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New July 2013

Student’s mother pleads for release

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The mother of a London student who is to be deported to her native Mauritius pleads with MPs to release her from Yarl’s Wood immigration centre.

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Big names struggle ahead of Masters

Injuries to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, plus the poor form of others, mean some big names are struggling ahead of Augusta

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There’s more to Hamilton than pure talent

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In F1′s new era Lewis Hamilton proves he has the technical intellect to go with his natural driving gift, says chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

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Politics is second to solving people’s problems: New People’s Party’s Judy Chan Ka-pui

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Four months ago, few in Hong Kong – not to mention the political arena – would have heard of the name Judy Chan Ka-pui. Yet, the New People’s Party freshman shot to fame in the small hours of March 24 when she defeated Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai and People Power chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming to win a Southern District Council by-election. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Vatican bank fraud foiled after suspects stopped with 1.2bn of forged bonds

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Would-be swindlers were carrying a case of forged bearer bonds as they tried to enter the Vatican gates ‘to meet cardinals’The papal gendarmerie and Italian police have foiled a massive potential fraud at the Vatican bank after two men stopped at the gates to the Vatican were found to be carrying a case containing large amounts of forged bearer bonds, Italian police say.Lt Col Davide Cardia of the financial police said the would-be swindlers, who were wearing business suits, tried to convince Swiss Guards at a Vatican City gate this month that cardinals were expecting them.

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Erdogan’s name and face dominate as Turkey heads to the polls

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The prime minister is not even standing in Sunday’s local elections, but in the divided capital the talk is of no one elseTurkey may be in turmoil and the vast city of Istanbul in ferment, bridling at the antics of a government struggling to cope with scandal and sleaze, but in Kasimpasa quarter, the prime minister’s troubles raise barely a shrug.A conservative, lower-middle-class district bordering the Golden Horn and predominantly inhabited by Turks from the Black Sea coast, Kasimpasa loves Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the powerful prime minister increasingly reviled across Turkey and tarnished internationally.

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A high seas fishing ban scorecard: (Almost) everybody wins

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When it comes to fishing, most of the ocean is lawless. Fish in the high seas — the half of the world’s oceans that fall under the control of no single nation, because they’re more than 200 miles from a coastline — are being plundered with aplomb by fishing fleets that observe virtually no fish conservation rules. Some very smart people think that might be a very stupid way of managing the world’s fisheries. They say it’s time for the world to ban fishing on the high seas. Many of the world’s brawniest fish and shark species migrate through these open waters, where they are being targeted and overfished. Bluefin tuna are becoming so rare that a single fish sold last year for $1.8 million. Last month, McKinsey & Company director Martin Stuchtey suggested during an ocean summit that banning fishing on the high seas would cause an economic loss of about $2 for every person on the planet. But he said the benefits of more sustainable fisheries, if such a ban was imposed, would be worth about $4 per person, creating a net benefit of $2 apiece. From Business Insider: Hard numbers reveal that today’s fishing industry is not profitable, and as fleets work harder chasing fewer fish, the losses grow and stocks are further depleted in “a race to the bottom,” the economist explained. Stuchtey’s numbers were approximations. But the results of a study published in the journal PLOS Biology this week put some flesh on the economist’s back-of-the-envelope calculations. An economist and a biologist, both from California, modeled the effects of such a ban and concluded that the move could double the profitability of the world’s fishing industries — and boost overall fishing yields by 30 percent. It would also boost fish stock conservation and improve the sustainability of seafood supplies. “The closure will probably result in short-term losses of protein from the sea,” Christopher Costello, a University of California at Santa Barbara environmental and resource economics professor who coauthored the paper, told Grist. “But the key point is that these short-term losses are likely to be followed by significant long-term gains because of the rebuilding of fish stocks.” The greatest human beneficiaries of such a ban would be residents of developing countries — nations that can’t afford the types of hulking vessels needed for high-seas fishing expeditions. The scientists say these developing nations would benefit from a rise in fish stocks in the waters they control, as would be the case for other countries. The biggest potential losers, according to the researchers, would include Japan, China, and Spain, which operate large offshore fishing fleets. And that could make a high-seas fishing ban a difficult sell at the United Nations. “Whether a country like Japan or China would stand to gain or lose is an empirical question that will require careful country-by-country analysis,” Costello said. “It may disadvantage a few politically powerful countries, while it advantages many smaller countries.” Global Ocean CommissionHigh seas are shown in dark blue. Click to embiggen.Filed under: Food

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This jellylike blob is actually a gross yet edible water bottle

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What if you could have a water bottle without the wasteful, toxic plastic? (And a water fountain doesn’t count. Not consumer-y enough, Buddha.) Three British design students wanted to answer that question, seeing as we’re basically drowning in plastic. Their Lexus Design Award-winning solution is the portable, edible, and weird-looking Ooho: an edible water “bottle” that resembles alien sweat. (We kickbox with a lot of aliens, OK?) To drink the Ooho, you gently bite its gelatinous membrane until the water runs into your mouth and all over your clothes, ideally making it look like you peed yourself. As a bonus, if you don’t eat the outside, you’re basically left with a used condom: We dig the idea of rethinking and reducing packaging, but even with its double-layered design, the Ooho doesn’t seem quite as durable as throwing a plastic water bottle into the bottom of your gym bag. Plus, there’s the cleanliness factor — what’s to keep the outer layer of brown algae and calcium chloride from getting grimy? (At least it’ll probably compost better than an Alpine Spring bottle.) The Ooho doesn’t seem shelf-ready yet, but edible packaging is inevitable: Boston Whole Foods customers will see the WikiPearl on shelves, little nuggets of ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and even veggies inside an edible skin. Seems like a weird fad, but if it’ll save resources and keep junk outta landfills and oceans, we just might try it.Filed under: Business & Technology, Living

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States struggling to understand frackquakes

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Frackers have been triggering earthquakes across the country by injecting their wastewater at high pressure into disposal wells. That much is certain. The U.S. Geological Survey has linked the practice to a sixfold increase in earthquakes in the central U.S. from 2001 to 2011. It’s also possible that the very act of fracking has been causing some temblors. What isn’t certain, though, is what governments can do about it. Bloomberg reports on a new initiative that aims to manage some of those earth-shaking dangers: Regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met for the first time this month in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the man-made earthquakes and help states toughen their standards. “It was a very productive meeting, number one, because it gave the states the opportunity to get together and talk collectively about the public interest and the science,” Gerry Baker, who attended as associate executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a group that represents energy-producing states, said in an interview. “It was a good start in coordinating efforts.” … The goal of the regulators is to develop a set of common procedures to monitor for earthquakes, investigate their cause and draft rules and regulations to prevent them, said Scott Anderson, senior policy adviser for the Environmental Defense Fund in Austin, Texas, who has been in communication with state regulators on the issue. Would we be stating the obvious if we suggested that these states protect themselves from earthquakes by simply stopping fracking — just as New York and countless local municipalities have done — while the drilling risks are better investigated by scientists?Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy

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This necklace tells you when your cows are horny

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Farming apps are the new bubble, my friend (a Tinker Bell-sized bubble, but still). Not only can you track your yield, find commodity prices, and chart rainfall, but now you can keep tabs on when your dairy cows are feeling frisky. NMRThe key to the latter is a British innovation called the Silent Herdsman, which cows wear like a high-tech necklace. (It’s more of a Tamagotchi than an iPhone app.) The sensor monitors cattle’s temperature and wirelessly alerts the farmer via computer when they’re in heat – otherwise, somebody would have to be constantly elbow-deep in bovine hoo-ha. Perhaps unsurprisingly, farmers are constantly looking for a way to avoid these more hands-on methods — the Silent Herdsman isn’t even the first estrus-monitoring tool we’ve reported on. A Swiss device sends texts when a cow is in heat, but it involves implanting a transmitter in the genitals — a leeeeetle more invasive. Knowing the intricacies of a cow’s cycle isn’t just to avoid getting your leg humped. As Silent Herdsman CEO Annette MacDougall explains, “It’s important because, if you can maximize the probability of a pregnancy in cows, the likelihood is you’re going to increase your milk yields.” Small farmers need all the help they can get. The Silent Herdsman is coming to the U.S. soon; it’s already a reality in China, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Germany. As Sydney Brownstone of Fast Company suggests, it’d be even cooler if the device could measure methane from cows. After tracking their fertility, farts seem like no big deal.Filed under: Living

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Oil workers and Jewish grandmas driving American metropolitan growth

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Looking for the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States? Follow the fracking – or, alternatively, search for the top-rated golf club brunches on Yelp. The most recent U.S. census data, measuring urban growth between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, showed that oil boomtowns and Southern retirement communities now get to sit at the popular table. The irony here, of course, is that there were never more unlikely candidates for said table than The Villages, Fla., or Fargo, N.D. This list paints a pretty bizarre picture of America’s future, but at least it’s interesting. A couple of cities on this list – Austin, for example – actually seem like fun places to live for young people, but what’s most striking is that with the exception of The Villages, all of the top spots are filled by oil towns. That’s no coincidence. Last July, the New York Times published a study examining social mobility in metro areas across the United States. The places of greatest economic opportunity, according to the results, were concentrated in oil-rich regions: North Dakota, eastern Montana, western Texas. Here’s a list of the top 10 fastest-growing metro areas, with the most likely reasons for their growth: 1. The Villages, Fla. – 5.2 percent Awkwardly named The Villages is literally just a retirement community in the dead center of Florida, about an hour northwest of Orlando. No one under the age of 65 is moving there. 2 & 3. Odessa and Midland, Texas – tied at 3.3 percent Odessa and Midland, about 20 miles apart, lie on the oil-rich Permian Basin in western Texas, which is expected to produce 1.41 million barrels this month. Both towns have experienced housing shortages in recent years due to an oil boom in the region. 4 & 5. Fargo and Bismarck, N.D. – tied at 3.1 percent Fargo and Bismarck have both seen unprecedented growth due to workers flocking to high-paying jobs on the Bakken shale. This influx — and its attendant problems, including high real-estate prices, increased crime rates, and a really tough dating scene – have been well-documented. 6. Casper, Wyo. – 2.9 percent Casper, nicknamed The Oil City, is bringing recent high school grads to work in the region’s oil fields in droves. A city full of 18-year-olds with tens of thousands of dollars in disposable income? Pretty sick, brah! 7. Myrtle Beach, S.C. – 2.7 percent It turns out everyone you’ve ever met wearing a Myrtle Beach sweatshirt is finally making their sartorially expressed dreams a reality and moving to Myrtle Beach. There is no other explanation. 8. Austin, Texas – 2.6 percent Have you ever been to Austin? There is pretty much nowhere within the city limits that you can’t get a delicious taco. That’s just part of the reason that 110 people move to Austin each day – the city’s economy expanded by 5.9 percent last year, more than twice the growth rate for the national economy. 9. Daphne, Ala. – 2.6 percent Fairhope, in the Daphne metro area on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, was founded as an experimental utopian society by a group of rare Iowan socialists, and continues to pride itself on being a weird little resort town. Fairhope’s current mayor started out as the city’s horticulturist, and the town is committed to being bike- and pedestrian-friendly. This one doesn’t sound so bad, y’all. 10. Cape Coral, Fla. – 2.5 percent In 2012, Forbes named Cape Coral among its 25 top places to retire in the U.S. It seems that the publication’s target audience took that recommendation to heart.Filed under: Cities, Climate & Energy, Living

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Workers fear for the future in Ukraine’s heavily industrialised east

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Donbass’s miners and factory workers are justifiably concerned what the geopolitical tug of war means for themStanding outside Donetsk’s coal mine, Igor Yefremov mused over the future of Ukraine’s heavy industry. “If we join the European Union our mines and factories will shut down,” he said. “Already the orders from Russia are drying up. Russia doesn’t want us because of the chaos in Kiev.”Yefremov was waiting to meet his brother-in-law, who was working on the early shift at the city centre mine. Above ground, the scene was tranquil. Off-duty workers sat on benches in a small, sunny rose garden, dwarfed by two giant pit frames.

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U.S. Secret Service sends 3 home from Netherlands after agent found drunk

Hotel staff reported finding highly intoxicated agent before Obama was set to arrive

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America, Inc. at it’s Finest

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Chocolate Artisan Truffles by Just Chocolate

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New July 2013