Canberra Christmas lights set world record –
A Christmas lights display in the Australian capital, Canberra, has set a new world record. Almost 1.2 million LED lights on 120km (75 miles) of cables have been strung in the shape of three interconnected giant, wrapped Christmas presents. Guinness World Records confirmed it was the largest-ever LED image display. The display in the Petrie Plaza mall was the result of months of planning by Canberra lawyer David Richards and a team of volunteers. [BBC] See Video of the day
Sony’s latest wearable is a watch made of electronic paper –
The Wall Street Journal has uncovered Sony’s clandestine involvement in a smartwatch project. Under the name Fashion Entertainment (FES), the company has thrown an electronic paper watch into the wearable product scrum. All credit to Sony, the watch itself is very slick looking. It overcomes many of the problems existing smartwatches on the market present – namely that they are overly bulky and have naff battery lives. Electronic paper, which is famously used in ebook readers to provide them with long-lasting battery, should ensure that this device can keep running for weeks on a single charge, rather than just a day or two. Sony secretly put the watch on a crowdfunding site in September, not taking ownership of the product until this week. The device surpassed its 2 million yen goal (£108,000), raising 3.5 million yen (£188,000) in total. [Wired.com]
Half a million going to university in UK –
In 2014, for the first time, the number of UK university entrants passed 500,000. Among 18-year-olds, 34% of women were allocated university places, compared with 26% of men, the widest ever gap, making women a third more likely to enter higher education than men, Ucas admissions service figures show.
Extreme deep sea fishing –
The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel, Falkor, on an international expedition to the Mariana Trench has discovered a strange-looking creature, new to science, 8,145m beneath the waves, beating the previous depth record by nearly 500m.
Rotten to the core –
Senior Apple executive Jeff Williams says the company is “deeply offended” by a BBC Panorama investigation into conditions for workers involved in manufacturing its devices. Rules on workers’ hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were routinely breached, the programme witnessed.
Tony Abbott filmed downing a beer in only seven seconds –
Some may say it is behaviour unbecoming of a prime minister. Others have applauded it. Footage has emerged of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, knocking back a large glass of beer in only seven seconds. But the incident is not a first in Australian politics – and is not all that unusual for Mr Abbott. The prime minister was at a bar in east Sydney on Saturday along with players from the UTS Bats Australian Rules football team. [BBC] Tony Abbott
Kate Middleton’s friend holds orgies in sharia hotel –
Emma Sayle, owner of Killing Kittens, a members-only sex-club, said the Bermondsey Square hotel in London is one of her preferred destinations for the self-styled ‘sexual elite’. The Duchess of Cambridge’s friend has been staging sex parties in the country’s first sharia hotel. A friend of Kate Middleton’s, Miss Sayle, 36, who attended Downe House boarding school with Prince Michael’s daughter, Lady Gabriella Windsor, has used the four loft suites on the seventh floor of the hotel for her parties. According to Miss Sayle, who is a member of Kate’s rowing crew, The Sisterhood, the rules at Killing Kitten events state men can’t approach women at parties unless they know them, everyone wears a mask and single men aren’t allowed. [Daily Telegraph] Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Zayn Malik collects Asian Award and thanks bandmates –
Zayn Malik has taken a step in a new direction, showing off a new look for his first public appearance since quitting One Direction. He was in London for the fifth annual Asian Awards, where he picked a gong for his contribution to music and paid tribute to his former bandmates. Malik also thanked God and his parents, “for making me Asian”. [BBC] He also had a radical change of look with an almost shaved head compared to the long hair he used to sport. Zayn Malik (image – thecount.com)
Video of the Day –
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Official Teaser Trailer
Fifa officials corrupted football – US prosecutors –
US prosecutors have accused several officials from football’s governing body Fifa of racketeering, fraud and money laundering involving tens of millions of dollars over 24 years. Prosecutors said they had discovered a dozen schemes, including one awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
Fourteen people have been indicted, with seven held in Zurich on Wednesday. Those indicted in the US case are accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period beginning in 1991. [BBC] President Sepp Blatter has not been implicated by the US Presecutors. In December 2014 a complaint by US lawyer Michael Garcia who spent two years investigating World Cup corruption claims for Fifa was dismissed by football’s governing body. Sepp Blatter at the 2014 FIFA Tournament Announcement in 2007
London is getting a cannabis-inspired restaurant –
Grub Club and the chefs at Grub London have teamed up to create ‘Cannabistro’, a two night pop-up event coming to London in June.Diners at London’s first weed-themed restaurant will be treated to a four-course gourmet meal of dishes inspired by “hazy memories of teenage years combined with the clichés of getting high – ‘The Way Up’ – and coming down – ‘The Munchies’.” [Daily Telegraph]
SpaceX cleared for US military launches –
Billionaire Elon Musk’s firm SpaceX has won long-waited approval from the US Air Force to launch military satellites, opening the way to a lucrative market that has been a virtual monopoly for a Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture. With the certification, California-based SpaceX can now compete against the United Launch Alliance – the giant Boeing-Lockheed joint venture – for defence contracts valued at about $9.5bn over the next five years. In January 2015 Musk announced that he will build a test track for his “Hyperloop” transport system that could theoretically travel at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. [news24.com] Elon Musk
Video of the Day –
A Guy’s Understanding of Women’s Underwear – Robbie Sherrard
At least 12 people, associated with the Kangleyuan Rest Home in the Chinese city of Pingdingshan in Henan province which was destroyed by fire with the loss of 38 lives, are detained for questioning. (AP)
Star Wars film breaks opening night box office record –
The new Star Wars film has set a new opening night box office record in the US and Canada, industry experts said. Star Wars: The Force Awakens made $57m (£38m) on Thursday night, beating the previous record of $43.5m held by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011. Analysts say the space saga could become the biggest selling movie of all time. The film also set a new opening day box office record in the UK and Ireland. The £9.64m tally beat the previous best of £9.48m set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Midnight screenings on Thursday morning accounted for £2.4m of ticket sales. Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian, one of Hollywood’s best-known box office analysts, said the film’s opening night performance in the US and Canada “portends a massive and potentially record-breaking opening day and weekend for the film”. [BBC]
The $70m cost of Uber Force One: Price of private flights for Obama and family –
Barack Obama’s eighth consecutive Christmas vacation to Hawaii starts Friday just as a new report shows the total cost of his vacations has now exceeded $70 million to U.S. taxpayers. The costs are being savaged by a critical conservative group, which says Obama is treating Air Force One, which costs $206,000/hour to run, ‘like an Uber ride’ ahead of his next jaunt to his home state,’ says Tom Fitton, president of the Judicial Watch pressure group. Fly-time alone will set taxpayers back somewhere in the region of $3.5 million as Obama, the First Lady, Sasha and Malia and their two dogs jet off for around two weeks. The total cost of Obama’s vacations since taking office in January 2009 has now hit $70.5 million, according to a new report. Yet he still has not taken anywhere near the total number of vacations or days off as his predecessor, George W. Bush, the report shows. [Daily Mail] Barack Obama on Air Force One
Iceland grapples with volcano-naming responsibility –
Authorities in Iceland have decided on a name for a volcano a year after it started erupting. Council members in the rural district of Skutustadahreppur, which boasts a population of 371, took on the hefty responsibility to officially name the lava field known conversationally to locals as Holuhraun, the Iceland Review news website reports. After considering four names for the volcano – Flaedahraun, Holuhraun, Nornahraun and Urdarbruni – the vote was carried to officially use the name Holuhraun, despite only getting the backing of two of the five council members, Icelandic newspaper Visir said. [BBC]
In the United States, a group of hospitals, 32 in 15 states, agree to pay a total of $28 million to settle charges they submitted false claims to Medicare for a type of spinal fracture treatment. This is the latest settlement stemming from a decade-oldwhistleblower lawsuit about alleged inappropriate billing for kyphoplasty. More than 130 hospitals have paid about $105 million to settle billing claims from this spinal procedure. (Reuters)(The Arizona Republic)
‘Fifth Beatle’ Sir George Martin dies, aged 90 –
Record producer Sir George Martin, known as the “fifth Beatle”, has died, aged 90. His family thanked “everyone for their thoughts, prayers and messages of support” after his death at home on Tuesday, his manager said. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr broke the news on Twitter and led tributes, saying Sir George “will be missed”. Sir George signed the Beatles and produced more than 700 records. He also worked with artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black. [BBC] George Martin in 2006
‘Le burger’ now top selling dish in French restaurants, new study reveals –
For the guardians of French gastronomy, the prospect of being served something as unsophisticated as a slab of mincemeat with a bap and slice of cheese would long have been considered sacrilegious. Today, however, the tables have turned. In a culinary revolution, three quarters of French restaurants now sell hamburgers and 80 per cent of these say it has become their top-selling dish, according to a new study. “Le burger” – as the French dub the quintessentially American invention to the despair of linguistic purists of the Académie Française – has become a feature of even the most illustrious eateries. Indeed, such is its success that sales are set to overtake those of the classic “jambon beurre” (ham and butter baguette), the nation’s staple lunchtime sandwich. Last year, the French chomped their way through 1.19 billion burgers, an 11 per cent rise on the previous year, while “le jambon beurre” fell to 1.23 billion. [Daily Telegraph]
Video of the Day –
A History of Rock in 15 minutes.
348 rockstars, 84 guitarists, 64 songs, 44 drummers, 1 mashup.
A Pew Research Center survey of Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis, via face-to-face interviews from October 2014 through May 2015, finds deep divisions in Israeli society – not only between Israeli Jewsand the country’s Arab citizen minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry. An overwhelming majority (98%) of Israeli Jews agree all Jews should have the right to move to Israel and receive immediate citizenship. Close to half (48 percent) support the expulsion or transfer of Arabs from Israel, yet most secular Jews disagree (58%) with this, as do 54 percent of those in the center politically (more so from the left). Meanwhile, Israeli Arabs, currently about one-in-five of the country’s adults, generally do not think Israel can be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time. Fewer Arabs (down 24 points) think a peaceful, two-state solution is possible, from 74% in 2013 to 50% now. Both groups are skeptical of the peace process: Israeli Arabs question the sincerity of the Israeli government in seeking a peace agreement, while Israeli Jews are equally skeptical about the sincerity of Palestinian leaders. (Pew is a non-partisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C.)(Pew Research Center)