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Eurozone crisis: Talks to save euro begin in Brussels EU leaders in Brussels have opened a summit to tackle the eurozone debt crisis and save the single currency. The key item on the agenda is a Fr a n co - German proposal on budgeta ry discipline, wi th au tom atic penalties for eu rozone nations that overspend. Pre-summit talks between Britain, France and Germany broke up without agreement as each set out its position. Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the euro had "lost credibility". UK Prime Minister Davi d Cameron has said he will veto anything which harms British interests. Mr Cameron, Chancellor Merkel and French President Nico l as Sarkozy held a 45-minute meeting on the eve of the summit, but sources told the BBC there was "no movement" with each side setting out their respective ground. Downing Street sources said the negotiations were "going to be difficult" and they did not expect any wider agreement among EU leaders until the early hours of the morning, if that, the BBC's Iain Watson, in Brussels, reports. In a speech in Marseille earlier on Thursday President Sarkozy warned that "never has the risk of disintegration been greater" for Europe. The leaders of the 27 EU nations were sitting down for an informal dinner, and their talks - behind closed doors - were expected to last well into the night, ahead of a number of working sessions.

Penalties Germany and France are pushing for changes to the EU treaty, say-

ing stricter fiscal rules should be made part of basic EU law. The Franco-German plan is based on the following key provisions: • the Eu ropean Commission to have the power to impose penalties for nations th at run excessive budget deficits • all 17 eurozone nations should amend their national legislation to require balanced budgets • the eu rozone co u nt ries to have common corporation and financial transaction taxes • any futu re bailouts would not require private investors to absorb part of the costs, as happened in the case of Greece As Mrs Merkel arrived at the summit venue in Brussel s, she told journalists: "The euro has lost credibility and that needs to be restored." She said the Europea n Commission and the Europea n Court of Justice would have more powers in future to enforce the rules, declaring: "We must make clear that we accept more co-ordination." "Never has Eu ro pe been so necessary. Never has it been in so much danger," said Mr Sarkozy at a meeting of EU centre-right leaders in Marseille. He said the eurozone economies still had a few weeks to decide, but that time was working against them.

Chancellor Merkel says the credibility of the euro must be restore

Earlier on Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut interest rates back to their historic low of 1%, as expected by financial markets. ECB President Mario Draghi called again for governments to cut their borrowing and reform their economies, but did not mention any new financial support from the ECB for struggling governments. "We have a treaty that says no monetary financing to governments," he told reporters. Euro pean Council President

Herman Van Rompuy has put forward an alternative plan, a fast-track "fiscal compact" that does not need lengthy ratification by parliaments or national referendums. The EU's most recent treaty, adopted in Lisbon in 2007, took eight years to negotiate. But Sw edish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt warned that changing the treaty would take time and trigger the need for a referendum. In rece nt days, smaller EU nations have complained they are

being forced to follow the agenda of Germany and France, with very little room for discussion, says the BBC's Chris Morris, in Brussels. An advisory committee to the Finnish parl i a m e nt has warned that the Franco-German plan may be unco n s t i tutional because it replaces the majority veto on the fund for futu re bailouts wi th majority voting. www.bbcnews.com


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December 9 - 15, 2011

Stocks have fallen after the European Central Bank ruled out any substantial aid for any ailing and indebted eurozone states. Stocks in France and Italy - two countries vulnerable to downgrades - ended down 2.5% and 4.3% respectively. ECB President Mario Draghi unveiled new support measures for eurozone banks, but played down the prospect of any new financial support for governments. The central bank cut interest rates to their historic low of 1%, as expected. The main US share index, the Dow Jones, was down 1% in morning trading on Wall Street. Germany's Dax finished 2% lower. There had been speculation that the ECB may be preparing to bail out Italy if eurozone governments agree tough new limits on their borrowing and economic reforms. But Mr Draghi seemingly ruled this out: "We have a treaty that says no monetary financing to governments." The euro, which had risen following the announcement of the interest rate cut, fell more than a cent against the dollar while Mr Draghi was speaking. The moves come ahead of a "do-or-die" Brussels summit of European Union heads to hammer out a deal on how to tackle the eurozone debt crisis, including a potential new treaty.

The two-day EU summit ending is expected to agree tough new rules and automatic fines to ensure that eurozone governments cut their borrowing to below 3% of their GDP. This week, Standard and Poor's put almost all eurozone countries on "credit watch". It means that six countries with top AAA ratings - including Germany and France - have a 50% chance of seeing their credit ratings downgraded.

New bank aid Mr Draghi called again for governments to cut their borrowing, and to boost growth by making their labour markets more flexible, and opening up product markets to more competition. However, Mr Draghi dismissed the prospect of a eurozone break-up as "quite far-fetched at this stage". He also praised the efforts of the new Italian government. Mr Draghi also announced further measures to support the eurozone's banks, including:

PHOTO: ECB Draghi / AP

Stocks drop&asEvironment ECB rules out Tourism eurozone support • more generous minimum standards for what the ECB will accept as collateral on the loans it makes • a cut in the reserve ratio - the percentage of a bank's assets that must be held in cash at the central bank - from 2% to 1%. The ECB president explained the measures were intended to head off a credit crunch affecting companies and mortgage borrowers. Some banks have increasingly been relying on existing emergency loans from the ECB, as they find it harder to borrow money from markets. Last week, the ECB joined with the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and three other major central banks in announcing an agreement that would ensure that their banks had access to foreign currency emergency loans. The surprise move sparked speculation that one or more major European banks could be on the point of collapse, because of their inability to borrow in US dollars.

Mr Draghi played down the chance of the ECB increasing its support for Italy

further interest rate cuts. It is the second such rate cut since Mr Draghi took over the ECB presidency last month. The first rate cut, only days after he took over, reversed the central bank's policy direction. Under his predecessor, JeanClaude Trichet, the ECB had begun raising rates over the summer to ward off higher inflation. The second cut has returned rates to the record low 1% level that prevailed from the summer of 2009 to the end of 2010, in response to the global financial crisis and recession.

Hanging Out

• three-year loans to be available from 21 December

Rate cuts The central bank again cut its forecast for economic growth in the eurozone next year, to a range of 1% growth to a 0.4% contraction - raising the prospect of a recession. The lower forecast may herald

Mr Draghi confirmed that the decision was not made unanimously. The ECB gas been providing some support to Italy and Spain, by buying up their debts in the financial markets to push down the cost of borrowing. Italy's 10-year cost of borrowing had risen above the 7% level widely deemed to be unsustainably expensive, but fell back below 6% in recent days, in expectation of ECB aid. Following Mr Draghi's press conference, it rose back above 6%. www.bbcnews.com

Euro crisis: Dread of meltdown stalks US economy The American economy has been riding high on a wave of moderately good news. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in two and a half years, manufacturing appears to be picking up and early reports suggest that the holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. But whatever recovery there is could be derailed by a looming crisis: Europe's debt drama. America's finances are closely tied to what happens across the Atlantic, and the picture is not rosy. "The situation in the euro area is rapidly deteriorating and contagion is spreading," said Pier Carlo Padoan, the chief economist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD recently released its semi-annual report on the global economy, which predicted that America could follow the eurozone into recession if Europe's debt crisis worsens. Trade tremors The Paris-based think tank also reduced its growth forecast for the world's largest economy to 2% in 2012. Just six months earlier it was

expecting an expansion of 3.1%. The eurozone is the single biggest customer for American goods, so if they're not buying, US businesses suffer. General Motors has already taken a hit. In November, the Detroit car giant reported a 12% drop in third-quarter earnings. The company blamed much of that decline on slower sales and higher costs in Europe. "Clearly, things have deteriorated," said GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann when the numbers were released. "We need to adjust to the new reality." The appliance maker Whirlpool is also struggling. With demand slacking off in Europe the company is planning to lay off more then 5,000 workers in North America and Europe. "We are taking necessary actions to address a much more challenging global economic environment," Whirlpool chief executive Jeff Fettig said. 'Shattering' Small companies are not immune to potential eurozone

When Europe's problems become everyone's problems.

Riviera Maya fallout either. Amy Galper founded the organic cosmetics company Buddha Nose. Roughly a quarter of her profits come from Europe. In a beauty pop-up shop in New York City's West Village, Ms Galper chatted with Kim D'Amato, the brains behind the skincare line Priti NYC. Ms D'Amato spends part of her year in France so she can be closer to overseas clients. Surrounded by creams that promise to smooth away stress and tension, neither woman can ignore the fear of what a meltdown in Europe could mean for their businesses. "I would say that most of the

people I sell to are small businesses," says Ms D'Amato. "So it would be shattering." Ms Galper, whose sales to Japan dried up after its devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, took the pre-emptive decision to cut her inventory - just in case. "I'm kind of being conservative to be honest," Ms Galper says. "I'm not going to stock up too much because I don't want to have an overstock of things." Follow the money But even if exports to Europe did dry up overnight, there are more dire threats out there. "More important are the financial linkages that could really

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hurt the economy," warns Carey Leahey, managing director of Decision Economics. Put simply: a complete European meltdown could kick off a chain reaction that might lead to a global credit crisis. Investors are already spooked and their fear has been driving down the share prices of some of the biggest names on Wall Street. JP Morgan closed down 1.7% on Tuesday, despite being considered one of the strongest American banks. So far, the worst has been averted. The collapse of the mediumsized broker MF Global last month and the bailout of the Franco-Belgian bank Dexia in October has not come anywhere close to causing the kind of damage seen after Lehman Brothers collapsed. But last week's action by America's Federal Reserve to band together with other nations' central banks to lower the cost of borrowing dollars suggests that another credit crunch could be lurking, making it harder for businesses and individuals to get loans. www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

3


International December 9 - 15, 2011

PHOTO: CIA / BBC NEWS

CIA 'secret prison' found in Romania - media reports The CIA operated a secret prison in the Romanian capital Bucharest where terrorism suspects were interrogated, an investigation by the Associated Press and German media has found. Former CIA operatives identified the building where, they said, detainees were held and tortured. The building belongs to a Romanian agency, Orniss, which stores classified information from the EU and Nato. Orniss has denied hosting a CIA prison and the CIA has refused to comment. The investigation, by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the German TV network ARD, said those held in the secret prison included Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, who has admitted organising the 9/11 attacks. He was seized in Pakistan in March 2003 under the US programme known as "extraordinary rendition" - the extrajudicial detention and transfer of terrorism suspects. He has been in the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay since 2006, where he is awaiting trial.

'Bright Light' The building identified in the German investigation houses the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or Orniss. Orniss has denied all claims

that its premises were used as a CIA prison. Asked whether the building was ever used to hold Islamist terrorism suspects, Orniss deputy head Adrian Camarasan told the Sueddeutsche: "Here? No!" The building, at 4 Mures Street, was codenamed "Bright Light", the Sueddeutsche reported. One former CIA operative who said he visited the site frequently was quoted as saying: "It was very discreet there. It was not as though Romanian officials came out to greet me." Allegations of a network of CIA "black sites" in countries including Romania first surfaced in 2005 but were denied by Washington. In 2007, an investigation by the Council of Europe accused Romania of operating a secret prison - accusations denied by Bucharest. The CIA called the report "biased and distorted" and said it had operated legally. Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty on Thursday welcomed the new report. "The dynamic of truth has run its course and we are at last beginning to

Former CIA operatives said the building was used to interrogate terrorism suspects, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed

learn what really happened in Bucharest," he said in a statement. However, he criticised the lack of what he called a "serious judicial inquiry" in Romania. In 2006, then-US President George W Bush admitted that terror suspects had been held in CIA-run prisons overseas, but he did not say where the prisons were located. A BBC investigation in 2010 alleged the CIA used a secret Polish prison where Khaled Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to sim-

Egypt's cabinet sworn in and interior minister named Egypt's new cabinet has been sworn in with the key post of interior minister going to Cairo expolice chief Mohammed Ibrahim Yusuf. The ruling army council also handed presidential powers to interim PM Kamal al-Ganzouri, but kept control of military affairs, officials said. Mr Ganzouri's appointment followed violent protests last month. In the wake of the unrest, Amnesty International has called on the US to stop the export of tear gas to Egypt. Amnesty accused Egyptian authorities of using excessive and often lethal force against protesters.

Sensitive role Mr Ganzouri named the majority of his new cabinet. However, correspondents say he had difficulty selecting a new interior minister to oversee the police. Mr Yusuf is the former chief of police for the district of Giza in the capital Cairo. The post is sensitive because police

4 The International weekly

were accused of brutality during recent protests against the military. More than 40 people died in the trouble. Many Egyptians also complain that crime has soared since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February. The swearing in of the new cabinet took place in front of military council leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, state TV said. "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces delegated presidential powers to Kamal al-Ganzouri according to the law, but not the armed forces and the judiciary," the official Mena news agency reported. Earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood said its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has won a majority of run-off contests in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary election. Official results are not due until Thursday, but the Islamist FJP said it had won 36 of the 56 seats awarded to individual candidates. Voting in the remaining two-

thirds of electoral districts is scheduled to take place later this month and in January 2012. Twenty-four seats were contested by the FJP and the ultra-conservative Salafist al-Nour Party, which came in second place. Many supporters of liberal and secular parties are concerned that Islamist parties will have too much power in the next parliament. The parliament must select a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution that will be put to a referendum before a presidential election in June. Egypt's military, which took over the running of the country after the fall of Mr Mubarak, has been accused of trying to safeguard its interests from civilian oversight and slowing down the transfer to civilian rule. www.bbcnews.com

ulated drowning - the practice known as waterboarding. The Associated Press news agency, which worked with the Sueddeutsche and ARD on their investigation, says the alleged prison in Romania opened in 2003 after the CIA decided to empty the black site in Poland. It quoted former US officials speaking on condition of anonymity. The basement consisted of six prefabricated cells, each with a clock and arrow pointing to

Mecca, the officials told AP. Waterboarding was not used in Romania, they said. Other detainees of intelligence value to the US held in Romania included Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Faraj al-Libi, AP reported. The Romanian foreign minister told the Council of Europe at the time of its investigation: "No such activities took place on Romanian territory." www.bbcnews.com

Chile Communists request poet Pablo Neruda's exhumation The Nobel laureate died in Santiago in September 1973, 12 days after the military coup that brought Gen Augusto Pinochet to power. Mr Neruda's death certificate says he died of prostate cancer. But his former driver said he received an injection which provoked a heart attack. A Communist Party lawyer, Eduardo Contreras, says there are doubts over Pablo Neruda's death. Mr Contreras said the hospital where Mr Neruda was being treated for cancer says he was injected with a pain killer and died of heart failure shortly afterwards. But Mr Contreras said Neruda, who was 69, could have received a lethal injection. 'No proof' The request to exhume the poet's remains will be considered by a judge, Mario Carroza, who has been investigating allegations that Mr Neruda may have been murdered by the authorities. Mr Neruda's personal assistant and driver, Manuel Araya, told the investigating judge in November that a few hours before he died on 23 September 1973, the poet was walking and talking normally. Mr Araya alleges that agents injected Mr Neruda with poison at the hospital on the orders of

Gen Augusto Pinochet. The Pablo Neruda Foundation, which guards the poet's legacy, said in a statement in May that there is "no proof whatsoever that suggests Pablo Neruda died of causes other than cancer". Although the late Pablo Neruda was best known for his poetry, he was a lifelong member of Chile's Communist Party, a lawmaker and a former ambassador to France. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Allende verdict In May, the authorities exhumed the remains of another towering figure in Chile's recent history -- the former leftist President Salvador Allende. The remains were exhumed on the orders of the same judge, Mario Carroza, in an effort to clarify whether Salvador Allende committed suicide or was killed by soldiers who stormed the presidential palace during the 1973 coup led by Gen Pinochet. Two months later, a team of international experts concluded that the former president killed himself. Mr Allende, who was 65, died in La Moneda presidential palace on 11 September 1973 as it was being bombed by air force jets and attacked by tanks. www.bbcnews.com


International December 9 - 15, 2011

The Brazilian Senate has approved controversial legislation that reforms rules on the amount of land farmers must preserve as forest. The bill, which now returns to the lower house, also eases fines for some previous illegal clearance if farmers commit to a reforestation programme. Supporters say Brazil needs land for food production, but environmentalists warn of increased Amazon destruction. Latest figures show tree clearance at its lowest since 1988, officials say. After several hours of debate, Brazilian senators voted by 59 to seven to approve the legislation. It now goes back to the Chamber of Deputies, which in May voted to overhaul the Forest Code. Further amendments are expected before going to President Dilma Rousseff to sign into law. The bill poses a political dilemma for President Rousseff, correspondents say, as she aims to both support economic development but also uphold environmental pledges made during her election campaign.

Environmental fears Brazil is a major food producer and the farmers' lobby argues environmental protection unnecessarily harms their sector. "This is the first time we're ending the monopoly, that we're ending the environmental dictatorship where half a dozen [non-governmental organisations] controlled the environment ministry," said Sen Katia Abreu, president of Brazil's National Agriculture and Livestock Association (CNA). In a statement, the CNA said that new legislation would allow Brazil to "respond to the world's growing demand for food, as it continues to be a leading example in the preservation of its forests and biodiversity". But Greenpeace Amazon spokesman Marcio Astrini told the Associated Press news agency that the new code would reduce the area required for conservation, so allowing new deforestation. "It's based on the concept that the forest gets in the way, on

PHOTO: BRAZIL/ BBC NEWS

Brazilian Senate eases Amazon protection rules the argument that developed countries cut their forests, so we need to do the same. That thinking is centuries old now," he said. Under the Forest Code, which dates back to 1965, landowners must conserve a percentage of their terrain forested, ranging from 20% in some regions to 80% in the Amazon. Under the Senate bill: • farmers can count forest alongside rivers and lakes on their land as part of their conserved area, so reducing the total amount of land they need to protect or reforest • agriculture allowed closer to environmentally fragile areas • fines suspended for land cleared illegally before 2008 if farmers sign up to replant trees over the next 20 years. On Monday, the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said there had been an 11% drop in the amount of rainforest cleared between August 2010 and July 2011 compared with the previous year. The government attributed the fall to its tougher stance on illegal logging. But in at least two states, Rondonia and Mato Grosso, rainforest clearance rose considerably. www.bbcnews.com

Brazil is one of the world's biggest food producers

The International weekly

5


International December 9 - 15, 2011

PHOTO: china / bbc news

China warns of 'severe challenges' to exports to West China faces "severe challenges" to its exports due to economic difficulties in key Western markets, the country's commerce ministry has warned.

Weaker manufacturing China will also try to boost its imports from the West, the ministry said, in order to help support their economies and to balance out China's trade surplus. Exports to the European Union fell 9% in October versus a year ago, and exports to the US fell 5%. The country's total exports, however, were still up 15.9%, thanks in part to booming demand from Latin America. But it was the weakest annual growth rate in two years, and exports were sharply down compared with a month earlier. "There is a lot of concern in Beijing about weakening demand from the developed world, especially from Europe," said Michael Pettis, economics professor at

Peking University. "China is still overly reliant on domestic investment and net exports to generate growth," he added, noting that Beijing was also recognising that further debt-fuelled growth in domestic investment was storing up problems for the economy and the country's banks. The poor performance was mirrored by a recent manufacturing survey, which indicated that the sector contracted in November for the first time since the 2008-09 Western recession. The commerce ministry also blamed rising wages in China for hurting its trade competitiveness.

'Not realistic' "Next year, I think that we will face severe challenges in our exports and imports," said Foreign Trade Director Wang Shouwen. "There won't be fundamental improvement in Europe or the United States, and costs at home will stay as high as this year, so the foreign trade situation will be severe next year. "However, some developing and emerging economies are enjoying sound economic performances, so we

Sales to Europe and the US comprise just under 40% of China's total exports, but have been falling

will attach more importance to exports to these countries." But China's plan to focus on developing markets is not realistic, according to Professor Pettis. "Europe, the US and Japan account for more than two-thirds of the rest of the world's consumption, and it is hard to imagine that the developing world can replace them over the next several years. "To make matters worse, much of the growth that is occurring in the developing world is driven by

Chinese demand for commodities. "So if China is serious about reducing it's over-reliance on investment it will have the unfortunate consequence of reducing growth in the developing world just when China needs it most." Attempts to increase its exports to the developing world may also meet with resistance. Recent data showed that Brazil's economic growth had slowed to a standstill. The country - Latin America's

biggest - has previously complained about the threat to its own export competitiveness posed by the weakness of Western currencies. Meanwhile in India, the mood may be turning against opening up the country's economy to foreign competitors. The government suspended plans to let global supermarkets compete in the country, following political uproar and public protests. www.bbcnews.com

PHOTO: china / bbc news

Data due to be released on Saturday will show a sharp slowdown in export growth in November, the ministry said. Sales to Europe and the US, which comprise about 40% of total exports, were not expected to recover next year. The ministry said China would instead target exports to developing markets in Asia and Latin America.

Internet dating defies economic gloom With many people looking for a partner preferring to search online than in a bar or club, the web dating business is worth more than ÂŁ2bn a year worldwide and niche targeting is helping businesses meet customer needs. One of the fastest growing online dating companies is Global Personals, based in Windsor, which was set up eight years ago. It currently employs 100 staff and has 14 websites including Just Widower Dating and Just Divorced Singles which cater for very specific markets. But 85% of Global Personals' income is from selling software for other people to host their own rebranded sites - known as "whitelabel" sites. "We provide the technology, customer care and database for other brands to put their label on it and market it to consumers," says founder Ross Williams. "In the last eight years, we went from nothing to ÂŁ30m a year in

6

The International weekly

revenues." It is a good money-spinner for Global Personals as they take half of any revenue generated by the white-label sites. The service is used by individuals who want to set up a dating business and also by several media companies for their linked dating sites like FHM, Bizarre and Maxim magazines. In total it hosts 6,000 white-label sites. But industry insiders point to the downside. Marc Leznick, who runs internet dating conferences for the industry, identifies potential drawbacks: "There are two things. Number one, I'm sharing the revenue. And now, let's say, three or four years pass and I want to sell

this business. All those users are the value of the business, but I don't own them - the white-label host does." 'Pick up' training One person who did not want to share his revenue is Richard La Ruina. He runs one of the new crop of courses springing up and advertised online, which teach people how to pick up partners. Called "Pick Up Artist Training", it is for men looking for women and involves spending two days at "boot camp". It teaches how to secure a woman's number, how to text her, where to go on a date and how to behave. The charge is ÂŁ779. Dharam Raja who teaches on the course did it himself three and a half years ago. "By the end of it, I felt I could go out and meet a woman and take her out on a date and get into a relationship if I wanted one." Critics have suggested the course concentrates more on picking up women than developing a relationship. The website bears testimonials like "Managed to pick up three girls in a week." Dharam rejects this: "If we

The service is used by individuals who want to set up a dating business

advertise as 'Come and find your one true soul mate' - for women that might be spot on, but most men would search online for 'How do you meet women?' "You have to be on top of search terms for such things. Not all guys who come on the course want to sleep their way through the world. Many guys want to just meet the right person." Matrimonial sites Another specialist target is the Asian market, where sites such as Shaadi.com appeal to people who are more interested in settling down than dating. The Mumbai-based company claims to have fixed more than two million weddings worldwide since it opened 15 years ago. The site uses the same search criteria that families would use when trying to arrange a marriage in the traditional way but does

everything online. Sanjay and Sunita met using the site and have been married for eight years. Sunita says: "I wasn't getting any younger and had already been through a bad marriage where I was formally introduced. "So this was a platform where the parent aspect was not there, and this would mean it was my decision rather than been influenced by outsiders." Her husband Sanjay believes matrimonial sites can help bridge the gap between traditional family values and modern dating. "It still isn't acceptable for people from our community to come home and say 'This is my boyfriend' or 'This is my girlfriend', so sites like this can act as a buffer until that does become the norm." www.bbcnews.com


December 9- 15, 2011

The Earth is in danger, he said but deciding what to do about it was a more difficult issue. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also asked for more ambition, saying that the financial crisis should be a spur. Twelve heads of state and about 130 ministers have until Friday to decide what outcome they want from the talks. Earlier in the day, their delegations heard analysts confirm that the Earth's surface is on course to warm by about 3.5C (6.3F) by 2100, rather than the 2C (3.6F) that governments have agreed as the maximum. Opening the ministerial segment, Mr Zuma described the UN talks, in the coastal city of Durban, as "a decisive moment". He appealed for all governments to respect the tradition of multilateralism, describing climate change as "a global problem that requires a global solution". Decisions here need to reflect current and future concerns, he said. "We are all agreed that the Earth is in danger, and we're all agreed that we must do something about it," he told delegates. "But the problem is when we've got to say what it is, and how." Mr Ban said that movement towards a green economy was crucial in order to overcome not only climate change, but the coming shortages of natural resources. "The answer is clear, even if the exact path is not," he said. Indian anger

Behind the scenes, ministers and their teams began to step up diplomatic activity in a series of multilateral and bilateral meetings. Many delegates are particularly keen to discover how far and how fast China is prepared to go towards a future legallybinding agreement to drive emissions down. It is widely believed that China holds the key to whether the talks end with a breakthrough or a breakdown. Many developing countries are also angered by the hard line being taken by the Indian delegation, which is holding to the line that only the traditional "developed" countries should have to engage in binding restrictions, despite the fact that some countries in the "developing world" bloc now have higher percapita emissions and incomes. Some African nations and small island states are keen to tell the Indian government that it risks isolating itself from the rest of the developing world bloc here. There is also generalised frustration with the US. Despite President Obama's pledge three years ago to "lead the world" on climate change, many sources indicate that behind the scenes, his officials are blocking whatever measures they can.

Mr Zuma described the Durban talks as a "decisive moment" in global climate negotiations

by governments are very unlikely to keep the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial times below 2C. The latest Climate Action Tracker, compiled by analysts Climate Analytics, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Ecofys, was released on the sidelines of the UN talks. Their top-line conclusion is that warming of about 3.5C is likely by 2100. That could be brought down by tougher caps on emissions after the current pledges' end-date of 2020; but that would be far more expensive, they calculate. The longer governments wait, the more they risk locking themselves into a high-carbon energy system that is insecure and inefficient, the agency said. Ms van der Hoeven's words were echoed by a plethora of campaign groups around the conference venue. While they are keen to see

agreement on a package of measures here, some are concerned that an overwhelming desire for a deal could make the final document very weak. They maintain that it should be based on the science coming from groups such as Unep, Climate Analytics and the IEA. "Ministers here in Durban have no excuse if they ignore the deafening alarm bells coming from the scientific community," said Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK. "Durban can and must agree a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period, and a mandate to strike a comprehensive legal agreement in 2015. "But we also need strong action to increase ambition right now - being legally bound to a world of 4C warming is simply unacceptable."

Champions League Rising tide

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PHOTO: BASKET / BBC NEWS

Doubt cast on UEFA CUP basketball's 'hot hands' theory The idea of a basketball player's ability to successfully shoot a series of hoops - so-called "hot hands" - may be on shaky ground. A study in the journal Nature Communications shows the opposite of what some players and fans believe. Researchers found that players who scored a three-point goal and then attempted another three-pointer were more likely to miss the follow-up shot. The study casts doubt on the

ability of athletes to predict future performance. The research by Dr Yonatan Loewenstein and graduate student Tal Neiman at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, examined the popular idea that a player who scores one or more three-pointers improves their odds of scoring another.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away.

Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed

Riviera Maya

Concern of countries that feel vulnerable to climate impacts has been fuelled by several recent analyses showing that current pledges made

PHOTO: KEPLER / BBC NEWS

Hanging Out

South African President Jacob Zuma has called on governments to be more ambitious as they search for agreement at the UN climate talks.

PHOTO: zuma / AP

UN climate talks 'ambition' call

(NBA) from the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons. They also looked at more than 15,000 attempted shots by 41 leading players in the US Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Power of positivity The analysis showed how scores or misses affected a player's behaviour later in the game, and found that after a successful three-pointer, players were significantly more likely to attempt another. So a successful three-point shot provided players with the psychological boost - positive reinforcement - to attempt other three-point shots later in the game. They discovered that players who scored a three-pointer and then attempted another were more likely to miss the follow-up shot. However, players who missed a previous three-pointer were more likely to score with their next attempt.

Culture In basketball, three point field goals are scored from outside the three point line, which runs in an arc around the basket. The researchers examined more than 200,000 attempted shots from 291 leading players in the US National Basketball Association

Real Estate

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The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C. It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours - an "Earth 2.0". However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid. During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler team said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets. The Kepler space telescope was designed to look at a fixed swathe of the night sky, staring intently at about 150,000 stars. The telescope is sensitive enough to see when a planet passes in front of its host star, dimming the star's light by a minuscule amount. Kepler identifies these slight changes in starlight as candidate planets, which are then confirmed by further observations by Kepler and other telescopes in orbit and on Earth. Kepler 22-b was one of 54 candidates reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes. More of these "Earth 2.0" candidates are likely to be confirmed in the near future, though a redefinition of the habitable zone's boundaries has brought that number down to 48. Kepler 22-b lies at a distance from its sun about 15% less than the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and its year takes about 290 days. However, its sun puts out about 25% less light, keeping the planet at its balmy temperature that would support the existence of liquid water. The Kepler team had to wait for three passes of the planet before upping its status from "candidate" to "confirmed". "Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet," said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at Nasa's Ames Research Center. "The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season." The results were announced at the Kepler telescope's first science conference, alongside the staggering number of new candidate planets. The total number of candidates spotted by the telescope is now 2,326 - of which 207 are approximately Earth-sized. In total, the results suggest that planets ranging from Earth-sized to about four times Earth's size - socalled "super-Earths" - may be more common than previously thought. www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

7


Science & Techology PHOTO: TWITTER /BBC NEWS

December 9 - 15, 2011

Like: How we are living the Facebook life If you stop someone in a British street, chances are about evens that they'll be registered with Facebook - about 30 million out of a population of 60 million are.

Tweeters showed interest in the Arab Spring

Twitter's top 2011 hashtags: #egypt and #tigerblood The most popular hashtags of 2011 have been revealed, illustrating how Twitter spans diverse topics from politics to celebrity gossip. Hashtags are used to group together tweets relating to the same subject. Top of the list was #egypt, followed by #tigerblood. The first refers to the unrest in Egypt during the spring of 2011 while the second references a comment made by actor Charlie Sheen, following his sacking from a hit US comedy. Sheen made the headlines in 2011 for a series of often rambling public rants which culminated with the comment to online celebrity gossip site RadarOnline: "My fangs are dripping tiger blood." At the same time, he joined Twitter and racked up one million followers in the first 24 hours, believed to be a record for the site. He used the site to comment on the dispute between him and the Two And A Half Men show's producers, at one point tweeting: "I'm looking to hire a #winning INTERN with #TigerBlood." Twitter also released details about the hottest topics in a range of subjects, including the most talked about actors, countries and news topics. The resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, which triggered a series of uprising across the Middle East and Africa, topped the news list, followed by the US special force's fatal raid on Osama bin Laden's home. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami ranked in third place.

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The International weekly

TOP TWITTER HASHTAGS • #egypt • #tigerblood • #threewordstoliveby • #idontunderstandwhy • #japan • #improudtosay • #superbowl • #jan25 OP 10 TECH TOPICS • Mac App Store • Sony NGP • Guitar Hero • Mozilla Firefox • Duke Nukem Forever • iPad • iPhone • Nintendo 3DS • Mortal Kombat • iPod

In the food category the McLobster took top place after it trended on rumours that fast food chain McDonald's was to roll out the crustacean-based sandwich across the US. Previously it had only been available in Canada. A teenager who was unknown at the start of the year topped the music list. Would-be popstar Rebecca Black was propelled into stardom when her debut single Friday was released on YouTube to widespread mockery. At the time of its release, the song ranked top in global trending topics on Twitter, surpassing the Japanese earthquake crisis. Perhaps suprisingly teen hit Justin Bieber did not feature in the top names. As well as featuring in the top hashtags, Charlie Sheen's off-screen antics also moved him to the top of the most talked-about actors

British talent in the top 10 including Ricky Gervais, off the back of his controversial Golden Globes appearance, Colin Firth, who won the best actor Oscar for his performance as King George VI in The King's Speech and Pete Postelthwaite, a British character actor who died in 2011. "Among other things, we saw history unfold in the Middle East, mourned the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, celebrated National Whipped Cream Day, and cheered for the Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers and Wayne Rooney," Twitter said in its official blog. "More than anything, these trends demonstrate how Twitter connects people with common interests. Instead of watching the news, the Super Bowl and Pretty Little Liars at home alone, we watched them together on Twitter," it added. www.bbcnews.com

If they are an average user, they'll either have been on Facebook today, or they will be tomorrow. Within a month, they'll have posted 90 separate bits of writing, photos or videos to the site, as well as looking at what their 130 friends have done - not to mention the 80 other businesses, charities, events and other groups they've expressed an interest in. So what is drawing people so strongly to Facebook? The beguiling offer is to create an online facsimile of your life - and invite you to live it through Facebook in parallel with the physical world (or IRL - in real life - as geeks like to call it).

One-click culture One of the most powerful appeals of the site is that when you sign up, you will be amazed at how many Friends you have. Of course, Friends don't have to be friends. Psychologist Prof B.J. Fogg, who studies online behaviour, says Facebook is designed to make interacting effortless: "Humans are naturally lazy and Facebook has made it really easy to connect to people." Pressing a Facebook "Like" button in response to a comment or brand is about as minimal as it gets: "We are a one-click culture; if we can get satisfaction in one click, we'll do it," he says.

Secret formula So does Facebook live up to its promise to provide the kind of communications we have IRL? Well, on the plus side, every time you look at Facebook, what you see has never been seen before or probably ever will be again because Facebook isn't a website with fixed pages that are called up: it is a database, which creates each page anew on every request, driven by complicated algorithms. There is a formula that determines which of your friends' updates appear at the top of your page. While you can guess some of what the recipe includes - such as how much you interact with someone - the details are secret.

Any colour, as long as it's blue Alongside the ever-changing, individualistic Facebook, there is a straitjacket Facebook. Everyone's profile looks basically the same: same design theme (any colour you want as long as it's blue), same question boxes to answer (home-

town, languages, employer, religion, people who inspire you etc). Not for Facebook the teenagebedroom look of MySpace pages, or even the tastefully customisable templates of Google's Blogger or other platforms where users can build an online shrine to their lives and loves. But Facebook never wanted that. In founder Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room, the site only asked its users to upload a picture and a few facts about themselves. It was all about connecting with people you spied across a lecture theatre. It really was a social network, a way of raising your online flag to connect with friends and others you wanted to know. What defined Facebook users in the early days was their email addresses. If you had a Harvard email, you were probably a genuine student, and could join. If you just had a Yahoo email, too bad, you couldn't. You couldn't even see into the site. It was like a private club with no windows. Together with its Ivy League pedigree, that gave Facebook a kind of understated respectability. It still comes across as low key, not trying to push itself. There is a sense that instead of being sold something, you are lucky to be allowed in.

Be yourself All that was very different from the days when anonymity or false identity were the norm online. Messageboards let people play out fantasies of different personae from the spare bedroom. As the famous New Yorker cartoon of two mutts talking to each other behind a keyboard had it: "on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog." On Facebook, it was different: if people were going to be themselves, the last thing they wanted was to be in contact with someone who wasn't who they claimed to be. Jaron Lanier is a bona fide geek - a pioneer of virtual reality - who has ideological objections to Facebook. It's not that Facebook users aren't being authentic: rather that the profile they build of themselves is one-dimensional, limited by the tick-boxes and design features Facebook offers. In his book, You are Not a Gadget, Mr Lanier complains that Facebook epitomizes a trend in which 'content' created by individuals is effectively sold to advertisers in tiny fragments post by post, picture by picture, www.bbcnews.com


December 9 - 15, 2011

Doing extreme endurance exercise, like training for a marathon, can damage the heart, research reveals. MRI scans on 40 athletes training for challenging sporting events like triathlons or alpine cycle races showed most had stretched heart muscles. Although many went on to make a complete recovery after a week, five showed more permanent injuries. The researchers told the European Heart Journal how these changes might cause heart problems like arrhythmia. They stress that their findings should not be taken to mean that endurance exercise is unhealthy. In most athletes, a combination of sensible training and adequate recovery should cause an improvement in heart muscle function, they say. But they believe more investiga-

tions are now needed, since their small study in Australia did not look at any associated health risks.

And Doireann Maddock of the British Heart Foundation said the findings should not put people off doing exercise. "It is important to remember that the health benefits of physical activity are well established. The highly trained athletes involved in this study were competing in long distance events and trained for more than 10 hours a week. "Further long-term research will be necessary in order to determine if extreme endurance exercise can cause damage to the right ventricle of the heart in some athletes. Any endurance athletes who are concerned should discuss the matter with their GP.'' In the study, the scientists studied the athletes a fortnight before their races, immediately after their races and then about a week later. Immediately after the race, the athletes' hearts had changed shape. The right ventricle - one of the four chambers in the heart involved in

Champions League

Extreme training

The medical director of the London Marathon, Professor Sanjay Sharma, agreed that more research was needed and said the results provided "food for thought". "My personal feeling is that extreme endurance exercise probably does cause damage to the heart in some athletes. I don't believe that the human body is designed to exercise for as long as 11 hours a day, so damage to the heart is not implausible." But he said it was too early to say that taking part in endurance sports causes long-term damage.

Athletes were studied a fortnight before their races, immediately afterwards and then about a week later

pumping blood around the body appeared dilated and didn't work as well as it had been in the weeks leading up to the race. Levels of a chemical called BNP, made by the heart in response to excessive stretching, increased. A week later, most of the athletes' hearts had returned to the pre-race condition. But in five

UEFA CUP

Vaccine developed Culture against Ebola Scientists have developed a vaccine that protects mice against a deadly form of the Ebola virus. First identified in 1976, Ebola fever kills more than 90% of the people it infects. The researchers say that this is the first Ebola vaccine to remain viable long-term and can therefore be successfully stockpiled. The results are reported in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Ebola is transmitted via bodily fluids, and can become airborn. Sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding and organ failure before they die. Although few people contract Ebola each year, its effects are so swift and devastating that it is often feared that it could be used against humans in an act of terroism. All previously developed vaccines have relied on injecting intact, but crippled, viral particles into the body. Long-term storage tends to damage the virus, paralysing the vaccine's effectiveness. The new vaccine contains a synthetic viral protein, which prompts the immune system to better recognise the Ebola virus, and is much more stable when

PHOTO: EXERCISE / BBC NEWS

Marathon training 'may Riviera Maya pose a heart risk'

who had been training and competing for longer than the others, there were signs of scarring of the heart tissue and right ventricular function remained impaired compared with the pre-race readings. www.bbcnews.com

The study involved more than 10,000 people in a number of European countries.

Liking a lie-in in people's genes, Real Estate researchers say People who like a lie-in may now have an excuse - it is at least partly down to their genes, according to experts. Experts, who studied more than 10,000 people across Europe, found those with the gene ABCC9 need around 30 minutes more sleep per night than those without the gene. The gene is carried by one in five Europeans, they say in their study, published in Molecular Psychiatry. The researchers said the finding could help explain "sleep behaviour". Over 10,000 people took part, each reporting how long they slept and providing a blood sample for DNA analysis. People's sleep needs can differ significantly. At the extreme, Margaret Thatcher managed on four hours of sleep a night while Albert Einstein needed 11. Fruit flies People from the Orkney Isles,

Croatia, the Netherlands, Italy, Estonia and Germany took part in the study. All were asked about their sleep patterns on "free" days, when people did not need to get up for work the next day, take sleeping pills or work shifts. When the researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich compared these figures with the results of the genetic analysis, they found those with a variation of a gene known as ABCC9 needed more sleep than the eight-hour average. They then looked at how the gene works in fruit flies, who also have it and found flies without ABCC9 slept for three hours less than normal. The gene ABCC9 is involved in sensing energy levels of cells in the body. They say this opens up a new line of research in sleep studies, and it is hoped that future work

Fashion & People Around 1,200 people have died of Ebola virus infection since 1976

stored long-term. The vaccine protects 80% of the mice injected with the deadly strain, and survives being "dried down and frozen," said biotechnologist Charles Arntzen from Arizona State University who was involved in its development. He said the next step is to try the vaccine on a strain of Ebola that is closer to the one that infects humans.

Restaurantes

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could establish exactly how this gene variant regulates how long people sleep for. Dr Jim Wilson, from the University of Edinburgh's centre for population health sciences, said: "Humans sleep for approximately one-third of their lifetime. "A tendency to sleep for longer or shorter periods often runs in families despite the fact that the amount of sleep people need can be influenced by age, latitude, season and circadian rhythms. "These insights into the biology of sleep will be important in unravelling the health effects of sleep behaviour." Sleep expert Neil Stanley said around half a dozen genes had been linked to sleep patterns. He added: "It's interesting to know about these genes, but in a way our genes are an irrelevance unless you were actually to obey them - but none of us do that." www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

9


Health December 9 - 15, 2011

PHOTO:BBC

What phantom limbs and mirrors teach us about the brain In a lab in southern California scientists are curing the previously incurable with little more than a mirror, and changing our understanding of the brain in the process. adapt to each other and their environment. This was a radical idea as the established notion at the time was that the brain is made up of independent modules, insulated from each other and hardwired to a specific function. The notion of plasticity was something only a small group of scientists were considering.

The 'mirror neuron' In 1994, Ramachandran proved the theory by mapping the brain activity of a group of amputees. Using a magnetic scanner he showed that neuron activity was indeed migrating from the hand area to the face. It was a groundbreaking study. But he believed much more could be gleaned from studying phantom limbs. In the mid-1990s he followed the work of Italian scientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, who discovered an entirely new type of neuron that he called the mirror neuron. Rizzolatti observed that certain neurons in the brain of a macaque monkey fired when the monkey reached out and when it watched another monkey reach out. Mirror neurons were later discovered in humans too. Ramachandran began to apply this finding to his work with phantom limbs. If mirror neurons fired when an individual watched someone moving a limb, he conjectured, then visual perception might play an important role in creating the sensation of movement. His next subject, Jimmy, felt that his phantom hand was always agonisingly clenched, with his phantom fingernails digging into his missing hand. Ramachandran put a mirror between Jimmy's arms and asked

him to move both his phantom and healthy limb simultaneously, while looking at the reflection of the healthy limb - effectively fooling Jimmy's brain into thinking his phantom was moving in a normal way. Jimmy felt his clenched fist release almost immediately. "This is because you are creating intense sensory conflict - the vision is telling you the limb is moving," Ramachandran explains. "One way the brain deals with conflict is to say, 'To hell with it! There is no arm,' and the arm disappears. "I tell my medical colleagues that it is the first example in the history of medicine of successful amputation of a phantom limb." He called the treatment Mirror Visual Feedback therapy or MVF. But it wasn't until much later that MVF was properly acknowledged by clinicians.

Empathy In 2007, an army medic in the US Dr Jack Tsao, performed a controlled test on 22 amputees with remarkable results. All those using the mirror reported a reduction in pain over four weeks, those using a control reported no

PHOTO:BBC

In mid-November the team at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) announced the results of a small pilot study which suggests that a simple mind trick involving mirrors can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis, a condition that affects one in 10 people. That study is in its very early stages, but since the mid-1990s neuroscientist Vilyanur S Ramachandran, who heads the team, has been extolling the benefits of mirrors for all manner of diseases and syndromes, from stroke to the mind-boggling medical phenomenon of the phantom limb. Ramachandran's 20-year association with the mirror, and phantom limbs, has driven him to the forefront of experimental neuroscience. The syndrome occurs in at least 90% of amputees - in twothirds of those it manifests as an insatiable itch in the missing limb, many feel extreme discomfort or even chronic pain. In most cases, pain-killers and surgical treatment have no effect. Ramachandran's first phantom limb patient - who he calls Victor - lost his arm crossing the Mexican border into the US. He had an itch in his missing hand. When Ramachandran prodded him in the left cheek with a cotton bud, Victor claimed he felt it in his missing left thumb - when he touched his upper lip, Victor though he was prodding his index finger. The neurons that detect sensation in the missing hand, at a loss for anything to do, had somehow started detecting sensation in the face. In this case there was a simple and effective treatment for the itch - scratch the face. But to Ramachandran it also had theoretical implications. It appeared to demonstrate the plasticity of brain modules - their ability to

The study could lead to treatments to stop vCJD spreading to the brain

Scientists have discovered that blocking the production of proteins in the immune system could prevent the spread of a disease that destroys nerve cells. 10 The International weekly

result or increased pain. At the UK army's rehabilitation centre, Hedley Court, mirror therapy has also been used for the past four years to help amputee soldiers to manage phantom pain. "Prosthesis-wearing is key," says army physiotherapist Major Pete LeFeuvre. Those who wait longer for a fake limb seem to suffer more from phantom pain. This suggests it is the visual feedback of seeing an arm rather than the feedback from nerves within it that stops the brain getting confused. In Vietnam, a project called End the Pain has been running for the past three years to spread the therapy among victims of landmines and leprosy sufferers. It has reached over 100 medical practitioners so far and has also extended the project to amputees in Cambodia and Rwanda. The simple therapy has proven useful with other syndromes that have perplexed doctors such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a term for unexplained pain. And at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in the UK, an associate of Ramachandran, Professor Candy McCabe is testing the use of mirrors

Protein insight into spread of vCJD to brain Researchers at Edinburgh University's Roslin Institute said vCJD occurs when proteins known as prions accumulate in the spleen, lymph nodes and tonsils. They then spread to the brain, causing a disease that can destroy nerve cells. The study could lead to treatments to stop vCJD spreading to the brain. The team said a study showed that blocking the production of a protein, PrPC, in one type of immune cell could stop the spread of prions. Stopping these cells from expre-

ssing this protein did not affect the regular function of the immune system, they said. The researchers found that when the follicular dendritic cells expressed PrPC, prions were able to replicate on the surface of these cells and spread throughout the body.

Immune system However, when the cells were prevented from producing PrPC, the prions were not able to multiply and were destroyed by other cells

with acute stroke victims. Though it is in its very early stages, the experiment into arthritis at UCSD could provide the broadest use of mirror therapy yet. Much of Ramachandran's work since developing mirror therapy has focused on mirror neurons. He believes these neurons help us understand not only what is happening to our own body, but also to others. They are the basis of empathy, he suggests, our ability to feel what others feel. In 2009 he used the phantom limb again to provide evidence for this theory, showing that sufferers could experience relief from phantom pain merely by watching someone else massaging or flexing their own hand. While others spend million on machines with complicated acronyms, the beauty of Ramachandran's work is that he uses ordinary items such as mirrors, pens and paper. "The hi-tech stuff is very important but it lacks the aesthetic appeal of the other stuff," he says. "It has the slightly boring, banal quality to it." www.bbcnews.com

in the immune system. Neil Mabbott, of the Roslin Institute, said: "If we can find a way of stopping this protein from being expressed by specific immune cells then we could potentially block the spread of the disease to the brain. "We also want to understand how cells are infected with vCJD in the first place, so that we can look at ways of stopping this from happening and find ways to diagnose the disease at its early stages." The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has been published in the PLoS Pathogens journal. Scientists said that any treatments would only be viable if the condition was diagnosed in its early stages. www.bbcnews.com


December 9 - 15, 2011

The International weekly

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December 9-15, 2011

GREAT PLAZA

T

his site is the only place in the world to be declared both a Cultural Heritage site, and a Natural site by the UNESCO. It is situated to the north of the El PetĂŠn region, 40 miles from Flores, in Guatemala, and is considered part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Regarded as perh aps the most important Mayan urban center of its time, Tikal is a center of an area of 222 sq miles within which more than 3,000 sep a r ate pre-Hispanic co nstructions have been

found: temples, plazas, shrines, ce remonial, platforms, small and mid-sized residences, ball courts, terraces and highways. Concentrated in the ceremonial precincts there are at least 200 stone monu m e nts such as sculptures, flat stelae and altars. Furthermore, 100, 000 tools, religious objects and diverse ornaments have be en found at the site. Mistress of great size and wealth, Tikal becomes even more enthralling if we consider that only about 25 % of the city has been exp l o red and excavated. The impressive plazas, pyramids, and other buildings have managed to survive time and the elements th a n ks to the jungle which covered and protec ted them for many yea r s.

This is formed of four superimposed stucco floo r s, each one covering an a rea of nea rly 2.5 acres. It is enclosed on the eastern and western sides by two beautiful stepped pyramids over 230 ft in the height. On the north side are the funerary buildings known as the North Acropolis and to the south the plaza is bordered by a series of p a l a ces known as the Central Acropolis. The North Acropolis is the oldest palace structure at Tikal, perhaps erected in 200 AD. The Central Acropolis, meanwhile, is still a mystery to experts, because of its interconnec ted courtyards and buildings. It is thought that they were probably family res idences of high priests, administrative chambers, throne rooms or simply meeting places.

TEMPLE I

The site is full of paths and tracks leading to all the main archaeological groups. The major edifices at this site are concentrated around the center of Tikal. At its height, the city is thought to have housed 100,000 people.

Known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar, this building contains the principal featu res of traditional Mayan Construction. It is a pyramid standing on a sturdy substructure of nine terraces. There is a staircase leading to the top a platform on which the building stands and a structure which has two external parts: a higher, narrower section towards the front and a high roofcomb at the rear. It is thought to have been built in 700 AD.

OTHER TEMPLES TEMPLE II. Also known as the Temple of the Mask, it rises to a height of 180 ft opposite Temple I. TEMPLE III. This was built during the Late Classical period, and also measures 180 ft in height. TEMPLE IV. Fa cing east, this building rises 230 ft from the base of the platform on which the pyramid stands to the top of the roofcomb or cre n ellation. It is th e highest pre-Hispanic structure still standing in the Mayan region. The Tikal National Park is characterized by the wealth of its jungle, which contains giant trees, even palms, reaching up to 150 ft. there are also innumerable lianas hanging from the forest canopy. To date, 30 species of birds have been recorded, such as falcons, parakeets, turkeys, blue and white herons, humming birds and cranes and alfaneques. There are also many large troops of spider monkeys and some reptiles, mainly snakes, most of which are harmless. Within the jungle are jaguars, pumas and ocelots, as well as deer and peccaries. The great attraction of the site is the way the natural surrounding and the archaeological ruins of the ancient city form a harmonious whole. Moreover, next to the archaeological zone and the natu r a l reserve is the Museum of Tikal, w h i ch co ntains a rep rese ntat i v e collection of objects in earthenware, bone, shell, jade and stone. www.bbcnews.com

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The International weekly


December 9 - 15, 2011

The International weekly

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Culture

SacredRealplants Estate of the Maya forest Fashion & People

Some of the Central American rainforest's hidden treasures are being revealed by the Maya, more than a millennium after their passing. A study of the giant trees and beautiful flowers depicted in Maya art has identified which they held sacred. Created during the Maya Classic Period, the depictions are so accurate they could help researchers spot plants with hitherto unknown medicinal uses. The research is published in the journal Economic Botany. Plants played a significant role in the ecology, culture and rituals of the Maya people, whose artwork reflected the rich diversity of plant life around them. But while numerous examples of such artwork exist, few have been studied to see exactly which plants they depict. So natural historian and archaeologist Charles Zidar of Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, US, and botanist Wayne Elisens of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, US, decided to find out. They hope to discover plants of importance to the Maya that are either unknown to modern people, or have since been forgotten. The team's first analyses focused on artwork produced within the southern lowland region of the Maya, located in the modern countries of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. They examined more than 2,500 images of Maya ceramics created within the Maya Classical Period of AD 250 to 900. The images are held within an image collection taken by Justin and Barbara Kerr, curated by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, based in Crystal River, Florida, US. In particular, the two men searched for depictions of bombacoids, a diverse lineage of trees in the Neotropics characterised by swollen or spiny trunks and big, colourful, conspicuous flowers with long folding petals. Across different ceramics, Zidar and Elisens found depictions of five species. "I was surprised that a variety of plants from this family were depicted," says Zidar. The Maya clearly depicted the cebia tree (Ceiba pentandra) also known as the Silk Cotton or Kapok tree. Trees of the Ceiba genus can grow up to 50m tall, with swollen trunks producing large buttresses. To the Maya, the ceiba tree was sacred, mapping out the upper, middle and underworlds.

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Considered the "first tree", or "world tree", the ceiba was thought to stand at the centre of the Earth. Modern indigenous people still often leave the tree alone out of respect when harvesting forest wood. The thorny trunks of the ceiba tree are represented by ceramic pots used as burial urns or incense holders, which are designed in a strikingly similar fashion. Two other tree species, the Provision Tree (Pachira aquatica) and the Shaving Bush Tree (Pseudobombax ellipticum) are also copied into the designs of similar pots. On cacao pots and a plate for holding tamales, made from dough, the Maya drew flowers of either P. ellipticum or P. aquatica. On the cacao pot, the flowers seem to form part of the headdress of a high ranging individual. Smaller white-flowered blossoms of Quararibea funebris or Q. quatemalteca also appear to adorn another vessel used for cacao drinking. The Maya used this species to flavour and froth cacao beverages so it is appropriate for them to represent the plant on the vessel, says Zidar. "It was previously thought that only the ceiba tree was of great importance," says Zidar. "It has amazed me that so many plants are depicted. These plants are not as stylised as previously though, and thus you can name the plant family, genus and even the species." Zidar is continuing the work, expanding it further to find out which animals as well as plants were considered of high importance by the Maya people. He also hopes the research will unveil secrets known to the Maya that have become lost in time. "The Maya have lived and used rainforest plants to heal themselves for thousands of years. We are just beginning to understand some of their secrets." "By determining what plants were of importance to the ancient Maya, it is my hope that identified plants can be further studied for pharmaceutical, culinary, economic and ceremonial uses. More should be done to conserve large tracts of forest in order to properly study theses plants for their value to mankind," he continues. "This research has already been of interest to pharmaceutical companies that are looking to extract alkaloids from plants that were important to the ancient Maya."

Restaurantes Hoteles

Art depicting life: a Mayan pot inspired by the trunk of a Ceiba tree

Business White blooms on ceramic: Quararibea painted on a cup for drinking chocolate

Tourism

www.bbcnews.com A Pseudobombax flower inspires a headdress worn by the Maya elite

Photos: BBC

December 9 - 15, 2011


Culture December 9 - 15, 2011

Miami Art Museum to be renamed after philanthropist Miami's art museum is to be renamed after a benefactor who is donating money and art to the value of more than $30m (£19m). The museum will now be called the Jorge M Perez Art Museum after a local property developer offered the gift, to be paid over the next 10 years. In a statement, Mr Perez said he wanted the Florida city to "continue to grow as a cultural destination". Three members of the museum's board have resigned over the name change. Former board president Mary Frank told the Miami Herald newspaper that she was "disappointed" with the name change. "It's the Miami Art Museum, not the Perez Museum. The name of the museum should not be sold to any private individual," she added. The donation from Mr Perez will add to funds for the construction of a new home for the museum's collection, which is due to open in 2013.

'Lost' Rembrandt self-portrait revealed An unfinished self-portrait by the Dutch master Rembrandt has been discovered under another painting using advanced scientific techniques. No detail is visible in the face, but experts say it matches a reproductive print from 1633 that has an inscription saying it is by Rembrandt. X-ray scanning was used to detect the pigments in hidden layers of paint. A leading expert on Rembrandt said he was convinced of its authenticity based on similarities in painting style. The unfinished self-portrait was discovered under another panel said to be by the master Old Man with a Beard. Art historian Ernst van de Wetering, head of the Rembrandt

Research Project, said there were key technical similarities in painting style between the self-portrait and authenticated works by Rembrandt that date to the 1630s. There is also a copy of the painting that must have been made by one of the pupils in the artist's studio. The self-portrait was revealed when the painting was scanned at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the ESRF light source in Grenoble, France. Koen Janssens of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, told BBC News: "The portrait is considered to be an early work.

Director Thom Collins said the move to take place ahead of time and under budget. Mr Perez, who has already given $5m (£3.1m) towards the new building, will donate some of his Latin American art collection as part of the new gift, which is valued at some £15m ($9.5m). While giving to the arts is commonplace in the US, moves have been made to encourage philanthropy in the UK with favourable tax breaks for rich donors under discussion. In October, the founder of Travelex, Lloyd Dorfman, donated £10m to the National Theatre. The Cottesloe Theatre has been renamed the Dorfman, after his gift kickstarted a scheme to redevelop the building. www.bbcnews.com

So this documents a little bit better how Rembrandt in his early period was functioning in his workshop. Prof Janssens, who led the Xray scanning, added: "Which projects did he start? Which ones did he finish? How many are there that he changed his mind about and started over." The technique of X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry allowed the different chemical elements present in the paint to be mapped, revealing different views of the hidden image. www.bbcnews.com

The museum's new home is due to open in 2013

Around 150 historians from around the world have joined forces claiming it is damaging the existing work, Giorgio Vasari's The Battle of Marciano. Researcher Maurizio Seracini believes Da Vinci's unfinished The Battle of Anghiari lies beneath on a second wall. Drilling began last week to allow cameras inside the outer wall. It is believed Da Vinci started painting his fresco - which is considered by some to be his finest work - in 1504 but abandoned the project because of problems arising from his experimental oil painting technique. The room was later renovated and Vasari painted his fresco in 1563. Seracini believes Vasari did not want to destroy Da Vinci's work and instead bricked it up behind a new wall on which he painted. His theory was stimulated after finding a soldier on Vasari's work holding a small flag bearing the words: "He who seeks, finds." A radar survey carried out last year revealed a hollow space between Vasari's brick wall and the original stone wall. Now Seracini, who works at

PHOTO: ROYALS /AP

'Lost Da Vinci' prompts art row Rediscovered Velazquez

Vasari was a painter, historian and architect known for his biographies of Italian artists

the University of California, and his team are drilling holes in various areas of the fresco and inserting small cameras to capture images inside the covering wall. Traces of an organic pigment were found, however it will take another two months before lab results are known. Although the mayor of Florence has said the holes have been drilled in already damaged areas of the fresco, which would be restored after, the intrusive approach has angered scholars. Cecilia Frosinone, an expert in art restoration who had been working with Seracini on the project, resigned in protest cit-

ing "ethical" reasons. Together with Naples art historian Tomaso Montanari, the pair started the petition appealing to Florence magistrates and the mayor to halt the work. The petition states they find it "highly unlikely that Vasari has sealed something still legible under a wall", adding that art history research believes the Da Vinci painting to be on the opposite wall to the Vasari. They have asked officials to stop the drilling until other Renaissance art experts are consulted. www.bbcnews.com

painting may fetch £3m

An oil painting by Spanish artist Velazquez discovered in Oxford is expected to fetch up to £3m when it goes under the hammer later. The unframed portrait of a balding man first came to light in August 2010 when it was consigned for sale at Bonhams auction house in Oxford. In-house experts suspected it was by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez and had it sent for analysis. The portrait was confirmed to be by Velazquez after x-ray examination. It is one of 100 works by the Seville artist known to exist, of which only a handful remain in private hands. The 47cm x 39cm painting of a unknown man in a black tunic and white collar was part of a small collection of works owned by 19th Century British painter Matthew Shepperson. "The discovery of this lost treasure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it is tremendously exciting to be able to bring it to the world's attention," said

The portrait by the Seville artist dates from 1631-1634

Andrew McKenzie, director of Old Master Paintings at Bonhams. The portrait of goes under the hammer at an auction of works by Old Masters in London. www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

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December 9 - 15, 2011

A collection of images taken at Marilyn Monroe's first photo shoot have been sold at auction for $352,000 (£225,000) in Beverly Hills, California.

PHOTO: moroe / bbc news

Early Marilyn Monroe photos sell for $352,000 "captured a sweet, girlish and natural beauty yet to be transformed into the epitome of female glamour". Jasgur, who died in 2009, had spent the last years of his life trying to regain control of the photographs. A bankruptcy judge ruled in February that the rights should revert to his family and a bankruptcy trustee, but ordered they should be sold to settle debts. Jasgur's family said the estate would get 35 per cent of the profits, with the remainder going to the bankruptcy trustee. Photos of Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and other Hollywood celebrities of the era also formed part of the extensive collection.

Tourism & Evironment himself and Yoko Ono that went for $90,00 (£57,574). According to the official catalogue, "Jasgur's images of a 19year-old Norma Jeane mark the beginning of her career and offer a rare glimpse of her before she was Marilyn. "These early photographs introduce a contradictory and multifaceted personality, which is now known to be characteristic of Marilyn Monroe." The images, it continued,

The collection was sold in order to settle the late photographer's debts

www.bbcnews.com

PHOTO: MUSICAL / BBC NEWS

Taken by Joseph Jasgur in 1946, when Monroe was named Norma Jeane Dougherty, the photos came with negatives and the right to sell and distribute them. In September, a judge ruled they should be auctioned to settle Jasgur's debts. The Icons and Idols auction, held last Thursday and Friday, also saw a Lady Gaga dress sell for $31,250 (£19,987). Other lots included a 1969 caricature John Lennon drew of

Lily Allen talks about baby for first time on Twitter Lily Allen has talked publicly for the first time since the birth of her baby in a message to her Twitter followers.

Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti play the unnamed protagonists in Once the Musical

Once musical heads for Broadway A musical version of Oscar-winning film Once is headed for Broadway next year after its debut production earned rave reviews at a small Manhattan theatre. Once, currently running at the New York Theatre Workshop, is based on the 2006 Irish film about a busking musician who falls for a Czech immigrant in Dublin. The film went on to win the Oscar for best song at the 2008 Academy Awards. The musical will move to the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre in February after its off-Broadway run ends on 15 January. Adapted for the stage by

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Hunger screenwriter Enda Walsh, Once will have its opening night on 18 March. The show sees Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti play the 'Guy' and 'Girl' roles created on screen by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Hansard and Irglova continue to perform together as The Swell Season, also the title of a documentary made about them that screened at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Songs from Once - among

them the Oscar-winning ballad Falling Slowly - feature in the musical, which had its official opening on Tuesday at the New York Theatre Workshop. News of its Broadway transfer coincided with the opening and the publication of several favourable reviews. "Once is that rare kind of musical which theatre lovers will want to see again," said Variety's critic in its review of the show. "This bewitching stage adaptation arguably improves on the movie, expanding its emotional breadth and elevating it stylistically," opined the Hollywood Reporter's reviewer.

The pop singer gave birth last week although no official announcement has been made. In a message to fans, she wrote: "Thank you for all the flowers and lovely messages everybody. very touching indeed. nuff luv xx." The singer has previously suffered two miscarriages, last year and with Chemical Brothers' Ed Simons in 2008. The 26-year-old is usually a regular Twitter user but had not posted any messages for more than a week. Her last one had been the brief "Totes amaze" on 25 November 25, the day she is understood to have given birth. Lily Allen's sister, Sarah Owen, wrote on the site: "I LOVE my little niece! She's the sweetest little thing ever!! So proud of little sis @MrsLRCooper xxx. The star, who lives in Gloucestershire with her husband Sam Cooper, said her dream was to live in the country and have children. Among celebrities to have congratulated her on Twitter are Myleene Klass who wrote "con-

Riviera Maya www.bbcnews.com

PHOTO: allen /bbc news

Hanging Out

grats". Presenter and actress Amanda Holden, who is expecting her second child, tweeted: "Massive congrats to lily and Sam! Such good news. Xxxx." Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman wrote on the site: "Massive congrats to @MrsLRCooper and family on the arrival of their little girl. So much happiness and love going their way. Xxx." www.bbcnews.com


Entertainment PHOTO: bbc news

December 9 - 15, 2011

Final Destination 5 poster banned by ASA The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a poster for horror sequel Final Destination 5 for being too violent

Hyde (left) and Smith have been creative partners for 30 years

and did not feature people, blood or display any real life violence. It also argued that the posters' dark grey and black colours were "unlikely to engage the attention of young children". In its adjudication, the ASA said: "We considered the image was likely to catch the attention of children, especially because it was shown on a poster on the Underground, where it was an untargeted medium. "Because very young children might view this ad depicting violence, it was likely to cause fear and undue distress to children." The film was released in cinemas in August and has since been released for home viewing. www.bbcnews.com PHOTO: FINAL / BBC NEW

London 2012: Olympic ceremony role for Underworld duo

The poster, used on buses and in the London Underground over the summer, showed a skull being shattered by steel rods driven through its mouth and eye sockets. The watchdog said the image "was likely to cause fear and undue distress to children". It ruled the ad must not appear in its original form again. The ASA said 13 people complained about the poster, with three saying it had upset their children aged between one and three years old. Warner Bros, which distributed the film, responded by saying it believed the poster "accurately reflected the content of the film in an appropriate manner without causing excessive fear or distress". It said the posters were "surreal" containing an animated fantasy image

Dance act duo Underworld have been appointed music directors for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, organisers have announced. the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Earlier this week the government doubled the budget for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies to more than £80m. Earlier this year, Karl Hyde spoke to BBC 6 Music about Underworld's working relationship with Boyle ahead of Frankenstein's opening at the National Theatre in London. "We always say yes to Danny because he takes us on journeys that take us to places that we've never been or places that we'd love to go," he said. "What's interesting about work-

ing with them is how much broader their taste is than you might imagine," said Boyle this week. "With Frankenstein we really saw how far we could take a broader approach than we'd used together on the films." Underworld are best known for their track Born Slippy, famously featured in Boyle's Trainspotting film. The duo - described by Olympics organisers as "British electronic music pioneers" went on to provide music for his films A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach and Sunshine.

Final Destination 5 follows survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse

Guns N' Roses inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

www.bbcnews.com

A spokesman for Wizcraft said they were "not aware of this" and that the "information is incorrect". Cruise arrived on Saturday for a special screening of his latest film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Media said the "fans" were paid from $3.87 (£2.5) to $7.73 (£5). Cruise was at the airport less than 10 minutes. The star waved at the cheering crowds and posed for photographs before being taken to his hotel. 'Special screening' The Times of India newspaper said a few of the "fans" were not sure who they were welcoming, despite carrying placards reading, "We love Tom Cruise", "Tom - chak de India", and "Tom Cruises". It said three girls who were among the most vocal members of the crowd did not even know

what Cruise did. "We're not certain, but 300 rupees for an hour outside the airport is not bad," the paper quoted one of them as saying. A Wizcraft spokeswoman told the Wall St Journal's India Real Time that the story was "sensationalist", adding: "We are not aware of any such arrangement." The Hollywood star came to India on a two-day visit at the weekend to promote the film ahead of its global release. Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, who also stars in the film, joined Cruise and 1,500 Indian fans in the suburb of Wadala on Sunday for the special screening. "I wanted to come to India my whole life, so I am very excited," he told the Press Trust of India news agency. He was accompanied on this promotional tour by his co-star

PHOTO: AP

Tom Cruise India trip organisers deny hiring fans Tom Cruise visited India during the weekend to promote his latest film

in the film, Paula Patton. The screening was attended by several Bollywood stars, including Sonam Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Farhan Akhtar. On Saturday Cruise visited the famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal in Agra. The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible films is directed by Brad Bird and will be released in India on 16 December. www.bbcnews.com

Guns N' Roses are to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Faces also made the cut from the 15 shortlisted artists. They will be honoured alongside The Beastie Boys, Scots folk singer Donovan and late singer Laura Nyro on 14 April. Faces member Rod Stewart, who was inducted to the Rock Hall in 1994 as a solo artist, said it was "a thrill and honour to make it in the Hall of Fame a second time". The British group are being recognised in both their guises as The Small Faces with lead singer Steve Marriott, and as The Faces fronted by Stewart. "We were always synonymous with a good party and with this list of fellow artists being inducted I'm looking forward to it and it's a hell of a good reason to reunite and celebrate with my old mates," Stewart added. Nominations for the performers category are selected by a small committee and are then voted on by around five hundred experts across the world. Guns N' Roses and The Faces were inducted on their first time in the ballot, while The Chili Peppers had to wait until their second try. The Beastie Boys and Nyro

PHOTO: guns /bbc news

Rick Smith and Karl Hyde will work with artistic director Danny Boyle and will be responsible for overseeing the music in the threehour ceremony on 27 July. Underworld's collaborations with Boyle extend from his 1996 film Trainspotting to his recent staging of Frankenstein. Boyle described the duo's appointment as "the final piece of the jigsaw". "It's a great honour to be asked to do this and one we're taking very seriously," said Hyde. "It's certainly not something we'll get the chance to do again." More than 10,000 people have auditioned to take part in

Guns N' Roses are best known for hits including Welcome to the Jungle and Seet Child O' Mine

were also denied the honour twice before making it this time around. However, the nominations process has been criticised for a lack of transparency. Other inductees include Freddie King for early influence, the late rock promoter Don Kirshner, who will receive the Ahmet Ertegun award and Tom Dowd, Glyn Johns and Cosimo Matssa will be honoured for musical excellence. The induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland this year, just the third time in its 27-year history that the event has taken place in the museum's home city instead of New York. www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

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PHOTO london/ bbc news

December 9 - 15, 2011

The flame will fly off the Tyne Bridge on a zip wire

London 2012: Torch relay heading for 1,000 places

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said the zip-wiring torch moment planned for 15 June was a thrilling opportunity for the city to be part of Olympic history and to inspire young people. "There could be no more poignant backdrop for the flame than the Tyne Bridge, an enduring symbol of our people and our region," he said. The flame will go to Snowdon on 29 May. Alun Gruffydd, of Snowdonia National Park Authority, said it was most fitting that the torch would reach the summit of Wales' most iconic landmark. "The Snowdonia landscape is here for everybody to enjoy and it is hoped that the 2012 Olympics will inspire people to keep active and experience our breathtaking countryside," he said. Peter Carson, head of Stonehenge, where the torch will appear early on 12 July, said it was particularly relevant for the torch to visit the site as during London's bid for the Olympic Games it played a part in showing the UK's history and culture. "We're delighted that having been part of this for the past seven years, the torch will come and visit us," he said.

Torchbearers wait Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said the Olympic flame's arrival in the UK on 18 May 2012 would "mark the final countdown to the greatest sporting event the country will host in our lifetime". "The Olympic Torch Relay will be an amazing opportunity for people to see the Olympic flame in their own towns and communities," he said. In keeping with tradition, the Olympic flame will be lit in Olympia, Greece, in May 2012, and be flown to the UK on 18 May. The 70-day torch relay begins early on 19 May at Land's End and, after covering the country, spends a week touring London before making a final journey on 27 July from Hampton Court Palace to Olympic Park, for the opening of the Games. People nominated to carry the torch will be contacted with a conditional offer in December and their places confirmed from February. Locog has also launched its Local Leaders programme, to invite people to organise torch relay and other Games celebrations within their communities, as well as its Get Set for the Olympic Torch Relay education kits for teachers.

Tourism & Evironment

The relay will visit UK landmarks like the Giant's Causeway and Stonehenge. London Games organisers Locog have set out the 1,018 places the torch will pass through when it is carried around the UK from 19 May to 27 July 2012. On the last day of the 70-day relay it will travel down the River Thames to Olympic Park for the opening ceremony. During the 10-week relay, the torch will be carried by 8,000 torchbearers and will travel about 8,000 miles. Locog say the torch will come within 10 miles of 95% of the population. It will go through every English county and every local authority area in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The scope of the route reaches from Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands to St Helier, Jersey, as far east as Lowestoft, Suffolk to Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. While the communities and

landmarks the torch will visit have been set out, the street-by-street detail of the route will not be confirmed until later in 2012. Locog chair Sebastian Coe said the relay would take the 2012 Games to almost every corner of the UK, saying: "Now everyone is invited to plan their welcome and find out where they can go to be part of this historic occasion," he said. He added on the BBC: "We originally started out by saying 95% of the population would be within an hour's journey of the route - we now have that as within 10 miles. We've got to get the torch to as many communities as possible. "Fifty per cent of the torchbearers will be aged between 12 and 24. We are going to focus on young people, it is a young people's torch." The flame, in the torch or Olympic lanterns, will also be transported by more novel methods including boat, bicycle, tram and train.

The London 2012 Olympic torch will fly by zip wire from the Tyne Bridge, ascend Snowdon by rail and cross Loch Ness during its journey around the UK.

The flame will: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Ride in an Isle of Man TT sidecar Take the chair lift at the Needles, Isle of Wight Float in a rainforest balloon at the Eden Project Brave the white water rapids at Lee Valley Take a trip on the Flying Scotsman, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the Manx electric railway Abseil down the Dock Tower in Grimsby Visit the Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire Take a rigid inflatable boat (Rib) across Lough Neagh and Loch Ness Ride a Ceredigion Cobb Horse in Aberaeron Cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on a boat Travel on a tram and a canal boat at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley Take a steamer across Windermere Skate at the National Ice Centre Ride the Heights of Abraham Cable Car in Matlock Try Paralympic cycling at Brands Hatch Travel in a rowing boat at Henley on Thames and on the River Bann

www.bbcnews.com

IRB announce an unnamed player failed a World Cup drugs test The player's identity has been withheld but the IRB confirmed he plays for a nation that failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition. The positive test was returned following a match in the final round of the pool phase. A statement from the IRB said: "The player is provisionally suspended until the outcome of a hearing." The IRB collected 76 blood samples and 216 urine samples during the World Cup. IRB anti-doping manager Tim

18 The International weekly

Ricketts said: "The player and his union (who exited the tournament after the pool phase) have been informed of the finding. "Due to confidentiality provisions no further information can be released until the case is heard and a decision made." All 20 teams were subjected to "an extensive programme" of testing before the tournament began that included urine and blood controls to screen for banned substances including EPO and Human Growth Hormone (hGH).

Japan's Ryohei Yamanaka tested positive for methyltestosterone, which was contained in cream he used to assist the growth of his moustache, and he was banned for two years. Russian player Evgeny Pronenko was banned for six months after testing positive for Furosemide, a diuretic. Ricketts continued: "The IRB and its member unions operate a zero-tolerance policy towards doping in rugby and this comprehensive testing programme administered across the 20 teams both before and during the

tournament underscores our collaborative commitment in this pivotal area of the game. "The one adverse finding also demonstrates that education is key, even for painkillers, and we will continue to work in partnership with our member unions to ensure that players, coaches and medical staff have access to the best possible educational resources and take greater responsibility for what they consume and administer." www.bbcnews.com

Hanging Out

The anonymous athlete is provisionally suspended until an IRB hearing


Sports December 9 - 15, 2011

Future of Formula 1 Teams' Association in doubt

Christian Horner's Red Bull and Stefano Domenicali's Ferrari have led the charge to leave Fota.

The future of the Formula 1 Teams' Association is in the balance after a number of high-profile defections. meeting would be cancelled, but so far that has not been the case. Toro Rosso have refused to comment on their position, but as they are owned by Red Bull and use Ferrari engines it is considered impossible for them to continue in the organisation. BBC Sport understands they would almost certainly be refused entry to any meeting they attempted to attend. The remaining seven teams McLaren, Mercedes, Renault (who will become Lotus next season), Force India, Williams, Lotus/Caterham and Virgin - all attended a Fota meeting on Tuesday. However, it should be pointed out that the meeting was attended by the respective team principals, not the chairmen or owners of the teams, who will ultimately make the decision

whether to continue with Fota. Mercedes have already said they want to keep the organisation alive. On Monday - before Sauber's withdrawal became public but after they had announced it to the other teams - Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug said: "It is absolutely vital that Fota is existing. "The aims that we are having, the targets, are very important and I think it is up to the so-called top teams to really balance it out." McLaren, Williams, Lotus (who will be renamed Caterham in 2012) and Virgin all refused to comment. McLaren are understood to be keen to continue with Fota - their team principal Martin Whitmarsh is the president of the organisation and

has worked hard to keep the teams together. Insiders believe that although Fota has been weakened by the departures, there can still be some strength in numbers, especially in discussions on important issues such as commercial rights and technical and sporting regulations. Mercedes GP chief executive officer Nick Fry said: "It's obviously quite a difficult time at the moment and clearly we, Mercedes AMG, are very supportive of cost control in Formula 1. "It's a difficult thing to achieve when everyone is so competitive but we certainly will work with others to try and fulfil the aim of an RRA. "I think even though Ferrari have withdrawn at the moment they also are intent on finding a solution to this. "We've certainly hit a bump in the road but I believe that work will continue in the background to try and resolve this and we will do whatever we can to support that." www.bbcnews.com

Suzuki has confirmed that it will not compete in next year's MotoGP championship for financial reasons. The Japanese factory saw lone rider Alvaro Bautista finish 13th this season but have now ended their 37-year stay. A statement read: "Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend temporarily its participation in MotoGP from the 2012 season. "Having an eye on returning to MotoGP in 2014, Suzuki will now focus on developing a competitive new machine." Bautista had already announced that he has joined Gresini Honda for next season as a replacement for the late Marco Simoncelli. Suzuki's withdrawal leaves just Honda, Yamaha and Ducati as manufacturers with full factory teams on the grid for 2012. "This suspension is to cope with tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese Yen and repeated natural disasters," Suzuki said. Suzuki first competed in the top class of grand prix racing in 1974, and saw British legend Barry Sheene take two world championships in the 1970s. Kenny Roberts Jr was the last Suzuki world champion, taking the 500cc title in 2000. PHOTO: suzuki/ bbc news

PHOTO: formula 1 / bbc news

Switzerland's Sauber have become the latest team to indicate they will quit the group, in the wake of Ferrari and Red Bull's move last Friday. Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso's place is considered untenable. HRT quit the organisation in January. The remaining seven teams are in talks about the survival of the umbrella group for their collective benefit. A spokesman for Renault/Lotus, whose team principal Eric Boullier is the vice-chairman of Fota, said: "A lot of talks are going on but, so far, our team is still a member of Fota." A Force India spokesman added: "There are ongoing meetings, so it is premature to comment at this stage." Fota was set up three years ago by all the teams to present a united front in negotiations with the commercial rights holders and governing body the FIA. However, the top teams have been arguing all year over the shape of a renewed Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), which sets out limits on the amount of staff, external spend and aerodynamic research teams can employ and covers work on the design of the car. Those talks had reached an impasse, with Ferrari and Mercedes openly accusing Red Bull of flouting the RRA. Red Bull have always insisted they operate within it. The row led to Red Bull and Ferrari announcing on Friday that they were giving the requisite two months' notice to quit Fota, although they have both pledged to continue working with the other teams to keep costs under control. A meeting has been planned for Monday between the big four teams - Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes - on this subject. It had been expected in the wake of Red Bull and Ferrari's decision to quit Fota that the

Suzuki confirm MotoGP withdrawal until at least 2014

Bautista scored a best finish of fifth for Suzuki in the 2011 MotoGP championship

Paralympic champion Sarah Storey dropped from Olympic pursuit team Sarah Storey will not get the chance to become Britain's first Paralympic and Olympic athlete after being dropped from the women's team pursuit squad. Storey, 34, helped Britain to gold at last week's World Cup event in Colombia, but was told she had not done enough. "I collected my bags in Manchester and before heading home was told my performance in Cali was not as good as they were looking for," she said. "So this is the end of the journey for me with the GB pursuit team." Storey, who has won five swim-

ming gold medals and two in cycling at the Paralympics, had teamed up with Laura Trott and Wendy Houvenaghel to win in Cali. Trott and Houvenaghel - along with Dani King - were victorious at the World Championship in March, and GB Cycling have been trying out possible combinations in the buildup to next summer's Olympic Games. Storey made her debut for Great Britain at the Manchester

leg of the World Cup in February, helping the team break the British record along the way. But with Houvenaghel, Trott, King and Joanna Rowsell also battling for the three team pursuit places, GB Cycling has decided to narrow the field going into 2012 by dropping Storey. "I have always said that London 2012 is about riding as many events as I am good enough for and so now it is important for me to concentrate on the other events I have at the Games," Storey added on her website. "Selection for the Paralympic Games will be made on 20 June, so my priorities don't really

change a great deal as I have to concentrate on trying to get selected for and defend the two gold medals I won in Beijing [at the 2008 Olympics]. "I always said the team pursuit was another opportunity to become the best athlete I could be and it would be a bonus if I was able to make the event work alongside the events in which I am paracycling world champion. "As with any team event the squad has to work to get the fastest three riders on the start line in the Olympic final and in the eyes of the selectors I am not able to contribute to this process any longer."

It's the parallel Olympics - Sarah Storey

Storey, who was was born without a left hand, won two gold medals in swimming as a 14-yearold at the 1992 Paralympics and will now concentrate on a possible five cycling events at the Paralympic Games. www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

19


Fashion & People Restaurantes Hoteles

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A very -comfortabl e- boho chic style w ith soft proportions, clean lines that em bellished the piece s. Easy and wearable from wa vy dresses to print body suits, sweaters, preppy sh orts, with a sophis ticated touch of masculine jacket s and cigarette pan ts. In this collection S teffe bring this bea utiful and spring-summer colo urs palette like yell ow, mint green, grey, white, black, purple, fuchsia, elec tric blue, turquoise, anthraci te, khaki, tobacco, beige, coral An open-toe platfor m dress shoes, hard bracelets, retro sunglasses, leather necklaces, cloth an d leather belts, leather hatboxes m ake the perfect com bination with this amazing style to m ake it an serious u nique boho-trend

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20 The International weekly

PHOTOS: BB C

December 9 - 15, 2011


Fashion & People PHOTO: QUEEN / BBC NEWS

December 9 - 15, 2011

Prince appeals against Duchy of Cornwall tribunal Prince Charles is appealing against a ruling which threatens to expose more information about the Duchy of Cornwall. A Freedom of Information Act Tribunal ruled the Duchy is a public authority in a test case demanding more information about non-native oysters in the Fal and Helford Rivers. For centuries the Duchy has claimed it was simply a private estate. The Duchy confirmed it would appeal against the tribunal's ruling.

Fund-raising campaign The Diamond Jubilee will mark 60 years of the Queen's reign

The Duchy estate was created to provide an income for the heir to the throne, an income today worth £17m a year. An information tribunal ruled in November that the Duchy was a public authority under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004 and so must divulge

Day off for Diamond Jubilee given to Highland staff

environmental data to the public. The decision overturned an earlier judgment by the Information Commissioner in October 2010 that the Duchy was not a public body subject to the regulations. A Duchy of Cornwall spokeswoman said: "The Duchy of Cornwall and the Attorney General to the Prince of Wales have sought permission to appeal the decision which found that the Duchy is a public authority for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004." Michael Bruton, the environmental campaigner who won at the original tribunal about oysters, said he plans to hold a fund-raising campaign to help pay for the next hearing. There is no date for the prince's challenge. www.bbcnews.com

Highland Council staff are to be given an extra day off to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year. In a report, officials told councillors that giving employees the one-off bank holiday could be good for staff morale. Employees were not given Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding as a holiday amid concerns it would cost the local authority £200,000.

Highland Council's resources committee approved the jubilee holiday proposed for 4 June. Officers had also reported that allowing the additional day off could cost Highland £90,000. The money would be needed for relief staff to cover for workers in social work and the trans-

port, environmental and community services departments. The Diamond Jubilee will mark 60 years of the Queen's reign. Celebrations will centre around an extended weekend running from 2-5 June. www.bbcnews.com The Prince of Wales derives his income from the Duchy of Cornwall

Gary Barlow performs to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge PHOTO: ROYALS /AP

Also present were the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. The event will raise funds for Prince Charles's charity the Prince's Trust, and The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. Barlow's show was the second of two on consecutive nights at the Royal Albert Hall, which are expected to raise £400,000 for the charities. The Duke and his wife chatted briefly with Barlow, minutes before he took to the stage.

'Fantastic cause' The singer told Prince William: "I hope you enjoy tonight and I hope it's not too loud." The prince replied joking: "The louder the better, the louder the better." When the couples took their seats in the royal box a huge cheer went up from the audience, which the prince acknowledged by smiling and waving a programme in the air. After the first few numbers, Barlow greeted the royal group saying: "Good evening to our beautiful royal family", adding: "All the money goes to a fantastic cause so we're killing two birds with one stone." Barlow sang A Million Love Songs, Pray and Nobody Else, among other hits.

Prince Harry finishes Army exercise in US

Several members of the Royal Family were in the audience for the performance

Gary Barlow has performed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a concert held in aid of royal charities. Strictly Come Dancing contestant Jason Donovan appeared with Barlow along with Olly Murs, Lulu, and X Factor's Marcus Collins who is mentored by Barlow. William, Kate and Camilla could be seen clapping along to the music during the concert, while Charles tapped his hand on the armrest of his chair.

After the show the royal couples met the performers and chatted to supporters of the charities. Barlow said after the show: "It's been great. Both nights were amazing; people have been buying lots of merchandise which all goes to a good cause." www.bbcnews.com

The prince spent eight weeks taking part in Exercise Crimson Eagle in California and Arizona. He flew the aircraft in mountainous and desert conditions, during both day and night, as well as firing its weapons. The exercise - designed to prepare pilots for action in Afghanistan - was the latest step in Harry's training. Known to his fellow soldiers as Capt Wales, the 27-year-old must undergo more training at RAF base Wattisham Station, Suffolk. 'Demanding environment' Exercise Crimson Eagle, split between US military bases in California and Arizona, was designed to prove students' proficiency in handling the Apache. Lt Col Peter Bullen, chief of staff of the Attack Helicopter Force at Wattisham, said: "[It] is a challenging exercise during which students have had an opportunity to practise skills in a demanding environment with conditions similar to those in Afghanistan." Harry was secretly flown to Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, in December 2007 to work as a forward air controller, serving for 10 weeks. The royal has spoken publicly a number of times about his wish to serve his country on operations. Rockets and missiles In April, while training for an Arctic expedition, he suggested it

Prince Harry flew to the US to take part in the exercise at the start of October

would be pointless to undertake costly helicopter training if he never went into combat. He said: "You become a very expensive asset, the training's very expensive. I'd just be taking up a spare place for somebody else." The Apache attack helicopter is designed to hunt and destroy tanks and is equipped with rockets, missiles and a machine gun. St James's Palace has always stressed that the issue of the prince deploying on operations is a "matter for the Ministry of Defence chain of command". www.bbcnews.com The International weekly

21


What to do December 9 - 15, 2011

What to do DECEMBER Book Fair Until December 12 Leona Vicario Park Playa del Carmen Exhibit “Casualidad” By Pérez Gutiérrez "el Coze" Drawing-painting urban art Until December 30 (Wednesday to Sunday) Artezissimo Gallery Puerto Morelos. 2pm to 6 pm.

Theater "Nosotros los de abajo" By Pablo Méndez Until December 31 City Theater´s Gallery Cancun

Friday 9

Saturday 10

Presentation of the book “Maya Method” By Prof. Jesus Rivero Azcorra Cultural Center Playa del Carmen. 7 pm

Theater "El Gorila" By Franz Kafka With Humberto Dupeyron Cover: 150pesos Phone: 984 11273 45 House of Culture Tulum. 8 pm

Collective Winter Exhibit (Opening) “Hacia el final del último B’ak tun “ Web Escamilla Gallery Contemporary Art Phone: 984 110 5051 / 984 8593076 Playa del Carmen. 5:30 pm

Christmas Party “Soñar Despierto 2011” Place: Instituto Cumbres Cancun. 9 am to 2 pm

Short Film Contest Exhibit “Historias En Corto” Museum of the Island Cozumel. 7 pm

Tuesday 13 Presentation of the book and Plastic exhibit “100 ideogramas para vivir al 100% feliz” By Horacio Cárdenas Place: Gran Plaza /Café Riviera Cancun. 8 pm

Wednesday 14 Theater “The woman alone” (monologue) By Dario Fo Directing: Maria Cordoba Performance By Gina Saldaña Duration: 70 minutes Xbalamque Theatre Cancun. 8:30 pm

Thursday 15 Theater “Divorciadas Jaja” (Teatro Standupero) By Humberto Robles Algarabía Theater Cover: 100pesos Direction: Gina Saldaña Acting: Tere Mendoza, Titah Migoyah and Paloma Andulce Xbalamque Theater Cancun. 9 pm

Emile M. Cioran Quotes Romanian Philosopher (April 8, 1911 – June 20, 1995) “A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate.” “A golden rule: to leave an incomplete image of oneself.” “A people represents not so much an aggregate of ideas and theories as of obsessions.”

“Everything is pathology, except for indifference.” “Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory.” “Music is the refuge of souls ulcerated by happiness.” “No one can enjoy freedom without trembling.”

“A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.”

“Ambition is a drug that makes its addicts potential madmen.” “By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing.”

“Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself.”

“Nothing is so wearing as the possession or abuse of liberty.” “One hardly saves a world without ruling it.” “Our first intuitions are the true ones.” “Reason is a whore, surviving by simulation, versatility, and shamelessness.”

“Skepticism is the sadism of embittered souls.”

“Every thought derives from a thwarted sensation.”

“The Universal view melts things into a blur.”

22

The International weekly


December 9 - 15, 2011

Weekly Horoscope

Sudoky

December 9 - 15, 2011

Aries

Libra

In the past you may feel others are being overly emotional. True, enjoying their extra attention probably won't be a problem. Yet you may be aware that they're going over the top and yes, there may be times when you're positively lost for words - especially if dealing with experts or those who don't share your first language. The art this week may be to engage without making full commitment. For now, you might like to think of yourself as gathering information others would prefer to keep hidden. Only after you've had chance to sift through this will you be ready to make your move.

You may now find that writing, education and travel require more attention and, in this period between eclipses, give some thought as to how you could cut down on these costs whilst still doing what you need to do. An unexpected bonus could come your way through a colleague of close partner. True, that person might throw a side-winder in your direction too - requiring you to take on responsibilities you'd never imagined. Neither would it be surprising if you had more contact with health professional (finance or medical). Indeed, working with experts of all kinds - and dealing with matters you'd rather ignore - may be absolutely vital midweek.

Taurus It's possible words won't have to be spoken and that this is all about shared appreciation of the finer things of life. Take care that you don't over do spending or thrift in the second half of the week: it's then that balance could be hard to achieve. It's highly probable that talk about legacies and investment will dominate for some hours before the weekend - the upside being the opportunity to get even closer to someone who shares your values. One last note: furniture removal or interior decoration may be moving up your agenda.

Gemini Each Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically without guessing. Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square.

Peachy Avocado Salsa Ingredients 1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained and diced 1 medium ripe avocado, diced 1 tablespoon lime juice 2 cups diced, seeded tomato 1/4 cup diced onion 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1 teaspoon seeded chopped jalapeno pepper* 1 garlic clove, minced 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions In a bowl, combine the peaches, avocado and lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients; lightly toss just until combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, fish or chicken.

You don't have to alter your move or pacebut you are likely to appreciate options. Of course, this may be driven by news that reached you a week or so ago and which indicated that someone was moving on - leaving a gap you could choose to fill - or not! You may find it feels as though you've entered a whirlwind as the working week closes. For once this might even leave you feeling 'wall-flower-like' for a few hours. In this position it surely won't be hard to make acute observations and to see through someone who, it now appears, may have been trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Cancer It's possible you've already determined on a course of action that's effectively the conclusion of one chapter and the opening of another. The speed at which this occurs could yet take you by surprise you however. It's also possible that friends from far away places will throw their own spanner in the works before the weekend. Whatever, social events make unusual events on your time - but could leave you closer to someone who's as apprehensive about change as you are. Remember, you come from one of the most sensitive signs and eclipses periods can be unusually unsettling for you. By 20th you should feel much better about ideas especially if friends (Virgos?!) sort themselves out and come up with a coherent plan.

Leo So, at one level, you might still feel you're moving through fog or living within a question mark. All that will change in time and for now it seems the cosmos is demanding you accept a lesson in patience: so much easier said than done - especially where property matters are concerned or if you feel your job and resources are under threat. You may be asked to make a small investment (of time - perhaps in the form of a journey) that could pay dividends later. It seems someone born under one of the Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn) is on the move and wants you along for the ride.

Scorpio Joining forces with someone you've worked with in the past might seem like a good idea. It would surely be important to go through details with a fine tooth-comb first? Though excited by the prospect of involvement in something new and which might even be 'cutting edge', you perhaps know from experience that things don't always turn out as you would wish. If this project involves someone (even you) working from home, it could be as well to be very clear indeed about what is involved. You could enjoy remarkable insights into the way someone has worked in the past and then see ways of adopting these same techniques to your advantage. Within this you may be given a master-class in cost-cutting.

Sagittarius If you don't do something, it may be that the cosmos arranges things that forces you to break habits and do things differently. It's probable that contacts with those working some distance away will increase or that news from afar will require you to re think training and expertise. Don't forget that others see you as a walking encyclopedia and that they may want to spend more time with you. And this could bring increased travel. A further possibility is that someone close might need you to support them in their plans (again involving travel). And that's the next big question: do you want to join them?

Capricorn It's possible (and especially if head office is some distance away from you) that a shake-up at mission control will offer you the opening you've been awaiting. It's also just possible that a tentative but wholly unexpected enquiry will lead you to consider making a move - perhaps even as early as your birthday. Though action stations are highlighted for the start of next week, it all starts now - possibly prompted by a Sagittarius or Gemini who's been full of talk for weeks but who now seems to be taking action. Indeed, what they're proposing could act as catalyst for you to seize an opportunity.

Aquarius What you want - always - is for people to say what they mean and mean what they say. Perhaps you have ideas as to how the next few weeks should run? The fact that others are chopping and changing plans could drive you crazy - if you allow it to. Someone close (a neighbour or sibling) probably understands better than you could imagine just where you're coming from in all this. With property matters still high on your agenda, home is top priority. Be prepared for excitement, unexpected arrivals and, perhaps, to host a group of friends at short notice. Their news (involving job change) is something else that could disturb your equilibrium.

Virgo

Pisces

As you know Mars is in your sign and is there for an extended stay (to July of next year). Think of this as an energising period. You might experience a few emotional and shaky moments as momentum picks up. Essentially though it seems you now know where you're headed and what you want to achieve in the next six months. This week it might help to take a slightly laid back approach - especially if you feel extra-sensitive and/or if it seems others are overreacting. Doing what you do best: focusing on the details helps. Then, with the lunar eclipse in the past, you can really move forward - and most likely with the assistance of a Gemini or Sagittarius colleague. For now, learning how someone operates should be seen as a vital learning curve.

It might seem you've had enough change; coped with too many surprises and generally reeled from punches in the last couple of years. Whatever, it will soon be time to think about what you want to do next. What you hear on the grapevine this week should be hugely helpful - essentially in tipping you off about who's moving to where and when. Then there's the high probability of news from a Sagittarius whose change of plans affect you too (actually this could as easily be news from a place of higher education or a legal matter). With any entrepreneurial flare also rising to the surface, it may be that you give more though to developing a hobby that's been a longtime interest. The International weekly

23


CancĂşn & Riviera Maya

December 9 - 15, 2011

www.elquintanarroense.com/international

Week in Pictures

A swimmer braves the icy water of the lake in Beiling park in Shenyang, north-eastern China.

Burma´s pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (right) held talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the most senior US official to visit Burma in 50 years.

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