You may not have noticed it yet, but next week's Autumn Statement will be a big test of the prime minister's seriousness. Theresa May is making an extraordinary claim - to be the Western leader who gets the zeitgeist, who has the answers others are too timid to grasp, without being so headstrong that she threatens the whole system of world capitalism. The overarching question about the chancellor's first major economic pronouncement will be "What does it say about Brexit?".This is entirely right and proper. Philip Hammond wouldn't be in charge of the UK economy without that vote - George Osborne would still be in post. The direction Mr Hammond takes will depend on whether he thinks Britain is more likely to boom or bust outside the European Union. In some quarters, he is already castigated for not sticking to a "happy clappy" script.Sensible people agree Brexit is an economic leap in the dark, destination unknown. But to some, acknowledging this is akin to heresy. Our leap, they … [Read more...] about What will Philip Hammond reveal about Theresa May’s Brexit plans?
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In New Zealand, where bodies still lie on a volcano after Monday’s eruption and survivors fill hospital burns units across the country to capacity, questions are mounting about who exactly was responsible for the safety of tourists on Whakaari or White Island, and how, if failings are found, who will be held accountable. Questions are also being asked about the wisdom of allowing tourists on to the island while it was assigned a volcanic alert level of two out of five, signalling volcanic unrest – a practice that has happened for years. But one thing that is already clear is that those hurt in the eruption will be prevented from bringing civil lawsuits in New Zealand against the tour companies who took them to the island, or anyone else. New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme, run by the government, covers the cost of all treatment for injuries sustained in New Zealand, including for foreigners. Its coverage, which the injured cannot opt out of, bars them from … [Read more...] about White Island volcano victims cannot bring civil lawsuits for negligence
A teenage rugby player who swallowed a slug as a dare and became a paraplegic is fighting the government after having disability allowance cut. Sam Ballard swallowed the slimy garden bug at a friend's party in 2010. He was sat drinking red wine with his pals when one of them brought out the slug and said: "Eat it, I dare you," news.com.au reports. Not one to turn down a challenge, Sam swallowed the creature but the 19-year-old from Sydney quickly fell ill. He was taken to hospital where doctors told him he had been infected with rat lungworm. While the disease is usually found in rodents, snails and slugs can become infected as they often eat the rats' faeces. The excrement contains a parasite which is known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis. It is very rare, but sometimes the parasite can cause an infection on the brain. And devastatingly this is what happened to Sam. He developed eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis and fell into a coma for 420 days. When he woke up he became a … [Read more...] about Teenager left a paraplegic after swallowing a slug for a bet at a party
What is the internet? The internet is the wider network that allows computer networks around the world run by companies, governments, universities and other organisations to talk to one another. The result is a mass of cables, computers, data centres, routers, servers, repeaters, satellites and wifi towers that allows digital information to travel around the world. It is that infrastructure that lets you order the weekly shop, share your life on Facebook, stream Outcast on Netflix, email your aunt in Wollongong and search the web for the world’s tiniest cat. How big is the internet? One measure is the amount of information that courses through it: about five exabytes a day. That’s equivalent to 40,000 two-hour standard definition movies per second. It takes some wiring up. Hundreds of thousands of miles of cables criss-cross countries, and more are laid along sea floors to connect islands and continents. About 300 submarine cables, the deep-sea variant only as thick as a … [Read more...] about What is the internet? 13 key questions answered
The communications industry could use 20% of all the world’s electricity by 2025, hampering attempts to meet climate change targets and straining grids as demand by power-hungry server farms storing digital data from billions of smartphones, tablets and internet-connected devices grows exponentially. The industry has long argued that it can considerably reduce carbon emissions by increasing efficiency and reducing waste, but academics are challenging industry assumptions. A new paper, due to be published by US researchers later this month, will forecast that information and communications technology could create up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020 – surpassing aviation and shipping – and up to 14% 2040, around the same proportion as the US today. Global computing power demand from internet-connected devices, high resolution video streaming, emails, surveillance cameras and a new generation of smart TVs is increasing 20% a year, consuming roughly 3-5% of the … [Read more...] about ‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025