Top Story –
Avatar becomes the fastest movie ever to achieve $1bn (£625.6m) in ticket sales around the world according to 20th Century Fox and it’s done it in just 17 days. Apparently it is the most expensive film ever made. The film Lord of the Rings – The Return of The King was the highest grossing film in the last decade only making $1.12bn in total. Avatar Poster (copyright 20th Century Fox)
Top Stories – Not like clockwork –
A Swiss millionaire is given a record speeding fine of $290,000 (£180,000) after he caught driving a red Ferrari at 137km/h (85mph) through a village. The penalty based on the unnamed motorist’s wealth – assessed by the court as $22.7m (£14.1m) – and because he was a repeat offender.
New Brand for Perry –
It’s revealed that Russell Brand and Katy Perry got engaged when on holiday in India. Katy Perry and Russell Brand
Top Story – Bootiful –
Researcher Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos, of Oxford University announces that carrying extra weight on your hips, bum and thighs is good for your health, protecting against heart and metabolic problems but fat around the tummy is bad.
Top Stories – Baa-urp – pardon me –
Scientists in Australia trying to create a new way to tackle greenhouse gases – the burp-free sheep. The Australian Sheep Co-operative Research Centre is conducting experiments with 700 sheep from 20 different genetic lines.
Pretty tough woman –
The University of California interviewed 156 female students to gauge their temperament and how they handled conflict and found women who rated themselves as pretty displayed a “war-like” streak when fighting battles to get their own way. CLICK TO SEE MORE STUFF FROM THIS DAY…
Top Stories – Entente non-concordial –
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has reacted to criticism of China in a speech on Internet censorship made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on the United States government “to respect the truth and to stop using the so-called Internet freedom question to level baseless accusations.”
One very big step for a man –
50 years since the American Joe Kittinger made the highest skydive by leaping from a balloon at 102,800ft, Austrian Felix Baumgartner, who is famous for stunts such as jumping off the Petronas Towers, plans to jump from a balloon sent up to 120,000 ft (37km) later this year. Red Bull will sponsor the attempt. Felix Baumgartner
Top Video –
Joe Kittinger’s record breaking skydive
Top Story – Bad lip syncing –
Two Chinese pop singers face fines of up to $12,000 (£7,400) for allegedly miming at a concert. Miming was banned in China after a girl was revealed to have lip-synced at the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Top Stories – Haiti man alive after being buried for 14 days –
14 days after the devastating earthquake that has killed tens of thousands in Haiti, Rico Dibrivell, has been pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building the capital. U.S. troops rescued the 35-year-old from the ruins in Port-au-Prince.
Avatar mountain in China –
A Chinese mountain has been renamed in honour of the film Avatar, after it apparently inspired scenery in the movie. The Southern Sky Column in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, will now be known as the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain. Avatar has become the most popular film ever in China, making $80m (£50m) at the box office so far.
Top Story –
New figures show an 80 per cent rise in breast reduction operations carried out on men. The annual audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reveals its members carried out 581 male breast reductions last year, up from 323 in 2008. Five years ago just 22 such procedures were performed on men. The procedure is now the third most popular cosmetic operation for men behind nose jobs and eyelid operations to remove fat. [Daily Telegraph]
Top Story – Lost in paradise –
The season premiere of Lost draws more than 10,000 fans greeted to Waikiki beach. Fans started queuing up 12 hours before the event hoping to get a glimpse of actors Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim and Michael Emerson. Sitting on beach towels and lawn chairs, they watched the episode that kicks off the sixth and final season of the castaway drama. See trailer below.
Brangelina back as a single ?
They were rumoured to have consulted lawyers over custody of their six children and dividing their £205million fortune. But last night, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie proved they were still very much an item as they attended the Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles. While declining to pose together on the red carpet at the star-studded bash, the couple were seen being ‘extremely affectionate’ as they mingled with their peers. [Daily Mail]
Chubby hedgehogs sent to ‘fat club’ to diet –
A group of overweight hedgehogs are to be given a helping hand in losing their winter weight thanks to a special ‘fat club’. The hedgehogs started piling on the pounds because they spent longer than usual in the care of the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife. They were kept in their warm enclosures during the severe weather conditions which hit the country in December and January, because the cold could have killed them. (See List of the Day) [Daily Telegraph] A European Hedgehog
Chinese police admit enormous number of spies –
A Chinese police chief has said he uses more than 12,000 spies to inform on a remote county of just 400,000 people, an admission that lays bare the enormous scale of China’s surveillance network. Liu Xingchen, the 56-year-old assistant to the head of Kailu County, a farming region in Inner Mongolia, said his vast network of informants meant he could be “very sensitive” to any signs of dissent and protest. In an interview with Xinhua, the government-run news agency, Mr Liu described how he was able to “quickly and accurately discover all sorts of information that might destabilise society”. “Every policeman and auxiliary policeman, no matter their division or particular police station, has to establish at least 20 informants in their community, village, work unit and so on. Altogether, these add up to 10,000 spies. “Then the actual criminal units, the economic crimes unit, the Domestic Security Department, the Public Information Security Supervision and so on will establish a further five ‘eyes and ears’.
“At the latest count, our bureau has established 12,093 informants,” he said. [Daily Telegraph]
Google Buzz takes on Facebook and Twitter –
Google has launched a new tool that will allow users of its email service to share their feelings with other users, in an effort to take on social networking giants Facebook and Twitter head-on. Google Buzz, as the new application is called, essentially allows Gmail users to write status updates which other users can see, but goes further by allowing them to aggregate other services in an attempt to make it easier to operate in the increasingly frustrating information-heavy online environment. Buzz goes a number of steps further, however, by allowing users to create a Google profile page, which can be seen not just by friends but by the entire web if so desired, and will guide users to follow the people they email and chat with the most. It will also allows posts to include links, YouTube videos, pictures from Google’s Picasa hosting service. (See Video of the Day) [Daily Telegraph]
Australians puzzled as Queen reclaims ‘head of state’ title –
Buckingham Palace has raised eyebrows in Australia by referring to the Queen as the country’s “head of state” in an apparent break in convention. The title is usually given to the Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, while the Queen is considered the country’s sovereign.
The difference is significant as the emerging role of the Governor-General has often been cited by pro-monarchists as evidence Australia does not need to become a republic. The trigger for the confusion was an announcement by Buckingham Palace that the Queen would be addressing the UN General Assembly in July. It arrived in a cable written by Gary Quinlan, Australia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, headed: “United Nations: General Assembly – Address by Australian Head of State.” [Daily Telegraph] Her Majesty the Queen
Camera dropped in the ocean is returned by fisherman 18 months later –
A woman is to be reunited with a camera her husband dropped off the edge of the QM2 cruise ship after a fisherman caught it in his net and put the photographs online. Barbara and Dennis Gregory, 65, from Johannesburg, South Africa, thought they would never see the Nikon P90 again after it fell into the ocean en-route from New York to Southampton in 2008. But 16 months later Benito Estevez, a fisherman from Spain, found the camera in his nets with the photos still intact on the memory card. He decided to trace the owners and posted five pictures online which showed Mrs Gregory posing on the deck of the ship and her husband wearing a woolly tourist hat from Oxford. The story was picked up by the British media and Laura De Klein, a friend of the couple who lives in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, recognised them and got in touch. [Daily Telegraph]
Chilean mint spells country’s name wrong on coins –
The general manager of the Chilean mint has been fired after thousands of coins were issued bearing a howling error. On the 2008 batch of 50 peso coins, which are worth about 6p, the country’s name was misspelt. Instead of C-H-I-L-E, the coins had C-H-I-I-E stamped on them, the BBC reports.
If that wasn’t bad enough, no one noticed the spelling mistake until late 2009. The coins have since become collectors’ items and the mint says it has no plans to take them out of circulation. Locals have even been hoarding the coins in the hope they will rise in value. However, the mistake has cost the mint’s general manager, Gregorio Iniguez, and several other employees, their jobs. [Daily Telegraph]
Royal pregnancy: Hoax call fools Duchess of Cambridge hospital –
The hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge says it “deeply regrets” giving information about her to hoax callers from a radio station. Australian DJs posing as the Queen and Prince Charles got details from a nurse at King Edward VII hospital in central London. The hospital said confidentiality was taken seriously and telephone protocols are under review. 2Day FM said it was surprised to be put through but “sincerely apologises”. [BBC] Duchess of Cambridge
Frankie Dettori banned for six months after failing drugs test –
Jockey Frankie Dettori has been given a six-month ban from racing after failing a drugs test in France. The 41-year-old, who has more than 3,000 career wins, tested positive for a banned substance on 16 September 2012. The suspension imposed by French racing authority France Galop will run until 19 May 2013, and will apply worldwide for the three-time champion jockey. [BBC] Frankie Dettori
American businessman John McAfee is arrested in Guatemala following an alleged illegal entry after leaving Belize where he is wanted for questioning over the death of fellow American Gregory Faull. (Reuters)
Bulldog puppy thief –
Police are hunting thieves who stole one of Britain’s rarest and most valuable puppies worth a whopping £16,000 – because it’s purple. The cute eight-week old British bulldog puppy called Lila is so valuable because of her lilac colouring. Officers say it was snatched from his breeder by a man who was pretending to buy the puppy. The black man with short afro hair grabbed the pup when the specialist breeder’s back was turned and ran out of the home – knocking a female relative to the ground. [Daily Mail]
Volkswagen to recall over 580,000 cars in China: government –
Volkswagen AG told China’s quality watchdog that it planned to recall more than 580,000 cars in the country, after the agency launched an investigation in August. Volkswagen AG’s joint venture in China, FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co Ltd, will recall 563,605 New Sagitar models produced between May 2011 and May 2014 due to a problem with the rear axle arm of the cars, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement on its website. Volkswagen is also recalling 17,485 imported Beetles due to the same axle problem. [Reuters]
Parisian vandals destroy 24ft art sculpture that resembled a ‘giant sex toy’ after claims it ‘humiliated’ the city –
Vandals today destroyed an art sculpture in central Paris ‘because it looked like a giant sex toy’. Looming above the city’s Place Vendome, the 24ft tall piece, created by American artist Paul McCarthy, was meant to look like a green inflatable Christmas tree. But the artwork, simple entitled ‘Tree’, raised eyebrows in the French capital because of its uncanny resemblance to a certain type of sex toy. Today it was left as a giant pile of deflated plastic after vandals apparently took a number of sharp objects to it overnight. The incident came after claims that it ‘humiliated’ the French capital. [Daily Mail] See Video of the Day
Video of the Day –
US artist Paul McCarthy brings giant inflatable ‘Tree’ to Paris
Cricketer Phillip Hughes dies –
Australian batsman Phillip Hughes has died 2 days after being struck by a ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Hughes was making a fine case for his Test recall, unbeaten on his old home ground at the SCG on 63 when he missed an attempted hook at Sean Abbott and was hit on an area of his lower head and neck which was unprotected by his helmet as he swivelled. He fell to the ground, and was rushed to hospital where he never regained consciousness. [Daily Telegraph] Phillip Hughes in 2010
Twitter misrepresents the real world, computer scientists warn –
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook should not be used to gauge human behaviour or trends because they are too biased, scientists have warned. Increasingly, social researchers and media organisations use sites to glean information about public views and interests. But computer scientists at McGill University in Montreal and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh warn that the data omits the opinion of large portions of the population who are either under-represented, or who choose not to engage in social media. [Daily Telegraph]
Sheep flock to Eiffel Tower as French farmers cry wolf –
French farmers flocked to the Eiffel Tower on Thursday, sheep in tow, to express their frustration over increasing attacks by wolves which some say have been “overprotected” by the government. Sheep lazily grazed at the foot of the French capital’s most famous monument as the farmers gathered under grey skies to demand an effective plan to stop the wolf attacks. “Today farmers, tomorrow unemployed,” read one banner, while one of the protesters dressed as a wolf carried around a lamb. [Daily Telegraph] The Eiffel Tower
Foggy wins down under –
Former motorbike rider Carl Fogarty, four time winner of the World Superbike Championship, has won the British “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” in Australia. The 49-year-old known as Foggy beat former X Factor contestant Jake Quickenden and TV presenter Melanie Sykes in the final of the ITV show. Carl Fogarty
LA Galaxy win MLS again –
Californian soccer team LA Galaxy have won a fifth Major League Soccer (MLS) title with a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution in the championship-deciding MLS Cup. LA have won three of the last four league titles and Irish striker Robbie Keane grabbed an extra-time winner to give the Galaxy the victory after New England’s Chris Tierney had cancelled out Gyasi Zardes’ opener for LA. (See List of The Day) Robbie Keane
Royal US visit starts –
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in New York for a tour of the east coast of the United States during which Prince William will meet President Barack Obama. The Royal couple previously met the Obama’s after their wedding in 2011. The Royals meeting the President and Mrs Obama in London in 2011
Not out of the woods yet –
Tiger Woods return to competition golf ends badly as he finishes last in the 18 player Hero World Challenge tournament in Florida and is physically sick on the fairway. He has not played competitively for four months due to back pain. Tiger Woods
Star Wars character names posted by director –
The names of characters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to be released in December 2015 have been revealed in a mocked-up set of trading cards. John Boyega will be Finn, Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron and Daisy Ridley’s character is called Rey. Director JJ Abrams confirmed the names via some old school trading cards, in reference to when the Star Wars films were first released in the 1970s. Oscar Issac
World’s longest ship launched –
Shanghai-based marine-shipping company China Shipping Container Lines has launched the world’s largest container ship, the “CSCL Globe”. The ship is more than 400m (1,312ft or a quarter of a mile) long, 56.8m (186ft) wide, 73m (240ft) high and 186,000 tonnes gross. The ship, which is longer than four football pitches, is making its maiden voyage from Shanghai to Europe. The CSCL Globe
Marriage proposal fail –
A Dutchman’s attempt at a romantic wedding proposal using a mobile crane has resulted in the crane falling over and smashing into a neighbour’s roof. The man had rented a crane in the central town of Ijsselstein to descend in front of his girlfriend’s bedroom window, play her a song and ask her to marry him. Despite the disaster in which no-one was hurt, his girlfriend agreed to marry him.
Pope avoids Dalai Lama meeting –
Pope Francis will not meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama because of the “delicate situation” with China, according to the Vatican. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet and China describes him as a separatist. The Vatican does not want to jeopardise improving relations between itself and China. Pope Francis
Ben Haenow wins X Factor 2014 –
Ben Haenow has been named this year’s UK X Factor winner after going head-to-head with Fleur East in the 2014 final at Wembley Arena. The singer from Croydon, south London, was chosen by a public vote with over 10 million votes cast. Mel B the former Spice Girl and one of the four judges, missed the final due to illness. Tulisa Contostavlos stood in as her replacement. Mel B
FIFA dismiss complaints over report –
A complaint by US lawyer Michael Garcia who spent two years investigating World Cup corruption claims for Fifa has been dismissed by football’s governing body. Garcia’s findings were released as a 42-page summary by FIFA-appointed independent judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. Garcia said his summary was “incomplete and erroneous”. There have been calls to release the full report in the wake of Garcia’s complaint, but FIFA president Sepp Blater has said it cannot do so for legal reasons. Sepp Blatter at the 2014 FIFA Tournament Announcement in 2007
Indecent proposal –
A Dutchman’s attempt at a romantic wedding proposal using a mobile crane has resulted in the crane falling over and smashing into a neighbour’s roof. The man had rented a crane in the central town of Ijsselstein to descend in front of his girlfriend’s bedroom window, play her a song and ask her to marry him. Despite the disaster, in which no-one was hurt, his girlfriend accepted his offer.
Smithy OBE –
It’s announced that James Corden known for his role as Smithy in Gavin and Stacey, presenting Sky TV’s In A League of Their Own and now taking on hosting The Late Late Show in the US is to receive an OBE (Order of the British Empire) gong for his charitable work. Ruth Jones & James Corden
Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton separate –
Helena Bonham Carter has announces that she has split from the film director Tim Burton after 13 years together and having 2 children. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter
Gloves off –
In the US Amazon and Walmart sell out of DVDs of Team America which parodied the former North Korea leader Kim Jong-il. The reason? Another film – The Interview – is about to get its cinema release after a major hacking situation at Sony. President Obama apparently approves of the delayed Christmas Day premiere. Kim Song, a North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, called the movie an ‘unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.’
Cash grab –
In Hong Kong a van carrying HK$35m – about $4.5m or £3m – in used notes crashed on a motorway – cue dozens leaving their cars and grabbing a bundle. About HK$15 disappeared.
You’d let him win wouldn’t you? –
Prince Harry led his Sandringham workers team to a 7-2 victory in a football (soccer) match against local villagers in Scotland sponsored by the Black Horse Inn. Top royal endorsement. Prince Harry
Shaken and stirred –
In Russia vodka prices have been rising so much that President Vladimir Putin calls on his government to curb price rises on the spirit. Half a litre costs 220 roubles (about $4.10)
Feel good moment –
A homeless man is given $100 and hidden cameras follow him into a liquor store where he buys food which he shares with other homeless people. 12 million hits on YouTube (see Video of the Day)
Pub crawl goes viral –
And a fancy dress pub crawl in Old Conwyn, North Wales featuring made up props from the classic BBC comedy show Only Fools and Horses went viral(ish) on YouTube
Cheapskate footballers conned –
Players at an English Premier League football club have apparently lost £30,000 to fraudsters in a scam. West Ham United footballer Andy Carroll and manager Sam Allardyce paid £11,000 for cut-price Fortnum & Mason hampers and Harrods champagne last month – and the pair but never saw the goods delivered. Andy Carroll
Coding error? –
Silicon Valley security firm Norse has said the massive hack on Sony earlier this year may not have been made by North Korea but by a disgruntled group of former employees headed by a person called Lena who was laid off last May.
More thumb action for 2015 –
New fashion app Grabble works like Tinder but with fashion items instead of potential dates being “thrown” or grabbed”.
Hanging around –
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (@GovChristie) was left hanging after a Dallas Cowboys win on Sunday, when his high-5 appeal was ignored. Political commentators have decided that it will damage his chances of becoming a Republican presidential candidate.
Google extends Chromecast to audio –
The Chromecast dongle is now able to plug into amplifiers and powered speakers to “cast” music from any music app. Similar to the video service, users use their phone to control the music, which is then played directly through the speaker from a wi-fi router. Apps already compatible include Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio and TuneIn. Spotify is currently included.
Ghost in the Shell –
Scarlett Johansson to play Motoko Kusanagi in the film version of Ghost in the Shell Scarlett Johansson
Beer with balls –
The Stedji brewery in Iceland has announced its new beer will be flavoured with smoked fin whale testicles. The Hvalur 2 beer is being sold for a limited period to mark the Icelandic midwinter month of Thorri. The fin whale is the second-largest living mammal after the blue whale and can grow up to 27m (88ft).
Trevor “Dozy” Ward-Davies dies –
Trevor Ward-Davies, best known as Dozy from the 60s pop group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, died today at the age of 70 after a short illness. The bass guitarist was a founder member of the band that had hits in the 60s with “Hold Tight!”, “Bend It!” and the legendary UK number one “The Legend of Xanadu” complete with whip-crack sound effects. Between 1965 and 1969, the group spent more weeks in the UK singles charts than the Beatles. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich in 1967
Model restaurant –
A restaurant in Zhengzhou, central Henan province, China, can get their meal for free if they are selected by staff from a cosmetic surgery as one of the best-looking within a group of diners. People have their photos taken on arrival and the five diners judged most attractive get a free meal.
Fake US tweets of start of World War 3 –
The New York Post and United Press International (UPI) have had their Twitter accounts hacked and fake tweets on economic and military news posted. On UPI’s Twitter feed the Pope was quoted as saying that “World War III has begun” and the NY Post had a tweet that hostilities had broken out between the United States and China. The attacks follow the ones on US Central Command on 12th January 2015.
Stephen Fry gets married –
Comedian, actor and QI presenter Stephen Fry (57) marries his 27-year-old partner Elliot Spencer and announced it in a tweet:
His “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” comedy partner and star of House M.D. Hugh Laurie responded with his own tweet:
Plans for the wedding at Dereham Registration Office in Norfolk were revealed on January 6th 2015
New running on water record –
Shi Liliang, a monk from Quanzhou, southeast China’s Fujian province, has broken his own record for running on plywood sheets floating on water. He managed a distance of 120 meters in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan province breaking his previous best of 118 meters that he had kept.
King Abdulla dies –
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died today and his brother Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king. King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir in a move designed to reduce fears of a succession crisis. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia The new King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman
Tennis player asked to do the twirl –
Tennis Australia commentator Ian Cohen has asked Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard “to give it a twirl” to show off her outfit after her second-round win over Kiki Bertens in the Australian Open causing upset. Bouchard who lost in the final at Wimbledon in 2014 said “… I’m fine with being asked to twirl if they ask the guys to flex their muscles and stuff.”
It’s teleporting Jim, but not as we know it –
Scientists from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany have invented a real-life teleporter system that can scan in an object and “beam it” to another location. Not quite the level of sophistication seen in Star Trek, the system uses destructive scanning, digital transmission and 3D printing.
Moving to the BEET? –
UK communications giant Telecoms group BT buys the mobile operator EE for £12.5bn, with the deal covering fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and TV. Deutsche Telecom will hold 12% in the new combined business and have a seat on the board. Orange will receive a 4% stake, as well as about £3.4bn in cash. BT says it plans to raise £1bn through a placing of new shares to fund the deal.
Argentine President Chinese faux pas –
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has tweeted an old joke during her visit to China, making fun at how the Chinese speak. She made reference to how some Chinese struggle to pronounce the letter “r”. Tweeting in Spanish, she wondered whether those at an event about trade were there for “lice” and “petloleum” which refers to critics accusing her supporters of attending party events only so they can get a free sandwich and a soft drink. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Blade Runner 2 to be made –
Harrison Ford will reprise his role as the ambiguous bounty hunter Rick Deckard in a sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner. Variety reports that the Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve is close to signing on as director, replacing Ridley Scott, who will produce. Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original screenplay, has written the sequel with The Green Lantern writer Michael Green. [Daily Telegraph] Harrison Ford
Round hens egg sells for £480 –
A “perfectly spherical” chicken egg has sold for an “unbelievable” £480 on the internet auction site eBay. Kim Broughton found one of her hens – now renamed Ping Pong – had laid the round egg in her garden in Latchingdon, Essex, on 17 February – Pancake Day. She decided to auction the egg in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust after a friend’s son died from the disease. Ms Broughton, 44, said she imagined the buyer was interested in preserving, rather than eating, the unusual egg. [BBC] The round egg
China blocks pollution documentary –
The authorities in China have a removed from websites a popular documentary which highlights the country’s severe pollution problem. Under the Dome explains the social and health costs of pollution, and was watched by more than 100 million people online, sparking debates. It was removed just two days after Premier Li Keqiang called pollution a blight on people’s lives. [BBC]
NASA probe reaches Ceres –
The US space agency’s Dawn probe has gone into orbit around Ceres, the largest object in the Solar System between Mars and Jupiter. A signal from the satellite confirming its status was received by ground stations at 13:36 GMT. Ceres is the first of the dwarf planets to be visited by a spacecraft. Scientists hope to glean information from the object that can tell them about the Solar System’s beginnings, four and a half billion years ago. Dawn has taken 7.5 years to reach its destination. Its arrival has seen it pass behind the dwarf to its “dark side”. [BBC] The Dawn probe (by NASA)
“25 0” licence plate sells for £518,000 –
When the auctioneer’s hammer came down, classic car dealer John Collins was looking at a bill of £518,000. But it was not a rare Ferrari that he had bought. It was a number plate. The registration plate “25 O” is the most expensive ever bought at a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) auction. Even so, Mr Collins, who owns classic Ferrari dealer Talacrest, says he would have bid more at the auction for the plate which matches the 250 model. [BBC]
Judges sacked for watching porn in office –
Three judges have been sacked for viewing pornographic material via their official IT accounts, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has said.
The pornography was not illegal in content, a spokesman added. However the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded it was an “inexcusable misuse” of their official accounts and “wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office holder”. District Judge Timothy Bowles, Immigration Judge Warren Grant and Deputy District Judge and Recorder Peter Bullock have been removed from office. [BBC]
Swiss plan for Europe’s tallest skyscraper… in ski-resort –
Plans are being drawn up to build the tallest skyscraper in Europe at a remote spa resort high in the Swiss Alps. The proposed 1,250-feet high building would tower over London’s Shard, which measures a mere 1,015 feet. Developers want to build it on the outskirts of Vals, a tiny spa town of just 1,000 people, nestled 4,000 feet up in the Swiss Alps. It is a proposed luxury hotel, aimed at guests from the Middle East and Asia. The proposed tower will reportedly contain around 100 suites, with the cheapest priced at around 1,000 Swiss francs (£675) a night, and the most expensive at an eye-watering 25,000 Swiss francs (£16,000). [Daily Telegraph] See List of the Day.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party has won a surprise victory in Israel’s election. Exit polls had forecast a dead heat but with almost all votes counted, results give Likud a clear lead over its main rival, the centre-left Zionist Union. The outcome gives Mr Netanyahu a strong chance of forming a right-wing coalition government. It puts the incumbent on course to clinch a fourth term and become Israel’s longest-serving prime minster. [BBC] Benjamin Netanyahu
Never slip on ice again with glass shard shoes –
Slipping on ice need never happen again after scientists invented a new type of rubber sole for shoes which allows the wearer to walk easily, even up treacherous slopes. Canadian researchers have developed a new material which contains microscopic glass fibres which act as tiny spikes, gripping the ground in even the most nerve-jangling icy weather. [Daily Telegraph]
Taylor Swift buys .porn and .adult web domain names –
Taylor Swift has bought the web domain names TaylorSwift.porn and TaylorSwift.adult. The addresses are part of a public sale by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The web domain names go on sale to the public on 1 June but some stars and companies are being given the opportunity to buy them ahead of then. Microsoft Office has registered Office.porn and Office.adult. Domains can cost up to $2,500 (£1,674). However, .porn and .adult are $99 (£66). In January Taylor Swift applied to trademark five phrases from her latest album 1989 with the US government. [BBC]
Chinese state company agrees to buy Italy’s Pirelli –
China’s biggest state-owned chemical company said Monday it plans to buy Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli, adding to a string of high-profile Chinese corporate purchases in Europe. ChemChina said it has agreed to buy a 26.2 percent stake in Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. from its biggest shareholder, Camfin S.p.A., which is controlled by the family of Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera. The company said it would offer to buy the remaining outstanding shares. [AP] The fate of the famous Pirelli calendar is unknown. Pirelli Calendar November 2015 – Gigi Hadid [From Vogue.com]
French businessman awarded compensation after police mistook soap for cocaine –
Spain’s Ministry of Justice has awarded a French businessman €8,400 (£6,136) in compensation for doing jail time after Spanish police mistook his van-load of soap for a cocaine shipment. Jacques Benoit Fiocconi spent more than two months in a Spanish prison waiting for forensic scientists to correctly identify the fragrant cargo and clear his name. Mr Fiocconi had asked the Spanish Ministry of Justice for €83,000 to cover financial losses and moral damages resulting from his incarceration. The Corsica-based cosmetics entrepreneur was arrested in November 2012 when driving along the AP-7 motorway in Catalonia with his father, Laurent Fiocconi, himself a former drug trafficker who was at one time associated with Pablo Escobar. [Daily Telegraph]
Vin Diesel reveals he has named his daughter after Paul Walker –
Vin Diesel has named his new daughter after Paul Walker, his co-star in The Fast and the Furious series of action films, who died in a car crash in 2013. Diesel told Natalie Morales on the US programme, The TODAY Show: “I named her Pauline. There’s no other person that I was thinking about as I was cutting the umbilical cord. I knew he was there.” [Daily Telegraph]
Largest-ever meteorite crater found in Australian outback –
Scientists have discovered two deep scars in the earth’s crust in outback Australia that are believed to mark the remains of a meteorite crater with a 250-mile diameter – the largest ever found.The scars are each more than 120 miles in diameter and are believed to mark the spot where a meteorite split into two, moments before it slammed into earth. The impact is believed to have occurred more than 300 million years ago. Scientists discovered a scar from the meteorite five years ago – it was then thought to be from the third largest crater ever found – but now say there are two sets of remains. [Daily Telegraph]
Germanwings plane 4U 9525 crashes in French Alps – no survivors –
A Germanwings plane carrying 150 people has crashed in the French Alps on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. The Airbus A320 – flight 4U 9525 – went down between Digne and Barcelonnette. There are no survivors, officials say. The “black box” flight recorder has been found, the French interior minister says. The cause of the crash is not known and the plane did not send a distress signal. Among the passengers were 16 German pupils returning from an exchange trip. [BBC] Germanwings A319 plane
Nash Grier offer ignites Twitter –
Nash Grier asks for selfies to be posted on his Twitter feed with the hashtag #BartAndNashsContest for a chance to be in his next Vine video. Result is top trending for the hashtag. (see Top Twitter Trends). Nash Grier Twitter
Jaguar Launches the XF on a high wire –
The new lightweight Jaguar XF tackles a London water crossing via a 28mm wide high-wire suspended 18 metres above the city. Movie stuntman, Jim Dowdall was at the wheel in an attempt at the world’s longest high-wire water crossing by car. (See Video of The Day)
China orders square dancers to walk the line –
Chinese officials say they will introduce guidelines to regulate square-dancing in the country. The dance is wildly popular with elderly Chinese women and is performed en masse at night in public squares. However, Chinese authorities say the “over-enthusiasm of participants has dealt it a harmful blow, with disputes over noise and venues”. Fitness authorities plan to introduce 12 authorised routines and also permissible times and music volume. [BBC]
Video of the Day –
The Jaguar #NewXF performs the world’s longest high-wire water crossing –
Al-Shabab Islamist militants attack on Kenya university –
The death toll in the attack by al-Shabab Islamist militants on a university in north-eastern Kenya has risen to 147, Kenyan government officials say. They added that the operation to secure the the Garissa University College campus was now over, with all four attackers killed.
The evacuation of surviving students is now under way. An overnight curfew is being implemented in parts of the country. [BBC]
Oxford v Cambridge: RNLI rescue Oxford women’s boat crew –
Oxford University’s women’s boat crew have been rescued by an RNLI lifeboat in choppy waters in the Thames during training for the Boat Race.
The eight rowers and cox were discovered by the Chiswick RNLI crew while it was out on exercise. RNLI helmsman Ian Owen said: “We’ve rescued quite a number of rowers, but it is the first time I’ve been involved in helping such a prestigious team.” [BBC]
US sailor rescued after 66 days lost at sea –
The U.S. Coast Guard says a man missing in the Atlantic Ocean for the past two months survived by drinking rain water and eating raw fish. He was found off Cape Hatteras this afternoon. The Coast Guard says a German tanker ship spotted Louis Jordan and his 35-foot sailboat approximately 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras around 1:30 p.m. The 37-year-old Jordan was reported missing by his father on January 29th. Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss from the Coast Guard in Miami tells WITN that Jordan had been surviving off of raw fish and rain water. [WITN]
Gisele Bundchen Shares Throwback Photo in Honor of Last Runway Show –
The 34-year-old model will hang up her catwalking shoes after she struts her stuff during São Paulo Fashion Week tonight, walking for Brazilian street label Colcci, a brand she has represented since 2005. Before she takes the runway for the last time, Bündchen shared a sweet throwback photo to her Instagram account from her very first show. [Celebuzz.com] Gisele Bunchen (Instagram – giseleofficial)
Unpaid spaceport workers appeal to Vladimir Putin with giant graffiti –
Construction workers at a £9 billion cosmodrome in eastern Russian have resorted to extreme measures to appeal to Vladimir Putin after going four months without pay. Employees of TMK at the Vostochny spaceport were so exasperated at failing to receive their money that they painted a message to the Russian president in huge white letters on top of their construction huts. The giant letters read, “Dear Putin, V.V.”, “Save the workers”, “Four months without pay” and “We want to work”. [Daily Telegraph]
Record dive rescues $50m wartime silver from ocean floor –
A British-led team has recovered a $50m (£34m; €47m) trove of silver coins that has lain on the seabed since the steamship carrying them from Bombay to England was sunk in 1942. The SS City of Cairo was torpedoed 772km (480 miles) south of St Helena by a German U-boat and sank to 5,150m. The 100 tonnes of coins, recovered in the deepest salvage operation in history, belonged to HM Treasury. The coins have now been melted down in the UK and sold, with the undisclosed sum divided between the treasury – which technically owns the coins – and the salvagers, who take a percentage of the sale. The salvage was completed in September 2013, but DOS has only now been given permission by the Ministry of Transport to announce it. [BBC]
Video of the Day –
HDD and Floppy Music: Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit –