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- 04/05/15--10:10: _10 of the best East...
- 04/05/15--11:55: _Here's the 'Mad Men...
- 04/06/15--05:38: _Google wants you to...
- 04/08/15--08:16: _Doctors: James Bond...
- 04/09/15--06:07: _Companies could los...
- 04/12/15--03:32: _Four new episodes o...
- 04/12/15--04:22: _The world's biggest...
- 04/12/15--11:15: _Russia 'busts forei...
- 04/12/15--12:31: _Italian pizza chefs...
- 04/13/15--04:59: _The US is upset aft...
- 04/13/15--20:35: _The man who brought...
- 04/18/15--09:04: _Everything we know ...
- 04/18/15--09:53: _Meet the grandparen...
- 04/19/15--10:08: _Science knows a sur...
- 04/22/15--04:46: _International thiev...
- 04/22/15--05:55: _Wiretaps reveal wha...
- 04/22/15--08:57: _Astronomers are cre...
- 04/24/15--05:07: _20 Apple Watch apps...
- 04/24/15--05:56: _Here's what happene...
- 04/27/15--05:44: _A survivor recounts...
- 04/05/15--10:10: 10 of the best Easter eggs in films
- 04/06/15--05:38: Google wants you to use your phone abroad at no extra cost
- 04/09/15--06:07: Companies could lose billions because of crappy spreadsheets
- 04/12/15--03:32: Four new episodes of 'Game of Thrones' have leaked online
- 04/12/15--11:15: Russia 'busts foreign satellite spy ring'
- 04/22/15--05:55: Wiretaps reveal what Mediterranean people smugglers talk about
1. ET's friends appear in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
After Steven Spielberg included a Yoda cameo and Star Wars toys in his 1982 film (and in Raiders of the Lost Ark, see below), George Lucas promised to continue the gag in the next film he made. Unfortunately this was The Phantom Menace.
Here's some fairly in-depth discussion over whether the aliens can be taken as canon in the Star Wars universe (in short, yes but no but undetermined).
2. The Shining appears all over Toy Story
They're dark, dark folks over at Pixar. In Stanley Kubrick's famous adaptation of Steven King's horror novel, young Danny Torrence plays on the iconic carpet of the Overlook Hotel's corridors...
...which then appears in Toy Story....
There are more, too. The number 237 recurs across Toy Story 3: the numberplate on the rubbish truck which Woody thinks his friends have been thrown into reads RM237. When Trixie the blue Triceratops is shown on instant messenger, she's chatting with Velocistar 237, and the brand shown on a security camera in Sunnyside is Overlook H237.
Why 237? It's the terrifying room of psychelogical horrors Jack Torrence finds himself in in The Shining.
Pixar are also very self-referential across their films: A Lotso bear appears in Up! A Buzz Lightyear doll can be seen on the floor of the dentist's waiting room in Finding Nemo, a Rex dinosaur is hiding behind a pair of discarded bowling pins in Wall:E, Arlo, the dinosaur star of the film of the same name out in 2015, serves as a prop in the monster training room in Monsters Inc – the list goes on.
3. A sex scene was snuck into the closing credits of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Marauders' Map, a magical bit of cartography that helps Harry and friends see where other people are in Hogwarts, can only be accessed by the user promising that they are up to no good.
Clearly, the makers of the third Harry Potter film decided to inject some of this mischief into their closing credits. Blink and you'll miss it, but in the bottom left corner of the screen you'll see two pairs of feet, entwined and facing opposite directions: it's the closest thing you'll get to a sex scene across all eight films in the Warner Bros franchise. Thankfully. Nobody needs to see Ron and Hermione getting it together.
4. An X appears before the death of someone in The Departed
This is a very handy hint for anyone who tends to get a case of the wiggins at on-screen deaths: people, beware of the X. And cover your eyes because something awful is about to occur.
5. R2D2 in JJ Abrams' Star Trek films
6. The name of the Bride is revealed far earlier in the Kill Bill films
Uma Thurman's vengeful assassin is only referred to by her codename, the Bride, in the first film, but there are a couple of sneaky references, of which this is the most obvious.
Well, we say the most obvious, but you'd need to be phenomenally observant and able to notice things that only pop up for a second. If this applies to you, you should probably think about a career as a vengeful assassin.
7. The Captain America suit being constructed in Iron Man
Eyes left and you'll get a look at Cap's shield. Strong sneaky work there, Mr Stark.
8. R2D2 and C3PO in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Spielberg is probably due a few more Easter eggs from the Star Wars team: as well as the cameos in ET, he included C-3PO and R2-D2 in Raiders' hieroglyphs.
JJ Abrams, if you could kindly include a couple of sharks in The Force Awakens, that would be splendid.
8. The Flux Capacitor in The Polar Express
As pointed out expertly by YouTube user FunWithGuru, the Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future's DeLorean can be found in the rather terrifying CGI Christmas film, The Polar Express.
10. There is a Starbucks cup visible in every scene of Fight Club
Director David Fincher: "When I first moved to LA in 1984, you could not get a good cup of coffee in Los Angeles to save your life. I mean, it was really pathetic. Then Starbucks came out, and it was such a great idea: good coffee.
"And when it became successful there were, like two or three on every block. It's too much of a good thing. But they read the script, they knew what we were doing, and they were kind of ready to poke a little fun at themselves. I mean, they wouldn't let us use their name on the coffee shop that gets destroyed by the piece of tragic corporate art, but they were willing to give us the rest of their stuff.
"We had a lot of fun using that – there are Starbucks cups everywhere, in every shot. I don't have anything personal against Starbucks. I think they're trying to do a good thing. They're just too successful."
This article was written by Alice Vincent from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
The trouble with trying to tell the story of Mad Men is that compared to most long-running TV series it doesn't have much story.
Most of the past 8 years and 85 episodes have been spent mapping out the psychologies of the main characters, without necessarily hitting plot points, other than moving inexorably forward in time. Mad Men's calling card has always been deliberate, extended, sometimes wilfully obtuse storytelling.
And yet you can paraphrase the entire show with a single question: who is Don Draper?
When we first met him in March 1960 the answer was a brilliant ad man, surfing on the wave of American post–war optimism and consumer spending, able to sell anything to anyone with his shrewd intuition and bravura pitching.
When we last left him in July 1969 the answer was he still a brilliant ad man but psychologically, seven series had taught us, he was all at sea, a shapeshifter who, in his own words, "doesn't know what he wants - but he's wanting". Seven series of Mad Men have essentially been about Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and that wanting.
The series began at the start of the 60s but America, it suggested, was very much still parked in the 50s.
Madison Avenue, we learned from the outset, was steeped in prejudice, racist and misogynistic – a new secretary starting out at Don's agency Sterling Cooper called Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) almost inevitably found herself pregnant at the hands of a waspish, grasping account man called Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) within days.
Yet in the aftermath of the Korean War and before the backlash against Vietnam, this was a society rent with possibility. Even women could climb the ladder, as Peggy found out when her talent with words was spotted and she was made a copywriter.
Don was her mentor and idol. In a now classic scene from the first episode Draper delivered a pitch for the Kodak Carousel that laid the framework for the show's abiding themes – identity, nostalgia, our relationship with our past, reinvention and the ultimate impossibility of real, as opposed to superficial, change.
We discovered throughout the first three series that Don exemplifies all of these themes – his real name, we learnt, is Dick Whitman, but by swapping dog tags with his dead commanding officer as a means to escape the Korean War he had stolen somebody else's identity and begun a new life.
That new life, needless to say, was one big, roiling identity crisis – Draper veered from one woman to the next on a spuming fountain of alcohol, cigarettes and high times. His wife Betty (January Jones) and his two children began the series oblivious, but their marriage – picket-fenced perfection, on the face of it - soon began to falter as both of them started to realise they had no idea who the other one was.
The second series jumped forward two years to 1962, with Don and Betty's marriage two years worse off. While Don embarked on a memorable, volatile affair with the wife of a comedian who was the face of a Sterling Cooper account, several other characters came to the fore and none of them had a happier time of it.
The office manager Joan (Christina Hendricks) got engaged to a doctor, only for him to rape her. Pete Campbell made a mirror image of Don's picture-perfect marriage with his own special girl Trudy, and then that started to unravel. Sterling Cooper's bibulous senior partner Roger Sterling dumped his wife for his secretary, but then needed a bucketful of cash to fund the divorce, and this led to the first of several buy-outs and mergers for the agency. Betty, fed up of her husband's roving eye, ended the season having sex with a stranger in a bar.
Series three paralleled the unravelling of the Draper marriage – Don still incapable of fidelity; Betty taking up with an affable, dashing politico called Henry Francis in response – with the formation of a new ad agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The Pryce was Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), an Englishman abroad brought in initially to help manage the agency's financial affairs.
In part thanks to Lane's influence, come season four, set in 1964 and 65, and SCDP looked every inch the modern agency – so much so that Don, the onetime sultan of suave, suddenly began to look like a bit of dinosaur.
All around him other characters prospered. Lane was a man people liked – both within SCDP and externally, among Mad Men fans, where his gentleman's code contrasted with the prevailing amorality of Madison Avenue. Meanwhile Peggy went from strength to strength, embracing the counterculture, finding her mojo at work and at home.
Don's response was to concentrate less on the work and more on his new secretary Megan – he asked her to marry him on a whim on a trip to California – a sun-kissed promised land that started to feature more regularly in the show from now on.
Inevitably, by the time we caught up with Don and Megan in series five, two years later in 1966, things were not looking so rosy. But for once Don's travails seemed immaterial next to the implosion of Pete Campbell's suburban dream life with Trudy and, unforgettably, the suicide of Lane in his office after he was discovered embezzling money from the agency.
Only Peggy – who had left SCDP in order to progress her career and had found immediate success at her new agency under Don-a-like Ted Chaough – looked to be on an upward curve.
And yet the sixth season, set in 1968 with the counterculture in full swing, began with Don and Megan on a beach in Hawaii, seemingly happy. Which meant of course that Don had started up another affair with a next-door neighbour.
At work the agency attempted to swap Heinz Baked Beans for Heinz Ketchup and ended up losing both, while more literal bereavements were everywhere – the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy both featured. And if there was anywhere lower for a spiralling Don's family life to go, it reached its nadir when his daughter Sally caught him in flagrante with the neighbour.
When the agency merged with Peggy's (and Ted's) old shop, everyone started to ask what is the point of an increasingly dissolute Don. Yet at least he appeared to have found some self-knowledge – the series ended with him taking his children to the brothel he grew up in, suggesting he might be about to admit who he really is.
Which takes us to the final season. Don, who'd been suspended from the newly named Sterling Cooper & Partners, re-entered the office hierarchy, though he was now working under Peggy. She, of course, had been delivering barnstorming ad pitches just like the Don of old.
His marriage to Megan appeared to be over – she's on the West coast working as an actress, he's still in Manhattan. Yet the prevailing mood was upbeat.
We were left last year with an unusual glint of happiness – even the death of agency founder Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) went down with a song and dance. Pete Campbell appeared to have lightened up now that he's stationed with Ted in SC&P's West Coast office, and Betty had morphed in to something approaching a modern woman, having spent several seasons as a buttoned-up prig in a fancy frock.
It can't last, can it?
Google is in talks towards a deal with Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of the mobile operator Three, that will allow Americans to use their phones abroad at no extra cost, industry sources have disclosed.
The two giants are discussing a wholesale access agreement that would become an important part of Google’s planned attempt to shake-up the US mobile market with its own network.
It is understood that Google aims to create a global network that will cost the same to use for calls, texts and data no matter where a customer is located. By linking up with Hutchison, it could gain wholesale access to mobile service in the UK, Ireland, Italy and several more countries where the Hong Kong conglomerate owns mobile networks.
Sources said Hutchison was a natural partner for Google in the plan, because it has also sought to eliminate roaming charges for Three customers.
Google announced its plans to launch a mobile network last month. It will not build mobile masts but rely on wholesale deals to use existing infrastructure both at home and abroad.
The company described it as a “small scale” project. Industry analysts expect Google to use its network to put pressure on the pricing of America’s biggest mobile operators, AT&T and Verizon, who enjoy higher profit margins than their European counterparts.
It could also use the project to encourage operators to invest in new technology to improve mobile coverage via Wi-Fi networks.
Google has adopted a similar strategy in the US fixed-line telecoms market with Google Fiber, its project to build fibre optic networks in cities where there has been a lack of investment in internet infrastructure. It Nexus range of own-brand smartphones is similarly seen as a way to influence hardware manufacturers.
Sources said Google was has no plans to to offer a mobile network to British consumers and is unlikely to for the foreseeable future. The European telecoms market is relatively competitive and roaming charges are already on their way to being abolished by regulators.
Google and Three declined to comment.
Though Google’s plans are believed to be modest, a serious move by Google or Apple to enter the mobile market would be feared by the telecoms industry.
It is already resisting Apple’s attempts to do away with SIM cards and replace them with software that allows iPad owners to select any available network, weakening relationships between mobile operators and customers.
Apple also has patents on technology that would remove the customer choice and automatically switch between the best networks and prices, a system that if implemented could further undermine mobile operators.
As the world’s suavest secret agent, James Bond has survived 23 films while barely breaking a sweat.
Witness Skyfall, the most recent 007 outing, in which Daniel Craig’s only concern after jumping from a digger on to a moving train was to readjust his shirt cuffs.
If Bond’s adventures were true to life, however, he would have lasted seven minutes into that film before meeting his death.
A panel of medical professionals has concluded, unsurprisingly, that action films are not very true to life.
In the case of Skyfall, the moment Bond is shot with a depleted uranium shell seven minutes in “would have turned his lungs inside out and killed him”.
Even if he had survived that, the uranium shell fragments “would greatly increase his cancer risk”. And the rest of the film does not treat him kindly.
Removing a bullet from his shoulder in a spot of DIY surgery “risks blood loss, lack of consciousness, nerve and muscle damage and the infection risk is huge”.
Falling from the roof of a train into a river, one of the film’s great set pieces, “could sever his spinal cord or break his neck”, not to mention the dangers of drowning.
Grenade explosions at the climax of the film would leave Bond with perforated eardrums.
As for a scene at the end in which Bond wrestles a henchman underwater in an icy Scottish loch, the chances of him surviving that would be pretty low: “Fighting means he would use oxygen quickly so it’s improbable he’d get out in time. Hypothermia would set in very quickly and he’d struggle to move.”
Sky fall Injuries
Bond is shot in the chest.
|12 mins||Bond is shot, falls off a train roof and lands in a river 80m below.|
|31 mins||Bond removes a bullet from his shoulder.|
|1hr 54mins||There’s gunfire and grenades at his Skyfall estate.|
|2hrs 2mins||Bond sinks into icy water.|
|Length of film||2hrs 23 mins|
|Time of death||7 mins|
The doctors offered their opinions in a feature for Total Film magazine.
While Bond emerges from encounters unscathed, the same cannot be said for the actors who play him.
Craig recently underwent knee surgery for an injury sustained during a fight scene for the 24th Bond film, Spectre, prompting Sir Roger Moore to tweet:
Sorry to hear Daniel Craig has sprained his knee on set #Spectre. Being 007 is not without its hazards. I'm available to step in if needed.— Sir Roger Moore (@sirrogermoore) February 6, 2015
When McClane is shot in the shoulder towards the end of the film “there’d be a fair amount of blood loss… coupled with blood loss from his feet and other injuries and it doesn’t look good.”
One of the most lethal films is children’s favourite Home Alone, in which plucky Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) fends off two would-be burglars, Marv and Harry (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci) by inventive means.
“Marv and Harry would be very seriously disabled and would probably have died from their injuries five or six hours after the film ends. However, Kevin would have died from massive head injuries after 35 minutes when he fell from climbing shelves,” the doctors’ report concluded.
Surprisingly, they decided the plot of Cast Away – a man (Tom Hanks) survives a plane crash in the ocean then lives alone on a desert island for four years – is not implausible.
His character “has a 76 per cent chance of a fatal injury once his plane suffers catastrophic damage” but “he could have definitely lasted until the end of the film from a physical health standpoint”.
Errors in company spreadsheets could be putting billions of pounds at risk, research has found. This is despite high-profile corporate catastrophes, such as the collapse of the US energy giant Enron, ringing alarm bells about inaccurate accounts and financial spreadsheets more than a decade ago.
Almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial losses as a result of errors in spreadsheets, according to F1F9, which provides financial modeling and business forecasting to blue chips firms. It warns of looming financial disasters as 71% of large British business always use spreadsheets for key financial decisions.
The company's new whitepaper titled Capitalism's Dirty Secret showed that the abuse of humble spreadsheet could have far-reaching consequences. Spreadsheets are used in the preparation of British company accounts worth up to £1.9 trillion, and the UK manufacturing sector uses spreadsheets to make pricing decisions for up to £170 billion worth of business.
In total, spreadsheet calculations represent up to £38 billion of British private-sector investment decisions per year, data harvested through YouGov found. Yet 16% of large companies have acknowledged finding inaccurate information in spreadsheets more than 10 times in 2014.
Grenville Croll, a spreadsheet risk expert, said of the findings: "Spreadsheets have been shown to be fallible, yet they underpin the operation of the financial system. If the uncontrolled use of spreadsheets continues to occur in highly leveraged markets and companies, it is only a matter of time before another 'Black Swan' event occurs causing catastrophic loss."
The report warns that while one-third of large businesses report poor decision-making as a result of spreadsheet problems, a third of the financial decision-makers using spreadsheets in large UK firms are still given zero training.
Spreadsheet errors have blamed for numerous high-profile corporate meltdowns. In 2012, a spreadsheet error in the rail franchise bid process for the West Coast Mainline cost the taxpayer about £60 million. Reports suggest that JPMorgan Chase lost £250 million because of a spreadsheet slipup in 2013. Axa Rosenberg, the global equity investment manager, was fined £150 million for covering up a spreadsheet error back in 2011.
The Enron collapse was turned into a satirical play on Broadway.
Kenny Whitelaw-Jones, managing director of F1F9, said the findings of the report had serious implications for business. "The failure to take seriously the risks posed by spreadsheets is capitalism's dirty secret," he said. "This YouGov report looked at businesses here in the UK, but we're confident that by extension this is a global issue.
"More often than not just one person in a company has the knowledge of how the financial spreadsheet models are constructed. Other people are unable to understand and therefore check the analysis. The potential for errors is massive."
Recent documents detailing the collapse of Enron in 2001, released after the conclusion of all legal proceedings, showed that 24% of the corporation’s spreadsheet formulas contained errors.
Felienne Hermans, of Delft University of Technology, analyzed 15,770 spreadsheets obtained from over 600,000 emails from 158 former employees. He found 755 files with more than one hundred errors, with the maximum number of errors in one file being 83,273.
Dr. Hermans said: "The Enron case has given us a unique opportunity to look inside the workings of a major corporate organization and see first-hand how widespread poor spreadsheet practice really is.
"What's truly shocking is that there seemed to be a culture of total acceptance that mistakes were simply part of working with spreadsheets.
"Some people were sending more than 100 spreadsheets back and forth on a daily basis, which proves there was no agreed system or standardized way of working."
The first four episodes of the keenly anticipated fifth season of Game of Thrones have been leaked online a day before the series' official US premiere on Sunday 12th April.
According to Mashable , the leaked versions, which have since been made available via several Torrenting sites, appear to have been copied from DVDs given to members of the press in advance of their broadcast on HBO.
Each of these advance press copies contains a digital watermark that is visible on the screen. These have reportedly been blurred out on the leaked versions now circulating online.
Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV series online for three consecutive years. Speaking to the Denver Post last week, Greg Spence, Game of Throne's producer responsible for post-production, said he was concerned about the potential for leaks and piracy.
“The cast is looping all over the world, sending files back and forth,” Spence said. “Artists are working in special-effects houses all over the world. The files are watermarked, and editors have to confirm in writing that they’ve deleted them.”
The first episode of Season 5 of Games of Thrones airs in theUS on HBO on Sunday 12th April and in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Monday 13th April at 9pm.
The world’s largest private equity firms are already circling the $30bn (£20bn) of assets that could be spun off by Shell following its acquisition of BG Group, the largest ever merger between two UK companies.
Warburg Pincus and Blackstone are understood to be gearing up to get involved in the biggest industry deal for the past two decades. Shell’s £47bn takeover of its smaller oil and gas rival is expected to be the catalyst for a wave of consolidation in the sector.
Rival private equity firms Carlyle, Riverstone, KKR and Apollo, which also have a track record in energy investments, are expected to take an interest in the pool of assets that will be put up for grabs by Shell.
Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, said that the combined company would make $30bn of asset sales “from 2016 to 2018 averaging $10bn per year”.
The Shell boss added that there would also be some smaller disposals this year, although there were “weak market conditions for divestments currently”. Shell is expected to try to sell off some of its ageing North Sea operations, but will struggle to find a good price for them as E.ON, Total and RWE are already working on plans to pull out of the North Sea.
While Shell extolled the virtues of its tie-up as a way to accelerate into deepwater strategy, complex and expensive projects are likely to be the first on the list of possible disposals.
Analysts have also raised the prospect of Shell opting to focus on BG’s Australian assets, which could lead it to sell off its own operations in the region.
Mr van Beurden also said that the companies had an overlapping presence in 15 countries, leading analysts to believe that there will be a number of disposals in order to cut costs and produce the $2.5bn of annual synergies touted in the companies’ presentations.
The blockbuster deal is not forecast to close until at least the beginning of 2016 as it needs approval from regulators in Brazil, China, Australia and the European Commission, all of which could ask for disposals to be made to appease antitrust concerns.
Pascal Menges, manager of the Lombard Odier Global Energy Fund, said: “The deal comes at a hefty price and management will have their work cut out to execute the deal and generate synergies and assets sales. The risk of indigestion is not small.”
While analysts rushed to speculate on whether ExxonMobil will gatecrash the tie-up or have even greater ambitions with a BP deal, industry bankers said that Shell’s blockbuster deal would also independently spawn a string of deals through asset sales.
Shell said that its swoop on BG was a “bold and compelling move” but the oil giant also revealed that its deal relied on a bet that oil prices will recover by almost 50pc over the next year.
“Having an oil major effectively call the bottom of the market will give others faith to invest in deals too,” one industry banker said.
Private equity firms raised $49bn of capital last year for specific energy-focused funds to target opportunities that arose from cheaper commodity prices.
Warburg Pincus raised $11.bn for its fund while Blackstone closed its second $4.5bn dedicated energy fund in February.
The private equity firm’s previous dedicated energy fund had around $2.5bn in assets and Blackstone’s chief executive, Stephen Schwarzman, has remained bullish on energy.
“I think this is going to be a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for us,” Mr Schwarzman said during fundraising as the price of oil fell below $60 from its peak last June. Warburg Pincus and Blackstone have also shared success in energy after teaming up to fund small explorer Kosmos Energy, which discovered the massive Jubilee oilfield off the coast of Ghana in 2007.
Buy-out groups were previously focused solely on the North American oil market.
This article was written by Ashley Armstrong from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
In a 40-minute film echoing the language of 1980s space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Oleg Maidanovich, head of Russia's space command, declined to say which country or countries the satellites belonged to.
"Very recently, specialists of the department of space intelligence centre uncovered a newly created group of space satellites... made for radio-technical reconnaissance of equipment on Russian territory," he said.
The film - called "Space Special Forces" - was shown on defence ministry channel Zvezda as Russia marked "Space Day", commemorating the space flight of Yury Gagarin on April 12, 1961.
"One talks of peaceful satellites, but there are known cases when groups of potential enemy satellites formed against our satellites, above our territory," the film's voiceover said.
"There are cases when a space satellite pretends to be space junk for years and then wakes up and starts working at the right moment."
Space Command is a division of the Russian military responsible for warning of missile and air strikes and controlling Russia's defence satellites.
Russia's relations with the West are at their lowest point in post-Cold War history, although cooperation has so far continued in space, notably at the International Space Station.
The True Neapolitan Pizza Association, which represents pizza makers across Italy, accused McDonald's of a "shameful attack" against Italy's cultural traditions, while and warned them to stop "trying to make money at the expense of children's health".
A top Neapolitan pizza chef described the claim that Italian children preferred hamburgers as "blasphemy".
McDonald's said it had not meant to attack pizza, which it called an "institution" in Italy, but insisted that "even the pizza chefs of Naples have probably bought their children to us at least once". The multinational invited any children who had missed out on their McDonald's experience "to come see us".
The 20-second video, uploaded onto YouTube, shows a waiter in a pizzeria asking a small boy which pizza he would like. "A Happy Meal", the boy responds, before the camera switches to a new shot of the boy with his family, this time sat happily in McDonald's.
"Your little boy had no doubt," says a voice at the end of the advert.
Massimo Di Porzio, vice president of The True Neapolitan Pizza Association, which was founded in Naples in 1984, said: "We've had enough of them making money at the expense of children's health.
"Our legal team is looking at the possibility of legal action to put an end to his shameful attack on a symbol of the Mediterranean diet."
He added: "It is not the first time and it will not be the last time that McDonald's has tried to attack our cultural traditions but this time we are intent on taking action, which if we win, will allow us to invest in courses to help educate children about food."
Eduardo Pagnani, co-owner of Pizzeria Brandi, one of the most famous pizza restaurants in Naples, said it was "blasphemy" to suggest children preferred hamburgers. "Don't ridicule pizza: it is quality food and the best known in the world," he said.
The advert on the website of La Repubblica has attracted scores of complaints. Michele Contessa wrote: "I continue to ask myself how they guarantee good quality meat at those prices."
McDonald's and Italy have never had an easy relationship.
The world-famous Slow Food movement, founded by Carlo Petrini, from Piedmont, was born after a 1986 demonstration on the intended site of a McDonald's at the Spanish Steps in Rome. The movement aims to defend regional traditions, good food and gastronomic enjoyment.
In 2000, riot police were brought in to protect McDonald's branches in 20 Italian cities as demonstrators flung raw meat at windows in protest at the growth of multinational food companies.
US files complaint over 'unsafe' and 'aggressive' interception over Poland
The US is protesting an intercept of an American reconnaissance plane by a Russian fighter jet last week, calling it "unsafe and unprofessional" amid what it views as increasingly aggressive air operations by Moscow.
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright on Sunday said the US was filing a complaint to Russia after the April 7 incident over the Baltic Sea.
Russian officials have denied their pilot did anything wrong, according to several news reports.
According to the Pentagon, the US RC-135U plane was flying in international airspace north of Poland. US officials say a Russian SU-27 fighter intercepted the US aircraft at a high rate of speed from the rear, and then proceeded to conduct two more passes using "unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers" in close proximity.
"Unprofessional air intercepts have the potential to cause harm to all aircrews involved. More importantly, the careless actions of a single pilot have the potential to escalate tensions between countries," Wright said.
"This air activity takes place in the context of a changed security environment in view of Russia's aggression against Ukraine," he said.
It is not the first time the US has protested to Moscow what it considered to be an unsafe intercept. Last April, a Russian fighter jet intercepted a US reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk.
This article was written by Agencies from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
The man who brought KFC to Britain and one of only a few people in the world to know its "secret" recipe has vowed never to eat it again - branding it "dreadful".
Raymond Allen became a personal friend of Harland "the Colonel" Sanders after meeting during a conference in Chicago 50 years ago.
Shortly afterwards he opened the first franchise in the UK in Preston, Lancashire, and helped establish the business across Britain in its early years.
Mr Allen still has a personal hand-written copy of the recipe which is believed to be made up of 11 herbs and spices - and is a closely guarded secret by the firm.
But the 87-year-old, from Jersey in the Channel islands, said the company has strayed so far from its original concept it's been "ruined" and would never set foot in one again.
He said: "We have got one where I now live, but I would not go in there. I don't use it and I think it is dreadful. The company has ruined the product.
"Instead of staying with one good thing that was sellable, they have tried to compete with the other fast food units. They should have just stuck with the chicken."
His wife Shirley, 84, said: "We tried KFC only once about a year ago.
"We had the traditional original chicken but there were so many different products it was difficult to know what to order. I don't think we will go back."
After the chance meeting in Chicago, Mr Allen helped Sanders establish the UK side of his empire while he was still a small-time restaurant owner in Louisville, Kentucky.
He also gave him valuable advice on the legal side of the business including patents and was paid to seek out suitable locations for other branches across the world.
He said: "The Colonel was a very kind man, who was very forthright.
"But at the time we met he was a small-time Southern State restaurant owner, and I knew a lot about patents or registered trademarks.
"We had heard about him before the meeting. But when we first met him, he had only one franchisee in America who sold the chicken as a menu item in his restaurant.
"We were in the fast food business and thought it would be the ideal product to sell in a takeaway."We had several Wimpy bars so decided to convert them into KFC. That is what we did with the first one in Preston."
Mr Allen said he has a personal hand-written copy of the secret recipe for the unique taste of KFC chicken which is believed to be made up of 11 herbs and spices.
He said: "It is a lengthy recipe. I think there are 11 herbs and spices but I can't remember it off the top of my head so I couldn't tell you even if I wanted to.
"But it is locked away in a safe in a bank. We don't really get asked much about it. Not many people know about our involvement in it.
"We are a low key and private family and don't often talk about it. I have no idea how much it is worth but I would never sell it."
At the peak of Mr Allen's expansion of the franchise, he was opening a new shop every week through cash flow.
He said: "We were in a race against time with McDonalds as we both wanted to get the best sites.
"We wanted to expand a bit quicker than that so I walked the streets of London to go to a bank.
"We needed £100,000 trying to raise the money - but all the banks said there was no future in the business."
His company KFC UK Ltd, was eventually able to obtain a loan from Heublein Inc, a USA company which at the time owned Smirnoff Vodka.
He said: "They saw how well we were doing and lent us the money on condition that we sold the business once we had opened 100 units. That was what we did."
Mr Sanders had started his KFC business in 1930 at a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, where he began cooking for hungry travellers who stopped there for fuel, using a secret recipe for the coating of the restaurant's fried chicken.
It became so popular that by 1935 the Governor of Kentucky made Mr Sanders a Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his promotion of the American state.
Following the meeting Mr Allen acquired the rights to expand the KFC franchise outside the US, and returned home with big plans.
He said: "It was slow to catch on at first because people didn't know what it was.
"In the UK in those days chicken was something you ate for Sunday dinner. It was way before its time. We had to give it away to passers-by initially.
"We would only use fresh chickens, and they had to be two and a half pounds in weight. It was initially difficult to source the chickens because of the demand."
In recognition of his achievements in business, Mr Allen was named a Freeman of the City of London in 1979 and was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel in 1965.
The dating website for adulterous affairs is planning to float in London. Here are all the dirty details
Ashley Madison. Is that some kind of shoe designer?
A sensible guess, but definitely wrong. Ashley Madison is a dating website aimed at people who are already married. The service brands itself as “discreet”, and simply picked two popular American girls’ names as the company name.
Wait, so they’re a dating service for adultery? Isn’t that immoral?
The company motto is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The website offers affair guidelines, with advice on how to cover your tracks.
So yes, it’s immoral.
In its defence, the chief executive Noel Biderman says that someone wouldn’t go to Ashley Madison unless they were already planning on having an affair. The website simply means that they won’t cheat with a colleague or close friend. We should see the company as “a safe alternative,” he says.
What have Ashley Madison done now?
Nothing to do with broken hearts. Ashley Madison plans to float on the London Stock Exchange this year.
We don’t want such depraved companies here. Send them away.
This isn’t Singapore. In 2013, Ashley Madison had to abandon launch plans there after they met with staunch opposition. But the Canada-based company decided London was the best place for an IPO because of Europe’s relaxed approach towards infidelity.
This is England, not France.
Perhaps the figures will persuade you. Ashley Madison made $115m (£77m) last year and is worth $1bn (£670m). The company aims to raise $200m (£135m) from an initial public offering, which it will use to expand internationally.
Surely there can’t be that much demand?
Think again. There are 1.2 million people signed up to Ashley Madison in the UK, which is equivalent to around five per cent of the UK’s married population. It currently has 34 million members in 46 countries around the world, including South Africa, Japan and South Korea. Ashley Madison is planning to launch in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states later this Spring.
Sounds like the world’s worst kept secret. How long has it been around for?
Ashley Madison has been helping adulterers unite since 2001.
And how does it actually work? I’m asking for a friend.
Users don’t pay a subscription to search, but have to pay to send other Ashley Madison members messages or virtual “gifts”.
Each profile explains what they’re looking for, which can be specific as, “bubble bath for two, gentleness, sensual massage” and far more explicit examples, which we won't mention here. Users also state whether they’re looking for a cyber affair, long-term relationship or short-term fling. Around 70 per cent of members are men – no surprise there.
Ashley Madison will make sure nothing incriminating comes up on your credit card bill, and members are free to chat and arrange meetings themselves.
Thanks for that. I’ll tell my friend.
You don’t have to be so po-faced about it. As Noel Biderman told The Telegraph five years ago: “I can’t worry about people thinking I’m a ghoul, because I’m pretty sure that history will treat me differently. It’s 2010, people: time to redefine morality.”
This article was written by Olivia Goldhill from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Appalled by stories of children committing suicide, this couple chose to convert their home into a school to prevent further tragedy
When an elderly Warwick couple heard the story of Simone Grice, a bullied schoolgirl who committed suicide, they decided to devote their retirement to preventing further tragedies. Vivian Morgan, 72, and her husband Fred, 94, converted their ten-bedroom home into a school for bullied children in 2012. Three years on, they’re successfully helping 20 troubled pupils to recover from years of torment.
“I can’t think of anything worse than a child taking their own life,” says Fred. “It’s so final and tragic. If we can be useful and give a productive life to a few of them, then that’s only a good thing.”
Around half of the pupils at Northleigh House School in Hatton, Warwick, have tried to take their own lives, and many are referred by the council because they’re too depressed to attend their local state school. Although small, Northleigh is a fully-functioning independent school that follows the national curriculum and is subject to Ofsted inspections.
“We had one 15-year-old girl who had bald patches where the bullies had pulled her hair out,” says Vivian. “I’ve seen texts sent to pupils telling them to kill themselves. It’s horrific.”
Students can be too ill to work when they first arrive, and have often fallen behind on their learning because of missed classes.
“When they first come, they can’t do a full week. Some of them sit and don’t speak, and it takes some longer than the others,” says Vivian. “But once they realise they’re safe, they’ll start to do a few things – usually cooking or looking after the animals.”
The students, aged between 11 and 16, study English, maths and science, and are taught by 22 mainly part-time staff. An Italian therapist is on hand to help with language classes, and those interested in music can learn piano.
Most pupils will stay at Northleigh House for around a year and then move on to a sixth form college – though they’re given Northleigh staff’s phone numbers, in case they run into trouble. The school is getting steadily more pupils from Warwick and nearby councils, while one Hampshire family are planning to move across England so that their child can attend the school.
“When they leave here, they’re like normal happy, laughing teenagers, and they’ve caught up on their work,” says Vivian. “We had one young girl who had tried to throw herself under a bus. She’s really happy and at college in Leicester now. To think that she may have died is terrible.”
One student, who used to give wrong answers in class so that bullies wouldn’t pick on her, left Northleigh House with A* GCSEs in physics, maths and chemistry, while another is now studying engineering at Warwick University.
Fred Morgan was over 90 when he founded the school, but says he never considered retiring and has always kept active. The Morgans only stopped working on their successful curtain business last month and, although they didn’t have any teaching experience, they were able to secure funding from the local council to establish the school.
But council support can’t cover all the costs, and Vivian and Fred are fundraising to try and create a trust fund for the house. “I would like to see it remain, and at the moment it’s not sustainable,” says Vivian. “I want it to live forever.”
This article was written by Olivia Goldhill from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
NOW WATCH: You've been doing pull-ups all wrong
If your garden has a pond, or you just like to keep your eyes open while out for a walk, you will be familiar with tadpoles.
So familiar, in fact, that a really weird aspect of tadpole development will probably seem completely normal. That is, frogs have four legs, but tadpoles have only two — the back ones.
The front legs of tadpoles develop along with the back ones, but they do so internally, erupting only at the very end of development, just before the tadpole officially becomes a frog and leaves the water. This is not a peculiarity of our common frog — all frogs and toads are the same.
Why? The widely accepted explanation is that it's got something to do with swimming.
Specifically, that tadpoles can swim faster without their front legs, and are therefore better at escaping from predators. The trouble is that, like many widely believed explanations for all kinds of things, this one had never been tested.
Rightly offended by this unsatisfactory state of affairs, a team of biologists from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh set out to investigate, and recently published their findings in the journal Functional Ecology. And to make sure they did a proper job, they used common frogs, common toads and four tropical frogs and toads as well.
Right away they noticed another strange thing about all their study species: the front legs rarely erupted simultaneously. The species differed a bit, but generally one leg appeared five or six hours before the other. So for a short spell the tadpoles were swimming around with three legs.
Surely, the scientists thought, this must be a bad idea — like trying to steer a rowing boat with only one oar.
So they conducted some experiments to see if having two, three or four legs affected how fast tadpoles could swim. What they actually measured was "burst speed": how fast a tadpole set off when startled by a jet of air from a pipette.
And second, did having just one forelimb affect the angle they set off at? Essentially, did tadpoles with only one emerged forelimb show any tendency to swim in circles?
The results were quite unexpected. Tadpoles swam faster with four legs than with two. They even swam faster with three legs than with two.
If escaping from predators is a priority (which it probably is; tadpoles are a favourite food of a whole zoo of aquatic predators), they would apparently be better off if their front legs emerged earlier. Not only that, but having just one front leg didn't seem to affect the direction they swam in.
Weirdly, startled tadpoles of all the species had a tendency to set off at an angle to the right. They had this bias when they only had two legs, and showed exactly the same bias after one front leg had emerged, irrespective of whether that was the right one or the left.
So what's going on? Why do tadpoles' front legs develop internally, emerging only at the last minute? There's a long list of possible explanations, but most seem pretty unlikely to me, and of course all are basically untested. Frankly, no one has any real idea.
Science isn't about knowing all the answers; it's about asking the interesting questions. Full marks, by the way, to the Glasgow Natural History Society for helping to fund this study.
Ken Thompson is a plant biologist with a keen interest in the science of gardening. He writes and lectures extensively and has written five gardening books, including Compost and No Nettles Required. His most recent book is Where Do Camels Belong? The Story and Science of Invasive Species.
A gang of international con men planned to scam more than £1.5 million worth of precious gems using a fake cabinet in a plot straight out of Hollywood.
In a “Trojan Horse” style con, one of the fraudsters was to hide in the specially designed furniture and secretly swap genuine money supposedly to buy the jewels with fake notes while the deal was being finalised.
From inside and armed with a torch, he was to make the switch by removing a fake part of the drawer to the cabinet.
The jeweller was to then unwittingly leave with what he thought was his money while the gang made off with the jewels.
In a highly sophisticated crime, they smuggled the cabinet, flat packed, into a Manchester hotel to assemble ahead of the scam and one would pose as a Swiss banker.
But the smartly-dressed fraudsters, who had posed as rich Italian businessmen, were caught red-handed before their target arrived by police who had been secretly monitoring them.
Detectives believe the men are part of an international gang that has used similar tricks to steal millions of pounds of jewellery and gold bullion across Europe.
Det Insp Rob Cousen of Greater Manchester Police said: "This was a well ran, highly sophisticated scam and, had we not intervened, a Manchester business stood to lose significant amounts of stock worth a substantial sum.
"They are skilled and well versed fraudsters, able to dupe the most security conscious and discerning of individuals.
"To catch them red handed is a fantastic result as we have been able to stop them in their tracks and prevent them from committing serious crime.”
The scam centred on the supposed purchase of jewels worth 2.2 million euros from Rockefeller's jewellers in Manchester city centre.
Posing as Italian businessmen Antonino Ballistreri, 45, and a 17-year-old man set up the deal with Rockefeller’s in December last year.
Having first discussed it over the phone, they went in to the shop where the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave his name “Benjamin Berman” and Ballistreri posed as a “Mr Ferrari”.
Well dressed and wearing Rolex watches, they ordered 41 high value items and arranged to meet at a hotel where a Swiss banker would be in possession of the money in cash – which would be a few days later.
At that meeting, the plan was to show the jeweller a brief case full of real money which would then be placed in a drawer in the cabinet while the deal and final price was negotiated.
As that went on, the man inside the large cabinet was to swap the money with worthless, fake notes in an identical brief case and the jeweller would have been none the wiser.
However, police had been watching the men since December 17 after four people were stopped by border officials at the UK Control Zone in Coquelles, France.
Three people were in an Italian registered BMW and Ballistreri and another man were travelling in a Fiat Panda.
Inside the Fiat was a forged Swiss identity card that contained an image of one of the men and 95 bundles cash each containing 25,000 euros (£18,000).
One of the men was found to be carrying a further forged Swiss identity card and a forged Swiss driving licence in the name of Marco Alberto Ferrari, the photo on the driving licence was the photo of Ballistreri. All were arrested, interviewed and bailed pending further enquiries.
But that same day, detectives discovered that men purporting to be Italian businessmen had been negotiating the purchase of jewellery from Rockefeller's jewellers in Manchester city centre.
Two days later, the teenager rang Rockefeller’s to say the money was in the country and he and Ballistreri then went to the shop to arrange to meet the next day at the Thistle Hotel in Manchester.
The gang was filmed going in to the hotel with the cabinet flat packed and buying a torch at a nearby supermarket.
When police swooped the men were in the process of assembling the unit.
Inside a drawer, officers recovered 2.2 million counterfeit euros as well as £52,000 (37,300) worth of legitimate euro notes.
Police also discovered that the phone used to contact Rockefeller's was also used to contact other jewellers and coin merchants in the UK.
It emerged the 17-year-old had also attempted to defraud Diamond Watches in London in November, Classic Jewellers and Camelot Diamonds in Brighton in November and had attempted to launder cash in Brighton Exchange in November. The teenager pleaded guilty to those additional counts.
At Manchester Crown Court on Monday, the gang admitted conspiracy to defraud and possession of counterfeit currency.
Luigi Arcuri, 73, Nikolic Giuliano, 37 and Antonino Ballistreri, 45, were each sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
The 17-year-old was given 16 months.
Det Insp Cousen added: “I suspect the quartet to be part of a much larger gang responsible for multiple frauds worth countless millions, who have been operating across most of Europe.
"We will now be working with other law enforcement agencies to establish the extent of the criminal network behind them that has been operating here and abroad.”
A major Italian investigation has revealed the pitiless but lucrative system by which traffickers transport tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe, including Britain.
Police secretly recorded hundreds of telephone conversations in which smugglers congratulated each other on the millions of euros and dollars they were making and laughed about how desperate migrants were to board the boats from the Libyan coast.
"(The migrants) say I put too many people on board the boats, but it is they who are so keen to get going," said one alleged trafficker, a 34-year-old Eritrean named as Mered Medhanie, nicknamed "The General".
"My style is like Gaddafi - nobody can be more powerful than me," said Medhanie.
Smugglers extort thousands of pounds from migrants to escort them through the Sahara desert, onto boats waiting on the beaches of Libya, across the Mediterranean to Italy and from there to the affluent countries of northern Europe, including the UK.
Among them smugglers based in Libya is Ermias Ghermay, an Ethiopian, who was allegedly in constant contact with Asghedom Ghermay. They share the same surname but are not related.
He had already been named in an arrest warrant in connection with the capsizing of a boat in October 2013 off the coast of Lampedusa in which 366 people drowned .
Smugglers beat and torture migrants in order to extract more money from their families back home for the various stages of the odyssey to Europe.
Families who are anxious for the safety of their relatives are told to make payments to the smugglers through money transfer services such as Western Union and Postepay, or, for Arab migrants, through the informal "hawala" system in which relatives pay local brokers for each leg of the journey.
It costs around $5,000 (£3,341) to be transported from West Africa or the Horn of Africa across the Sahara to the Libyan coast, investigators said in a 500-page document.
Migrants then pay around $1,500 for the boat crossing to Italy, and money on top of that to be put on trains and buses to Rome, Milan and across the Alps to northern Europe.
"From wiretaps we've ascertained that the average price for people coming from countries like Sudan, Eritrea and Libya is between $4,000 and $5,000.
Then, from Libya to Italy the journey costs between $1,000 and $1,500," said Mr Scalia, the prosecutor.
Smugglers showed no remorse or pity when, as happens all too often, the boats they despatched across the Mediterranean sank, either because of bad weather, engine failure or running out of fuel.
The Italians intercepted a telephone call last August in which one of the smugglers said that he believed that a boat carrying migrants had not made it to Italy. "I don't know what happened to them. Probably they're dead," he said.
An Earth-sized telescope will allow astronomers to glimpse the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
Scientists across the globe are currently linking up telescopes across the globe to form the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) which will be the first instrument ever to take detailed pictures of a black hole.
Even though the Milky Way’s black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced ‘Sagittarius A-star’), is four million times more massive than the sun, it is tiny to the eyes of astronomers.
It is the equivalent of standing in New York and reading the date on a penny in Germany or seeing a grapefruit on the Moon for someone standing on Earth.
But if successful, it will prove for the first time that black holes have ‘event horizons’ – an edge from which nothing can escape, not even light.
"The goals of the EHT are to test Einstein's theory of general relativity, understand how black holes eat and generate relativistic outflows, and to prove the existence of the event horizon, or 'edge,' of a black hole," says Dan Marrone.
This week the South Pole Telescope came on line with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico, the Submillimeter Telescope in Arizona, the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy in California, the Submillimeter Array and James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, and the Institute for Radio Astronomy Millimetrique (IRAM) telescopes in Spain and France.
“To make this work we had to bring cutting edge technology to some of the most remote places on Earth”, says Alan Roym of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
“It is a logistic challenge to include an increasing number of telescopes from Hawaii to Europe, from North America to Chile and to the South Pole to provide us with much improved image quality and sharpness.”
With its unprecedented resolution, more than 1,000 times better than the Hubble Telescope, the EHT should see swirling gas on its final plunge over the event horizon, never to regain contact with the rest of the universe.
If the theory of general relativity is correct, the black hole itself will be invisible because not even light can escape its immense gravity. However, it might still be seen as a dark silhouette.
First postulated by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the existence of black holes has since been supported by decades’ worth of astronomical observations.
Most if not all galaxies are now believed to harbour a supermassive black hole at their centre, and smaller ones formed from dying stars should be scattered among their stars.
The Milky Way is known to be home to about 25 smallish black holes ranging from five to 10 times the Sun’s mass. But nobody has actually seen one yet close up.
The addition of the South Pole Telescope enhances the annual EHT experiments that combine telescopes all over the world. Several new telescopes have been preparing to join the EHT in the next year.
The first run of Apple Watch smartwatches will be strapped on to early adopters’ wrists today, complete with an app store showcasing more than 3,000 apps for the wearable gadget.
By definition, Apple Watch buyers will also be iPhone owners, so will already have a number of apps on their smartphone with watch extensions ready to install. But what else is worth investigating to understand the capabilities of the device?
I’ve been asking dozens of developers about their smartwatch apps this week in advance of the launch. Here’s a selection of the ones worth trying, with their explanations of what they’re doing and why.
Note, I haven’t included the Guardian’s own Moments Apple Watch app in this feature as I didn’t want to nab a slot from another developer. But you can read about it in more detail here.
This public transport app is a firm favourite already on iPhone for urban travellers, showing journeys, departures and status alerts.
“Citymapper is all about navigating cities, and the ability to quickly glance at information based on where you are is great for a transport app like us,” says mobile lead Joe Hughes.
“On the Watch, you can unobtrusively dip in and check live bus times, remind yourself which tube to catch, and get notified when it’s time to get off your train, even if you have your hands full.”
On iPhone this is an app for recipes and shopping, but its Apple Watch extension is very focused: an “intelligent kitchen timer” that reminds you when to flip or stop cooking various foods.
“These aren’t always-on devices. Not with these batteries. So, I think it all comes down to notifications and how we can use those in innovative ways,” says executive director Eric Gillin.
“As users embrace wearable, will we have to revise the concept of the recipe to be about a series of simple notifications instead of more complicated steps? How do you take the reading out of recipes?”
Note-storage service Evernote’s Apple Watch app lets users see recently created, viewed and updated notes, as well as dictating new notes and searches, and creating reminders for your to-do lists.
“The app is going to surface your most relevant notes based on calendar entries, location data and your own note access information,” says vice president of mobile products Jamie Hull.
“Since I move from meeting to meeting all day long, I can imagine a workflow where I’ll glance over the next agenda on my wrist whilst walking, and then have it immediately open and available for editing on my other devices when I sit down to take notes.”
UK train times and ticketing service TheTrainLine’s app synchronises your last three searches for live train times with the Apple Watch, and then shows you how long until the next departures. You can also tap on a train to see where it is on its route.
“Travel apps are the ultimate partner for smart watches. A smartwatch should allow me to quickly and easily find out what I need to know, when I need to know it, and ultimately help me get to my destination,” says product owner Dave Slocombe.
“We’ve all experienced carrying a bag in one hand and a ticket and mobile phone in the other, smartwatches let our customers see their ticket information and which platform they need to be on, leaving their phone in their pocket.”
Song identification app Shazam now works on the Apple Watch as you’d expect: you can fire it up to find what’s playing, read lyrics synchronised with the music, and swipe up to see your past tags, as well as launching the Auto Shazam mode to automatically tag what it hears.
“The challenge for folks with the smartphone version is that you have to get the device out of your pocket or purse, unlock it and launch the app before the song ends. So the watch makes sense: it’s so accessible,” says chief product officer Daniel Danker.
“When we first designed Auto Shazam for the Apple Watch, I had it popping up a notification every single time a new track was found. It sounded brilliant on paper, but as soon as I tried it on a watch, I realised it was lighting up and shaking your wrist every three and a half minutes! So we’ve pulled it back: it keeps track but you only see the results when you lift your wrist.”
Circa is one of the news apps that gathers breaking stories based on your interests, then makes them available on your smartphone. And now on your wrist too, with glanceable featured stories and updates.
“Easily the most exciting thing is using one’s phone less. Each time I pull my phone out of my pocket it’s a pandora’s box. Go to check just one notification and you find yourself digging through your email,” admits chief executive Matt Galligan.
“With the watch it will enable the wearer to use their phone less and less – and that’s a very good thing. We see that as a big opportunity – get people the most important news fast, and give them a chance to follow key stories to stay up to date.”
From Bond to the Apple Watch: a history of gadgetry on your wrist
The Economist’s Apple Watch app is less about reading and more about listening to its audio reports, with basic playback controls and the ability to glance at what’s currently playing.
“I’m really excited about being able to control audio so easily. It’s like having the most convenient remote control ever – there whenever you need it,” says VP of product management Robin Raven.
“For us specifically the opportunity to have a far more personal relationship with someone - you hold a phone but you wear a watch - is both exciting and perplexing ... We want to keep being a trusted antidote to information overload so getting this right is critical for us.”
TuneIn aggregates the streams of traditional radio stations and podcasts, making them available in its apps. On Apple Watch, that means a remote control for changing stations, playing, pausing and skipping, and seeing what’s playing.
“You can easily see what station, program and artist is playing at any moment and then pause, rewind or fast forward. If you feel like you want to listen to something new, you just hit the “jump” button to play something related,” says director of mobile product Boone Spooner.
“All without ever having to take your phone out of your pocket. Additionally, the watch makes it fast and simple to access the stations and shows that you love through your following list, right there on the first view of the app.”
Pacemaker started as a DJ app for iPad, but over time has become as much about smart “personal mixes” with its tools for automatically choosing suitable songs and mixing them into one another. Its Apple Watch app promises “one-tap” mixing, linking with its newly-launched iPhone app.
“A lot of our users are college kids using Pacemaker for college dorm-room parties. And those people want to participate in the party: if a boy or girl flirts with them, they want to go and say hello rather than being tethered to a DJ system,” says chief executive Jonas Norberg.
“With the Apple Watch app, they can tap on the screen to keep serving up tracks and mixing them together, then after they’ve had a chat they can come back and resume their DJing. Being able to be on the dancefloor while still mixing from your watch? I think people will be blown away!”
Fitness apps firm Runtastic actually has four Apple Watch apps available at launch, including this flagship app for tracking runs, walks and other activity. The watch version functions as a control for the main iPhone app.
“Users can view their primary activity statistics, without having to slow down or pull out their smartphone,” says head of marketing Johannes Kroll. “Users can also review their weekly Runtastic app activities, such as number of activities, distance covered, number of calories burned and more, in a stylish, easy-to-read notification directly on their wrist.”
The company’s separate Runtastic Six Pack app features avatars guiding people through workout routines. “The Glances feature allows users to view the avatar directly on their wrist, making it easy to follow each exercise demonstration
Vegetarian cookery app Green Kitchen has made “smart timers” the focus for its Apple Watch app, with the ability to check timers when cooking a meal, as well as adding extra minutes if necessary through notifications.
“Cooking is usually split into different blocks. First you have an active block where you are actively cooking the food, followed by a passive block where you put the food in the oven or let it simmer for a while. Then it’s time to activate again, add the final touches and serve the dish,” says mobile and backend developer Marthin Freij.
“We realized that our app works great in the active blocks, but we were lacking support for the passive blocks. That’s why we added smart, context aware timers to Apple Watch. When you cook something and are about to enter a passive block, the iPhone app will allow you to start a timer on your Apple Watch.”
To-do list app Wunderlist is an obvious candidate for the smartwatch treatment, with a new “home view” showing your most important tasks, while using the watch’s digital crown to scroll through them.
Chief design officer Benedikt Lehnert is enthusiastic about the potential for “discreet and personal” interactions “whether it’s taking a glimpse at a reminder while you’re in a meeting, or checking things off your grocery list while pushing the shopping cart”.
He also sees scope for more contextual alerts in the future. “All of us want to be reminded of the groceries when we walk past the supermarket, or see our project to-dos the moment we enter the office. With smart wearables devices such scenarios become a reality.”
People won’t be playing games on their Apple Watches for lengthy periods at a time, but there is plenty of scope for wrist-sized spin-offs. Puzzle game Best Fiends’ is one of the most interesting example: a mini-game to send one character off battling slugs and looking for treasure to transfer back to the iPhone game.
“The games we are building are experiences that can “exist in your peripheral vision”. We saw games go from high-intensity and highly demanding console experiences into much more accessible and ‘always available’ mobile games, and saw games finally break into mainstream,” says chief creative officer Petri Järvilehto.
“Now, I believe that next we’ll see a similar delta from mobile games to ultra-casual games that anyone can enjoy in short glances. While a lot of the smartwatch gaming discussion focuses around short sessions, this can go even further and translate into the game being present on some level through your entire day.”
Airline BA’s Apple Watch app shows details on next flights, departure times and weather at your destination, as well as notifying you about flight gates and any other sudden changes.
“We’re really pleased with the ‘glance’ screen in particular. If you’re juggling luggage and negotiating the airport, it’s so easy to take a quick look at the screen and get all the pertinent information about the flight you’re heading to,” says head of marketing, retail and direct Sara Dunham.
“When you have a bit more time, a simple swipe of the screen delivers more in-depth useful information like the weather at the destination.”
This is only available in the US for now, but it’s a fun glimpse of how the Apple Watch could become useful for parents. Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. app’s Apple Watch extension helps parents see what their children are watching in the main app, and set timers for their use of it.
“The Watch’s ability to set and manage a viewing timer, adjust volume, and pause/play video without needing to interrupt the child’s viewing experience in the Nick Jr. app is exciting,” says Matthew Evans, SVP of digital at Viacom’s Kids and Family group.
“We are excited about the Apple Watch’s glances feature where parents can simply glance at their watch to see what show and episode or video their child is watching.”
CNN’s Apple Watch app is all about the breaking news: 12 categories that you can personalise, with the ability to quickly see headlines, and tap on them to read – including transferring back to the iPhone app for live video.
“Making CNN personal is at the heart of our digital strategy, so we pay that off with a clean, quick, simple way to select the CNN topics and number of stories that you want to follow,” says chief product officer Alex Wellen.
“The conventional wisdom is wearers will dip in to the Apple Watch for six second sessions and our editorial programming strategy is built around offering content built around those ‘watch moments.”
Accommodation service Booking.com has launched an app that aims to make the process of booking a hotel even faster, promising one-touch bookings from the Apple Watch, although the company is also looking at other features.
“Those small points of frustration you often encounter during a trip are a big focus for us; knowing at a glance when you can check-in, or how long you have before you need to check out, and finding your way back to your hotel after a day exploring a new city,” says principal designer Stuart Frisby.
“We think these light interactions are perfect for the watch, and we’re really excited to finally have a platform which is appropriate for solving exactly these types of problems for our customers.”
A lot of iPhone games are getting Apple Watch extensions this week, but Cupcake Dungeon is intriguing: a game designed from the start to be played across both devices, from wearable gaming startup WearGa. It involves battling evil cakes and candies, looting and upgrading as you go.
“Apple Watch features like fully customisable long-look notifications can be incredibly powerful for games. The difference between a simple text-based notification and a full-screen animated notification, which looks and feels like the game, is huge,” says chief executive Paul Virapen.
“We built Cupcake Dungeon with super simple controls, so you tap to attack and then make decisions through the menus. That’s it. We utilise lots of common Apple Watch UI paradigms, so there is intuitive navigation using the digital crown and force touch.”
This fitness app tracks your eating and activity on iPhone, with its Apple Watch app providing a quick way to log meals, water and exercises, as well as notifying you with reminders and activity suggestions.
“One of the best features of the Apple Watch for Lifesum is how notifications can be used to prompt quick interactions throughout the day,” says chief executive Henrik Torstensson.
“By being able to provide reminders about personalised details like snacks and water-tracking, we can create an experience that is extremely focused and accessible.”
War Dragons is a mobile game from publisher Pocket Gems with a mix of empire-building and dragon-breeding. Where does the Apple Watch come in? A blend of guild battles and in-game economics.
“In War Dragons, you can challenge another guild to a 24-hour war. We will use the Apple Watch to let players know actionable updates like when their guild has declared war on an opposing guild so they can join the fray,” says chief technology officer Harlan Crystal.
“For games that have ever-changing economies, Apple Watches can also let players see current in-game values of resources and help inform their spending decisions. The way we think about the Apple Watch currently is that it’s a powerful secondary screen for your iPhone. It’s very useful for showing important events and giving a method to react to them.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
On Friday, Yerevan and the Armenian disapora together with world leaders in the Armenian capital will commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide.
It is the 100th anniversary of the date on which the Ottoman Empire began its attack on Armenians when intellectuals and political leaders were rounded up in Istanbul on April 24, 1915.
What was the Armenian genocide?
As the Ottoman Empire suffered its first losses in the First World War, the “Young Turk” government rounded up intellectuals and political leaders from its Christian Armenian minority. It then went one step further - ordering the community’s expulsion from Anatolia to Syria.
Across eastern Turkey, long columns of Armenians were ambushed by soldiers and Kurdish gangs, who slaughtered them by the hundreds of thousand. Instructions from provincial Ottoman officials, notably the governor of Diyarbakir province Mehmed Reshid, gave impunity to the attackers, many of whom plundered and looted Armenian property.
The killings were carried out under the glare of international publicity, including from missionaries - America was yet to join the war, and dramatic witness accounts of hundreds of people being killed, or even burned alive, appeared in the western press. Photographs show whole valleys littered with skulls.
Armenian historians now claim 1.5 million people were murdered or starved to death in the Syrian deserts .
Asked later how as a doctor he justified his policies, Reshid said: “My Turkish identity won out over my profession. I thought: we must destroy them before they destroy us. If you ask me how I as a doctor could commit murder, my answer is simple: the Armenians had become dangerous microbes in the body of this country. And surely it is a doctor’s duty to kill bacteria?”
Why do the Turkish authorities deny it was a genocide?
The Turkish government furiously rejects claims that this was the “first genocide of the twentieth century” . It claims there was no deliberate attempt to wipe out the Armenian population, that the move to deport them was a defensive position after Armenians sided with Russians in the war, and that as many Turks and other Muslims as Armenian Christians died in the fighting.
Some historians, including western historians, agree, pointing to a recent history of Armenian nationalist and Marxist terrorism against the Ottoman Empire, in which numerous Ottoman officials and even Armenians who sided with the state were killed. They also claim that Russia expelled Turks from areas it conquered - and that many Muslims had also been killed and expelled in the Balkans as the Ottoman empire lost its European possessions like Greece and Bulgaria over the course of the 19th Cenutry.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, said this week : “The scars left by the exile and massacres that Turkish and Muslim Ottomans were subjected to a century ago are still vivid in our minds today.
“To ignore this fact and discriminate between pains suffered is as questionable historically as it is mistaken morally.”
Who is right?
The Turks are right to say that there is no exact parallel with the Holocaust of the Jews in the Second World War, no order for a “final solution” to exterminate the Armenian people. It is also true that the Ottoman government, in terminal decline, had reason to fear that Russia and other Western, Christian nations were intent on exploiting its weakness to carve out new spheres of influence in collaboration with disaffected minorities.
However, the massacres did not begin with the war. There had been previous pogroms, especially in 1895-6, when thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed. Moreover, even in times of war, a mass deportation programme leading to the deaths in a short period of time of hundreds of thousands, even a million people, is an exceptional event.
Most importantly, while massacres of civilians on ethnic or sectarian grounds is sadly common enough in war, the attempt to dispose of an entire ethnicity, however it was done, is what differentiates this event.
The Turkish government over the course of the last century has also done itself no favours by refusing to discuss the issue for long periods, persecuting historians and others who report on its past and present treatment of minorities.
To its credit, the current government has opened up the topic more than its predecessors. However, across eastern Anatolia, towns that were once thriving hubs of the Armenian civilisation bear no trace of their presence - and certainly no memorial to those murdered, despite the “regrets” expressed by Ankara today.
In some cases, churches that were scenes of massacres a century or more ago have been converted to mosques, with the present-day worshippers having no idea of what happened to their predecessors so recently.
Filmmaker Michael Churton has described the moment he was hit by an avalanche while climbing Mount Everest.
The 38-year-old from New York says he believes that the force of the earthquake shook loose a big ice shelf, which careered down the mountainside towards him and a group of people he was with.
"I told the group to get down. It was about 4,000 feet of snow just coming and there was nowhere to run," he said.
As the tsunami of snow approached, he got into the foetal postition and hoped for the best.
The force of the snow hitting his body knocked him into a rock, leaving him with some facial injuries.
After about a minute of snow pummelling over him, Mr Churton managed to dig himself out and search for his companions.
He described how someone next to him had been pushed 30 feet away, while another woman remains missing.
It comes as German mountaineer Jost Kobusch captured the terrifying moment the Everest base camp was hit by an avalanche triggered by the Nepal earthquake.
Other survivors on Everest described a cloud of rock and ice that smashed into base camp on Saturday.
Mountaineer Alex Gavan posted this to Twitter:
More than 60 people were injured, leading climbers to send frantic messages calling for helicopter assistance to evacuate the wounded.
An estimated 100 climbers and guides were safe but trapped at camps 1 and 2 by Saturday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake which rendered the treacherous Khumbu icefalls leading up to them from base camp impassable.