Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Carla Bruni 'gives birth to baby girl' in Paris clinic with President Sarkozy by her side

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was tonight said to have given birth to a baby girl, according to impeccably placed sources at an exclusive Paris clinic. President Nicolas Sarkozy, 56, spent half-an-hour with his 43-year-old wife shortly after she delivered their first child together.
But both insisted that the happy event should remain a ‘private matter’, with no official announcement from the Elysee Palace.Carla Bruni, pictured last week, is reported to have given birth to a baby girl. Her husband, President Sarkozy, left the clinic this afternoon after he reportedly spent half an hour with his wife and first born daughter before heading off to a meeting in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel.Ms Bruni-Sarkozy, who already has a son with a previous lover, has even claimed that that her second child will never be pictured.
The strange situation saw Mr Sarkozy paying the short visit to his third wife’s bedside before heading off to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Frankfurt. On arrival in Germany he refused to respond to any questions about his fourth child. This was despite Ms Bruni-Sarkozy apparently becoming the only serving First Lady in French history to have a baby.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York says 'I do' to gay marriage: Senate passes law allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot

Gay couples celebrated in the streets after the 62-member, Republican-controlled state Senate approved the bill 33 to 29and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law.New York dramatically voted to allow same-sex marriage last night, becoming the biggest state to legalise gay marriage handing activists a breakthrough victory.The legislative session went into overtime as conservative lawmakers fought for changes to enhance protection for faith-based groups opposed to recognising gay marriages.
After the bill passed in the Assembly, it was unclear if the bill had secured enough support to pass in the Senate.The decision followed weeks of contentious debate and negotiations between Governor Cuomo and the GOP-controlled Senate.After a several undecideds moved to support the bill - including Republican Roy McDonald who famously defended his decision, saying 'f**k it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing' the balance was tipped.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nevada Passes Law Authorizing Driverless Cars

The State of Nevada just passed Assembly Bill No. 511 which, among other things, authorizes the Department of Transportation to develop rules and regulations governing the use of driverless cars, such as Google’s concept car, on its roads.As Stanford Professor Ryan Calo notes, this is a big step forward in ensuring that safe, driverless cars become a reality.

Cameron victory on Greek bailout: EU chiefs cave in and rule out cash grab from Britain

David Cameron last night won a key victory to save British taxpayers from paying any extra money to bail out Greece.After crunch talks in Brussels, the Prime Minister faced down a German bid to force the UK to pay up.Mr Cameron read the riot act to EU leaders, arguing that it would be ‘quite wrong’ for the UK to contribute to the rescue act.EU president Herman Van Rompuy caved in late last night and agreed that the conclusions of the Brussels summit would rule out any cash grab from Britain.
Britain has already contributed £12.5billion to the bailouts of Ireland, Portugal and Greece, through both the EU and the IMF.The ruling means that Britain will contribute around £1billion to the bailont through the International Monetary Fund but will be spared another raid on the public purse from the EU.Last night a Downing Street source said: ‘This is the right result for the British taxpayer.’ The communique to be signed by all 27 EU leaders today will confirm that only IMF and eurozone nations will pay.
It came after a fraught day in which the Germans had tried to force Britain into a corner.Asked if the EU-wide European Financial Stability Mechanism would be excluded from the bailout, worth £100 billion, Mr Van Rompuy said: ‘Yes.’Amid signs that EU nations outside the single currency might be asked to cough up, the Prime Minister’s aides had rushed to seek assurances from Germany that the UK would not be railroaded into contributing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Perform This Way (Parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga)

Google ordered to halt Street View filming in India amid security fears

Google has been barred from taking pictures of streets in India for its popular Street View service until it obtains approval from the federal government.Police confirmed the company would be allowed to resume filming only after it produces security clearances from the Home Ministry and Ministry of Defence.'We have security concerns. There are a lot of sensitive establishments in Bangalore and those pictures would be available in the public domain,' the official added.India is especially sensitive about detailed photographs and locations of key buildings being made public since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which ten gunmen rampaged through city landmarks, killing 166 people.Google India launched its Street View service in Bangalore in late May and plans to include other cities as well.The California-based company has so far not produced any clearance despite claiming to have it, a Bangalore police official said.In Switzerland the company is appealing a court ruling that obliges it to ensure all faces and vehicle license plates are blurred before pictures are uploaded to the Street View service.But Street View has raised privacy concerns in many countries.The service allows users to click on virtually any spot in a city to zoom into a series of street-level pictures taken by cars mounted with 360-degree cameras.In Germany, Street View went online after a months-long battle with authorities who insisted that citizens had the right to have images of their properties blurred. Only 20 German cities are pictured on Street View and in April, Google announced that it was removing all of its vehicles from the country.In March, the company was fined £90,000 in France because the cars used to take photographs for Street View illegally collected personal data from Wi-Fi networks, something it has apologised for.

Apple to launch iPhone 5 in September with new high resolution camera

Apple is planning to release an iPhone 5 as early as September.
The company is also reported to be testing a version of the iPad with a higher resolution screen.The release of the iPhone 5 in just a few months could add millions more sales to the technology firm’s range of smartphones. The iPhone is Apple’s top seller.The model is likely to include a faster computer chip and a more advanced camera.When the iPhone 4 was launched in June last year, stocks ran out within hours and demand crashed the Apple website.The new phone could be called the iPhone 4G or 4S, with many similarities to the £500 iPhone 4.Technology experts are also adding a cheaper version of the iPhone range which will be aimed at boosting its market share in developing countries.But the speedier processor will allow programs to load quicker and the phone will be able to better compete against the BlackBerry and Samsung handsets that use Google’s Android software.An 8-megapixel camera would be an update on the 5-megapixel camera currently used in the iPhone 4.Experts have said that if Apple introduced a more basic mid-range phone the computer giant's share of the the smartphone market could explode as the number of users grows this year and in 2012.Details were made public in San Francisco by Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs.Two industry sources later said that the screen resolution on the updated iPad will be a third higher than that of the iPad 2.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Google prepares to ditch its trademark 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button

But now it seems the technology giant is ditching its trademark 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button.'I'm Feeling Lucky' was designed to take users directly to the first search result, bypassing the search results page.For more than ten years it has proved an essential part of Google's search engine.There has been no official word yet confirming whether or not it will be permanently removed.Google is currently testing out a new user interface design in Finland and the button is conspicuous by its absence.'I'm Feeling Lucky' was first created to reflect Google's confidence that its top search result would almost always be the one being looked for.As Google continues to break new ground at a tremendous rate, perhaps the button is part of an older online mindset.But since the launch of the Google Instant search last year, the button only works if the user first disables the instant search fuction.The works, which are all out of copyright, date from between 1700 and 1870 and have been selected by the library to be digitised by search engine giant.Earlier today it was confirmed that the company has struck a deal with the British Library to put 250,000 books online.The material - some 40million pages - will cover the period that saw the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Battle of Trafalgar, the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and the and of slavery.Google voice search has been available for some time on mobile devices, but now everyone will have the option of searching via voice command from a regular laptop or desktop.The only thing needed is a microphone (either plugged in or internal will do) and Google Chrome.And last week Google unveiled a new feature allowing users to conduct Internet searches searches on their personal computers simply with the sound of their voice and without touching a keyboard.

Ministers plan for the 'death of the euro' as Greek crisis threatens future of single currency

Britain is preparing for the collapse of the euro, a Treasury minister warned last night.If Greece's debt crisis forces it to quit the eurozone, it would have 'a very significant economic impact' on Britain, said Mark Hoban, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.Officials said British banks stand to lose £8billion if the Greek economy goes under.It came as former foreign secretary Jack Straw led MPs from all sides in predicting the death of the single currency, warning: 'Is it not better that it happens quickly rather than a slow death?’He said the Government should be honest and admit the single currency is on the brink of collapse. He told the Commons: 'The eurozone cannot last. In its current form [it] is going to collapse.'The International Monetary Fund also warned that the Greek debt crisis could threaten the stability of the entire eurozone, Britain's biggest trading partners.Mr Hoban admitted the Government was preparing contingency plans for a euro meltdown with the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority.He refused to say whether ‘the eurozone will stay intact’, a coded reference to Greece ditching the single currency. But he added: ‘This crisis demonstrates the huge strain the eurozone is under. That’s why it was right for us to stay out of the eurozone.‘The Treasury, together with the Bank of England and the FSA, are monitoring the financial system, including the euro area, on an ongoing basis. Many scenarios are considered.’‘Continued instability in the eurozone could be one of the factors that could hold back the recovery of the British economy.’

So you think you can dance? Young boy shows amazing skills on Xbox Kinect game as he wows watching shoppers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food Revolution rolls on in Los Angeles as schools ban corn dogs and chicken nuggets... and opt for sushi

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution may have been cancelled by television executives last month, but the Los Angeles public school system is still feeling its effects.The city's school board has announced it will stop serving corn dogs, chicken nuggets and a list of other unhealthy foods, in favour of protein-packed sushi.The new menu, proposed for this autumn, will also offer vegetarian dishes, such as spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce and California sushi rolls, along with many ethnic foods.The decision comes weeks after officials agreed to ban flavoured milk, pushed by Oliver's campaign against childhood obesity in America.The decision has been a long time coming for the district, which banned sodas on campuses in 2004.Food services director Dennis Barrett said fried and breaded items are gone for good from the menus, which until last semester consisted of cheese burgers, hot and spicy chicken chunks, beef steak fingers in gravy and peanut butter and jelly pockets.Later that year, the school board passed a motion to ban the sale of junk food during the school day by restricting the calories and fat content in snack foods.The decision was the start of a trend followed by the state as well as districts across the country. 

London to get its sixth international airport in Southend - just in time for the Olympics

The budget airline easyJet unveiled ambitious plans yesterday to transform Southend-on-Sea airport into a rival for Gatwick and Stansted.
It means London will be served by a sixth international airport in time for the 2012 Olympics.
EasyJet will carry around 800,000 passengers in the first 12 months at its new Southend base, three miles from the seafront of the Essex resort.This is set to rise to two million a year by 2020, making London Southend Airport almost as big as the capital’s City Airport.Under a ten-year partnership with the airport’s owners, Stobart Group, easyJet is to start flights at Southend from April next year. A multi-million-pound terminal is due to open at the airport this autumn.
Currently private jets and charter flights take off from the airfield - although there are a few commercial flights to Ireland.
The Southend expansion will create about 300 jobs, half with the airline and half at the airport. It will serve a range of destinations in Europe, including Barcelona and Ibiza.Airport bosses said passengers would never wait more than four minutes to clear security, and trains from a new station nearby would get them to central London in an hour.The airport is owned by the Stobart Group, the trucking firm, which paid £21million for it in 2008.It has invested £60million on a new control tower, a runway extension, a new terminal building due to be finished this autumn and the railway station. A new hotel is due to open next year.Catherine Lynn, easyJet's customer and revenue director, said: 'In summer 2012 we’re expecting to see huge demand from passengers right around Europe to come to London.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'No one's going to drink a cup of Pee-quod!' How Starbucks was almost named after the doomed ship in Moby-Dick

It's the largest coffee house in the world, but Starbucks may have had a very different story had one of its founders had his way.
According to Howard Schultz's book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, Mr Bowker suggested the name Pequod to his then-creative partner, Terry Heckler, who responded: 'No one's going to drink a cup of Pee-quod!'After a brainstorming session, Mr Bowker's co-founders, teachers  Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl, decided Captain Ahab's first mate Starbuck would be the name of the then-unknown brand.t was not the only inspiration the entrepreneurs found in the unusual name.Writer Gordon Bowke, who co-founded the company in 1971, originally wanted to name the company Peqoud, after the doomed whaleship in Moby-Dick.Luckily, his business partners settled on the name of the ship's first mate instead.It also inspired Starbucks' famed green and white logo, which features a Siren from Greek Mythology.As the story goes, Sirens lured sailors to shipwreck off the coast of an island in the South Pacific, also called Starbuck Island.Starbucks, it seems, proved a wise choice. The company later changed hands and Mr Schultz became the company's sole owner when he bought out the three founders in 1987.The company, however, could have gone by many different names with founders so captivated by the Herman Melville classic.Stubb, Flask, Queequeg, Tashtego, Daggoo, Pip and Fedallah are among the other characters in the story, about Captain Ahab's search for a monstrous sperm whale wandering the seas after that destroyed his boat and bit off his leg.
Starbucks went on to become the largest coffee house company in the world, with 17,009 stores in 50 countries, including over 11,000 in the U.S.

Banks face their biggest shake-up since the 1930s in attempt to prevent another financial meltdown

George Osborne will propose strict ‘firewalls’ between their high street retail operations and their ‘casino’ investment arms. Banks today face their biggest shake-up for 80 years in an attempt to prevent another financial meltdown.Each of the two divisions will be required to have separate staff, funding arrangements and computer systems.Banks will be required to hold far higher levels of cash reserves for use in the event of another crisis. That would rule out the need for bailouts if investment divisions get into trouble.The measures do not satisfy widespread demands for a complete separation between casino and retail banking.The Chancellor’s move is designed to stop reckless decision-making once again ruining the economy and jeopardising the savings of ordinary customers.The reform blueprint – to be outlined in Mr Osborne’s Mansion House speech to City leaders tonight – was drawn up by the Independent Commission on Banking.Requiring banks to hold far more cash, his interim report suggested, could push mortgage rates up by around 1 per cent, adding almost £1,000 a year to the cost of repaying a typical £140,000 mortgage.There are also concerns that customers will be forced to pick up the bill in the form of higher charges. But a source close to the Chancellor said: ‘This is a far-reaching shake-up to make high street banks safer and protect taxpayers.‘Britain is now leading the world in learning the lessons from the disastrous failures of the last decade.’Aides say the move is the biggest shake-up of the financial sector since the 1930s.There have been growing calls for reforms to create a firewall between high street banking, such as savings accounts and mortgages, and riskier, internationally-traded services.However Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered have each voiced concerns over the direction of regulation and have suggested they could move offshore if they felt their business was being damaged by new rules.‘The Government set up the Banking Commission to ask tough questions that weren’t asked before the crisis, and this is right at the heart of their answer.The Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer, has hired dozens of City high-flyers on big salaries for its investment division.

Will size matter? BlackBerry launches smaller PlayBook to take on iPad in battle of the tablets

The iPad suddenly has a game on.Or at least that's what computer giant BlackBerry hopes consumers will think when its new PlayBook tablet goes on sale in the UK tomorrow.Blackberry is pitching the tablet against Apple's hugely successful iPad model - believing that its smaller size and ability to connect to a BlackBerry for emails will win over new customers.The PlayBook has a seven-inch screen, compared with 9.7 inches for Apple's iPad2.Experts think the smallness is the key. Luke Peters, editor of T3 magazine, told the London Evening Standard: 'The PlayBook is one of the few tablets that has clear, attractive differentiation from the iPad because of its size.'However, he believes the new gadget - 250,000 of which have already been sold in the U.S and Canada - is unlikely to be able to compete with the huge number of apps on the market for Apple’s tablet. Last week Apple revealed that more than 65,000 are available for the iPad, although it can also run iPhone apps. 'It will need to compete with Apple’s powerful digital ecosystems — iTunes and the App Store — which are gaining momentum and popularity by the day,' Mr Peters said.