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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bolivia nationalized the company that runs the three largest airports in Bolivia because the government claims the company did not invest in improving the airports.

Servicios de Aeropuertos Bollivianos SA (Sabsa) is a division of Spain's Abertis Infraestructure SA but Sabsa is also partly owned by Aena Aeropuertos SA based in Madrid. Bolivian president Evo Morales said that the privatization of Sabsa in 1997 was equivalent to "robbery" and "looting". He claimed that since that time the company's profits have been exorbitant and investments "ridiculous".




real estate company Reyal Urbis filed for insolvency after failing to renegotiate debt with its creditors.

Spain's property market crash claimed another victim on Tuesday, as real estate company Reyal Urbis filed for insolvency after failing to renegotiate debt with its creditors.

 

The move takes the property developer, which had 3.6 billion euros ($4.8 billion) of debt at the end of September, closer to becoming Spain's second-largest bankruptcy after Martinsa Fadesa, which defaulted on 7 billion euros of debt in 2008.

Dozens of property companies have collapsed in Spain, where house prices have fallen around 40 percent since their 2007 peak. With the country locked in a deep recession, analysts expect prices to fall further still.

Spain's banks were crippled by the property market bust, eventually requiring the state to agree a European bailout for its lenders of almost 40 billion euros last year. Indebted property firms have asked banks for debt relief but patience is wearing thin among lenders saddled with soured property assets.

 

Reyal Urbis is 70 percent owned by construction magnate Rafael Santamaria and its creditors include Santander, BBVA, Bankia and Banco Popular.

The company, which valued its property portfolio at 4.2 billion euros in June 2012, said it would continue to operate as permitted by Spanish insolvency laws.

Its insolvency petition now goes to court and its fate will be in the hands of a judge.

Reyal Urbis said Santamaria would remain at the helm of the company and he still hoped Reyal Urbis could reach a deal with its creditors, given "the good will of all negotiating parties".

The company had until Feb. 23 to reach a debt restructuring deal with the banks or file for insolvency. Sources close to the matter told Reuters on Friday that creditors had rejected the company's 3.6-billion-euro proposal.

Trading in the company's shares was suspended on Tuesday, Spain's stock market regulator said. The stock had plunged 99 percent since June 2007 to close at 0.124 euros on Monday.

At the end of 2011, Reyal Urbis owned some 888 finished homes in a country where over a million homes lie empty. The company also had 8 million square metres of land for development and 237,000 square metres of commercial property, including offices, shopping centres, industrial property and hotels.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Ms Sandiford to be executed for drug trafficking.

A British grandmother has been sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling almost 5kg of cocaine into Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford was arrested in May last year after she tried to enter the Indonesian holiday island with illegal drugs worth £1.6 million hidden in her suitcase.

Local prosecutors had called for the 56-year-old housewife to be jailed for 15 years. But today there were gasps in the Bali courtroom when a panel of judges announced Ms Sandiford would be executed for drug trafficking.

As the shock verdict was announced, Ms Sandiford, from Gloucestershire, slumped back in her chair in tears before hiding her face with a brown sarong as she was led out of the courtroom.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Monday, 10 December 2012

Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger. We've all been there, finishing a whole bag of chips out of boredom or downing cookie after cookie while cramming for a big test. But when done a lot — especially without realizing it — emotional eating can affect weight, health, and overall well-being.

diets arent the answer emotional eating

Not many of us make the connection between eating and our feelings. But understanding what drives emotional eating can help people take steps to change it.

One of the biggest myths about emotional eating is that it's prompted by negative feelings. Yes, people often turn to food when they're stressed out, lonely, sad, anxious, or bored. But emotional eating can be linked to positive feelings too, like the romance of sharing dessert on Valentine's Day or the celebration of a holiday feast.

Sometimes emotional eating is tied to major life events, like a death or a divorce. More often, though, it's the countless little daily stresses that cause someone to seek comfort or distraction in food.

Emotional eating patterns can be learned: A child who is given candy after a big achievement may grow up using candy as a reward for a job well done. A kid who is given cookies as a way to stop crying may learn to link cookies with comfort.

It's not easy to "unlearn" patterns of emotional eating. But it is possible. And it starts with an awareness of what's going on.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

ARE YOU ADDICTED TO BUSYNESS ARE YOU A SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICT

ARE YOU ADDICTED TO BUSYNESS ARE YOU A SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICT

You may be lost in the addiction to busyness if…

  • Your usual response to “how are you?” is “so busy”, “crazy busy” or “busy but good”
  • You spend time worrying about how busy you are going to be tomorrow
  • You get angry when your spouse or friends aren’t as busy as you
  • Your busy life keeps you up at night thinking about everything you didn’t get done
  • You make a point of letting people know that you stay at the office after hours
  • You check email several times a day
  • You zone out during conversations thinking about everything you have to do
  • You volunteer for things you don’t care about
  • You spend time complaining about how busy you are
  • You make list after list to make sure you don’t forget anything during your busy day
  • You allocate time each day to clean your desk or organize your stuff
  • You regularly eat in your car
  • You use a phone in the car because “it’s the only time you have to talk”

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Police have several leads in the investigation of the large forest fire that started a week ago.

Suspicions that it was started malicously has possibly strengthened. Sources claim that the fire spread quickly because there was more than one fire. Witnesses stated inter alia, have seen an unidentified jeep coming from a farm between Ojén and Marbella exactly where the fire then got an awesome course. In Marbella, it was announced yesterday that it is now able to restore electricity, water and telephone networks in all affected areas. It is now under the companies just the kind of disruption that is "normal". In areas Elviria Ricmar has repaired water pipes, power lines and 3000 meters telephone and fiber optic cable. It has also been launched several campaigns to restore nature and conduct tree plantings. Biologists say that tree planting may be necessary until next year. The hotel chain Fuerte Hoteles has among other things promised to donate a tree for every hotel guest you have in Marbella. The hotels have also started a fundraiser where guests can help by buying a tree, which will then be planted in the affected area.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

experts believe we can actually become "addicted" to stress.

Stress can be physical,And then there’s the kind that’s in our heads — that OMG I’m so overwhelmed right now feeling. While psychological stress has some definite downsides (chronic freak-outs may increase our risk for cancer and other diseases), take a moment to exhale. In moderate amounts, stress can boost our focus, energy, and even our powers of intuition.

Still, in some cases, stress does more than light a productivity-boosting fire under our butts. Both emotional and physical stress activate our central nervous system, causing a “natural high,” says Concordia University neuroscientist and addiction specialist Jim Pfaus. “By activating our arousal and attention systems,” Pfaus says, “stressors can also wake up the neural circuitry underlying wanting and craving — just like drugs do.”

This may be why, experts believe, some of us come to like stress a little too much.

Type A and Type D personalities — or people prone to competitiveness, anxiety, and depression — may be most likely to get a high from stressful situations, says stress management specialist Debbie Mandel. Stress “addicts,” Mandel says, “may also be using endless to-do lists to avoid less-easy-to-itemize problems — feelings of inadequacy, family conflicts, or other unresolved personal issues.”

Some stress junkies have difficulty listening to others, concentrating, and even sleeping because they can’t put tomorrow’s agenda out of their minds, explains Mandel. Others tend to use exaggerated vocabulary — craaazy busy right now, workload’s insane!! And some begin to feel anxious at the mere thought of slowing down their schedule.

But psychologist and addiction researcher Stanton Peele cautions against labeling anyone a stress addict. “Only when that pursuit of stress has a significant negative impact on your life could it qualify as addiction,” he said, adding that many people are able to effectively manage — and in fact thrive under — high stress conditions. (Think: Olympic athletes or President Obama.)

 Study: Stress Shrinks the Brain and Lowers Our Ability to Cope with Adversity

For budding stress “addicts” or for those who just, well, feel overwhelmed, here are some tips to dial down that anxiety:

  • Seek professional help if you’re verging on burnout. (Not only can hashing it out with a therapist take a load off your mind. Some studies suggest it also boosts physical fitness.)
  • Do something creative. Mandel recommends carving out a once-weekly time not to think about tomorrow’s agenda by painting, cooking, writing, dancing, or anything else that’ll take you off the clock temporarily.
  • Take it outside. Numerous studies show spending time in nature improves general well-being, lowers anxiety, stress and depression, and even boosts self-confidence. Especially for women. (As it turns out, most addiction recovery centers offer outdoor-immersion programs.)
  • Calm down quickly. If you really don’t have time for any of the above, these 40 tricks to chill take five minutes or less.

Some of us may seek out stress a bit more excessively than others and struggle to just relax. It takes skill to handle hectic agendas and long lists of responsibilities — without losing sleep or feeling frazzled. So try these tips and try not to freak out.

Worried that you or someone you know seeks out stress a little too much? Think stress addiction is a myth? Tell us about it in the comments section below.




For those red wine drinkers who’ve been feeling morally superior about all the health benefits of the relaxing glass or two sipped during dinner, there’s some bad news on the horizon.

 Turns out, those glasses of wine would be a lot healthier if they were non-alcoholic, a new study shows.  Spanish researchers led by Gemma Chiva-Blanch of the University of Barcelona found that non-alcoholic red wine reduced blood pressure in men at high risk for heart disease better than standard red wine or gin, according to the study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. Although the reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was modest, decreases of just 4 and 2 mm Hg have been associated with a 14 to 20 percent reduction in heart disease and stroke, the researchers pointed out. “The daily consumption of dealcoholized red wine could be useful for the prevention of low to moderate hypertension,” they concluded.  Although there have been many studies on the impact of moderate drinking on health, the findings have been mixed, with some studies showing a benefit and others suggesting none. The new study found that 3 ounces of gin a day had no impact on blood pressure, while consumption of regular red wine led to a small, but not statistically significant, improvement. The new study suggests that if you’re going to have a drink, red wine would be the healthiest choice, said Dr. Kelly Anne Spratt, a heart disease prevention specialist and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Still, Spratt said, “while there are those of us in cardiology who believe in the benefits of red wine, we want to be wary. We’re not going like gangbusters recommending people go out and start drinking. There are a lot of problems associated with drinking, like weight gain, cardiomyopathy, alcoholism, an increased breast cancer risk in women who consume two or more drinks a day.” Chiva-Blanch and her colleagues suspect that blood pressure improvements were due to the impact of polyphenols, a red wine component, on nitric oxide. The theory is that nitric oxide molecules help blood vessels relax, which allows better flow and more blood to reach the heart and other organs. For the new study, Chiva-Blanch and her colleagues followed 67 men with diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors. During the study, the men were all required to consume the same foods along with one of three drinks: 10 ounces of red wine, 10 ounces of non-alcoholic red wine or 3 ounces of gin. During the 12 week study, the men tried each diet/beverage combination for four weeks at a time. The researchers determined that the standard red wine and its nonalcoholic counterpart contained equal amounts of polyphenols, an antioxidant which has been shown to decrease blood pressure. Men who drank regular red wine saw minor reductions in blood pressure – too small, in fact, to be statistically significant. Those who drank gin with their meals saw no change in blood pressure. But men who drank non-alcoholic red wine saw a blood pressure decrease of about 6 mm Hg in systolic and 2 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure. Chiva-Blanch and her colleagues concluded that their findings show that the alcohol in red wine actually weakens its ability to lower blood pressure.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Griselda Blanco, gunned down in Medellin, Colombia Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown

Florida Department of Corrections

Griselda Blanco in 2004.

The convicted Colombian drug smuggler known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda Blanco, 69, was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding assassin in Medellin, Colombian national police confirmed late Monday, according to the Miami Herald.

Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.

Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.

Family members said Blanco had cut her ties to organized crime after returning to her country, the BBC reported. Police said they were investigating the motive.

Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.

Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.

Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.

Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.

“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Marbella Forest Fire

Dream Warriors Testament: PART 1 ROCK BOTTOM Flash News best selling new addiction book

Dream Warriors Testament:PART 1 ROCK BOTTOM 

Dream Warriors testament, Arriving at a time in my life after thirty years of not drinking to leave an honest account of what it was like, my experience the good and the bad, the addictions of which alcohol was but one, the spiritual experiences and the formation of my personal program.The founding of Narcotics Anonymous in Spain.The trails and tribulations of the battles and failures with the ego.Many people need to remain anonymous within my journal and many may see there rolls differently.The writing is by a dyslexic this is not an excuse but a fact.Without the help of AA,NA,CA,ALANON,OA,SA and CODA this story would have not been possible.Many Angels have appeared in my life and I acknowledge you all.My sponsor and authentic founder of NA Spain remains my confident and long term friend.This person without any thought of reward spent endless time supporting me threw the early years of recovery  and whom I will be eternally grateful.

PART 1 ROCK BOTTOM


Now cast your mind back thirty years.A hopeless drunk is staggering our of a nightclub set in an area known as over the border in a North East English town. The street lights  shimmering off the tarmac rushed towards me as I crumpled into unconsciosness My semicomatse head bouncing off the granite curbstones feeling like a gentle caress. Blackout, oblivion was where my advanced alcoholism always took me. The promise of a wonderous adventure filled illusions had long since disappeared.The idea that I could handle alcohol or drugs had seemed irrelevant the inevitability of my condition overcame me I dimmely felt hands rifleing threw my pockets. Hopelessly drunk I was incapable of doing anything even my bodily functions now took care of themselves. Death, whatever that was, would have been welcomed as yet another phase of insane bingeing ran its course.By know I was starting to understand that once I drank I had no control over the outcome.All the excuses had been used up and I was in utter bewilderment as to why my longtime friend alcohol had turned on me.Where had my friends disappeared to and the conviviality of there happy company.

The answer crashed into my befuddled brain I had used up all there excuses as well as mine and had become the unfunny court jester who continuosly embarrassed them with drunken brawling heaping abuse onto those closest to me as the full reality of my condition became apparent to them all.The witty raconteaur had become the stinking drunk,bloated vomiting and unfunny.In reality I sorted out dark places where people like me sort the company of like minded others.The illegal blues clubs and shebeens the drinking dens for prostitutes and criminals.I could not resist the call to visit once I had, had that first drink.It did not matter what it was for I had long since recognised that if it was a weak shandy or a double whisky the results would be exactly the same.It came as no surprise to be lying in the gutter blacked out.

What did come as a surprise was to be sitting in the back of a taxicab.What had happened had I met with a good Samaritan for they where a rareity in this area of dockland.I was over the years after this to try many times to attempt to rationalise this answer out. Had some golden lady of the night rescued me doubtful but possible or a kindly taxi driver even more improbable.Yet here I was being dropped off outside my front door in a small suburban village.My eyes fearfully scanned the street for what had become the inevitable results of my binges a police car.I thanked the taxi driver and searched for my keys.No police car but now the guilt and remorse the terrible psychical withdrawal from alcohol gripped my being. I must have another drink as my skin started crawling and the stomach wrenching vomit reflex took hold.

It was at this time I recognised that all the lights were on yet there was no one in the house.I stopped I glanced at the red flock wallpaper with the glistening remains of the whisky glass catching the evidential reflection of the lights.Yes this was the right house.There was the drinks cupboard it was open nothing remained. Panic,fear my head whirled a neon red sign shown in my head NO DRINK.No drink nothing.I heard a car drive up my car, my wife.I needed to get what was left of the brain into gear.I wracked my brain for a solution something that would work something that would give one more drink anything.She was on the path give me an idea any idea nothing. The withdrawls were kicking in the shakeing was starting with the first tremors my fingers twitched as the withdrawls started.Its just a hangover.You used the magic word that would start the withdrawl HANGOVER. I didn’t do hangovers anymore I just got sick very sick very quickly.How the hell was I to get a drink I must have a drink.I needed a solution fast any solution.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Major wildfire in Malaga leaves elderly Briton dead and his wife missing

One person was confirmed dead and another missing on Friday night after a major wildfire Affected Municipalities of the Coin, Alhaurin el Grande, Mijas, Marbella and Ojén, in Málaga province. The victim is a British man aged 78 was found Whose charred body in the area of ​​Las Blanquillas, inside the city limits of Ojén. His wife has not yet been found. Meanwhile, a couple in late fifties was taken Their hospital with burns to 60 percent to of Their Bodies. Both lived in a detached home inside the Marbella residential estate of El Rosario. A mother and her two children were found hiding inside a cave in Ojén and taken to hospital to be Treated for smoke inhalation. Five other people Were Also Evacuated from Their Homes. The fire was Extending to the Sierra de las Nieves even as the chief of the firefighting department Málaga, Manuel Marmolejo, Announced That a new front had opened up and Reached the area of ​​Juanar, where two hotels had to be Evacuated. Marmolejo said Extending the wildfire was with "great virulence." The blaze Began around 6.50pm on Thursday and soon extended to a perimeter of Between 50 and 60 kilometers, said Marmolejo. An Estimated 1.000 hectares of land Have Been Affected.

Marbella eight urbanisations has been evacuated. 4,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

The village of Ojen and eight urbanisations in Marbella have been evacuated. 4,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

 

The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon and has affected Coín where some 60 homes have had to be evacuated. The fire was still burning overnight so the terrestrial fire fighters continued to work overnight, according to the fire fighting Infoca.
The extinction of the blaze was complicated by the strong hot wind known locally as the ‘Terral’.
Three of the four fronts were brought under control just after midnight.

The fire is also affecting Alhaurín El Grande and Mijas where homes have been evacuated in the Entrerrios area, according to the Junta de Andalucía.

The Barranco Blanco urbanisation in Coín is close to the fire, and there were fears that non-forestry zones could be affected.

In Calahonda there are flames in the urbanisation between Calle Cristóbal Colón and Residential Princess Park. The upper zone of Calahonda is being evacuated.

Two people have been seriously injured with burns. They were in the urbanisation El Rosario where five homes have been affected by the flames. The two injured were taken to the Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella a 4.30am this morning. One of them has burns to 50% of their body.

The AP-7 Motorway was for a time overnight for a while.

The Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, has confirmed that several urbanisations have been evacuated, including La Mairena, Elviria, the area of Las Chapas and Molinillo where the fire is concentrated and continues to advance.

The Hotel La Cala Resort has also been evacuated of its 200 guests.

Those evacuated have been told to go to the sports centre in La Cala, the sports centre in Las Lagunas or the Mijas Hippodrome.

Between 25 and 30 families have been evacuated from Alpujata on the outskirts of Monda.

13 airborne fire fighting planes were brought in on Thursday afternoon from Málaga, Córdoba and Granada, and they have resumed their work at first light.

Land forces totalled 99 fire fighters distributed in seven brigades, three reserve brigades, five fire engines, five operation technicians and four environmental vehicles.

The fire continues out of control on one front and the Mijas Town Hall has told the residents of la Atalaya to urgently leave their homes. A level 1 has been put in place and that indicates that the prevision for the fire could affect non-forestry assets.

350 firefighters are at the scene this morning and the fire fighting planes have returned to work.

Numerous homes have been burnt out and others seriously affected in Ojén and Marbella. The urbanisation La Mairena has flames affecting several properties.



The situation is particularly difficult in the upper part of Calahonda where residents have been evacuated and there are flames in the urbanisation between Calle Cristóbal Colón and the residential complex Princess Park.

Some 3,000 residents of El Rosario in Marbella have been evacuated, and German couple in their 60’s have been seriously hurt. Marbella Ayuntamiento says they were surprised by the flames and now have burns 40-50% of their bodies. 

Those affected by the blaze are being first treated in the Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella, and then many suffering burns are being transferred to Málaga to the Specialist Burns Unit in the Carlos Haya Hospital.

People have been sleeping in sports centre in Monda and Marbella and municipal buses have been laid on as transport.

The Junta delegate in Málaga, José Luis Ruiz Espejo, has said today that he suspects the fire could have been started deliberately given its rapid propagation. He said the technicians suspected the fire was man made from the start.

Ground fire fighters worked through the night facing difficult terrain and totalled 99 fire fighters distributed in seven brigades, and three reserve brigades, five fire engines, five operation technicians and four environmental vehicles.

At first light this morning the 17 fire-fighting planes returned to the air.
Five planes which drop earth, four large capacity helicopters, five transport helicopters, two amphibian planes, and a plane for coordination and vigilance.

More than 250 professionals from fire fighting organisation INFOCA are working this morning in Mijas, Marbella, Alhauin de la Torre and in Coín where the fire started.

The Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, has confirmed that several urbanisations have been evacuated, including La Mairena, Elviria, the area of Las Chapas and Molinillo where the fire is concentrated and continues to advance.
Between 25 and 30 families have been evacuated from Alpujata on the outskirts of Monda.

The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon and has affected Coín where some 60 homes have had to be evacuated. The fire was still burning overnight as so the terrestrial fire fighters continued to work over night, according to the fire fighting Infoca.
The extinction of the blaze is being complicated by the strong hot wind known locally as the ‘Terral’.

Three of the four fronts were brought under control just after midnight.

The fire is also affecting Alhaurín El Grande and Mijas where homes have been evacuated in the Entrerrios area, according to the Junta de Andalucía.
The Barranco Blanco urbanisation in Coín is close to the fire, and there were fears that non-forestry zones could be affected.
The Hotel La Cala Resort has also been evacuated of its 200 guests.

Those evacuated have been told to go to the sports centre in La Cala, the sports centre in Las Lagunas or the Mijas Hippodrome.
13 airborne fire fighting planes were brought in on Thursday afternoon from Málaga, Córdoba and Granada, and they resumed their work at first light this morning.

The fire continues out of control and the Mijas Town Hall has told the residents of la Atalaya to urgently leave their homes. A level 1 has been put in place and that indicates that the prevision for the fire could affect non-forestry assets.

A huge wildfire is approaching the wealthy resort of Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol, where the authorities have evacuated thousands of people.

Flames reached the Elviria area on the edge of Marbella early on Friday.

About 1,000 people have been evacuated from the edge of Marbella, about 3,300 from Ojen and others from a camp site at Alpujata, Spanish media report.

They include at least 300 British expats sent to evacuation centres, the UK embassy told the BBC.

Marbella is famous for its up-market hotels and villas - it is a favourite haunt of wealthy foreigners.

Overnight the fire spread rapidly through a 12km (eight-mile) coastal strip, not far from holiday resorts.

Two people have suffered serious burns and some homes have been engulfed by the fire.

The Costa del Sol is one of Spain's most popular holiday destinations and home to a large British expatriate community.

The British embassy says it is working closely with the Spanish authorities and consular staff have been deployed to assist those affected.

Spain Costa del Sol map

Much of Spain's countryside was left tinder-dry this summer by a prolonged heatwave. There have been major wildfires in northern Catalonia - near the Pyrenees - and on La Gomera, in the Canary Islands.

The wind speed has dropped since Thursday and the air is more humid, so there are hopes that the Costa del Sol blaze can be contained soon.

More than 250 firefighters are battling the fire, helped by 17 aircraft dropping water to douse it, Spain's El Pais news website says.

The fire started on Thursday afternoon in the Sierra Negra area of Coin, near Malaga and has now affected an area of some 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres).

Part of the AP-7 highway was cut temporarily, but other roads are unaffected. It is not yet clear how many homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Monday, 27 August 2012

OwnFone: A Custom-Printed Phone Perfect for Seniors and Kids

Some people need all the latest apps and features available on their smartphone so they can be connected 24/7, while others just want to make a phone call. For the connected crowd, read all the latest reviews onMashable. For the others, check out the OwnFone.

It’s designed to call only the people you want to reach most frequently. In fact, it can only hold 12 contacts. There are no keys or buttons to program. Instead you let OwnFone know who you want to add, and they program and send you a custom-printed phone, about the size of a credit card.

If you lose it, they just print you a new one. You do need to call OwnFone support if you need to change someone’s number, or add a contact.

 

OwnFone says it plans to come out with a phone that can be customized in braille in the near future. Right now OwnFone is only available in the UK.

Check out the video above for more details and let us know what you think of a printed, pre-programmed cell phone.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Estepona Wild Fires rage on a 2km front

Police and Ambulances hurried to evacuate as wild fires quickly spread our reporter on the scene photographer the devastation

 

Estepona on Fire

We had a tiny little fire today, which they put out.

Then an hour later, it restarted, and spread along 2 Klm of the coast.

It was horrible seeing old people being run out of their homes, and carried through the smoke by police and ambulances.

The pictures really doesn,t do show bad it really was.many houses have gone

 

 

During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid (loligo pealei), we tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid's chromatophores.

 

 The results were both interesting and beautiful. The video is a view through an 8x microscope zoomed in on the dorsal side of the caudal fin of the squid. We used a suction electrode to stimulate the fin nerve. Chromatophores are pigmeted cells that come in 3 colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore is lined with up to 16 muscles that contract to reveal their color.

Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido of Roger Hanlon's Lab in the Marine Resource Center of the Marine Biological Labs helped us with the preparation. You can read their latest paper at:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/08/13/rspb.2012.1374

STAR WARS DETOURS™ Trailer

Friday, 17 August 2012

ADDICTION charity Focus12 has received a huge financial boost after a codumentary about Russell Brand was shown last night.

The documentary Russell Brand: Addiction to Recovery resulted in an immediate boost in donations and inspired the managing director of Bury St Edmunds based Chevington Finance and Leasing to offer the charity £106,000 over three years.

Russell Brand attended Focus12, the Bury St Edmunds abstinence-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, in 2003 and is now a patron of the charity, describing it as ‘a really excellent example of a small cost effective rehab that can help people change in dramatic ways’.

Chip Somers, Focus12’s chief executive, said: “Russell’s documentary and his work this year to raise the profile of abstinence based recovery has got people talking about addiction in a different way, and made them realise that there is a viable alternative to simply giving up on addicts, or parking them on methadone.

“We are blown away by the generosity of Chevington — this financial support will make a huge difference to us as a charity and will certainly mean we can continue to stay open and help those who need us for longer. Raising funds for a recovery charity has never been harder than it is at present, every day is literally a struggle to keep afloat and we are very grateful.”

Clive Morris, Managing Director of Chevington Finance and Leasing said: “My wife and I were incredibly touched by last night’s documentary, which inspired us to endorse the local treatment centre Focus12, and we have today agreed funding assistance for the charity of £106,000 over the next 4 years.

“We believe that as a successful, responsible and reliable company we have a duty to help local charities survive this recession and the work that Chip Somers and his team do is fantastic and we fully endorse their abstinence based programme and have seen what a difference it makes to people’s lives.”

Monday, 13 August 2012

London's secret music venue and their livestream act

boiler-room-ch1.jpg

With an invite-only door policy and super secret location, Boiler Room is London's most exclusive music venue. But elitism isn't the premise for its clandestine nature—in fact, anyone with an Internet connection can easily join in the fun. Using a simple webcam, the crew behind Boiler Room livestreams each set for the world to see free of charge, and each month more than a million viewers tune in to see performances by artists like James Blake, The xx, Roots Manuva, Neon Indian, Juan Maclean and more.

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We recently chilled out to the smooth sounds of Brooklyn's How To Dress Well before rocking out to revered musician Matthew Dear, who brought down the house with an intense 40-minute DJ set. Keep an eye out for our interview with Dear, but for now you can get a little more insight into the underground music scene's most talked about livestream show by checking out our interview with assistant musical programmer and Boiler Room host Nic Tasker.

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How important is it for Boiler Room to remain secret, at least in its location?

That is quite an important aspect of it, purely because it means when you do shows you don't get a lot of groupies, pretty much everyone in the room is either a friend of ours or one of the artist's. It helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere for the artist and I think they feel less pressure. They're also just able to chill out and be themselves more rather than having people being like, "Hi can I get your autograph?" If the artists are relaxed usually you get the best music.

It seems like there is more interaction among the crowd than at a typical venue, is that intentional?

It's definitely a social place. All the people that come down, most of them we know and they're all our friends. So they come down, hang, have a drink and just chill out, basically. From our very set-up, we do it with a webcam, we're not a highly professional organization but I think that's kind of the charm of it. The main thing is people come down with the right attitude.

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How much of the show is prescribed?

I guess that depends on the artist. We never say anything. Literally, whatever they want to do—we're kind of the platform for them to do whatever they want, so if Matthew Dear wants to come and play an hour of noise with no beats, he can do that. That's fine with us, and I think that's why artists like coming to play for us. We're not like a club where you have to make people dance, we don't give a shit if people dance. It's nice if they do and it makes it more fun, but some nights you just get people appreciating the music, which is equally fun.

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Is there a particular kind of artist you guys look for and ask to come perform?

No, not particularly, it's just whatever we're feeling. Thristian [Boiler Room's co-founder] has the main say on musical direction, but it's a massive team effort. In London there's five of us, New York there's two, LA there's one and Berlin there's two.

Tonight you had different set-ups for each artist, do you tailor their positioning in the room to their style?

It definitely depends on the act and what kind of music they do. With live bands we found what works nicely is having them opposite each other because it's like they're in rehearsal, like they're just jamming. Which is again trying to give them that chilled out feel that they're just at home jamming and there happens to be a camera there. For some of our shows we've had over 100,000 viewers. When you think of those numbers it's quite scary, but when you're in the room and it's all friends it creates that vibe that people don't mind. You can imagine if you had all those people in front of you it would be a very different situation.

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Have you ever thought of Boiler Room as an East London version of Soul Train?

It's never crossed my mind like that, but I can see why you think that. I like to think of us as the new music broadcaster, kind of the new MTV, but obviously we operate in the underground scene mainly. But I like to think that what we do is as revolutionary as what they were doing. We're always growing into something new.

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What's up next for Boiler Room?

We have had visual people in doing 3D mapping, and that's something we're looking forward to progressing—doing more with the visuals. We've got the upstairs as well, we're starting to do breakfast shows with some high profile DJs, we're going to be doing that regularly. Each will have an individual format. The next step is progressing the US shows, we're alternating weekly between New York and LA, so the next step is to take Boiler Room to America

Breaking Free of the Co-dependency Trap presents a groundbreaking developmental road map to guide readers away from their co-dependent behaviors and toward a life of wholeness and fulfillment.

Breaking Free of the Co-dependency Trap presents a groundbreaking developmental road map to guide readers away from their co-dependent behaviors and toward a life of wholeness and fulfillment.UK Citizens

This is the book that offers a different perspective on codependency and is strongly recommended by Dream Warrior Recovery as part of a solution based recovery. This bestselling book, now in a revised edition, radically challenges the prevailing medical definition of co-dependency as a permanent, progressive, and incurable addiction. Rather, the authors identify it as the result of developmental traumas that interfered with the infant-parent bonding relationship during the first year of life.US Citizens

Drawing on decades of clinical experience, Barry and Janae Weinhold correlate the developmental causes of co-dependency with relationship problems later in life, such as establishing and maintaining boundaries, clinging and dependent behaviors, people pleasing, and difficulty achieving success in the world. Then they focus on healing co-dependency, providing compelling case histories and practical activities to help readers heal early trauma and transform themselves and their primary relationships.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Vintage Ads Most Disturbing Household Products

 


All of the following ads are real and unaltered, so don't blame us. We weren't there when they were made, and in some cases the entire insane thought process that went into creating them has been lost to history. Maybe they made perfect sense at the time?

Maybe. But it's really hard to see how even our parents and grandparents didn't get nightmares from ...

#13. Three-Legged Dingo Boots

vintageadbrowser.com

The Message:

Here are some boots that you should buy, because famous people wear them. Three of them.

The Horror:

Wait, what?

Yes, amazingly, the fact that this ad stars a pre-murder O.J. Simpson is the second-creepiest thing about it. And you can squint and try to read the text all you want -- it makes no reference whatsoever to the fact that their spokesperson has three legs. There's no cute slogan like "Boots so comfortable, you'll wish you had another foot!" Nope. It's like some guy in the art department just said, "Eh, I don't like how you can't really see the chair, let's just add another leg to fill that space."

We know what you're thinking: "Cracked, this is obviously a subtle 'big dick' joke. 'Third leg?' Get it?" But, no, it turns out this was a whole campaign they did with various celebrities, some of whom are women:

eBay
Like, uh ... this famous lady right here.

But O.J. seems to be the most frequent star of the "Third Leg" campaign, which apparently lasted for years. Note how his afro shrinks as he gets more comfortable with his new appendage:


The picture in that third ad would have been perfect for the cover of his book.

Please don't blame us for the inevitable nightmare in which O.J. is running after you, in the dark, those three boots pounding down the pavement after you with a noise like a wounded horse.

#12. Lord West Suits Will Impress Your 7-Year-Old Date

vintageadbrowser.com
"I like my women like I like my code names: 007."

The Message:

Women of all ages dig men in tuxedos!

The Horror:

According to the text, this dinner suit is for "sophisticated traditionalists," a euphemism we weren't previously aware of for "child molesters." Because there's no other way to interpret this picture. That's not tenderness on their faces. That's hunger. If you told us that they're a father and daughter, that would only make it creepier.

And it turns out that this is only the worst example in a whole series of ads associating little girls with selling tuxedos.

eBay
The style is best described as Godfather meets Lolita.

Can you imagine the pitch meeting that led to this campaign? Picture Don Draper from Mad Men standing before his clients, selling them on this idea:

"Class. Elegance. Making out with little girls. These are the values your company represents."

"Did ... did you say 'making out with little girls,' Don?"

"Yes," replied Don with perfect confidence.

"OK, just making sure."

Sitting at the end of the table, Peggy looks at Don and smiles. He did it again.

#11. Man in Tuxedo Carefully Considers Naked Child

library.duke.edu
"Told you it was bigger. Now pay up."

The Message:

Regular soap sinks in the bathtub, causing children to take longer in washing themselves and their fathers to get angry and spank them. Prevent child abuse by buying Ivory Soap -- it floats.

The Horror:

OK, they're clearly just fucking with us at this point. Remove the text and the message becomes clear: "In the old days, child predators used to dress way better than they do now." But let's put the pedophilia overtones aside for the moment and examine the text.

Was the elaborate scenario described under the picture (involving childhoods ruined by non-floating soap) really such a common problem in the '20s, or was this based on the painful personal experiences of whoever commissioned this ad? We're betting on the latter option. Note that the father's body language doesn't say "I'm going to spank you" -- he's clearly pondering which part of the kid's body to break first.


"Maybe the 28th trimester isn't too late for an abortion."

#10. "Are You Sure I'll Still Be a Virgin?"

thesocietypages.org
"If you didn't think band camp counted, I don't see why you'd think this would."

The Message:

Don't worry, teens, you can use Tampax tampons without losing your virginity.

The Horror:

Be honest: How many of you looked at this picture and immediately recognized it as a Tampax ad? And how many looked at it and thought it depicted a teenage girl being sexually propositioned? It's not just us, is it?

This ad would have looked 90 percent less sordid if both people involved were clearly visible. Instead, the second teenager is for some reason sitting on the floor of the porch with her back to us, so we can't see how young, or scared, she is. But, of course, all of that is purely from our own depraved imagination. The real ad is simply about two teenagers debating whether or not inserting a tampon counts as sex.

#9. Escaped Convicts Love Revell Authentic Model Kits

vintageadbrowser.com
"Is this the new plan, boss?"
"I've spent all day plotting against Superman; this is 'Lex Time'."

The Message:

Hey kids! Check out these sweet model kits!

The Horror:

There's only one possible scenario in which this picture could have come to exist: The photographers were getting ready to shoot this ad when they realized that the boy who was supposed to be holding up the models in the picture never showed up for work. Panicking, the man from the ad agency looked around the studio.

"Dmitri, can you come here for a second?" he said to the guy who fixes the lighting. "Stand here and hold this model. Yes, that's great. You'll play the boy in this ad."

"But sir," said the photographer, "Dmitri was just released from jail. In fact, he's still wearing the prison jumpsuit."

"No, no, he's perfect. Look at him. Look at that childlike innocence in his face."


"Could you open the top button maybe, show a little chest hair?"

"Perfect."

#8. Our Competitors = Surgical Ass Torture

vintageadbrowser.com
"Don't worry, sir, the gloves are just to establish atmosphere."

The Message:

Using cheap toilet paper can lead to medical complications.

The Horror:

... which in turn can lead to rubber-gloved hands inserting clamps in your anus. Better play it safe and go with Scott Tissues.

This attempt to traumatize customers into buying their product with threats of anal torture was part of a whole marketing campaign created during the Great Depression in which Scott Tissues' slogan went from "Wipe your butt with us" to "Wipe your butt with us, or die in a world of asshole pain."

Of course, it was all bullshit: There's no such thing as "toilet tissue illness," it was just a thing they made up to convince people to keep buying tissues at a time when they were lucky enough if they had a toilet.

#7. "Before You Scold Me, Mom ... Maybe You'd Better Light Up a Marlboro"

deceptology.com

The Message:

Before you beat your baby for stealing your favorite hat, have a cigarette and relax yourself. Then beat the baby.

The Horror:

How many times did this months-old child have to be punched before it learned to pick up the Marlboros and offer them to mommy to calm her down? If that's not the saddest thing you've imagined all week, you're dead inside. This is actually one in a series of ads from the '50s, back when Marlboro was targeting mommies instead of rugged cowboys. Sometimes the babies actually seem to be guilting their moms into smoking more.

tobacco.stanford.edu
"You turned me into an addict when I was a fetus, now deal with it."

Oddly enough, the version of this ad aimed at fathers doesn't involve scolding, but a pompous baby in a basket defending daddy's rather feminine cigarette tastes (note the reference to "beauty tips" at the bottom).

tobacco.stanford.edu
This is the kind of debate babies have all the time.




Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Jessica Harper admits £2.4m Lloyds Bank fraud

A former Lloyds Bank worker in charge of online security has admitted carrying out a fraud worth more than £2.4m. Jessica Harper, 50, had been accused of submitting false invoices to claim payments between 2007 and 2011. At the time she was working as head of fraud and security for digital banking and made false claims totalling £2,463,750. Harper, of South Croydon, south London, will be sentenced on 21 September. At Southwark Crown Court, Harper admitted a single charge of fraud by abuse of position by submitting false invoices to claim payments. 'A very simple fraud' She also admitted a single charge of transferring criminal property, the money, which she had defrauded from her employers. Harper was arrested on 21 December before being charged in May. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Jessica Harper has today been convicted of the type of crime the bank employed her to combat” Sue Patten Crown Prosecution Service Antony Swift, prosecuting, did not open the facts of the case but said it was a "a very simple fraud". He added Harper had already repaid £300,000 and was in the process of selling her house for about £700,000. "That will be some £1m out of £2.5m that's gone missing," he told the judge. Carol Hawley, defending, said: "She appreciates the seriousness and has made full admissions in interview. "She understands perfectly well on the next occasion she will be facing imprisonment of some length." Breach of trust Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith granted Harper bail on the condition she stays at her current address, obeys a 21:00 to 07:00 curfew and hands in her passport. Sue Patten, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Central Fraud Division, said: "Jessica Harper has today been convicted of the type of crime the bank employed her to combat. "The evidence in the case was clear and left Harper with little choice but to plead guilty. "In doing so, she has admitted to a huge breach of trust against her former employer." Lloyds is now 39.7% state-owned after being bailed out by the government during the financial crisis.

Shares in Standard Chartered dive after Iran allegations

Shares in Standard Chartered PLC dropped sharply today as investors reacted to US charges that the bank was involved in laundering money for Iran. The charges against Standard Chartered were a shock for a bank which proudly described itself recently as “boring.” Shares were down nearly 20 percent at 1,187 pence at one point in early trading Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange. In Hong Kong, they were down 16.6 percent near the end of the session. New York State Department of Financial Services alleged on Monday that Standard Chartered schemed with the Iranian government to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007, leaving the United States' financial system “vulnerable to terrorists.” Standard Chartered said it “strongly rejects” the allegations. In a statement, the bank said “well over 99.9 percent” of the questioned transactions with Iran complied with all regulations, and the exceptions amounted to $14 million. The New York regulator ordered Standard Chartered representatives to appear in New York City on Aug. 15 “to explain these apparent violations of law” and to demonstrate why its license to operate in the State of New York “should not be revoked.” Gary Greenwood, analyst at Shore Capital in London, said the possible revocation of the New York license was of far greater concern than any potential fine, which could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. Standard Chartered's US operation facilitates trade for customers that have operations in both the United States and emerging markets. “Indeed, this is an area of the business that has been highlighted by management for growth,” Greenwood said. “A loss of its US banking license would not only jeopardize part of this profit stream, but the associated reputational damage could also have a severely damaging impact to its operations within emerging markets.” The New York agency alleged that Standard Chartered conspired with Iranian clients to route nearly 60,000 different US dollar payments through Standard Chartered's New York branch “after first stripping information from wire transfer messages used to identify sanctioned countries, individuals and entities.” The New York regulators called the bank a rogue institution and quoted one of its executives as saying: “You (expletive) Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we're not going to deal with Iranians.” The order also identifies an October 2006 “panicked message” from a London group executive director who worried the transactions could lead to “very serious or even catastrophic reputational damage to the group.” If proven, the scheme would violate state money-laundering laws. The order also accuses the bank of falsifying business records, obstructing governmental administration, failing to report misconduct to the state quickly, evading federal sanctions and other illegal acts. Between 2004 and 2007, about half the period covered by the order, the department claims Standard Chartered hid from and lied about its Iranian transactions to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Before 2008, banks were allowed to transact some business with Iran, but only with full reporting and disclosure, the order states. In 2008, the US Treasury Department stopped those transactions because it suspected they helped pay for Iran to develop nuclear weapons and finance terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah. The order states the bank has to provide information and answer questions to determine if any of the funding aided the groups or Iran's nuclear program. Last week, Standard Chartered' chief executive, Peter Sands, boasted that the bank has racked up a 10-year string of record first-half profits “amidst all the turbulence in the global economy and the apparently never-ending turmoil in the world of banking.” “It may seem boring in contrast to what is going on elsewhere, but we see some virtue in being boring,” Sands added.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Pigs worship God of Materialism

If ever there was a god to prevent you from worshiping material things, it would be this one.


The hideous pig-like thing is the masterpiece by Chinese artist Chen Wenling called God Of Materialism.

godmaterialismUgly pig with green eye darting at thier master

Looking chuffed, the huge greedy pig has minions of other tiny, and just as unattractive and scary, pigs worshiping in awe at its heels.

The group stare up at their master, adorned with a plethora of jewels and necklaces representing the grotesque love of material things.

The sculpture, which looks like a bad dream, can be found at the Asia Art Centre in Beijing.

And if you're brave enough to go and see it, it will be there till October 18th 2008.



Brad Pitt is reportedly utilising his free time to plan his wedding with Angelina Jolie.


Brad Pitt busy planning wedding

The 48-year-old has taken charge of preparations for the wedding that is expected to take place end of September. He has flown in a team of builders to renovate the home he shares with Jolie in southern France.

"Angelina isn`t so bothered about when they tie the knot, it`s Brad who is piling on the pressure," a website has quoted a source as saying.

"He wants the main house to be finished when the event takes place, even though the close friends and relatives who are invited aren`t the types to care. He wants everything to be absolutely perfect," the source added.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

yellow jacket stun gun case for iphone



yellow jacket is a case that transforms the iPhone 4 & 4S into that 650,000-volt stun gun you've always needed.





scheduled to hit the US market in fall 2012 the case is advertised as being able to 
easily stop an aggressive male attacker, and ready for use in less than two seconds. 
its designer seth froom, a former military policeman came up with the product after 
being robbed in his home at gunpoint.

what is the demand for such a hostile product you might ask? well, yellow jacket 
has managed to receive over 100,000 USD worth of backing on the crowd-funding 
website indiegogo which means that there must be quite a few people out there 
who feel the need to transform their phone into a weapon.


detail of the stun gun nodes 

the iPhone's designers could never have conceived half of the the weird and wonderful accessories 
that have been designed for use with the iPhone since its launch, but even in the name of self defense 
a stun gun seems a bit much, doesn't it?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Now You Can Buy a $250,000 Nail Polish

Remember that time when everyone got all freaked out about thatsnakeskin pedicure that cost $300? Well, get ready to completely lose it, because we just got a press release for the “most expensive nail polish in the world.”

That title was previously held by Models Own, which produced a $130,000 bottle (featuring a 24-carat gold, diamond-encrusted lid) back in 2010. However, the self-professed “king of black diamonds,” Azature, has doubled that figure. A bottle of black nail polish containing a whopping 267 carats of black diamonds in the actual polish will go for $250,000. Yikes. You won’t be able to just walk into Duane Reade and buy this sucker, however–only one bottle of the stuff will be produced.

For those of us who can’t afford a quarter of a million dollars for a manicure, Azature is offering a $25 version (see, now doesn’t $25 nail polish sound downright cheap in comparison?) containing one measly black diamond. You’ll be able to pick it up in LA at Fred Segal starting this month.

Estepona Town Hall sacks 176 municipal workers

The news was given on Wednesday by the Councillor for Personnel, Pilar Fernández-Figares Estepona Town Hall has sacked 176 municipal workers. The PP Councillor for Personnel, Pilar Fernández-Figares, announced on Wednesday that the 176 workers are victims of the ERE Employment Regulation which the Town Hall put forward in June. The workers will be compensated with 2.5 million € and they will be given their ‘finiquito payments of 408,000 € between them. Pilar Fernández-Figares said one they were sacked the Town Hall will start to work on a new ‘training program for the reinsertion of the sacked workers’.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

BMW to sell luxury cars for less online

The BMW i3 concept car at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.

The BMW i3 concept car at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

BMW will sell cars over the Web for the first time as the world's largest maker of luxury vehicles seeks an inexpensive way to reach more buyers to recoup spending on its electric models.

A direct online sales platform for BMW's new I sub-brand will be unique in an industry where, outside of small-scale experiments, competitors leave Internet orders for cars to dealers. BMW's range of strategies for the models, including a roaming sales force backing a limited showroom network, reflects the challenge carmakers face as low-emission vehicles trickle into dealerships to sluggish demand after years of development.

"There is considerable risk in BMW's approach of promoting the I brand so prominently," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Science in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. "There is the image risk, if they don't succeed as quickly as expected, and then there's the main risk of costs, which can only be countered with high deliveries."

BMW opened the I models' first showroom Tuesday in London, although only prototype cars and informational materials will be displayed at first because the vehicles themselves won't go on sale before next year. BMW is spending about $3 billion developing the i3 battery-powered city car and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, according to an estimate by Frost & Sullivan. Industry sales of electric cars last year, at 43,000 vehicles, were only 57 percent of the 75,000 deliveries predicted by Sarwant Singh, a London-based automotive partner at the consulting company.

Starting prices posted

The four-seat i3, scheduled to reach the market in late 2013, will be priced at about 40,000 euros ($48,500), Bratzel estimated. That compares with a 23,850-euro starting price ($29,388) in Germany for the 1-Series, the cheapest BMW-brand car. The i8, targeted for sale in 2014, will cost more than 100,000 euros ($123,221), according to Ian Robertson, BMW's sales chief.

Details of how I-model buyers, the website and dealerships will interact are "still in the planning process" and will be communicated later, Linda Croissant, a spokeswoman at Munich- based BMW, said last week. Sales will be focused on the world's major urban areas, she said.

The online sales option is aimed at a generation of drivers used to making daily purchases over the Internet, and will be an extension of the car configuration that most automakers offer customers to view models with desired options such as interior colors, seat materials and roof styles.

Test drives not an option

The Internet platform may take a while to catch on because "many customers will still want to go somewhere to look at and drive the vehicle before buying," said Ian Fletcher, an auto analyst in London at research company IHS Global Insight.

"With new technologies, there may be even greater skepticism about buying a car over the Internet, as in many cases you'll have to win the confidence of customers that it works and there is support for them," Fletcher said in an email.

The setup may help BMW reduce expenses: Internet sales require less than half the cost of distributing through a dealership, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Center Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. That allows online car prices to be 5 percent to 7 percent less than showroom tags.

Still, BMW sees standard dealerships as "the backbone of what we are doing in the interface with the customer" for the I models, Robertson said in June at a press presentation at the sub-brand's Park Lane showroom in London.

Dealer selection criteria

Outlets will be restricted to dealers with high BMW-brand sales volume who have floor space as well as capacity to work with I models' powering technology and carbon-fiber body material, Robertson said. The carmaker has chosen 45 of its approximately 200 dealers in Germany to sell the i3 and i8, a ratio that will probably be similar elsewhere, he said.

Dealers will be designated as agents for the I models, which provides an "advantage" by keeping the vehicles on the carmaker's books, the association of BMW distributors in Germany said in an email.

Electric vehicles' disadvantages versus conventional cars include costly battery packs, limited ranges and the time needed to recharge. Consumer reception to models like the Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf and General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt has been tepid.

"Currently available electric cars have a limited market success because they are a big compromise," said Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst at Credit Suisse AG. "Customers are not willing to compromise and spend a lot of money."

Carbon fiber bodies lighter

BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer started Project I at the end of 2007 as tighter emissions regulations threatened the viability of sporty sedans. BMW chose to create all-new vehicles that use expensive carbon fiber for a lighter body to make up for the weight of the battery system.

The approach contrasts with a decision by Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz Cars division to convert existing models, such as the van-like B-Class or two-seat Smart, to electric power.

To make its electric vehicles more attractive, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler's Smart brand offers to lease the battery separately from the car. The automaker has a target of selling more than 10,000 of the models next year, with a starting price of 18,910 euros plus monthly battery rental at 65 euros.

The I models' new technology poses risks for BMW, "but they have no choice if they want to keep their premium and image as an innovation leader," Ellinghorst said.

The i3 and i8 will probably be among BMW's lowest-selling models through 2024, alongside the existing Z4 roadster, according to IHS estimates. In 2014, the first full year of production, BMW will probably deliver 31,380 i3s, compared with 564,760 of the best-selling 3-Series model and 18,101 Z4s, a study by the research company shows.

BMW's stance is that the models should produce earnings from the start, sales chief Robertson said.

"We clearly, as a company, go into any product launch with the view of making profit, which is no different with the I brand," Robertson said. "This is a car line just as every other car line, and we intend to make profit from Day 1."




Saturday, 28 July 2012

Tulisa's Friend, 21, Shot Dead In Gangland Hit

Reece James, 21, a close friend of Tulisa Contostavlos has been shot dead in a reported gangland attack. The 21-year-old, who appeared with Tulisa in a video for rapper Nines, was shot in the head in a "pre-planned and targeted" hit, 100 miles from his home in London, reports the UK's Sun newspaper. Police found James' body in Boscombe, Bournemouth, at around 2.30am near where Somali drug gangs are said operate. A 22-year-old man was arrested. Reece was said to have been in the area with some friends for "a couple of months", though had filmed the video earlier this month with Tulisa and rapper Nines on the Church End Estate in Harlesden, North West London. The former N Dubz star caused controversy at the time, making a "C" symbol to the camera - the same sign that is used by Harlesden's notorious Church Road Soldiers gang. Tulisa claimed it was a reference to Camden, where she was born. Twitter tributes began flooding in last night, with one user writing, "RIP Reece James. Thoughts are with him and his family and friends". Local MP Tobias Ellwood described the killing as "a spill over from the drugs turf war in the capital", adding, "This was one London gang chasing down another, carrying out a professional hit and then going back".

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gangs of highway robbers are targeting British tourists on holiday in Spain.

Hundreds of visitors in British-registered vehicles or hire cars have had their possessions, passports and money taken in ‘quick and slick’ distraction muggings.

The thieves typically trick their victims with loud noises, apparent accidents, supposed vehicle problems or pleas for help – before stealing bags and belongings from their vehicles. 

Thieves: Hundreds of visitors in British-registered vehicles or hire cars have had their possessions, passports and money taken in 'quick and slick' distraction muggings

Thieves: Hundreds of visitors in British-registered vehicles or hire cars have had their possessions, passports and money taken in 'quick and slick' distraction muggings

As millions of families begin their summer breaks, the Foreign Office has warned British-registered cars are ‘an easy target’ for motorway thieves. 

The number of British tourists ambushed on Spanish roads has soared as the euro crisis has deepened, with the British Embassy in Madrid reporting a 10 per cent rise in the first quarter of this year.

 This is likely to increase further as the peak holiday season begins. 

A spokesman for the embassy said:  ‘Motorists may be driving along the motorway and not notice there’s a car close up behind. 

‘Someone in the other car throws a stone at their vehicle which creates a loud bang. The British drivers pull over to see what has happened and the gang is behind them. 

‘They cause a distraction to steal from them or simply mug them. It’s a growing problem.’

Warning: As millions of families begin their summer breaks, the Foreign Office has warned British-registered cars are ¿an easy target¿ for motorway thieves

Warning: As millions of families begin their summer breaks, the Foreign Office has warned British-registered cars are ¿an easy target¿ for motorway thieves

A hotspot for the gangs is the AP7 motorway between the French border and the Alicante region in southern Spain. 

More than 140 cases of theft on this route were reported to British Consulates last year. 

However, a spokesman said there were likely to be ‘hundreds more’ attacks going unreported across Spain because victims usually contact a British consulate only if they have lost their passport. 

Dave Thomas, consular regional director for Spain, said: ‘Be on your guard against anyone who attempts to stop you or ask you for help.

‘They may well be part of a  gang operating a scam in which an unseen accomplice will rob you of your things.’ 

Stephen and Helen Robinson, from Desford, Leicestershire, had their bags stolen from their Audi Q5 as they stopped to walk their labrador retriever Polly at a service station between Barcelona and Valencia. 

The couple, who are in their 50s, were standing at the boot of their car when a man on a mobile phone asked them how to say something in English. 

While he distracted them, their belongings were taken from the front of the car, despite Polly being inside. 

Mrs Robinson said: ‘It was quick and slick. You may be more tired and therefore more vulnerable when you’ve been travelling, so separate your valuables into different places in the car, and when you stop be aware you may be being watched. You won’t see the accomplice of the person who is distracting you.’ 

In a separate incident, Joy and Alan Horton, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, were driving a Ford Focus hatchback through Spain when they heard a loud bang and pulled over.

A car that had been travelling close behind them also stopped, and while the driver talked to them, his accomplice stole their possessions without them noticing.

Mr Horton said: ‘If you think your car may have been in a collision and you pull over, lock the car as soon as you get out and mount a guard on both sides of the vehicle. Keep all bags and valuables in a locked boot.’ 

Professor Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘Drivers need to remember to stay alert and be ready for unwelcome surprises just as they would be at home.’



Thursday, 26 July 2012

The biggest fines in British maritime history were handed down to a group of Spanish fishermen on Thursday, for illegal fishing in UK waters.


Leo blog : Romanian fishermen are cleaning up their net from small dead fish
 Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

Some of the biggest fines in British maritime history were handed down to a group of Spanish fishermen on Thursday, for illegal fishing in UK waters.

Two companies owned by the Vidal family were fined £1.62m in total in a Truro court, after a two-day hearing, in which details emerged of falsified log books, failing to register the transfer of fish between vessels, false readings given for weighing fish at sea, and fiddling of fishing quotas.

Judge Graham Cottle said the family were guilty of "wholesale falsification of official documentation" that amounted to a "systematic, repeated and cynical abuse of the EU fishing quota system over a period of 18 months".

He said: "[This was a] flagrant, repeated and long term abuse of regulations. The fish targeted [hake] was at that time a species of fish on the verge if collapse and adherence to quotas was seen as crucial to the survival of the species."

The Spanish fishing vessels had been sailing under UK flags and were landing fish based on quotas given to British fishermen under the EU's common fisheries policy. Two vessels were involved, but the companies own several other large vessels, capable of industrial-scale fishing.

The offending fishermen, who admitted their guilt earlier this year, were not in court to hear him, having been given leave to return to Spain last night. The offences, dating from 2009 and 2010, relate to two companies, Hijos De Vidal Bandin SA and Sealskill Limited, both owned by the Vidal family. They were fined £925,000 on a confiscation order, plus £195,000 in costs, and an additional fine of £250,000 levied on each of the two companies. Two skippers who were acting under the family's instructions were fined £5,000 each.

Ariana Densham, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, who was present for the trial and judgement, said that the fines, while welcome, did not go far enough. "This group of people should never be allowed near UK fishing quota again," she said. "The Vidal's right to fish should be removed completely."

She said the offences showed the vulnerability of the EU's fishing quota system to fraud. "The system that allowed this to happen needs to be fixed," she said. "This case is not a one off. It's a symptom of Europe's farcical fishing rules. The Vidals were permitted to fish under UK flags, using UK quota, and receive huge EU subsidies, with none of the proceeds ever feeding back into the UK economy. The system is skewed in favour of rich, powerful, industrial-scale fishing companies, when really it should be supporting low-impact, sustainable fishermen."

There are currently moves under way in Brussels by the fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, to reform the EU's common fisheries policy. The proposed reforms – which include the ending of the wasteful practice of discarding healthy and edible fish at sea – have met stiff opposition, particularly from the French and Spanish fishing industries. Spain has the biggest fishing fleet in Europe and receives the lion's share of the subsidies available for fishing within the EU. A historic agreement was reached among member states last month on the proposals, but they must now pass the European parliament, which is expected to consider the proposals later this year.

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