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- 04/27/15--06:32: _The data showing th...
- 04/27/15--11:02: _What to do if you h...
- 05/01/15--01:10: _Report: Kim Jong-Un...
- 05/01/15--04:15: _WWII Japan had a to...
- 05/02/15--06:40: _Instagram CEO: 'I'm...
- 05/04/15--04:45: _Why America is so a...
- 05/04/15--10:01: _Why wearing a suit ...
- 05/05/15--04:04: _New technology will...
- 05/05/15--04:16: _This 'imaginary fri...
- 05/05/15--08:33: _A TV crew was arres...
- 05/06/15--10:59: _'Real-life Shawshan...
- 05/07/15--08:59: _Big Bird was almost...
- 05/09/15--15:08: _Libya's billion-dol...
- 05/12/15--04:00: _Wall Street is warn...
- 05/12/15--07:47: _Why more sex won't ...
- 05/14/15--04:25: _The epic rout in gl...
- 05/15/15--06:54: _Mitt Romney will fi...
- 05/15/15--08:19: _An Argentine soccer...
- 05/15/15--12:55: _Nigeria hired South...
- 05/17/15--06:32: _US processor compan...
- 04/27/15--06:32: The data showing that inequality does us harm is actually very weak
- 04/27/15--11:02: What to do if you have a trip booked to Nepal in the next few weeks
- 05/04/15--04:45: Why America is so angry right now
- 05/04/15--10:01: Why wearing a suit can make you more successful
- 05/07/15--08:59: Big Bird was almost on board the Challenger shuttle when it exploded
- 05/12/15--07:47: Why more sex won't necessarily make your relationship better
- 05/15/15--06:54: Mitt Romney will fight a former world boxing champion tonight
The idea that inequality is bad and must be fought vigorously is everywhere these days. As Ed Miliband has said: "Tackling inequality is the new center ground of politics."The Pope, no less, has described inequality as "the root of social ills."The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has chimed in, saying income inequality is a "giant that must be slayed." Oxfam boasts it is "taking a stand against inequality with our massive 'Even it up' campaign."
Half of us think there is a big gap between the richest and the rest and that it has a negative effect on the economy. Two-thirds are in favor of a maximum pay ratio.
But why? What is so bad about inequality? Obviously, we are all in favor of the less well-off becoming richer. But that is a different matter. The poor are, and have been, getting considerably richer. In Britain in 2013, 2% of full-time workers were on the then-minimum wage of £6.19. But in 1975, wages of the poor were so much lower that 45% of workers were on less than that amount (adjusted for inflation). The British poor have got much richer, so it would be unreasonable to say there is a growing crisis here.
In the world at large, the improvement has been positively sensational. Between 1990 and 2011, the proportion of the global population in extreme poverty — that is, living on less than $1.25 (82p) a day — fell from 34% to 20%. This is probably the biggest reduction in the history of the world.
It has happened largely because China started giving up communism in the late 1970s. This allowed capitalism to thrive, leading to fabulous economic growth. The poor benefited enormously. Similarly, India turned away from socialism, allowing more of a free-market economy, again leading to economic growth that lifted millions out of abject poverty.
But the politicians and academics clearly cannot be concerned about worsening living standards of the poor, since these have undeniably improved. What they are exercised about is inequality in and of itself.
Why, you might wonder. Aren't the living standards of the poor far more important than the degree of inequality?
Academics have come up with a number of answers. Some have even claimed that greater equality is good for economic growth. The International Monetary Fund suggested this, but, if one looks at the detail, the argument is extremely tentative. The IMF itself admits that the data it has used is not ideal, and it is very cautious about suggesting raising taxes and increasing redistribution in response. It is well aware of the counterargument that taxing wealth-creators damages economic growth.
So it ends up with the less-than-definite assertion: "We should be careful not to assume that there is a big tradeoff between redistribution and growth."
What else is there? The book "The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone," by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, argued that the more equal societies were, the more well-being they enjoyed. The book had lots of "scattergraphs" in which degrees of inequality in several advanced countries were plotted against various measures of well-being or problems such as the rate of homicides or children's experience of conflict. Superimposed on these were computer-generated straight lines indicating a trend. Invariably, these lines suggested that the more equal societies did better in every respect. To the uninitiated, it looked like QED — case proved.
But then people such as the social researcher professor Peter Saunders found that the correlations were weak, and the common practice of removing outliers had been omitted. When this was done in the case of homicide rates, for example, the connection between inequality and homicides was shown to be small and would not be considered statistically significant by most sociologists. It was a similar story with most of the other charts.
Meanwhile, a number of measures of well-being and social cohesion that indicated a contrary story had been left out. It seems there are fewer suicides, less alcohol consumption, and less racial intolerance in more unequal societies. These correlations are not strong, but they are slightly better than the ones the book pointed to.
There is another problem with the thesis that inequality causes unhappiness. The measure of inequality most commonly used by academics and politicians — the Gini coefficient— is based on unreliable data. It is well established that official information about the incomes of the richest and poorest is misleading. Peter Lilley, the former Social Security secretary, once conducted an in-depth study of what kind of people were in the lowest 10% of incomes. He found a remarkably large number of builders and accountants. It is surely likely that these people were not the genuinely poor, but rather had found ways for their taxable incomes to amount to little or nothing.
Overall, then, the idea that inequality causes unhappiness is as unreliable as a blurred photo of the Loch Ness monster taken from distance with an old Box Brownie on a misty day.
But while academics have not yet managed to prove that inequality is a key determinant of well-being, there is voluminous evidence from government and OECD figures that does show two clear causes of unhappiness. The unemployed are two to three times as likely to commit suicide, for example. The evidence that divorce and separation cause unhappiness is undeniable, too. It also seems likely, though the evidence for this is less well established, that loneliness is a major source of unhappiness.
What, in turn, causes these unhappiness-producing phenomena? I would suggest that dysfunctional labor-market regulations and welfare benefits are key reasons unemployment rates are so high in various countries. As for broken marriages and cohabitations, they have greatly increased in countries such as the USA and Britain, which have subsidized such breakups.
Similarly, welfare states have been a major influence on the degree to which we lead more isolated and lonely lives. In the jargon of sociologists, welfare states have encouraged "defamilization" by subsidizing childcare, lone parenting, and state care for the elderly.
If this is right, the principal cause of unhappiness is not inequality at all. It is the way in which well-intentioned welfare policies have often had unfortunate unintended consequences. By contrast, the current government's economic achievement in overseeing a jobs boom will undeniably have made millions of people happier than they otherwise would have been.
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Tour operators are cancelling trips to Nepal and the Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to the country following a major earthquake that has killed at least 3,800 people.
Travellers are being offering refunds on upcoming trips to Nepal, which is a hugely popular destination for trekkers and where the climbing season had just begun.
No British tourists have been reportedly killed or injured in the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit on Saturday, but hundreds of Britons were in Nepal and dozens remain unaccounted for. The epicentre of the quake was 81km west of Kathmandu, the capital.
The Foreign Office has advised Britons who are in the country to remain where they are until it is safe to leave and to follow advice from local authorities. “If you can leave Nepal safely then we advise that you should do so,” advice on its website states.
It also put out a helpline phone number for tourists in the country to use so that they can log their whereabouts and get advice, see the Foreign Office website for details .
Intrepid, an adventure tour operator, said that all of its 168 customers who were in Nepal over the weekend are safe and accounted for. It is currently trying to arrange travel for them to get them out of the affected areas as soon as they can. Flights out of the country are said to be full until May 2.
Intrepid is cancelling all of its trips to Nepal until May 11 and reviewing its other trips. Customers who were due to travel before then are being offered the chance to postpone their trips or full refunds.
“Travellers who are due to travel to Nepal imminently should contact their holiday company to make alternative arrangements,” said a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents. “Customers booked on package trips with ABTA tour operators will be given three options; to defer their date of travel, transfer to another destination if available, or have a full refund.
“Customers who have booked independent arrangements who are unable to travel, should contact their insurance company to see if any resulting cancellation charges are covered, this may or may not be the case depending on the relevant insurance policy.”
G Adventures, another British tour operator, has cancelled three of its tours up until May 4. “All travellers on these trips have been asked to make contact with friends and family to reassure their wellbeing,” a spokesman said. Travellers can rebook on an alternative trip or arrange a full refund on their tour.
G Adventures has also begun a fundraiser to raise nearly £50,000 in aid for quake victims, as have other operators, including Intrepid, through its not-for-profit The Intrepid Foundation.
“The situation in Nepal is heartbreaking,” said Michael Edwards, UK managing director of Intrepid Travel. “This is a part of the world that is close to the hearts of many of us, and we know that like us – travellers will want to help. We hope to raise a lot of money for local families in Kathmandu, and so we are encouraging people to give generously”.
A climber on Mount Everest captured the moment a huge avalanche hit the mountain's base camp . He and a friend ran to safety but at least 17 climbers are known to have died. Watch his video here .
Around 40,000 British nationals visited Nepal in 2013. The next few weeks would have seen the first ascents of Everest since the accident in its foothills last October, when an avalanche and snowstorm trapped hundreds of trekkers in the mountains and lead to the deaths of 32 people .
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, refused an invitation to visit Moscow to mark the Soviet Union's victory in World War II because Russia refused to meet Pyongyang's demands for special treatment for the young dictator.
A spokesman for the Kremlin announced on Thursday that Mr Kim had "decided to stay in Pyongyang" due to "internal issues".
The North Korean leader's snub to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, apparently came as a surprise to Moscow, which only hours earlier had indicated that preparations for Mr Kim's first overseas visit since he inherited the country in December 2011 were well under way.
South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that Mr Kim opted to remain in Pyongyang because Russia "refused to comply with the North's request for special treatment, given that there will be several other foreign dignitaries at the event.
"Without top-grade security, Kim would inevitably have become a freak show for the global press", it added.
Being treated equally with other international leaders - and not enjoying centre-stage in the commemorative events, as he always does at home - would also have damaged his standing in the eyes of the North Korean public.
Analysts have suggested that the North Korean leader is still concerned about the degree of genuine support for his regime in political and military circles at home and is reluctant to give his rivals an opportunity to plot against him.
Mr Kim may also have been reluctant to antagonise China further by holding talks with Mr Putin before he meets with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader.
Ties between Pyongyang and Beijing have been strained in recent years, leading North Korea to seek closer ties with Russia, but Mr Kim will undoubtedly be mindful of the degree to which his country still relies on China for its survival.
Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and a mouthpiece for the regime in Pyongyang, dismissed the reports as "nonsense".
"North Korea has never stated that Mr Kim will go to Moscow, so this is not news", he told The Telegraph. "Him going there was wishful thinking on the part of Russia."
Mr Kim said it is possible that the North Korean leader will travel to Beijing in September for China's events marking the end of the war, but added, "But Xi must come to Pyongyang in August to attend North Korea's 70th anniversary events first".
This article was written by Julian Ryall Tokyo from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
The last resting place of the I-400 submarine was confirmed in December 2013, but researchers from the University of Hawaii and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were returning to the wreck – which lies at a depth of nearly 2,700 feet – for the first time.
They captured on video the vessel's massive hangar, the conning tower and ship's bell.
At 400 feet long, the Imperial Japanese Navy's I-400 class were the largest submarines of the war and remained the largest constructed until the first nuclear ballistic missile boats rolled down slipways in the 1960s.
Designed as underwater aircraft carriers, they were able to stow three Aichi light bombers, with folded wings, in a hangar on the deck.
Aware of its inferiority in surface ships in the Pacific theatre, the Japanese Navy nevertheless wished to take the fight to the enemy and the vessel was given the task of approaching the US coast, surfacing, preparing and launching its aircraft within minutes. One of the earliest missions called for the aircraft to drop rats infected with bubonic plague and insects carrying cholera, dengue fever, typhus and other diseases on cities on the West coast of America.
When the bacteriological weapons were not ready in time, the target switched to a conventional bombing attack against the Panama Canal. Japan surrendered before the raid could be carried out.
At the end of the war, five submarines were captured intact by the US and dispatched under a prize crew to Hawaii for inspection – and with their cavernous hangars reportedly filled with war booty.
The following year, the Soviet Union demanded access to the submarines but the US, which had already learned the technological secrets that they incorporated in their designs, did not want the same information falling into the hands of its new Cold War enemy. The five vessels were hastily sunk by torpedoes from the USS Cabezon off Oahu.
The recent footage was shot by NHK, Japan's national broadcaster, for a documentary that is to be aired on May 6. It revealed the relative positions of the aircraft hangar and conning tower, which had broken apart when the submarine was hit by torpedoes and sank.
"We didn't have detailed enough bottom-mapping data to help locate the hangar, conning tower and other signature features missing from the wreck of the I-400", said Terry Kerby, operations director and chief submarine pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.
"With only one dive day to try to find anything, we knew there was a strong chance we might spend the dive looking at the barren sandy bottom.
"We made a lucky guess where to start when we approached the main hull of the I-400 from the north-west", Mr Kerby added. "Our guess started to pay off when the giant hangar door came into view, followed by the conning tower and hangar.
"Many items were amazingly intact for something that had ripped out of the hull of a sinking 400-foot-long submarine."
The funny thing about tech,’ Kevin Systrom begins, ‘is all of us founders are 20 or early-30-somethings, and, OK, we’re growing older, but nobody knows what they are doing when they are 20 or 30-something. We’re all learning and making it up as we go along, in the best way possible. And by the way, we’re making world-changing companies as we do it.’
Systrom is a co-founder of Instagram, the photo-sharing social network that has more than 300 million users. He is 31 and in 2012 sold the 15-month-old company he founded with Mike Krieger to Facebook for $1 billion. Systrom made a reported $400 million from the sale and remains its CEO (Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged to allow him to run Instagram independently) while Krieger serves as Instagram’s ‘technical lead’.
Systrom is a very accommodating man – he offered to take time from a helter-skelter London tour and drop into the Telegraph offices to meet for our interview – and he is a very confident man. Instagram, he believes, has changed things.
‘One of the things I love about Instagram’s photos is they are there,’ he says. ‘They stick around. It means historians are going to be able to look back at humanity at this point in time and engage, and understand what has happened and what people were seeing.’
His ambitions are lofty (‘In five years I hope Instagram is this all-seeing public feed of what’s happening in the world’) and he is phenomenally polished. If Mark Zuckerberg is Silicon Valley’s insular and awkward wunderkind, Kevin Systrom is its well-heeled prom king.
A different kind of nerd
He was born in Holliston, Massachusetts, but was perhaps predestined for Silicon Valley. His father, Douglas, is a human resources vice-president for an East Coast home goods firm; his mother, Diane, is a technology veteran. ‘She was at start-ups before start-ups were a thing,’ he says. ‘She worked in advertising and marketing during the first dotcom boom, first at monster.com [a pioneering international job site] and then at swapit.com, which was this thing where you’d send in a CD and get credits to exchange for other CDs. She learnt to snowboard at 45. She’s the coolest, with a tremendous energy. If you were to meet her, I’m sure you’d think, she’s really cool and Kevin’s just a nerd.’ He has a younger sister, Kate, who is a marketing manager for the high-fashion e-tailer The Real Real.
Like most wildly successful technology entrepreneurs, Systrom is quick to promote his nerdy credentials. He talks a good game and his story stacks up – standout computer scientist and programmer at the prestigious and very expensive Middlesex boarding school in Concord, Massachusetts, tall and gangly, woeful teenage dress sense – but probe a bit deeper and you’ll discover another side. ‘The reason I loved electronic music is because I liked to DJ and I liked to bring people together,’ he says. ‘I was captain of the lacrosse team in my junior year. I loved to run. I loved photography and was president of the photography club. I brought people together through that.’
Did you enjoy boarding school?
‘I don’t know that any teen enjoys high school,’ he says. ‘It was a very small school [it has 375 students]. I probably had a rougher experience because I was super-tall and nerdy and into programming, so I was by no means the cool kid…’
But you don’t strike me as a nerd, I interrupt. You seem to be more sociable.
‘I think that’s why our company works,’ he says. ‘I like to say I’m dangerous enough to know how to code and sociable enough to sell our company. And I think that’s a deadly combination in entrepreneurship.’
Systrom’s post-school CV reinforces this confidence. After Middlesex he attended Stanford University in California and spent the winter term of his third year studying photography in Florence. Systrom was told to replace his Nikon with a plastic Holga camera that took square photos, which would become Instagram’s trademark. As a Stanford undergraduate he was selected to join the Mayfield Fellows Program, which provides students with expert training in hi-tech entrepreneurship.
‘I then interned at Odeo for Evan Williams and his co-founder, Noah Glass,’ he says. ‘Jack Dorsey was one of the first engineers, and I basically shared a desk with him for three months.’ Odeo was a site that allowed users to record and publish podcasts, and its founders, plus Dorsey and Biz Stone, would go on to launch Twitter, another social-media phenomenon that would later show interest in purchasing Instagram.
Systrom graduated in 2006 with a BSc in management science and engineering. Two years at Google followed – the first spent working on products such as Gmail, Reader and Docs, and the second within the corporate development team – before a brief stop at Nextstop, a location recommendation start-up that would be acquired by Facebook in 2010. By his mid-20s, Systrom had worked for, with and under some of the industry’s most prominent companies and minds. (He had already turned down an offer to drop out of his final year at Stanford and work for Facebook.) When people began investing in Instagram, they were investing in Systrom and then the product. ‘It’s such a small world in the tech scene,’ he says. ‘We all learn a lot from each other’s companies. The most important thing for me was working at Google and Odeo, and meeting people along the way. The Valley is a really small place and you should want to learn from people because there’s so much going on.’
Making a pivot
Systrom quit Nextstop to concentrate on an idea he and his Brazilian-born college friend Krieger had been seeking funding for. Burbn (a nod to his favourite drink) was an app that encouraged users to check into locations, make plans with friends (earning themselves ‘points’ in the process) and post pictures. Although Burbn attracted $500,000 seed funding from San Francisco venture capitalist firms, user feedback dismissed it as too fussy, too complicated. And so they decided to ‘make a pivot’ (Silicon Valley-speak for ‘accept you have made a mistake and move on’).
‘I was on vacation with my fiancée – at the time, my girlfriend – Nicole [Schuetz, a fellow Stanford graduate] in Mexico when we had the aha moment,’ Systrom says. ‘We were walking along the beach and I said that we needed something to help us [the company] stand out. Nicole then said, “Well, I don’t want to take photos, because my photos don’t look good. They’re not as good as your other friend Greg’s.” He was also using the early product [Burbn]. I told her that was because Greg used filter apps. So she just said, “Well, you should probably have filters then.” We went back to this small bed and breakfast in Mexico with dial-up internet connection and I spent the afternoon learning how to make a filter. That filter was X-Pro II, which still exists today, in its original form, in the app. The funny thing is if you look at the first photo ever on Instagram, it’s of Nicole – well, her foot – a stray dog and a taco stand in Mexico. Had I known it was going to be the first photo on Instagram I would have tried a bit harder.’
Thus Burbn became Instagram, and launched on October 6 2010. Before the launch Systrom put the app in the hands of influential friends, such as Jack Dorsey, who posted photographs shot with Instagram on their own social media channels. Expectation suitably whipped up, 25,000 people downloaded the free (as it will always remain, Systrom says) app in its first 24 hours. By December it had one million registered users. They adored its simplicity and, aside from the addition of the video clip capability, a messenger service between users and a raft of additional photo effects, it has remained the same product as at launch.
A terrible fortune teller
People also love those filters. Suddenly, the most throwaway picture of your cat, breakfast, holiday or new outfit could be prettied up and appear lifted from a glossy photoshoot. Then, of course, came the ‘selfie’ explosion. Critics suggest that Instagram fuels dangerous narcissism and encourages an untrue curation of our lives. Systrom is unbowed. ‘I think every bit of our lives is in some way about presenting a certain image,’ he says. ‘It’s why people wear the clothes they do. And some people care a lot about it and some people don’t care at all about it. And I wouldn’t pass judgment on it. I would say that it’s natural and it’s human and it existed long before Instagram existed.’
We had people interested five days after our launch, and names you would recognise. Kevin Systrom
When, in April 2012, Facebook completed its acquisition of a company described by CNN as having ‘lots of buzz but no business model’, 30 million people were actively using Instagram, it had been crowned Apple’s 2011 App of the Year, it had annihilated all online photo-sharing competition and it had become a verb. Only a week before the deal was struck, Instagram had closed a $50 million round of financing that left the company valued at $500 million. Investors doubled their money in a week, and many business analysts were dumbfounded. Zuckerberg was paying $1 billion for a tech company without a website that had yet to generate a dollar of revenue. Instagram introduced what it called ‘beautiful, brand-building’ paid advertising in October 2013 and just over a year later it was valued by Citigroup analysts at $35 billion. Systrom contends they didn’t pull the trigger on the sale early as Instagram would not have experienced its exponential growth without benefiting from Facebook’s size.
Was there a list of companies Instagram was willing to get into bed with? Systrom laughs. ‘I’ve never heard it said that way,’ he says. ‘In business you always have people interested. Always. We had people interested five days after our launch, and names you would recognise. It was about the balance of knowing what we wanted to do at the right time with the right people. And the cool part is, if you look at what we’ve done with Facebook we’ve got tremendous scale because of our partnership. I’m not entirely sure whether that would have happened with any other partner. I’m a pretty terrible fortune teller, so I’ll take it for what it is and say it’s gone really well.’
Despite capitalising on Facebook’s stature Instagram remains a relatively nimble operation. It boasts about 200 employees (admittedly a vast number when compared with the 13 who were on the payroll at the time of the acquisition), mainly housed at Facebook’s main campus in Menlo Park, California, who, Systrom says, are encouraged to get out from behind their desks. ‘You know the outdoors company Patagonia?’ he asks. ‘They pay their employees to take time off and go and explore. Like, mountains and camping and stuff. It makes them more of a Patagonia employee. I believe a big part of our culture is not just sitting in the office all day, because no one wants to see pictures of me sitting in front of a computer in an office. That’s not inspiring. Instagram is about showing that you’re out in the world.’
A scan of Systrom’s own Instagram account suggests he is rarely sitting behind his desk in San Francisco. He arrived for our interview from Germany, where he had attended training with the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Before that he had been in Paris, for aParis Saint-Germain match and fashion week (selfies scored with: the frizzy-haired Brazilian defender David Luiz, Karl Lagerfeld, the supermodels Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid, the chef Alain Ducasse and Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, Nicolas Ghesquière). Later, Jamie Oliver would throw him a party in London attended by Russell Brand, Pippa Middleton and Liam Payne of One Direction. Unlike his boss, Systrom does not attend these functions in a hoodie. He met Lagerfeld in a tailored Brioni suit and Charvet knitted tie. Indeed, there are reports he has attempted to introduce ‘Tie Tuesday’ in the Instagram office.
He is guarded about his private life beyond complimenting his fiancée. He and Schuetz live together in San Francisco, where his sister also lives, while his parents still work and reside in Massachusetts. He lists his vices as fine dining and coffee (an espresso in the morning is his ‘only ritual’), continues to moonlight occasionally as a DJ, and is active in supporting the arts and emerging technologies.
Instagram’s users interacting with the world in such vast numbers has allowed it to diversify its influence. Images shot via Instagram have graced the covers of The New York Times and Time magazines, its videos break news, artists release clips of their long-awaited new material via their Instagram feed. After North Korea switched on its 3G mobile signal two years ago, Instagram was suddenly home to photos that gave an unprecedented, uncensored glimpse into life under Kim Jong-un. ‘We’ve spent so much time investing in the social aspect, in the interest aspect, and with brands and celebrities,’ Systrom says. ‘The one thing we’ve yet to crack is what’s happening in the world, live. The second you have 300 million people contributing 70 million photos a day to Instagram like we do now, you get a real-time feed of the world. I want to be able to tune into the World Cup, I want to be able to tune into a fashion show, I want to be able to discover a latte artist in Tokyo. We do an OK job of surfacing this stuff at the moment [through hashtags and location tags], but there’s such a wealth of humanity inside Instagram and we need to make sure people can uncover all of those passions and interests.’
This is challenging, Systrom says, because the public’s relationship with the internet is constantly evolving. ‘We learn something new about how people use the internet every day that goes by,’ he says. ‘Whether it’s assumptions about how permanent things are or how long people want their identities to stick around online, or the level of anonymity people want online, it’s all changing. I feel like the Newtonian physics of the internet had been written, and over the past three years you’re starting to see those laws challenged with new laws, and that’s pretty awesome for someone who grew up with the internet and thought this was the way it was going to be for ever. There are fundamental examples of how people behave online changing.’
‘I think the move towards more private spaces to communicate is interesting. I never knew how important messaging would be for us. I never knew the implications of people being far more connected than they were 10 or 20 years ago and behaviours changing as a result. There is a now a willingness to take funny selfies. But then there’s a willingness to always be connected and yet be online in a way that’s very private. When I was growing up the internet was all about your public profile. It was all about public sharing – public was the word, right? And now, it’s changing. We have a very fair amount of private accounts, and I’m very glad we decided to allow a private mode.’
Plenty of successful entrepreneurs describe themselves as ‘start-up junkies’. They are hooked on the late nights, high stakes and those first giddy flushes of success. Systrom is not in this number. ‘I consider myself a business person rather than a start-up person,’ he tells me. ‘I think by definition you have to start something to create a business, right? I guess you could just inherit business after business but I’m interested in investing. I like studying macro-economic trends. I love learning about existing businesses; I am on the Wal-Mart board, where I can learn about a very large business. There are very few 31-year-olds who get to be on the board of a Fortune Top 10 company and learn about what it takes to run a business for over 50 years. That’s what I mean when I say I am a business person. I happen to be someone who likes to code and likes tech, and tech happens to be a high-growth industry, but if there happened to be another high-growth industry two years from now, I’d probably be in that, too.’
It sounds wonderfully sensible, especially delivered in his bright and positive way. Instagram, I say to him, is very similar. It’s the positive social media. ‘I might challenge that by saying it’s not always positive,’ he replies. ‘You might say an outpouring of support after the attacks in Paris on January 7 was generally positive but it’s a sombre topic. Generally people don’t come to Instagram to complain about something or make fun of someone. But I guess what you’re saying is that you come to Instagram with positive intentions. I think that’s pretty awesome.’
This article was written by Charlie Parrish from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
On the night of November 4, 2008, young people of every race flooded on to Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the White House, to celebrate the election of the country’s first black president . Across America crowds celebrated with tears of joy.
They were back on Pennsylvania Avenue and on streets across the nation last week . This time, though, they were angry: shocked by the death of yet another black man in police custody.
Freddie Gray’s was the latest in an alarming spate of black deaths at the hands of police: there was the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner was choked to death in July in New York, while telling police he could not breath; 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot last November within seconds of police arriving on the scene as he held a toy gun in Cleveland; and Walter Scott was shot several times in the back last month as he slowly ran away from a much younger officer.
On Friday, after weeks of riots, police in Baltimore were charged with the murder of Freddie Gray while he was in custody. Is it surprising that in only seven years “hope”, has been replaced with fury?
From a distance, it’s easy to conclude that any racial progress marked by Obama’s election has evaporated. But it’s more complicated than that. The election of a black president was not proof that America had become post-racial. It was, rather, evidence of how far the nation had come.
Obama was the product of generations of hard work, integration and reconciliation; for people like him, with skills, ambition and access, America is a place of extraordinary promise. While racism still exists and class still matters, the United States has certainly turned a corner from that time when skin colour was the sole determining factor in gaining access to America’s opportunities.
But for those without such assets the country still holds peril. That peril is the source of recent unrest. For there are millions of Americans who are being left behind. The Great Recession of 2008-09 wiped millions of dollars off property values, especially hurting black Americans. College loans became harder to acquire and students were forced to drop out. Unemployment rocketed. At one point the official rate for black men – traditionally twice as high as their white counterparts – was more than 17 per cent.
The economic crisis came hard on the heels of 30 years of wage stagnation for American men of all races. And the recovery has been slow and uneven: the benefits are concentrated at the top, and corporate productivity has rebounded without a corresponding rise in employment or wages.
In the midst of these tough economic times, black Americans of all incomes and education continue to face bias in the criminal justice system. In a breathtaking report, the Justice Department found that the police in Ferguson, where Michael Brown was killed, subjected black people to racism, exploitation and rights violations . Residents were, for example, continuously stung with court fines and threats of violence to generate revenue.
Economic hopelessness, aggressive police tactics in black communities and repeated deaths of black men at the hands of police officers without legal repercussions is kindling in the tinder box of urban discord. While black men of all economic backgrounds face many of these pressures, those without hope for economic opportunity are the most likely to explode.
None the less, there are faint signs of progress. More young black people are enrolling in college (though graduation rates are still lagging). Inter-racial marriage, which is a key indicator of harmony, is increasing. And as protests erupted around the country, black protesters were joined by large numbers of white ones. Among the young, the outrage over these deaths is colour blind.
In fact, considering the growing acceptability of immigration reform and gay marriage, the thread that binds younger Americans is their intolerance for intolerance. As the younger generation grows and older Americans leave the political scene, more progress is likely.
In the meantime, these deaths, while terrible, provide an opportunity for our political leaders to improve black citizens’ lives. Police should be receiving “bias awareness” training, for example, to prevent discrimination, and body cameras should be issued as standard to protect all parties. And if there is a death, independent investigators should be called in to restore trust and accountability. Angry youths should not have to set buildings on fire nor protesters occupy the streets for weeks to get serious action.
Such policy shifts will help relieve some of the anger on the streets. But in the long run, all our politicians must focus on the disparity in economic opportunity. After all, the strength of America has always been the belief that tomorrow might be better than today. We can’t afford to let that hope go up in smoke.
Kelly Thomas: Died on July 10 2011 but police officers beat him on July 5
Thomas was a mentally ill and homeless man killed by police officers which sparked a nationwide outcry. His death came on July 10, five days after the 37-year-old was beaten by officers. In a video shown in court, he was seen laying on the ground being kicked and punched by the officers as he screamed for his father and help.
In January last year, Manuel Ramos was found not guilty of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Jay Cicinelli was also acquitted of excessive force and involuntary manslaughter.
Gil Collar: Died on October 6 2012
Collar was an 18-year-old student when he was killed by a University of South Alabama police officer, Trevis Austin. Mr Austin was cleared of any wrongdoing last year after he shot the teenager who was under the influence of drugs. A grand jury in Mobile, Alabama concluded he acted in self-defence and did not bring charges.
Andy Lopez Cruz: Died on October 22 2013
Cruz was a 13-year-old boy shot dead after a deputy sheriff in Santa Rosa, northern California, said he believed Cruz was carrying a real rifle. It was reported the boy was told to drop his gun as they crouched behind their patrol car. Cruz, only holding a replica of an assault rifle, turned with the gun still in his hand. Police said Erick Gelhaus then shot him "fearing for his life".
Eric Garner: Died on July 17 2014
The fatal arrest was partially captured on amateur video. The video shows police officer Daniel Pantaleo placing Eric Garner in what appears to be a choke hold as several others bring him to the ground and struggle to place him in handcuffs.
Garner was killed after a New York police officer used a banned chokehold technique to restrain him, despite being unarmed. He was wrestled to the ground by several police officers after a complaint he was illegally selling loose cigarettes. In a video that went viral, the black 43-year-old said: "I can't breathe" which was soon adopted by protesters after Daniel Pantaleo, the only officer that was investigated by a grand jury, was not charged.
Michael Brown: Died on August 9 2014
Brown was an unarmed black teenager shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer on the street Ferguson, Missouri. Some said he had his hands up in the air and the shooting led to protests and some violence for 10 days. In November, a grand jury said the officer should not face criminal charges in the case that led to a nationwide discussion about the treatment of black people by white police officers.
Ezell Ford: Died on August 11 2014
Flowers at the site of a mural in memory of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles (Reuters) Ford was shot by two Los Angeles police officers despite being unarmed. According to a LAPD statement, the officers tried to stop him but there was a struggle. Police said the mentally ill 25-year-old then tried "to remove the officer's handgun from its holster". In December, Charlie Beck, chief of LAPD, said the investigation was continuing after the release of the autopsy report.
Tamir Rice: Shot on November 22 2014 but died on Sunday, November 23
Twelve-year-old Rice was shot by Ohio police in a public park as he was playing with a BB gun. It was reported at the time that a man called police saying someone was brandishing a pistol but added it was "probably fake". The police claimed Rice reached into his waistband for the toy gun when the two officers ordered him to raise his hands.
On Monday, Cleveland city claimed Rice's injuries - and subsequent death - “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts, not this defendant” in response to the family's lawsuit. In the lawsuit, the family accuses officers Frank Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann of acting recklessly and failing to provide first aid and also name the city of Cleveland as a defendant.
Antonio Martin: Died on December 23 2014
The black teenager was shot in Berkeley Missouri after police said he pointed a handgun at a while male police officer.
The police added the suspect was “known to them" but in the aftermath of the shooting, protests took place as relations between the black community and police deteriorated further. Although videos were released, they did not show the moment of the shooting. Sureshbhai Patel Attacked on February 6 2015 and left partially paralysed.
Sureshbhai Patel: Attacked on February 6 2015 and left partially paralysed
Mr Patel was left partially paralysed, his family says, after being beaten by police in Alabama. The FBI has launched an investigation into what happened to the Indian grandfather after his encounter with police. A police officer has been arrested accused of badly injuring the man visiting relatives.
In a video released by police, it shows an officer throwing Mr Patel to the ground after officers stopped the man. He had been walking when police said officers tried talking to the man who spoke little English. Larry Muncey, Madison Police chief, announced last month that officer Eric Parker would be fired and he has pleaded not guilty to assault. His trial starts next month.
Not only should you always wear a suit to an interview, but you should also keep wearing one for every day of your working life – if you want to be successful.
That's according to a new study that analyzed the psychological effect dressing sharply has on people.
Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, put subjects through a series of experiments to gauge the relationship between clothes and cogency.
In the first experiment, participants were asked to show up, rate the formality of the outfit they were wearing, and then complete tests to determine how they processed information.
The second experiment followed the same progression, except this time the participants were instructed to turn up in formal wear.
The data collected showed that when the subjects dressed formally, they were more adept at abstract processing – which means that they are more likely to see the big picture rather than obsessing over minor details.
Abstract thinking is held to be useful when solving problems and therefore a key attribute for the successful businessman. For example, abstract thinking is helpful when receiving criticism, as the thinker can take a step back from the negative feedback rather than letting it affect their self-esteem.
It can also be useful when making financial decisions. An abstract thinker is more likely to avoid being tempted by impulse purchases, instead making astute, long-term investment calls.
“Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” Abraham Rutchick, one of the authors of the study, told the Atlantic.
What's more, Michael Slepian, another of the paper's authors and a professor at Columbia Business School, postulates that putting on a suit has a positive impact on your ability to see the big picture whether you wear one every day or not: “No matter how often you wear formal clothing, if you are wearing formal clothing, then you are likely in a context that's not the intimate, comfortable, and more socially close setting with no dress code.
“Thus, whether you wear formal clothing every workday, or only every wedding, my prediction is that we would find a similar influence because the clothing still feels formal in both situations.”
BAE Systems has won a contract worth up to $434m (£287m) to provide US soldiers with combined night-vision goggles and thermal sights.
The defence company has developed a system that unites the picture from thermal imaging sights mounted on troops’ weapons, which work by detecting heat differences, and night vision goggles, which enhance the available light to produce a wider image.
Currently soldiers use their night-vision goggles for overall situational awareness, but have to raise their weapon and look down their sight to aim.
BAE’s product transmits the picture from the weapon’s sight to the goggles, meaning soldiers do not have to look down their guns to see what is in their crosshairs.
Bringing the two together images together should speed up the time its takes to engage a target, once it has been acquired by the soldier on night vision goggles. The company said it should also allow troops to acquire targets more stealthily.
“Supplying the US Army with this new rapid target acquisition technology builds on our heritage as a long-time provider of thermal weapon sights and precision targeting solutions,” said Terry Crimmins, vice-president of BAE’s survivability and targeting solutions.
"The ability to conduct surveillance in any light or weather condition increases mission safety and effectiveness.”
BAE is developing the new combined system at its factory in Hudson, New Hampshire.
More than 4 million miserable South Koreans have downloaded an application that permits them to have a comforting conversation with an imaginary friend through their mobile device.
The vast majority - as much as 80 percent, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper - are teenagers, triggering renewed concerns about the pressures of modern life on young people.
The app is designed to send a supportive or reassuring text message to a user who expresses feelings of loneliness or depression.
Psychologists suggested that the popularity of the app is a reflection of the problems young people are facing in establishing friendships with other human beings and then maintaining them through the ups and downs of life.
A survey conducted by Seoul National University earlier this year indicated that more than 58 percent of middle school students have "unstable" relationships with other pupils in their class, while as many as 20 percent expressed a fear of being bullied.
"People who feel lonely are desperate to find someone who sympathises with them and reacts to what they say", Hwang Sang-min, a professor at Seoul's Yonsan University, told the Chosun Ilbo.
"It does not matter who talks to them - they just want to hear something from anyone".
A recent study by South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family showed that nearly 33 percent of teenagers feel stressed about their studies, while a further 26 percent expressed fears about their chances of finding a good job.
More than 11 percent said they had considered suicide, with 17 percent of those people blaming loneliness.
A television crew was arrested, interrogated and had its equipment deleted and destroyed by Qatari authorities while filming a documentary about the 2022 World Cup.
A reporter, cameraman, camera assistant and driver were denied permission to leave the Gulf state for five days after capturing footage of labour camps there for a program called "The Selling of Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of Fifa."
In an incident that raised questions about mega-wealthy Qatar’s attitude to scrutiny of the death and abuse of migrant workers building the infrastructure for it to stage the World Cup, the crew from Germany’s biggest television network was only allowed to return home following intense lobbying by their own country’s ambassador.
ARD journalist Florian Bauer and his team were investigating the squalid living and employment conditions of construction workers a year on from the Qatari government’s pledge to tackle what has been denounced by human rights organisations as modern-day slavery.
Bauer admitted travelling to Doha without permission to film after his requests to do so were either ignored or denied by several government agencies, as well as being rejected by World Cup organisers.
The sports politics specialist, who had been granted the required permit on each of his previous visits to the country, questioned whether the authorities and Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy were cracking down on those trying to hold the regime to account.
“I can only assume that this time they thought, ‘We don’t want to have the same story in terms of labour camp-visits’,” Bauer told Telegraph Sport.
“After five-and-a-half weeks of contacting the National Human Rights Committee, the embassy of Qatar in Germany, and so on and so forth, asking all of them for the shooting permit, we actually acknowledged they don’t want to give us one.”
Bauer and his team were arrested on March 27, a day after arriving in Qatar, and were held for 14 hours before being released at 4 a.m. the following morning.
Admitting he was “scared”, Bauer said: “There were interrogations by people from the intelligence service who said if I didn’t co-operate with them, it would work badly for me.”
The crew was physically unharmed, which could not be said for its equipment.
Bauer added: “Everything was deleted: phone, hard drives. A laptop got destroyed, got opened by I don’t know who.”
A Qatar 2022 source denied it was trying to stifle reporting of working conditions in the country, which Bauer admitted were of a high standard when it came to projects the Supreme Committee oversaw.
The source said it rejected his filming request because it had already granted one to a sports reporter from the same network, and also said it had not wanted to be the sole commentator on labour camps not under its direct jurisdiction.
The Telegraph was awaiting a response on Tuesday from a government spokesman on why the NHRC, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior and representatives for the Emir himself did not grant Bauer permission to film.
Qatar’s minister of labour and social affairs admitted on Monday that the country’s failure to ensure decent accommodation for its bulging migrant workforce was a “mistake” he was working to fix.
Representatives of British broadcasters, who did not want to be named, have admitted deliberately omitting to tell the Qatari authorities if they plan to film labour camps when they travel there amid fears their application would be rejected.
Bauer said he was particularly “outraged” by his own snub because his previous reports about the country had not been unbalanced.
He added: “They knew that I’m not biased. Nevertheless, they weren’t giving me an invitation letter and that makes me think about, ‘Hey, what’s the Supreme Committee thinking about this? Why are they not more open?’”
Frank Freshwaters, who was imprisoned in Ohio jail used to film the Shawshank Redemption, escaped in 1959 after earning the trust of guards
In a case bearing remarkable similarities to the critically acclaimed 1994 film, Frank Freshwaters, 79, had "quickly earned the trust of prison officials" before escaping jail in 1959, according to Peter Elliott, the US Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio.
But unlike the fictional Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins in the film, who was last seen enjoying freedom on a beach in Mexico, Freshwaters has been caught by the authorities and returned to jail, after a ruse to get his fingerprints led to his arrest in Florida this week.
Freshwaters was convicted of manslaughter for killing a pedestrian with a vehicle in July 1957, and his initially suspended sentence of one to 20 years in prison was imposed in 1959 after he violated his probation by driving and getting a driver's licence, according to the marshals and old court documents they provided.
He was imprisoned at the old Ohio State Reformatory before being moved to a lower-security camp, from where he escaped in September 1959, the statement said.
The details of his escape have not been divulged, though it is not thought that he tunneled out using a rock hammer, as his fictional counterpart did.
His time on the run was interrupted in 1975, when he was arrested on the Ohio warrant by the sheriff's office in West Virginia.
When the governor there refused to send him back to Ohio, he was freed and disappeared again, the marshals said.
An investigation by a deputy marshal assigned this year to target cold cases led authorities to Florida, where Freshwaters was living as William Harold Cox, the statement said.
Freshwaters admitted his true identity when authorities confronted him on Monday, according to the US Marshals Service and deputies in Brevard County, Florida.
Marshals in Ohio had sought help from deputies there, and they created a ruse to get him to sign papers so they could check his fingerprints, which matched the decades-old arrest, said Major Tod Goodyear.
"We couldn't go with a picture and see if it's that guy," Goodyear said. "You look different than you do 50 years ago."
The man sent to the Ohio State Reformatory in 1959 had short, dark hair in his black-and-white mugshot. Now he has a white beard, a ponytail and glasses and lived in a weathered trailer in a remote area surrounded by palmettos and very few neighbours.
He had retired from a job as a truck driver and was living off Social Security benefits, Goodyear said.
He had left clues about his identity over the past 56 years, and investigators traced those to his Florida doorstep, said US Marshal Pete Elliott in Cleveland. He wouldn't discuss specifics.
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office said he was jailed under the name Harold F. Freshwater and was ordered held without bond because of his status as an out-of-state fugitive. Court records listed no attorney for him.
He declined to talk to reporters and remained jailed on Tuesday night, said Cpl. Dave Jacobs.
The Shawshank Redemption film, based on a 1982 Stephen King novella, is set in a prison in Maine, but was filmed at the Ohio State Reformatory.
Big Bird, the giant yellow-feathered Sesame Street character, was offered a place on the doomed Challenger space shuttle mission but had to withdraw because his oversized costume would not fit in the craft.
The extraordinary revelation is contained in a new documentary I Am Big Bird, which tells the story of the Jim Henson creation and the man who has played him for 45 years, Caroll Spinney.
Big Bird - with Mr Spinney in full costume – was selected initially to take part in the 1986 Challenger mission as part of a NASA initiative to encourage children to become more engaged in the US space programme.
When the logistical problems of trying to send an eight-foot, two-inch character into space became clear, the idea was scrapped.
Instead his place was given to a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, according to the film.
Mr Spinney said the cast and crew of Sesame Street stopped filming to watch the launch.
"I couldn’t believe how horrible that was and we were grieving for the pilots and the teacher, for their families and them losing their life like that,” he told CBC in an interview to promote the film . “So tragic."
Mr Spinney, now 81, also reveals how he was able to use the costume to hide his tears as he dealt with divorce and depression, and when he sang “Bein’ Green” at Jim Henson’s funeral.
This article was written by Rob Crilly New York from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Ousted chairman of Libyan Investment Authority challenges London legal proceedings over disputed losses made in Gaddafi era
Libya's billion-dollar lawsuit against Goldman Sachs has been dealt a fresh setback as a power struggle at the top of its $67bn wealth fund sees two rival law firms pitted against each other in the London courts.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the oil-rich nation’s sovereign wealth fund, is suing Goldman and Societe Generale, the French financial giant, in separate UK lawsuits worth a combined $3.3bn (£2.1bn), claiming the LIA lost billions at the banks’ hands during the Gaddafi era .
However, the fund’s recently ousted chairman, Abdulrahman Benyezza, has launched an attempt to seize power, throwing the future of the case into doubt, as both the LIA and its former leader assert control over the case.
The LIA has appointed solicitors at Keystone Law to take on the case, after its former lawyers, Enyo, walked away from proceedings, as The Telegraph revealed last month .
Mr Benyezza, who was replaced in a boardroom battle in October, has signed up Stephenson Harwood, claiming he was wrongly removed and should have control of the LIA.
The dispute between the two sides means that, in a bizarre turn of events, a British court will decide who has the authority to represent the fund. A direction hearing is expected to be held this week, ahead of full proceedings to establish who is the legitimate representative of the fund.
The power struggle is a fresh setback to the LIA’s case against Goldman, with the country already locked in violent civil war and under threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant . The nation’s internationally recognised government has been forced out of Tripoli to Tobruk, in the far east of the country, and the LIA’s board has fled the country for Malta.
In a letter obtained by The Telegraph, from Keystone to Herbert Smith Freehills, which represents both Goldman and SocGen, the lawyers say they “act on behalf of the LIA and are instructed to take over conduct of this action on its behalf”.
“We are aware that Stephenson Harwood have been instructed by others who seek to assert that they are or represent the LIA,” it says. “Given that we are aware of their position, and of their determination to oppose our client’s entitlement to conduct its claims, we consider that filing a new address for service for the LIA would almost certainty be challenged by an alternative filing, and the resulting confusion would not facilitate the orderly conduct of the action.”
The dispute threatens to throw the LIA’s parallel legal battles against Goldman and SocGen, over billions of dollars lost by the fund during the Gaddafi years, into disarray, with the state of the cases now in question if proceedings are required beforehand.
Last year, the LIA filed separate claims against the banks, with the cases scheduled for next year. The LIA says Goldman hoodwinked officials at the fund into investing in derivative transactions they did not understand while pocketing hefty fees, and that SocGen funnelled bribes worth tens of millions to high-ranking individuals close to the Gaddafi government.
When the trades went sour amid the financial crisis in 2008, the LIA lost billions, and it is now attempting to retrieve the money in London’s courts, claiming $1.2bn from Goldman and $2.1bn from the French bank. Witness statements filed by the LIA last year claim that high-ranking Goldman employees took Libyan officials on “lavish” excursions to Morocco, where there was “heavy drinking and girls involved.”
When contacted by The Telegraph, a spokesman for the LIA said: “Mr Benyezza is a former chairman of the LIA, who was replaced by the board of trustees of the LIA in October 2014, but who now apparently has reappeared and suggests that he still has some status as chairman. This is not the case.
“The House of Representatives Government, the board of trustees, the board of directors and the incumbent chairman of the LIA reject Mr Benyezza’s claims absolutely.”
Goldman Sachs said: “Regardless of who eventually represents LIA, the underlying claims are without merit.” SocGen did not comment.
This article was written by James Titcomb from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
The big global banks have begun to warn clients that the blistering rally in oil and industrial commodities in recent weeks has run far ahead of economic reality, raising the risk of a fresh slump in prices over the summer.
Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank have all issued reports advising investors to tread carefully as energy and base metals fall prey to unstable speculative flows in the derivatives markets.
Oil has jumped 40pc since January even as the US, China and the world economy as a whole have been sputtering, falling far short of expectations.
“Watch out: this rally may not last. The risks for a reversal in recent commodity price trends are growing,” said analysts at Barclays.
“There is a huge disconnect between the price action in physical markets where differentials are signalling over-supply and the futures markets where all looks rosy.”
Miswin Mahesh, the bank’s oil strategist, said a glut of excess oil is emerging in the mid-Atlantic, with inventories rising at a rate of 1m barrels a day. Angola and Nigeria are sitting on 80m barrels of unsold crude and excess cargoes are building up in the North Sea and the Mediterranean.
Morgan Stanley echoed the concerns, warning that speculators and financial investors have taken out a record number of “long” positions on Brent crude on the futures markets even though the world economy keeps falling short of expectations. “We have growing concerns about crude fundamentals in the second half of 2015 and 2016,” it said.
Shale producers in the US are taking advantage of the artificial surge in prices to hedge a large part of their future output, more or less guaranteeing that the US will continue to pump 10m b/d and wage a war of attrition against high-cost producers in the rest of the world.
A comparable dynamic is playing out in the copper market, where net long positions have jumped 60pc since the start of the year and helped power the longest rally in copper prices since 2005, even as industrial output grinds to a halt in China.
The warnings come as a draft report from OPEC painted a gloomy picture of energy industry, predicting that oil wouldn't touch $100 in the next 10 years.
The mini-boom in energy and metals has taken on huge significance since it is being taken as evidence that global recovery is under way and that the dangers of a deflationary spiral have abated. Barclays said that this in turn is a key factor driving up global bond yields, and therefore in repricing the cost of global credit.
If the commodity rally is being driven by investor exuberance in the derivatives markets – rather than a genuine recovery in the world economy – it is likely to short-circuit before long and could even lead to a relapse into deflation. It is extremely difficult for central banks to navigate these choppy waters, raising the risk of a policy mistake.
Fresh data suggest that the US economy may have contracted in the first quarter, and is currently growing at a rate of just 0.8pc, below the US Federal Reserve’s stall speed indicator.
Deutsche Bank has also warned that the energy rally is showing “signs of fatigue”, with near-record inventories in the US, and little likelihood of further stimulus from central banks at this stage to keep the game going. “We see fresh downside risks to crude oil prices heading into the summer,” it said.
Durable oil rallies are typically driven by OPEC cuts but this time the cartel has boosted supply by 500,000 b/d to 31m as Saudi Arabia tries to drive marginal drillers out of business across the world.
Contrary to expectations, America’s shale producers have yet to capitulate. The rig count has fallen by more than half but output has held up longer than expected. While a few drillers have gone bankrupt, others are already signalling plans to crank up production.
Houston-based EOG said it expects to boost output in the third quarter at the Eagle Ford basin in Texas, benefiting from dramatic gains in technology that are cutting shale costs at an astonishing speed. Devon Energy has raised its growth target to 25pc to 35pc this year, having cut its production costs by a fifth in the first quarter.
Tactical stockpiling of crude oil by China and other countries has masked the scale of oversupply but oil analysts say this effect may be fading. The deep economic slowdown in resource-hungry emerging markets has snuffed out the commodity supercycle. There is little sign yet of a durable rebound.
China is still slowing as President Xi Jinping deliberately engineers a deflation of the country’s investment bubble.
A series of cuts in the reserve requirement ratio and interest rates – including a 25pc reduction over the weekend– merely offsets “passive tightening” caused by capital outflows and rising real borrowing costs.
It is not yet a return to ‘"stimulus as usual".
Not everybody is willing to throw in the towel on crude oil.
Michael Wittner, from Societe Generale, said US output will decline in the coming months as the delayed effects of lower investment start to bite, ultimately vindicating the Saudi's shock strategy of flooding the market.
Crude stockpiles tend to build up from March to May. This is the “window of greatest vulnerability for a crude price correction”, Mr Wittner said. That window will be closing within weeks.
Couples hoping that having more sex will improve their relationships should think again after a new study found that it does not boost happiness levels.
Although countless research and self-help books insit that injecting more sex into a flailing love life can bring back the spark, psychologists found that it could make the problem worse.
In fact increasing the frequency of sex actually led to a drop in desire and enjoyment.
Carnegie Mellon University researchers asked 64 couples aged between 35 and 65 to take part in an experiment to discover if more sex improved their relationships over three months.
Half were told to keep their love lives the same as normal, while the other half were asked to double episodes of intercourse. They were questioned about their happiness levels and how much they had enjoyed sex during the period.
The couples instructed to increase sexual frequency did have more sex but over the period their happiness levels fell. The researchers found that couples instructed to have more sex reported lower sexual desire and a decrease in sexual enjoyment. It wasn't that actually having more sex led to decreased wanting and liking for sex. Instead, it seemed to be just the fact that they were asked to do it, rather than initiating on their own.
"Perhaps couples changed the story they told themselves about why they were having sex, from an activity voluntarily engaged in to one that was part of a research study,” said Professor George Loewenstein, the study's lead investigator.
“If we ran the study again we would try to encourage subjects into initiating more sex in ways that put them in a sexy frame of mind, perhaps with baby-sitting, hotel rooms or Egyptian sheets, rather than directing them to do so.”
Despite the results, Prof Loewenstein continues to believe that most couples have too little sex for their own good, and thinks that increasing sexual frequency in the right ways can be beneficial.
And another study's designers, Tamar Krishnamurti, suggested that the findings may actually help couples to improve their sex lives and their happiness.
“Instead of focusing on increasing sexual frequency to the levels they experienced at the beginning of a relationship, couples may want to work on creating an environment that sparks their desire and makes the sex that they do have even more fun," he said.
The research was published in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation.
Occam's Razor is the sharpest way to cut through tangled explanations for the epic rout in global bond markets.
The simplest explanation is the best. "Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora."
Bond yields are soaring because the world's central banks have demonstrably done enough for now to stop deflation taking hold. The short-term monetary cycle is turning. The reflation trade is on.
The broad M3 money supply has been growing at a 7pc rate in the US over the past six months (annualized), and nearly 8pc in the eurozone. Fiscal austerity has run its course as well. Budget policy is no longer contractionary in either of the world's two biggest economic blocs.
Unless the normal mechanisms of monetary policy have broken down altogether - which is possible, but would you bet your pension on it? - the burgeoning M3 data point to a reflationary revival of some sort later this year.
John Williams, the once dovish head of the San Francisco Fed, told Yahoo! Finance on Tuesday that the US economy is "running a little bit hot". Rightly or wrongly, he chose to dismiss the economic relapse in the first quarter as a weather-blip. The world's monetary superpower is chomping at the bit.
Hedge funds were asking for trouble by driving yields on 10-year German Bunds to a historic low of 0.07pc in mid-April. Trouble is what they got. Three weeks later, Bunds are trading at 0.65pc. The paper losses across the spectrum of global bond markets is roughly half a trillion dollars.
Put another way, Bank of America says the €2.8 trillion of eurozone debt trading at negative yields has just shrunk to €2 trillion. It calls this a "positioning purge".
The mistake was to bet on an acute shortage of sovereign bonds once the European Central Bank launched its €60bn monthly blitz of quantitative easing. Bunds were thought to have a special "scarcity premium" since they are dying out. The German government is running a fiscal surplus of 0.5pc of GDP this year.
Markets ignored known evidence that bond yields rose by 80-120 basis points during the various bouts of QE in America, which is what one would expect as recovery builds and the risk of deflation abates. Contrary to mythology, QE does not work by lowering bond rates. It works through a different mechanism: by causing banks to "create" money.
ECB president Mario Draghi has accomplished his first goal, even if he might silently be cursing the newfound strength of the euro.
The eurozone is clawing its way out of depression. The growth rate of nominal GDP growth has risen from 1.1pc at the start of the year to 1.5pc, subtly altering long-term debt dynamics for the crisis states of southern Europe. They are no longer quite so close to a debt-deflation trap.
The one-year "inflation swap rate" - measuring expectations - has jumped by almost 100 basis points since October in the eurozone. The five-year contracts are starting to catch up.
This is a short-term cyclical upswing. It does not in itself narrow Europe's North-South rift in competitiveness, and does not magically turn EMU into an optimal currency area. It does buy time.
Lack of liquidity in the dealing rooms for bonds has amplified the bond shock. Regulators might have displayed more common sense when they imposed tougher rules on market-makers, extinguishing half the business.
The energy rally has added a further electric charge, setting off what amounts to a reflation-panic. "The back-up in bond yields has become horribly correlated with crude prices," said Mark Ostwald from Monument.
This mini-boom in oil may, of course, fizzle as Brent crude nears a powerful technical barrier at around $70 a barrel, up more than 40pc from the lows in January. Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank all warned this week that paper trades on the derivatives markets have moved far ahead of fundamentals, ignoring a glut of excess cargoes building in the Atlantic.
The International Energy Agency's oil market report warned that over-supply has reached 2.1m barrels-a-day (b/d). Iraq, Libya and Russia are all cranking up output, and Iran is waiting in the wings with an extra 400,000 b/d of quick supply if there is a nuclear deal. While US shale has "blinked", it has not capitulated.
The great question is how long a world economy can withstand a spike in bond yields before this sets off a chain of nasty consequences, and ultimately defeats itself.
"There comes a point when this is too fast and too vicious, and starts to hit growth and earnings. That is when we could get an equity sell off," said Andrew Roberts, head of European credit at RBS.
The world's pain threshold is surely lower than ever. Debt has risen by 30 percentage points of GDP since the last financial crisis, reaching a record 175pc in emerging markets and 275pc in the OECD club.
Rising rates this year have already caused the iTraxx crossover index of European corporate bonds to jump 40 basis points to 280. In the US, higher Treasury yields feed rapidly into the mortgage market through the "convexity trade". Fannie Mae's 30-year mortgage bonds have jumped 36 points to 2.94pc in three weeks.
"We think the next shoe to drop will be US corporate credit. A lot of companies are bringing forward bond issuance this summer in a rush to beat the Fed. This could create a supply glut and a vicious circle," he said.
Jan Loeys, from JP Morgan, advised clients this week to pull some money off the table, warning that "dark clouds are now rising" for global asset markets. The bank said productivity growth turned negative in the US and the world in the first quarter, a stunning development that implies a lower speed limit for economic growth.
It also implies a smaller US output gap than widely supposed, making it harder for the Fed to bide its time before raising rates. It is not a pretty picture for a stock market boom that is already long in the tooth, flattered by record margin debt.
Nor is it pretty for those emerging markets that drank deepest from the pool of cheap dollar liquidity during the QE era, racking up $4.5 trillion of dollar debt. They have enjoyed three reprieves from a hesitant Fed so far, and have not used the time well to build their defences. The International Monetary Fund fears a "super taper tantrum" if and when the Fed actually pulls the trigger.
My own fear is that the reflation trade will prove to be another false dawn, overwhelmed within a year or so by the post-Lehman malaise of excess global savings and chronic lack of demand.
China has hit the rocks.
Urban fixed investment has collapsed to near zero.
China's factory gate deflation is running at -4.6pc and the country is still transmitting the effects of this to the rest of the world through a flood of manufactured exports.
President Xi Jinping could at any time let rip with a fresh blast of credit. He has chosen not to do so, clearly judging that this would store up even greater trouble.
The world will have to learn to live for a lot longer with a different kind of China: a post-bubble invalid nursing its wounds.
Historians may pinpoint April 20, 2015, as the last gasp of a 34-year bull market in global bonds that began under the Volcker Fed in the early 1980s, the final inflexion point after yields had fallen through the floor in this year's QE mania.
But don't bank on it. Albert Edwards, at Societe Generale, coined the term "Ice Age" long ago to describe this era of deflationary ascendancy. He is bracing for one final polar freeze before we all hyper-inflate our way out.
In one of the most unlikely encounters, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is preparing to take on former world boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
The pair will take part in a charity boxing match, to raise money for CharityVision, an organisation that helps provide blindness-curing surgeries around the world.
In a YouTube video, Mr. Romney is seen training hard for the fight, but jokes "I don't have much of a right hook, but when I get somebody's ear, I can be pretty formidable."
Watch the video to find out more about the fight, which is set to raise $1 million for the charity.
The second leg of the Copa Libertadores last-16 tie between Boca Juniors and River Plate was suspended on Thursday after River players were targeted with pepper spray at half-time.
There was drama in Buenos Aires on Thursday as River Plate looked to defend a 1-0 lead in the away leg of their Copa Libertadores tie against fierce rivals Boca Juniors.
As the teams emerged after half-time with the game still goalless, the River players were attacked with pepper spray from within the inflatable tunnel at the side of the pitch.
It is thought that a Boca fan may have breached the tunnel through the security fence and released the spray, which causes discomfort to the eyes and skin.
Several River players including Driussi and Leonardo Ponzio were particularly affected leading and the team's head coach Marcelo Gallardo to insist the game be suspended.
After a lengthy deliberations lasting around 75 minutes, the match was officially suspended with the score still 1-0 to River after the first leg.
There has been no announcement so far as to whether the match will be replayed, restarted from the second half, or forfeited by Boca.
Mercenaries from South Africa have proved quietly decisive in helping the Nigerian military turn around its campaign against Boko Haram, writes Colin Freeman in Abuja
With their roots in South Africa apartheid-era security forces, they do not fit the standard image of an army of liberation. But after just three months on the ground, a squad of grizzled, ageing white mercenaries have helped to end Boko Haram's six-long year reign of terror in northern Nigeria.
Run by Colonel Eeben Barlow, a former commander in the South African Defence Force, the group of bush warfare experts were recruited in top secrecy in January to train an elite strike group within Nigeria's disorganized, demoralized army.
Some of the guns-for-hire cut their teeth in South Africa's border wars 30 years ago. But their formidable fighting skills — backed by their own helicopter pilots flying combat missions — have proved decisive in helping the military turn around its campaign against Boko Haram in its north-eastern strongholds.
The Islamists have now fled many of the towns they once controlled, leading to the freeing of hundreds of girls and women last week who were used by Boko Haram as slaves and bush wives.
The role of Col Barlow's firm in turning around one of the most vicious African insurgencies of modern times has been kept largely quiet by Nigeria's outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, who lost elections six weeks ago to ex-general Muhammadu Buhari.
But last week, Col Barlow discussed his company's role in a seminar at the Royal Danish Defence College, and in a separate interview with a Sofrep.com, a special forces website, he described in detail the "aggressive" strike force that was created to push Boko Haram onto the back foot.
“The campaign gathered good momentum and wrested much of the initiative from the enemy,” said Col Barlow, 62. “It was not uncommon for the strike force to be met by thousands of cheering locals once the enemy had been driven from an area.”
He added: “Yes, many of us are no longer 20-year-olds. But with our age has come a knowledge of conflicts and wars in Africa that our younger generation employees have yet to learn, and a steady hand when things get rough.”
During apartheid, Col Barlow served with the South African Defence Force, a mainly white military unit that defended the regime against insurrection and fought border wars in neighbouring Angola and what is now Namibia.
In 1989, as apartheid was beginning to crumble, he co-founded Executive Outcomes, a private military company made up of many ex-members of South Africa's security forces. One of the first modern "private armies", in 1995 it successfully helped the government of Sierra Leone defend itself against the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, notorious for chopping off the arms of their enemies.
Another co-founder of Executive Outcomes, which dissolved in 2000, was Simon Mann, the Old Etonian later jailed in Equatorial Guinea over his attempts to plot a coup there.
Col Barlow's new company is known as STTEP, which stands for Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection. It is thought to have sent around 100 men to Nigeria, including black troopers who previously served in elite South African units. Others even fought as communist guerrillas against the South African Defence Force.
It is not known how much the Nigerian military has paid for STTEP's services. But the fact that the Nigerian government felt it necessary to bring them in raises questions about the level of help that it was receiving from the British and US militaries, who offered mentoring packages in the wake of Boko Haram's kidnapping last year of more than 200 schoolgirls from the north-eastern town of Chibok.
Describing Boko Haram as "a bunch of armed thugs who have used religion as the glue to hold their followers", Col Barlow said the initial plan was for his men to train up a team to help free the schoolgirls. However, as Boko Haram continued to run amok across northern Nigeria, massacring hundreds at a time in village raids, the plan turned to schooling Nigeria's largely traditional army in “unconventional mobile warfare”.
Key to this was a tactic known as "relentless pursuit", which involved mimicking Boko Haram's hit-and-run tactics with non-stop assaults. Once the insurgents were on the run and their likely route established, members of the strike force would be helicoptered into land ahead of them to cut off their likely escape routes, gradually exhausting them.
The South Africans even used bush trackers to work out where their enemies were going, an old-fashioned art that proved vital in Boko Haram's forest hideouts. "Good trackers can tell the age of a track as well as indicate if the enemy is carrying heavy loads, the types of weapons he has, if the enemy is moving hurriedly, what he is eating, and so forth,” said Col Barlow.
While the Nigerian government has insisted the South Africans' role was mainly as "technical advisers", Col Barlow suggested his men had been involved in direct combat. His air power unit was “given ‘kill blocks’ to the front and flanks of the strike force and could conduct missions in those areas,” he said. His forces also helped with intelligence gathering, troop transportation and evacuation of casualties.
Mr Jonathan's decision to hire STTEP came just ahead of March's elections, when his government's failure to either tackle Boko Haram or free the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls was a major issue. He has promised that when Mr Buhari takes over at the end of this month, Boko Haram will be a spent force, although it is not yet clear whether the Buhari government will renew STTEP's contract.
Col Barlow warned that while the Nigerians had done well within three months that he had been contracted to mentor them, "the enemy was able to flee the battlefield with some of their forces intact, and will no doubt regroup and continue their acts of terror."
The involvement of STTEP in Nigeria will inevitably reignite the debate over whether private military companies should be used in conflicts. Human rights groups question whether they are publicly accountable, and in South Africa especially, their background in the apartheid-era makes some uneasy.
However, Col Barlow, whose firm has a code of conduct for behaving "in a legal, moral, and ethical manner" said that private companies were often better than UN or Western trainers of African armies. The latter were often hamstrung by political baggage and a failure to understand how either African armies or their enemies worked, he said. The advisers that Britain and America have sent to Nigeria are also not permitted to take part in operations on the ground, partly because of the Nigerian's army's poor human rights record.
Noting that even the US military appeared to regard his firm with distrust, Col Barlow added: “Some like to refer to us as ‘racists’ or ‘apartheid soldiers’ with little knowledge of our organisation. We are primarily white, black, and brown Africans who reside on this continent and are accepted as such by African governments."
This article was written by Colin Freeman Abuja from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
The car of the future will be the most powerful computer you will ever own, packing the processing power of a supercomputer into a box the size of a car stereo, according to American chip maker Nvidia.
Nvidia is best known for supplying powerful graphics processors for video game consoles and laptop computers, but ten years ago the company started adapting its chips for use in cars. The third generation Audi A8, which launched in 2009, was the first car to use an Nvidia graphics processor to power its 3D navigation system display.
Today, there are 8m cars on the road with Nvidia's processors inside – including models from Telsa, Volkswagen, Honda and Mercedes as well as Audi – but Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia, claims the company is just getting started.
"We have contracts with a lot of automakers, so over the next several years we're going to grow that number by over 25m," he said. "Younger first-time car buyers have grown up with iPhones and iPads, so the expectation is that if you're going to spend this much money on a car, the electronics in the car should be at least as good as your tablet."
Mr Shapiro said that a huge amount of craftsmanship goes into making cars, from the chassis and the headlights to the leather interior, but traditionally car companies have neglected to put the same effort into their computer systems.
However, increased demand for high quality digital displays inside cars – including dashboard navigation systems, virtual instrument clusters and rear-seat entertainment systems – has pushed automakers to look beyond their traditional suppliers to obtain a technological edge.
The Tesla Model S, for example, features a 17-inch touchscreen display in the middle of the dashboard, which replaces almost every physical button in the car. It can be used to control everything from the air conditioning to the suspension settings and even the sunroof.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes F015 concept car envisages the interior of the car as a "digital living space," allowing passengers to interact intuitively with the connected vehicle by means of gestures and high-resolution touchscreens, and the Audi Prologue turns the car's entire instrument panel and dashboard into single touchscreen display.
Mr Shapiro said that Nvidia's ambition is to make what is displayed on the screen better match the physical world inside the vehicle. The Tegra X1 processor, which powers its Drive CX cockpit visualisation computer, is capable of delivering one trillion floating-point operations per second (flops) – the same amount of power as a 1,600 square foot supercomputer 15 years ago.
This means it can render physical materials such as carbon fibre, brushed metals and glass in a photorealistic manner. It can also render 3D maps and landmarks with advanced lighting effects, and provide detailed surround vision to help with parking and manoeuvring.
"When the design team see this they start drooling, because the instrument cluster is like the jewel in the crown, and when it becomes a bland two-dimensional thing with simple circles for dials, it doesn't really reflect the experience of driving that car," he said. "So we're seeing a lot of craftsmanship, adding shadows and lighting, and it can change according to the preferences of the driver or the mode that the car is in."
Nvidia is still a niche player in the automotive chip business. Larger companies like Texas Instruments, Intel and Qualcomm currently dominate the market, and automotive sales represented just 4pc of Nvidia's $4.7bn annual revenue in its most recent fiscal year.
However, Mr Shapiro claims that there has been an evolution in the thinking of car makers, in terms of the electronics that are required for today's systems. The company expects automotive revenue of $183 million this year, and has booked more than $2 billion in future automotive business.
But Nvidia's real ambition is to conquer the driverless cars market. To this end, the company recently launched the Drive PX autopilot computer, which takes in data from up to 12 cameras positioned around the car, and combines it with extensive "deep learning" to teach the car to sense and interpret what is taking place around it .
"We're able to feed the system information so it can learn much like a child learns by identifying things in a scene in advance. Then it can go back and understand, and we can teach it to recognise all different types of road signs, different lanes, different cars, different people, and that's really what's going to enable the self-driving car of the future," said Mr Shapiro.
"So we train it in the data centre, and we load the model into the car, and it can process it in real time. And if there's something it doesn't understand, it'll send it back to the cloud and it will be part of the next training set, so the car will continue getting smarter and smarter."
The company has worked with Audi on its zFAS self-driving car technology, which was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015, when an Audi A7 driverless car concept drove itself over 550 miles from San Francisco to the event in Las Vegas.
Of course, the evolution of driverless cars has not been without its setbacks. Only this week, Google admitted that 11 of its self-driving vehicles have been involved in "minor accidents" over the past six years.
However, Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car programme, insists that the company's vehicles were never the cause of the accidents. It is generally thought that driverless cars will reduce the number accidents caused by human error. Tesla's founder Elon Musk has even suggested it may someday be illegal for people to drive, because it is too dangerous.
Mr Shapiro said that automakers are likely to take a staged approach to olling out driverless features in cars. While taking your hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals on the motorway is well within the capabilities of existing technology, allowing your car to navigate itself through a busy city centre is a different matter.
Many associate this kind of high-tech gadgetry with luxury cars, but Nvidia's systems are already being installed in some entry-level cars, like the Audi A3 in the US. Mr Shapiro pointed out that airbags were once considered luxury items, and are now standard safety features in most cars.
"People like to drive cars. They don't like to necessarily park their cars, they don't like to sit in traffic, so there are these computer-aided driving modes where, if you don't want to drive, you let the car take over, but when you want to drive, you drive," said Mr Shapiro.
"I think once we start to see these systems dramatically reduce accidents, injuries, fatalities, there's no reason why they won't become mandatory."