Archive for July 8th, 2011

July 8, 2011

Winning formula

Bobsleigh McLaren Applied Technologies helped improve the sleigh of the GB Women’s bobsleigh team As the roar from Formula 1 racing cars shakes Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, silent concentration reigns at the futuristic-looking base of one of the leading teams, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

This weekend, everything at this unusual car plant in Woking, Surrey, is about winning the race on Sunday, so technicians will be hard at work as usual.

But for one division of the McLaren Group, victory on the racetrack is merely a means to an end.

Meet McLaren Applied Technologies – a department specially dedicated to expanding the home-grown Formula 1 know-how into the non-F1 world.

Sure, other F1 teams also make products that are not directly related to Grand Prix racing – such as Red Bull’s energy drink or Ferrari’s roadcars.

McLaren's road car and Venge racing bike McLaren’s road car and Venge racing bike are probably the most well-known non-F1 products

But McLaren is focusing more on making money from the application of technologies developed for F1 cars to solve challenges off the racetrack.

McLaren’s most famous product, besides its road cars, is probably the ultra-light carbon-fibre racing bike, Venge.

Developed in partnership with US cycling firm Specialized, it is said to be the fastest road-racing bicycle in the world.

“Their expertise in carbon technology and computing systems is exceptional,” says Specialized research and development director Eric Edgecombe.

“After spending just a short amount of time together we realised that we shared some very core, deeply held beliefs about winning at the highest level.”

The partnership has yielded results.

The first time the bike raced, it won the Milan-San Remo race – which at 298km is the longest professional one-day race.

Advanced telemetry

But there are lesser-known areas of application, too.

One cutting edge technology is McLaren’s advanced telemetry system, which uses sensors to monitor data feeds and thus enable real-time strategy and decision making.

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It is a system to allow engineers to design a car – they build a car in the virtual world, then put the driver in the virtual model and validate”

End Quote Geoff McGrath McLaren Applied Technologies “We’ve decided to take the aspect of remote condition monitoring of the car, and apply it to monitoring of people,” explains Geoff McGrath, the head of the Applied Technologies department.

As he walks along a futuristic transparent walkway, suspended just under the ceiling, Mr McGrath says that the firm has already used this technology on patients undergoing a weight loss programme at a clinic in Norfolk.

The patients had medical sensors hooked up to them, transmitting data to the doctors.

“In the words of the people on the programme, they essentially had their GP with them, in their pocket,” Mr McGrath explains.

“They could have continuous monitoring and also continuous interaction and feedback.”

If patients are interested in an early warning, athletes might want to make vital improvements in performance.

The technology has already been used to train UK athletes in a number of Olympic disciplines – for instance, in canoeing.

“McLaren’s miniature sensors go inside the paddle, so every time an athlete applies force on the water, the sensor measures it and transmits the data back to see how fast the boat is going,” explains Scott Drawer from UK Sport, a public body for directing the development of sport in the UK.

Canoeing McLaren’s sensors have been put in paddles to accelerate the athletes’ rate of development

This instant feedback helps athletes make more informed decisions about when to rest and how to change techniques, thus accelerating their rate of development – and increasing their chances of success in competitions.

The sensors were also installed into the sleigh of the GB Women’s bobsleigh team, which won the Women’s World Bobsleigh Championships in Lake Placid, US, in 2009.

Continue reading the main story
Firms like Williams and McLaren are outstanding examples of British innovation and engineering”

End Quote Professor Rick Delbridge Cardiff University But applications in advanced telemetry can go beyond helping patients and athletes, says Mr McGrath. The system could be used, for instance, in a workplace.

“If you want your employees to behave well and deliver the best optimum results, wouldn’t it make sense to take care of the holistic health, wellbeing, and work-life balance?

“Well, if you don’t measure that performance and the conditions, how can you possibly optimise and deliver the best?

“For example, an executive who wants to deliver high performance… wants to know when his stress level is peaking, or know that he has not fully recovered after a bad night’s sleep – and that he’d better be careful before doing a press conference on TV first thing that morning.”

Virtual design

Another interesting application of F1 technologies is a motorsport simulator.

Not all racing teams have their own, but McLaren has two.

Flywheel Williams’ flywheel technology helps save energy

One is used to design the F1 race cars and train the drivers, letting them “drive” on virtual circuits, very much like playing an ultra-complex video game.

The second one, which is currently being built, will be used by other motorsport companies, as well as for the McLaren road car.

The impressive structure is formed of a huge semi-spherical screen that provides a 180-degrees view.

A seat is installed on rails in front of it, and a powerful sound system imitates the real-world environment.

Once seated, a driver gets a fully immersive illusion of driving, with the “car” moving like a real one.

“It is a system to allow engineers to design a car,” explains Mr McGrath.

“They build a car in the virtual world, then put the driver in the virtual model and validate.”

Saving fuel

But McLaren is not the only F1 firm interested in becoming a player outside the Grand Prix world.

Williams F1 has developed flywheel energy storage technology – an alternative to a chemical battery in hybrid cars – and it has been used to power the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

Continue reading the main story
We’re developing a much larger version of this flywheel technology that can be used to reduce the energy consumption of a metro train”

End Quote Alex Burns CEO, Williams F1 AT&T Williams F1’s chief executive Alex Burns says that the flywheel is a great way to save fuel – and it could be applied to city buses, trams and other vehicles that stop and start frequently.

“We’re also developing a much larger version of this flywheel technology that can be used to reduce the total energy consumption of a metro train as it goes from station to station,” Mr Burns says.

Williams has its own simulator too, which the company is also adapting for non-racing vehicles.

Reasons for expansion

F1 companies expanding outside the core of their sport have different reasons for doing so.

Williams, for instance, may be diversifying into non-F1 areas to secure new revenue streams and balance out its F1 income, according to Christian Sylt from Formula Money magazine.

But whatever the reasons, potential for “spillovers” is great – and Eric Edgecombe of Specialized believes that it is critical for F1 teams to pursue it.

“They can learn a lot about what motivates people in their buying decisions, and they can also learn a great deal about what motivates F1 fans, and why they are attracted to and inspired by one team over another,” he says.

But in the end, it all depends on the teams’ strategies and the very reasons why they are on the track.

“Some really focus on the engineering and innovation. For others, it is more about visibility and brand recognition – they don’t expect to win and may not anticipate applying the engineering developments,” says Professor Rick Delbridge of Cardiff University, the author of a report on cutting-edge F1 technologies.

“And firms like Williams and McLaren are outstanding examples of British innovation and engineering, vitally important to the country’s reputation beyond F1.”

Williams Technology Centre Williams Technology Centre, based in Qatar Science and technology park, is dedicated specifically to expanding into the non-F1 world

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July 8, 2011

UK merchant ships ‘may be armed’

7 July 2011 Last updated at 14:42 GMT By Victoria King BBC News, Political reporter A Somali pirate (archive image from 2010) Piracy off the coast of Somalia is said to cost companies billions The UK is preparing to give formal legal backing to the use of private armed guards on British merchant vessels to protect against piracy.

At present, the government “strongly discourages” the practice and anyone doing it could be in breach of the law.

But Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said companies should be free to decide on their own security.

He said ideally Royal Marines would be posted on all UK ships, but currently resources did not allow that.

Piracy in the Indian Ocean, particularly off the coast of Somalia, has become a growing problem in recent year. Many companies have been forced to pay large ransoms to secure the release of hostages and cargo.

‘Fact of life’

During World War I and II, British merchant vessels were routinely armed, but since then the legal position has been unclear, and any shipowners who employ armed guards could be in breach of the law – as could the guards themselves.

But giving evidence to the foreign affairs committee, Mr Bellingham said the government wanted to clarify the situation.

He said there had not been a single recorded hijack of a vessel with private security and a lot of shipping lines had been “pressing very hard” for a change in the Department for Transport’s guidelines.

“We want them to change those guidelines to at the very least neutral,” he said.

“The government recognises that armed private security companies are a fact of life.

“We take the view that the UK government shouldn’t encourage this, but should not discourage it, so it would be a decision for the shipping industry on a case by case basis.”

Mr Bellingham said a review was currently taking place and he had written to Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss the changes that would be needed to firearms legislation.

He said he believed the changes could be brought about by secondary legislation, with the home secretary issuing permits to any companies wishing to carry weapons.

The British government is thought to be one of the first to promise statutory changes on the issue, but the minister said it would be important to work with other countries because a lot of UK companies use vessels registered elsewhere.

‘Considerable burden’

The committee asked whether it would be possible for the Ministry of Defence to follow the example of France and Spain and provide so-called military vessel protection detachments (VPDs) to protect individual ships.

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If you wish them to do that they would have to stop doing something else”

End Quote Capt David Reindorp Defence crisis management centre Mr Bellingham said that would be “a very welcome step forward” but the current pressure on resources made it impractical.

“At the moment our armed forces are very heavily committed. If a stage was reached when our armed forces were less committed I’m sure the MoD would look at a request for providing VPDs.”

Capt David Reindorp, head of the MoD’s defence crisis management centre, estimated the UK would need about 500 Royal Marines at any one time to protect all of its vessels.

“That doesn’t take into account the 500 that would be preparing to take over from them and the 500 that would be recovering from having been there,” he said.

“That’s a considerable burden. If you wish them to do that they would have to stop doing something else.”

Britain’s Chamber of Shipping has said it supports the government’s actions to clarify the law, but said armed guards should only be used as a resort and relying on them demonstrates a failure by naval forces to protect merchant shipping.


The committee also demanded to know why nine out of 10 suspected pirates captured off Somalia by the Royal Navy were released without charge.

They said that last month alone, three ships carrying pirates and their hostages were intercepted by the Navy, but all of the alleged criminals were released without charge.

Capt Reindorp said his personnel found it “very frustrating” and said there were a number of factors which made it very difficult to detain and prosecute pirates unless they were caught actually in the act.

He said witnesses and hostages often refused to testify, and it could be hard to tell pirates from hostages and ordinary fishermen.

Mr Bellingham said the UK was trying to build local capacity to bring prosecutions by channelling aid money into court and prison facilities.

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July 8, 2011

Homophobia row opera to go ahead

 The cast of Billy Elliot the Musical Hall’s acclaimed musical Billy Elliot featured gay characters An opera by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall, which was at the centre of a row over a gay character, is to go ahead after Hall removed the word “queer”.

The writer agreed to change the word to “gay” after a primary school removed 300 children from the community show.

The cancellation sparked accusations of homophobia but Bay Primary school has now said it is happy with the language.

Beached, commissioned by Opera North, will take place, as planned, in Bridlington on 15 July.

The school had complained about the lines: “Of course I’m queer/That’s why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And I’m working class/I’d have to concur.”

Hall told BBC News: “I agreed to change “queer” to “gay” as to me they are synonymous. I would have done this months ago if asked.”

The contested lines have now been changed to: “Of course I’m gay/That’s why I went away/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And him working class/I’d have to concur.”

‘Intense negotiations’

In a joint statement, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Bay Primary said the school would take part now that the libretto was “an age appropriate text”.

They said they were “delighted” that the author had “addressed the points raised by the school”.

The council, the school and Opera North all denied being motivated by homophobia.

They said they had never “expressed any concern over the inclusion of a gay character, only some of the language and tone around the character’s identity”, the statement said.

Writer Lee Hall and Opera North director Richard Mantle discussed the controversy on BBC Breakfast

“The writer has now addressed this,” it added.

But in his own statement, Hall said the school had “backed down”.

“This is a real victory for people speaking up against discrimination.

“It had been an intractable situation for weeks and the school and Opera North were given no other option but to take a U-turn on their discriminatory position.

“It’s clearly a victory for good sense. We cannot silence gay people or any minorities. It’s a real victory for collective action.”

“They tried to censor me and they failed,” he added.

Beached tells the story of a single father trying and failing to have a quiet day at Bridlington beach.

Opera North, which has had a two-year residency in the town, said “intense negotiations” had been taking place since the performance was called off on Friday.

“We have been at pains to work closely with the writers at all times, and have supported their rights of artistic expression throughout,” a statement from the Leeds-based company said.

“We have also worked equally hard to ensure that the schools and community groups involved in the project have positive feelings of ownership and identity within the production.”

July 8, 2011

Aid agencies issue drought appeal

Skip to content Skip to local navigation Skip to navigation Skip to search Help Accessibility Help BBC News UK Home UK Africa Asia-Pac Europe Latin America Mid-East South Asia US & Canada Business Health Sci/Environment Tech Entertainment Video England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales UK Politics Education Magazine 8 July 2011Last updated at 07:59 GMT Share this page Delicious Digg Facebook reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print East Africa drought: DEC appeals for funds Children walk down a dusty street in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya on July 4, 2011. More than 1,300 people a day are arriving at the Dadaab Refugee camp A group of UK aid agencies has launched a joint fund-raising appeal to help more than 10 million people affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa.

Thousands of families in desperate need of food and water have trekked for days from Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

The drought is the worst in East Africa for 60 years and the UN described it as a “humanitarian emergency”.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal will be broadcast by the BBC.

Continue reading the main storyDisasters Emergency Committee DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agencies. Participants in the appeal include ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. To make a donation call 0370 60 60 900, text ‘CRISIS’ to 70000 to donate £5, post a donation to PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AA Disasters Emergency CommitteeHorn of Africa tested by severe droughtSomalia’s starving pour into violent city Comedian Lenny Henry will front the BBC TV appeal while broadcaster Kate Adie will voice the radio version.

The DEC said more than 1,300 people a day were arriving in the Dadaab camp – already thought to be the world’s largest, with a population of 350,000.

A similar number are crossing into Ethiopia, aid workers say.

Many of those reaching the camps are severely malnourished children, some of whom have died soon after arriving.

‘Duty to help’

“Slowly but surely, these people have seen their lives fall apart – crops, livestock and now their homes have been taken by the drought,” DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said.

Continue reading the main story#main-content.story .layout-block-a .story-body #ss-africa_drought.story-feature{ width: 304px;}h2.dslideshow-header{padding-left: 8px;}#ss-africa_drought.story-feature div.dslideshow-entries dl.dslideshow-entry p{padding-left: 8px;font-weight: bold;}div.dslideshow-entries{margin-top: -33px;}div#ss-africa_drought{border: 1px solid #BDBDBD;} Extended drought is causing a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Weather conditions over the Pacific means the rains have failed for two seasons and are unlikely to return until September.Food shortages are affecting up to 12 million people. The UN has not declared a famine but large areas of the region are now classified as in crisis or emergency, with malnutrition affecting up to 35-40% of children under five. The humanitarian problem is made worse by ongoing conflicts, which means that until July militant groups had only allowed aid organisations limited access to large parts of southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia.Since the beginning of 2011, around 15,000 Somalis each month have fled into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia looking for food and water. The refugee camp at Dadaab, in Kenya, has been overwhelmed by 370,000 people. Farmers unable to meet their basic food costs are abandoning their herds. High cereal and fuel prices had already forced them to sell many animals before the drought and their smaller herds are now unprofitable or dying.The refugee problem may have been preventable. However, violent conflict in the region has deterred international investment in long-term development programmes, which may have reduced the effects of the drought.Development aid would focus on reducing deforestation, topsoil erosion and overgrazing and improving water conservation. New roads and infrastructure for markets would help farmers increase their profits. The result of climate conditions, conflict and lack of investment is that 6.7 million people in Kenya and Ethiopia are currently existing on food rations, and relief agencies estimate 2.6 million in Somalia will need assistance a new emergency operation. BACK{current} of {total}NEXT “They’ve been left with no alternative but to seek shelter and lifesaving help elsewhere.

“We have a duty to help quickly before the situation spirals out of control.”

The UK has pledged £38m ($61m) in food aid to drought-hit Ethiopia – enough to feed 1.3m people for three months.

The DEC appeal will help people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan, which will officially separate from the Republic of Sudan on 9 July.

“Of course these people need a long-term solution with investment and political will – but right now it’s about preventing a tragedy,” said Mr Gormley.

Aid agencies, including the Kenyan Red Cross, the Somali Red Crescent and Action Aid, are being helped by local groups to access remote areas with food, water and medical treatment.

More on This Story Related Stories Horn of Africa tested by severe drought 04 JULY 2011, AFRICA UK aid for drought-hit Ethiopia 03 JULY 2011, UK Somalia: Counting the cost of anarchy 26 JANUARY 2011, AFRICA Somalia’s starving pour into violent city 18 JUNE 2011, FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT From other news sites Daily Star Agencies in Africa drought appealFull Story 9 hrs ago The Economist* Hunger in the Horn of Africa: Once more unto the abyss 16 hrs ago Scottish Sun Plea to avert East Africa ‘tragedy’ 18 hrs ago Agencies in Africa drought appeal 27 hrs ago Boston Globe* Triangle of hunger batters millions Africa’s Horn 39 hrs ago About these results* May require registration or subscription Related Internet links Disasters Emergency Committee The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

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July 8, 2011

Green energy reaches record level

By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News Solar power station, India (Image: AP) India saw a 25% increase in renewables spending, with investment reaching $3.8bn in 2010 Global investment in renewable energy sources grew by 32% during 2010 to reach a record level of US$211bn (£132bn), a UN study has reported.

The main growth drivers were backing for wind farms in China and rooftop solar panels in Europe, it said.

It also found that developing nations invested more in green power than rich nations for the first time last year.

The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011 report was prepared for the UN by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The continuing growth in this core segment of the green economy is not happening by chance,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

“The combination of government target-setting, policy support and stimulus funding is underpinning the renewable industry’s rise and bringing the much needed transformation of our global energy system within reach.”

In 2010, developing economies spent more on “financial new investment”, pumping $72bn into renewable projects compared with the $70bn outlay by developed economies.

China topped the table of investors again, spending $48.9bn – up 28% from 2009. There were also sizeable increases in investment from other developing or emerging economies:

South and Central America: up 39% (from 2009 levels) to $13.1bnMiddle East and Africa: up 104% to $5bnIndia: up 25% to $3.8bn

However, the report stated, there was not growth in all sectors. There was a 22% decline in the investment in large-scale projects – such as windfarms – within Europe, where the funding fell to $35bn.

But there was a surge in small-scale projects, such as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, especially within Germany, where investment in a “micro-solar boom” had increased by 132% to $34bn compared with 2009 figures.

As the renewable technologies continued to mature, the report added, the cost per megawatt (MW) continued to fall. It said that the cost of PV modules had fallen on a per-MW basis by 60% since 2008.

The authors forecasted: “Further improvements in the… cost of energy for solar, wind and other technologies lie ahead, posing a bigger and bigger threat to the dominance of fossil-fuel generation sources in the next few years.”

Mr Steiner said that there was a number of key gatherings coming up over the coming 12 months that would help maintain the momentum towards renewables.

He said: “The UN climate convention meeting in Durban, South Africa, later in the year, followed by the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012, offer key opportunities to accelerate and scale-up this positive transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy.”

July 8, 2011

Miliband urges new press watchdog

Ed Miliband Mr Miliband says there is a “crisis of trust” in British newspapers Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for the Press Complaints Commission to be scrapped in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the News of World.

He said the PCC was “a toothless poodle” and a new body with “proper investigative powers” was needed.

While backing self-regulation, he said the press faced a “crisis of trust”.

Mr Miliband said the impending closure of the News of the World was “not the answer” to restoring trust and senior executives must “take responsibility”.

The Labour leader also said David Cameron had made “an appalling error of judgment” in employing former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his ex-director of communications and should apologise for having done so.

The News of the World is to close on Sunday following allegations crime victims and bereaved families may have had their mobile phones hacked into.

There have been claims that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked when she went missing in 2002, and that the families of the Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and relatives of British armed forces personnel killed in action may also have been targeted.

The Metropolitan Police say they are seeking to contact 4,000 possible targets whose details have been found during the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking at the newspaper.

The government plans to announce the remit of two inquiries into the issue before Parliament’s summer recess but Mr Miliband and other senior politicians have said the prime minister should go further and set up a judge-led inquiry immediately.

‘Wholesale reform’

In a speech in London, the Labour leader said: “For too long, the political class have been too concerned about what people in the press would think and too fearful of speaking out.

“We must all bear responsibility for that, my party has not been immune from it, nor has the current government.”

Continue reading the main story
It was established to be a watchdog. But it has been exposed as a toothless poodle. It is time to put it out of its misery”

End Quote Ed Miliband on the PCC He said politicians must now lead “the call for change”.

“Our newspapers are part of our way of life. But they must reform in order to protect and restore their reputation.”

Mr Miliband has already called for a judge-led inquiry into events and for Mrs Brooks – who was editor of the News of the World at the time it is alleged murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked into – to resign.

But he said in his speech that “wholesale reform of our system of regulation” was now needed.

“The Press Complaints Commission has totally failed. It failed to get to the bottom of the allegations about what happened at News International in 2009.

“Its chair admits she was lied to but could do nothing about it. It was established to be a watchdog. But it has been exposed as a toothless poodle. It is time to put it out of its misery.

“The PCC has not worked. We need a new watchdog. There needs to be fundamental change.”

Coulson role

He said that his “instincts” were that self-regulation should continue but with a new body with board members with “greater independence” from those they regulate, proper investigative and enforcement powers”.

He said the change does not need to wait for the inquiry and called on the press to “take the initiative and start to make this happen”.

The Labour leader has said the prime minister has “serious questions” to answer about his decision to hire Mr Coulson – who resigned as NoW editor in 2006 after the paper’s royal editor and a private investigator working for the paper were jailed for phone hacking.

Mr Coulson, who left his No 10 role in January, has always denied he sanctioned or was aware of the practice while he was editor.

In his speech Mr Miliband said: “Putting it right for the prime minister means admitting the appalling error of judgement he made in hiring Andy Coulson, apologising for bringing him into the centre of the government machine and coming clean about what conversations he had with Andy Coulson before and after he was appointed about phone hacking.”

The Labour leader has urged the government to “think again” about its review of News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB, saying the deal could not be simply be waived through and the public must be confident that “the right decisions were being taken in the right way”.

In a BBC interview on Thursday, Mr Miliband was also asked about an e-mail sent out by his own head of strategy Tom Baldwin – another former News International journalist – who in January urged the shadow cabinet and not to link hacking to News Corp’s bid to fully takeover BSkyB.

Mr Miliband said: “I am comfortable with the position we have taken – which is to speak out on the hacking issues but also to say that the Competition Commission is the right body to make its rulings on BSkyB and I think that is absolutely right.”

July 8, 2011

7 days quiz


It’s the Magazine’s 7 days, 7 questions quiz – an opportunity to prove to yourself and others that you are a news oracle. Failing that, you can always claim to have had better things to do during the past week than swot up on current affairs.

Graphic of the number seven

1.) Multiple Choice Question

Despite the Queen cutting costs last year, royal travel expenses rose £600,000 to £6m. Which was the most expensive trip?

The Queen on a trainCharles visiting Delhi for Commonwealth Games
Andrew visiting Kazakhstan
Queen visiting United Arab Emirates and Oman

2.) Multiple Choice Question

“The perfect example of a modern man.” Who was described as such this week?

Hugh Laurie, the new face of L’Oreal
Hugh LauriePrince William by the Canadian prime minister
Prince WilliamAshley Cole in GQ magazine
Ashley Cole

3.) Multiple Choice Question

Prince Albert of Monaco married Charlene Wittstock, despite rumours she’d tried to flee home to South Africa. What is her official title now?

Princess CharleneHer Nobel Highness (HNH)
Her Gracious Highness (HGH)
Her Serene Highness (HSH)

4.) Missing Word Question

New research suggests * for fertility

feng shui
fish fingers

5.) Multiple Choice Question

A report published in a British academic journal this week said which novels should come with a health warning?

Person reading a bookStieg Larsson’s thrillers
Harry Potter books
Mills & Boon romance novels

6.) Multiple Choice Question

A statue of Ronald Reagan was unveiled in the square in front of the US Embassy in London this week. Which US president doesn’t have a statue there?

Statue of Ronald ReaganAbraham Lincoln
Franklin Roosevelt
Dwight Eisenhower

7.) Multiple Choice Question

Adele’s Someone like You has become the first single to sell over one million copies in the UK in 2011. Which of these hasn’t hit one million sales since 2000?

AdelePoker Face by Lady Gaga
Baby by Justin Bieber
Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis


It’s the Queen’s visit to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The charter flight taking her and Prince Philip cost £356,253. Travel costs for Charles and Camilla’s trip to Delhi came to £298,089 and Prince Andrew amassed a travel bill totalling £353,212 on six official visits abroad.It’s Hugh Laurie, who was unveiled as the new face of L’Oreal’s Men Expert range. The company described Laurie as “genuine, uninhibited, strong and willing to pursue his passions to the end”.It’s Her Serene Highness, Princess Charlene.It’s flossing. Researchers say women who want to improve their chances of having a baby should floss daily. Why? Inflammation, which when left unchecked can interfere with the body’s normal functionings.It’s Mills & Boon. Writing in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, psychologist Susan Quilliam said the romance novels featured unrealistic sexual expectations and too much unprotected sex.It’s Abraham Lincoln. His statue can be found opposite the Houses of Parliament.It’s Baby by Justin Bieber. Someone Like You is one of only 16 singles since 2000 to hit one million sales.

Your Score

0 – 3 : Flop

4 – 6 : Bubbling under

7 – 7 : Hit

Continue reading the main story High Street shops 7 days (24 June) 7 days (17 June) 7 days (10 June) For past quizzes including our weekly news quiz, 7 days 7 questions, expand the grey drop-down below – also available on the Magazine page (and scroll down).

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July 8, 2011

Japan quake still hurting trade

Car manufacturing unit Japanese carmakers were some of the hardest hit, facing supply shortages and power cuts Japan’s current account surplus fell sharply in May, as the 11 March earthquake and tsunami continue to affect exports.

The surplus shrank 51.7% to 590.7bn yen ($7.27bn; £4.55bn) compared with a year earlier, said the Ministry of Finance.

However, that is less than most analysts had expected.

The data shows that while the economy continues to suffer from the disaster, it is recovering quicker than expected.

May’s fall in the current account surplus marks the third straight monthly drop after the earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc in the north east of Japan.

In April the surplus was down 69.5%.

Trade deficit

Even as the supply chain recovers and manufacturers come back online exports are still suffering.

The data showed that exports fell by 9.8% in May from a year earlier.

While imports rose 14.7%, mainly because of higher energy costs.

That translated to the second-biggest trade deficit on record, the ministry said.

The current account is the broadest measure of a country’s trade with the rest of the world.

July 8, 2011

Texas executes Mexican national

 1995 booking photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Humberto Leal Garcia Humberto Leal was born in Mexico but came to the US as a small child A Mexican citizen has been executed in the US state of Texas for the rape and murder of an American girl after the Supreme Court rejected a White House-backed appeal to spare the man’s life.

Humberto Leal Garcia, 38, received a lethal injection on Thursday evening.

The Obama administration previously said the sentence would put the US in breach of international obligations.

Leal was not told he could have access to Mexican consular officials, in violation of the Vienna Convention.

Roughly one hour before Leal was taken to the death chamber, the Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 to allow the sentence.

The Texas parole board had also refused to halt the sentence, while Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected requests to intervene.

Leal was sentenced to death for the 1994 rape and murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose body was found unclothed and beaten, hours after she was seen leaving a party with Leal in San Antonio.

The Mexican native moved with his family to the US as a small child.

‘Serious repercussions’

In the death chamber, Leal said he admitted responsibility for the crimes.

“I have hurt a lot of people. … I take full blame for everything. I am sorry for what I did,” he said. “Let this be final and be done.”

As the lethal drugs began to take effect he added: “One more thing: Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!”

He was pronounced dead at 1821 (2321 GMT).

On Thursday afternoon, a state department spokeswoman said that the federal government had filed a brief with the US Supreme Court, supporting Leal’s argument for a stay of execution until the end of the year.

US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in the brief that the execution would have “serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law enforcement and other co-operation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens travelling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention”.

The Obama administration had wanted a delay to allow Congress to consider legislation covering foreign nationals who were not given proper consular access before being tried for crimes that carry the death penalty.

The Mexican government said prior to the execution that the nation regarded it as a violation of international law.

“This is about the right that each person has under the Vienna Convention to be able to enjoy the support of their country of origin when they face criminal proceedings in a foreign country,” the Mexican Foreign Ministry said.

Leal is one of 51 Mexican nationals on death row who were the focus of a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ said that their convictions should be reviewed because they were denied consular access.

President George W Bush told Texas officials they should comply with the ICJ order but the Supreme Court ruled that he had overstepped his authority.

In August 2008, Texas, which argued that its courts were not bound by the rulings of the ICJ, executed Mexican Jose Medellin.

“If you commit the most heinous of crimes in Texas, you can expect to face the ultimate penalty under our laws, as in this case,” Texas spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said.

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