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Sunday, 20 April 2008

Games Mistress: P-p-p-pick up a panda

945860_20080416_screen003 By Rebecca Armstrong

Over the years we've had high-speed hedgehogs, eco-friendly dolphins and the cute pooches of Nintendogs to play with in an array of animal-inspired games. Later this year wildlife fans will have the chance to have a crack at what the Chinese have been trying to do for decades - bring up baby pandas and release them into the wild - in a dedicated DS game.

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

State of the Arts: Time for 'Amy Winehouse', the statue

Excess_smaller_jpg By Arifa Akbar

The bizarre image of the beehive bonneted Amy Winehouse is rarely out of public view. When she is not singing on stage, she is occasionally falling off it. When she is not performing, she is smeared all over the newspapers being criticised for being too drunk, drugged or too thin.

Now, a sculptor called Guy Portelli has decided to make her the subject of a sculpture which he has named Excess. It features her bronzen form lying atop a bottle of fizz with a glass in her hand and a shoe strewn by the wayside. All it lacks is cross-eyes to complete the "sozzled" look.

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Wild Wild Web: When Nixon Met Elvis

536417 By Larry Ryan

December 21, 1970, what a momentous day. What do you mean it doesn't ring any bells?

Well, it was the day that US president Richard Nixon welcomed Elvis Presley to the Oval office. There have been books, radio documentaries and films about the event and now the US National Archives and the Nixon Presidential Library have weighed in with a lavishly designed website.

The reason such an effort has been made is probably because one of the most requested photographs from the US National Archives is a picture of their meeting.

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State of the Arts: Eliot rises from the dead

By Ciar Byrne

Tony Harrison's wildly pretentious new offering at the National Theatre, Fram, attempts to stitch together a ragbag of ideas around the central theme of the Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen.

One of these is the antipathy felt by the late classicist Gilbert Murrary, whom Harrison revives from the dead to frame his weird drama, for TS Eliot - whose tomb lies in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, too close for comfort to Murray's own final resting place.

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Asian (con)Fusion: Making a Killing from the 'War on Teror'

War_on_terror By Andrew Buncombe

In the aftermath of the war in Iraq there was a unseemly race by corporations from the US and Britain to cash in on the massive construction contracts that were being offered by the US. Indeed, in the run-up to the war it was made clear that only those countries who participated in the effort to oust Saddam would be looked upon favorably in his aftermath.

While in Washington I reported on some of the companies and the money they were looking to make but it was clear this was merely scratching the surface. I’m delighted therefore by the publication of War on Terror, Inc, an examination of "corporate profiteering from the politics of the war on terror".

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A Nice Green Leaf: International Year of the Potato 4

IypenBy Emma Townshend

They all laughed when I tried to celebrate International Year of the Potato back in February. But Radio 4 recently had an interesting spot about how the UN's first speciality vegetable year is proving to be more timely than expected, as concerns about world food supplies grow in all quarters.

Robin Lustig and the rest of the World Tonight team had a job explaining exactly what's driving the rise in food prices, especially the cost of carb-rich foods like rice. Some blame new rules about biofuels; more than one World Tonight contributor suggested it's just the developing world finally getting into the idea of eating three meals a day

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Friday, 18 April 2008

Minority Report: Ethnic restaurateurs form alliance as Curry Wars get serious

Logo By Jerome Taylor

Ethnic restaurateurs are planning their first public protests this weekend against recent changes to visa legislation which they say has left them critically short of skilled chefs to work in their kitchens.

The Bangladeshi Catering Association, which already represents 12,000 Bangladeshi-run restaurants and more than 90,000 employees, has formed a new pressure group called the Ethnic Catering Alliance which they hope will bring together Bengali, Pakistani, Indian, Turkish and Chinese restaurants who have all voiced concerns in recent months about the shortage of chefs within their industry.

They are planning to hold a protest in Trafalgar Square this Sunday before handing a petition into Downing Street calling on the government to do more to allow non-EU chefs into the country on short term visas.

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Cyberclinic: Leading The Blind

By Rhodri Marsden

After Wednesday's column about the decreasing effectiveness of captcha technology, I received an email from someone at the RNIB, pointing out how maddening they are for blind users. "Captchas are completely inaccessible to them," she writes, "and promises from providers to offer personal help are often broken."

Sometimes captchas are accompanied by a button which offers the option of listening a sound file and responding to that in order to prove you're human, but they're far from common. And captchas are just a very small part of a whole spectrum of accessibility problems that the blind have to deal with on a daily basis.

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A Nice Green Leaf: It Took So Long To Bake It

Dsc_1042jpegBy Emma Townshend

I'm currently getting up to about 110-120 emails a day from angry readers asking me "where's that floral cake you said you were gonna make us back in 2003?". I am extremely sorry it's taken me quite so long.

The truth is not because it's such a very special cake - actually, it's a pretty ordinary fruit cake. The reality behind my long delay is decorative, because for some reason I decided to eschew the easy route of just putting real flowers on the cake and instead decided on the utterly fiddly and time-consuming strategy of making them entirely out of sugar.


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Cash Crusader: The handover horror of switching accounts

By Kate Hughes

If I had realised just how much of a nightmare it was to switch my current account, I would never have been surprised by all those statistics that suggest we are more likely to get eaten by a shark, or killed by a falling coconut than switch our bank.

Until February, I, like every other personal finance reporter under the sun, was convinced that consumers were almost universally missing a trick by banking with the same establishment that their parents did. But I'm now three months into my own "big switch" and its an ongoing pain in the arse.

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