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Conversation 21 Feb 2018

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Brexit London is Europe’s tech capital, screw Project Fear

Bits of London will break off and fall into the Thames, a mass exodus will take place and all that’s left will be a neolithic wasteland…well, at least that’s what Project Fear said would happen after Brexit wasn’t it?
Actually, London remains Europe’s tech capital and big companies like Facebook and Amazon have increased their workforce in the city. Who’d have thunk it, ey?
London has 100,000 more software developers than its closest competitor, according to figures from promotional company London and Partners and the tech website Stack Overflow.
In January, there were around 251,140 software developers in London, compared to 158,350 in Paris and 88,620 in Madrid.
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Even big time Remoaning London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google continue to invest in London because of our city’s diverse international tech workforce, and our start-up ecosystem is vibrant and innovative.”
Don’t listen to the scare stories, look at the reality.
Italy’s election hopeful Salvini wants to deport 500,000 migrants

Leader of Italy’s Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, said he wants to deport half a million migrants within five years.

Italy accepted hundreds of thousands of migrants in the last three years and is facing a backlash after several migrant crimes rocked the country.
Earlier this month an Italian girl was murdered and dismembered by a Nigerian asylum seeker. Afterwards a man shot several African migrants in a racist attack and Italians started protesting.
Salvini said Italians are not racists, but immigration needs to be controlled: “The only antidote to racism is to control, regulate and limit immigration. There are millions of Italians in economic difficulty. Italians are not racist, but out-of-control immigration brings with it far from positive reactions. We want to prevent that.”
According to recent polls Italy’s centre-right coalition between Salvini’s Lega Party and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is on course to win the elections on March the 4th.
Is Elise Christie Olympic nightmare down to bad luck or bad racing?
One or two slices of misfortune would be natural. But a run of six successive crashes or disqualifications at a Winter Olympics is harder to explain away

Elise Christie tumbles during the 1,000m heats. Photograph: Jamie

Each time Elise Christie has stepped on to the ice at these Winter Olympics, there has been a gnawing sense among those watching that they are about to become rubberneckers at the scene of a high-speed smash or witnesses to another painful tearjerker.
Part of that is the nature of short track speedskating, a wildly exciting but devilish sport that requires competitors to ping around a 111m oval track at speeds of more than 20mph, while avoiding opponents swarming and jetting around them. Of course there will be crashes, and plenty of them. It is the nature of the beast.
Yet, increasingly, it is only fair to also ask how much of Christie’s bad luck is down to her rather than her sport. Sure, one or two slices of misfortune is natural. But a run of six successive crashes or disqualifications at a Winter Olympics dating back to Sochi four years ago is harder to explain.
Was it the increased pressure of being at the biggest event in your sport, she was asked. “No,” she responded, before pointing out she felt more nervous before winning three titles in last year’s world championships in Rotterdam. “I just see it as three races that went rubbish in the last four years. Unfortunately all three of them were here. That’s short track and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
There is some truth to that. In eight women’s 1000m heats at Gangneung Ice Arena on Tuesday, six skaters were disqualified for infringements while another five suffered a similar fate in the men’s 500m heats.
Was she too aggressive when she raced? This time GB’s short track leader, Stewart Laing, shook his head. “It’s harsh if people call Elise reckless,” he said. “It’s the nature of racing.”
Perhaps. But after rewatching all of Christie’s races in Sochi and Pyeongchang there is a case to be made that her all-or-nothing approach narrows the gap between glory and disaster by too great a margin. Hers is a muscular style, an eye-of-the-needle approach, a gold-or-bust attitude.
Elise Christie’s Olympics over after disqualification in 1,000m heats – video
UK Sport, the funding body for Olympic events, have long espoused a “no compromise” philosophy. Christie has a similar mindset. She has not contemplated, at least publicly, whether she should soften it. The closest she came on Tuesday was to say she would get stronger so she could lead in every race and not have to worry about coming from behind.
In many ways sticking with the tried and trusted is understandable given it brought her three world titles in 2017. But in the cold light of day, going for bronze in the 500m, say, rather than trying a daring move and crashing out may have been more sensible.
Meanwhile what happens next when UK Sport comes to allocating funding for the next Winter Olympics in Beijing will be fascinating. For the current cycle it gave short track £4.76m in funding, and in exchange agreed a target of between one and two medals for these Games. Clearly the sport has come up short.
Yet it is worth pointing out that before the Winter Olympics, Chelsea Warr, UK Sport’s venerable director of performance, made it clear that sports such as short track speedskating were part of a “theatre of jeopardy” with higher potential rewards but also greater risks of failure than their summer counterparts.
That is right and it should ease some of the programme’s fears. Yet Christie apart, there does not appear to be a deep network of British short track talent ready to burst through. In Pyeongchang it became a familiar sight to see Team GB athletes bundled out in the heats. “We’ll go back and have a thorough review,” said Laing afterwards.
Meanwhile Christie, for all her brilliant talent and engaging personality, will have to learn some lessons too.


Seven ways … to prevent and manage RSI


Don’t ignore it
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) causes pain, weakness, tingling and stiffness of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or other soft tissues and joints in the upper limbs from neck to fingers. It is also called upper limb disorder, cumulative trauma disorder or occupational overuse syndrome. It often starts gradually and is worse when you’re at work, but it can take on a life of its own and become constant and debilitating. Nip it in the bud by taking short, frequent breaks from repetitive tasks such as typing. Check the ergonomics of your work station and try not to slouch at your desk.
Use both hands
Proper typing is key to preventing RSI. Contorting the fingers of one hand to reach more than one key at once, especially if you’re typing one-handed while holding your phone against the other ear, is a recipe for muscle strain. It’s like playing the piano; correct fingering is essential. Basic typing skills aren’t often taught in schools; they should be.
Get up
Try to get up from your desk every 30 minutes and move your neck and shoulders to release tension. A 10-minute break every hour (a stroll to the loo or to make a drink) is advised. One good tip is to time how long you can type before getting symptoms (eg pins and needles or muscle ache) and then set an alarm to stop typing 10 minutes before that time.
Stretching can help to prevent and manage RSI. The prayer stretch involves putting the palms of your hands together, pointing up; push to one side then the other for 15-30 seconds at a time. If stretches make RSI worse, see a physiotherapist for expert advice.
It’s in the wrist action
To prevent RSI, keep wrists straight and flat when typing. Sit with thighs level, feet flat on floor (or on footrest), sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, upper arms at sides, not splayed out, forearms horizontal or tilted slightly downwards, so knees and elbows are at a right angle. Keep the top of your screen at eye level and adjust the position of your keyboard, so it’s easy to reach without stretching or hunching.
Assess your risk
Your employer should carry out a risk assessment when you join to check that your work area suits you. You can request an assessment if you haven’t had one or if you’re developing symptoms of RSI.
Treat yourself
There’s nothing better than prevention. But if you have symptoms of mild RSI, you can try short courses of anti-inflammatory painkillers (ibuprofen gel or tablets), hot and cold packs, elastic supports and splints. Some people are helped by yoga, massage and meditation. An expert opinion from an osteopath, physiotherapist, GP or occupational health doctor or nurse is important if symptoms persist and are severe. Referral to a joint specialist (rheumatologist) or pain clinic is a good idea in severe cases.

The Queen makes first visit to London Fashion Week

In a world of stick-thin models, god-like designers and fashion mavens in dark glasses, one woman stole the show at London Fashion Week yesterday.
She was short, grey-haired and won’t see 90 again but as she appeared in front of the world’s leading fashion editors wearing essentially the same clothes she has been wearing for more than half a century there was no doubt who was the star attraction.
At the age of 91, it was the Queen’s first visit to Fashion Week, on the Strand, and she was there to present an award in her name to the British designer Richard Quinn. Her presence on the front row for Quinn’s show, maintaining a lively conversation with Dame Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and arguably the most powerful woman in fashion, was greeted with gasps of astonishment.
For the record, the Queen wore a tweed, duck-egg blue Angela Kelly suit with Swarovski crystals and black gloves. There is, as yet, no guidance as to when it will appear in the shops.
Addressing the audience after the show, she said: “From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting-edge, practical designs. As a tribute to the industry, and as my legacy to all those who have contributed to British fashion, I would like to present this award for new, young talent.”
Quinn described the award as an “absolute honour” and said: “It was surreal when I looked at the seats before the show and saw the seats and the blue cushion there. It hit me that ‘Oh, this isn’t a prank!’ The Queen is just iconic. She was the first female royal to wear trousers. She is cutting-edge in her own right.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design will be presented annually to an emerging designer chosen by the British Fashion Council.

Geraldine Stephenson

Stephenson in the 1950s, when she devised successful dance-theatre pieces
Geraldine Stephenson was not easily intimidated, not even by Stanley Kubrick, a film director notorious for the number of takes he would demand. For his 1975 costume drama Barry Lyndon, the choreographer decided to give her dancers a break after they had been dancing for some time in thick meadow grass.
Kubrick rebuked her, telling her that it was his set and he would dictate when they took a rest. Stephenson calmly replied: “While they are working with me, they are my dancers and I’ll say when they need a break.”Such a response was characteristic. Stephenson always prioritised her dancers, but while charming and widely liked, she had the hint of steel needed to get the job done. Such confidence led to her becoming, it is widely believed, the first person to be credited as a director and choreographer for teaching movement to actors involved in theatre, TV and film.
Her talent was evident early. She was chosen by Rudolf Laban — the charismatic founding father of ausdruckstanz or expressive dance — to join the select ranks of his students. Later, in her own right, she became a pioneer of British modern dance.
In addition to a sparkling solo career, Stephenson was much sought after for tuition on movement by television and stage directors. The projects that employed her ranged from BBC costume dramas such as War and Peace (1972) and House of Eliott (1991-93), to Richard Curtis’s 1999 film Notting Hill. Julia Roberts apparently adored her.
Going to the theatre with Stephenson was always eventful because she would keep bumping into big names with whom she had worked. Sir Tom Stoppard once called out to her at an evening performance to ask if she could see him in the interval: he wasn’t entirely happy with the movement in the piece and wondered, would she lend a hand? She did and, with her wealth of experience, she was able to show how the performer’s movements were being hindered by the costumes.
Geraldine Mavis Stephenson was born in Hull in 1925, the daughter of Eleanor (née Quibell) and Gordon Stephenson. She had an older brother, Dennis, to whom she was close. Her father owned a building company and her mother stayed at home. She attended Newland School for Girls in the city.
A shy child, she was encouraged to attend ballet classes to improve her confidence. This began her interest in movement and after school she studied physiotherapy at Bedford College of Physical Education. One of her teachers, Joan Goodrich, had connections with Laban and Stephenson took part in the inaugural gathering of the Laban Guild in Sheffield in 1946.
It was a landmark moment: afterwards she decided to study at Laban’s Art of Movement Studio in Manchester. She never forgot being introduced to Laban’s work: “There were fat people, there were thin people . . . There was even a psychologist in a purple jacket!”
Her father paid the fees for the first year. To fund the next two she played the piano for warm-ups since neither Laban, nor his partner and collaborator Lisa Ullmann liked mornings. He appointed her as his assistant at the Northern Theatre School and by 1948 she was travelling with him to Bradford, where he taught a weekly class.
Laban’s strategy was to throw his teachers and students in at the deep end and he insisted that Stephenson begin to teach. She did so with trepidation, but was encouraged to see students respond to improvisation work.
During the long train journeys to Bradford, Laban talked while Stephenson complained of exhaustion; he recommended she start devising her own dances. Through Laban she got her first big job in 1951, as movement director for a revival of the York Mystery Plays.
She was also developing her solo work, with the pianist and performer John Dalby. She could be quite “gymslips and plimsolls”, but Dalby helped to unlock a more sensual side. A tall woman who loved to jump, she created dance-theatre pieces and in 1954 filled the Park Lane Theatre in London.
She also built relationships with BBC directors such as Jane Howell, with whom Stephenson worked on 1980s productions of The Winter’s Tale, Henry VI Parts 1-3 and Richard III. With a schedule that often took in five TV or film productions a year, as well as stage work, Stephenson’s romantic life came second and she never married.
She worked with the National Theatre, the RSC, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the Chichester Festival theatre, and developed long relationships with the actors Edward Petherbridge and Maureen Lipman — she helped Lipman to portray Joyce Grenfell in Re-Joyce! on stage and television.
She worked on nearly 400 theatre and TV productions over 60 years. Thrilled by Laban’s belief in the democracy of movement, she developed his idea of “movement choirs”, creating pageants with non-professional dancers in venues from the Royal Albert Hall to Rochester Cathedral.
During rehearsals at Rochester one freezing February morning she asked the crowd to mime taking a hammer and bashing away at a piece of stone, before imagining the hammer turning into a mallet. Gradually hats and scarves were discarded as they warmed up and shed their inhibitions.
Geraldine Stephenson, dancer, choreographer and teacher, was born on December 4, 1925. She died after a long illness on December 24, 2017, aged 92

Inside UK’s evil masked moped crime gangs who ‘use acid and knives to steal phones – and brag they can’t be caught’

Click to play
How much are stolen phones worth? Inside Britain’s moped crime gangs
From behind the ghoulish mask hiding his identity, TopKat boasts of attacking innocent and unwary pedestrians using baseball bats, knives, swords and acid.
He is a new type of armed robber, one of the swarm of moped gangsters roaming our streets for easy pickings – mostly mobile phones.
“I like this stuff, get me?” he brags. “It’s easy, get me man, get paid, get me my money. I love it.”
There were over 23,000 motorcycle crimes in London alone last year – an average 63 every day.
Moped crime shot up 2,100% in the capital’s most famous shopping thoroughfare, Oxford Street.
Moped crime is terrorising the UK – Livvy sits on gangster’s ride (Image: BBC PICTURES)
TopKat, 21, uses mopeds in smash-and-grab raids on high street jewellers (Image: BBC)
I spent weeks tracking down the gangs behind this two-wheeled crime wave.
TopKat, 21, uses mopeds in smash-and-grab raids on high street jewellers.
Sitting in the back of a car in West London he says he has “got bats, got some knives, swords, even acid”. I ask if he has attacked anyone with acid.
“A couple of times,” he says. “Sprayed it in his face just bleeding like, he’s burning. Man’s shouting and screaming.”
Trying to justify it, he adds: “If I had my knife on me one of us would have ended up dead, you get me?”
He claims to feel guilt. “Actually don’t make me feel too good obviously, but man’s not doing it to intentionally hurt them innit,” he says.
“I’m just doing it so they get out the way innit so they don’t resist so I can just get my things.”
Livvy talks to masked gangster (Image: BBC)
Reporter Livvy Haydock meets three of the UK’s newest type of criminal: thieves who commit their crimes using mopeds (Image: BBC PICTURES)
TopKat takes me on a scouting trip to demonstrate how an armed robbery on mopeds is planned.
He points out which shops are easy targets and which he would avoid. A recce, he tells me, is 100% essential “so we know what we’re looking for, so we know all the back roads, we know how to cut out quickly”.
Each gang member knows what they must do when the moment comes. TopKat says: “We set roles: man that stay inside, man that go and grab the sh*t, man that patrol the doors.”
“What’s your role?” I ask.
“I’m going in and I’m grabbing.”
Over the last year mopeds have become a top feature in videos of crimes online. In some cases, the videos are uploaded by the thieves themselves, bragging on anonymous Twitter and Instagram accounts. Many gangs strike repeatedly until they are caught.
Larbi, a motorcycle courier in central London, has seen so much moped crime he started filming it and posting the footage online.
He was on Park Lane in Mayfair, Central London when he spotted a gang on mopeds with a sledge hammer strapped to the back.
Prices are agreed for phones (Image: BBC)
Over the last year mopeds have become a top feature in videos of crimes online (Image: BBC)
He flagged down a police community support officer but moments later the gang rode back past them and dumped a machete just yards away.
In that short time the gang had raided Boodles jewellers in nearby Knightsbridge.
Last summer one moped gang broke into a motorcycle showroom in West London and stole a £28,000 superbike.
CCTV across London has captured phones being snatched as muggers fly past on mopeds weaving in and out of traffic and people in pedestrian areas.
Last summer Larbi filmed two mopeds mount the pavement and snatch a phone from a City worker. He pursued the bikes to note the number plate. It read “on my job”. Larbi says: “They’re obviously taking the p***.”

Britain’s moped gangs explain how they operate


After many calls I manage to meet Mr X, a 21-year-old phone snatcher from Islington, North London. He says that over a seven year period he’s stolen hundreds of phones.
“We just blend in, it’s only when we come close that they realize OK, it’s too late. It’s like stealing candy from a baby. In 15 to 20 seconds I could get like two or three phones.”
Mr X takes me to one of his favourite hunting grounds: Upper Street in Islington. He says rush hour is the perfect time to strike; heavy traffic helps keep the police at bay.
“Traffic is not a problem, red light, not a problem, speed camera I don’t give a s**t. I am getting away that’s it.”
Moped crime has shot up in London (Image: PA)
The gang prey on people distracted by their phone on the street.
“Especially with their headphones in, they’re completely unaware what’s going to happen,” says Mr X. “That’d be the perfect target, and it’s all about the positioning as well, you know.”
By positioning, Mr X means three hotspots – pedestrian crossings, bus stops and the pavement. He takes me to each hotspot to show me just how unaware people are of their vulnerability to theft. I’m surprised to see just how many phones are on display.
Mr X says they are fair game. “You’re asking for it… you’re crossing the road, you should have all eyes on the road.”
He takes me to meet his illegal mobile phone buyer. I thought software on modern phones protected them against theft, but I was wrong.
“You put it on airplane mode and then there’s no location services so after that they don’t know where the phone has gone, untraceable,” he says. “You have that ‘find my phone’ feature but once the phone’s off, that’s it.”
Mr X took four phones he had snatched to the buyer who paid between £70 and £250 for each phone. The buyer would then take them with other stolen phones to Nigeria, where they would reach a higher value.

This is how moped gangs pick their targets
Mobile phone snatchings and smash and grabs tend to happen in busy areas in daylight hours. I couldn’t understand how the moped thieves were evading capture.
“I’m not on the same bike every day, I’m not in the same clothes every day, you know, I’m not in the same area every day either.”
Mr X said that the majority of bikes used in moped crimes were in fact stolen. On average there were 38 motorcycles stolen in London every day in 2017.
“I’m not going to show my face; no face, no case. If I see a camera it’s an ANPR camera at most, it’s looking for licence plates, I don’t have a licence plate – and if I do it’s not mine.”
Mr X introduced me to Ghost – a thief who specialises in stealing mopeds.
For Ghost alarms didn’t matter “coz you can still snap the steering column. Even if the alarm goes off you’ve just gotta do the job quickly innit, get it done fast.”
Mr X interrupted, “if it’s got a disc lock brake on it, you can’t roll it away. You can’t drive it. If you had a van, you just sweep it up.”
Riders on a moped trying to steal a mobile phone from a woman (Image: PA)
Vans are used to remove the bikes as quickly as possible, they are then stored out of sight before the number plate is replaced with a stolen or a false one and then the bike is ready to be used.
Heavy chains and multiple locks combined with a cover were the only deterrent for Ghost. But 50% of London motorcyclists do not use locks.
Ghost and Mr X also target delivery drivers. Ghost pointed out that by ordering a takeaway you actually get the bike delivered straight to you.
Mr X preferred this: “for me those are the easiest moves. You got the keys, everything’s there already. I don’t have to do nothing.”
London’s delivery drivers are on the frontline of moped theft. Delivery driver Jabed Hussain was the victim of a horrific acid attack by two bike thieves in East London.

The attacker who threw the acid was 17-year-old Derryck John. After throwing the acid the pair stole Jabed’s bike.
Jabed was just one of his victims. Last month John pleaded guilty to six acid attacks, two robberies and four attempted robberies at Wood Green Crown Court and will be sentenced on March 9.
Jabed is now trying to start a union providing financial support for other delivery drivers whose bikes have been stolen.
At one of their meetings, of the 20 or so delivery drivers who attended, almost very single one said they had been targeted by moped thieves and almost all had experienced violence.
The group of delivery drivers have created a WhatsApp group that informs each other of suspicious behaviour and recent attacks. Jabed showed me some of the messages – voice recordings calling for help from fellow drivers.
Moped crime has spread like a virus. Despite the number of attacks public awareness remains low and delivery drivers are on the frontline every day.
China launches fresh crackdown on bizarre phenomenon of funeral strippers

Bizarre footage purports to show STRIPPERS at Chinese funeral

China has launched a fresh crack down on the bizarre phenomenon of funeral strippers.
The practice, described as illegal and which corrupts “social morals”, is still a huge problem in rural areas.
Burlesque shows at some funerals aim to draw more mourners and show off the family’s wealth, in a practice that has gained popularity over the years.
China’s Ministry of Culture said last month that it was targeting “striptease” and other “obscene, pornographic, and vulgar performances” at funerals, weddings and other traditional public gatherings.
Funeral strippers is a phenomenon that just won’t go away in China (Image: Rex Features)
Authorities first began clamping down on the x-rated performances back in 2006 and launched a second drive to eradicate the practice in 2015.
The latest is focused on 19 cities across four provinces, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Hebei, a statement on the website of the Ministry of Culture said.
Burlesque shows at some funerals aim to draw more mourners and show off the family’s wealth (Image: Rex Features)
The new campaign urges people to contact a special “hotline” to report “funeral misdeeds” with the incentive of a financial rewards, according to the Global Times .
Three years ago, the ministry called for a “black list” of people and workplaces that engage in such shows.
The new campaign urges people to contact a special “hotline” to report “funeral misdeeds” with the incentive of a financial rewards (Image: Rex Features)
It singled out a group of burlesque dancers, the Red Rose Song and Dance Troupe, who did a strip-tease after the small-town funeral of an elderly person in the northern province of Hebei in February 2015.
The group took off their clothes after performing a traditional song-and-dance routine, the ministry said.
The practice has been dubbed illegal and which corrupts social morals (Image: Rex Features)
One leader of Red Rose, surnamed Li, was punished with 15 days in detention and a fine of 70,000 yuan ($11,300) after law enforcement officials intervened.

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