Labor edges ahead of Coalition in polls

Labor has edged ahead of the Coalition in the latest opinion polls, with less than two weeks to go before election day.

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The latest Newspoll and Galaxy polls, published in News Ltd newspapers today, show Labor ahead on a two party preferred basis.

The Newspoll, published in The Australian newspaper, gives Labor a 52-48 lead — up from an even 50-50 result last week.

The Galaxy poll shows Labor on a similar lead — 51 to 49 per cent — while almost half the population thinks Opposition Leader Tony Abbott isn’t ready to become prime minister.

It says 48 per cent of voters don’t believe a coalition led by Mr Abbott is ready to govern, compared to 43 per cent who think it is.

The Galaxy poll shows primary support for the major parties has changed little in the past week, with Labor on 38 per cent and the coalition on 42 per cent, while the Greens remain on 13 per cent.

Newspoll figures also show the coalition has 42 per cent of the primary vote, down two points from last week’s poll.

Labor’s primary vote is 38 per cent — up one percentage point — while the Greens have 13 per cent.

Mr Abbott’s approval rating was down compared with last week’s Newspoll, with 41 per cent satisfied (down three points), 49 per cent dissatisfied (up three points) and 10 per cent uncommitted (steady).

Forty-three per cent of those polled said they were satisfied with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s performance (up one point since last week), while 41 per cent said they were dissatisfied (up one) and 16 per cent were uncommitted (down two).

Ms Gillard also leads as preferred prime minister with 49 per cent support, 15 points ahead of Mr Abbott on 34 per cent.

The latest Newspoll was conducted by telephone from Friday to Sunday and involved 1712 interviews around Australia.

Speed cameras ’cause erratic driving’

Speed cameras can cause erratic driving by motorists, according to a survey released on Friday.

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As many as 81 per cent of drivers said they looked at their speedometers rather than the road when a camera came into view, the poll by insurance company LV= revealed.

And five per cent admitted to braking suddenly when in sight of speed cameras, risking rear-end shunts.

The poll of 1532 drivers also showed that 31 per cent had witnessed an accident, or a near-miss, as a result of drivers’ erratic behaviour when faced with a camera.

Almost half (46 per cent) of those surveyed reckoned cameras diverted attention away from other areas of their driving, while 11 per cent believed cameras actually increased the risk of an accident.

Also, 46 per cent reckoned they existed only as a revenue raiser for the government.

As many as 91 per cent of those polled confessed to speeding, with 15 per cent exceeding limits on a regular basis and 69 per cent travelling at an average speed of 81 miles an hour on motorways.

Only nine per cent said they never went over the speed limit.

LV= insurance managing director John O’Roarke said speed cameras had been a feature on UK roads for almost 20 years.

“Yet the feedback from drivers is that while they may reduce speed, they also appear to impair driving ability or, at the least, concentration on the road,” O’Roarke said.

“As this report shows, some drivers behave erratically and, at worst, dangerously, around speed cameras.”

He said when driving, it was important to maintain a constant speed within the legal limits on the road.

“Excessive speed contributes to 12 per cent of all injury collisions, and we’d encourage drivers to stick to all speed limits and not wait for a camera to reduce their speed suddenly.”

AA president Edmund King said they believed far more crashes were avoided as a result of cameras than the few that might have been caused by sudden braking.

“Contrary to some perceptions about an alleged ‘war on the motorist’, the majority of drivers accept the use of speed cameras,” King said.

“Our last AA/Populus poll of almost 15,000 drivers showed that 69 per cent accepted the use of cameras.

He said they feared widespread scrapping of cameras may lead to more drivers ignoring the 30mph (50km/h) limits and therefore more crashes.

Britons have beef with cloned cows

British food safety officials have confirmed that meat from the offspring of a cloned cow entered the country’s food chain last year.

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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) made the discovery as it probed a report that milk from the offspring of a cloned cow had been put on sale for public consumption.

As part of this investigation, officials identified two bulls born in Britain from embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the United States, both of which had been slaughtered.

Meat from one had entered the food chain and “will have been eaten” and meat from the other had been prevented from entering the food chain, the FSA said.

The disclosure will heighten concerns among farming campaigners in Britain, where the subject of producing foodstuffs from clones and their offspring is highly controversial.

“The first (bull), Dundee Paratrooper, was born in December 2006 and was slaughtered in July 2009. Meat from this animal entered the food chain and will have been eaten,” an agency spokeswoman said.

“The second, Dundee Perfect, was born in March 2007 and was slaughtered on July 27 2010. Meat from this animal has been stopped from entering the food chain.”

The probe was launched after a report last week in the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

The paper quoted a British dairy farmer, speaking anonymously, saying that he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production.

The FSA said it had traced a single animal, Dundee Paradise, believed to be part of a dairy herd, but could not confirm that milk from the animal had entered the food chain.

Under European law, foodstuffs, including milk, produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed.

The FSA, which is responsible for the assessment of “novel foods” produced by cloned animals and their offspring, said it had neither granted any authorisations nor been asked to do so.

Campaigners have voiced concerns about the possibility of produce from cloned farm animals entering the food chain.

Emma Hockridge of the Soil Association, which campaigns for organic farming, said there were concerns related to the safety of products from cloned animals and that they could reduce genetic

diversity.

But Dairy UK, which represents the industry in Britain, has insisted the products present no danger.

“Milk and meat from the offspring of clones does not present any food safety risk,” it said in a statement.

Got wanderlust? Now you can go without leaving your job

Cassie Utt is about to spend an entire year traveling the globe, a trip that will include month-long stops in 12 exotic locales like Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Ko Tao, Thailand.

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To get ready for her world tour, the 24-year-old has donated her couch and her bed, put the rest of her stuff in storage, and turned in her car that was coming off lease. She’s worked on visa logistics, figured out a mobile phone plan that will let her stay in touch worldwide and tried to reassure her somewhat nervous parents.

But one thing she hasn’t done is say goodbye to her company.

For the next 12 months, Utt, a project manager in the hydraulics division of Eaton, will continue working for the big manufacturing company through a new outside program called Remote Year.

“Quite a few of my friends are going through this right now, where they’re taking a year off to travel,” she said. “To have me come along and say I’m going to travel the world and keep my job? It’s hard for them to believe.”

The brainchild of 26-year-old entrepreneur Greg Caplan, Remote Year is something of a tour operator for professionals with wanderlust. Or as one participant described it: “like Semester at Sea, but for grown-ups with jobs.”

The program, which just kicked off its inaugural trip on June 1 in Prague, is evidence of the evolving landscape of work. Increasingly, professionals with dreams of traveling the world have options beyond applying to a huge global company with offices everywhere or quitting their job for a gap year. As working remotely has become not only more technically viable but more professionally accepted, a growing crop of travel operators have tapped into this new market opportunity.

Remote Year, for example, runs participants $27,000 for the year — $3,000 paid upfront, and then $2,000 each month. In exchange, it books and covers the cost of housing in each city as well as travel insurance and travel logistics between the year’s 12 stops (though participants buy their flights to and from the first and last cities). The program also secures work hubs with wi-fi in each locale, and plans events and meals to foster a sense of community among the 75 participants.

Utt and her fellow “remotes,” as Caplan calls them, include entrepreneurs, plenty of software developers and designers, freelancers, and corporate employees who received blessings from the likes of Microsoft, HP, Polycom and Google to take their jobs on the road. Perhaps helping their case: Unlike traditional travel companies, programs like Remote Year have a strong element of professional selectivity.

Caplan said the early pool included some 25,000 interested folks, who went through an initial screen for income feasibility and past experience with remote work. Roughly 1,500 turned in formal essay applications, and Caplan and his small team interviewed nearly 300 to whittle the pool down to the final 75. They looked for people who would add diversity to the team and would have a high likelihood of success working remotely from all corners of the globe, since full-time work was a prerequisite.

“We didn’t want to take people who just wanted a vacation,” Caplan said. “We were looking for people who wanted to advance their careers with new experiences. That’s a really important difference. They are all committed to growing professionally.”

There are, of course, plenty of digital nomads living “location-independent lifestyles” who have found their own way to work while traveling the world. Jay Meistrich, for example, left a job at Microsoft and then built his own start-up while jumping from one global outpost to the next, taking walking tours and lunching near castles in between software development sessions.

While such do-it-yourself arrangements have also become more viable, thanks to technology, there are those who prefer a more structured, coordinated experience — one that feels less like a solo quest and more like a global professional rotation they can pitch to their employer.

Hacker Paradise, which just started its third “batch” of trips less than a week ago in Tallinn, Estonia, provides co-working spaces and optional accommodation logistics for the roughly 30 tech workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs who compose its month-long trips. Others are planned this summer for Barcelona and Berlin, and participants pay a program fee of $850 for a month in one location, which does not include housing or travel costs.

Part of what it offers traveling professionals, in addition to help with the logistics of working from another country, is some sense of career support once they get there. Hacker Paradise has weekly lunches for participants to share their productivity goals, presentation days, and workshops on topics like negotiating or shaping a business idea.

While none of those sessions are mandatory, their aim is to motivate or hearten people who suddenly find themselves without the usual office routines, familiar time zones or cultural touch points. “It’s just enough structure to know you’re not just out there by yourself,” said Alexey Komissarouk, one of the co-founders.

That kind of structure isn’t just attractive to remote workers, but to the companies that agree to let them go. While many of Remote Year’s participants are self-employed or work for companies with fewer than 10 people, Caplan said 35 of the 75 attendees come from larger companies.

While some employers were surprisingly keen on the idea, others remain a harder sell. Both Hacker Paradise and Remote Year have seen a few candidates bow out because they ultimately couldn’t get corporate approval, whether from their own bosses or from HR and accounting. Others, though they finally got the okay, had to go through a long process of company box-checking.

“We didn’t want to take people who just wanted a vacation. “We were looking for people who wanted to advance their careers with new experiences.”

Knowing Utt wasn’t going to be the one responsible for details like finding reliable wi-fi service or a quiet place to work, however, was reassuring to Bonnie Smith, a senior vice president at Eaton who supervises Utt’s boss. The clear professional orientation of Remote Year, as well as the structured access to work environments, Smith said, “offered comfort to me. She’s not going to be using work time to figure it out herself.”

Smith also likes the idea of Utt being exposed to tech workers from other fields. “She’s going to be working with people who surely will broaden her horizons,” Smith said. “I expect her to come back with observations of how other countries do things — things we may be able to do, too.”

Hacker Paradise’s Komissarouk said he’s even heard from a startup and a biotech company with a few hundred employees that are interested in offering his trips to workers as a company-paid perk. “Over time, we’ve been seeing more companies okay with this, by either granting them a sabbatical or letting them work remotely,” Komissarouk said. “People are willing to do [things] to retain highly qualified employees.”

“She’s going to be working with people who surely will broaden her horizons. I expect her to come back with observations of how other countries do things — things we may be able to do, too.”

Lindsay Daniels, who works in communications for San Jose, Calif.-based Polycom, said it wasn’t hard to convince her boss after she got accepted to Remote Year. Not only had she worked in California while he was based in Singapore during her first four months in the job, her company makes video conferencing and conference call equipment. “This is what we live and breathe every day,” she said.

Utt, meanwhile, thinks timing helped her get the thumbs up. She was just finishing a two-year rotational program at Eaton, and was about to start looking for her next role there when Remote Year came up. She had been interested in finding a position in Europe, but instead went to her boss with a business plan to show how her year of globetrotting could help the company. She would get a close-up view, she offered, of some of the company’s many worldwide locations by paying visits to local sales offices or plants. “And if I’m working next to someone from Microsoft or Google,” she said she told them, “it’s a way for us to see different ideas.”

For all the planning, there is still the unexpected. What happens if the wi-fi goes down? (Caplan said they have redundant Internet connections, as well as back-up hotspots.) Or if someone loses their job in the middle of the trip? (Remote Year has a $2,500 early exit fee, but hopes the group would rally to help the person find work for the remainder of the trip.) Or a laptop breaks in the middle of Vietnam? (Caplan said he doesn’t offer tech support.)

Of course, another big question is what happens when Utt’s or Daniels’ colleagues get the same idea. Smith said she was comfortable with Utt going because she knew she was a high-performing employee, and she trusted her to work the late night and early morning hours Utt will need to put in when she’s on the other side of the globe. But “can I have 80 percent of my employees doing this?” she said. “No.”

© The Washington Post 2015 

 

Cotto defeats Geale by TKO in title fight

Australia’s Daniel Geale has suffered a brutal knockout loss to WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in New York.

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Geale was taller, had a longer reach and weighed substantially more than the stocky Cotto when they met in the ring, inside Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center on Saturday.

Size didn’t matter for Cotto, the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world-titles in four different weight classes.

He knocked Geale down twice in the fourth round.

Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach said before the bout they would attack Geale’s body and that’s what happened, with Cotto connecting with 32 body shots in the four rounds.

“I caught him with a really hard left hook,” Cotto, describing the power shot to Geale’s nose and mouth that left the Australian flat on his back the first time, said.

Cotto was backing Geale up, moved forward and struck Geale with his head and as the Australian threw a punch the champion fired the trademark left hook to the face.

The knockdown came with 2:28 left in the fourth round, Geale slowly got up and let referee Harvey Dock count to eight before agreeing to continue the fight.

Geale, who was weakened substantially by trying to make it below the middleweight catch weight of 71.2kg, valiantly attempted to fight on but exactly one minute later after a flurry of punches he fell to the canvas.

When Dock got to eight in the count this time Geale indicated he had had enough.

It was Geale’s third straight loss in the US and the lopsided contest mirrored last July’s third round knockout defeat at the hands of another middleweight great, Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin.

Geale has lost three of his last five fights.

Cotto has his eye on a pay-per-view super fight later this year with one of boxing’s rising star’s, Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez.

Golovkin, who was at the Barclay’s Center, is also pursuing a fight with Cotto.

“I’ve had 44 fights in my entire career,” Cotto said.

“Canelo is just going to be another one.”

Cotto replied “Why not?” when asked about fighting Golovkin.

After Friday’s weigh-in Geale, who stands 178cm tall and has a reach of 180cm, stacked on weight and in street clothes weighed 82.5kg just before the bout.

Cotto, at 170cm and with a reach of 170cm, was just 69.67kg at the weigh-in.

The 34-year-old Cotto’s record stands at 40 wins (33 knockouts) and four losses while Geale, also aged 34, drops to 31 wins (16 KO) and four losses.

Canada, Dutch win openers but fans the big winners

Christine Sinclair sent a capacity crowd at a sun-kissed Commonwealth Stadium home happy by slotting the winning spot kick in a 1-0 victory over China.

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The Dutch were also celebrating after the Netherlands made a winning World Cup debut with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand.

But the biggest winners on the day were the fans who basked in the excitement and joy the ‘beautiful game’ can create rather than dwell on the dreary details of a corruption bribery scandal that has engulfed the sport’s governing body, FIFA.

“It was an amazing atmosphere to kick off this World Cup in front of 50,000-plus fans, I’m so proud of our team,” said Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who was named player of the match. “There was never a doubt that game was going to get away from us.”

While the World Cup got off to a rousing start, it is unclear if the scandals and controversy have had an impact on the tournament that will conclude with a championship game on July 5 in Vancouver.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced that close to a million tickets had been sold for games at the six venues across the country and while it remains an impressive number, it falls well short of the 1.5 million organizers have targeted.

The biggest event in women’s sport, the World Cup was far from the only show in town.

While the sporting world stops for the men’s World Cup, for the women’s tournament it barely slows down.

The Formula One Grand Prix of Canada, a Stanley Cup playoff game, a Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing and golfer Tiger Woods’ nightmare round all grabbed a chunk of the Saturday North American sport spotlight.

A superb Champions League final in Berlin between Juventus and Barcelona also satisfied much of the football appetite.

With the wider football world caught in the grip of a corruption and bribery scandal, grabbing attention has proven a challenge for the women’s showcase.

The Women’s World Cup has not been touched directly by the scandal but the questions and media’s search for answers hung over the tournament buildup like a dark cloud.

A controversy over the use of artificial turf that triggered a lawsuit and claims of discrimination by a group of unhappy players also lingered as Canada and China took to the plastic pitch.

In the end it was a column by Globe and Mail columnist Cathal Kelly bashing Edmonton as an unfit venue for the prestigious kick off that provided the greatest outrage in the host nation.

But scandals big and small evaporated in the roar of the largest Canadian crowd for a national team football game as 53,058 filled a sun-kissed Commonwealth Stadium, topping the 51,136 that watched the Canadian men draw 1-1 with Brazil 21 years ago in Edmonton.

“Three points, Canada is on a roll,” beamed Canada coach John Herdman. “Good start, three points in the bag, exactly where we want to be.”

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

Aiken stars for Firebirds

Star goal shooter Romelda Aiken has starred for the Queensland Firebirds, who overcame the NSW Swifts 55-44 in the Australian conference final of the trans-Tasman netball competition.

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The Firebirds overcame a first-quarter deficit to register their 11th straight win in an at-times physical contest on Sunday.

Aiken, the Australian conference MVP, finished with 36 goals from 39 attempts, outpointing Swifts goalkeeper Sharni Layton in an absorbing one-on-one battle.

Firebirds skipper Laura Geitz said Aiken was absolutely outstanding in the goal circle.

“There’s a reason why she’s the MVP for this competition and it doesn’t matter to her whether she’s got two defenders on her or one,” Geitz said.

Geitz herself was close to best on court – finishing with a game-high five deflections defending in combination with Clare McMeniman and Rebecca Bulley.

Underlining their status as the best defensive unit in the competition, the Firebirds held the Swifts to just 18 goals across the third and fourth quarters.

Coach Roselee Jencke said the side would gain confidence from the win in front of a 5,175-strong home crowd at the Boondall Entertainment Centre.

“To be able to finish off they we did was excellent, to now get a home semi-final with our crowd and just how loud they were is fantastic,” she said.

The Firebirds will host the loser of Monday’s New Zealand conference final between Northern Mystics and Waikato Magic for a place in the grand final on June 21.

Seemingly showing no ill-effects of Friday’s extra-time victory over West Coast Fever, the Swifts took a 13-10 lead at the first break and increased their margin to six goals early in the second.

However, a 17-13 second quarter saw the Firebirds take a 27-26 halftime lead.

The Swifts must now regroup for an away clash against the winner of the NZ conference final.

Australian climber criticises Malaysia quake rescue

An Australian climber has savaged rescue efforts in the wake of a deadly earthquake that jolted Southeast

Asia’s highest peak.

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Malaysian authorities say 13 people died when a 6.0 magnitude quake rocked the area around Mount Kinabalu on Friday.

Six others remain missing in the wake of the disaster, which caused landslips on the peak and sent huge boulders hurtling down its slopes.

Vee Jin Dumlao says she and other stranded climbers had to wait nine hours for help, despite fog and difficult conditions clearing after the quake.

“Fog was quoted as the reason for not rescuing the climbers, that was certainly true earlier in day. But the sky cleared beautifully and the air was still by 4pm,” Mrs Dumlao has told the ABC.

She said the rescue effort was a farce, and had it not been for guides travelling with her group, they may not have made it out.

“It was decided that even though the tremors were still continuing, they were not as strong and we just had to take the risk and make our way down the mountain with the guides’ help,” she said.

“The mountain guides were the heroes. They risked life and limb and made some difficult decisions that ultimately saved our lives, and had neither help nor recognition from the authorities.”

Sabah state’s tourism minister Masidi Manjun has said rescuers brought 137 hikers, including two Australians, to safety.

Malaysian media have reported that the victims include children from a Singapore primary school who were on an excursion to the mountain.

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Muirfield mauls Tiger Wood

Former world No.

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1 Tiger Woods has been mauled by Muirfield Village, shooting a 13-over 85, his worst score as a professional, to fall to dead last early in the third round of the Memorial Tournament.

A day after Woods made a clutch-par putt to make the cut on the number, the five-time event and 14-time major champion struggled royally, making just one birdie while carding six bogeys, two double bogeys and a quadruple bogey.

He now sits 71st at 12-over par, 24 shots off second-round leader David Lingmerth, who is still to start his third round.

For Woods it was three shots poorer than his previous worst, an 82 he shot earlier this year at the Phoenix Open, and is just the third time in his professional career he has failed to break 80 after an 81 in the 2002 British Open.

Having already sunk to 172nd in the world rankings, Woods found water hazards four times in his round.

After three opening pars on Saturday, Woods’ woes began with back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes.

A four-foot par miss on the fourth was followed by a three putt from 28 feet on the next for another bogey.

The par-three eighth took him from bunker to bunker en route to a double bogey, the same score he took on nine after dumping his approach in the water.

Another trip to the Muirfield Village creeks on the 11th led to a bogey and a missed green on the par-three 12th pushed him to eight over.

His fifth bogey of the day came on the 14th hole when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker before he managed his lone birdie on the par-five 15th.

Just when it appeared he might have a chance to break 80 his approach on the 17th caught a tree and dropped into the drink, resulting in another bogey before an absolute disaster struck on the last.

Taking three-wood off the tee, Woods pulled his shot into a creek and after a drop could only muscle his ball short of the green.

He caught his chip shot heavy and watched his ball roll back down a steep slope back off the green and then chunked his next attempt into a bunker.

Unable to get up and down from the sand he was forced to take an eight, ensuring his worst-ever score.

As was the case over the opening two rounds, Woods struggled to find the fairways, getting just seven of 14, leaving him with 16 of 42 over three rounds.

He declined to talk to the media after the round.

Blake relieved after safe return in 200 metres

Running in his first competitive race since July 3, Blake posted a modest time of 21.

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57 seconds, stepping away from the local field in the second half of the race before easing off in the last 10 metres.

Blake, who owns the second fastest 200 (19.26 seconds) after world record holder and compatriot Usain Bolt (19.19), still harbours hope of getting in shape to qualify for the world championships in Beijing in August.

“I have to give God thanks I’m back on the track, I was really nervous, but my agent (Cubie Seegobin) and coach (Glen Mills) told me to just go out there and have fun,” Blake, a member of Jamaica’s victorious 4x100m relay team at the London Olympics, told Reuters.

“And I don’t feel bad as my foot is not bothering me anymore, so it’s a really good blow-out for me in my first race back.”

At his last meeting on July 3, the 2011 world champion pulled up injured, clutching his hamstring in the 100m at the Glasgow Grand Prix and underwent surgery days later in Germany.

“I felt a bit ceased-up but that’s expected for my first run. I’m going to run some more races now that my foot is alright,” Blake added, noting he was not worried about time.

“I just wanted to get that first run in the books and although the (head) wind was a bit heavy it was alright and I’ll work from there.”

Blake was still unclear whether he would have spots in both the 100m and 200m at the world championships.

“I’m going to run one more 200m next week and going into trials, I just want to do enough to secure an individual spot in the 100m or 200m,” he said.

His coach Mills told Reuters Blake’s first run was less about the time and more about breaking back into competitive mode.

“I just wanted him to run and to see for himself that he’s in a position where he can run a race and the whole idea is for him to get his confidence back and run himself into shape,” he said.

“He needs a couple of races to gradually build himself up, because it’s going to take time for him to get back to where he was as there is no magic button, he just has to take his time and work his way back up,” added Mills, who also trains six-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt.

(This story was refiled to add dateline)

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

Toilets in elevators? The new Japanese idea that isn’t as crazy as it sounds

Japan’s infrastructure ministry announced Tuesday that the country’s elevators may soon have a surprising new feature, the Kyodo news agency reports: Toilets.

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Yes, it sounds odd, but while the idea of a fully plumbed potty zooming up and down the sides of a Tokyo skyscraper may seem like Japanese technical ingenuity taken a step too far, in reality this idea is born of reasonable and sensible practical concerns.

According to Kyodo, the Japanese government called meetings with the country’s elevator industry to discuss the idea after a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck south of Tokyo on Saturday evening, causing about 19,000 elevators in the city and nearby to stop working.

People were trapped in 14 elevators and it took 70 minutes to rescue some of them, officials told Kyodo. If a larger earthquake strikes, the problem could be far, far worse. In light of the practical problems caused by being stuck in an elevator for so long, the Japanese government began looking into installing water and toilet facilities in all elevators.

Earthquakes present a special problem for Japan. The country is located near major tectonic plate boundaries and has a long history of quakes. It also, however, has a very large and constantly growing number of tall buildings. This means that the country has about 620,000 elevators, with 150,000 or so in Tokyo alone.

During big earthquakes, these elevators stop working. An earthquake in 1992 resulted in most elevators in Tokyo stopping; many didn’t restart for an entire day. Another earthquake in 2005 left 64,000 elevators paralyzed, accordingto Cameron Allan McKean of Next City, and some people were stuck for up in elevators for almost nine hours after a quake in 2011.

In response to these incidents, Tokyo created the Japan Elevator Association Kanto Branch (JEA), a body that conducted research that showed thousands of people could be stuck if an earthquake struck (the current figure stands around 17,000). JEA devised a number of methods to try to avoid this, including backup power sources and early warning systems that help people escape elevators if an earthquake strikes.

These technical solutions will never work all of the time, however, and it remains likely that people will end up trapped in elevators if a large earthquake comes. Toilets, drinking water and other amenities would no doubt make those people far more comfortable until they are rescued. In fact, some local governments have begun putting portable toilets in elevators. According to Jiji Press, Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward began putting in “water, blankets and emergency boxes that double as toilets” in 2014, with other parts of Tokyo planning to follow this tactic.

Private Japanese companies manufacture devices intended to serve as toilets in elevators. Aqua & Air Technology shows off its product in the video below:

Japan’s elevator industry is among the most advanced in the world – Japanese companies engineer some of the world’s fastest elevators, for example. Its toilet industry also leads the world in technical advancements. As The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield recently explained, upscale Japanese toilets come with features such as “bidet, seat-warmer, sterilizing and deodorizing functions, and electronic flushing.”

And while the ingenious idea of a toilet in an elevator may seem particularly Japanese, people get stuck in elevators everywhere. Perhaps this will soon be coming to one near you.

© The Washington Post 2015 

 

Morris chance to return for Bulldogs

Brett Morris is set to stake his claim for a NSW jumper, however St George Illawarra say returning Canterbury captain James Graham is occupying most of their attention.

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Morris trained with the Bulldogs on Sunday and is in with a chance of returning from a hamstring injury against his former club the Dragons at ANZ Stadium on Monday.

Bulldogs trainers put the side’s No.1 through his paces at Belmore Oval but a call on his return will not be made until early on Monday.

If he does come back into the line-up, it will mean the Dogs are approaching full strength after struggling with a heavy injury toll for the last few months, with inspiration skipper Graham (knee) certain to make a comeback.

Morris has not played since the Bulldogs’ memorable Good Friday loss to South Sydney in round 5 and he will be desperate to prove his fitness to NSW coach Laurie Daley ahead of June 17’s State of Origin II in Melbourne.

It will also be an emotional occasion for Morris having come through the junior ranks at the Dragons before switching to Canterbury this season.

He sat out the sides’ round six clash due to injury however appears likely to take his place for the return clash on Monday.

“It was an unusual hamstring injury so it’s one that we’ve had to treat differently and make sure we’re ticking all the squares,” Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said.

The Bulldogs have won just two of their last seven but the Dragons are expecting a different outfit with Graham back in the line up.

Since 2012, the Bulldogs have won just 39 per cent of their matches without Graham and have a 63 per cent winning record with him in the team, according to Fox Sports Stats.

Dragons captain Ben Creagh said Graham’s presence forced sides to defend differently because of his ball-playing capabilities.

Creagh said because Graham was adept at playing on both sides of the field, had a show-and-go, a long ball and could go out the back, it forced teams to be on their toes.

“He’s got more than one option,” Creagh said.

“He’s not just carting the ball up to get a quick play the ball, he can pass, he can dummy and he can do a lot of other things. He’s hard to handle.”

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Dragons haven’t conceded more than 18 points in a match since round three and have conceded three tries just three times in that nine game sequence.

* The Dragons’ 46-6 thumping of Cronulla last week was just the second time they have scored more than 40 points since 2010.

* The Dragons have forced their opponents to make more goalline drop outs than any other team, averaging more than 2.5 per game.

* Bulldogs winger Curtis Rona has scored the first try of the match four times this season.

Researchers have figured out what to say – and what not to say – on a first date

What distinguishes a good first date from a bad one? It’s pretty much all on display in the famous double-date scene from “When Harry Met Sally.

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” Sally and her terrible date firmly disagree about important topics. Harry and his terrible date are politely uninterested in each other. Then comes the moment where both of their terrible dates click — with each other. “Nobody has ever quoted me back to me before,” Sally’s date says to Harry’s date in admiration.

First dates are a staple of romantic comedy. They are also the focus of a 55-page study from researchers at Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara that looks at what people say on successful dates and not-so-successful dates.

To carry out their study, the researchers ran free speed-dating events for heterosexual grad students in which they recorded what everyone said. After the date, the grad students reported how well they “clicked” with their partners for roughly 1,000 four-minute conversations. The researchers found that physical and character traits, like men’s height and shared hobbies, actually had a larger influence on whether couples said they clicked than what they said to each other.

But with each additional minute the couple spent together, things like height and shared hobbies became less important and the flow of their conversation became more important.

The data showed that women felt more connected when men were actively engaged in the conversation and focused on them. Women were more likely to feel connected when men:

“mimicked their laughter” (meaning they laughed right after the woman laughed, not made fun of their laugh).“interrupted them” (also not what it sounds like – asked questions to show they were paying attention).demonstrated their appreciation by saying positive or flattering things.used the word “you.”

Men reported feeling less connected when women did what the researchers called “hedging” — saying things like “kind of,” “sort of” and “maybe.”

In contrast, the men said they felt a spark when women talked about themselves, using words like “I,” “me,” “myself.” (In fact, the researchers suggest that it may be a bad sign for a man’s date if the woman is asking a lot of questions about the man. “We found that questions were used by women to keep a lagging conversation going,” they wrote.)

The researchers looked not just at what people said but also how they said it. They found that men and women in the study actually altered the pitch of their voice when on a good first date — basically, taking on a more “masculine” or “feminine” voice when speaking to someone they were interested in.

Rosie Cima of the blog Priceonomics, who recently wrote about this 2013 study, graphed the statistically significant correlations between these behaviors and daters saying they “clicked”:

The chart below gives a little more detail on what women did and didn’t do when they felt like they were “clicking.” Women who felt connected to their dates talked more about themselves. They also spoke at a higher pitch – basically, adopting a more feminine voice – and varied their pitch and volume, practices that reflect their excitement and interest in the conversation.

Overall, the men’s behavior varied a lot less than the women’s did, as you can see from the chart below. Men who felt a connection were more likely to laugh and vary their volume (again, showing interest and excitement). They were less likely to vary their pitch, which the researchers say reflects an attempt to put on a more masculine voice.

So what does all this mean?

As Cima of Priceonomics points out, one funny thing about this research is there is an obvious mismatch between the behavior of men and women. Women report feeling a connection when men interrupt them to show that they’re paying attention and say nice things that indicate that they appreciate them. However, men who report feeling connected to women don’t actually do these things at a statistically significant level. (Tip to men: Try these things.)

There were two things that men and women had in common, however. First, both men and women are less likely to report a connection when a woman uses uncertain words like “kinda,” “sorta,” and “maybe.” Second, both men and women were more likely to report a connection if the woman talked about herself.

Taken together, these two findings suggest an uneven relationship between men and women: that whether a couple “clicks” is mostly determined by whether the woman is interested in the man, and not vice versa. At least in this study, these behaviors seem to be an accurate sign of a woman’s interest, and men picked up on those signals.

The study gives a few reasons for this. First, and perhaps unsurprisingly for people in the dating world, the women were a lot pickier, reporting a sense of connection far less often than men did. As the researchers note, that may give heterosexual women the upper hand, at least when it comes to first dates.

However, the researchers say the situation could be a little more complex. Maybe men and women are just being polite and acting out certain dating “rituals” — essentially, performing the role of “man or woman on a date.” This may sound strange, but some of their findings bear this out — for example, how men who felt a spark lowered their voices to make themselves sound more masculine.

These ideas stem from the theories of Erving Goffman, a 20th-century sociologist who was famous (for a sociologist, at least) for describing human interactions as a kind of performance. There’s the front stage — how we present ourselves to the world, which we adapt for different situations — and then the back stage of what we really think during these interactions.

“Certain gender ideals are staged in speed-dating events,” the researchers say. “In the case of speed dating, we believe the staging hyperritualizes gender ideals – even for our highly educated graduate student sample.”

In other words, when it comes to first dates, people tend to put on a show.

Now, will you ever watch this scene the same way again?

© The Washington Post 2015