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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    Watch Dogs

    We look at the top games coming out this year, from classic gaming franchises to new titles like Watch Dogs and The Last of Us.

    Anarchy Reigns (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, 11 January)

    Bonkers and brilliant beat 'em up from Platinum Games, the developer behind Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising.

    Lauded critically on its release in Japan and the US last year, Anarchy Reigns features Platinum's melee expertise and a fascinating multiplayer suite.

    DmC: Devil May Cry (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC, 18 January)

    British developer Ninja Theory may have come in for some stick for its 'emo' reworking of DmC hero Dante, but their track record with story-based action-adventures are exemplary.

    Early previews suggest this reboot is shaping up to be something special, with terrific combat and a bewitching aesthetic.

    Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PlayStation 3, 25 January)

    Professor Layton and Dragon Quest developer Level-5 team up with legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli for this beautiful JRPG.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    hapifork and phone app

    The HAPIfork claims that it will help you lose weight by vibrating if you're eating too fast.

    Using an electronic sensor, the HAPIfork monitors how fast a user is eating and then alerts them if it is greater than a pre-determined rate.

    Over time, the device extends the length of time between mouthfuls so that the user eats less.

    The HAPIfork's makers claim that people only naturally feel full after about 20 minutes of eating, and so by diminishing the amount eaten in that period users will eat less and consequently lose weight.

    The project, which will be on Kickstarter and aims to retail for $99, also claims to reduce digestive problems and acid reflux.

    The HAPIfork is just one of a large number of new healthcare gadgets that are being launched at CES in Las Vegas, including Fitbug's new blood pressure monitor and new internet connected scales from Withings and Fitbit.

    The HAPIfork will initially connect via USB, but manufacturers HAPIlabs aim to introduce a bluetooth version shortly. Both will use a removable module so that the fork can be put in a dishwasher.

    It will track the duration of a meal, the number of fork servings and the duration of each interval between servings. If a user eats too frequently, it will vibrate while inside their mouth and show a warning light.

    “Most people eat faster than they should and do not realise that eating too fast isn’t a healthy behaviour, negatively affecting things like digestion and weight control,” said HAPIlabs’ US President Andrew Carton.

    HAPIlabs also make an activity tracker, similar to Fitbit and Fitbug, called the HAPItrack. Both products feature web dashboards that aim to motivate users and introduce games to encourage improved behaviour.

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    Emma Watson

    Harry Potter sidekick Hermoine Granger has been chosen as the best big screen role model in a poll of young film fans.

    Granger, who has been played in all of the eight Harry Potter films by Emma Watson, took 19% of the votes cast in the survey. Originally created by author J K Rowling, Granger is a studious Hogwarts scholar who uses her bookish skills to help Harry and Ron in their adventures.

    A close runner-up in the poll was Charlie Bucket, the poor boy who wins a golden ticket to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, with 16% of the vote. The 1995 re-creation of the hyper-intelligent Matilda Wormwood came third with 15%. Roald Dahl characters proved as popular on the big screen as in book form, with three making the top ten in the poll.

    Kevin from the four Home Alone films, played by Macaulay Culkin, and Dre Parker from the Karate Kid also made the survey, which was carried out by LOVEFiLM and Filmclub, a children’s charity.

    Sam Wainstein from the charity said, “Films can have a powerful influence on the way children behave and interact with people around them. Characters that young people identify with tend to stay with them the longest and positive behaviours can be learnt by watching the way that fictional characters handle certain situations on-screen.”

    The top 10 Big Screen Role Models:

    1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter (19%)

    2. Charlie from Charlie and Chocolate Factory (16%) .

    3. Matilda from Matilda (15%)

    4. Kevin from Home Alone (13%)

    5. Dre Parker from The Karate Kid (12%)

    6. Woody from Toy Story (11%)

    7. Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia (5%)

    8. Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away (4%)

    9. Arthur from The Sword in the Stone (3%)

    10. James from James and Giant Peach (2%)

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    DNA testing kit 23andme

    For the price of a night out, individuals can learn key elements of their genetic composition from new DNA testing kit for booming private genetic testing market.

    For Carole Kushnir, a test that she took out of simple curiosity about her genetic make-up revealed a double risk of cancer. And for Karen Durrett, it led her after half a century to a father she had never known - and also brought to light a potentially fatal condition.

    The two women are among 180,000 people who have paid to have key components of their DNA analysed by 23andMe, the world's biggest private genomics company, to assess more than 200 genetic traits and health risks.

    That number is expected to soar this year after the California-based company -- which takes its name from the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a normal human cell - dramatically reduced the cost of a testing kit to $99 last month, after an infusion of new joint venture capital.

    Sales of the kits were a Christmas hit and the company, which was co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google entrepreneur Sergey Brin, is aiming to reach a million clients by the end of this year - some abroad, including in Britain. It is sold by mail order in Britain, though it does not record country-by-country sales figures.

    But on the frontline of the new world of genomes and genetics, the boom in business and interest is unleashing a wave of controversy about the commercial use of one the most crucial medical breakthroughs of recent years.

    For proponents such as Miss Wojcicki, whose husband has a genetic mutation that significantly increases the risk of Parkinson's disease, this is the dawn of an exciting new era.

    For the price of a night out, individuals can learn key elements of their genetic composition, hence take life-saving treatment, or protect their children from health risks than run in their family.

    But critics -- and that includes many doctors, bio-ethicists and geneticists - are just as alarmed that people will be overloaded with information that is difficult for them to interpret, raise unnecessary health fears or false reassurances, lead to unneeded procedures for diseases that might never develop or impose the stress of fears over conditions that cannot, for now at least, be cured.

    "There are major concerns about the private genetic testing market," said Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, a genetic watchdog group.

    "It is unregulated, much of the information people get is misleading or unreliable and genetic tests are a poor predictor of the big killer diseases. And there is also the danger of people receiving scary surprises without the presence of a doctor for which they are not prepared."

    Mrs Kushnir, 69, who owns a chain of hair salons with her husband in California's hi-tech heartland of Silicon Valley, is scornful of such concerns.

    "It's patronising in the extreme, particularly in the era of the internet when people go to their computer to check the symptoms if they just get a sore throat, to argue that only experts can handle this sort of information," she told The Sunday Telegraph. "That assumes a dumb consumer."

    She took the test last year out of curiosity. "Here I was in Silicon Valley, surrounded by all these technology start-ups, so I thought that I would give it a go," she said.

    To take a test, a client spits into a test tube or swabs the inside of the check, then sends the sample for analysis to companies such as 23andMe. Laboratories look for common genetic variants that can indicate a risk of diseases that include Alzheimer's, diabetes, several cancers, Parkinson's and obesity.

    There was no family medical history to alarm Mrs Kushnir. But to her surprise, the test revealed that she had a mutation in the BRCA2 gene that put her at risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

    "I had very mixed emotions," she recalled. "I was obviously not happy to discover that I had the mutation, but relieved to have the information so that I could do something about it. This would not have come up in a routine medical visit."

    After follow-up tests, a cancer specialist advised her that the threat of breast cancer could be monitored by regular examinations. But as ovarian cancer is more difficult to detect early, he recommended that she have her ovaries removed -- the option she took.

    She encouraged other family members to take tests too. Several, including one of her sons, discovered that they also had a similar genetic mutation that heightened their cancer risks and are now receiving medical treatment.

    But recent focus group findings and professional surveys illustrate the deeply-held and diverging opinions over the how to use these potent new weapons against disease.

    Almost all parents have said that they want to be informed of every risk of disease for their children, however remote and even if currently untreatable. But most doctors, geneticists and bioethicists believe that only information that could lead to action should be shared.

    The American Academy of Paediatrics recently expressed strong reservations about such testing for children except in limited circumstances.

    The American College of Obsetricians and Gynaecologists has concluded that personalised genetic profiling is at this stage "not ready for prime time".

    And in an effort to provide guidelines for what is still a fledgling field, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics is drawing up a list of "a few dozen" major conditions for which to search during testing for the most common mutations.

    Even as the professional medical community tries to apply some rules, however, others are forging ahead.

    Mrs Durrett, 53, from Roswell, Georgia, decided to take the DNA test to try to determine the cause of some minor health problems after watching a television programme about the new technology.

    But her experience illustrates another side-effect of such genetic soul-bearing -- the exposure of the long-held secrets that can tear apart families.

    For she not only ended up discovering that she had breast cancer; she also learned that the man whom she had called "Dad" for 50 years was not in fact her father.

    Mrs Durrett's suspicions were initially aroused when unexplained relatives seem to be coming up as matches in the 23andMe database. She approached her mother, who revealed to her that she was the product of a brief teenage relationship, not the daughter of the man who raised her.

    Mrs Durrett subsequently tracked down her birth father and bonded with a half-sister she never knew she had. That half-sister was battling breast cancer, she learned, so when an update from 23andMe revealed that she also had an elevated risk of the same disease, Mrs Durrett went to see her doctor.

    A subsequent biopsy found that she had cancer in the milk ducts of her breasts. She underwent two lumpectomies and 33 rounds of radiation to treat the condition.

    "If I'd waited, it would have gone into the tissue," she said. "That's my reality. There are lot of people who have fascinating DNA stories and they just don't know it yet."

    SEE ALSO:  This Is A Picture Of A Strand Of DNA

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    elderly, old woman

    Common blood pressure drugs taken by millions of people have been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, researchers have said.

    It was found that people who had taken blood pressure drugs, particularly a class known as beta blockers, showed fewer changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease.

    Findings of a new study were presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in San Diego.

    Researchers examined the brains of 774 men after they had died, 610 of whom had been treated for high blood pressure.

    Around one in seven of those had been given only beta blockers, 18 per cent had received beta blockers and another drug and the others had been given different drugs.

    It was found that the men who had received beta blockers as their only blood pressure medication had fewer abnormalities in their brains compared to those who had not been treated for their hypertension, or who had received other blood pressure medications.

    Those who had been given beta-blockers in combination with other drugs also had fewer brain lesions and less shrinkage but not to the same extent at those who had used them alone.

    In 2011, more than 30m prescriptions were dispensed for beta blockers in England, showing that millions of patients have used the drugs.

    Lead researcher Dr Lon White, of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, said: "With the number of people with Alzheimer's disease expected to grow significantly as our population ages, it is increasingly important to identify factors that could delay or prevent the disease.

    "These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure."

    Earlier research has shown that high blood pressure in middle age is a strong risk factor for dementia.

    The number of people with dementia is expected to explode to 1.7m by 2050.

    Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Hypertension is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, and keeping high blood pressure in check could be important for preventing these diseases.

    "This study suggests a link between the use of beta blockers and fewer signs of dementia, but as the results of this study have yet to be published in full, it’s not clear what caused this link. It’s important to note that this study only looked at Japanese-American men, and these results may not be applicable to the wider population.

    “While we can’t conclude from this study that beta blockers can prevent dementia, a better understanding of the links between high blood pressure and dementia could be crucial for developing new treatments or approaches to prevention.

    "With 820,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and that number increasing, we urgently need to find ways to prevent the diseases that cause it – that requires a massive investment in research.”

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    guy driving car

    The choice of CD for a long car journey has long been the cause of family friction.

    But new research has revealed that which song drivers listen to can even influence how safe they are on the roads.

    Among the top ten safest songs to drive to are Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith and Tiny Dancer by Elton John.

    Each of the songs have an optimum tempo of a song for safe driving, mimicing the human heartbeat at around 60 to 80 beats per minute.

    The Scientist by Coldplay and Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River also appeared in the top 10.

    The study, conducted at London Metropolitan University, also revealed the type of songs that cause motorists to drive dangerously.

    Unsurprisingly, music that is noisy, upbeat and increases a driver's heart rate can be a deadly mix.

    Fast beats cause excitement that can lead people to concentrate more on the music than on the road and to speed up to match the beat of the song.

    Genres of music were also measured during the experiment and revealed variations between male and female drivers.

    Hip-hop made a female driver drive far more aggressively, breaking harder and accelerating faster, than her male counterpart. The heavy metal playlist caused the fastest driving among males in the group while the dance playlist had the same effect among women.

    The male and female drivers who listened to the classical playlist drove the most erratically.

    The experiment involved eight people driving 500 miles each using the MotorMate app, which monitored driving behaviour through GPS technology.

    The top 10 safest songs to drive to are:

    1. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones

    2. Billionaire Feat. Bruno Mars – Travie McCoy

    3. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

    4. The Scientist – Coldplay

    5. Tiny Dancer – Elton John

    6. Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake

    7. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith

    8. Karma Police – Radiohead

    9. Never Had a Dream Come True – S Club 7

    10. Skinny Love – Bon Iver

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    blackjack gambling casino

    Compulsive shopping, gambling and cleaning associated with Parkinson's disease is actually caused by the drugs used to treat the disease, researchers have found.

    Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative condition that can cause shakes and tremors, has been linked with alterations in behaviour in patients ranging from compulsive shopping and gambling to being obsessed with taking technical equipment apart, sorting objects or for taking long aimless walks.

    Researchers have found that these side effects are caused by the drugs used to treat Parkinson's rather than the disease itself.

    In a small study, a group of newly diagnosed Parkinson sufferers who were not taking any medication, were asked about their compulsive behaviour and the results compared to a similar group of people who were healthy.

    It was found that one in five of both groups showed compulsive behaviour.

    The findings from University of Pennsylvania were published in the journal Neurology.

    "We've known for some time that these behaviours are more common in people taking certain Parkinson's medications, but we haven't known if the disease itself leads to an increased risk of these behaviours," said study author Dr Daniel Weintraub.

    "These results provide further evidence that impulse control disorders that occur in people with Parkinson's disease are related to the exposure to the dopamine-related drugs, not just the disease itself," he said.

    "More long-term studies are needed to determine if the 20 per cent of people who have some symptoms of these disorders are more likely to develop impulse control disorders once they start treatment for Parkinson's."

    The symptoms can be controlled by altering doses of medication but drugs should not be changed or stopped without help from medical professionals.

    Experts have said the behaviours are particularly associated with drugs known as dopamine agonists, but can also affect people who take other Parkinson's drugs, in particular levodopa.

    Parkinson's symptoms are caused by a decrease in the levels of the chemical in the brain, dopamine, due to the death of the nerve cells in the brain that make it.

    Dopamine agonists act in a similar way to natural dopamine in the brain and are particularly effective against the movement symptoms of Parkinson's.

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    Empty bank accounts, vomiting bugs, failed detoxes: the post-holiday comedown is a condition well known to marriage counsellors. But there may be a reason to cheer up.

    How many of you arrived bleary-eyed at the office yesterday morning, sat at your desk for the first time in two weeks – and realised you’d forgotten your computer password? Go on, hands up.

    Did you stumble through the day on a stream of caffeine, desperately wishing you were anywhere but at work – preferably munching Quality Street in front of the TV?

    And, when the day finally ended, did you collapse on to your sofa feeling like you’d been hit by a bus, inhale your dinner and tuck yourself into bed by 9pm? Thought so.

    Like me, you have a serious dose of the New Year blues.

    January, even at its best, has few redeeming features. It is a month known for empty bank accounts, tight waistbands, winter vomiting bugs, failed detox regimes and cravings for things we’re trying to give up.

    Christmas is over and everyone is now back at work, feeling down and dreading the cold, wintry days looming ahead.

    According to new research by the website, morale is so low that it’s turning us into a nation of cheaters: it predicted that more people would start extramarital affairs yesterday than on any other day of the year.

    This time last week, it was a bright, crisp New Year’s Day. Feeling optimistic about the months ahead, two-thirds of us made at least one resolution: to eat less, to drink less, to get fit. Yet, according to a survey by researchers at the University of Bristol, 88 per cent of us will soon break them. Half of us already have.

    Then there are those who compound the misery by attempting a dry January – giving up alcohol for the whole month – and are either struggling with abstinence or regretting falling off the wagon. Is it any wonder we’re feeling so glum?

    But the slow ebb into 2013 seems worse than ever. “Because of the dates on which Christmas has fallen, most people – other than retailers – had 10 to 12 days off work,” explains Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University.

    “They’re coming back this week to massive in-boxes, filled with two weeks’ worth of unread emails. On top of that they’re going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, and they’re coping with heavy demands from managers who are facing a year with fewer staff because of the redundancies made last year.”

    Prof Cooper has even come up with a name for this week’s gloominess: acute post-bank holiday depression syndrome. “Trying to crank yourself up for work after a holiday – especially one where you’ve been enjoying time with your family, not really doing anything – is difficult,” he says. “It seemed that people were working really hard in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and they really did need a break. So it’s no surprise that we feel miserable when that break comes to an end.”

    There’s another reason why so many of us feel despondent this year in particular. Let’s face it: 2012 was a great year for Britain. There was the soggy, spectacular brilliance of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; the golden glory of the Olympics and Paralympics; and a royal pregnancy to top it all off.

    How do you follow that? So far, my brand new Filofax (bought in a fit of optimism on New Year’s Day) is completely blank. Not only do I have no social plans, no holidays and not even a medical appointment, but there are no grand occasions to write in it, no reasons to celebrate 2013.

    Worse, it’s shaping up to be a pretty uncertain year for Britain. The recession trudges on, now well into its sixth year of job losses, rising prices and falling bank balances. Politics is equally unstable – the Coalition’s shaky entente continues, with no prospect of an election for another 12 months. Psychotherapist Paula Hall says these sorts of issues exacerbate the January blues.

    “Lots of people are anxious about their jobs going into this year,” she explains. “We spend Christmas thinking of the short term and ignoring the consequences – stuffing ourselves with mince pies and shopping in the January sales when we can’t afford to. Then reality kicks in.”

    More calls are made to the Samaritans about financial worries in January than at other times of the year, explains Rachel Kirby-Rider, executive director of fundraising at the charity. “Often they are things that people haven’t addressed, or didn’t want to address, before Christmas. They become very relevant when the credit card bills come in.” She adds that callers tend to sound more desperate now than during the rest of the year. “A lot of people feel things should be better in the new year – and when they’re not, they start to worry.”

    But it’s not just big issues that worsen our mood: some causes are closer to home. Counselling organisation Relate receives a spike in calls in January, mostly from couples struggling to hold together relationships that they patched up over the festive season. “Christmas is a real distraction – you’re so busy that you forget all your problems,” explains Christine Northam, a counsellor with Relate. “By January we have low energy and we’re tired; consequently, a lot of couples who were having problems at the end of last year tend to break up.”

    Sixty-five per cent of relationships end in January, according to a recent survey, with more partners arguing this month than during any other. With short days and miserable weather, we spend an average of 20 per cent more time cooped up indoors than we do in the summer – resulting in irritability and short tempers. “More and more people are having difficulties in their relationships, and, sadly, conducting an affair can often be cheaper than getting a divorce,” explains Hall.

    Unfortunately, the worst isn’t over. In 2005, Cliff Arnall, a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, affiliated with Cardiff University, came up with a formula for working out the most depressing day of the year, involving the weather, debt, time passed since Christmas and general motivational levels.

    While this week might seem like a worthy contender, this year’s official “Blue Monday” falls on January 21. The science might be dubious, but for those of us already feeling disheartened it’s yet another blow to hear that things won’t look up for another two weeks.

    So what can we do to get through the blues? Most important, urges Northam, is to make plans for the coming months. “Organise something you can look forward to,” she says. “Be creative: watch a movie; listen to music; go for a run. The sun might not be shining – and the lack of sunlight is one factor that’s making us feel sad – but get outside and swing yourself about a bit. It’ll make you feel so much better.”

    Prof Cooper says acting positively is the way forward. “Dress brightly – even for work. Everything’s so gloomy and dull outside that it’ll make people happy to see someone wearing bright colours. And, if you’re in an office, talk to your colleagues. Smile and be upbeat. At this time of year, we don’t need any more negativity.”

    As for looking ahead in 2013, well, it might not be such a bad year after all. We may not have another Olympics, but there are world-class athletics events taking place across Britain – from Glasgow to Birmingham, Sheffield to London. In place of the Jubilee, there’s a bouncing royal baby on the way. It’s the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; the 150th anniversary of the London Underground; 50 years since the first woman went into space. “You never know,” says Northam, “this year might even be better than last.”

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    Late-stage cancer victims could be thwarting their own treatment by taking multivitamin pills containing antioxidants, the Nobel Prize winning scientist James Watson has warned.

    Nutritional supplements containing antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E have long been the subject of debate in the field of cancer, with some studies suggesting they could offer moderate protection against cancer.

    But now Prof Watson, who with Francis Crick discovered the "double helix" structure of DNA in 1953, has argued that the pills could be doing more harm than good.

    In a new paper he claimed that the reason late stage cancers often become untreatable is that they produce high levels of antioxidants which stop treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy from working.

    In healthy people antioxidants can be helpful because they attack molecules known as “free radicals” which can damage DNA.

    But many cancer treatments use free radicals to kill tumour cells, meaning antioxidants could prevent them doing their job.

    Prof Watson said studies should be carried out to test his theory which he described as "among my most important work since the double helix."

    Writing in the Royal Society's Open Biology journal, he said: "For as long as I have been focused on the understanding and curing [of] cancer, well-intentioned individuals have been consuming antioxidative nutritional supplements as cancer preventatives if not actual therapies.

    "In light of the recent data strongly hinting that much of late-stage cancer's untreatability may arise from its possession of too many antioxidants, the time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer.

    "Blueberries [which are high in antioxidants] best be eaten because they taste good, not because their consumption will lead to less cancer."

    Professor Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, said: “We know from many large studies that, far from being potent cancer-fighters, [antioxidant supplements] seem to be ineffective for cancer prevention in healthy people, and some can even slightly increase the risk of cancer. This should give people good reason to think twice about relying on them.”

    Steve Williamson, consultant pharmacist and cancer spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, added: “A lot of people having cancer treatment pick up on the idea of antioxidants which they have read might protect them against cancer.

    “I always advise patients not to take antioxidants while they are having chemotherapy in case it counteracts it.”

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    grocery store, vegetables, food, fresh produce

    Vegetables, fruit and cereals harvested in the wake of recent poor weather could be less healthy and less tasty as a result of the downpours and lack of sunshine, a leading scientist has said.

    Levels of protein as well as iron, copper and zinc in food may have been affected, according to Professor Mike Gooding.

    Professor Gooding, head of agricultural policy and development at Reading University said high rainfall could cause loss of nutrients in soil while lack of sunshine could hamper the development of sugars in produce.

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today: “There are some direct effects of things like high rainfall and also low sunshine on the content of produce, which would include vegetables but also cereals and fruit and orchard crops in ways that can be picked up by consumers.

    “The nutrients available to the plant might well be reduced.

    “We do know that rainfall, for example, will often cause leaching and loss of nutrients from the soil, and at certain times that will certainly reduce the amount of protein that ends up in the produce.

    “Protein itself is related to a number of other nutrients that are important such as iron, copper and zinc.

    “The other thing you get is that with prolonged overcast conditions, especially near the harvest, you’ll get reduced sugar and soluble carbohydrates in the product so that the actual taste of the fruit and veg will also change as you reduce the balance of sugars and starch and other nutrients that you have there.”

    Professor Gooding said organic farmers may be less able to respond quickly to the loss of nutrients in soil than others who may be able to add “fertiliser from the bag and synthetic nutrients”.

    But he added that the effect of the poor weather on fruit was unlikely to have a “dramatic effect” on the well-being of consumers.

    In some instances, where the poor weather has resulted in a dramatically-reduced number of crops being produced, a reverse effect might take place for those that have survived.

    “If yield goes down more than the nutrition and the nutrients, the concentration will actually go up.”

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    The Hobbit

    It sounds far-fetched, but scientists increasingly believe that animals – including people – will get smaller if global warming runs out of control.

    Researchers studying fossils laid down in what is now Wyoming the last time temperatures rose rapidly, some 55 million years ago found that animals – from horses to insects – adapted by downsizing.

    The clumsily entitled Bighorn Basin Coring Project – funded by the US National Science Foundation and involving scientists from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands as well as America – concludes that undergoing such ‘dwarfism’ was the only way that many species could survive.

    The research – reported by Climate News Network, a new service set up by four veteran British journalists – seems to reinforce earlier studies which have come up with similar results.

    One – published two years ago by scientists at the University of Florida in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution – found that a hyena type animal shrank by half, from the size of a bear to that of a coyote, during the same period.

    One reason might be that animals do tend to be smaller in warmer climates; brown bears are generally bigger in Alaska than Montana, for example. Another is that food supplies may get much less plentiful partly because of climate change and partly, say the scientist because – contrary to widespread belief among skeptics – higher levels of carbon dioxide makes plants less nutritious.

    In fact, the scientists think, animals, and humans, might be lucky for a chance to get smaller, since temperatures may rise too fast to allow evolution to take place among long-lived species.

    Fifty-five million years ago it took the world 10,000 years to heat by six degrees centigrade; now, some believe, it could happen in just two centuries. Sounds like a future better suited for Bilbo Baggins than the rest of us.

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    iran flag

    Iran will try again to send a live monkey into space after a previous attempt failed in 2011, media reports said on Tuesday quoting the space chief, who gave a launch date of before mid-February.

    "The final tests for launching the capsule, carrying a monkey, have been completed," Iran's Space Organisation chief Hamid Fazeli said in remarks reported by the Mehr news agency.

    Fazeli said the launch would take place during a 10-day period starting January 31, which marks the 34th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the state television website reported.

    Iran has already sent small animals into space – a rat, turtles and worms – but its previous attempt to send a live monkey into space failed in 2011, which was announced without explanation.

    Fazeli said the monkey project would help Iran "implement the preparations of sending a man into space," which officials say is scheduled for 2020.

    The previous project envisaged launching a capsule with life support using the Kavoshgar-5 rocket to an altitude of 120 kilometres (75 miles) for a 20-minute suborbital flight.

    Iran says it has successfully launched three satellites – Omid in February 2009, Rassad in June 2011 and Navid in February 2012.

    But it postponed, without explanation, the planned launch in May of another satellite called Fajr.

    Iran's space programme deeply unsettles Western nations, which fear it could be used to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads they suspect are being developed in secret.

    Tehran has repeatedly denied that its nuclear and scientific programmes mask military ambitions.

    Source: AFP

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    harvey milk

    A San Francisco politician has introduced legislation asking voters to rename the city's airport after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

    A charter amendment sponsored by Supervisor David Campos would put the question of creating Harvey Milk-San Francisco International Airport on San Francisco's November ballot.

    If five of Campos' colleagues agree to submit the proposed name change to voters and the amendment goes through in the autumn, the city would become home to the world's first airport honoring an openly gay person, said Milk's nephew, Stuart Milk.

    Milk, who runs an international gay rights foundation in his uncle's memory, said that adding an airport to the list of public venues named for Harvey Milk would mark a milestone since flights to and from San Francisco International serve 68 countries where homosexuality is illegal.

    "For young gay people in an illegal place looking up at a monitor and being able to point to this international airport named after an LGBT advocate, it gives them the green light to authenticity," Milk said. "It's a major representation that (they) are being celebrated somewhere in the world in a high-level way."

    About 41 million passengers pass through San Francisco International every year, "and the idea that millions of people can learn about Harvey Milk and what he represented is very moving," Campos said.

    "That no airport in this country has been named for an openly LGBT person is something I hope would be remedied, and what a better place than San Francisco for something like that to happen than SF and what better person than Harvey Milk," he said.

    Campos said the San Francisco Board of Supervisors could vote on the amendment in as little as two weeks.

    Milk became one of the first openly gay men elected to public office in the United States when he won a seat on the board of supervisors in 1977, inspiring a generation of activists with his uncompromising call for gays to come out.

    He was assassinated at City Hall, along with Mayor George Moscone, more than a year later. His life became the subject of the 2008 Oscar-winning film "Milk."

    The airport renaming, if it is approved, would make him the recipient of an honour most often reserved for former presidents.

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    Lance ArmstrongFrankie Andreu, former cycling team-mate of Lance Armstrong, and his wife Betsy, who testified against the now disgraced rider in 2005, say the all-powerful cyclist made their life "hell" after they accused him of doping.

    Ahead of the airing of Lance Armstrong's Oprah Winfrey interview, in which has been reported that the former US Postal admits to doping, a former team-mate has attacked the retired rider for ruining the lives of those who previously spoke out against him.

    Frankie Andreu, who captained the US Postal team along with Armstrong from 1998-2000, said that he and has wife Betsy had been "ripped apart by Lance and all of his people and all his supporters repeatedly" for having the courage to speak what is now being recognised as the truth about the rider's doping.

    "And it's not only us, he's ruined a lot of people lives."

    Betsy Andreu was one of the first people to publicly accuse Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs.

    She testified in a case brought by SCA Promotions challenging a multi-million dollar bonus paid to Armstrong in 2005.

    Mrs Andreu said Armstrong admitted in an Indiana hospital room in 1996 that he had taken many performance-enhancing drugs, a claim Armstrong vehemently denied.

    "We were put through the ringer. We were a public target for the past 8-10 years and it wasn't fair. It's not fun fighting for your good name on a daily basis," she said.

    "It takes away from your family, it zaps your energy, it weighs on you emotionally and mentally. But in the end we did the right thing. We bypassed the financial gain for the peace within."

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    syria aleppoRape is being used as a weapon of war in the Syrian conflict to such an extent that many refugee families are citing it a as a primary reason to flee, according to a new report.

    The study of the nearly 600,000 people who have fled the country since the start of the civil war stated it was a "staggering humanitarian disaster".

    On top of those in neighboring countries, mainly Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, 2.5 million had fled their homes but remained in Syria, while 4 million people were in need of help.

    "The extent of the bloodshed, devastation, displacement and suffering inside Syria cannot be easily or precisely measured, but it is certainly extraordinary in its magnitude, and it is steadily worsening," the report for the US-based International Rescue Committee said.

    "Millions of Syrians are in desperate need and have little if any access to humanitarian relief."

    Their overall comments reflect widespread feelings that despite promises from across the world not enough assistance is reaching the often bleak and frozen refugee camps on the country's borders.

    However, while there had been allegations of rape and sexual abuse before, the scale suggested by the refugees was shocking.

    Women were in particular danger of being dragged away and raped, sometimes gang-raped, at checkpoints set up by armed groups. The report did not single out either side as responsible, but the biggest network of checkpoints is in regime areas and the most serious allegations of human rights abuses have been made against regime troops and in particular its "Shabiha" militia.

    "Many women and girls relayed accounts of being attacked in public or in their homes, primarily by armed men," the report said. "These rapes, sometimes by multiple perpetrators, often occur in front of family members.

    "The IRC was told of attacks in which women and young girls were kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed.

    "The IRC's women's protection team in Lebanon was told of a young girl who was gang-raped and forced to stagger home naked."

    With no side currently making major advances, and efforts of the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to find a peace deal petering out, there is no end in immediate sight to the refugees' suffering.

    A major regime push on southern and eastern suburbs of Damascus, which have been fought over for months, has killed scores of people in the last few days alone, including eight children and five women in an air strike on Monday morning.

    The regime has taken to using an ever more extreme array of weaponry. In recent weeks it has begun employing Scud missiles – unguided land-to-land missiles – and, most recently, land-fired cluster bombs, on top of the aerial cluster bombs it has been dropping for several months, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Rebels who seized an airbase at Taftanaz near Aleppo at the weekend, after months of fighting, also found a hanger containing a row of prepared "barrel bombs", home-made devices that can be dropped from planes and helicopters.

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    silvio berlusconi mario monti

    Silvio Berlusconi is like the Pied Piper of Hamlin and will lead Italians to disaster if elected for a fourth time at next month's elections, his challenger Mario Monti has warned.

    Mr Monti, who is contesting the election as the leader of a centrist coalition, likened the 76-year-old billionaire to "a pied piper who leads the mice to drown in the river".

    He said Mr Berlusconi had "already fooled Italians three times," a reference to his three terms as prime minister – the last of which came to an end in Nov 2011 when he was forced to resign amid sex scandals and concerns over the mismanagement of Italy's large public debt.

    Mr Monti's remarks, made on a television current affairs programme on Monday night, marked his most trenchant criticism to date of his predecessor and intensified the antagonism between the two protagonists just weeks ahead of the Feb 24-25 election.

    "The sacrifices Italians have made in the last year could be squandered in three or four months if an old, reinvigorated illusionist comes to power," Mr Monti told the programme, Porta a Porta.

    He said that he had believed in Mr Berlusconi when he first entered politics in the early 1990s, promising to bring Thatcherite reforms to Italy's sclerotic economy, but said that like millions of Italians he had become disillusioned after the media mogul broke so many promises.

    Mr Berlusconi hit back on Tuesday, contemptuously dismissing the economics professor and former European Commissioner as "un leaderino"– a little leader.

    He accuses Mr Monti of worsening Italy's recession with higher taxes and tough austerity measures and joked that "he probably even wants to tax my whistle", an allusion to the pied piper remark.

    He suggested that Mr Monti was ramping up the rhetoric because "he is in shock, having seen the latest opinion polls that show that he is a little leader of the centre".

    Despite having recently been convicted of massive tax fraud, and being on trial accused of paying for sex with an alleged under age prostitute, Mr Berlusconi has managed to boost his voter support in the last few days with a series of combative television appearances, one of which was watched by a record nine million Italians.

    Support for his conservative People of Freedom party and their coalition partners, the Northern League, has risen from 25 per cent last month to 28 per cent, according to a poll conducted for La7, an independent television channel.

    Mr Berlusconi's supporters said another poll showed that he had narrowed the gap with the centre-Left Democratic Party to just 4.5 points.

    He has indicated that should his coalition win, he would drop his ambitions to become prime minister and would settle for being minister for the economy, a position which he claims is more important and wields more power.

    The top job would instead go to his protégé, Angelino Alfano, 42, a lawyer who heads the People of Freedom party.

    Although the Democratic Party is still ahead in the polls, Mr Berlusconi's coalition could end up preventing it from having a majority in the Senate, with the ability to block legislation and to destabilise the new government.

    Mr Berlusconi claimed that he is concerned for his safety, three years after a man with a history of mental illness hurled a figurine of Milan's cathedral in his face, leaving him bloodied and bruised.

    "There is strong concern for me on the part of certain authorities. You know there was an attempt to kill me, and now, with the hatred that is around, those who are responsible for my security escort expressed this concern to me," he said.

    He launched a fresh attack against the legal system, saying that prosecutors in Milan who accuse him of paying for sex with the 17-year-old exotic dancer should themselves be put on trial for "monstrous defamation".

    He said it was "a real scandal" that public money was being used to hold the trial when, he claimed, he had done nothing wrong.

    He has consistently denied having sex with the young woman, Karima El Mahroug, and said the bunga bunga parties that she and other starlets have described were in fact "quiet, elegant dinners".

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    USS Guardian

    A US Navy minesweeper has run aground in a protected marine sanctuary in the Philippines.

    The USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubattaha Reef on Wednesday night "during normal transit", it said.

    The extent of the damage to the ship and the cause of the accident was still not known, it added.

    "The government of the Philippines was promptly informed of the incident and offered to assist the US Navy," it said.

    The US Navy said on its website that the 224-foot vessel is based in Sasebo, southern Japan but it was not known what the ship was doing in the area when the incident happened.

    Located in the Sulu Sea about 80 miles southeast of the western island of Palawan, Tubattaha Reef is a protected sanctuary that is popular with divers.

    It has walls of corals, and a very diverse ecosystem that environmentalists say rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

    The US embassy statement did not say whether any coral was damaged, although it said there were no immediate reports of fuel or oil leaks.

    All its crew members were also safe, it added.

    The Philippine military also confirmed the grounding Thursday, but it was too early to say whether coral was damaged.

    "The most probable cause is mis-navigation," said Major Oliver Banaria, a military spokesman in Palawan.

    Washington considers the Philippines a major non-NATO ally in Asia. It played host to some of the US military's biggest bases in Asia until 1992, when the last troops pulled out after the Senate voted to end lease agreements.

    Manila ratified a visiting forces agreement with the United States seven years later, paving the way for large-scale joint military exercises.

    Some 600 US forces have been operating in the southern Philippines since 2002 to train local troops against Al Qaeda-linked militants.

    SEE ALSO: The best American fighter jet ever made >

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    Smelling Armpit

    One million people may be using deodorant needlessly, a study has suggested, as they have a gene that means they do not produce body odour.

    Researchers have found that two per cent of the population have a genetic variant that means they do not suffer from under arm body odour yet more three quarters of them continue to use scents.

    The 'cultural norm' in Britain is to use deodorant every day whether body odour is a problem or not, the researchers said. Where as elsewhere in the world most people with the genetic variant are aware that they do not smell and do not use deodorant, they said.

    According to Euromonitor, the deodorant industry was worth £604m in 2011, representing a potential saving of over £12m to the two per cent of UK adults who don’t produce underarm odour if they shunned deodorants.

    Only around five per cent of people do produce body odour do not use deodorant, the researches suggested.

    The gene variant is known as ABCC11 and the study authors said that the consistency of earwax is a good indication of those who have it. People who have dry earwax as opposed to sticky earwax are highly likely to have the ABCC11 variant and therefore do not produce under arm body odour.

    The research was carried out on a sample of 6,495 women who were part of the wider Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol.

    The researchers found that about two per cent of mothers carried the gene variant.

    They discovered that almost one in four of people with the gene do not use deodorant, suggesting they are aware of their special status and do not waste the money.

    The findings were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology

    Lead author Professor Ian Day said: "An important finding of this study relates to those individuals who, according to their genotype, do not produce underarm odour.

    "One quarter of these individuals must consciously or subconsciously recognise that they do not produce odour and do not use deodorant, whereas most odour producers do use deodorant.

    "However, three quarters of those who do not produce an odour regularly use deodorants; we believe that these people simply follow socio-cultural norms. This contrasts with the situation in North East Asia, where most people do not need to use deodorant and they don’t."

    Co-author of the paper, Dr Santiago Rodriguez added: "These findings have some potential for using genetics in the choice of personal hygiene products. A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odour producers."

    Sweat glands produce sweat which, combined with bacteria, result in underarm odour.

    The production of odour depends on the existence of an active ABCC11 gene. However, the ABCC11 gene is known to be inactive in some people.

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    lance armstrong oprah interview

    The apologies made by Lance Armstrong in his 'tell-all' interview with Oprah Winfrey lack the physical signs that indicate contrition, according to Professor Patrick O'Donnell from the University of Glasgow.

    And when it comes to questions about his leading role in doping by teammates, Armstrong shows signs that he feels proud of his activities.

    "He's confronted by a set of questions on whether he was the leader and mastermind of the doping activity.

    "These are actually serious accusations which should lead to him expressing sorrow and regret. However he can't resist making little smiles from time to time as he reflects on his bullying experience and his experience as a controlling mastermind and that would indicate that in reality he's taking pride in what he did, rather than genuinely feeling remorse," says Professor O'Donnell.

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    Queen Elizabeth Missing Portrait

    It is a face known throughout the world, but the public will see a different side of the Queen today as a portrait banished for 61 years goes on display.

    The controversial painting was once banned from Liverpool town hall because it looked nothing like the Queen and her neck was "too long”. Embarrassed council chiefs ordered it to be hidden from public view in the vaults.

    But now the artwork, which councilors have tried to hide for more than half a century, will hang in the city’s St George's Hall.

    The painting was rejected when it was commissioned for the Queen's Coronation but has been salvaged to commemorate the event’s 60th anniversary.

    Even the artist John Napper, who created it in 1952, famously said it was "a beautiful painting of a queen, but not this Queen".

    Originally the Liverpool Corporation refused to hang it in the Town Hall. It hung briefly in the Walker Art Gallery instead, but has spent much of the last 61 years in storage.

    But today, trustees at St George's Hall announced that the portrait will be permanently shown there to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

    Liverpool's deputy Lord Mayor Gary Millar, a trustee of the hall, said: "We are very proud that Liverpool now has the original first painting hanging in St George's Hall, which has been rehung to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.

    "It will be the first thing people will see if they come to get married or have a civil partnership or attend a citizenship ceremony."

    The painting is Napper's second portrait of the Queen to be put on display in Liverpool.

    After his first version was rejected by the council, he painted a second with a smaller neck, which was finally accepted by Liverpool town hall and still hangs there today.

    Cllr Millar said: "It strengthens the link between the city's two civic buildings.

    "The second version of the John Napper painting is hanging in the town hall and we have the original here.

    “It is an honour for us to work with the friends of the hall, the staff there and the city council to rehang this beautiful painting."

    The controversial portrait was unveiled just days after the Duchess of Cambridge's first official portrait by Paul Emsley was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery to mixed reviews from the art world.

    A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: "We do not comment on any of the portraits of Her Majesty The Queen."

    Mr Napper’s widow Pauline said today: “I remember the painting well. He was disappointed with the angle at which he painted it, he only had one sitting.

    “I was due to be hung up high so that you would look at it from below. If you looked at it from that angle it looked normal.

    “Then when they showed it they didn’t put it up high and then it didn’t look like the Queen.

    Speaking from the home they once shared in Ludlow, Shropshire, she added: “It is a beautiful painting, obviously he would have been pleased that it is going on display. I am pleased too, it is a beautiful portrait.”

    Mr Napper, who died in 2001 aged 84, painted both the Queen and Lady Churchill during the 1950s.

    Prince Charles, whose portrait he painted in 1996, was an established fan and collector of his works

    SEE ALSO: A Look At The Incredible Crown Jewels Of Major Countries Around The World

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