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Put a Ring On Him: Femaile Proposals on the Rise

If you’re tired of the public-proposal trend, this one will make you smile —  a London woman (a woman!) recently popped the question to her boyfriend at a restaurant, with the help of a magician, and he said yes. 
Gillian Douse, 34, and her boyfriend, Bernie (no last name was provided), recently celebrated his birthday at an Italian eatery. The couple shared a love of magic, so Douse contacted magician Tom London to help plan the proposal. While the couple was eating, London approached and asked if he could perform a magic trick. 
London borrowed a ring that Bernie already wore on his ring finger and made it vanish. Then, he pointed to Douse’s pocket to suggest that the ring was inside, and Douse pulled out a white box, which she slowly opened to reveal a silver band. “Will you marry me?” Douse asked. Bernie looked shocked but said yes. The video has since been uploaded to YouTube, where its been viewed several thousand times. 
According to London, they couldn’t be happier. “Gillian was nervous about proposing, but she wasn’t worried about breaking traditional roles at all.” 
“Women are advancing in all areas of life — at work, in school — and for many, that ambition spills into their personal lives,” Paul Hokemeyer, a New York City-based marriage and family therapist, tells Yahoo Shine. "It's a modern-day extension of what women have been doing for ages — negotiating the terms of their relationship." And doing it in public makes sense: Proposing takes courage and, in our social media-saturated world, bolder women are likelier to share their experience with the world. 
Popping the question is only the beginning. According to a survey of 1,700 women created by the wedding website, The Knot, while 74 percent of men select and pay for engagement rings, 18 percent of women chip in for their rock, and 2 percent pick up the entire tab. “Many earn higher salaries than their partners, so they feel it's fair to contribute,” Jennie Ma, fashion and beauty editor for The Knot.com tells Yahoo Shine. “Also, couples often cohabitate and combine their finances before marriage, so women figure they’re, in a sense, paying for their own ring, either way.” And finally, the poll showed that “teamwork” is often cited as important relationship criterion. Paying for an engagement ring together may be one way of expressing that. 
How do men feel about being romanced? Not so great, say the results of a recent study conducted by the University of California, Santa Cruz. Researchers found that two-thirds of those surveyed would “definitely” want the man to propose (one man pointed to feeling emasculated as a reason for not wanting to be on the receiving end of the proposal). Only 2.8 percent of women would “kind of” want to pop the question, citing the risk of rejection or appearing aggressive, as a turnoff, and 14 percent simply said that proposing would be “scary.”  
Hokemeyer's advice to women? “Make sure they’re operating from a place of happiness and security before taking that step.” 


How to hail a cab in New York


How to hail a cab in New York

(Illustration: Michael Hoeweler)
Willie Sierra, a bellman at the Mandarin Oriental New York, shows us how to flag down a cab like a real New Yorker.

Step off the curb and extend your arm. It’s the best way to claim your corner. If the medallion number on the roof of the cab is lit up, it’s available.

• Need a ride to the airport? Flap your arms like a bird. Pedestrians may stare, but hacks will get the message.

• If you want a quick lift, make a “C” with your thumb and index finger—it means you’re looking for a “shorty.” You may even get an off-duty driver to pull over.• Tell the driver your destination after you get in and just give an intersection (only tourists name an exact address).

(Illustration: Michael Hoeweler)

Willie Sierra, a bellman at the Mandarin Oriental New York, shows us how to flag down a cab like a real New Yorker.

Step off the curb and extend your arm. It’s the best way to claim your corner. If the medallion number on the roof of the cab is lit up, it’s available.

• Need a ride to the airport? Flap your arms like a bird. Pedestrians may stare, but hacks will get the message.

• If you want a quick lift, make a “C” with your thumb and index finger—it means you’re looking for a “shorty.” You may even get an off-duty driver to pull over.

Tell the driver your destination after you get in and just give an intersection (only tourists name an exact address).

29th April 2013


A Computer Rack for Lazy People

This is perfect for people who just want to spend their whole day lying on their beds, and at the same time, surfing their favorite websites.
A Japanese manufacturer developed this.
I think the picture says it all — no need for a description.

China to Build Tallest Skyscraper in 90 Days!

After setting a record of building Burj Khalifa, a 30-storey hotel in 15 days, China has again attempted to complete a big project — this time a skyscraper in just 90 days.
Yes, that’s right! China plans to build the tallest skyscraper in the world by the end of March 2013.
Standing 2,749 feet high, Sky City, as it is to be called, will have a total of 220 floors. If they really can keep up to their word, that will result in building five floors per day.
Sky City will be located near the Xiangjang River in Changsha City. Residents both rich and poor will be able to have a place in this building since 83% of the space is intended to be used for residential purposes. The remaining space will be reserved for offices, shops, restaurants, and so on.
China also claims that the building will be able to resist earthquakes up to a 9.0 magnitude and will be able to resist fire for the first three hours. It will also be energy efficient with the use of four-paned windows, thermal insulation, and novel air conditioning techniques.
How amazing is that? I’m looking forward to seeing it done!

Social Outcast

6-Year-Old HIV-Positive Boy Forced to Live Alone in Rural SouthWest, CHINA.

A six-year-old HIV-positive child named Ah-long has been collecting wood to support himself since both of his parents died from the deadly virus.
Both his parents died of AIDS and the poor child is too much on his own, doing his own washing, cooking and studying. His 84-year-old grandmother has planted vegetables for him and visits frequently. She cooks for him, but will not live with the child.
Everyone else in his world, including the nearby primary school has rejected him. His only friend and companion is a dog named Lao Hei.

Geoengineering Threats 


Researcher and activist Dane Wigington has been documenting disturbing changes in the environment known as geoengineering. This includes various weather modification techniques such as chemtrails and HAARP. Through efforts such as chemtrails that place metal particulates in the atmosphere, we are now experiencing "global dimming," in which 20% of the sun's rays no longer reach the direct surface of the planet, he reported. Geoengineering's covert programs have been enacted as a means of control, and possibly to lessen the effects of global warming, but these efforts have backfired and become a dire threat to life on Earth, he warned. "At a certain point when you realize can't walk out the door and breathe without sucking in a lung full of heavy metal," you know you have to take a stand, he said. 

Lab tests associated with chemtrails have found such chemicals as aluminum, strontium, barium, and now fluoride in Europe, and he connected this to soil and water contamination, and the decline of various forms of life. Artificially induced snowstorms are another harmful form of weather modification that has been seen in places where snow falls even though temperatures are above freezing, he revealed. Wigington cautioned that geoengineering could be pushing Earth into a "Venus Syndrome," in which climate feedback loops are triggered that begin to feed on themselves, eventually creating a hellish climate like that of Venus. Under this scenario, as greenhouse gasses build up, and cause planetary warming, yet more greenhouse gasses are released which causes still more warming. This trajectory does not end in a balmy tropical resort Earth, but rather a planet that is closer to hell. Like Venus, Earth would become a pressure cooking inferno with virtually no life.   

Skyscraper Shaken by Vigorous Tae Bo Workout in Seoul

A group of well-meaning recreation enthusiasts in Seoul inadvertently caused the upper floors of a 39-story building to shake, resulting in a mass evacuation.

Set to the tunes of pop group Snap, 17 middle-aged individuals were in the middle of an intense Tae Bo workout when the upper floors of the TechnoMart high-rise started shaking. According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, the shaking lasted for approximately ten minutes.
To determine what happened, a group of scientists recreated the situation in the gym on the 12th floor of the building. According to Chung Lan of Dankook University, the vibrations caused by the workout were recorded on a vibrometer, and this shaking coincided precisely with the unique vertical vibration cycle of the building. The result was an amplification of the vibration and thus more shaking.
The shaking was felt only in the upper floors, so those below the exercise likely did not experience anything.  

Vegetarianism can reduce risk of heart disease by up to a third, study finds 

Optimist Staff
The risk of hospitalisation or death from heart disease is 32% lower in vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.
Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in developed countries, and is responsible for 65,000 deaths each year in the UK alone. 
The new findings suggest that a vegetarian diet could significantly reduce people's risk of heart disease.
"Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease," explains Dr Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
This is the largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The analysis looked at almost 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland enrolled in the study, of whom 34% were vegetarian. Such a significant representation of vegetarians is rare in studies of this type, and allowed researchers to make more precise estimates of the relative risks between the two groups.
Professor Tim Key, also from University of Oxford, said: "The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians."
The Oxford researchers arrived at the figure of 32% risk reduction after accounting for factors such as age, smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, educational level and socioeconomic background. 
The researchers found that vegetarians had lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians, which is thought to be the main reason behind their reduced risk of heart disease. Vegetarians typically had lower body mass indices (BMI) and fewer cases of diabetes as a result of their diets, although these were not found to significantly affect the results. If the results are adjusted to exclude the effects of BMI, vegetarians remain 28% less likely to develop heart disease.The findings reinforce the idea that diet is central to prevention of heart disease, and build on previous work looking at the influence of vegetarian diets, the researchers say.

Fake Walnuts Hit the Chinese Market 

Food safety in China has become a really big issue as sales of contaminated and fake food products continue to rise. It just does not stop. Recently, a new product hit China’s market –- fake walnuts.

Reports claim that vendors put small portions of cement inside the shells and glue them together –- making them look like real walnuts. In addition, the cement is wrapped in paper to avoid unnecessary movement and noise the cement might make when displayed or checked by shoppers.
“The Ministry of Tofu,” a Chinese news source, reports:
"Mr. Li bought 2.5 kilos of walnuts from a street vendor in Zhengzhou city, Henan province on February 15. After he got home and cracked open some of them, he found that inside the walnuts were broken concrete chunks. In order to reap more profit, vendors cracked open walnuts that had thin husks, took out the nutmeat and put concrete nuggets inside, then sealed the husk with glue. To prevent the concrete nuggets from knocking on their husks and making noise, the counterfeiters wrapped them with paper."

Market Locust Invade

Photograph by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images

An Israeli man dashes through a swarm of locusts in the village of Kmehin, Israel (map) on March 6. The locusts had crossed into the Negev desert from Egypt.

Published March 8, 2013

Cardboard cop car slows China traffic

In eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, the police have developed a very clever and cost-effective method for slowing down speeding drivers.

The police created a cardboard cutout of the back of a squad car, which is identical in dimensions and appearance to a real patrol car.
Functioning much in the same manner as a scarecrow in a field of corn, it is the image that works to retard speeding motorists rather than the reality.
“I spotted what I thought was a police vehicle parked on the hard shoulder, so I hit the brakes. When I went past it, I was stunned to see that it was just a thin piece of board painted to look like a cop car. It was so realistic. It even had a solar panel to power a flashing light,” said motorist Liu Yuan.
Police in Wuxi City have confirmed that they are indeed using these cardboard cutouts with some success in slowing the flow of traffic.
Although the idea of a squad car is unique to this province of China, the concept of using cardboard warnings on busy highways is not.
In the U.S., as evidenced by the video below, a cardboard cop serves the same purpose.
Maybe someday, the concept could run amok and the world will know cardboard cars with cardboard accidents on cardboard highways!
For now, however, these silent warning must suffice.
Somehow they work, and so, why not?
Go figure.

The research found one in five couples, 18 per cent, row at least once a week about which one is causing the mess Photo: ALAMY

By Telegraph reporters

10:49AM GMT 01 Mar 2013
Two thirds of women have refused to have sex when distracted by clothes that need to be folded, hung up or put away.
The research found one in five couples, 18 per cent, row at least once a week about which one is causing the mess.
Women's biggest complaint was revealed to be their man leaving piles of clothes on the floor, with 36 per cent irritated by this.
Unfortunately for them, 18 per cent of men still believe it is their partner's job to clean the house, with just 5 per cent taking responsibility themselves.
This slack attitude just increases domestic friction, the study by furnishing store Ikea found.

Mothers education is more important than marriage or co-habitation for well-being of children, study shows

Staff reporter
It is more important for a child's well-being that they have well educated parents than that they have parents who are married or live together, according to a new study.
It shows that family type is not the over-riding influence on the well-being of a child. 
"Once we control for parents' education and household living standards, our findings show only a slight or, in many cases, a complete absence of differences in the indicators of child well-being between children of two-parent married families, co-habiting families, step-families, and one parent families," says Professor Tony Fahey of University College Dublin, the lead author of the study. "All other things being equal, this research reveals that it is more important for children's well-being that they have well-educated parents -  particularly in the case of the mother - than that they have parents who stay together."
For the study, the researchers measured the well-being of children in terms of cognitive development (assessed using reading and mathematics tests), social-emotional adjustment (assessed using strengths and difficulties tests), and physical health (based on mother's reports on whether the child had a chronic illness or not).
Better educated parents were shown to be more likely to delay the start of child-bearing until their late 20s, while the least educated mothers were more likely to have a first child before age 25. Among these ‘early start' mothers, the likelihood of being unmarried lone parents was high.The study finds that stable married families are more likely to have more children. Married couples were shown to have three children on average, while unmarried lone parents were shown to have 1.8 children on average.
"With stability in couple relationships weakest among the least educated parents and this weakness tending to reduce family size, many families of the least educated parents are now smaller than the overall average," adds Professor Fahey. "The single most important mechanism that public policy can use to combat family problems is to tackle educational disadvantage. Recent developments in early childhood care and education, as represented especially by the introduction of a universal free pre-school year in place of a more expensive cash payment to families could be particularly beneficial and offer a model which could be extended into the future even in the context of overall reductions in public expenditure."

Japanese company creates $100,000 diamond-encrusted toilet

For a device that receives human excrement, you would think that aesthetics and value would be the lowest of priorities.
But not in Japan, where they play host to a diamond-studded toilet valued at over $ 100,000.
Comprised of more than 72,000 pieces of Swarovski cut crystal, the toilet was manufactured by INAX in tandem with a jeweler from Austria.
It is currently wowing visitors at a showroom in the Ginza shopping district.
In an ironic turn, the elaborate toilet is being used to perk up and draw in more customers to counter the economic downturn.
As an added bonus, Japan takes its deities very seriously, and bathrooms are no exception. Kazuo Sumimiya, director of the showroom, stated that “we believe a deity exists in the [toilet]. That’s why keeping lavatories clean and taking good care of [them] have been a Japanese custom since long ago.”
People in the United States should keep that in mind.
Onlookers loved the centerpiece, while others felt that it would be a bit too uncomfortable to use.
Sumimiya added that if the toilet were sold, it would probably fetch about 10 million yen, but until then, it will be on display until the end of the year.

A Horse Slaughter Plant in the U.S. May Be Approved By The U.S.D.A This Year

New York Times

The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the U.S.D.A. and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the agriculture department, said that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training,” he wrote in an e-mail referring to the food inspection service.

He said the Obama administration was urging Congress to reinstate an effective ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption that lapsed in 2011.

The impending approval comes amid growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will somehow make its way into ground beef products in the United States as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea, have had to pull food from shelves in 14 countries after tests showed that products labeled 100 percent beef actually contained small amounts of horse meat. Horse meat is not necessarily unsafe, and in some countries, it is popular. But some opponents of horse slaughtering say consumption of horse meat is ill-advised because of the use of various kinds of drugs in horses.

“We now have the very real prospect of a horse slaughtering plant operating in the U.S. for the first time in six years,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. The last plant that slaughtered horse meat for human consumption in the United States closed in 2007, after Congressional approval of an appropriations bill that included a rider forbidding the U.S.D.A. from financing the inspection of such meat. That rider was renewed in subsequent appropriations bills until 2011, when Congress quietly removed it from an omnibus spending act.

That opened the door for a renewal of the horse slaughter business, but only if the U.S.D.A. re-established inspections. The agency never moved to restart its equine inspection service.

Valley Meat sued Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, and Al Almanza, the head of the food safety inspection service, charging that the department’s failure to offer inspection of horse meat violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

That law directs the agriculture department to appoint inspectors to examine “all amenable species” before they enter a slaughtering facility.

“Amenable species” were animals subject to the act the day before it was enacted, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and mules.

A. Blair Dunn, the lawyer for Valley Meat, said that the Justice Department recently asked the company for an additional 60 days to file a response to its lawsuit. Mr. Dunn said the Justice Department indicated it was asking for the extra time because “the U.S.D.A. plans to issue a grant of inspection within that time, which would allow my clients to begin operations.” Mr. Dunn said that Valley Meat had hired experts in the humane treatment of horses for slaughter and was training employees. The company is not planning to sell meat in the United States, at least at the outset of its operations. “Last spring, they were in discussions with several companies in European countries about exporting their products,” he said of his clients. “I’m sure if markets do develop in this country for horse meat for human consumption, they will look at them.”

He cautioned that Valley Meat might still face challenges to opening, noting that several parties had filed briefs on both sides of the case. The Humane Society has petitioned the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to delay approval of any facility for horse slaughter, raising questions about the presence of drugs like phenylbutazone, which is used to treat inflammation in horses.

Conversely, R-CALF USA, an organization representing about 5,000 family cattle ranching operations, has filed a brief supporting Valley Meat’s legal case. Bill Bullard, its chief executive, said his members needed horse slaughtering facilities to humanely dispose of the horses they used in their businesses once they became old or incapacitated.

“Beginning in 2006, when inspections were temporarily prohibited, these U.S. horses continue to be slaughtered in foreign countries like Mexico and Canada,” Mr. Bullard said. “We believe the Mexicans do not adhere to the same humane standards as in the United States, and so some of our members won’t sell their horses.”

Mr. Pacelle said he had been surprised to see anyone from the beef industry supporting horse slaughter. “For the cattle industry, it is a self-destructive move, since the more horse meat that’s circulating, the greater the chance it will infiltrate the food supply and decrease consumer confidence in beef,” he said.

Feb 2013

Christmas in America

It is that time of year again, holiday shopping, extravagant Christmas light displays and holiday cheer. The holidays in America are a bit of a paradox.  While everyone is enjoying the “Christmas Spirit” and showing kindness to others, it is also a stressful time for many Americans. There is this constant pressure to buy, buy, buy and money can be tight during the holidays. Nevertheless, most Americans look forward to their Christmas traditions such as, driving around neighborhoods, looking at the spectacular Christmas light displays, waking up early on “Black Friday”(the day after Thanksgiving when all of the stores have sales and the holiday season officially begins) to shop for great deals on Christmas presents, drinking eggnog by the fire, and spending time with family and friends. Many Americans enjoy skiing, sledding, ice skating and having their pictures taken with Santa Claus at local malls. 
There is even a town in America that is dedicated to Christmas.

New Bible translation has screenply format!   

A new Bible translation tackles the challenge of turning ancient Greek and Hebrew texts into modern American English and then adds a twist: It's written like a screenplay.

Take the passage from Genesis in which God gets angry at Adam for eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

"Adam (pointing at the woman): It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.

"God (to the woman): What have you done?

"Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate."  

Later, Eve bears her first son, Cain.

"Eve (excited): Look, I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal."

Even people who have never read the Bible could probably guess that other translations don't say Adam pointed his finger at Eve when he blamed her for his disobedience. Neither do other Bibles describe Eve as "excited" about her newborn son.

That's pure Hollywood, but the team behind "The Voice" says it isn't a gimmick. They hope this new version will help readers understand the meaning behind the sometimes archaic language of the Bible and enjoy the story enough to stick with it.

The idea was a longtime dream of Chris Seay, pastor of Houston's Ecclesia Church. Seay had had success in helping church members relate to the Bible by dividing out the parts of the various speakers and assigning roles to church members who read them aloud.

The idea struck a nerve with Frank Couch, the vice president of translation development for Nashville-based religious publisher Thomas Nelson, who had performed Bible-inspired sketches on the streets of Berkeley, Calif., in his youth.

The result of their efforts, as well as a team of translators who worked alongside poets, writers and musicians, is "The Voice," released in its full version earlier this year.

"The biggest thing, the unexpected plus, is that people will read an entire book of the Bible because it reads like a novel," Couch said.

"It engages your imagination in a different way," Seay said, expressing his hope that "The Voice" helps people to "fall in love with the story of the Bible."

"The Voice" not only reformats the Bible but also inserts words and phrases into the text to clarify the action or smooth transitions. These words are generally in italics so the reader can tell what the additions are. At other points, the order of verses is changed to make the story read better.

Some earlier attempts to make the Bible accessible to a modern audience met with heavy criticism from people who thought the translators were taking too many liberties with the word of God, Wake Forest University Religion Professor Bill Leonard said. But those translators were attempting to deal with a real problem — increasing Bible illiteracy, even among those who attended church regularly, he said.

Eugene Peterson, translator of the popular "The Message" Bible, published in 1993, said he was braced for the negative reaction faced by some of his predecessors, but they didn't materialize.

"I was surprised that the reception was so immediate and so positive," he said. "...I think the one thing I hear most often is, 'This is the first time in my life I understood the Bible.'"

Leonard said modern translations seem to have become less controversial as the total number of Bible translations has expanded, although the 2011 New International Version managed to cause a stir by employing some gender-neutral and gender-inclusive language, something "The Voice" doesn't do.

It does, however, take out the word "Christ," which many people have come to think of as Jesus' last name, rather than a title bestowed upon him by the Gospel writers to show that they believed he was God's "Anointed One" — the chosen translation in "The Voice."

All Bible translators have to confront the problem of words that don't convey the same meaning to a modern audience as they did to an ancient one, said linguist Joel M. Hoffman, author of "And God Said — How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning."

"For example, 'John the Baptist' was really like 'John the Dunker,'" Hoffman said.

John was doing something new by submerging people in water to cleanse them of their sins, but that is lost on people 2,000 years later, Hoffman said. Today, people hearing John's title might think it refers to a Baptist denomination rather than his then-strange behavior.

In the Old Testament, translators of "The Voice" have rendered YHWH (commonly written as Yahweh), the Hebrew name for God, as "the Eternal" or "the Eternal One." One of the Bible's most famous passages, Psalm 23, reads, "The Eternal is my shepherd ..."

Most other translations render YHWH as "Lord," a word that was rich with meaning in a time when people lived in subjection to absolute monarchs but not so much for contemporary Americans living in a democracy, Couch said.

Hoffman said he would buy the argument against using "Lord" if the translators didn't go on to sometimes to call Jesus "the Liberating King," another reference to royalty that has lost its grip on the modern American imagination.

"When I think of a king, I think of a powerless figurehead," Hoffman said.

But Hoffman said the goal of making the Bible accessible to a contemporary audience is laudable, even if he doesn't always agree with the translations in "The Voice."

And for the average reader, unaware of the sometimes contentious debates over translation, "The Voice" seems to have struck a chord.

Steve Taylor, who directed the recent Christian movie "Blue Like Jazz" and also was one of the screenwriters, said the screenplay format makes the Bible stories feel more immediate to him.

"It was like it was happening now, as opposed to reading something that happened 2,000 years ago," he said. "When Jesus turns the water into wine in John 2, I felt more like I was at the wedding. I felt the awkwardness of the situation."

Getting readers to feel engaged in the story is exactly what the creators of "The Voice" had in mind, Couch said.

"We had an 82-year-old woman who told us that she had never understood the Bible before."

July 31 2012

Russian blogger Navalny charged with embezzlement

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been charged with embezzlement in a case he describes as "strange and absurd". Federal investigators in Moscow brought charges over a timber deal in the Kirov region in which he was involved as an unofficial adviser three years ago. The case was previously investigated and dropped by regional prosecutors. Mr Navalny, who was also ordered not to leave the country, suggested the new charges were aimed at discrediting him. Supporters of the anti-corruption lawyer, who led mass protests in Moscow against Russian leader Vladimir Putin this winter, demonstrated outside the offices of the Investigative Committee (SK) in Moscow, where he was charged on Tuesday. Under Article 160 of the Russian criminal code on "misappropriation or embezzlement", Mr Navalny faces between five and 10 years in prison if convicted.

New accusationThe case relates to a loss-making contract concluded by a state-owned timber company in Kirov, a region just west of the Ural Mountains, with another company.The Kirov regional budget for 2009-10 suffered a loss of 1.3m roubles (£26,000; $40,000) and Mr Navalny was investigated as he was acting at the time as an adviser to Kirov's governor, Nikita Belykh.

Continue reading the main story

The charges were announced on Tuesday by Vladimir Markin, official spokesman for the SK, a federal body set up to act as the equivalent of the FBI in Russia. Mr Navalny was charged under articles 160 and 33 (acting as an accomplice to a crime), Mr Markin told Russian news agencies. Investigators, Mr Markin said, had originally sought to charge Mr Navalny with causing "damage to property by means of deceit or abuse of trust" but they proceeded to more serious charges after reviewing the evidence. Mr Navalny pointed out that he had gone to the SK expecting to be charged with the lesser offence, only to find the case had been altered against him into something much more serious.

"This charge is strange and absurd," he said after emerging from the building. "They have completely changed the essence of the charge." He vowed to continue his political activities despite the case against him. "I will continue doing what I did before - nothing has changed for me," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

31 July 2012


NBC spoiled Missy Franklin's victory moments before it aired

Moments before airing Missy Franklin's tape-delayed Olympic victory in the 100-meter backstroke, NBC ran a promo for Tuesday's edition of "Today" that said this: "When you're 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there's nobody you'd rather share it with."

The network had yet to show the Franklin's win when it ran the "Today" teaser that included this photograph of the teen sensation standing on the medal stand with the gold draped around her neck.

The short clip then cut to a video of Franklin hugging her parents outside London's Aquatic Center, presumably after the race that she had won seven hours before NBC showed it on the East Coast.

Due to the five-hour time difference between London and the eastern time zone, NBC is running its entire primetime program on tape delay. The decision has led to the usual criticism from media and viewers even as the network is posting record ratings through the first two nights of the Games.

Spoilers are difficult to avoid. Anyone with an internet connection or a talkative companion is bound to hear the Olympic news of the day, all of which happens well before NBC goes on the air at 8 p.m. ET. But to hear it from the network itself mere moments before the race? It's irresponsible, hypocritical and insulting. NBC needs to stop believing that 25 million casual viewers gives it a mandate to slap the minority of hardcore ones in the face. There's a dedicated corps of fans who dutifully avoid results throughout the day. The network ruins it enough by tape delaying coverage (which is their right). Don't compound the issue by spoiling it, too.

Those same fans would have also been flummoxed on Saturday when NBC News anchor Brian Williams led his broadcast by reporting the results of the highly-anticipated Ryan Lochte-Michael Phelps final in the 400 IM.

"Good evening from London," Williams said that night. "While we try to be sensitive about spoiler alerts for our viewers who like to watch the Olympic Games in primetime here on NBC and let the story play out, the news we begin with here tonight has already rocketed all the way around the world."

31 July 2012

Box office hit 'Hunger Games'

 I went to see this movie just a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it, although the idea is shocking and there are some gruesome scenes, it kept my attention the whole time. Here is some information about the stars and their pay.


With a record-breaking worldwide weekend haul of more than $214 million, The Hunger Games' prospects seem anything but anemic -- not just for the franchise but also for stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Its domestic gross of $152.5 million ranks only behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Dark Knight in all-time opening weekends, which should also mean a big financial windfall for its three stars.

Although Lawrence was paid only $500,000 to play Katniss Everdeen in the film, she is set to receive "escalators," bonuses that kick in when the movie crosses certain box-office thresholds (which by all accounts it already has crossed). She stands to bring in more than $1 million by the time the film finishes its theatrical run and can expect greater rewards going forward. By comparison, sources say she was paid scale -- somewhere in the range of $3,000 a week -- for her breakthrough role as Ree in Deborah Granik's Winter's Bone, so the payday marks a quantum leap from her previous salaries.

Salary information is unknown for Hutcherson or Hemsworth. But looking at the bump young actors and actresses have enjoyed on other franchises, all three of the stars' paychecks should grow significantly by the time they get to future installments Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

So how do the Hunger Games cast members' salaries stack up to those of the stars of their book-to-big screen predecessors? As the star of the Twilight saga, Kristen Stewart received a reported $2 million for the first film, but according to Vulture, that number ballooned to $12.5 million each for Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2, plus 7.5 percent of the gross. Although Stewart’s co-star Taylor Lautner initially received only $1 million for his role in Twilight, he and Robert Pattinson took home the same paycheck as their leading lady for the final two films in the series.

The Harry Potter film series proved to be a major-league payday for its stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, especially since the franchise produced eight installments. Radcliffe took home $1 million for the first film, 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but according to Vanity Fair, his salary ballooned to $20 million by 2011, when he reprised the role for the last time in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Watson and Grint's paychecks didn’t grow quite as exponentially as Radcliffe's: He was earning $14 million for Order of the Phoenix while they received just $4 million apiece. But per the same Vanity Fair article reporting Radcliffe's salary both actors received $15 million apiece for each of the Deathly Hallows films.

Hybrid Surf-Snowboard Bridges Two Worlds

Snowboarders and surfboarders have many similarities in their sports, but their boards are very different. Signal Snowboards out of Huntington Beach, Calif. has bridged the snow/surf gap with their Fish Out of Water hybrid board.

This unique creation was part of Signal's Every Third Thursday video series. It was conceptualized as a way for these designers and builders to have some fun with their craft and attempt to create and test crazy snowboards.

The Fish Out of Water didn't just work, it performed well as both surfboard and snowboard.

Signal's build crew used a foam template, routing a snowboard into the center of a prefabricated surfboard shell. After the manufacturing was completed, they called professional surfer Rob Machado. Rob made surfing on such a contrivance look easy.

After testing in southern California, the crew took it to British Columbia, added the boot bindings and explored the snowy Canadian peaks of Baldface Lodge with snowboarders Curtis Ciszek and Dave Lee. Again, the hybrid board performed surprisingly well.
soy surfboards are wave of the future.

Ultimately, snowboarding requires cut edges and strong bindings to move the board through varied snow conditions, while surfing requires fins and curved control surfaces to cut and grip the water.

According to snowboarding enthusiast Joe Liu of Washington, D.C., this combined board would likely be uncomfortable to stand on for some surfers and snowboarders might require more deliberate movements to maneuver the board.

Still, this was the first time a single board was featured by Transworld in both surfing and snowboarding.

17 March 2012

Invisible Mercedes brings James Bond technology to life

In a promotion for its first production fuel-cell vehicle in Germany, Mercedes-Benz turned a B-Class hatchback invisible -- at least, from a distance, using the same idea behind the invisible car in the James Bond film "Die Another Day." See if you can see it before it sees you.

The invisibility cloak had its tryout this week on the streets of Stuttgart, Germany. To make Q's idea of an invisible car real, Mercedes employed dozens of technicians and some $263,000 worth of flexible LED mats covering one side of the car. Using a camera mounted on the opposite side of the vehicle, the LEDs were programmed to reproduce the image from the camera at the right scale, blending the vehicle into the background from a few feet away. Doing so required power sources, computers and other gear totaling 1,100 lbs. of equipment inside the B-Class.

Mercedes' point was to show how the F-Cell hydrogen fuel cell powered car would be invisible to the environment, producing only water vapor and heat for emissions. For an invisible car, it's getting a lot of stares.

10 March 2012

Meanings of 10 Valentine's Day Flowers

Whether you’re planning to give—or hoping to receive—flowers this Valentine’s Day, brushing up on the meaning behind the blooms will likely inform your choices or heighten your appreciation of your sweet-smelling gift. Think a rose is just a rose? Read on to find out what 10 popular Valentine’s Day flowers really symbolize.


Not surprisingly, this classic bud is “the most popular choice for Valentine’s Day,” says Kate Law, Product Design Manager at ProFlowers.com. It could be because red roses symbolize love, romance, beauty and perfection. The iconic flower is also known for being pricey—according to Michael Gaffney, Director of the New York School of Flower Design, “flower growers hold back their rose bushes for months in order to have them bloom in time for February 14th—and then they raise the prices, giving roses that sought-after reputation.”


                                                                                          Gerbera Daisies   

Daisies are known for symbolizing beauty, innocence and purity, says Law. The Gerbera variety, recognizable by their large flowering heads, is available in an assortment of peppy hues, which gives them the additional meaning of cheerfulness. The happy buds are “always a favorite to receive,” she says.


“Tulips stand for perfect love,” says Gaffney. The elegant and easily identifiable blooms are one of the most popular flowers in the world but are most often associated with the Netherlands, where they flourished in the 17th century. They convey comfort and warmth, says Law, and are a good Valentine’s Day pick since they’re classic and affordable.



Otherwise known as Peruvian lilies, these long-lasting, attention-grabbing petals represent friendship and devotion, says Law. They’re native to South America and feature multiple blooms per stem, which make for voluptuous             arrangements. Perhaps best of all, they’re easy to find in most neighborhood supermarkets.


Casa Blanca Lilies

These white Oriental lilies typically stand for “beauty, class and style,” says Gaffney. “A man who creates a bouquet with these dramatic—and expensive––lilies is sophisticated and knows his partner well.” And, notes Law, people love these stunning blooms’ heady fragrance.




According to Gaffney, these rare blossoms symbolize love, beauty, luxury and strength. Plus, they send the message of exotic seduction. “If someone gives you orchids, they’re a little wilder than the person who goes for a dozen roses.” Orchids also hold up well over time, says Law, both in bouquets and pots.



These ruffled blooms stand for fascination and new love. “For some reason, carnations get a bad rap,” says Gaffney. “But I love them; they’re marvelous flowers.” Even better, these cheerful blooms are hearty and very affordable.



Like the sun they’re named for, these blossoms represent warmth and happiness, says Law. They also stand for loyalty, according to Gaffney. Though the bright yellow blooms scream summertime, these spirit-lifting flowers are available all year round.




In some parts of the world, dark blue or purple irises indicate royalty, according to Law. No matter their color (they’re most commonly seen in blue, white and yellow), they stand for faith and hope, says Gaffney. Mix them up with red tulips or daisies for a “striking combination,” suggests Law.




Loaded with fragrance, these elegant flowers signify purity and joy, and connote deep, old-fashioned love, says Gaffney. “The man who buys these likely has a history with the woman he’s buying them for.” Because they’re pricey and are sold as single blooms, they’ll definitely make a statement on the holiday.




13th Feb 2012

Posted by Natalia and Aliona

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