force" his then girlfriend to marry him.

    The siblings returned after just a few weeks because, one lawyer said, they had “bitten off more than they could chew”.

    They were arrested in Calais trying to get back into Britain on the Dover ferry.

    When they were stopped, police found in Mohommod's bag five rounds of AK47 ammunition which he was going to use to show off to his friends.

    On their mobile phones the pair had also taken pictures of their camp, including several of Mohommod posing in combat fatigues to show to friends.

    Police also found a “timetable” of life in the terror camp which detailed when they had to train, eat, pray and stressed that they had to be in bed by 10pm unless they were on guard duty.

    When they first arrived at the Turkish/Syrian border they met a contact who asked them: "Who do you support?" and they replied: "Junud Al-Shaam" meaning soldiers of Damascus, an extremist group in Syria.

    Then asked if they were “here for jihad?”, the replied: "Jihad. Yeah".

    The younger brother was jailed for three years while the older sibling "the prime instigator" of the plan, was sent down for four-and-a-half years.

    Mohommod had left the UK in breach of his licence following a previous conviction for conspiracy to commit kidnap and false imprisonment, when he had been jailed for six years.

    His victim was held for 23 hours, stripped of his Rolex and burnt with hot knives to force him to him to reveal his PIN number while a £50,000 ransom was demanded from his relatives.

    The brothers were still living with their parents and vanished from home on August 25 last year after telling their family they were “getting something to eat in Walthamstow.”

    Mohommod sent a relative a message stating: “We've left to come to Syria. We know everyone will be angry with what we have done but it is something we wanted to do.”

    The family went to police – but then told detectives they were not missing after all – and had gone to Scotland to visit relatives.

    On September 3 the family told police the missing brothers were “doing charity work.”

    But on September 16 they were arrested in Calais with the incriminating bullets and pictures.

    Police also uncovered 19 photographs and videos from their time in Syria on an iPhone, the court heard.

    There were several pictures of Mohommod posing in camouflage kit with an AK-47 rifle and a video clip showing road signs for Aleppo, East Al Bassett and Latakia.

    "The evidence shows Mohommod particularly wanted trophies of their trip to show where they had been and what they were doing, no doubt to increase their standing amongst those back in the UK who shared their extremist ideology,' said prosecutor Kate Wilkinson.

    “Mohommod decided to bring back five rounds of live rifle ammunition to enable him to brag about the trip and demonstrate the strength of his belief.”.

    “The defendant shared an extremist ideology and had travelled to Syria for the purpose of jihad or fighting in the name of Allah,” said Miss Wilkinson

    “These defendants had access to powerful weapons several times during their time in camp.”

    However, defending Mohommod, Imran Khan said the trip was "amateurishness in the extreme".

    He went to Syria because he was sympathetic to the rebel cause there and to "force" his then girlfriend to marry him.

    Michael Ivers, defending trained mechanic Hamza Nawaz, said: "It looks like a pretty hastily made decision by my client's older brother and my client having lost his job decided to join him. It is not well planned. It is not particularly sophisticated.

    "These young men having gone out there full of ideological recklessness of youth had looked around and found out they have bitten off more than they can chew. "

    Following the hearing, Counter Terrorism (SO15) Acting Commander Terri Nicholson, said it was "the first in a series of landmark sentences"

    "The sentence highlights the critical work police and security services carry out to identify individuals returning from conflict zones. This comes at a time when the global concern about the threat posed by returnees is intensifying.

    "We need communities and families to bring to our attention anyone they perceive may be vulnerable, a danger or showing signs of radicalisation before they choose to travel. Preventing tragedies is our priority and together with our partners we have a range of options available to support families and individuals at risk."

    Sentencing the brothers, Christopher Moss QC said: “Its quite clear that your trip was carefully planned.

    “It is of course right to observe that your trip to Syria was relatively short-lived.

    “On the evidence, you did not intent or plan terror activities in this country.

    'Your focus was the regime in Syria.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    elevator ThyssenKruppEverywhere you look, transport is being dragged into the 21st century - Google is developing driverless cars, Uber has revolutionized the taxi business, and trains can hover over their tracks .

    One company has seen this technological change and applied it to elevators.

    German company ThyssenKrupp has announced that the era of lifts being winched up by cables is over - the future is magnets.

    The firm has invented a cable-free elevator system that can move cabins horizontally as well as vertically using magnetic force, reminiscent of the lift in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

    elevator thyssen krupp

    “As the nature of building constructions evolve, it is also necessary to adapt elevator systems to better suit the requirements of buildings and high volumes of passengers," said Andreas Schierenbeck, chief executive of ThyssenKrupp Elevator.

    The company, which is also involved in shipbuilding and the car industry, believes its MULTI elevator technology will save power and be more economical, as multiple lifts can occupy a single shaft, increasing transport capacity by up to 50pc.

    Click here to see an animation of how the elevator works.

    Designed for "mid and high-rise buildings", the MULTI design sends cabins round in a loop at around five metres per second, stopping them using a "multi-level braking system". Cabins will weigh 50pc less than current models as ThyssenKrupp will use new lightweight materials.

    All this means that passengers will have to wait just 15 to 30 seconds for the next available lift.

    elevator thyssen krupp

    "Per year, New York City office workers spend a cumulative amount of 16.6 years waiting for elevators, and 5.9 years in the elevators. This data provides how imperative it is to increase the availability of elevators," Mr Schierenbeck added.

    ThyssenKrupp Elevator, which has sales of €6.4bn and employs more than 50,000 employees at 900 locations, hopes to have a prototype lift up and running by the end of 2016.

    Here is a video of the elevator:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    pile amazon boxesAmazon has reported its busiest ever sales day on Black Friday as consumers rushed online to take advantage of exclusive deals.

    Bestselling products included the Kindle Fire HDX range, discounted by £100, as well as the Dolce Gusto Mini Me Coffee Capsule Machine, Toy Story Ultimate Buzz Lightyear, diamond jewelery and men's watches.

    More than 3,000 deals were launched across Amazon during Black Friday week.

    The online marketplace sold more than 5.5m products at a rate of 64 items a second on Friday, according to figures released today.

    The peak time for shopping on Amazon on Black Friday was 8.29am, the retailer said.

    Last year, Amazon sold more than 4m items on Black Friday. However, on the following Monday - known as Cyber Monday - it smashed this record by selling 4.1m items at a rate of 47 a second.

    This year, the e-commerce giant has predicted that Cyber Monday will beat its Black Friday sales record by some margin.

    It has announced plans to offer hundreds of extra deals on Cyber Monday, which takes place on December 1. New offers will be released every 10 minutes.

    Amazon predicts that the bestsellers on Monday are likely to be TomTom Sat Navs, Sennheiser Headphones, Harry Potter DVDs and ruby jewellery.

    "Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year-on-year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations," said Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU retail at Amazon.

    "The public's appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar."

    The Black Friday phenomenon originated in the United Statesand has emerged as one of Britain's busiest shopping days of the year.

    Black Friday – always the day after Thanksgiving – has been in operation in America since before the Second World War. It was a single day of big discounts, launched by east-coast retailers in an attempt to kick consumers off their holiday sofas and into the stores.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    victoria's secret fantasy braThe Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is in London for the first time. More than 40 models including Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel and Karlie Kloss will take to the catwalk later to showcase the lingerie brand's latest products.

    The show's arrival in the capital suggests the underwear empire is continuing its focus to expand beyond the US.

    But how did the American company grow into one of the most-talked-about brands today?

    The story of Victoria’s Secret starts in the 1970s, when 30-year-old business graduate Roy Raymond wanted to buy some lingerie for his wife.

    Walking into a department store, he found the experience an embarrassing one and decided there was a gap in the market for a high end store that would cater for men, as well as women.

    In 1977, Mr Raymond took out a $40,000 bank loan and $40,000 borrowed from relatives to open his first Victoria’s Secret shop in a shopping mall in California.

    Inspired by 19th century England, his store was decorated with dark wood, red velvet sofas and silk drapes, a contrast to the garish department store offerings at the time.

    victoria's secret showThe company earned $500,000 its first year. And by the time Mr Raymond sold the business in 1982 for about $1m, Victoria’s Secret had five stores and a mail-order catalogue that made $6m a year.

    By the early 1990s, Victoria’s Secret had become the largest American lingerie retailer, with 350 stores and sales topping in excess of $1bn.

    However, it was struggling to compete with lower-priced brands and owner Leslie Wexner, creator of The Limited clothing business, needed something radical to take the brand to the next level.

    The breakthrough came in 1995, when the brand launched the first of its notorious Victoria’s Secret fashion shows.

    A relatively traditional affair, with models wearing simple lingerie, it wasn’t until three years later that angel wings appeared on the runway modelled by Tyra Banks.

    By 2000, the shows began to take a lavish turn and the $15m price tag for the ruby and diamond encrusted bra worn by supermodel Gisele Bündchen was then the most expensive item of lingerie ever created.

    Now no Victoria’s Secret fashion show is complete without a multimillion pound “Fantasy Bra”, and one model is typically chosen to wear it each show. Miranda Kerr, Heidi Klum and Adriana Lima have all worn it in the last decade.

    This year's notorious Dream Angels Fantasy Bra, designed for Victoria's Secret by jeweller Mouawad, will be worn by two models for the first time, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio.

    The bras are valued at $2m each and decorated with 16,000 handset precious gems, accompanied by body pieces of fine gemstones strung together with 18-carat gold.

    The brand chooses models which it thinks women will relate to, but came under fire earlier this year for adverts suggesting that its slim models have ‘the perfect body’.

    The fashion shows, costing around $15m (£10m) to stage, are set against performances by A-list artists which have included Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Usher, and are a key part of the business.

    Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Bruno Mars appear with models during the Victoria's Secrets fashion show finale at Lexington Armory in New York

    Victoria’s Secret now has more than 1000 shops in the US and controls 35pc of the country’s lingerie market. Sales were $6.6bn in 2013 and the company is worth around $1.9bn.

    In 2012, the brand opened its first stores in London and the company entered mainland China this year, as it looks to grow the brand’s presence in Asia.

    Today’s Victoria’s Secret fashion show at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre is the first time it has come to the city and is only the second time the event has left the US, after transferring to Cannes in France in 2000.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0


    Smart cars and vehicle-to-vehicle communication

    Cars of the future will be smarter and safer. They will be able to monitor the alertness of the driver and communicate with each other to avoid collisions. On-board computers are already creating a huge amount of data and as big data analytics improve, further trends and inefficiencies will be identified.

    Vehicles will also be able to communicate with each other about traffic, weather and road conditions and warn the driver about potential safety hazards. In the future, systems could automatically take over braking or steering if they sense an imminent accident. Advanced sensors within the vehicle could also monitor a driver’s heart rate, eye movements and brain activity to detect issues ranging from drowsiness to a heart attack.

    Driverless vehicles

    google car driverless self-driving

    Google’s self-driving vehicles have shown that they can recognize and respond to roadworks, level crossings, complex intersections and a variety of communications with cyclists. For example, using laser imaging, the car can recognise a cyclist waving his hand, will expect the cyclist to move over and will not pass until it is safe to do so.

    In 2014, Google launched their first scratch-built driverless car; the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals, and a top speed of 25mph (40km/h). The company aims to build 100 of the electric vehicles for testing. The cars will be equipped with two buttons — one to start the vehicle and one for panic stop.

    Driverless car interiors

    Driverless vehicle technology means that passengers could spend their time in a more meaningful way whilst travelling. As the focus will be internal to the vehicle, there will be more emphasis on the passenger experience.

    Swiss company Rinspeed has proposed one vision of this driverless future with its Xchange concept car. Rinspeed transformed the interior of an electric Tesla Model S with seats that swivel, tilt and slide into 20 positions, a wide-screen television in the rear and an Italian espresso maker in the centre console.

    Drone delivery system

    MatternetUS company Matternet is designing a drone delivery network for regions, particularly in low-income countries, where a road network doesn’t exist or is unreliable. In such areas, lightweight, autonomous drones could be the fastest and most cost-effective method for delivering food, medicine, and other necessities to isolated communities.

    Matternet proposes a system of base stations where drones could rapidly switch batteries or payloads with other drones and then continue through the network of base stations to their drop-off or collection point. According to Matternet, this cheaper and more environmentally friendly transport system could be a substitute for expensive investments in road infrastructure.

    Synchronized traffic signals

    Los Angeles, USA, is the first major city in the world to fully synchronize all its traffic signals. The Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control system is one of the world’s most comprehensive traffic systems for alleviating traffic.

    The city has synchronized all 4,400 of its traffic signals by using magnetic sensors in the road to measure the flow of traffic. The system also uses cameras and a centralized computer system which receives information from the sensor network and automatically makes adjustments to traffic flow.

    Solar roadways

    Solar Roadways

    The Solar Roadways project, the brainchild of Scott and Julie Brusaw, aims to replace standard asphalt roads, parking spaces, pavements and bike paths with advanced solar panels that generate clean and renewable power. The panels also contain LED lighting, heating elements to melt snow, inductive charging capability for electric vehicles while driving, and even some storm water management abilities. The project more than doubled its original crowdfunding goal of US$1 million through site Indiegogo, raising US$2,200,886 to take it to the next phase of development.

    Smart and dynamic highways

    Snowflakes, temperature sensitive roads and glow in the dark lighting. The Smart Highway, by Studio Roosegaarde and civil engineering firm Heijmans, is a concept to develop more dynamic highways. The aim is to make roads that are safer and more sustainable by using interactive lights, smart energy and road signs that adapt to specific traffic conditions.

    Automated bicycle storage

    In Tokyo, where space is at a premium, Japanese construction company Giken has developed an underground bicycle park for secure storage and to relieve street clutter.

    Members place their bike on a runway and use a membership card to access the parking. The automated system then conveys the bike to a slot underground in 15 seconds. Bikes are retrieved and returned to users in a similar amount of time.

    Self-healing concrete surfaces

    Researchers at the University of Bath, Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge are working on a self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to seal cracks that can lead to decay and collapse. The aim is to create a concrete blend containing bacteria in microcapsules that will germinate if water seeps through a crack.

    The bacteria will produce limestone as they multiply, sealing the crack before the water can cause structural damage. Self-healing concrete could vastly increase the life of concrete structures, remove the need for repairs, and reduce the lifetime cost of a structure by up to 50%. As over 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions are due to cement production, extending the lifetime of structures and removing the need for repairs could have a significant environmental impact.

    Automated, space saving car parks

    Volkswagen’s car towers at Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany, are 60m tall parking towers of glass and galvanized steel. They house 800 cars and are connected to the Volkswagen factory by a 700m underground tunnel. In the vertical carparks, cars are lifted into position via mechanical arms that move vehicles in and out of their bays at a speed of two metres per second.

    Eito & Global Inc is a Japanese company that makes circular automated Robot-ParkTM parking systems which can accommodate the same number of cars in less than half the space of surface parking. The company also makes cylinder-shaped automated underground parking facilities that are earthquake resistant and cheaper to build than conventional garages.

    These are form part of a report on the future of highways by engineering company Arup.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    james franco seth rogen the interviewComputer hackers thought to have links to North Korea have published details of Seth Rogen's salary online.

    The cyberattack, which is believed to be revenge for the actor's decision to write and star in a film comedy about Kim Jong-un, also revealed the salary of Rogen's costar James Franco.

    The documents, as reported by Bloomberg, show Rogen was paid $8.4 million and Franco $6.5 million for their roles in "The Interview," a feature film by Sony Pictures that tells the story of two journalists who land an interview with the North Korean leader and are then recruited by the CIA to take part in a plot to poison him.

    North Korea reacted furiously in June when Sony announced its plans for the film, denouncing it as the work of "gangster moviemakers." State media went on to describe the storyline as "a wanton act of terror" that warranted "merciless countermeasures" unless it was canceled.

    Stern letters from Pyongyang to Hollywood, the UN, and even the White House failed to have any impact, and it is believed that North Korea has taken matters into its own hands to interfere with the release of the film, which is due to be released in North America on Dec. 25 and in the UK in February.

    In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, due to be published Friday, Rogen reveals that Sony executives became particularly concerned about the impact of the film after North Korea staged a round of missile tests.

    "Any time a movie causes a country to threaten nuclear retaliation, the higher-ups wanna get in a room with you," Rogen said, according to the magazine’s website.

    As well as publishing the salary details of Rogen and Franco, the hackers also revealed other expenses linked to the film, including $241 spent on "a table of weed, coke, pills, and panties," which is thought to be a prop.

    They also published the credit-card number of Michael Lynton, the head of Sony Pictures, and scripts for forthcoming TV programs and placed five Sony films online for free on file-sharing websites. These included the Brad Pitt World War II film "Fury" and "Annie," which stars Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz and is due to be released in the US later this month.

    California-based Sony has called in the FBI to investigate the attack on its computer systems, along with forensic experts from the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.

    They have reportedly identified malicious code that is almost exactly the same as the code used in March 2013 to attack numerous South Korean banks and media companies. That cyberattack was widely blamed on North Korea.

    A string of cyberattacks on other US businesses, including the DIY retailer Home Depot and Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world's biggest casino operator, have also been linked to North Korea.

    Rogan remains defiant about the film, saying in a Twitter post on Sunday: "I personally don't care if it's disrespectful of Kim, because he's evil. But that's not the intent. North Korea has produced tons of propaganda films that portray America's destruction."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    grumpy cat

    With a relentless look of malevolence, Grumpy Cat is not exactly cute.

    But the piercing stare and air of withering contempt have proved astonishingly lucrative for the cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen of Morristown, Arizona.

    In just two years the cat — whose real name is Tardar Sauce — has made $99.5 million from an array of products, including best-selling books and a film.

    Not surprisingly, Bundesen believes her pet is "unstoppable."

    She told the Express: "What she's achieved in such a short time is unimaginable and absolutely mind-blowing.

    "I was able to quit my job as a waitress within days of her first appearance on social media, and the phone simply hasn't stopped ringing since."

    Grumpy's earnings have dwarfed those of many of Hollywood's biggest names, such as Gwyneth Paltrow who, according to Forbes magazine, earned just over $18.6 million last year.

    The cat is also outstripping the world’s top footballers including Christiano Ronaldo, whose total remuneration this year is estimated at $42.2 million.

    Grumpy's permanent scowl is a result of her having been born with dwarfism and an underbite.

    She became an internet superstar after Bundesen's brother posted a picture online.

    Her fame spread rapidly especially once she was taken up by Ben Lashes — an "internet cat" agent.

    The frown has proved irresistible on social media for 521,000 followers on Instagram and 255,000 on Twitter.

    There have been a line of products including a brand of iced coffee, called Grumppuccino, and the cat is also "the face" of Friskies.

    Last year the curmudgeonly cat appeared on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

    Grumpy’s big-screen debut is coming soon. The film "Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever" has been billed as a cross between "Home Alone" and "Die Hard."

    NOW WATCH: 7 Crazy Facts That Sound Fake But Are Actually True


    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    london mansionsThey emerged as a novel way for the rich and famous to expand their homes, but now multi-story basements are set to be outlawed in one of Britain's wealthiest areas.

    The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has become the first local authority in the country to introduce restrictions on controversial subterranean developments.

    Basement extensions will still be permitted but the new rules will restrict how far they can stretch under a garden, limit them to a single story in most cases and ban developments under listed buildings altogether.

    Council cabinet member for planning policy Tim Coleridge said: "Basements have been the single greatest planning concern our residents have expressed to us in living memory.

    "Many have experienced years of misery from noise, vibration, dust and construction traffic."

    Basement extensions several stories below the ground have become increasingly popular in some of the capital's most expensive neighborhoods as home owners attempt to increase their living space without infringing strict planning controls.

    They have led to the creation of what are known as "iceberg homes", with the extra space earmarked to accommodate private cinemas, spas and swimming pools.

    The trend has gathered pace in the last decade. In 2001 there were just 46 planning applications for basement developments in Kensington and Chelsea, rising to 450 last year.

    Gert-Rudolf Flick, heir to the Daimler-Benz fortune, last year won permission to dig two stories under his £30 million South Kensington home, facing opposition from neighbours, including Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist.

    Proposals for the property included two rooms for clothes — winter and summer — along with a luggage store, a 50ft swimming pool, gym, cinema and beauty room.

    Jon Hunt, founder of the Foxtons estate agency, won permission for a mega-basement with tennis court and car museum to store his Ferraris at his home in Kensington Palace Gardens.

    Neighbor Lakshmi Mittal decided that his underground pool should be lined with marble from the same quarry as the Taj Mahal.

    Residents complained that streets were being turned into 24-hour building sites and while dust, noise, traffic and vibrations were irritating, cracks were also beginning to appear.

    The council said they have also increased in size, with two and three-storey basements "not uncommon".

    They have drawn repeated complaints from neighboring residents about noise and dust.

    Now after a two-year process, Kensington and Chelsea council has announced that a Government planning inspector has given the green light to its proposals to curb the scale of subterranean development.

    Mr Coleridge said: "It hasn't been easy and basement developers have aggressively opposed us every step of the way. We are delighted that the inspector agrees that we have got it right while at the same time praising us for our extensive public consultation.

    "Two years ago we started drafting a policy to try and strike the right balance between addressing our residents' concerns and the genuine need for people to expand their homes.

    "This ruling is a victory not only for the council but also our residents who have been overwhelmingly supportive of what we have been trying to do."

    The new guidelines are set to be formally adopted at the next full council meeting in January.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0


    Frenchman Jacques Sayagh has found a novel way to make sure he never misses a workout.

    Rather than travel long distances to a gym at ungodly hours, the 50-year-old bodybuilder works out right next to his "home"– on the streets of Paris.

    "I don't want to live in a small apartment," he says in the video above, which has gone viral since it was uploaded to YouTube last week. "People do not understand why I sleep on the floor, but I never feel cold."

    Homeless BodybuilderThe short film, made by director Julien Goudichaud, documents Sayagh's daily workout routine. He does push-ups on the pavement, pull-ups using belts suspended from lampposts, and bicep curls using bungee ropes attached to railings.

    Shots of his stretch of street show that he lives with his dog, various bits of workout apparatus, and tubs of creatine powder.

    "Bodybuilders are futurists, they dare everything," explains Sayagh, who competes in bodybuilding contests despite a diseased liver from his days of alcohol abuse. "It's a world that I like."

    Sayagh says that a simple motivation propels him to work out, even when Paris's streets are at their very coldest. "I have grandchildren. I don't want them to think that their grandfather is an asshole. I want them to be proud of me, that's all I want."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    0 0

    Asteroid Earth Drawing

    A mountain-sized asteroid which crosses paths with the Earth every three years has been discovered by a Russian scientist.

    Vladimir Lipunov, a professor at Moscow State University, said the space rock, named '2014 UR116', poses no immediate threat.

    But he warned that it could hit the Earth with an explosion 1,000 times greater than the surprise 2013 impact of a bus-sized meteor in Russia. That object entered Earth’s atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk, resulting in a series of ferocious blasts that blew out windows and damaged buildings for miles around.

    Prof Lipunov said it is difficult to calculate the orbit of big rocks like '2014 UR116' because their trajectories are constantly being changed by the gravitational pull of other planets.

    And he warns that its existence proves how little scientists know about other asteroids which could cause harm to the planet.

    "We need to permanently track this asteroid, because even a small mistake in calculations could have serious consequences," he said.

    Of 100,000 near-Earth objects which can cross our planet's orbit and are large enough to be dangerous, only about 11,000 have so far been tracked and cataloged.

    However NASA warned that '2014 UR116' did not pass close enough to the Earth to be considered a threat.

    "While this approximately 400-meter-sized asteroid has a three-year orbital period around the sun and returns to the Earth's neighborhood periodically, it does not represent a threat because its orbital path does not pass sufficiently close to the Earth's orbit," NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office said in a statement.

    NASA said that computer models showed that the asteroid would be an impact threat for at least 150 years.

    Last week scientists from across the world came together to warn that asteroids could wipe out humanity unless more effort is made to track and destroy them.

    Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins are among more than 100 experts calling for the creation of a huge asteroid detection system to prevent a doomsday scenario.

    “The ancients were correct in their belief that the heavens and the motion of astronomical bodies affect life on Earth - just not in the way they imagined," said Lord Rees.

    “Sometimes those heavenly bodies run into Earth. This is why we must make it our mission to find asteroids before they find us.”

    Systems are already in place to track large asteroids, but recent research suggests that rocks as small as 164 feet across would still be big enough to cause devastating results on Earth.

    "NASA has done a very good job of finding the very largest objects, the ones that would destroy the human race,” said Ed Lu, an astronaut who flew three trips to the International Space Station.

    “It’s the ones that would destroy a city or hit the economy for a couple of hundred years that are the problem.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

older | 1 | .... | 42 | 43 | (Page 44) | 45 | 46 | .... | 63 | newer