IF YOU’VE BEEN following the nail-biting baking and the tense tart-constructions over the past nine episodes, you’ll know that the final of the Great British Bake Off is on telly tonight.The fabulous baker boys Brendan, John and James will battle it out for the title of baker of the year.Here’s a flash-in-the-pan look at the series so far:
Source: ASSOCIATED PRESSTHIS 14-FOOT monstrosity washed up on a California beach over the weekend, prompting (we imagine) terror and fears for the future of humanity.However, it’s actually a rare ‘snakelike oarfish’. The beasts can grow up to 50 – yes, fifty – feet long and are usually found in deep water.It’s thought they are likely to be responsible for ‘sea serpent’ legends throughout history.Police in Oceanside, San Diego contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who had to cut the body up into sections for later study.If this leaves you feeling uncomfortable, check out these lion cubs cuddling.Petrol station attendant breaks out his dance skills on the forecourt>Teenager goes viral with selfie taken with his teacher who was in labour>
This is a further demonstration of the warm and positive relationship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.The State Visit in April, following on the very successful visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth in 2011, will be a wonderful opportunity to deepen this even further. Queen Elizabeth II made a historic visit to Ireland in May 2011, visiting places such as the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse and the National Stud in Kildare.Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh admire a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland. (Arthur Edwards/PA Images)At the time of the visit, Mary McAleese was President of Ireland.Speaking during her visit at the State dinner, Queen Elizabeth said Ireland and the UK are becoming “as good neighbours should be”.Read: Duking it out, part deux: Who wants to stop for a Guinness?>In pictures: The second day of the Queen’s historic visit>Read: What the international media is saying about the Queen’s visit> PRESIDENT MICHAEL D. Higgins has been invited by Queen Elizabeth II to visit the United Kingdom.Áras an Uachtaráin confirmed that President Higgins will go to the UK for a state visit from 8-10 April 2014.State visitIn an interview with TheJournal.ie last year, President Higgins stated that he had hoped to return the State visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland last year by visiting the UK either in 2013 or early in 2014.The statement released today said President Higgins was “very pleased to accept” the invitation from Queen Elizabeth.The President will be accompanied on the State visit by his wife, Sabina Higgins.No further details about the president’s schedule were released but it stated that details of the president’s programme will be announced jointly by Áras an Uachtaráin and Buckingham Palace.Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in a statement this evening that he warmly welcomes the news, stating:
Updated at 7.11pmThe scene at Ballymount yesterday [Brian Lawless/PA Wire]THE FIRE AT the Oxigen recycling plant in Ballymount, west Dublin is being rated a ‘Category 1′ incident by the Environmental Protection Agency.Three units of Dublin Fire Brigade are continuing their efforts to contain the fire today, a day after it was first reported. An incident command unit is also at the scene, coordinating the response effort.This evening, a Dublin Fire Brigade spokesperson said they are still fighting the fire defensively and anticipate tackling the blaze into tomorrow.Category 1A spokesperson for the EPA said the ‘category 1′ rating was an internal classification used for incidents where the agency decided there was a need to make the public aware of an incident:“It’s used where there’s a fire, or an explosion, something the public should be made aware of — lower categories are used where the incident doesn’t spread from the immediate area.”Although the smoke is now subsiding, both the EPA and gardaí said the advice to householders in the area remained the same — people in the affected area are being advised to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.The EPA spokesperson said that the advice should be heeded in areas where there was a strong smoke smell.An operator at Dublin Fire Brigade HQ on Townsend Street said the control room had been fielding calls from as far away as Dublin 4 from people concerned about possible toxic fumes.[Brian Lawless/PA Wire]The fire was initially reported at 3.12am yesterday. Householders nearby reported hearing “little explosions” in the early hours of yesterday morning as the blaze spread.Around 25 fire personnel were at the scene this morning – the firefighters each staying at the ‘frontline’ for four hour periods, in line with normal procedure for high intensity work, before switching with a colleague and continuing their other shift duties.A Dublin Fire Brigade spokesperson said this morning that they could be at the scene for “several days” although it’s now hoped the all clear can be given at some stage tomorrow.Once the scene is declared safe, gardaí will enter the site to conduct forensic tests — the results of which will determine whether further investigation is warranted. The cause of the fire is not yet known.There are no reports of any injuries.RTÉ reports that the Oxigen Environmental hopes to relocate as many of its Ballymount staff as possible. Around 60 staff have been affected by the blaze.- Additional reporting Aoife BarryRelated: Ballymount industrial estate fire could burn for rest of weekendRead: Orange alert: Coastal flood warning as 130km winds set to sweep country
The missing child flier for Elizabeth Smart hangs next to the one for Shawn Hornbeck. Hornbeck and Smart were both found alive. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)THIS WEEK SAW the incredible rescue of three women who had been kidnapped and held in a home in Cleveland, Ohio, for almost 10 years.The families of Amanda Berry (27), Georgina ‘Gina’ DeJesus (23) and Michelle Knight (32) might not have given up hope, but the chance that they would see the three young women again were slim.Against all odds, Berry was able to attract the attention of a neighbour on the Cleveland street where she had been held captive, through a gap in a locked door. That one brave action led to her fellow captives being found, and released into the arms of their families.A man, Ariel Castro – a school bus-driver and father – has been charged in connection with the women’s kidnap and rape.But the Cleveland trio are not the only kidnap victims to have defied the odds and managed to escape from confinement. Here are five stories of others who made miraculous escapes.Jaycee DugardJaycee Lee Dugard, who went missing in 1991. Pic: AP Photo/Nick Ut,FileEighteen years. That’s how long Jaycee Lee Dugard was missing and held captive for. Her kidnappers were a couple, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, who kept her locked up in their home after zapping her with a stun gun and whisking her off a South Lake Tahoe street.What made her 1991 abduction even more shocking was that it happened in front of her stepfather, as she walked to a school bus at age 11.Nancy and Phillip Garrido before the start of their hearing in court. Pic: AP Photo/Rich PedroncelliUnder the couple’s watch, she was raped, kept trapped and locked inside a back garden studio. Dugard gave birth to two daughters fathered by Phillip Garrido, the first when she was just 14.A tent is set up in the far backyard of a home in Antioch, California, where authorities say Dugard lived. Pic: AP Photo/Paul SakumaDugard was discovered after the behaviour of the Garridos while on the UC Berkeley campus raised the suspicions of police. On a subsequent visit to a parole office, Phillip brought Dugard with him. She was questioned by police, and after some time, told the authorities her true identity.Phillip Garrido, 60, a serial sex offender, was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison and his wife, Nancy, 55, was given a 36-year sentence.March 9, 2012, Oprah Winfrey presents Jaycee Dugard with a DVF Award at The Third Annual DVF Awards held at the United Nations in New York. Pic: AP Photo/Charles Sykes(ABCNews/YouTube)Elizabeth SmartElizabeth Smart earlier this month. Pic: AP Photo/Rick BowmerThis is Elizabeth Smart, a young Utah woman who was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in 2002 when she was 14.Pic: AP Photo/Douglas C PizacShe was taken from the home she lived in with her parents, Ed and Lois Smart (pictured above), and five siblings in a well-to-do neighbourhood.That night, the alarm hadn’t been set in their home, and hours after the family went to bed Brian David Mitchell broke in.Brian David Mitchell arrives at the federal court house in Salt Lake City. Pic: AP Photo/Colin E BraleyThe black-clad and polite Mitchell abducted Smart from the room she shared with her sister Mary Katherine (9), who pretended to be asleep and remembered details of the abduction that helped the police in their investigation.Mitchell took Smart back to the camp he shared with Wanda Barzee in a woods, where the young teen was forced to “marry” the older man in a ceremony. During her captivity, Smart was raped, forced to drink alcohol and abused.Elizabeth Smart arrives at the federal court house for the closing arguments in the trial of Brian David Mitchell. Pic: AP Photo/Colin E BraleyThousands of volunteers scoured the area near the Smart home in an effort to find the young girl.After some time, Mary Katherine identified Mitchell as ‘Emmanuel’, a homeless man who been given odd jobs at the Smart home. The police did not follow up this lead thoroughly, the parents argued, but after a drawing of ‘Emmanuel’ appeared on America’s Most Wanted, Mitchell’s family recognised his face and contacted the authorities.Nine months after the abduction, Mitchell was spotted in Sandy, Utah, by a biker who had seen America’s Most Wanted. He alerted police, and Smart (who was wearing a disguise), was found while walking with Mitchell, and reunited with her family.Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison in 2011. Barzee is serving a 15-year sentence in Texas. Smart, now an activist and contributor to ABC News, got married last year on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu.(BridgewaterCollege/YouTube)Shawn HornbeckShawn Hornbeck. Pic: AP Photo/Tom Gannam, FileWith his hoodie and piercings, Shawn Hornbeck looks like a pretty average teenage boy. But in 2002, at 11 years old, he was out riding his bicycle not far from his home in Richwoods, Missouri when he was kidnapped.The entrance to the apartment where Hornbeck and Ownby were held. Pic: AP Photo/Kyle EricsonHe was held for more than four years by his kidnapper Michael J Devlin, and kept at his home.Hornbeck’s discovery came somewhat by accident – police were searching for William Benjamin Ownby (13), who had gone missing four days earlier, when they discovered both boys in Devlin’s Missouri apartment.The police had been led to the apartment following a tip-off from teenager Mitchell Hults.Michael Devlin appearing before the court by video link. Pic: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, FileDevlin was charged with 78 counts in the abduction and molestation of both Ownby and Hornbeck, and pleaded guilty to them all. He is serving a life sentence for his crime.(Mrtodayvideos2/YouTube)Steven StaynerSteven Stayner testifies about his abduction in 1972 by Kenneth Parnell and his seven years in captivity in this 1981 photo. Pic: AP PhotoSteven Stayner was seven years old when he was abducted by Kenneth Eugene Parnell, a 40-year-old drifter, who used his friend Ervin Edward Murphy to help him entice the boy into their company.Stayner was ordered by the sexually abusive Parnell to call him Dad, and was told his own parents had abandoned him.That was 1972, and by 1980 the abuse and captivity was still continuing.But when Parnell abducted another young boy, Timmy White (5), Stayner did not want to see him become another long-term victim of the abuser.At just 14, he took White and hitch-hiked to the nearest police station, which was 40 miles away.Five year old Timothy Lee White gets a piggy back ride from 14 year-old Steven Stayner into a press conference March 2, 1980. Pic: AP PhotoParnell was not tried for the sexual abuse perpetrated against Stayner, but was sentenced to seven years for kidnap.The ending to this particular tale is one of tragedy.Steven Stayner died at just 24 when his motorcyle was hit by a car. He was married and had two children. Timmy White, also married and a father of two, died from a pulmonary embolism at age 35.(babygirl11500/YouTube)Natasha KampuschThe entrance to the cellar where Natascha Kampusch was held. AP Photo/Austrian Police, handout)The world was shocked when news emerged about a young woman found in an Austrian cellar, who had been held by a kidnapper for eight years.Her name was Natascha Kampusch, and she had last been seen at the age of 10 in 1998, on her way to school. Witnesses reported seeing her being dragged into a white minibus.Despite extensive investigations – and the fact that police searched a minivan owned by Wolfgang Přiklopil, who was her captor – she was not found.A police photo of Austrian, Wolfgang Přiklopil. Pic: AP Photo/Hans PunzKept in a small cellar with a reinforced steel door, Kampusch initially led a life of frightening seclusion, aside from visits from her kidnapper. Gradually, she was given more and more freedom, even being able to go into the garden and at one point going on a skiing trip that lasted a few hours.At the age of 18, in 2006, Kampusch was vacuuming Přiklopil’s BMW when he took a phone call – and she took her chance to make an escape.Kampusch is escorted by police after she was found in Deutsch Wagram north of Vienna, 23 August 2006. Pic: AP Photo/Helmut StambergPřiklopil (44) took his own life after Kampusch’s escape, before police were able to arrest him and bring him to justice.The house where Kampusch was confined still stands, and she is now its owner.(modicus2008/YouTube)Read: Ariel Castro in court, charged with rape and kidnapping>
A MAN AND WOMAN have been arrested after a late-night burglary in Blanchardstown in west Dublin.The man, aged in his late teens, was arrested by Gardaí conducting follow-up investigations after the burglary at a retail unit on Main Street at around 11:40pm last night.A quantity of cash was seized at that time.A follow-up search was later undertaken at a house in Briarswood at around 2am, when a female was arrested and an imitation firearm.Both are being held at Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Blanchardstown Garda station at (01) 6667000, the Garda Confidential line at 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.
MORE THAN A million illegally smuggled cigarettes were seized at Dublin Port yesterday.Revenue estimate that the value of the haul is €516,000 with a potential loss to the exchequer of €430,000 in taxes.The ‘Benson & Hedges’ branded cigarettes were concealed in a roll-on roll-off container that arrived into Dublin Port from the United Arab Emirates and were falsely declared as ‘foil containers’.Revenue say that they are working with agencies both in Ireland and abroad to following the seizure which came as part of ongoing investigations into the organised crime gangs involved in smuggling.Read: Illegal cigarette consumption rose by almost a third in Ireland last year >Read: Ireland has the third highest rate in the EU of non duty tobacco >
4. This mother5. ‘Literal’ lollersNulls the very existence of lol, but portrays that you definitely laughed, for real.So… LOLled, then.6. Those who overuse it“Lol that’s so funny, doing nm just sitting in lol, watch up to? Tomorrow will be fun lol.” 3. These parentsThere are 189 people in the United States named LOL according to WhitePages. Deeply unsettling.LOL INTERVAL, LOL Source: Roach Killa/Twitter Source: M.O.E/Twitter Mornin kind of cold in Amsterdam but nothing cAn stop me lol tome to explore some coffee shops lol who is coming?— Roach Killa (@roachkilla1) May 29, 2014 I Get Depressed Knowing I’m Gonna Die Someday…. And Idk Why Lol— Sprite Lee (@Athiaaaan) May 12, 2014 I’m gonna have to see the movie on my own lol bc no friends aw— laura (@welrdfIexbut0k) May 29, 2014 Whoops! We couldn’t find this Tweet LOL CELEBRATES ITS 25th birthday today. The first recorded use of the acronym was in May 1989.But admit it, you don’t even really LOL every time you use it. So, you’re number one on this list of people that need to stop what they’re doing with LOL immediately.1. YouLOL is not a conversational crutch, and you shouldn’t use it unless you actually make a sound of laughter. Lol.There was no laughter there. Source: WillAkanaVlogs/YouTube2. These twitter users Source: lil shit/Twitter 7. Trey SongzThe R&B singer thought that creating a whole song around LOL 🙂 was somehow a good idea. Bleak.Never say LOL out loud. Never. Shortening it to lawl is an even worse crime. Source: LouisHuynh24/YouTube8. David CameronThe British Prime Minister was known to sign off his texts to former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks with LOL until she explained that it meant Laugh Out Loud, not Lots of Love. Awkward. Source: Labourlist9. The person who made this sign Source: ImgurLol.Quiz: How Irish And Immature Are You?>This man failed the ‘don’t laugh’ challenge… can you do better?>
Christy BurkeTHE NEW LORD Mayor of Dublin says the plan to bring in a directly elected ‘executive mayor’ must happen.Independent Christy Burke, who was selected by the city council to serve in the ceremonial position for the next 12 months at a meeting earlier this month, said the failure of a proposal to put the issue to the people in a county-wide vote was “absolutely disgusting”.“It’s my number one shot. You’re talking about local government reform that should have been the first hit,” he told TheJournal.ie this afternoon.Proposals to hold a ‘plebiscite’ on the issue in tandem with the recent local and European elections were scuppered in March, after Fingal councillors vetoed the proposal. The three other authorities had backed the plan to hold a vote.Last week, Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan confirmed he would be inviting the ‘mayors and chairs’ from the four councils to a meeting on the issue, which is now set to go ahead at the start of next month.The Minister said the Government remained committed to the “the notion of a plebiscite for the office”.Burke, who has served a councillor since 1985, said the change was “long overdue”.“We need a directly elected mayor with proper powers: transport, policing, housing and other issues.The man or woman who gets that job needs to be committed to a five year term, directly elected by the people, and accountable to the people.“Let’s go with it, it’s long overdue.”Hogan on Dublin mayor plan: ‘I might be 6′ 5” but I’m not going to lean in any direction’Also: Two more councils back mayor proposal, but Fingal’s ‘nay’ scuppers plan
ALREADY AN IMPORTANT presence in the Louth town, PayPal has some more good news for Dundalk this morning.The electronics payment company revealed plans to hire another 400 people over the next three years, bringing its total workforce in Ireland to 2,900.When PayPal opened its Dublin office in 2003, it employed just 25 people but over the 11 years has steadily increased its employee numbers.These new positions will be located at the eBay Inc. European Operations Centre in Dundalk – and are in addition to the 1,000 PayPal positions announced in 2012. By the end of 2018, there will be 1,850 eBay and PayPal employees working in the town.“This is great news for Dundalk and the north east region,” said Louise Phelan, vice president of global operations for Europe.“Dundalk is a very important site in our global operations for supporting our customers. We are already ahead of schedule in recruiting our first 1,000 teammates, thanks to our continued expansion, together with the high-calibre people we have already employed.“We have been delighted to be able to make a very positive impact on the lives of so many people in the area, both through our community activities and by virtue of the jobs we create, which have taken so many unemployed people off the local live register.”Phelan also claimed that “almost 1,000 indirect ‘spin-off’ jobs” could be created in other local businesses as a result of the substantial investment, which has been supported by the Department of Jobs through IDA Ireland.http://vine.co/v/MILepqazu7FOutgoing CEO of IDA Ireland, Barry O’Leary, noted that PayPal is “one of the largest projects the IDA has ever been involved in bringing to Ireland”.“The success of this company is an example that we as IDA executives bring around the world when we pitch for Ireland in boardrooms from Boston to Bombay. Behind all projects of this size, lies a strong leadership team that has bought into the idea of doing business in Ireland – I would like to pay tribute to all those in PayPal, especially Louise Phelan, for her continued ability to pitch Ireland’s strengths wherever she goes.”PayPal attributed its ability to hire more people to its growth in the first three months of this year, when they added six million customers. It now has 148 million active accounts.The roles on offer now are in the areas of customer solutions, risk operations, merchant services, telesales and operational excellence.They are primarily for English speaking candidates but the firm says it also has a number of other language opportunities.For more information, see the company’s jobs website.Originally published 10amRead: IDA promises to help Bausch & Lomb as workers vote for massive cutsMore: This is the new guy who has to woo big companies (and their jobs) to Ireland…Jobswatch: More jobs on the way… 100 positions confirmed as Yelp opens Dublin HQ
IT MAY BE glorious outside right now, but “heavy widespread showers” will make their way back to Ireland at the weekend.Met Eireann says that today will see “warm spells of hazy sunshine” in Leinster and Munster with highest temperatures ranging 20 to 22 or 23 degrees Celsius.It will be cloudier over Connacht and Ulster with outbreaks of rain, mainly occurring during the second half of the day.The evening will see some patchy rain arrive into west Munster with the odd spot of drizzle further appearing east towards nightfall. Tomorrow will be similar, but with outbreaks of rain, before Friday sees a return of the rain.It will start off largely dry across the east, but will be cloudy and wet elsewhere and will stay wet throughout the evening. It will be around seven or eight degrees cooler as well.The weekend will be broadly similar, with light breezes, rain and temperatures in the mid to high teens. Today, the pollen and sunburn indexes are both high. Read: It may not have felt like it but last month was the warmest May since records began
The organisation said that the suspension is causing “great distress to the 600 families attending OLCH who are living 24 hours a day with Type 1 diabetes”.Dr Anna Clarke said that it could result in an increased workload on higher paid staff, in turn resulting in more costs.Conventional therapyThe hospital stressed that patients currently awaiting pump therapy are instead being supported on conventional insulin therapy plans.“One [nurse] has been replaced and one is in the process of being replaced,” a spokesperson for the hospital said, but it may take up to six months for the nurses to be become proficient in the therapy.One parent of a child due to receive the treatment said this latest delay adds to the two years they have been waiting for the treatment.“They keep moving the goalposts when it comes to her blood-sugar levels,” the mother told TheJournal.ie, “We’re being told the same things all the time. We have to make a seven-hour round-trip to the hospital just to be told we have to come back again in six months.”“Two years”“This has been going on for two years now. We also understood that we had been on the waiting list this entire time, but they only said during the last visit that [my daughter] has only just been added to it.”She added that they “haven’t heard anything” about the service being suspended while training took place.At present, one-in-20 people has diabetes in Ireland, while one-in-eight of people over 60 has diabetes.There are between 3,000 and 4,000 children, adolescents and young adults living with diabetes in Ireland, Diabetes Ireland explains on its website.Read: Portable insulin pumps prove better than insulin injections for type 2 diabetes >More: ‘I went to look at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t see my face’ > PARENTS OF CHILDREN with diabetes have expressed frustration over the suspension of insulin pump therapy at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.Three nurses are required to operate the service, but the hospital said there has been an “unprecedented absence” of two them.Dr Stephen O’Riordan, clinical lead in Paediatric Diabetes at the hospital, said this shortage of nurses is a crisis.“Mainstay”“Crumlin has been the mainstay of pump therapy nationally for decades,” he explained.“If these centres are not adequately staffed, then any other National initiatives will not succeed.”Diabetes Ireland has described the case of one of the children receiving treatment:The Mulready family planned their year so that their son Darragh could get his pump on July 22nd and be able to self-manage his diabetes for returning to school in September.His mother Trish says “Darragh was devastated that his pump is sitting in a press gathering dust instead of been fitted to him making his life that bit more normal and helping keep his blood glucose levels a lot more stable”.
Warning: Graphic image of a dead Palestinian man belowA FRESH WAVE of violence killed dozens in Gaza after the collapse of a UN and US backed ceasefire as Hamas denied it kidnapped an Israeli soldier.A Palestinian delegation was due to arrive in Cairo for talks on the terms of a durable truce, however, even after the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire fell apart within hours starting on Friday.But the chances of a new truce seemed remote after Israel said it believed militants captured Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, in an attack near the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed two other soldiers.In the violence that ensued, at least 107 Palestinians were killed in Israel air strikes on the Gaza Strip, including 35 since midnight, officials said.Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a member of Israel’s security cabinet which met till the early hours of Saturday, accused Hamas of being behind the soldier’s disappearance and said the group would pay a high price.US President Barack Obama called for the soldier to be “unconditionally” released, but also said more must be done to protect Gaza civilians.But Hamas’ armed wing denied any knowledge about the fate of the missing soldier.“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades has no information on this soldier. We have lost contact with one of our combatant groups, which was fighting in the sector where the soldier went missing and it is possible that our fighters and this soldier were killed,” it said.Israelis are highly sensitive about the abduction of their soldiers.In 2006, Hamas militants from Gaza captured Israeli conscript Gilad Shalit and held him for five years before freeing him in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.This morning, Israeli aerial strikes targeted a mosque at Jebaliya, in northern Gaza, and flattened houses in a beachside neighbourhood. Palestinians gather around the body of Tamer Sammour, 22. Source: AP/Press Association ImagesIn Israel, the Iron Dome air defence system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza over the Tel Aviv area and another over the southern city of Beersheba, the army said.The Qassam Brigades said they had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv.Congress approves Israel funds The US Congress had meanwhile on Friday approved an emergency $225 million to restock the Iron Dome systems with interceptor missiles, in a measure that awaits Obama’s signature.House of Representatives approved the funding by 395-8 in a late Friday vote. The Senate earlier approved the measure unanimously before the start of its five week summer recess.The measure now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.The emergency spending funds, which adds to the US deficit, will restock Israel’s Iron Dome system with interceptor missiles.The funding is part of the administration’s request of $3.1 billion for military assistance to Israel, the world’s largest beneficiary of US foreign aid.Palestinian emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said at least 107 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza since the planned three-day ceasefire collapsed soon after it started at 0500 GMT on Friday. President Obama will now have to sign to pass the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system. Source: AP/Press Association ImagesObama said the United States “unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers, and abducting a third almost minutes after a ceasefire had been announced”.“If they are serious about trying to trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released, as soon as possible.“We have also been clear that innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience and we have to do more to protect them,” the US president added.© – AFP 2014Read: Israel has lost more soldiers during this Palestinian conflict than in the last ten years >Read: Gaza truce in tatters as 27 are killed by intensive Israeli shelling >
WHISPER IS A social media app that lets users post their secrets, anonymously, and talk about them.A lot of it is angsty teenagers and creepy men hitting on younger women. (Welcome to the internet, stranger.) But among them are some people who have nailed the absolute, essential truths of existence.Like these ones, for example:1. Source: Whisper2. Source: Whisper3. Source: Whisper4. Source: Whisper5. Source: Whisper6. Source: Whisper7. Source: Whisper8. Source: Whisper9. Source: Whisper10. Source: Whisper11. Source: Whisper12. Source: Whisper13. Source: Whisper14. Source: Whisper15. Source: Whisper16. Source: Whisper17. And finally: Source: WhisperThat’s it. Life, summed up.
Japanese developer Tose caused a bit of a storm in the gaming world the other day by stating that PlayStation 3 now had a larger installed user base than the Xbox 360. Specifically it was claimed PS3 had sold 42 million units while the 360 only 41 million.Now it seems that was a mistake and the slide used by Tose was incorrect:AdChoices广告There was an error in one of the slides used in the presentation. Truly sorry for any trouble the mistake caused. The actual sales figures put the 360 ahead on 44.6 million and the PS3 on 41.6 million.With both companies having motion controllers just launched it will be an interesting holiday period which could see Microsoft pull further ahead or Sony close the gap. My bet is on Sony continuing to make up ground.Thanks to commenter God for the heads up.Read more at Gadgetophilia
In many ways, Valve‘s team-based deathmatch game MMO than an FPS. Over the years, Team Fortress 2 has evolved with every patch to go from an incredibly realized but rather standard team vs. team deathmatch title to a title of breathtaking scope, including in-game items, a virtual economy and detailed in-game backstory.Recognizing that their upgrade cycle for Team Fortress 2 was more like World of Warcraft‘s than Unreal Tournament‘s, Valve has just announced that they will take a cue from MMOs and start testing their new proposed changes on a series of test servers as part of the ongoing Team Fortress 2 Beta, which anyone can download for free if they already own TF2.Here’s what will be tested in the beta:• Testing and tuning various class, item, and weapon changes• Testing map changes and variants• Running higher level, game-wide experiments (like doubling player health)• Testing new technologies without the risk of breaking the gameIf you like living on the edge of Team Fortress 2, the beta’s going to be a constantly evolving and interesting place to satisfy your cartoony, tongue-in-cheek bloodlust.Read more at Team Fortress Blog
Amazon is making all the right moves to introduce an Android tablet of its own on the market. There’s the hardware experience from creating and selling the Kindle, the already popular Amazon Appstore for all your Android app needs, and the promise of lots of free premium apps such as those offered in the deal just done with PopCap.So where’s the hardware? Amazon is staying silent, but that doesn’t stop the rumors flowing about what we can expect from the device they must be planning.BGR has been told that we shouldn’t be expecting just one tablet from the e-tailer, though. Just like the Kindle has two models, the Amazon Android tablet will be offered in two versions as well. They could differ in display size, but it’s what’s under the hood we are most concerned about.The two tablets will cater to the entry level and enthusiast markets. The lower-end tablet is expected to be based on the Nvidia Tegra 2 platform and is codenamed Coyote. The high-end device will use the new Nvidia T30 ‘Kal-El’ quad core chip and is codenamed Hollywood. That’s all we’ve heard for the moment, but more details are sure to follow soon.A 7-inch and 10-inch tablet line up, maybe? It could happen, and would make sense if Amazon intends to compete for our cash with the top tablets already on the market in both categories.Until Amazon makes an official announcement we won’t know for sure, but we doubt it will be long before such an announcement is forthcoming. Earlier this month we heard that the company had already started ordering components from Quanta Computer and E Ink with 800,000 production tablets expected before the end of this year.via BGR
Blizzard has announced the availability of StarCraft II Starter Edition, a trial version of the hit RTS title that features free online multiplayer features and no time restriction. This preview of the game allows players to learn the basics of Terran play and then join their full-version friends online on standard and custom multiplayer games.Players will get to play a total of five missions from the earliest parts of the Wings of Liberty campaign: the first three levels on Mar Sara plus a choice between the first Dr. Hanson or first Tychus Findlay missions. There are also two Challenge Missions available for players who want to work up their micro skills. Within this content, players can earn achievements that are then transferable to the full version of the game, should they buy it.The real good stuff comes in multiplayer, however. Starter Edition players can play custom matches with anyone on Battle.net, including those owning the full version of SC2. Players will have access to four multiplayer maps (Xel’Naga Caverns, Shattered Temple, Discord IV, and High Orbit), with a fifth (StarJeweled) coming soon. Blizzard has opened the possibility that maps will be rotated in and out of the Starter Edition. These maps will be marked with a sign for all players for ease of creating games with friends who are new to the game. Starter Edition friends will be able to create matches and invite their friends.This being a free version meant to pull in new customers, there are some limitations. The biggest is that players can only play as Terran, with Zerg or Protoss remaining completely unavailable. Aside from the single race and the aforementioned short map lists, SE players won’t get access to online matchmaking, Battle.net chat rooms, or parties. While players will be able to tinker in the Map Editor if they wish, they won’t be able to test or publish the maps on Battle.net.However, there are some nice features that SE players can check out. The trial can show replays from any version of the game, and players can also check out friends’ profiles, ladder stats and achievements online.Players can check out Starter Edition right now using their existing Battle.net accounts (or creating new ones for free). Under Account Management, StarCraft II Starter Edition will be an available download.via Battle.netBlake’s OpinionVery smart, Blizzard. Everyone likes when you release a more fully-featured demo. You’re also more likely to convert more demo players into paying customers. Win-win! But even better, you’ve clearly put some thought into how this demo should go about convincing those new players to buy the game.One detail in particular – the restriction of multiplayer matches to custom games – pretty much says it all. Custom games only allow players to play with their friends and effectively block out anonymous players. Starter Edition buddies will get better guidance in the game through talking to friends in matches. What’s more, they’ll get encouragement instead of discouragement by having fun with their friends instead of even getting the chance to be turned off the game by getting stomped in anonymous laddering.This free online sample begins to make SC2 look a bit more like MMO games that have successfully made the conversion to free-to-play, like Dungeons and Dragons Online or Lord of the Rings Online. I’m not suggesting that SC2 is going to start requiring a subscription anytime soon – in fact, quite the opposite. This move, combined with the recent revelation that Diablo III will allow real-money trading, shows that Blizzard is ready to be innovative with matters of money.That’s good for us players and good for your business, Blizzard. Win-win again.
After the FCC released its report illustrating how actual ISP bandwidth compares to what customers are promised, things seemed mostly rosy when it came to stateside internet access. Security pro Dan Kaminsky still thinks there’s some shady business going on behind the scenes, however, and he’s unveiled a new software tool that he hopes will shed some light on a rather troublesome situation.Kaminsky’s program, which he’s dubbed N00ter, attempts to determine whether or not an ISP is selectively throttling connections to websites — say, for example, streaming video sites like Netflix and Hulu or file dumps like RapidShare and HotFile. On the flip side, access to bandwidth testing sites like Speedtest.net might be getting a boost that other sites are not in order to make customer connections appear to be performing at optimum levels.Such practices not only undermine Net Neutrality principles, but they could also encourage users to shell out additional dollars for bigger and better internet connections. These artificial speed problems could also lead businesses to pony up for beefier uplinks — if they can be persuaded that more money and additional bandwidth will make their customers’ issues go away.N00ter follows in the footsteps of other connection-testing apps like the M-Lab project that Google helped launch in 2009. M-Lab offers an array of connection-testing tools that allow users to check bandwidth, test whether their ISP is traffic shaping, and see if particular sites are being throttled or blocked completely.Kaminsky hopes N00ter will have an immediate impact once it’s released, which he hopes will happen before the end of the month. This isn’t Kaminsky’s first go at shaking up the underpinnings of the Internet. In 2008, he discovered a rather serious flaw in DNS that has since been named “The Kaminsky Bug.”More at Yahoo!