Sunday, 11 December 2011

Climate talks end with late deal

Delegates and negotiators discuss the latest draft report in Durban, 10 December
Elements of the draft text caused much discussion

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UN climate talks have closed with an agreement that the chair said had "saved tomorrow, today".

The European Union will place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries.

Talks on a new legal deal covering all countries will begin next year and end by 2015, coming into effect by 2020.

Management of a fund for climate aid to poor countries has also been agreed, though how to raise the money has not.

Talks ran nearly 36 hours beyond their scheduled close, with many delegates saying the host government lacked urgency and strategy.

Nevertheless, there was applause in the main conference hall when South Africa's International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, brought down the long-awaited final gavel.

"We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come," she said.

"We have made history."

The conclusion was delayed by a dispute between the EU and India over the precise wording of the "roadmap" for a new global deal.

Start Quote

While they develop, we die; and why should we accept this?”

Karl Hood Foreign Minister of Grenada

India did not want a specification that it must be legally binding.

Eventually, a Brazilian diplomat came up with the formulation that the deal must have "legal force", which proved acceptable.

The roadmap proposal originated with the EU, the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDCs).

They argued that only a new legal agreement eventually covering emissions from all countries - particularly fast-growing major emitters such as China - could keep the rise in global average temperatures since pre-industrial times below 2C (35.6F), the internationally-agreed threshold.

"If there is no legal instrument by which we can make countries responsible for their actions, then we are relegating countries to the fancies of beautiful words," said Karl Hood, Grenada's Foreign Minister, speaking for Aosis.

"While they develop, we die; and why should we accept this?"

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, president of the talks: "No one can walk out of this room and say we don't care about climate change"

Delegates from the Basic group - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - criticised what they saw as a tight timetable and excessive legality.

"I stand firm on my position of equity," said an impassioned Jayanthi Natarajan, India's environment minister.

"This is not about India, it is about the entire world."

India believes in maintaining the current stark division where only countries labelled "developed" have to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Western nations, she said, have not cut their own emissions as they had pledged; so why should poorer countries have to do it for them?

Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, agreed.

Apparently trembling with rage, he berated the developed countries: "We are doing things you are not doing... we want to see your real actions".

However, Bangladesh and some other developing countries weighed in on the side of Aosis, saying a new legally-binding deal was needed.

Aosis and the LDCs agree that rich countries need to do more.

But they also accept analyses concluding that fast-developing countries such as China will need to cut their emissions several years in the future if governments are to meet their goal of keeping the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial times below 2C.

Once the roadmap blockage had been cleared, everything else followed quickly.

There were some surreal moment of confusion, but few objections, except from members of the Latin American Alba group, who said the developed world was not living up to its promises.

Green fund

A management framework was adopted for the Green Climate Fund, which will eventually gather and disburse finance amounting to $100bn (£64bn) per year to help poor countries develop cleanly and adapt to climate impacts.

There has also been significant progress on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).

Environment groups were divided in their reaction, with some finding it a significant step forward and others saying it had done nothing to change the course of climate change.

Many studies indicate that current pledges on reducing emissions are taking the Earth towards a temperature rise of double the 2C target.

Michael Jacobs, visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the agreement could bring real changes.

"The agreement here has not in itself taken us off the 4C path we are on," he said.

"But by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015, it has snatched 2C from the jaws of impossibility.

"At the same time it has re-established the principle that climate change should be tackled through international law, not national, voluntarism."

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Bowes-Lyons at Earlswood: The Queen's Hidden Cousins

The Bowes-Lyons at Earlswood: “a peg to hang it on”

Picture of Katherine Bowes-Lyon, first cousin of the Queen

Last night I saw a documentary on Channel 4 titled The Queen’s Hidden Cousins (that is a link to 4OD, where you can watch it, if you’re in the UK, until about this time next month), which was about two women from the Bowes-Lyon family, the family of the late Queen Mother, who had learning disabilities and spent most of their lives in an institution for “mental defectants” in Earlswood, Surrey. One of them is still alive and, since the closure of Earlswood, lives in a nursing home; the other died in 1986 and was buried in a pauper’s grave, attended only by nurses from Earlswood. Neither of them ever received visits from their family. The review linked above condemns the programme for failing to bring any new information about the Bowes-Lyons themselves that has not already been known since the 1980s, when news of their situation became public. However, the review totally ignores sections of the programme that deals with the history of care for those with learning disabilities in general, which may have been intended as the real focus of the documentary: in broadcasting terms, the Bowes-Lyons’ story was “a peg to hang it on”.

Earlswood was founded in 1855 as an “asylum for idiots”; when the NHS took over such institutions in the 1940s, it came to be called a hospital. The conditions, however, gradually deteriorated until the place closed in 1997, due to underfunding and understaffing. A documentary broadcast in the 1980s (a clip was shown in this programme) exposed the shocking conditions and practices in places like it: someone strapped to a post (standing) for hours, with others imprisoned in an outside grassy area, with the staff on the outside pushing food through the wire fence, with one half-naked man, who was said to crave attention and “mothering” (from anyone, male or female), laying his head down on another patient’s body, and shown to have marks on his body from the violence of staff and other patients. A male nurse, who worked at Earlswood at some point, related that he had witnessed a man being locked outside, naked, in the snow as a punishment for challenging behaviour; when he reported this abuse, the staff were told he had informed on them and immediately set him to the dirty jobs and made his life difficult, eventually leading to his resignation. Patients had to wear communal clothes, and one man complained that the underwear had urine stains on it.

This man now lives semi-independently, doing his own shopping and getting round town (somewhere in Sussex) on a scooter. He would presumably, always have been capable of doing this, but the powers that were at the time did not consider it worth enabling him to do so. A woman who had lived at Earlswood, also now in a nursing home, is said to have blossomed since the institution closed; her younger sister said that it had now been a joy to visit her, rather than a duty which she dreaded. The programme-makers managed to find various nurses that remembered Bowes-Lyons, and one in particular recalled that the sisters would be glued to the TV if any royal occasion were on, in their younger days curtseying to members of the royal family in front of the TV, but later simply saluting (presumably as they got stiffer in their old age).

The BBC have, in the past, made a history of the mental health system in post-war Britain, from the over-crowded asylums of the 1940s to “care in the community” in the 1980s and 1990s. There were some echoes of this in the Channel 4 documentary, with a speech that sounded a lot like Enoch Powell’s “water tower” speech replayed. The programme traced public attitudes to learning disability to the early 20th century, when eugenics began to gain popularity. Learning disabilities came to be associated with all manner of negative traits including criminality, and having a relative with such a disability became a matter of shame as it was assumed to be hereditary, so it automatically lowered the value of anyone related to them. This may have been one of the reasons why Elizabeth and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon were hidden from view and ostracised; the family misinformed Burke’s Peerage that the sisters had died in 1940. Another reason was that the family may have found it difficult to cope, as the support network was not there as it is now. While that may be credible for a family of modest means, it has no merit as far as a family as wealthy and privileged as the Bowes-Lyons. They could have provided for the girls, and could have paid for drastic improvements to the conditions at Earlswood or even founded their own institution, but chose not to — they simply abandoned them instead.

I don’t find the criticism that it reveals nothing new to be particularly significant, anyway. Documentaries often aren’t meant to be revelatory; very often, they are simply retellings of history. Not everyone alive now was alive in 1987, and certainly not everyone was an adult in 1987 (I wasn’t) and therefore might not remember the original scandal very well. It could, perhaps, have focussed more on the history of care for the learning disabled, and how not everyone released from the long-stay hospitals blossomed in provincial nursing homes — others were dumped on housing estates and became targets for gratuitous harassment and violence (in some cases murder) from local yobs. It presented institutional abuse of such people as a thing of the past, when in fact, abuse persisted after the long-stays closed, as the scandal of the Longcare homes in the 1990s and the more recent Winterbourne View exposé, featuring some of the same type of abuse mentioned in this programme demonstrate. So, in a sense, the programme does disappoint and presents an overly rosy view of how we deal with those with learning disabilities since the closure of the big rural “hospitals”, but the lack of new material about the Bowes-Lyons is a pretty trivial criticism.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Farnham Park

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The following particulars relating to Crondal were set forth preparatory to the pleadings, held before King Edward I. and his council, at Aberconway, in July, 1284, when the long continued disputes between the Bishops of Winchester and the monks, which originated from Bishop Walkelin's arbitrary appropriation and division of the Cathedral estates, were amicably settled.

The negotiations for the settlement of these disputes were commenced in June, 1278, during the episcopate of Bishop Nicholas de Ely; and among other requests the Convent asked that the churches of Droxford, Havant, and Crondal with the adjacent chapels, assigned for the maintenance of the lights in the Cathedral Church, should be restored to them.

Originally in Latin.

"These are the services which the Prior of Saint Swithun's, Winchester, and his tenants of Crondale, as well the freemen as the bondmen, owe to the Lord Bishop of Winchester.

In the first place, that all the tenants, the freemen as well as the bondmen, owe two suits a year before the steward of the Lord Bishop at the Blackheathfield, which is in the manor of Farnham, which two suits are called Wue de Francplegge.

Also, the said Prior and his men of Crondale, are bound to enclose the Bishop's Park at Farnham, the freemen as well as the bondmen; each one according to his own share ought to enclose the park, which enclosure comprises two and a half leagues of land.

And it shall be lawful for the Lord Bishop, if any default is found in the enclosure of the aforesaid park, that the said men, the free as well as the bond, should be distrained by his bailiff of Farnham and amends made.

Also, the said Prior shall give to the Lord Bishop's park keeper at Farnham a quarter of wheat yearly.

Also, the said park-keeper shall have in the manor of Crondale, from each virgate of land, a bushel of oats, heaped measure, and ten eggs.

Also, when the Prior, his steward, and his other ministers shall for a bribe, or through partiality, refuse to do justice to any plaintiff of the hundred of Crondale, the Lord Bishop of Winchester and his steward have power at the first lawday at Blackheathfield, where the two hundreds assemble, to make inquisition as to and terminate this wrong and to exact amends therein.

Articles agreed upon with the assent of the Lord Bishop, John de Pontissara, and Brother William Basynges the Prior and the entire Chapter of Winchester, so that perpetual peace should be established between them."

Farnham Park Today

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Greek Tragedy Tops World's Debt List

(CNN) – Greece has hit another low point in the 18 months since its debt problems worried global markets and even threatened the existence of the European Monetary Union.

On Monday, Standard & Poor’s – one of the ‘big three’ credit ratings agencies – cut the ratings of the troubled Mediterranean nation three notches to CCC with a negative outlook. That makes Greece the least credit-worthy country rated by the credit agency and signals the belief that Athens will default on its debt payments.

So if Greece is the worst, who is the second worst? According to the S&P, these are the top 10 nations least likely to pay back debts :

1. Greece (CCC rating)
2. Jamaica (B-)
3. Ecuador (B-)
4. Pakistan (B-)
5. Grenada (B-)
6. Fiji (B-)
7. Belarus (B)
8. Argentina (B)
9. Belize (B)
10. Ghana (B)

The good news for Greece: Unlike Ecuador and Argentina, it hasn’t recently defaulted on its debt. Ecuador defaulted in 1999 and in 2008; Argentina defaulted in 2001.

S&P’s revised rating comes a week after another Big Three ratings agency, Moody’s Investors Services, downgraded its rating on Greece, saying the nation has a 50-50 chance of defaulting on its debt. (However, Moody’s rates Ecuador even lower than Greece.)

But the risks for the financial world are much larger with the Greek situation, because of the pressure it puts on the 17 nations united under the euro currency. A default from Greece is bound to rekindle fears of possible defaults from other euro nations, like Portugal and Ireland, and reignite the debate on whether the eurozone can survive.

Last year, Greece got $145 billion in aid from the EU and IMF to make its debt payments. Greek press is reporting the country now will seek an additional $58 billion.

Why? To borrow cash in the form of bonds, the market is demanding 25% interest payments for a two-year loan.

On Tuesday European ministers will gather to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing Greek drama. As CNN’s Emily Reuben explains, Germany wants private sector to take a hit with a “soft restructuring,” for example, which will extend Greece’s repayment dates. ECB fears any kind of prescribed restructuring could broaden the crisis.

“We are advising them to have a voluntary scheme (to reduce debt) and to avoid schemes that would trigger a credit event or selective default or default,” Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank, told CNN’s Richard Quest.

The Greek Ministry of Finance, meanwhile, says the reduced rating “ignores the intense consultations taking place currently between the (the ECB and European Commission) and the IMF aimed at designing a viable solution that will cover the financing needs of Greece in the coming years.

“The Government remains determined to implement the difficult policies required for Greece to exit the crisis.”

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Best Beaches In The World

Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Anyone thinking of sun tanning topless in Cape Town should beware. A South African newspaper just revealed that for the past five years, photographers have been snapping photos of topless women sunbathing and selling them to pornography sites. If you spend a sunny afternoon on a Cape Town beach, make sure no one with a telephoto lens is in sight. Cape Town has plenty of beaches to choose from, like Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno. Our vote is for Camps Bay because of its proximity to a huge range of stylish bars, lounges and restaurants. The penthouse of The Place on the Bay offers panoramic views of Camps Bay and starts at $975 per night.

The water may be chilly in Cape Town but the beaches are warm and the scenery--rolling hills, Table Mountains and tanned beach goers--is all beautiful. The hottest beach along Victoria Road is Clifton (Camps Bay is a close second); both stretches of beach are located across the road from stylish neighborhoods crammed with shops, bars and restaurants. Paragliders often land on a corner of Clifton Beach. The place to stay is the small but sophisticated Bay Hotel, directly across the street from the beach. Rates start at $83.

Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza, Spain
The entire island of Ibiza is pretty hedonistic, but some beaches have more of a party vibe than others. Playa d'en Bossa is the longest beach on Ibiza. It is lined with bars and cafes, as well as beautiful bodies on display. Since there's very little in the way of natural shade, rent a beach umbrella and a chaise lounge. At night, the beach is one of the best places for partying in mega-clubs like Space and DC10. The Cas Gasi is a cozy little inn with terracotta colored walls and hand painted tiles. Rates start at €252 ($329).

Estepona, Spain
Some of Spain's best beaches are found along the Costa del Sol (literally, the sun coast), which includes Marbella and Malaga. Slightly less crowded is the town of Estepona. True naturists can head to Costa Natura, about two miles west of Estepona, the only official nudist colony along the Costa del Sol. The new Kempinski Resort Estepona is serene and away from the main strip. Rates start around €220 ($239).

Playa El Agua, Margarita Island, Venezuela
Playa El Agua is arguably the most popular beach on Margarita Island, and with good reason. Apart from the beautiful people who flock there, the three-mile-long beach is lined with palm trees, bars and cafes. The visitors who come here tend to be European and South American, with hardly any Americans. The Hesperia Isla Margarita has the island's only 18-hole golf course, and the bedrooms have dark wood floors and rattan furniture. Rates start at $60 per person.

Sydney, Australia
Few places are as synonymous with laid-back beach culture as Australia, and Bondi Beach in Sydney is one of its best. Bondi is a mile-long stretch of protected beach cove, with powdery sand and dark blue water. It's easy to spend the entire day (and night) at the beach, with its stretch of cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels. Tamarama beach, on Bondi's south end (nicknamed "Glamorama"), is another popular choice. There's also an outdoor gym. At night, escape to the quiet of the Observatory Hotel in Sydney. Rates start around $286.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Some of the most beautiful beaches--populated by some of the most beautiful people--in the world exist in French Polynesia, with its shimmering blue and green lagoons. While Moorea and Tahiti are both fine choices, Bora Bora has the magnificent Le Meridien Bora Bora hotel, with glass-bottom bungalows perched over the water. Guests can also dive off their front deck into the water. Rates start at $439.

Capri, Italy
When thinking of the island of Capri, it's hard not to associate it with the famous photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis walking barefoot through its cobble-stoned streets. Capri (as well as the less-crowded Anacapri) still draws an international crowd hell-bent on partying. The beaches tend to be rocky, so the best place to lay out is simply on a large boulder. The opulent Grand Hotel Quisisana, originally built as a sanatorium in 1845 by an English doctor, overlooks the sea. Rates start at $395.

Anse du Gouverneur, St. Barts, French West Indies
All the beaches on the French-owned island of St. Barts allow topless sunbathing. But Anse du Gouverneur has nice scenery even before the beach, which is arrived at via a winding mountain road. Nearby Anse de Grande Saline is pretty as well, but residual tar from a long-ago oil spill has a tendency to stick to one's feet. The luxurious Hôtel St. Barth Isle de France is about 15 minutes from the beach. Room rates start at $820 per night during the winter.

Clifton Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
Clifton Beach, Camps Bay and Llandudno Beach are among the most popular in Cape Town, but if you're planning on going topless, we recommend Clifton. That's because the beach consists of four sheltered coves, which protect sunbathers from chilly summer winds. The fourth cove is the busiest, especially during their summer months (December and January) because of its excellent public changing and bathroom facilities. The Bay Hotel, located right on Camps Bay, is a few minute's walk from Clifton Beach. Room rates start at $200 per person per night from October through April.

Illetes, Formentera, Spain
Formentera, a tiny Balearic island just below Ibiza, shares the temperate climate and sensuous beaches of its neighbors Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca. But it's smaller and best navigated by bicycle, which works to deter hordes of summertime party-goers and render the beaches safe for families and intimate groups of friends. That's not to say that they are staid, however: Illetes, a stretch of white sand and green water, is home to water sports like sailing and rafting and provides more than enough inspiration for even the most intrepid topless tanner. Formentera is accessible by boat, and we recommend a day trip from Ibiza, where there are more and better places to stay. Pikes Hotel is an island mainstay and will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this July. Room rates start at $244 per night.

La Voile Rouge, St. Tropez, France
Technically speaking, St. Tropez is a little port town on the French Riviera. But it rose to international prominence in the 1950s with the arrival of artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso and Jacques Prevért, who were drawn to the laid-back charm and seductive weather of St. Tropez in the summer. When Brigitte Bardot arrived in the '60s, St. Tropez's reputation was secured as the place to sunbathe, swim, mingle and while away the summer. La Voile Rouge is one of St. Tropez's hottest spots during the summer season. Located eight or ten minutes away by bicycle is Villa Marie, with acres of private grounds and a pool. The hotel opens for the season on April 20, and room rates start at $495 per night during high season.

Las Salinas, Ibiza, Spain
Las Salinas in Ibiza is framed with pine trees and located at Ibiza's southern-most point. The beach is the center of the action for the party-seeking crowd that takes over the island every summer, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone. Exclusive beach bars will deliver drinks right to your towel or lounge chair, but they aren't cheap--you'd do well to remember your wallet even if you leave your bathing suit behind. For a break from the beach, the wildlife conservation area surrounding the beach is perfect. At night, the Cas Gasi, a cozy inn, is located nearby. But like everything else in Ibiza during the summer, it's expensive. Room rates start at $335 per night.

Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia
There are nearly 200 beaches in the greater Sydney area, and with summer weather making an appearance in early November, there's plenty of time to explore during the North American winter. Manly Beach, accessible via ferry from Sydney, has all the trimmings that make a day at the beach comfortable: water-sports facilities (especially surfing), homey restaurants and places to buy postcards, sun screen and ice cream. The Radisson Kestrel Hotel, right on the beach, just finished a $4 million room renovation: Every room has a private balcony, many of which look out over the ocean or Sydney Harbour. Room rates start $185 per night.

Nikki Beach, St. Tropez, France
Along with La Voile Rouge, Nikki Beach is one of St. Tropez's most stylish and outrageous beaches. The sand is as packed with body guards as it is with tan bodies, and music blasts from nearby cafés, where prices are geared toward the rich, the famous and their hangers-on. Hotel Les Palmiers is a relatively cheap option for accommodation. Located in Place des Lices and hidden in a grove of orange trees and palms, the hotel is open year-round. Room rates start at $125 per night.

Plage de Pampelonne, St. Tropez, France
Plage de Pampelonne, with its clear water and uninhibited bathers, is the center of the St. Tropez beach scene, and Hotel Byblos is the place to stay while there. Built in the style of a Mediterranean mansion, the hotel opens on April 12 this year. Nightly room rates during high season (July and August) are $630 per night.

Santa Maria, Forte Dei Marmi, Italy
Forty miles outside of Florence, Forte dei Marmi is a prime resort on the Italian Riviera. A favorite among the wealthy Tuscans who own pine-screened villas here, as well as of visiting Europeans and Americans, Forte dei Marmi is famous for its weekly market, where shoppers can score fabulously discounted designer shoes, beachwear, crockery and almost anything else you can think of. For the most part, the sandy beaches are meticulously combed and clean, and it's not unusual for one family to reserve a block of tents and beach chairs for the entire summer. Santa Maria beach has some of the best people-watching, and we recommend the California Park Hotel, just two minutes away. Room rates start at $280 per night during August

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
de Janeiro is home to Carnival, Copacabana and some of the tiniest bikinis on the planet. On a warm day, it seems that half the population of Rio is enjoying a dip in the ocean or a game of volleyball. Although Ipanema beach is infamous thanks to the song, spread your towel on Copacabana Beach, preferably in the shadow of the Copacabana Palace Hotel, where rates start at $254.

While the beaches of Ipanema are more beautiful than those of Copacabana, we chose the latter because of the famed Copacabana Palace hotel, which faces the beach and offers its guests--what else?--complimentary cabana service--as well as some of the most beautiful rooms in the city. This being Brazil, even standard bikinis are micro-sized.

Black's Beach, San Diego, Calif.
Black's Beach is one of the best areas for parasailing in San Diego--thanks to the high cliffs as well as its status as a semi-nude beach. Black's Beach is also one of the most popular surfing beaches in San Diego, and it's perfect for taking long walks and sunbathing on the rocks. If you're planning on leaving part of your bathing suit on the rocks--be careful. Since Black's is a state beach, in some areas nudity is prohibited. When in San Diego, make the elegant Hotel del Coronado your base. Rates start at $200.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Bali's Kuta beach is one of the most popular places on the island to gather and watch the sunset. It's also the heart of Bali's nightlife. But during the day, it's ideal for people watching. Beyond the huge swath of white sand, there's a huge selection of restaurants and nightclubs. Book a stay at the new Uma Ubud from Como Hotels, the group behind the Caribbean's Parrot Cay resort. Rates start at $185.

South Beach, Miami, Florida.
South Beach is arguably the best topless beach in the U.S., thanks to the party atmosphere that attracts the young, beautiful and buff. Just about anywhere you go on South Beach is ideal for beach spotting, but one of the best areas is upper Collins Avenue, near the Delano and Raleigh hotels. But if you need a break from the chaos, check into the serene new Ritz-Carlton South Beach, where rates start at $499.

South Beach has miles of powdery white sand, clear turquoise water and throngs of celebrities, models and perfectly tanned and toned bodies. While the Delano is a top choice, the new Shore Club Hotel is the kind of place where it's perfectly acceptable to wear strappy high heels with your bikini as you lounge poolside with a cocktail in hand. It's also home to an outpost of Nobu, the hip sushi restaurant owned by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Rates start at $208.

Anse du Gouverneur, St. Barts, French West Indies
The French-owned island of St. Barthelemy, known as St. Barts, exudes a typical Gallic sang-froid towards beach nudity. Topless tanning is allowed on all beaches but especially on Anse de Grande Saline and Anse du Gouverneur, ("anse" is French for beach). Anse du Gouverneur is our top pick because it's the prettier beach, and on a clear day you can see the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts. The Hôtel St. Barth Isle de France is a small, family-run hotel that is directly on the beach. Rates start at €655 ($857).

St. Martin, West Indies
Because of its French and Dutch heritage, a European attitude towards nudity prevails on the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten. Most beaches are topless, but a few--Orient Beach, Coconut Grove and Tintamarre--are clothing optional. Be forewarned: You'll roast in the Caribbean sun. La Samanna, which just underwent an extensive renovation, is one of the most luxurious and romantic resorts in the world. Rates start at $765.

Plage de Tahiti, Saint Tropez, France
Film icon Brigitte Bardot is one of the best embodiments of Saint-Tropez style--sexy, barefoot and glamorous. Some would consider the French Riviera the birthplace of topless tanning, and although the beaches tend to be rocky, the glamour quotient more than makes up for it (renting a chaise lounge will take care of the rock problem). The best time to travel there is during July and August, where you'll see such Saint-Tropez regulars like Joan Collins, Naomi Campbell and Roman Abramovich. The recently renovated Carlton Inter-Continental has been a popular choice for celebrities and wanna-bes for generations. Rates start at €255 ($333).

Cannes, France
Some would consider the French Riviera the birthplace of topless tanning. While the beaches tend to be rocky, the glamour quotient more than makes up for it (renting a chaise lounge will take care of the rock problem). Plan a trip during the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off May 14, where there's more flesh on display than usual. The recently renovated Carlton Inter-Continental has been a popular choice for celebrities and wanna-bes for generations. Rates start around $280.

Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Although most beaches on Mykonos turn into one big party during July and August, Paradise Beach has most of the action. During the day, the beach is chock-a-block with tanned bodies. There are plenty of beach bars, tavernas and water sports, too, in case sitting on a towel makes you bored. At night, there's music, and the crowds dance in the sand until the sun comes up--and then do it all over again. Once a month the beach hosts a full-moon party. The stylish Hotel Belvedere is built like a typical white-washed Cycladic village, with a free-form pool in its center. Guests stay in a converted 18th-century mansion. Rates start at €105 ($137).

Santorini, Greece
Santorini becomes a den of debauchery during the summer, thanks to its hot, dry weather and its clubs, which stay open until the sun comes up. (Many people tend to go straight from the clubs to the beach to sleep off the previous night's excess.) Two of the best beaches on Santorini for people-watching are the black-sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa--the sand is black because of volcanic activity, and flip-flops (or sprinting) is necessary when moving from towels to the water. Stay at the cliffside Katikies Hotel, which consists of white domed cottages and a series of pools. Rates start at €177 ($191).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

How much Exercise?

Interviews of elite athletes done by staff for Healthy Aging®, show that at least one hour of cardiovascular activity a day is a key to fitness. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has announced what it feels is the way for adults to gain substantial health benefits through moderate aerobic physical activity. They say it is two and a half hours a week -- that's around 20 minutes per day for adults. The recommendations for children are one hour per day.

According to HHS, "The guidelines are designed so people can easily fit physical activity into their daily plan and incorporate activities they enjoy."

Physical activity benefits children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group, the report said.

“It’s important for all Americans to be active, and the guidelines are a roadmap to include physical activity in their daily routine,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “The evidence is clear -- regular physical activity over months and years produces long-term health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases. The more physically active you are, the more health benefits you gain.”

Regular physical activity reduces the risk in adults of early death; coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. It can improve thinking ability in older adults and the ability to engage in activities needed for daily living. The recommended amount of physical activity in children and adolescents improves cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness as well as bone health, and contributes to favorable body composition.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are the most comprehensive of their kind. They are based on the first thorough review of scientific research about physical activity and health in more than a decade. A 13-member advisory committee appointed in April 2007 by Secretary Leavitt reviewed research and produced an extensive report.

Key guidelines by group are:

Children and Adolescents -- One hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days a week. Examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities include hiking, skateboarding, bicycle riding and brisk walking. Vigorous intensity aerobic activities include bicycle riding, jumping rope, running and sports such as soccer, basketball and ice or field hockey. Children and adolescents should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as rope climbing, sit-ups, and tug-of war, three days a week. Bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, running and skipping, are recommended three days a week.

Adults -- Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening are examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities. Vigorous intensity aerobic activities include cycling, racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope and hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes. For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to five hours a week moderate-intensity or two and one half hours a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should incorporate muscle strengthening activities, such as weight training, push-ups, sit-ups and carrying heavy loads or heavy gardening, at least two days a week.

Older adults -- Older adults should follow the guidelines for other adults when it is within their physical capacity. If a chronic condition prohibits their ability to follow those guidelines, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. If they are at risk of falling, they should also do exercises that maintain or improve balance.

Women during pregnancy -- Healthy women should get at least two and one half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the time after delivery, preferably spread through the week. Pregnant women who habitually engage in vigorous aerobic activity or who are highly active can continue during pregnancy and the time after delivery, provided they remain healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time.

Adults with disabilities -- Those who are able should get at least two and one half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. They should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups two or more days a week. When they are not able to meet the guidelines, they should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and should avoid inactivity.

People with chronic medical conditions -- Adults with chronic conditions get important health benefits from regular physical activity. They should do so with the guidance of a health care provider.

SOURCE: Healthy Aging® news room and US Dept of HHS

Monday, 15 August 2011

More than a glimmer of hope for third world economies?

World Bank: Emerging markets reshaping landscape

A worker walks amongst shipping containers at the Port of Shanghai January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON | Tue May 17, 2011 1:06pm EDT

(Reuters) - Growth in emerging-market countries is outpacing developed countries so greatly that the global economic landscape will be wholly altered over the next 15 years, a World Bank study on Tuesday predicted.

"By 2025, six major emerging economies -- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Russia -- will account for more than half of all global growth, and the international monetary system will likely no longer be dominated by a single currency," the study said.

Currently, the U.S. dollar serves as the world's reserve currency but the study said there has been "a slow decline in its role since the late 1990s" that was likely to continue.

"The most likely global currency scenario in 2025 will be a multi-currency one centered around the dollar, the euro and the renminbi," the report's lead author, Mansoor Dailami, said at a press conference.

The World Bank said it expects a sharp divergence in growth to continue between the emerging-market nations and old-line rich powers like the United States and other Group of Seven members: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The study estimated that emerging economies will grow on average by 4.7 percent a year between 2011 and 2025, twice the 2.3 percent growth rate likely to occur in advanced countries.

By 2025, the United States, the euro area and China will constitute the world's three major "growth poles," the World Bank said, providing stimulus to other countries through trade, finance and technological developments and thus creating global demand for all of their currencies, not just the dollar.

The net result, the study concluded, should be greater stability to the international monetary regime than exists in the current dollar-centered system.

A multi-currency regime would more broadly distribute lender-of-last-resort responsibility and make it easier to boost liquidity during times of market distress without as much disruption as is often the case now.

Hans Timmer, the World Bank's director of development prospects, said the shift to a multi-currency regime would not diminish the dollar's importance and would not happen rapidly.

"For the United States, it's still possible that this will only be a gradual prospect," he said. "Very likely the dollar will still be dominant...but it will no longer be alone."

(Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Poles Melting And Fossil Fuels Running Out Update

Deforestation, particularly in the Amazon Jungle accounts for about three times as much as the worse CO2 producing countries at current annual rates of CO2 emission. These CO2 levels remain high as after being removed the Forest can no longer fulfil its role of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Pole Melting will cause catastrophic global flooding of all low laying land, affecting the Poverty Stricken if action is not taken.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Nation Union Of Journalists Strike

    BBC news presenter Fiona Bruce

    Several of the BBC's star presenters, such as Fiona Bruce are due to take part in a 48-hour strike. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features

    The BBC faces a news blackout tomorrow across its main TV and radio news programmes, including Radio 4's Today, BBC1's 10pm bulletin and Newsnight, as star presenters including Fiona Bruce and Kirsty Wark join a 48-hour strike over pensions.

    Some of the BBC's most familiar presenters, including Bruce and Nicky Campbell, are expected to take part in the walkout organised by the National Union of Journalists. The 1pm and 6pm bulletins on BBC1 will also be hit by the strike, which will begin at midnight, as will the TV network's Breakfast programme and the corporation's 24-hour news channel, BBC News.

    Managers were scrambling today to put together sufficient resources to provide a "core news service" across TV, radio and online. One insider described the situation as "looking stretched".

    Other Radio 4 news programmes expected to go off air are The World at One and PM, although The World Tonight has been pre-recorded. BBC2's Newsnight is expected to fall victim to the strike, and rolling sports and news station 5 Live will also suffer serious disruption. Live news coverage on the BBC News channel is expected to be restricted to an hourly update, possibly as short as two minutes. The rest of the news channel is likely to be filled by repeats. A brief news update will also replace the three main bulletins on BBC1. BBC news output in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions is also expected to be hit.

    The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, made an 11th hour appeal to staff before the strike, which he said would mean "significant loss of earnings" for NUJ members "without any advantage or benefit in return". Thompson warned the strikers that there would be little sympathy for the industrial action among viewers and listeners. He also told BBC members of other broadcasting unions that they would be expected to work. "The public – many of whom are facing difficult employment and economic pressures – will find it very hard to understand why the BBC's service to them should be impaired in this way," Thompson wrote in an email to BBC staff.

    Describing the corporation's pension offer as a "fair one" that had changed "in significant and positive ways" following negotiations with staff and unions, Thompson added: "The BBC belongs to the British public and has a duty to deliver programmes and services of the highest quality to them every day of the year. They rely on us. We must not let them down."

    Jeremy Dear, the NUJ general secretary, said he expected the strike to have a "significant impact" on the BBC's output. He added that the union was ready for talks but said there was "no appetite" for negotiation from the BBC.

    "NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions robbery. That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions," said Dear.

    NUJ members voted to go on strike in protest at changes to the BBC's historically generous final salary pension scheme. Management said the changes, which included breaking the link between final salary and pension benefits, were required to tackle a pension deficit estimated at between £1.5bn and £2bn, but members of the union voted to reject what Thompson described as a final improved offer.

    The NUJ, which represents about 4,100 BBC journalists, called tomorrow's strike last week. A second strike is due to take place from 15 November, with the threat of further industrial action over Christmas.

    It is five years since the BBC suffered industrial action on a similar scale. Unions, including the NUJ and Bectu, staged a 24-hour stoppage in May 2005 in protest at plans to cut 4,000 jobs and slash 15% from budgets. Radio 4's Today was replaced by a repeat of Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats, while PM listeners heard a Glastonbury festival documentary. However, ratings for BBC1's 10pm bulletin, fronted by BBC World presenter Stephen Cole in the absence of Huw Edwards, went up, a phenomenon attributed to curiosity about how the BBC would cope.

    One beneficiary of today's strike may be ITV1's breakfast programme, Daybreak. The replacement for GMTV, fronted by former BBC1 stars Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, it has so far struggled in the ratings. With BBC1's Breakfast hobbled by the strike, the ITV show may finally have a chance to shine.

    Newsnight chose last night to debate union power and whether it has "dissipated to the point where the threat of a winter of discontent no longer exists". For the BBC, it would appear not.

World Population - Billions Milestones

Word Population-
Billions Milestones
SOURCE: Wikipedia

It is estimated that the population of the world reached one billion in 1804, two billion in 1927, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, and six billion in 1999. It is projected to reach seven billion in October 2011, and around eight billion by 2025–2030. By 2045–2050, the world's population is currently projected to reach around nine billion, with alternative scenarios ranging from 7.4 billion to 10.6 billion. Projected figures vary depending on such things as the underlying assumptions and which variables are manipulated in projection calculations, especially the fertility variable. Such variations give long-range predictions to 2150, ranging from population decline to 3.2 billion in the 'low scenario', to high scenarios of 24.8 billion, or soaring to 256 billion assuming fertility remains at 1995 levels.

There is no estimation on the exact day or month the world's population surpassed both the one and two billion marks. The day of three and four billion were not officially noted, but the International Database of the United States Census Bureau places them in July 1959 and April 1974. The United Nations did determine, and celebrate, the "Day of 5 Billion" (11 July 1987), and the "Day of 6 Billion" (12 October 1999). The International Programs division of the United States Census Bureau estimated that the world reached six billion on 21 April 1999 (several months earlier than the official United Nations day). The "Day of 7 Billion" has been targeted by the United States Census Bureau to be in March 2012, while the Population Division of the United Nations suggests 31 October 2011.

Regional billion milestones

Regionally, the first region to hit a billion people was the Northern Hemisphere, followed shortly by the Eastern Hemisphere, not too long after the world hit a billion. Next in coming was Asia, then East Asia and South Asia, followed by China in 1980, India in 1999, Western Hemisphere in 2000s and Africa in 2010. The next billion people milestones expected by demographers are the Americas, with a current population of around 920 million, the Southern Hemisphere and Subsaharan Africa with each around 850 million people. It is not known if the current next contenders, Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America in that order, will ever surpass 1 billion people.

As for 2, 3, and 4 billion, only the Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, and Asia have surpassed these figures.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Arctic may be ice-free within 30 years

Data showing dramatic sea ice melt suggests warming at the north pole is speeding up
    Arctic ice cave
    Arctic ice is melting at a record pace, suggesting the region may be ice-free during summer within 30 years. Photograph: Alexandra Kobalenko/Getty

    Sea ice in the Arctic is melting at a record pace this year, suggesting warming at the north pole is speeding up and a largely ice-free Arctic can be expected in summer months within 30 years.

    The area of the Arctic ocean at least 15% covered in ice is this week about 8.5m sq kilometres – lower than the previous record low set in 2007 – according to satellite monitoring by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. In addition, new data from the University of Washington Polar Science Centre, shows that the thickness of Arctic ice this year is also the lowest on record.

    In the past 10 days, the Arctic ocean has been losing as much as 150,000 square kilometres of sea a day, said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.

    "The extent [of the ice cover] is going down, but it is also thinning. So a weather pattern that formerly would melt some ice, now gets rid of much more. There will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030. It is an overall downward spiral."

    Global warming has been melting Arctic sea ice for the past 30 years at a rate of about 3% per decade on average. But the two new data sets suggest that, if current trends continue, a largely ice-free Arctic in summer months is likely within 30 years. That is up to 40 years earlier than was anticipated in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report.

    Sea ice, which is at its maximum extent in March and its lowest in September each year, is widely considered to be one of the "canaries in the mine" for climate change, because the poles are heating up faster than anywhere else on Earth. According to NSIDC, air temperatures for June 2011 were between 1 and 4C warmer than average over most of the Arctic Ocean.

    The findings support a recent study in the journal Science that suggested water flowing from the Atlantic into the Arctic ocean is warmer today than at any time in the past 2,000 years and could be one of the explanations for the rapid sea ice melt now being observed.

    Computer simulations performed by Nasa suggest that the retreat of Arctic sea ice will not continue at a constant rate. Instead the simulations show a series of abrupt decreases such as the one that occurred in 2007, when a "perfect storm" of weather conditions coincided and more ice was lost in one year than in the previous 28 years combined. Compared to the 1950s, over half of the Arctic sea ice had disappeared.

    What concerns polar scientists is that thicker ice which does not melt in the summer is not being formed fast as the ice is melting. On average each year about half of the first year ice, formed between September and March, melts during the following summer. This year, says Jeff Masters, founder of the Weather Underground climate monitoring website, a high pressure system centred north of Alaska has brought clear skies and plenty of ice-melting sunshine to the Arctic.

    "The combined action of the clockwise flow of air around the high and counter-clockwise flow of air around a low pressure system near the western coast of Siberia is driving warm, southerly winds into the Arctic that is pushing ice away from the coast of Siberia, encouraging further melting."

    Sea ice has an important effect on the heat balance of the polar oceans, since it insulates the (relatively) warm ocean from the much colder air above, thus reducing heat loss from the oceans. Sea ice also has a high albedo – about 0.6 when bare, and about 0.8 when covered with snow – compared to the sea – about 0.15 – and thus the loss of sea ice increased the absorption of the sun's warmth by the sea.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

More On Frensham Church's Cauldron

Scroll down and use middle mouse button to view.
- History of Cauldron - from St. Marys Church Visitors' Guide. - Internal Map of St. Marys Church showing location of Cauldron.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What Is Totalitarianism?

Other Totalitarian States Include:

Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Burma, Cuba, Zimbabwe, People's Republic Of China, Vietnam, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Please note this is a duplicate of Internet Research

Friday, 1 April 2011

World War Two Related

Last Secrets Of The Axis

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Got To See Mother Ludlam's Cauldron Today...

Pic I found on MySpace.

It was moved to St. Marys Church, Frensham by Faries from Mother Ludlam's Cave

St. Marys, Frensham.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011