AN APPEAL FOR information has been issued by the PSNI following a hijacking late yesterday evening in the Whitecliff Crescent area of Belfast.At around 10:20pm the female driver of a grey Peugeot 5008 was dragged from her car by three males. The vehicle was driven away by the hijackers and subsequently found burnt out in the Glenside Road area of Belfast at around 11:45pm.No injuriesThe female victim is not believed to have sustained serious injuries as a result of the hijacking.Detectives are continuing their investigation and appeal for information from anyone who may have witnessed the initial incident or anyone acting suspiciously in the Glenside Road area later in the evening.The public are asked to contact detectives at Grosvenor Road on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
ONLINE COMMUNITY REDDIT is known for having users with a talent for finding quirky videos and taking part in revealing anonymous interviews – but it more than proved its worth when one member made an appeal on behalf of his mum.Reddit member Jay-Bob put out the appeal a month ago for his mother, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given just three months to live.He wanted to do something to bring her joy but wasn’t able to travel home to the US as he is deployed in Afghanistan. He knew his grandparents had emigrated from Shannon, but it wasn’t until his mother broke down after hearing he stopped off at the town’s airport while on tour that he realised what to do:I saw a charm at the airport with a real shamrock in glass that I was going to send her, for luck, something Irish after finding out how much it really means to her. But I thought it cheesy and shallow. I want something warm, something very Irish, something individual and sincere. If I cant bring my mom to Ireland, to Shannon, how can I bring Ireland to her? What can I do?What happened next would bring a tear to even the most jaded internet user’s eye: fellow Redditers responded, not just with positive comments, but with photos, a card, shamrock seeds, and a Mass being said for her in Dublin.And there was even more great news to come:My mother just went to her first scan after chemo. She has had considerable shrinkage in all of her tumors, some have even disappeared. Her blood markers for cancer went from over 5500 to under 250. Her initial prognosis of 3 months has been extended to well over a year. I call it the luck of the Irish. Between the folks in Ireland and the family back home, my mam has been on cloud 9.Ah, internet. When you’re good, you really are very, very good.Read: ‘Weed? I’d legalise immediately’: Anonymous Garda invites people to ‘ask me anything’>
OH BABY, BABY it’s a wild world. If you find it a bit difficult to keep up with the crazy shenanigans going on around the globe, don’t fret – DailyEdge.ie is here to help. We’ve sorted through the bonkers carry-on to bring you the best of the bizarre. A woman in England found a two foot python in her oven after cooking an oven pizza. Karen Jackson, of Northumberland, was bewildered to find the snake coiled inside her oven after cooking her dinner. After contacting the RSPCA and the people who sold her the oven, she discovered it belonged to the previous owner’s daughter and had been hiding in a cool spot at the rear. Slippery little bugger, evidently. (Mirror)A used condom shattered a car windscreen in eastern China. After the prophylactic was thrown from a multi-storey building, it landed on a man’s parked car below, where it shattered his windscreen. Reports indicate that DNA evidence left at the scene might reveal who the article belongs to. Best not to think too much about that. (Metro)A motorcycle reported stolen in 1967 has been returned to its original owner. The motorbike was stolen from his home and returned to him this week when Customs checked its identification number on its way out to Japan and realised it was stolen. Donald DeVault DeVault said that what initially attracted him to the motorbike was its blue colour and the name “Li’l Blue Bitch” airbrushed on its side. (AP) Source: LeatherupA missing undergraduate student, Asher Vongtau, has been located after spending two days wedged between two buildings in New York City. He was found “conscious and moaning” last Sunday after somehow becoming lodged between a parking garage and a dorm building in downtown Manhattan. The circumstances of how he came to be there are as yet unclear, but sources indicate the only way into the gap appeared to be from the roofs of the buildings. Party on, Asher. (Reuters)A woman ran over her husband repeatedly after he refused to stop at McDonald’s. Crystal Brooks, of Tennessee, became incensed when her partner would not stop for delicious, delicious fast food and let her hunger get the better of her by backing over her husband, Santiago Hernandez, three times. Hernandez sustained no serious injuries and Brooks is currently in custody. We’ve all experienced regrets after Micky D’s, but this is something else. (DailyEdge.ie) Source: GarbhabdasA Californian man did his first skydive to celebrate turning 100 years of age. When asked by his friends, Vernon Maynard said that jumping from a plane was the one thing he wished he had done in his life. After receiving the go-ahead from doctors, he jumped from 13,000 feet. Fair play, old timer. (Yahoo)Gloucestershire Police have revealed that they have received calls reporting “werewolves, wizards and a coven of witches” to their emergency 999 number. One boy rang to report himself as a wizard, meanwhile a taxi driver called to notify authorities that his wife was a werewolf. Our sympathies, mate. (Mirror)Rivers of caramel, lost dentures and a bust-up bingo brawl – it’s last week’s weird news>
MEPS HAVE OVERWHELMINGLY backed proposals to allow the European Parliament to select its own seat and end the practice of holding sessions in Brussels and Strasbourg.Currently the European Parliament moves from the Belgian capital to Strasbourg every month in order to comply with a legal obligation that it sit in the French city for plenary sessions twelve times a year.Dubbed as the “travelling circus” the monthly move is estimated to cost the EU taxpayer some €200 million every year.The 435-kilometre journey involves the transportation of 5,000 MEPs, officials and translators as well as lorry-loads of documents and equipment.The so-called Fox-Häfner report, after the two MEPs who wrote a report recommending the practice end, was backed by 483 votes to 141 in the parliament today.However actually implementing the change will face opposition from France, which holds a veto, as the sessions in Strasbourg are economically crucial to the city.“Our position is consistent and known, it is that of the Treaty,” one French diplomat told The Telegraph adding that the country has gone to the European Court of Justice on the issue before.In a statement prior to the vote, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin, Paul Murphy, said: “Approximately 10 per cent of the Parliament’s annual budget, between €156 and €204 million is spent to sustain this traveling circus.“The annual CO2 emissions associated with the transfers to and from the three working locations – Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg – is estimated to be between 11,000 and 19,000 tonnes.”Read: Can you name one of your local MEPs? 91 per cent of Dubliners can’tRead: ‘A great day for Europe’: MEPs approve EU’s budget for the next seven years
STUDENTS AND PAST-PUPILS from Belvedere College have been sleeping rough in Dublin city centre for the last two nights, amid harsh December weather conditions, in a bid to raise money for homeless charities.It’s the thirtieth year of the annual charity drive. Over €130,000 was raised last year, and more than €1.5 million has been raised by the students since the tradition began.The running tally for this year passed €100,000 just before noon today, as TheJournal.ie paid a visit the lads’ camp at the Bank of Ireland on College Green.“The levels coming in are definitely up there,” past-pupil Ben Conroy said. “People are finding it very hard with the recession, but they’re still being ridiculously generous.”Funds from this year’s sleep-out and fast are going to the Fr Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland and Home Again, and €2 text donations can be made by texting ‘sleepout’ to 57802.In terms of the weather conditions over the last 48 hours, those taking part have had to deal with everything winter can throw at them — from heavy rain on Sunday night, to high winds and freezing temperatures last night.Ciaran Boylan, another past-pupil, said that while the weather hadn’t been great, their experience couldn’t be compared to the plight of the hundreds of people around the country with no option but to sleep rough.Belvedere’s Ben Conroy and Ciaran Boylan (Youtube: TheJournalVideo)Conroy said their collectors had been out well into the early hours, rattling their buckets at late-bars and nightclubs around the city.“The bouncers at Coppers were great — they actually let a few of the lads in and they did really well going around to everyone.”The students will be keeping camp at their two locations — College Green and the GPO — until around 6pm this evening, and the final tally from the effort will be announced later this evening.The latest rough sleeper count, carried out by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, found there were 139 people bedding down on the streets of the capital on 12 November — an increase of 45 since April of this year.You can follow the lads on Facebook, Twitter — or just drop them a few quid as you pass by!Read: 139 people slept rough in Dublin on 12 NovemberMore: Simon Community says Phoenix Park death highlights the vulnerability of the homeless
Noonan also said in his written response that additional controls apply to sensitive documents and files and said he is “not aware” of any documents in the period relating to the bank guarantee that cannot be located.He said that as part of the process of record-keeping, the section in the Department to whom the file is registered specifies whether it can only be seen by that section.“On the file tracking system the file is marked on the comment field as containing private and confidential material or secret material. These procedures are reviewed regularly,” Noonan said.Doherty said that he would be seeking information on what if any comments were applied to the missing letters, if any additional controls applied to them and how many people would have had access to them.Read: ‘We need to get to the bottom of this’: More details sought on missing bank guarantee lettersRead: The Department of Finance has lost letters connected to the bank guarantee FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan has confirmed that his officials are now trying to find the original copies of two documents related to the banking crisis that went missing in his Department, and may seek them from Bank of Ireland.In response to a series of parliamentary questions from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who discovered the documents had gone missing, Noonan has for the first time confirmed that officials are making efforts to locate the original documents.It emerged earlier this month that the original versions of two letters, both concerning a possible investment in Bank of Ireland in January 2009 and which were copied to the then-finance minister Brian Lenihan, have gone missing.Copies of both letters are only available in redacted form although one of them has been partially recovered by officials in the Department through the ministerial representation tracking system.Noonan has also confirmed that the Department is looking into whether it can obtain copies of the letters between BOI governor Richard Burrows and tax consultant Noel M Cocoran from the bank and the consultant.Bank of Ireland declined to comment when asked if they would provide the letters, with a spokesperson saying: “It is Bank policy not to comment publicly on specific interactions with Government or Government officials.”Corcoran could not be reached for comment.‘Not directly related to bank guarantee’Noonan pointed out that the documents “are not directly related to the guarantee” and said his officials are continuing efforts to locate the original documents – something the Department would not confirm when asked last week.“My Department is continuing its efforts to locate the original documents received in the department, and is also investigating whether copies are available from the original correspondents,” Noonan said in a written answer released today.In a statement released at the time the disappearance emerged, the Department said it did not know how or why the documents went missing and Doherty said this evening this remains a key question.“Could it have been misfiled, shredded or taken by previous office holders? They are questions that need to be answered. This isn’t a trivial matter,” he told TheJournal.ie
IRELAND SECURED THE 2014 Six Nations with a thrilling victory over the French in Paris this evening.Here’s how we felt Joe Schmidt’s men performed during their 22-20 win at the Stade de France.Rob Kearney – 8After losing his first aerial battle, superbly took a French garryowen in the 12th minute. Did well to keep the ball in play in the the 16th, while had another excellent catch just after Trimble’s try. Lost out to Huget for the tap-down to Dulin, but was scrambling to make up ground.Fine clearing kick in a time of need with France attacking in the 45th minute and showed huge composure throughout, even after taking a thumping hit from Bastareaud in the second half. His late garryowen nearly cost Ireland but this was a quality performance.Andrew Trimble – 9As strong as ever under the French re-starts in the opening half, and popped up in midfield to carry on occasion. Ran a perfect trailing line from deep for his try to put himself exactly where Murray expected to find him.Worked tirelessly on kick chase as he always does, and has developed into one of Ireland’s key players thanks to his sheer determination. An absolute rock for Joe Schmidt’s side.Brian O’Driscoll – 9His direct carry opened the door for Trimble’s try, getting Ireland over the gainline and providing quick ball. Powerful hit on Huget to start his defensive shift, and tackled well in some numbers-down situations. Poor pass to Trimble off his left hand in the 33rd minute, but then almost released Rob Kearney with a pop inside just phases later.Almost got in for a try just before Sexton went over for his second, taking a nice line off Trimble despite receiving the pass too early. Constantly dealt with bigger men in contact. A classy performance to sign off in Ireland colours. Source: James Crombie/INPHOGordon D’Arcy – 7Missed a one-on-one tackle on Bastareaud to begin his game, then was bounced off by Fickou minutes later, allowing the French to build momentum. Made one good tackle on the former in the 28th minute, but struggled in contact at times against the heavy French tacklers.Released his pass excellently in the build-up to Sexton’s second try, but then had a poor grubber kick after 53 minutes. Deserves credit for growing into his defensive shift against the explosive French centres.Dave Kearney – 8Made a scampering half-break from Sexton’s inside pass in the 11th minute and rounded Huget to show his pace later in the half. Competed in the air with intent, not always reclaiming the ball but always getting off the ground.Like Trimble, he is all about work rate. Hit rucks with aggression, scampered back to cover French half-breaks and communicated with his fellow back three players superbly.Jonny Sexton – 7Took the ball to the gainline threateningly with Ireland’s first few possessions, slipping inside passes to trail runners and nudging grubber kicks down the left-hand side. Some of his tactical kicking was inaccurate though, while his place kicking in the first half was poor. Seems to have a mental issue when kicking from the right of the posts.Chipped away attacking possession just after half time to allow France to counter. Took both of his tries well and had one particularly excellent clear-out as Heaslip got isolated in the 50th minute. His 52nd minute penalty was enjoyable to watch. Brave hit on Bastareaud in the 68th minute and looked to be knocked out in the process.Conor Murray – 9The attacking chief for Ireland for much of the game, providing clean service from the base of the ruck and also using his own power to carry. Set up Trimble superbly, timing his pass into that barely visible space to perfection.No huge hits in defence, but his constant physicality helped Ireland to cope with the rapid French attack as other scrum-halves might not have. Perfect box kick in the 48th minute resulted in a Picamoles’ knock-on. Lovely snipe down the left in the 55th minute before hitting Dave Kearney.Cian Healy – 8 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOHad an early knock-on from a testing Sexton inside pass, but excelled against Nicolas Mas in the early scrum exchanges. Like Heaslip, he was a willing ball carrier but took his time to start bursting over the gainline.Perhaps lucky to escape a yellow card during the phase play preceding Swarzewski’s try as he came over the top of a ruck dangerously. Replaced by McGrath after a heavy workload.Rory Best – 8As aggressive as ever at the breakdown, looking to get his hands on the ball or counter-ruck. Didn’t come up with steals, but that competition impeded the French. Made lots of the scrappy tackles around the fringes as is his habit.Part of an Irish front row that largely did well against their French counterparts until that 70th minute penalty concession that almost allowed Doussain to give les Bleus the lead.Mike Ross – 8His major job is to scrummage and he did that wonderfully in the first half, winning penalties in the 11th and 39th minutes from the frustrated Thomas Domingo. Completed his tackles without winning too many collisions, but knocked on inside Ireland’s half in the 44th minute.His efforts in helping the Irish scrum to thrive see him scoring high.Devin Toner – 8Had a relatively quiet first half by his own standards in this Six Nations, but did what was needed in terms of chipping in with carries and tackles. Technically, still looks awkward at times but his effectiveness is now beyond question.His fitness has been inspirational too as he carried his hefty frame around for another full 80-minute shift.Paul O’Connell – 8 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHOConsistently offered himself up to carry the ball and take some of France’s biggest hits, although slipped off a tackle on Picamoles in the opening exchanges.Brilliant penalty turnover in the 43rd minute with France looking very threatening. As ever, his work rate was absolutely world-class and he did his best to challenge some of Steve Walsh’s refereeing. A genuinely brilliant leader.Peter O’Mahony – 7Needed a big play to get him into the game, but just couldn’t find it in the first half. Provided Ireland with an excellent option at the back of the line-out though and made some of the less notable tackles around the fringes.Added a handful more carries before being replaced by Henderson, as well as finishing with a 100% tackle completion rate. Solid outing but didn’t quite hit the lofty standards he set for himself against Wales and Scotland.Chris Henry – 9Sublime flick out of the back of the hand for Sexton’s try after carrying strongly during the preceding phase play. Passed well from the back of the decoy mauls too, releasing Murray on his attacking arc. Conceded a penalty to allow France go 3-0 up early on, although he will have felt Walsh’s decision was harsh.Bumped off by the powerful Bastareaud close to Ireland’s line with 20 minutes left, but instantly recovered his defensive bearings to get back to his feet. His development as an international player has been a real strength for Ireland this season.Jamie Heaslip – 8As busy as ever in getting around the pitch, but struggled to make yardage with many of his carries in the first 40 minutes, coming out second best against the likes of Picamples and Chouly. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOLoose pass in the 44th minute put Ireland under real pressure, but grew into the second half and continued to take attacking responsibility. Important at the maul and played his part at the line-out too.Replacements:Sean Cronin – 6Didn’t manage to get his hands on the ball to show his pace and power, butJack McGrath – 7Carried close in to the ruck on one occasion and managed to get through six tackles.Martin Moore – 7Brilliantly powerful hit on Flanquart in the 75th minute, smashing the Stade Français lock backwards to strip France of momentum.Iain Henderson – 7Bounded around the pitch with energy, exactly what Ireland needed to finish out the game, even if his individual contributions were not decisive. Will have been disappointed to get turned over in the 78th minute. Huge man and ball tackle on Chouly in the last minute to save the lost scrum.Jordi Murphy – not usedEoin Reddan – 7Like Henderson, his energy was as important as anything he did. Passed snappily and was clearly vocal in organising Ireland’s defence.Ian Madigan – 7Great touch-finder in the 74th minute and spent large parts of the closing stages covering deep for Ireland. Had one darting run in attack too, making a few valuable metres.Fergus McFadden – 7As ever, a willing and hard-working ball-carrier, putting the head down and scraping out yards late on.We’re sure you disagree with some of the ratings above, so let us know how you would have marked the players and why…Anscombe hails return of bubbly Ferris but admits Pienaar’s shoulder ‘dodgy’Winning a World Cup with BOD in 1998 and watching him soar ever since
PICTURES OF THE aftermath of the Boston marathon are emerging on Twitter and Facebook this evening:Picture tweeted by Tyler WaksteinThe apparent moment of the explosion. Picture broadcast by CBS News. Read more coverage of the Boston Marathon explosions> Image tweeted by The SEC LogoAn aerial view of the scene from EagleinBrightonTweeted by GlobeDavidLRyanABC News tweeted this picture of entrants being stopped as news of the explosion filtered throughMore: Two explosions at finish line of Boston Marathon
A WOMAN HAS been awarded €30,000 at an Equality Tribunal after her workplace failed to take appropriate action to allow her to return to work.This included the company refusing to provide her with a chair at a customer service desk “due to health and safety concerns”.The woman had worked with the employer, described as a “multi-national retailer”, for over 30 years on a customer service desk.However, issues first arose in 2001 when she underwent an operation to remove her colon, and four years later when she had two knee replacement operations due to osteoarthritis.Disabled bathroomThis meant she required easy access to a disabled bathroom – something not provided by her employer.She was permitted extra time to walk to a disabled bathroom located elsewhere in the shopping centre, “which was not kept clean”, as the only one available in store was located up a flight of stairs.She later broke her leg in a separate incident when abroad in 2011, and under orders from her doctor she would be unable to stand for long periods at work.Significant turnoverThe employer reneged on plans to build one within the store with plans for a revamp where shelved, with Equality Officer Orlaith Mannion ruling that the company’s significant turnover meant they could easily have afforded the €20,000 quoted to install one in-store.After attempting to return to work on a phased basis, the store did not follow her doctor’s requests that she be allowed to sit and to have a disabled bathroom installed.“A ‘just say no’ approach seems to be taken,” Mannion said.The woman was offered a job on checkouts, turned down as she would be required to lift heavy boxes, and was unable to return to her customer service job as work practices has changed.A chair was removed from behind this desk, as since there were now two staff in this area it would pose a “health and safety concern”.“Of course, the prerogative of any commercial enterprise is to make a profit but business reasons should not be confused with health and safety concerns,” Mannion wrote.It makes business sense for the respondent to require employees at the customer service desk to multi-task and the respondent has decided that employees do this more effectively while standing but this is a different (albeit not mutually exclusive) motivation to concern for employees’ health and safety.The store must now pay the woman €30,000 in compensation and conduct a review of employment policies.Read: School discriminated against a student because he was Protestant >More: Lithuanian woman awarded €34k in Mayo discrimination claim >
Source: Gerry Adams/Twitter Source: LMFM RADIO/Twitter 4. Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has said there was no secrecy about the letter he set to a judge, asking for leniency for a convicted drug dealer and father of four. The party has been keeping very quiet on the matter today. [RTÉ News]5. The police ombudsman in Northern Ireland has found no evidence that the RUC was involved in the murder attempt on Gerry Adams in 1984. The Sinn Féin president isn’t too keen on the report. @Cllrjoereilly is speaking to us about this fire in Claremont estate in Navan last night that destroyed four houses pic.twitter.com/w2d3jM9N4E— LMFM RADIO (@LMFMRADIO) June 19, 2014 Gerry Adams TD calls on Ombudsman to set aside Report http://t.co/AVcJnNm3Gr— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) June 19, 2014 6. A new report has revealed that nearly 25% of households in Ireland are jobless.7. Four homes in an estate in county Meath were totally destroyed in a fire overnight. WHAT’S THE STORY?1. The Interim Administrator to the CRC believes the organisation set up its charitable arm for the sole purpose of making sure it got as much money as possible from the HSE.And this is what he had to say about the CEO’s salary. Read more from the just-published report here.2. The European Court of Justice has sided with Karen Millen in its legal dispute with Dunnes Stores.3. The IMF is backing Joan Burton to be the next leader of the Labour party. The lads didn’t mention Alex White. 8. Facebook crashed today. And nobody knew what to do with themselves. Source: Cesare Giannetti/YouTubeCatch up on the rest of today’s stories>
Japanese pitcher Satoru Komiyama, who played for the New York Mets, believes that players like Shota should sacrifice for the team. That act of preservation is a major act of defiance. By refusing to take the mound at every opportunity, Shota is challenging the orthodoxy of Japanese high-school baseball, where sacrifice for the team, obedience to coaches, and endless throwing are sacrosanct. IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chairIWe’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.1. I drove my Merc to pick up food stamps Source: AP/Press Association ImagesWhen Darlene Cunha wrote about her experience of life on foodstamps, her story received as much criticism as it did praise. Here’s the original piece – what do you think?(Washington Post, approx 8 minutes reading time, 1799 words)I didn’t feel animosity coming from them, more wonderment, maybe a bit of resentment. The most embarrassing part was how I felt about myself.How I had so internalized the message of what poor people should or should not have that I felt ashamed to be there, with that car, getting food. As if I were not allowed the food because of the car. As if I were a bad person.2. Giving my daughter my last nameMolly Caro has always wanted to give her daughter her last name. So when she and her husband did just that, she was blown away by the response.(The Hairpin, approx 8 minutes reading time, 1789 words)We drove around her neighborhood and she showed me the street art she photographs. At some point, I told her about my baby’s last name. She lifted her hands off the steering wheel and yelled, “What?!” as if in prayer, as if the earth had shuddered.3. I was captured by the Taliban File: Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, centre, flanked by his bodyguards Source: AP/Press Association ImagesFilmmaker Sean Langan crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan illegally in order to secretly film Taliban and al-Qaeda training camps. But he was caught, and arrested. yet when he was eventually released, life got even tougher.(The Australian, approx 14 minutes reading time, 2802 words)My second mistake was agreeing to go on Richard & Judy [a TV chat show]. One minute I’m sitting in a dark room, waiting to have my head chopped off by the Taliban, and the next thing I know I’m sitting next to my fellow guest, Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz in Happy Days. Even before I opened my mouth, Judy’s eyes welled up and she started blubbing. Looking back, if you were to ask me to plot the development of my post-traumatic stress disorder on a chart, I would pinpoint that precise moment as the start. 5. Manic Pixie Dream GirlSource: ©Arroyo-OConnor/AFF-USA.comWe’ve all heard the phrase ‘manic pixie dream girl’ – and seen it used in many movie reviews. But the man who invited the phrase in 2007, Nathan Rabin, regrets it – and says it’s sexist.(Salon, approx 8 minutes reading time, 1509 words)It’s an archetype, I realized, that taps into a particular male fantasy: of being saved from depression and ennui by a fantasy woman who sweeps in like a glittery breeze to save you from yourself, then disappears once her work is done.6. Fighting in the Ukraine A Ukrainian government army’s APC, right, stands near a destroyed pro-Russian APC Source: AP/Press Association ImagesArtur Gasparyan (24), from Armenia, was recruited in Moscow in May to fight in eastern Ukraine. He spoke to Mumin Shakirov about what happened after he became a separatist fighter.(Radio Free Europe, approx 15 minutes reading time, 3148 words)They taught us to communicate using gestures and signs in order to recognize each other, to communicate silently at night, to give commands like back, forward, stop, get down, danger, and so on. Now I can speak with my hands like a deaf person. All this was taught by an instructor in civilian clothes.….AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… Source: David Rhodes/Wikimedia CommonsDavid Foster Wallace died in 2011. John Jeremiah Sullivan looks at his final piece of work – the unfinished The Pale King – and considers his legacy.(GQ, approx 36 minutes reading time, 7242 words)Here’s a thing that is hard to imagine: being so inventive a writer that when you die, the language is impoverished. That’s what Wallace’s suicide did, two and a half years ago. It wasn’t just a sad thing, it was a blow.More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore.ie > 4. Field of dreams Source: Nick WassBaseball has taken off hugely in Japan over the past few decades – so much so that some of the world’s best players come from the country. But is the regimented approach to learning actually harming some young men?(Wall Street Journal, approx 26 minutes reading time, 5288 words)
MOST PEOPLE HAVE come across this confusing quirk of YouTube.You’ve come across some viral video, be it a surfboarding seal or a dog having a meltdown over its own reflection in a mirror. After opening it up, you glance below the video to see just how viral it has gone – but the views are only a rather vague “301+”.If you go back to the video in a few hours or the next day, the views would have suddenly jumped considerably, revealing that thousands of people watched the video.Numberphile addressed the issue, and managed to find a Youtube analytics guru, Ted Hamilton, to explain it.301+ appears when the video accumulates enough views to merit YouTube taking a closer look to ensure that they’re all real.Closer lookWhile the video can still be viewed, and views recorded, they will not appear until YouTube analyse who was watched the video using a statistical verification process.This is to ensure the views haven’t been manipulated – for example, by using bots.Ted Hamilton said that Youtube sees views as a currency.“So, a significant effort must be made to eliminate counterfeit views,” he explained.Hamilton noted that when a video has a misleading preview or title, and the analytics show a lot of people clicking in only to immediately stop watching, some of these might not be added to the final total.Any other suspect views will be disregarded.But why does it stop at 301? And not 300, or 209?Turns out this is simply an idiosyncrasy dating back to the early days of YouTube. When the code was written to dictate when the views should be analysed in more detail, a less than or equal to sign was used, instead of less than. This means that the views must reach over 300 for the effect to kick in.Confused? Brady Haran of Numberphile explains it in more detail below: Source: Numberphile/YouTubeRead: This brilliant Tumblr celebrates sad, wistful YouTube comments >More: Indie music labels call in the big guns in their fight with YouTube >
Julian Assange is wanted by a number of people at the moment, but top of the list has to be the U.S. government for the Wikileaks data leaks. While Assange is not currently in the U.S., there will be a few smiles within government today as Assange has been arrested.At 9:30am BST this morning Mr Assange voluntarily turned himself in at a police station in London. The charges he faces are not to do with the information Wikileaks has been releasing, instead the European arrest warrant issued for Assange is relating to two counts of sexual assault against two Swedish women.AdChoices广告The voluntary nature of his arrest has been explained by Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, as a bid to understand the allegations and clear his name. He also made it clear any attempt to extradite Assange would be blocked.A court appearance is expected today and a large bail set for his release. While the charges pertain to sexual assault, it’s unclear if this arrest will be used as an opportunity to take further action against him relating to the Wikileaks data leaks.Read more at Sky NewsMatthew’s OpinionI think there will be a lot of phone calls happening right now between government officials, and in particular those of the U.S. and U.K. governments. Clearly this will be seen as an opportunity to detain Mr Assange for Wikileaks related offenses. But what has to be ascertained is whether any offense has actually occurred they could charge him for.Even if no further charges can be brought today, lots of pressure will be put on the UK authorities to keep Assange in custody while decisions are taken on what to do. The last thing Assange and his lawyer will want is to face extradition orders, or have to fight additional charges rather than focusing on clearing his name relating to sexual assault accusations.
Microsoft’s Kinect has already brought us invisibility, motion-tracked underwear and giant animated Minecraft cats. Now, it’s taking us to a galaxy far far away, thanks to researchers from the MIT Media Lab. Using Kinect and a PC equipped with three off-the-shelf graphics cards, the researchers were able to create a three-inch holographic Princess Leia running at around 15 frames per second, according to the university’s news office. One of the students in the group dressed as Leia and re-enacted the famous scene from Star Wars in real-time at a conference in San Francisco last weekend. It might not have quite the resolution as R2’s projector in A New Hope, but its one of the fastest methods of projecting a hologram around today. According to an article on geek-ceteraNews.org, a team at the University of Arizona was able to create a large hologram with much higher resolution using 16 cameras and a series of lasers. Unfortunately, this method was 30 times slower than MIT’s Kinect hack, refreshing the image once every two seconds. Maybe the most impressive thing about this hack was that the MIT researchers only got their hands on a Kinect around the end of December, giving them about a month to not only create the hologram, but double the frame rate from 7.5 frames per second to 15. Before you run out and wire up your own droids with appeals to Ben Kenobi, keep in mind that there is still one component of the setup that can’t be bought in stores. The holographic display used in the project has been developed by MIT since the late-1980s by two groups of professors and their students. The current display, called the Mark-II, is the successor to the original. Professor Michael Bove said his group is developing a larger and cheaper display using the same technology. Here’s a video of the hologram, projected in real-time over the Internet: [via MIT News Office, geek-ceteraNews.org]
Every time I go through airport security, I’m always a bit amazed by how many people seem take by surprise over the protocol: shoes off, laptops out, liquids in bag. Is it that these people haven’t flown in the past several years? Or are they just unable to process these now-standard security procedures? Perhaps the problem is that there’s never been a hologram to teach them what to do.Thankfully, London’s Luton Airport has installed just that. Holly and Graham (get it?) were unveiled today. The life-sized holograms will be standing by the security line, alerting passengers of proper travel procedure. AdChoices广告According to a representative for the airport, the holograms won’t be replacing existing security staff, just helping the line flow a bit more smoothly. Video after the jump.
LG could change the way phone manufactures design smartphones forever. LG will debut the first-ever 3D smartphone on Valentine’s Day. LG’s latest phone is called LG Optimus 3D. It will allow people to see 3D without having to wear those pesky glasses.LG has confirmed that they will show the world the newest and fanciest phone during the Mobile World Congress. The LG Optimus 3D will also have a dual-core processor, multichannel RAM, two cameras (front ended and rear 3D camera), HDMI, and DLNA support. As of this time we do not know which phone carrier will carry the LG Optimus 3D or when it will hit the market. Hopefully LG will release that info during the debut of the phone later on this month. LG is taking a large risk with this and it could set a new bar for the industry. I have to say that is very exciting news for the smartphone industry as a whole. Best of all, Android might even get a bigger boost because of this upcoming phone.Via Ars Technica
Like most other 9-year old boys his age, Caine Monroy lives for the days when he and his family can make a trip to Shakey’s Pizza to scarf down a slice and play some exciting games. Where Caine differs from his peers is in the fact that he decided that he should have the ability to not only play games of skill and chance whenever he wants, but that everyone else should as well. While hanging out at his dad’s used auto parts store in East L.A., Caine decided he was going to build his very own working arcade out of that empty cardboard boxes that were lying around the shop. Before you dismiss this as a child’s pretend dreamworld, you need to watch the video — every one of Monroy’s cardboard creations actually work.This inventive young man spent months creating cardboard replicas of his favorite games at Shakey’s, such as a soccer shootout, basketball point scramble, and even a working claw game (creating using an S hook and string). He had asked his dad if he could buy a real claw game, but was encouraged to build one instead.After a lot of hard work and design, as well as creating his own t-shirt labeling him as the arcade’s lone staff member, Caine was set to open up to the public. Unfortunately, because of the industrial location of the auto parts store no one came to the grand opening. Caine didn’t lose hope though, he continued to sit at his creation on Saturdays and Sundays, hoping for a customer. Several weeks went by, and Caine’s Arcade became something of a joke to his family who were humoring his excitement. Then one day everything changed when filmmaker and animator Nirvan Mullick walked into the store looking for a door handle for his ’96 Corolla.Mullick was immediately enchanted by what he saw in front of him at Caine’s Arcade. He was amazed at the level of detail and thought that the boy had put into everything, including the elaborate “Fun Pass” system that he had created. To get four turns at the different games, Monroy was charging $1.00, but for just $2.00 a person could get a Fun Pass giving them 500 plays. Mullick bought the $2.00 pass and began to play the various games. To validate his fun pass, Monroy had bought and installed a series of calculators on each “machine.” On the back of each Fun Pass Monroy placed a unique number, which when punched into each calculator in addition to the check mark (square-root button) would give a much longer number that was also written on the back of the pass. While this isn’t exactly a secure validation system, the fact that Monroy even thought to include one is pretty impressive.After having a chat with Monroy’s father, Mullick was surprised to learn that he was the first customer Caine’s arcade had ever had. He simply couldn’t figure out why no one could see the genius behind the cardboard inventions. Deciding that something should be done about the situation, Mullick asked permission to make a short film about Caine and his arcade and to surprise him by bringing a ton of people in to try out the games by leveraging social media. Monroy’s father agreed, and the effort was on.Mullick went home and began posting on different social media networks about his find in East L.A., and made plans for a surprise flash-mob to come and patronize Caine’s Arcade. The effort quickly went viral with local news stations covering the effort, all without Caine knowing. The result, as you saw in the video above, was a few hundred eager people waiting to support the genius and vision of a very special little boy. You can’t help but to get emotional watching the outpouring of admiration and support as people played Caine’s games and won prizes.Mullick realized pretty quickly that his short-film about Caine’s Arcade was going to be something of an internet phenomenon, so he decided to setup a college fund for Monroy so that the boy could pursue his dreams of becoming an engineer and someday work with real arcade games. Right now almost $83,000 has been raised, which is an indicator to how awesome this story is.Read more at the Caine’s Arcade blog, via Nirvan Mullick’s Vimeo page.
You’ve probably heard of a little (really, physically little) device called the Raspberry Pi. This is a super-small form factor Linux PC running on a 700MHz ARM chip with 256MB of RAM that sells for $25. As with all gadgets these days, it’s not a real product until someone has ported Android to it. Today, the Raspberry Pi became a real gadget.On the Raspberry Pi blog, developers posted the first screenshots and video of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich running on the Raspberry Pi. It has apparently been in the works internally for a few months, but those involved have opted to keep it under wraps until now.The custom build of Android, pulled from the Android Open Source Project libraries, is already coming along nicely on the the Raspberry Pi’s modest hardware. Most of the apps you’re familiar with are missing because this is a bone stock version of the OS with no closed-source code. Already the UI is fairly fluid, stock mouse/keyboard input is working, and hardware accelerated video is functional. Audio is still the one major feature that needs work.In the video preview, we see the Gallery app working to index and play back videos. The app drawer seems snappy, and the YouTube app (likely sideloaded) can stream HD video quite well. The home screen also appears to work. The developers are careful to point out that some of the software doesn’t match what is currently available in GitHub, but the two code lines might be merged soon.via Raspberry Pi
The third annual Red Bull Creation event has boiled down to six finalists, and each of them is just as great as the next.In a couple of weeks, six teams will gather in Brooklyn, NY for a 72-hour competition to build something involving a custom-made, Arduino-controllable board made by Red Bull. The “Turbull Encabulator” has to be involved in the project in some critical way, and the winning team gets $10,000. This is the Red Bull Creation contest, and for the last couple of years it has spawned a ton of absolutely silly-yet-incredible inventions from makers and hackers all over the world. The six finalists for the event this year, chosen from hundreds of YouTube submissions, had one rule — to make something awesome with LEDs.The Sky StrikerA futuristic take on the classic “ring the bell” strongman game, this creation shoots a beam of light up a 40-foot glowing tower after striking the pad with the foam hammer. The logic board in this glowing contraption calculates the force of the strike and uses it to measure how high to shoot the light. If you reach the top, the whole tower starts pulsing colors. Everything about this project looks and feels handmade, which is part of what makes it so amazing.The RainbowTronThis Creation uses infrared-sensitive tiles to create a large touch board, which in turn allows the user to create a musical beat by assigning different colors to the various places along the grid. The end result is a fun board that lets anyone who walks up to it create their own basic repeating beat. This project took significantly longer than 72 hours to build and demonstrate, but it’s pretty clear this team has the technical knowledge to pull off something fun.Let there be LightUsing a coffee shop, the Turbull Encabulator, and doppler radar detectors, the Maker Twins turned a street corner into an interactive video art display in Phoenix, AZ. As people passed by the shop on the night this was demonstrated, interactive videos would be projected onto the coated glass windows and show everything from dogs, to swimming people, to giant hands. Judging from their video, this team is really big on presentation and likes to have a lot of fun.99 (Red Bull)oonsWith a quadcopter, programmable LEDs, and a ton of balloons, team 1.21 Jigawatts made a slightly-heavier-than-air craft that knows when it is about to hit the ground. When it gets close, the entire craft will start pulsing colors to simulate a hot air balloon being filled with hot air, and the quadcopter will kick in, saving it from touching the ground. As long as it has power and doesn’t crash into anything that could damage the balloons, this machine will keep itself in the air.PersistenceLast year’s finalists MB Labs added a Raspberry Pi to their Turbull Encabulator along with some UV LEDs to make a web-aware light printer they call Persistence. The 6-foot robotic arm paints UV light on a phosphorescent canvas by rotating all the way around the center of the wall. The individual LEDs turn on and off to draw the image on the canvas, which will be all but faded before the next pass by the wand. For the presentation, the developers opened their website and a live cam to show users that they could draw whatever they wanted and have it show up on the wall.Tic Tac WhoahIf you’ve ever played Tic-tac-toe on a massive board of any kind, or even just drawn it with massive symbols in the sand, it can be deeply satisfying. North Street Labs decided to make a board that you could walk across and play by stomping on large red buttons for the selection you wanted to make. Each player is assigned their own color at the beginning of the game, and the lines in between the board will pulse and glow when a winner is decided. It’s an incredibly polished creation, done well enough that multiple adults can walk across the board and play the game safely.The final contest will be held on June 12, and whichever of these six teams has the best project at the end of that 72-hour contest is sure to have assembled something incredibly cool for all of us to enjoy.