Cabbages and carrots could replace flowers in London’s royal parks (Guardian).

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Designed for the Prince Regent by the architect John Nash, Regent’s Park is noted for its lovingly tended blooms. But soon the flower beds of that - and other London royal parks - could make way for rows of humble carrots, cabbages and globe artichokes.In a plan inspired by American cities, the royal parks are pondering the creation of a string of model allotments to give the public a living, ripening illustration of the virtues of growing your own fruit and vegetables.

Cabbages and carrots could replace flowers in London’s royal parks (Guardian).

Battersea Power Station Public Tours – this week (

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If you’ve fancied getting up close and personal with Battersea Power Station before the contractors move in and change it forever now could be your chance.

As part of an exhibition being held to look at the new plans for the power station which includes a 300 metre tall structure, guided tours will be given between Wednesday the 25th of June and Saturday the 5th of July.

Its recommended that you wear practical shoes, so no high heels for the women. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their cameras if they want whilst the disabled will get tours provided by vehicular access although sadly the lazy wont be able to enjoy these.

Battersea Power Station Public Tours (

YouTube – Speedo launches LZR RACER with the help of NASA

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YouTube - Speedo launches LZR RACER with the help of NASA

A to Z of the Olympics (well S,T,V) – Observer.

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S is for Speedo and the swimsuit war.

Speedo’s LZR Racer has lived up to billing as ‘the world’s fastest swim suit’ - athletes wearing the hi-tech outfit have set 38 new world records (out of 42) since its February launch. Chaos has followed: sponsorship contracts have been broken, coaches have complained of ‘technological doping’, and Speedo’s rivals have rushed to create their own competitive outfits in time for Beijing. Here are the major players.

Speedo LZR Racer. The new benchmark in swimsuit technology, with a ‘compression zone’ around the torso that counters muscle vibration, Speedo’s is the suit to beat. See it on Michael Phelps, among others.

Arena R-evolution+. The Italian firm’s new seamless suit has calmed the fears of France’s 400m Olympic champion Laure Manaudou, who burst into tears after losing to a Speedo-clad rival in April.

Mizuno Swim. So unpopular with the Japanese team that they have been allowed to break their contract and choose their own suits; 100m breaststroke champ Kosuke Kitajima went straight to Speedo.

Adidas. Members of the Adidas-sponsored German team - which includes Britta Steffen - begged to switch to the LZR Racer in April, but were appeased by the company’s new suit after tests in June.

T is for timekeeping.

At the ancient Olympics, the Greeks measured seconds using ropes attached to wooden beams. Things have moved on a bit - this year’s equipment, provided by Omega, will be the most exact so far, thanks to such new technologies as micro-lightweight transponders in every athlete’s bib, and the Scan’O’Vision Star photo-finish camera, which takes more than 2,000 images each second (the starting pistol is recorded visually because races can be won by margins smaller than the time taken for its sound to cover the distance). A false start registers if the footpad underneath an athlete’s shoe registers the slightest change in pressure within 0.1sec of the gun, because it is physically impossible to react in less time. Omega have also introduced GPS technology to monitor the positions of canoeists, sailors and rowers, while the scoreboards will display results in English and Chinese characters.

V is for Victory Spike.

At 93 grams, each Nike Zoom Victory Spike weighs less than a half-eaten chocolate bar and is the lightest running spike ever produced. The secret of the shoe, which could be worn in Beijing by Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, lies in the attractive red-and-black crisscross design - ‘flywire’ supports, modelled on the chords of a suspension bridge, that keep the thing together without the need for any excess material. An everyday-wear version without the spikes, available for £85, is titled the Nike Zoom Victory Plus.

A to Z of the Olympics. Sport — The Observer


AS Byatt on football (Observer).

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The things I watch are all contained in quadrilaterals, concern the movement of round balls, and the shifting lines of force and energy made by the players’ movements. The games I care about are snooker, tennis, and football. The rules of rugby have changed to make the movements more fluid and exciting for the TV viewer so sometimes I watch that too. But I cannot get interested in, say, motor racing or golf.

AS Byatt on football (Observer)

This while UEFA shamefully are increasing the number of nations to 24 from 2016 (no doubt to give the home nations a chance) and Spain wins 1-0 over a disappointing Germany in the final.

Gordon Brown — looking for a small scale terrorist attack to save him?

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There is some truth in that. If the Tory party was totally at ease with the issues of liberty and rights and did not fear being boxed into a corner by another terrorist attack, there would be no need for Davis to resign his seat. With Labour’s dreadful showing in the polls, the Tories may be tempted to sit on their hands and simply watch the beleaguered Brown without making any big analysis.

Henry Porter on David Davis in The Observer today.

A small scale terrorist attack (say 10-20 deaths) on London could give Brown short term relief from Labour’s hard times and give the government even more of a platform for reducing civil liberties. Cynical, but true.

People like chronicles of small beer more than the Daily Moan (Media, The Observer)

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Nor can Polly Toynbee of the Guardian, who knows where her ancient foe resides. ‘No one tries harder to foster national anger, despair and fear than the Mail. No one paints a grimmer daily portrait of a nation that’s been in terminal moral decline since Lord Northcliffe rolled the first edition off the presses in 1896. When asked at the end of his life for his magic formula, Northcliffe wheezed: “I give them a daily hate.” So no wonder they were incensed that anyone might challenge the national gloom they have wrought.’

Peter Preston: People like chronicles of small beer more than the Daily Moan (Media, The Observe

A liking for Kate Nash, why Rob Da Bank never could be the next John Peel (Times)

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We’ve got Kate Nash and Chuck Berry coming this year. It’s all very
selfish — it’s what me and Josie like, and we just hope other people will
love it too.

A Life in the Day: Rob da Bank likes Kate Nash - Times Online

Quote by Rip-off Britain: The hidden cost of a night on the town – Times Online

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These insidious surcharges can add as much as 30% to the cost of a ticket.
Although made aware of them by small print, consumers are confused by what
they actually cover, and infuriated by their scale.

Typically, having decided to go to a show, you go online to book some tickets.
Ploughing through all the boxes to fill in your details, you finally get to
reserve the tickets and make it through to the payment page. Only at this
point is the true price revealed, with the delivery charges being tacked on,
together with a booking fee. And you have only moments to accept or decline
before the system logs you out.

Rip-off Britain: The hidden cost of a night on the town - Times Online

Noctilucent cloud – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Noctilucent clouds, also known as polar mesospheric clouds, are bright cloudlike atmospheric phenomena visible in a deep twilight. The name means roughly “night shining” in Latin. They are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator (Wikipedia).

Dov Charney of American Apparel profiled in The Times.

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Every last neon T-shirt and retro swimsuit is manufactured in his Los Angeles factory, where the staff are paid twice the minimum wage and enjoy untold benefits, including full family medical insurance and shares in the company.

Dov Charney of American Apparel profiled in The Times.


todo for this tumblelog

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  1. get the archives to work properly
  2. redesign - all white with new header
  3. spacing in the default style is all wrong when using multiple blockquotes and cites
  4. would be nice to have quickpost adding cite/a tags instead of br/a
  5. oh - and lists looks all wrong as well, maybe T1 is not the right theme to use?


Linquist — a WordPress theme for displaying portfolios

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Linquist — a WordPress theme for displaying portfolios

Tories and North-Korean rulers have similar views on shoes.

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Warned in advance that jacket and tie were required, I wore a smart navy suit, white shirt, slim tie and suede sneakers. At one point during the evening, I stepped outside to chat to some acquaintances smoking on the steps. Through the corner of my eye, I could see three Tory boys - not new-look, hoodie-hugging Tory boys, but old-school wannabe toffs (a curious ambition for anyone under 50). They were all in their twenties, and they were all staring at my feet. I waited for the inevitable and wasn’t disappointed: ‘Excuse me, are you a member?’ honked the youngest.

Jeremy Langmead: Why the Tories still make me feel queasy,The Observer

You cannot judge a man’s social status by his clothes, but only by his shoes.

Ye Yonglie (Times)

Energy and global warming roundup.

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That’s less than an inch – but represents the meltwater from only 4% of the
world’s glaciers. Even those amounts are tiny compared with the Greenland
ice sheet. It contains enough water to raise global sea levels by 23ft and
it too is showing signs of instability.

Some researchers believe the loss of the Arctic ice cap could have profound effects
on Greenland and the surrounding Arctic lands. “We can’t be certain of the
exact impacts but if temperatures rise then that melts ice and permafrost
over a wide area,” said Serreze.

Meltdown: how long does the Arctic have? - Times Online"

OIL-PRODUCING nations are getting a double benefit from the soaring price of crude, according to experts. Not only are revenues booming, but their sovereign-wealth funds have been pumping money into commodity index futures, helping to boost the price.

Crude rose to nearly $143 a barrel on Friday, before closing just above $140, after another wild week of fluctuations.

Sounds a but like Enron, but on even larger scale. Although the sovereign fund managers surely are also hedging on energy prices falling.

Sixteen drill ships are scheduled to be delivered to oil companies this year, more than double the number delivered in the past six years combined. Indeed, 75 ultra-deep-water rigs are expected to be delivered from 2008 to 2011, according to ODS-Petrodata, a firm that tracks drilling rigs.

Shipyards from South Korea to Norway are working overtime to meet a huge influx of orders.

A big challenge in deep-sea drilling is to stay over the same spot on the seafloor as the vessel is buffeted by winds, currents and waves. Because water depths can reach up to 10,000 feet, far too deep for traditional rigs that are moored to the seafloor, deep-sea drill ships rely on high-speed computers that use GPS satellites to control six swiveling propellers on the hull’s bottom.

Last month, Samsung said it had received a $942 million contract to build a drill ship made for Arctic conditions. The vessel, ordered by Stena Offshore, a Swedish company, will have a hull strong enough to break through ice, withstand 50-foot waves and insulate the people and machinery inside from outside temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero.

Samsung’s sales of all types of offshore drilling vessels jumped to $7.8 billion last year, up from $1.5 billion in 2005.

There is a lack of oil drill-ships (Seattle Times)

And this is what makes the events of 2006, when Finnish inspectors found the concrete being poured to be too watery, so surprising. The steel sheath which lines the reactor chamber was also found to be sub-specification. Naturally, environmentalist groups like Greenpeace had a field day, the more so because similar problems were discovered at Flamanville, where French inspectors shut construction down. When I ask the French site manager at Olkiluoto, Rémi Sénac, about this, he looks as though I’ve punched him in the face. An engineer and construction manager who might have been pressed into retirement 10 years ago, Sénac now finds his experience of working on nuclear power plants in the 1970s is highly prized. He explains that the nuclear hiatus following Chernobyl left a severe shortage of engineers and sub-contractors with the “necessary competency”. On top of this, the Finnish government and TVO required as many local firms as possible, but no one had ever made concrete to the volume and specification necessary for OL3.

and also a lack of qualified nuclear plant engineers. (Guardian)

Who would have thought when it came out in theaters that the movie “Mad Max” would someday look so eerily prescient?

Gas and diesel theft has become rampant in the age of $4 gas. Although specific statistics on fuel theft are difficult to track down, the anecdotal evidence is abundant.

It’s Mad Max out there, fuel theft on the rise (,

but not to worry, Exxon got some spare cash

Little did I know in 1989 that I would be sitting at a keyboard nearly 20 years later reflecting on the failures of the U.S. justice system. Little did I know that, as the years went by and I attended funerals of many of my fishermen friends who passed away without seeing closure to this agony, that I would grow to be so angry and disheartened by the success that Exxon has had with their methodical manipulation of the justice system.

Way back in 1989, it was rumored that Lee Raymond, the CEO of Exxon at that time, was saying privately that he would dedicate every resource of the corporation to making sure that fishermen never received a dime in compensation.

I find it interesting to note that Raymond’s severance package when he retired from Exxon some years ago was about $400 million. Now, nearly 33,000 plaintiffs must split an amount only slightly higher than that!

Frank Mullen, Seattle Times

On colour: Hammershøi, Superman’s hair and a drab North Korea

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A restricted palette: “I’m utterly convinced that a painting has the best effect in terms of its colour the fewer colours there are.” And a clear pictorial structure: “What makes me choose a motif are … the lines, what I like to call the architectural content of an image. And then there’s the light, of course. Obviously, that’s also very important, but I think it’s the lines that have the greatest significance for me.”
Vilhelm Hammershøi

Speaking of colour, why is Superman’s hair blue? Sin City’s creator, Frank Miller, who is promoting his new movie, The Spirit, explains. The 1930s comics on which the films are based were printed on cheap paper. Not only did every superhero have a chest logo to identify him amid the blur, black ink lost its tone and came out blue. So, the hair isn’t a Kryptonian DNA trait, after all.
Times, Frank Miller

North Koreans work six days a week, with Saturdays reserved for study of Kim Il-sung’s political theory of Juche, or self-reliance.

There is no advertising and the few taxis charge huge fares beyond the means of most North Koreans – twice as much as a taxi in Shanghai, for instance. All cars are black and allocated to high officials.

Only four colours of clothes are permitted: black, green, blue and white. The government distributes clothing fabric by rank, with an ordinary official receiving enough to tailor one new jacket a year. However, they may buy their own shoes.


Guardian on Vilhelm Hammershøi

The North Korean four colour palette (Times)

On the eve of the anniversary of 7/7 Peter Millar examines thriller writers’ knack for anticipating world-shaking events (Times).

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AS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of the London bombings approaches, the author Stephen
Leather is among those with cause to reflect on the uncomfortable
relationship between the real world and fiction - particularly when the plot
of a thriller becomes horribly true.

In February 2005, five months before the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London
Tube, Leather’s thriller Soft Target detailed a plot by four British-born
Muslims to explode bombs on the Underground.

On the eve of the anniversary of 7/7 Peter Millar examines thriller writers’ knack for anticipating world-shaking events (Times).

London is Free – Your online guide to free events in London.

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London is Free - Your online guide to free events in London.

City of London’s banking quarter becomes battlefield for drug gangs (Times)

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The City of London is becoming a magnet at the weekends for vicious gangs
involved in shootings, drug dealing and extortion.

Where once the Square Mile would be deserted at the end of the working week,
now tens of thousands of party-goers travel to clubs that hold more than
1,000 people.

Among them are rival gangs, who over the past two years have been attracted by
lax parking restrictions and the relatively low number of officers available
to patrol the area. Some are drug dealers seeking to take control of
valuable new markets, while others are looking to settle scores.

Each gang follows a different DJ and because each club can book several DJs
they overlap, as do their followers, leading to violent clashes.

City of London’s banking quarter becomes battlefield for drug gangs

Japan’s beloved fireflies are under threat from human poachers (Times).

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The flies spend nine months as larvae but survive for barely a fortnight. The
brevity of their existence has made them a symbol of the transience and
poignancy of life. In the past they were taken to be the souls of the dead,
and in 1945 they were identified with kamikaze pilots who were being sent to
their deaths at the end of the Second World War.

People who lived close to the airbases from which the pilots flew reported
seeing new lights blinking after a unit of planes had departed on a kamikaze

 — Fireflies are not flies, but beetles of the Lampyridae family.

Japan’s beloved fireflies are under threat from human poachers (Times).

Silvio Berlusconi’s legal immunity backed by cabinet – Telegraph

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Earlier this week, Mr Berlusconi told a conference of the Italian shopkeepers’
association that the Italian judiciary is a “cancerous growth”
bent on locking him up. Crossing his hands as if handcuffed, he said: “Many
prosecutors would like to see me like this”. To his surprise, the
audience booed him.

The new move will give immunity to the Prime Minister, the President and the
heads of both houses of the Italian parliament. A similar proposal was
judged to be unconstitutional in 2003.

The new version allows for the continuation of trials in civil courts and
allows Mr Berlusconi to renounce his immunity from criminal trials if he

The proposal will become law in July if it is approved by both houses of
parliament. Mr Berlusconi holds a sizeable majority in each.

It will almost certainly result in the end of the David Mills case, where Mr
Berlusconi and the British lawyer are on trial for corruption.

Silvio Berlusconi’s legal immunity backed by cabinet - Telegraph
Banana Republic.

Can city dwellers be more self-sufficient? (“farmscrapers”) – Times Online

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Imagine a high-rise building in the heart of a city with floor after floor of
vegetables and grains. There might be poultry and fish too, maybe even a
shrimp farm, providing every food that a city dweller might want. This is
the idea behind vertical farms, sometimes called farmscrapers, and several
cities have confirmed their ambitions to make them a reality, including the
eco-city planned for Abu Dhabi and Incheon, in South Korea.

According to Despommier’s plans, one vertical farm, rising up to 30 storeys, could provide enough food for 10,000 people.
Can city dwellers be more self-sufficient? - Times Online

Inside Google Desktop: From the desktop to your TV

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Google Media Server is a Windows application that aims to bridge the gap between Google and your TV. It uses Google Desktop technology such as Desktop gadgets for the administration tool and Google Desktop Search to locate media files. All you need is a PC running Google Desktop and a UPnP-enabled device e.g. a PlayStation 3.
Inside Google Desktop: From the desktop to your TV

wpng-calendar – Google Code

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wpng-calendar - Google Code

Quote by The war on photographers – you’re all al Qaeda suspects now | The Register

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As Austin Mitchell puts it: “We are seeing a lot of isolated incidents creating a pattern that will in time lead to an inhibition on taking photos. Photographers need to assert their rights under the law as it stands. Or they will lose them.”

Guidelines have been negotiated with a number of Police Forces (Nottingham and the Met) as well as ACPO. In theory, Police should be well aware that they have no powers to remove cameras or take film without a court order.

Campaigners on the other side are far blunter and increasingly bitter. They point out that Police who seize items are guilty of theft - a criminal offence. Where journalists and members of the public come into contact with the police, they are urged always to keep their cool. The bottom line, however, is that attempts to remove film or camera should always be resisted.

The war on photographers - you’re all al Qaeda suspects now | The Register

thelondonpaper closing down? (Observer).

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Going down the tubes?

Rumours are rife that News International may be closing down thelondonpaper, Rupert Murdoch’s evening freesheet. The group’s ill-fated magazine venture has already been shelved and there are signs that Associated, which launched London Lite in an attempt to kill off the title at birth and protect its flagship evening paper the Evening Standard, may be winning its rearguard action; thelondonpaper is no longer being handed out at several tube stations. If it is shut, that would be a huge propaganda coup for Associated, of course.

Better than the Lite, but won’t miss it.

thelondonpaper closing down? (Observer)

Architect in the House 2008

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Architect in the House 2008

For Quickpost WordPress plugin to work, turn off “Extra Web Security” at Dreamhost.

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The Quickpost plugin has been behaving strangely lately, so I have turned off “Extra Web Security” in the Dreamhost panel. Quickpost seems to work again.

Gordon Brown falls foul of contextomy (Observer).

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For the paperback edition of the book, a new cover has been designed, incorporating three words from a review by Simon Jenkins - refreshing, readable and intelligent . This is not, however, what Jenkins really thought of the book. Indeed, his review, published in the Sunday Times, begins: Gordon Brown on courage? What next: Tony Blair on humility? David Cameron on my struggle ? Courage must be the last quality suggested by Brown s career. It goes on to say that 95 per cent of the book - the biographical essays themselves - was allegedly written by other people and that the introduction and conclusion are platitude-packed . Even the sentence used on the cover is not as straightforward as the new edition makes out: This approach self-sacrifice is refreshing and is honoured in the biographical essays, which are readable and intelligent if not especially original, it says.

Just a month ago, the Office of Fair Trading took on the responsibility of the European Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which outlaws selective quotation as a means of promotion. A spokesman explains that any complaint would be investigated. Last week, Jenkins could not be reached for comment, but I understand that the Sunday Times has been in touch with the publisher to suggest it prints a little more of the review if it wishes to quote it at all.

Gordon Brown falls foul of contextomy (Observer).

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

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Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

The Who, Springsteen on stadiums (quotes from the 70s).

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First John Entwistle (The Who) in the sleevenotes from “Live at Leeds”,

We don’t often play big places … the maximum in the States is about 5,000 people. Any larger than that and it is too unreal for a large part of the audience.

and then Springsteen indirectly quoted in The Observer’s “Great Lyricists” (before going to recycling) from a review from 1975,

… he’s hit back by deciding things he won’t do — like play in large halls (3,000 is the maximum, larger than that and he’ll walk out), eat anything else but “junk food” …

Surviving disasters (Times)

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One of the survivors of the Tenerife crash, 65-year-old Paul Heck, had studied
the emergency exits before take-off. He had a plan if things went wrong. “It
feels ridiculous, but if you can overcome the peer pressure not to look at
the safety card, there is evidence it helps you,” says Ripley. Part of the
problem at the moment, she says, is precautionary planning is seen as
“paranoid, hysterical, neurotic. It needs to be rebranded in a progressive
way, as your having a responsibility to take care of yourself.”
Surviving Disasters (Times)

Times Archive – 200 years of The Times available online

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Every issue of The Times published between 1785-1985, digitally scanned and fully searchable
Times Archive — 1785-1985

Savile Row tailors lose fight to preserve the term bespoke – Telegraph

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Savile Row tailors lose fight to preserve the term bespoke - Telegraph

Quote by Britain is the world’s biggest arms exporter – Times Online

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UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) said that arms exporters had added £9.7 billion
in new business last year, giving them a larger share of global arms exports
than the United States.

“As demonstrated by this outstanding export performance, the UK has a
first-class defence industry, with some of the world’s most technologically
sophisticated companies,” Digby Jones, the Minister for Trade and
Investment, said.

UKTI said that the figures were boosted by orders for Eurofighter Typhoon jets
from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest arms buyer, which has imported $31
billion (£16 million) in weapons over the past five years. There were also
orders from Oman and Trinidad and Tobago for offshore patrol vessels.

Britain is the world’s biggest arms exporter - Times Online .

I win the BAFTA Charity Poker Tournament (

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I win the BAFTA Charity Poker Tournament (

UK Police play music, accused of breaking copyright law |

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The Performing Right Society PRS has accused Lancashire Police of breaking copyright laws by playing music in stations and police headquarters without a license.
UK Police play music, accused of breaking copyright law |

Truphone – Cheap & Free International Mobile Phone Calls

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Truphone is a free piece of software that lets you make free and cheap mobile calls via the internet. We dont do roaming charges, so as long as you have a compatible phone and are connected to Wi-Fi, prices are simple and low from anywhere on the planet.
Truphone - Cheap & Free International Mobile Phone Calls – Simon Munnery

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YouTube – Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter 1968 studio jam (audio only)

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YouTube - Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter 1968 studio jam (audio onky)