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Fraternity plans to sue over Rolling Stone 'rape' story
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 09 April 2015 05:30

The fraternity named in a discredited Rolling Stone feature about an alleged gang rape on a US college campus said Monday it will take legal action against the iconic pop culture magazine.

The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said a Columbia University investigation into the story, released over the weekend, had demonstrated "the reckless nature" in which it had been reported.

In a statement, Phi Kappa Psi said it planned "to pursue all available legal action against the magazine" over the story, which appeared in November.

"Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed," said Stephen Scipione, president of the fraternity's Virginia Alpha Chapter.

"But more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some (sexual assault) victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers."

Rolling Stone retracted the story on Sunday and issued an apology on the heels of the Columbia University inquiry, which it commissioned after doubts emerged over the credibility of its source.

 
A tall story: Why do the Dutch tower over us?
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 09 April 2015 05:27

 

 

The Netherlands is the land of giants: on average, its women stand almost 1.71 metres (5 feet 7 inches) tall, and its men 1.84 metres.

But how the Dutch became the world's tallest people has been somewhat of a mystery.

After all, two centuries ago they were renowned for being among the shortest. What happened since then?

A popular explanation is nutrition -- a calorie-stuffed diet rich in meat and dairy products.

But that can't be the whole story, experts say.

Other European countries, too, have enjoyed similar prosperity and a rise in living standards, yet their citizens have not shot skywards as much.

The average male height in the Netherlands has gained 20 cm (eight inches) in the last 150 years, according to military records.

By comparison, the height of the average American man has risen a mere six cm over the same period.

Researchers led by Gert Stulp, a specialist in population health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, combed a Dutch database for clues.

 

 

 
Sales of books on Islam rocket after France attacks
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 05 April 2015 13:25

 

 

Books on Islam are selling out in France after deadly extremist attacks in the capital raised uncomfortable questions about Europe's fastest-growing religion.

A special magazine supplement focused on the Koran has flown off the shelves, and shops are selling more books on Islam than ever after the Paris attacks in January that left 17 dead.

"The French are asking more and more questions, and they feel less satisfied than ever by the answers they're getting from the media," said Fabrice Gerschel, director of Philosophie magazine, which published the supplement.

Sales of books on Islam were three times higher in the first quarter of 2015 than this time last year, according to the French National Union of Bookshops.

Mathilde Mahieux, of La Procure chain of bookshops that specialises in religion, said people want a better understanding of the religion that the brutal Islamic State (IS) group claims to represent, so that they can make up their own minds.

 

- 'Is the Koran violent?' -

 

The jihadist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket have left many non-Muslims looking for answers.

"A very Catholic lady came to buy a copy of the Koran, because she wanted to understand for herself whether or not (Islam) is a violent religion," said Yvon Gilabert, who runs a bookshop in Nantes, western France.

Others want to see past extremist interpretations of Islam.

"I think we have to know how to see past the fundamentalism, in order to see what religions have to offer," said Patrice Besnard, a regular at a Paris bookshop specialising in religions.

 

 
London's National Gallery bans selfie sticks
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 29 March 2015 12:31

 

 

London's National Gallery has banned selfie sticks, it said Wednesday, following the lead of museums around the world alarmed by the possible hazards to visitors and artworks.

"Due to the recent popularity of selfie sticks, the National Gallery preferred to take precautionary measures," a spokeswoman told AFP.

Selfie sticks, the hugely popular extending rods onto which a smartphone or camera can be fitted to provide a better angle for a self-portrait, are classed as tripods under the National Gallery's rules.

"Photography is allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes in the National Gallery," the institution said in a statement.

"However there are a few exceptions in order to protect paintings, copyright of loans, individual privacy and the overall visitor experience.

"Therefore the use of flash and tripods is not permitted."

 

 

 
Feces contains gold worth millions
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 21:28

 

 

Human feces contains gold and other precious metals that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, experts say.

Now the trick is how to retrieve them -- a potential windfall that could also help save the planet.

"The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit," said Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey, after her team discovered metals such as platinum, silver and gold in treated waste.

A recent study by another group of experts in the field found that waste from one million Americans could contain as much as $13 million worth of metals.

Finding a way to extract the metals could help the environment by cutting down on the need for mining and reducing unwanted release of metals into the environment.

"If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that's a win-win," said Smith.

"There are metals everywhere -- in your hair care products, detergents, even nanoparticles that are put in socks to prevent bad odors."

More than seven million tons of biosolids come out of US wastewater facilities each year: about half is used as fertilizer on fields and in forests and the other half is incinerated or sent to landfills.

 

 
Gareth Pugh prepares for battle at London Fashion Week
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 02 March 2015 11:08

 

British avant-garde designer Gareth Pugh sent a model army down the London catwalk Saturday, equipping them with leather armour, sweeping black gowns and Roman centurion-style headpieces to mark his label's 10th anniversary.

The models' faces were painted white with red crosses, the flag of England's patron saint, Saint George, whose legendary battle with a dragon is depicted in an altarpiece at the Victoria and Albert Museum where the show was held.

To a soundtrack of chanting crowds, the helmeted models strode down the runway in black leather breastplates worn over floor-trailing skirts with nipped-in waists or dresses adorned with black spikes that shimmered like chain mail -- or dragon scales.

On closer inspection, the spikes turned out to be tens of thousands of hand-cut plastic drinking straws, and the chanting was the sound of Pugh's home team, Sunderland Football Club.

"It's nice to mix the masculine with the very feminine -- these very big, almost Disney dresses with this very tough attitude, hats and make-up," he told AFP.

For all its reputation for creativity, London rarely sees such conceptual shows and Pugh's return to the city where he has long lived and worked has been welcomed by the fashion industry.

 

 

 
Burberry goes all bohemian at glitzy London show
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 23 February 2015 20:29

 

 

For all the talented young designers making their names in London, the fashion industry turns to Burberry each season for glitz and glamour -- and the luxury label did not disappoint with its show Monday.

US actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, British singer Paloma Faith and models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne were in the front row to see a bohemian collection dominated by a patchwork of prints in rich autumnal colours.

"I loved it. There's so many things I wanted to wear," Gyllenhaal told creative director and chief executive Christopher Bailey as she worked her way through a crush of press and models backstage.

Faith added: "It was a really amazing show, it's beautiful."

 

 
Gareth Pugh prepares for battle at London Fashion Week
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 23 February 2015 20:20

 

British avant-garde designer Gareth Pugh sent a model army down the London catwalk Saturday, equipping them with leather armour, sweeping black gowns and Roman centurion-style headpieces to mark his label s 10th anniversary.

The models  faces were painted white with red crosses, the flag of England s patron saint, Saint George, whose legendary battle with a dragon is depicted in an altarpiece at the Victoria and Albert Museum where the show was held.

To a soundtrack of chanting crowds, the helmeted models strode down the runway in black leather breastplates worn over floor-trailing skirts with nipped-in waists or dresses adorned with black spikes that shimmered like chain mail -- or dragonscales.

On closer inspection, the spikes turned out to be tens of thousands of hand-cut plastic drinking straws, and the chanting was the sound of Pugh s home team, Sunderland Football Club.

"It s nice to mix the masculine with the very feminine -- these very big, almost Disney dresses with this very tough attitude, hats and make-up," he told AFP.

For all its reputation for creativity, London rarely sees such conceptual shows and Pugh s return to the city where he has long lived and worked has been welcomed by the fashion industry.

"There s been nothing like this since (Alexander) McQueen," said veteran fashion journalist Hilary Alexander. "It was very powerful; I thought it was fabulous."

The show opened with a short film of a woman cutting off her blonde tresses and smearing herself in red paint in the sign of the cross of Saint George before she is seemingly burned alive.

Pugh insisted it was less a depiction of English nationalism, which the flag is often used to represent, than an ideal of sacrificing oneself for a larger group, be that a nation or a football team.

The designer, whose clothes have been described as wearable sculptures, said it was also "about the rejection of a traditional idea of what is beautiful".

Pugh s show was a highlight of London Fashion Week this season, but he is only one among a number of stars who made their names in the city before spreading their wings abroad.

Jonathan Anderson, creative director of LVMH-owned luxury label Loewe, earlier Saturday showed his autumn/winter collection for his own line, J.W. Anderson, in which LVMH also has a stake.

It was bursting with colours and texture and the intention, he told reporters, was not to create "a look" but a series of outfits worn by individual women.

The tops, tunics and coats had 80s-style volume, with puffed out shoulders and sleeves, worn over cord straight-legged trousers tucked into knee-high leather boots in red, yellow and grey.

 

 
Tory Burch brings London, Marrakech to snowy NY
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 February 2015 09:22

 

Tory Burch, the mother of three who has built a fashion brand worth more than $3 billion, brought rugs and tapestries of Marrakech and London's Chelsea to a snowy New York Tuesday.

Guests to her Fashion Week show were transported to a bygone era in a Park Avenue building, covered wall to floor in rugs and tapestries, the same texture picked out on her delicate, feminine collection.

Burch told AFP that she was inspired by the 1960s and early 1970s -- a key fall/winter 2015 trend -- rooted in London's artsy Chelsea and Morocco's historic city of Marrakech, which has fascinated travelers for centuries.

The American businesswoman and designer got the idea from British crime film "Performance," in particular the end of the 1970 movie.

"It was this girl bringing back rugs from Marrakech, and she was looking so chic and effortless, so how to interpret that and make it modern, was the challenge," Burch told AFP backstage.

Digital cameras created the texture of tribal rugs and tapestries, which were then hand painted to give the fabric depth and character, she said.

The palate was simple and alluring in white, olive, blue, gray and burgundy. Keeping to her brand of affordable luxury, there was little of the fur that has characterized more extravagant collections this season.

 

 

 
Ai Weiwei zodiac heads sell for record $4.3m in London
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 14 February 2015 13:19

 

A set of 12 gold-plated animal head sculptures by China's Ai Weiwei sold for £2.8 million ($4.3 million, 3.8 million euros) at auction on Thursday, setting a new record for the dissident artist's work.

The 2010 work "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" led a contemporary art sale by auction house Philips in London.

The 12 sculptures represent the Chinese zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, each head mounted on a pedestal.

The pieces are modelled on smaller heads designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits at the court of Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong.

The originals formed a fountain water clock at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, but were ransacked by French and British troops in 1860.

Ai worked from the seven remaining originals and imagined the five heads that had not survived, drawing on depictions in tapestry and print for the dragon.

The dissident artist is noted for his controversial relationship with heritage, infamously smashing a Han Dynasty Urn in a performance work in 1995.

Auction house Philips said that though the animal head sculptures were a recreation of an older work, they achieved "glorious aesthetic coherence" and make a comment on authenticity.

"The fake is invested with the power to revive the past," the auctioneers said in a press release.

"The marriage that is made -– troubled, yet oddly serene –- offers a lustrous exhibition of what might be a brighter, less confused and more beautiful future."

Another Ai Weiwei work sold at the auction was "Coloured vases (in 3 parts)" from 2010, neolithic vases the artist had covered with bright industrial paint, which sold for £182,500 ($280,800, 246,400 euros).

The zodiac sculptures sold were the first complete set to come to auction, and one of eight gilded sets made, plus four artist's proofs.

 
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