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The Buzz

Over 500 tourist vehicles stranded between Solang Valley and Manali as road becomes slippery for traffic movement


Tribune News Service
Mandi, January 5

A large number of tourist vehicles have been stranded between Solang Valley and Manali on Tuesday because of heavy snowfall in the region.

Due to that the road has become slippery in the region and vehicles skidded on the road.

It is estimated that over 500 tourist vehicles have been stranded in the area.

As a result, large numbers of tourists have been stranded in the area till the filing of the report and police are on the job to rescue the stranded tourists.

The district administration Kullu had issued an advisory two days ago and urged the tourists to avoid venturing into high altitude areas because the meteorological department Shimla predicted snow and rainfall in different parts of the state till January.

Despite inclement weather in the region, today large numbers of tourists thronged to Solang Valley to enjoy the snow but till evening the road had become slippery for the movement of vehicles in the region.

Two days ago, around 300 tourists were rescued by Kullu police from Atal, when they were stuck in the area for more than 10 hours in vehicles along with kids as heavy snowfall hampered the traffic movement between Atal tunnel and Solang Valley.

SP, Kullu, Gaurav Singh said police are on the job to move all tourist vehicles out of the area. The road has become slippery in the region because of fresh snowfall and some stretches are narrow, which is causing long traffic jams in the region.

Till the filing this report, rescue operation is underway in the area to evacuate all tourists safely out of the area.





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California Headline USA Los Angeles

Tesla Model 3 self-drives itself from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley with ZERO human intervention

An incredible time-lapse video captured a self-driving Tesla traveling from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley with almost no human intervention.

The Tesla Model 3 Performance’s 358-mile-drive did have a backup human driver  o take over during emergencies and charge the car along the way.

Tesla enthusiast and YouTuber Whole Mars Catalog (WMC), who took the six-hour journey, compressed into a 15-minute clip.

He said the fact there was no intervention proved ‘that this is more than just luck.’

‘The software is getting better,’ he added. 

WMC explained that he had to stop just once to charge the car in Kettleman City, about halfway through his trek.

Tesla aficionado Whole Mars Catalog used the carmaker’s still-beta Full Self-Driving (FSD) tech to take a Model 3 from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley 

The WMC video starts at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne and drove to San Jose making just one stop at a charging station.

‘The fact that it made it all the way down to Los Angeles and then back up with zero intervention suggests that this is more than just luck,’ the video caption reads.

‘The software is getting better. This drive was even better than the last one, although there were still many mistakes and areas for improvement that didn’t require a disengagement.’

WMC drove the same Tesla prototype from San Francisco to Los Angeles in December with almost no human interventions.

Video shows the driver’s view of Tesla Model 3 upgraded with experimental Full Self-Driving technology making the 380-mile journey. 

The Tesla Model 3 Performance made the 358-mile drive from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley unassisted. It did have a human backup driver on board, but the only took over to charge the car once

The Tesla Model 3 Performance made the 358-mile drive from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley unassisted. It did have a human backup driver on board, but the only took over to charge the car once

The electric sedan encountered numerous traffic environments, from highways to urban streets, and adapted from navigation to autopilot as needed.

It wasn’t a completely driverless trek, though: In the video you can see the human owner take control to avoid some debris on the road and to charge the car along the way.

There was also some ‘erratic’ driving on San Francisco’s Market Street, Engadget reported. 

On a drive from San Francisco to L.A., Whole Mars Catalog only took the wheel a few times, including to avoid debris and recharge the car

On a drive from San Francisco to L.A., Whole Mars Catalog only took the wheel a few times, including to avoid debris and recharge the car

A select number of Tesla owners have been invited to test the technology and are sharing results of using the new system.been sharing the results.

Introduced in October, FSD is billed as an ‘advanced driver assistance system’ that uses external cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and a powerful onboard computer to steer, change lanes, park, navigate on and off highways, and slow and stop at traffic lights. 

Last fall, YouTuber Dan Markham and SpaceX enthusiast Eli Burton filmed their ride down Las Vegas Boulevard on a Tesla Model S outfitted with FSD. 

Tesla fell just shy of hitting CEO Elon Musk’s goal of delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020, the company announced Saturday.

It missed the goal by less than 500 cars, but, with the final numbers still being tallied, it might cross the threshold after all.

The vow was made well before the global coronavirus pandemic closed factories worldwide and threw established resource channels into chaos.

Tesla introduced its FSD technology in beta in October and has allowed select users to test it out (stock photo)

Tesla introduced its FSD technology in beta in October and has allowed select users to test it out (stock photo)

‘So proud of the Tesla team for achieving this major milestone! At the start of Tesla, I thought we had (optimistically) a 10% chance of surviving at all,’ Musk tweeted Saturday. ‘Tesla is responsible for 2/3 of all the personal & professional pain in my life combined. But it was worth it.’  

In November, Consumer Reports removed Tesla’s Model S sedan and Model Y crossover SUV from its ‘recommended’ list due to a number of reliability concerns.

The ratings organization dropped the cars due to problems in the Model S’ air suspension and main computer and touch screens, and the crossover lost support because of problems with its body hardware and paint, CNBC reported. 

Consumer Reports continues to recommend the Tesla Model 3, used by Whole Mars Catalog.

Tesla's Model S sedan (seen here) and Model Y crossover SUV are no longer 'recommended' by Consumer Reports due to a number of reliability concerns. The ratings organization dropped the cars due to problems in the Model S' air suspension and main computer and touch screens

Tesla’s Model S sedan (seen here) and Model Y crossover SUV are no longer ‘recommended’ by Consumer Reports due to a number of reliability concerns. The ratings organization dropped the cars due to problems in the Model S’ air suspension and main computer and touch screens

Many owners of the Model S Sedan and Model Y crossover SUV have reported issues with their vehicles over the years – claims which lowered Tesla’s overall ratings.

In 2015, the Model S was listed as the top-rated vehicle, but Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, told CNBC that the group has seen a number of problems arise from drivers of the vehicle.

‘It’s wavered throughout its life cycle,’ he said highlighting the fact it was first introduced in 2012.

In November, Tesla notified some owners by email that their warranties would be expanded to cover various problems, such as memory-card failure.  

The move may have been an attempt to head off lawsuits or even a mandatory recall.

Shortly after the email was sent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a safety probe into Model S and Model X vehicles built between 2012 and early 2018 — about 159,000 vehicles.

‘The data show failure rates over 30 percent in certain build months and accelerating failure trends after three to four years in service,’ the agency said.

Last month, Tesla’s Freemont, California, factory abruptly stopped producing the Model S and the Model X SUV.

No details were given about why production lines on those cars were closed between December 24 and January 11, but a revamped Model S was reportedly seen cruising around Palo Alto last week.

‘This previously unseen design looks like it has a wider body than the Model S, updated headlights and wheels, a new rear diffuser, and a more pronounced fender,’ Gizmodo reported.

It’s not known if the car was indeed a redesign or if it addresses the issues raised by Consumer Reports.

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Technology US

Stardew Valley’s jam-packed 1.5 update reminds us why it’s our forever game

Stardew Valley is an idyllic digital space to escape to after a long year — and thanks to its 1.5 update available today on PC, you can now bring friends and family along to your farm with local split-screen co-op. The multiplayer update from a couple of years back made it possible to play and share farms online, but this local co-op addition lets you do the same with the people you actually live with, even if they don’t have their own copy of the game.

You can add the ability for local co-op by having Robin the Carpenter build cabins on your farm, or if you’re starting from scratch, you can select to have the cabins already built when you make a new game. Once the cabins are built, you can start local co-op for up to three other people from game menu. The 1.5 update also adds a new “Beach Farm” map that includes sandy soil that can clog up sprinklers, and “Advanced Game Options” in character creation that let you randomize bundles in the Community Center and rewards in the Mine.

New game options in the 1.5 update.
Image: ConcernedApe

The full release notes for the update contain even more surprises. The notable ones that had Stardew Valley fans at The Verge excited to return to the game are the ability to sit on chairs (yes, really), a change to the social tab in-game so that it shows you who you’ve already talked to each day, and a new coffee maker item that brews a fresh cup every morning.

The special thing about Stardew Valley is that it’s so full of features and so consistently updated that every little change could mean something to someone. Having a routine that you follow each day in-game makes it easier to appreciate the little things that streamline those processes.

It was an updated social tab and a coffee maker in this update, but it could just as easily be something else next time. No matter how small the feature or fix, Stardew Valley updates are a reminder that the game is always exciting and surprising to return to. It’s a comfortable “forever” game in a normal year and a nice cure to pandemic blues if you need it.

Stardew Valley’s 1.5 Update is available now on PC. The update will come to consoles in early 2021 and mobile phones sometime after that.

Categories
The Buzz

Fresh snow around Atal Tunnel in Manali; highway to Lahaul valley blocked


Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 9

Several parts of the tribal Lahaul and Spiti district received fresh snowfall on Wednesday, hampering traffic movement towards Lahaul valley from Atal Tunnel.

The Lahaul valley has received considerable snowfall, throwing normal life out of gear and a fresh cold wave gripping the area.

Heavy snowfall was also reported near the tunnel in Rohtang, theatest tourist hotspot of the region. 

In view of public safety, the Lahaul and Spiti administration has restricted the movement of vehicles towards Lahaul valley from the Atal Tunnel. 

Lahaul and Spiti Superintendent of Police Manav Verma said the Atal Tunnel and its nearby places had received heavy snowfall, which had blocked the Manali- Leh highway towards Lahaul valley ahead of the tunnel.

The police have advised the people to avoid journey on this road till it is cleared for traffic.

 “Due to fresh snowfall, this highway has become risky for the movement of vehicles,” he said.





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Headlines UK

Battle of Tollense Valley 4,250 years ago was a massacre of 1,400 Bronze Age merchants 


Fresh analysis of Europe’s earliest known battle has thrown up the possibility the 1,400 people who died at the site, in Germany’s Tollense Valley, were not warriors engaged in a brutal melee, but ambushed merchants who were ruthlessly slain. 

Human remains at the site in North East Germany, near today’s border with Poland and 80 miles north of Berlin, were first found in 1996. 

Experts have since tried to explain how 1,400 people perished in this one event, when the region was sparsely populated throughout the Bronze Age.

Scroll down for down for video  

It was believed to be the oldest  one of the biggest and most brutal battles fought in the Bronze Age, and now archaeologists believe the battle of the Tollense Valley 3,250 years ago was an ambush and massacre 

Experts believe that the site in what is now modern-day Germany featured around 1,400 people and they were likely traders and merchants

Experts believe that the site in what is now modern-day Germany featured around 1,400 people and they were likely traders and merchants 

Previous theories centred around a great battle for control of a bridge over a river near the Baltic sea.

But Detlef Jantzen, chief archaeologist for the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, says he site is more likely that of a merciless slaughter. 

He now believes that the victims were made up of diverse vendors passing through the region, at least some of whom were travelling in a large caravan.

He says they were likely set upon by bandits, who robbed and murdered them. 

WOODEN WEAPONS FOUND AT TOLLENSE 

Among the weapons found in Tollense is a wooden club in the shape of a baseball bat and another stick comparable to a mallet.

The ‘baseball bat’ is made of ash wood, which is well known for its strength and elasticity while the mallet is made from sloe.

The findings led archaeologists to conclude the site could be the earliest Bronze Age battle site ever found.

‘There is no doubt that such hammer-like, wooden weapons could cause heavy lesions,’ the researchers said.

‘Wooden clubs are sometimes reported from bogs in northern Germany [and] clubs have been found at Wiesmoor and Berumerfehn.’

The archaeologists continued that wooden clubs of various forms are also reported being used by Native Americans, for example, for hunting and warfare, but the Tollense Valley represents the first prehistoric site in Central Europe where such weapons have been found in association with human bones. 

Research into the remains of the dead reveals some of the people had skeletal deformations only brought about by a lifetime of carrying heavy loads. 

Mr Jantzen believes either merchants or their slaves would have spent a lifetime lugging around their wares, leading to extreme stress on their lower spine and legs.  

‘The picture that is emerging does not necessarily correspond to the picture of a warrior, but rather to the picture of people who spent their lives transporting things,’ Mr Jantzen says, The Times reports. 

‘For this reason we have wondered whether there is another possible explanation for this violent conflict: rather than a warlike battle, an ambush scenario upon a large group.’ 

This theory explains why among the 1,200 human remains buried at the site,  from 145 different people, there are women and children as well as men. 

Had this been a true battle, historians believe it would have been waged between male warriors only. 

Since the 1980s, several pieces of evidence of a battle have been found in river sediment at the site, including daggers, knives and skulls.

In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep riverbank with a flint arrowhead embedded in one end of the bone.

A systematic exploration of the site began in 2007, after archaeologists unearthed an enormous ‘battlefield’, as well as 140 skeletons and remains of military equipment.

These included wooden clubs, bronze spearheads, and flint and bronze arrowheads.     

The Tollense Valley site in north-eastern Germany was one of the biggest and most brutal battles in Bronze Age Europe

The Tollense Valley site in north-eastern Germany was one of the biggest and most brutal battles in Bronze Age Europe

Among the weapons found in Tollense is a wooden club in the shape of a baseball bat and another stick comparable to a mallet

Several bronze weapons (pictured) were found at the site, including spear heads

Since the 1980s, several pieces of evidence of a battle have been found in river sediment at the site, including daggers, knives and skulls. A systematic exploration of the site then began in 2007, since which archaeologists have unearthed an enormous battlefield, as well as 140 skeletons and remains of military equipment. Pictured are some of the artefacts found

Experts have long scrambled to explain how 1,400 people perished at this one event when the region was sparsely populated throughout the Bronze Age

Fresh analysis of the bones reveals some of the victims carried heavy loads for most of their life, deforming their legs and lower spine

To understand more about the fighters, the researchers previously conducted a chemical analysis of the skeletons, looking for elements like strontium, which can leave a geographically specific signature in bones

Isotope analysis has previously found the people who died came from all over Europe and were not a local group. 

While unable to pinpoint the exact location of the people who died, the previous research did find that a large swathe of the victims came from Southern Europe. 

This had been attributed to a marauding, cohesive army, but now it is thought to be a diverse group of tradespeople. 

Although Germany at the time was not as sophisticated as its contemporaries in Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece, it did have trade and elements of cultural influx.

Amber from the Baltics was sold as far south as Egypt and metals found in what is now Germany originated from the Middle East. 

‘All the metal here comes from elsewhere,’ Dr Jantzen says. 

‘But it wasn’t just the metal that came here: there were also glass beads from Egypt and Mesopotamia, and even a silk veil from the east Mediterranean. 

‘These are luxury goods we have found here and they have a very long journey behind them.’

The time when the battle took place was also right in the middle of a huge cultural shift in Central Europe, as people arrived from the Mediterranean.

Professor Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist who worked on the project, told Live Science in 2017: ‘It’s not by accident that our battlefield site is dating to this period of time.’



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Headlines UK Liverpool London Manchester Newcastle Sheffield

Coronavirus UK: Could Tees Valley and Tyneside AVOID Tier Three?


What is the row over Tier Three bailouts?  

The government has been engaged in brutal haggling with local leaders across swathes of England about the financial package linked to entering Tier Three restrictions.

The funding is on top of the government’s wider job support scheme for workers put on hold due to lockdown, and business grants. 

What did Liverpool City Region get? 

The government has said that ‘baseline’ funding for the top tier includes £8 per head of population to bolster local contact tracing and enforcement.

Liverpool received £14million on this strand of funding. And there was another £30million allocated to support businesses affected by the squeeze, around £20 per capita. 

Lancashire 

Lancashire was the second area into Tier Three lockdown. 

It will receive £12million for contact tracing and enforcement, as well as £30m in business support – broadly in line with the Liverpool settlement.

Greater Manchester  

The contact tracing and enforcement settlement came to £22million due to the higher population in the region.

The government initially offered around £55million in business support, roughly proportional to the other packages.

The final offer was £60million, £22 per head. But Andy Burnham originally asked for £90million and only came down to £65million. Ministers say the money is still ‘earmarked’ for the region, but ministers are trying to bypass Mr Burnham. 

South Yorkshire 

The contact tracing element agreed with Labour mayor Dan Jarvis was £11million.

There is also a £30million package of business support – £22 per head and roughly in line with the allocation for the other regions. 

Two major areas of North East England could avoid being placed into the highest lockdown tier, it emerged today, because efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus appear to be working.

Talks with Tees Valley and Tyneside over a financial package for a Tier Three shutdown have been halted, it is understood, amid hopes it will not be required. 

It came as Boris Johnson moved to sideline Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham today, insisting he would honour the £60million package of business support for the region he offered to the Labour mayor but go through borough leaders instead. 

The premier also jibed that he had a ‘great conversation’ with Sheffield City mayor Dan Jarvis, who today agreed a deal for the region to be escalated to Tier Three from Saturday. 

South Yorkshire has secured a £41million deal for contact tracing, enforcement and business support, and Mr Jarvis swiped at Mr Burnham by saying he had acted ‘responsibly’ in reaching an agreement. 

Alongside a ban on households mixing indoors, pubs and bars will have to shut from midnight on Saturday, as well as betting shops, casinos and soft plays.

However, gyms and leisure centres can stay open – with Liverpool also getting their rules eased after a protest at double standards between regions. 

And West Yorkshire leaders say they have been told it will not be escalated into Tier Three this week – although government sources insist discussions are still ongoing.

The Tees Valley and Tyneside are both currently in Tier Two. There were 314.1 cases per 100,000 people in Tees Valley for the week to October 16, up from 278.4 the previous week. But there were 276.1 cases per 100,000 people in the North East for the week to October 16, down from 316.6 the previous week.

The latest dramatic moves today mean 7.3million people will be under the top level of restrictions by the weekend.

The sum granted to South Yorks is in roughly in line with that handed to Merseyside and Lancashire, adjusting for population size.

But talks with Mr Burnham broke down yesterday after he demanded £65million for Greater Manchester, which would have been proportionally far more than accepted by other areas. He originally asked for £90million. 

Mr Johnson offered £60million, with government sources claiming the mayor’s ‘pride’ stopped him saying yes. 

In an apparent swipe at his Labour colleague today, Mr Jarvis said: ‘We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS.’ 

In a round of interviews this morning, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick dismissed the idea that Mr Burnham learned news of the package during an explosive press conference last night. ‘He didn’t,’ he said, adding: ‘I phoned him and told him.’

Mr Jenrick also complained that the haggling with Mr Burnham had held up crucial action to protect the public. ‘We probably in honesty should have acted a few days ago but we hadn’t been able to reach an agreement with the mayor of Greater Manchester,’ he said.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • Nicola Sturgeon has said that ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions on hospitality in Scotland will be in place for a week longer than previously stated, until at least November 2;
  • Gyms in Liverpool are being allowed to reopen after anger that other regions in Tier Three had looser rules;
  • The crippling impact of coronavirus on the public finances was laid bare today after new figures showed the government borrowed more than £208billion over six months; 
  • Mr Jenrick said a ‘loophole’ permitting working lunches despite the ban on households mixing indoors in Tier Two and Three was ‘being closed’;
  • Sage scientists warn that children could become the ‘lost generation’ as pandemic policies take their toll on youngsters; 
  • The UK recorded another 21,331 coronavirus cases, a 23.8 per cent increase on last Tuesday, and 241 more deaths, compared to 143 on the same day last week; 
  • ONS figures show the number of people dying of Covid-19 in England and Wales rose for the fifth week in a row to 438 between October 3 and 9; 

Boris Johnson

A furious blame game erupted between Boris Johnson (right at PMQs) and Andy Burnham (left) after talks over a Tier Three lockdown bailout failed 

Robert Jenrick

Dan Jarvis

In an apparent swipe at his Labour colleague Andy Burnham today, Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis (right) said doing a deal with the government was the ‘responsible’ course of action. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick (left) complained that the haggling with Mr Burnham had held up crucial action to protect the public

How the war of words between Burnham and No 10 unfolded 

October 14: The three-tier system is introduced in England. Andy Burnham instantly brands it ‘fundamentally flawed’ and threatens legal action if imposed by Government. 

October 15: Mr Burnham accuses the Government of treating the North with ‘contempt’ as a row erupts over proposed coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the area. 

October 16: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accuses Mr Burnham of trying to ‘hold the Government over a barrel’ by resisting tougher restrictions and urges him to ‘do the right thing by the people of Manchester’.

The Prime Minister urges leaders in Greater Manchester to ‘reconsider and engage constructively’ over Tier 3 restrictions but says he will intervene if an agreement cannot be reached. 

October 17: Mr Burnham said no meetings had taken place since Thursday morning and urged in a joint statement with council leaders that ‘we are ready to meet at any time’.

Downing Street on Saturday indicated a call had been scheduled for the following morning after a message was left with Mr Burnham.

October 18: Mr Burnham accused the Prime Minister of having engaged in an ‘exaggeration’ of the severity of Covid-19 in the region during a Downing Street press conference.  

October 19: Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick warned local leaders they had until midday the following day to strike a deal with Government. 

October 20: Figures in London and Manchester continued to talk even after the noon deadline for negotiations had passed. 

Mr Burnham civic leaders were prepared to reduce their bid for financial support from £90million to £65 million – a figure he described as the ‘bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship’. 

At a 5pm press conference no deal had been reached and the PM announced he would be unilaterally imposing Tier 3 on the region.

After more than a week of wrangling, Mr Johnson last night unilaterally shifted Greater Manchester to the highest level of curbs, saying Mr Burnham had rejected an offer of £60million business support, on top of £22million for contact tracing and enforcement.

Whitehall sources said an agreement of £55million was initially reached, but during a final telephone to rubber-stamp the arrangement Mr Burnham blindsided the Prime Minister with a demand for £65million.

The PM tried to compromise on £60million but a government source said: ‘Andy Burnham’s pride got in the way of a deal.’

Another source claimed the mayor had told the PM it was ‘important to him that he got more than Lancashire and Merseyside’, the other two areas already under Tier Three.

Last night six Conservative MPs in the region wrote to Mr Burnham asking to stand aside so other local leaders to broker a new deal with the government.

Chris Clarkson, Mark Logan, Christian Wakeford, James Grundy, Jame Daly and Mary Robinson all put their name to the note telling Mr Burnham he had ‘completely failed’. 

In a combative PMQs this afternoon, Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of a ‘corrosive and miserly’ approach sparking ‘local battles’.

He told the Commons: ‘This is a Prime Minister who can pay £7,000 a day for consultants on track and trace, which isn’t working, can find £43 million for a garden bridge that was never built but he can’t find £5 million for the people of Greater Manchester…

‘On Friday, thousands of people in Greater Manchester – taxi drivers, pub and hospitality workers, people working in betting shops, the self-employed and freelancers will either be out of work or face significant pay cuts, that’s the reality on Friday in Greater Manchester.

‘But their rent and their mortgage won’t be lower, their food and their heating bills won’t be lower, and that could last for months. Why can’t the Prime Minister and the Chancellor understand this? Stop bargaining with people’s lives, stop dividing communities and provide the support that’s needed in Manchester.’

Mr Johnson said he was ‘very proud that this Government has already given Greater Manchester £1.1billion in support for business, £200million in extra un-ringfenced funding, £50million to tackle infections in care homes, £20million for test and trace, another £22million for local response that we announced yesterday’.

‘Yesterday the Mayor of Greater Manchester was offered a further £60 million which he turned down,’ the PM said.

‘So I can tell the House today that that cash will be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.’ 

Mr Jenrick has written to council leaders in Greater Manchester asking them ‘to come forward directly’ for money.

‘The purpose of that letter is to re state the offer of business support,’ the PM’s spokesman said. ‘And what it states is that the fund of £60m is for the businesses and people of Greater Manchester.’ 

Downing Street said the recipients of the letters ‘reflects the fact that it is the council leaders who will be distributing the money’.  

The Conservative leader of Bolton Council said he had spoken to Mr Jenrick and confirmed the council is willing to look at an individual deal over the Government’s offer.

Councillor David Greenhalgh said: ‘It is clear the amount on the table, which is what has been accepted in Liverpool, Lancashire and now South Yorkshire, and I am not prepared for Bolton businesses to miss out on this extra financial help.

‘This is not the time for posturing and politics. This is about getting the best deal available for Bolton business and those who work in the sectors worst affected.

‘I hope to have further discussions later today with Government officials and ministers, and progress as a matter of priority to enable a scheme to be worked up that targets those most affected.’

Sir Keir also demanded to know what the mechanism was for areas to leave Tier Two and Three restrictions.

And in a session with MPs on the health and science committees, Dr Clare Gardiner, director general of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), admitted there was no intention of having a ‘single hard threshold’ for imposing and withdrawing measures.

‘We’re trying to develop a set of soft trigger points, one of which is case rate and something in the region of 100 to 150 might be the most reasonable piece there,’ she said. 

‘Positivity, 7.5 per cent and above, is another area where we might want to start looking more deeply at what’s happening. 

Understanding rates of change, particularly in over-60s, so looking at the full suite of measures as soft indicators or triggers to then start a conversation about the potential necessity for further action, I think, is the way to think about it rather than hard thresholds and a mechanistic approach that says ‘if this, then that’ because the situation across the country is so nuanced.’

Dr Gardiner explained that the JBC also looks at the numbers of people in hospitals with coronavirus and how this compares to the capacity of local hospitals to cope, as well as outbreaks in care homes.

Death rates for hospitalised Covid-19 patients ‘now almost a QUARTER of peak’ 

Death rates for hospitalised Covid-19 patients are now almost a quarter of what they were during the peak of the pandemic, studies have shown.

Research conducted at one New York care facility revealed 25.6 per cent of hospital patients died in March. But in June, this rate plummeted to just 7.6 per cent.

The authors of the paper, due to be published next week, say generally it is younger and less frail people being admitted to hospital now. But other top scientists say that medical breakthroughs — such as the discovery of drugs that help treat critically-ill patients — have boosted survival rates.

In the UK, similar scientific studies have revealed that death rates in hospitalised coronavirus patients have fallen by at least two-thirds.

Experts at the University of Exeter Medical School showed deaths in hospitalised patients in England fell from 29 per cent to 10 per cent from March to May.

And The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre has shown death rates among intensive care patients has more than halved from 39 per cent in the first wave, to 12 per cent now.

The reasons why fewer patients are dying include that doctors have learnt how the disease progresses and so can spot early signs of deterioration.

She said: ‘If one sets an arbitrary threshold of 150 cases per 100,000, and an area is currently at more than 500 per 100,000, it is very, very unlikely that they, in four weeks, will cross that lower threshold, which is why I think one should be looking at the relative stabilisation rate as opposed to setting specific thresholds.’

Regions in Tier Two and Three will remain under restrictions ‘as long as is necessary’, health minister Edward Argar said.

He told the Commons: ‘Areas in Tier 3 or in Tier 2 will remain in those areas as long as is necessary to protect the health of the local people and the NHS in that region.’

There were angry scenes in the Commons later as MPs traded blows over a Labour call for there to be a national structure for Tier Three financial support.  

Tory MP for Hazel Grove, William Wragg said he did not support the lockdown as the ‘medicine could be worse than the disease’.

‘Perversely, the closure of Covid-secure premises will make it more likely that people will meet in each other’s homes where we know it is a far higher rate of transmission taking place.

‘The isolation and loneliness people are feeling is palpable. Increasingly I speak with my distressed constituents who are not able to enjoy a reasonable quality of life.

‘Yes there are support bubbles, but many vulnerable people are living in fear, terrified of criminalising themselves inadvertently simply through usual interaction.

‘We want to be able to have our businesses to operate, to function, to provide livelihoods and jobs for others. We don’t want to come with a begging bowl.

‘However, if it is the case that we must close by law, it is only right that their local representatives should strive for every penny of support from the Government which has mandated their closure.’

Tory MP Chris Clarkson, who reresents Heywood and Middleton, said there were now 2.8million people in Greater Manchester ‘in desperate need of answers’.

He accused Mr Burnham of ‘doning his carefully confected outrage’ during his press conference on Tuesday.

Mr Clarkson said: ‘We should now let local leaders, with the support of Greater Manchester’s MPs, talk to the Government about how we will be supported over the next 28 days and beyond.

‘The people I represent are being asked to face the toughest restrictions of their lives and livelihoods since March. I am genuinely worried, I’m sure colleagues are too, about the future of the people and businesses in the communities we serve.

‘I’ve asked the Government to ensure that their efforts and redoubled and that any settlement with individual boroughs in Greater Manchester is conducted quickly.’

Angela Rayner ‘calls Tory MP scum’ in Commons 

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was today accused of calling a Tory MP ‘scum’ after he claimed members of the opposition frontbench view coronavirus as a ‘good crisis’.

Speaking in the House of Commons the Conservative backbencher Chris Clarkson suggested senior Labour figures viewed the current outbreak as an opportunity to be exploited.

Ms Rayner, who was sat on the frontbench, then appeared to heckle Mr Clarkson who asked her: ‘Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?’

The exchange prompted an intervention from a furious Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing who said she would not accept such comments in the chamber ‘under any circumstances’.

The clash between Ms Rayner and Mr Clarkson happened during an opposition day debate in the Commons this afternoon as MPs debated funding for areas facing additional coronavirus restrictions.

Labour is calling on the Government to publish ‘clear and fair national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses’ in areas moved into Tier Three.

Mr Clarkson, the Tory MP for Heywood and Middleton, told Labour to ‘park the opportunism’ as he cited comments made by shadow education secretary Kate Green who previously said Covid-19 was a ‘good crisis’ for the party.

In his statement today, Mr Jarvis appeared to deliver a stern rebuke to Mr Burnham over turning down a deal.

‘We called on Government to offer a local lockdown lifeline for our local authorities and economy, and the new restrictions will be introduced alongside resources which mean we are better equipped to control the virus and limit some of the damage on jobs and businesses,’ he said.

‘While infection rates vary across South Yorkshire, collective action was the only practical choice to keep everyone in our region safe. If restrictions are effective, individual local authorities will be able to move to lower alert levels as soon as it is safe to do so, in consultation with fellow local leaders, myself and national government.’

At midnight on Thursday the region will be elevated to the very high coronavirus alert level, meaning pubs must shut unless they serve meals, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, gaming centres and soft play areas.  

The Tier Three measures imposed on the region’s 2.8million people could lead to the closure of an estimated 1,800 pubs and 140 wine bars as well as 277 betting shops and 12 casinos.  

The region will receive a standard £22million to bolster test and trace infrastructure, but it is feared vulnerable businesses will struggle to stay afloat without urgent support.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night said the Government’s £60million offer is still on the table, while Mr Jenrick said this morning that the money had been ‘earmarked’ for Greater Manchester. 

The Prime Minister said he had been left with no choice but to impose the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants as well as banning households from mixing indoors and in most outdoor settings after the Government was unable to reach a deal with local leaders in Manchester.

Mr Johnson said he appreciated the rules are ‘tough, both on businesses and individuals’ but that the move to the Very High alert level is needed in order to combat a surge in coronavirus cases in the region.   

He added he regretted the fact the Government had been unable to strike a deal with Mr Burnham because ‘we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together’. 

Mr Johnson said ‘unfortunately’ Mr Burnham opted not to accept the deal as he added: ‘Given the public health situation, I must now proceed with moving Greater Manchester, as I say, to the Very High alert level because not to act would put Manchester’s NHS, and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents, at risk.’  

Mr Johnson’s comments came after Mr Burnham effectively declared class war on the Prime Minister for dooming Greater Manchester to lockdown ‘poverty’ by refusing to hand over a ‘bare minimum’ £65million bailout.

Government borrows an eye watering £208bn in just six months of coronavirus crisis 

The crippling impact of coronavirus on the public finances was laid bare today after new figures showed the government borrowed more than £208billion over six months.

Another £36.1billion was borrowed in September – the third-highest month on record and compared to just £7billion a year ago – as tax revenues slumped and the Treasury poured out bailout money.

It means that since April £208.5billion has been added to the UK’s debt pile – nearly four times as much as in the whole of last year. 

National debt hit £2.06trillion at the end of last month, equivalent to 103.5 per cent of the size of the whole economy. The ratio has not been worse since 1960, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The eye-watering figures will raise fresh concerns about a grim reckoning of tax rises and austerity when the government has to borrow the books.

At his own press conference earlier, the mayor launched a furious tirade at the Government for imposing the harshest level of curbs without ‘proper support’, saying he had asked for what the region ‘needed’.

Painting himself as the champion of the northern working class, Mr Burnham said: ‘It wasn’t about what we wanted, it was about what we needed… what we have seen today is a deliberate act of levelling down.’     

Despite slamming ‘penny pinching’ ministers, Mr Burnham told people in Greater Manchester to ‘observe the law at all times’. 

He added: ‘At no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

‘Even now, I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the Government offered today.’

Mr Burnham had taken aim at ‘selective’ figures highlighted by Downing Street that suggested Greater Manchester hospitals could be overwhelmed within weeks unless tougher action is taken. He insisted intensive care bed occupancy was about normal for this time of year, at 80 per cent. 

Mr Johnson told the press conference that he hoped leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with the Government to ensure the new restrictions are rolled out.

He also said the Government remained in negotiations with local authorities in a number of other areas about moving to 3. 

‘Despite the failure to reach an agreement, I hope the Mayor and council leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with us to implement these measures,’ he said. 

‘Ultimately all of us want to protect the NHS, and in doing so to save lives.’  

Scotland Yard urges pubs and restaurants snoop on customers by asking for photo IDs 

Police have urged pubs and restaurants to snoop on customers to ensure they stick to lockdown rules, the Mail can reveal today.

Scotland Yard has been writing to struggling traders in London to say they should ask for names, addresses and even photo ID.

Officers said the procedures would stop households mixing – in keeping with Tier Two curbs introduced last weekend.

However business chiefs said this placed ‘completely unacceptable’ demands on staff and would cost venues bookings if customers could not prove they were following the Covid-19 restrictions.

The Night Time Industries Association has taken legal advice over the ‘unlawful and misleading advice’.

Police forces around the country are checking on Facebook and other social media sites to see whether landlords are letting customers flout social distancing rules. 

The row came as Boris Johnson faced a revolt after ordering Greater Manchester into the toughest level of lockdown restrictions.

As the row split along party lines again, Greater Manchester’s Labour MPs lined up to blast Mr Johnson for the failed talks.

Labour’s Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said it was ‘utter spite’ and ‘the idea of ‘all in this together’ has been totally shattered this week’.

Wigan MP and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: ‘This is bad faith, it’s immoral – just disgraceful.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the collapse of talks between Greater Manchester and Westminster was ‘a sign of Government failure’.

‘The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

‘Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

‘Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.’ 

William Wragg, Tory MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, said on Twitter: ‘The sense of failure is overwhelming…

‘Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office.’ 

Official figures have shown that coronavirus infections are now falling in some of England’s biggest cities including Manchester, despite Mr Hancock’s threats to plunge many of them into Tier 3. 

In Nottingham the rolling weekly rate of cases peaked at 1,001.2 per 100,000 people for the seven days to October 8 – the highest in England – but since then the number has been falling, currently standing at 787.6.

Manchester’s current rate is 432.5, after peaking at 583.5 in the seven days to October 3, while in Sheffield it’s 396.7, down from a high of 500.3 in the week ending October 7. The rate in Newcastle stands at 371.5, down from 553.8 in the same period. 

Although some of the country’s major cities are seeing infections tumble, the towns and boroughs around them are starting to see the steep increases, which may explain the Government’s keenness to lockdown in more areas.   

Manchester city is the only area in Greater Manchester seeing daily infections drop, but outbreaks in Trafford, Stockport and Oldham have also stabilised, Public Health England figures. And the rate at which cases are rising in the other nine boroughs has began to decelerate. 

Nicola Sturgeon EXTENDS Scotland’s circuit breaker by a week 

Nicola Sturgeon today announced pub and restaurant closures across the central belt will be extended by a week to November 2 after Scotland recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths since May.

The First Minister imposed the closure of hospitality venues in Covid-19 hotspots as well as a 6pm indoor hospitality curfew in other areas earlier this month.

The rules were originally due to last for two weeks and end on October 26 but Ms Sturgeon said this lunchtime that the measures will have to be kept in place for longer.

She said extending the shutdown to November 2 would allow for a ‘smooth’ transition to a new tiered system of restrictions, scheduled to come into effect on the same date.

The original introduction of the measures prompted hospitality chiefs to warn of a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of Scottish venues.

Ms Sturgeon made clear she believed the extension of the measures was necessary after Scotland recorded a further 28 Covid-19 deaths and an additional 1,739 cases – the highest number of fatalities since May 21.

For example, Bury was reporting an average 108 cases per day by October 12, up from 97 daily cases the week prior, an increase of 11 per cent. This is down significantly from the rise between September 28 and October 5, when daily cases jumped 33 per cent from 73 to 97.

A similar trend has played out in the other boroughs. In Wigan, the rolling seven day average number of daily cases is 205 – which is up nine per cent compared the seven days prior. For comparison, this figure almost doubled from September 28, when it was 99.3, to October 5’s 188.

Rochdale’s is currently recording 149 cases per day, up by 16 per cent the week before, when it was 128. The week-on-week rise then was much smaller than the increase between September 28 and October 5, when daily cases jumped 59 per cent from 86 to 128. 

Meanwhile, restrictions in other parts of the UK are continuing to diverge.

Nicola Sturgeon today announced pub and restaurant closures across the central belt will be extended by a week to November 2 after Scotland recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths since May.

The First Minister imposed the closure of hospitality venues in Covid-19 hotspots as well as a 6pm indoor hospitality curfew in other areas earlier this month.

The rules were originally due to last for two weeks and end on October 26 but Ms Sturgeon said this lunchtime that the measures will have to be kept in place for longer.

She said extending the shutdown to November 2 would allow for a ‘smooth’ transition to a new tiered system of restrictions, scheduled to come into effect on the same date.

The original introduction of the measures prompted hospitality chiefs to warn of a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of Scottish venues.

Ms Sturgeon made clear she believed the extension of the measures was necessary after Scotland recorded a further 28 Covid-19 deaths and an additional 1,739 cases – the highest number of fatalities since May 21.

Meanwhile, Wales’s health minister Vaughan Gething has said there is ‘a very real risk’ that the country’s health service would be overwhelmed without the ‘firebrea’ restrictions being imposed there.

Scientific experts in Wales have calculated that the number of Covid-19 infections is growing by 4% each day in Wales, with an estimated 2,500 daily infections.

Mr Gething told a press conference there were 894 people in hospital with coronavirus, up 26 per cent from last week.

‘This is the highest that is has been since June this year,’ Mr Gething said.

There are 43 people in critical care with Covid-19, which is 72 per cent higher than last week and amounting to one in four critical care beds across Wales.

The daily number of coronavirus cases, counted by the date specimens were taken, has eased in key cities over recent days

The daily number of coronavirus cases, counted by the date specimens were taken, has eased in key cities over recent days 

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

The graph on the left shows how many Covid-19 deaths (blue dots) have been recorded across Manchester¿s NHS trusts every day since the pandemic began. The three dotted lines are projections based on previous modelling from health bosses, leaked to The Guardian, which show how deaths could have sped up under different scenarios. The newspaper did not reveal what the different lines stood for but it is likely the steepest would have shown how quickly deaths would have spiralled under the worst-case scenario. The graph on the right shows the same but for how many infected patients were in intensive care. Red dots show the actual number of coronavirus patients receiving mechanical ventilation on any given day, while the three dotted lines show projections for how the numbers could grow under different growth speeds

The graph on the left shows how many Covid-19 deaths (blue dots) have been recorded across Manchester’s NHS trusts every day since the pandemic began. The three dotted lines are projections based on previous modelling from health bosses, leaked to The Guardian, which show how deaths could have sped up under different scenarios. The newspaper did not reveal what the different lines stood for but it is likely the steepest would have shown how quickly deaths would have spiralled under the worst-case scenario. The graph on the right shows the same but for how many infected patients were in intensive care. Red dots show the actual number of coronavirus patients receiving mechanical ventilation on any given day, while the three dotted lines show projections for how the numbers could grow under different growth speeds

Britain recorded 18,804 Covid-19 cases and 80 deaths yesterday as infections and fatalities rise



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Headline USA

Carpet python tries to EAT a woman in Samford Valley, north-west of Brisbane


Fangs for nothing! Shocking moment a giant three-metre carpet python tries to EAT a brave woman who tried to rescue it from under her car – forcing her to call police when the snake began to squeeze the life out of her

  • Reptile lover’s cat cornered a snake under a car in Samford Valley, near Brisbane
  • She went to rescue the carpet python but it quickly turned on her 
  • Police had to be called to uncoil the animal which was wrapped around her leg 

A brave reptile lover who tried to rescue a rogue snake from under her car was forced to dial triple zero for help when the python coiled itself around her leg.

Queensland Police were called to a home at Samford Valley, north-west of Brisbane, after the woman became entangled with the two to three metre long carpet python.

The woman had been working in her garage at 7pm on October 6 when she noticed her cat had cornered the snake under a car.

A brave reptile lover who tried to rescue a snake from under her car was forced to call the police for help when it coiled itself around her leg

Queensland Police were called to a home at Samford Valley, north-west of Brisbane, on October 6 after the woman became entangled with the 2-3 metre carpet python

Queensland Police were called to a home at Samford Valley, north-west of Brisbane, on October 6 after the woman became entangled with the 2-3 metre carpet python

The self-confessed snake-lover went to rescue the wild reptile from being attacked but it quickly turned on her.

The carpet python wrapped its tail around the woman’s leg and constricted, prompting her to call emergency services to help her remove the python.

She tried to pull the creature off but it soon became clear it was not keen on letting go. 

Footage taken by police shows the woman standing outside her garage with the snake coiled around her leg. 

‘The snake is still wrapped around her leg, we are going to attempt removal,’ a female officer can be heard saying.

The woman takes hold of the snake’s head as the police officer unwinds the tail off the leg, admitting the snake ‘didn’t look happy’.

She can be heard telling police that she tried to get the reptile off herself but had no luck.

The woman had been working in her garage at 7pm when she noticed her cat had cornered the snake under a car

The woman had been working in her garage at 7pm when she noticed her cat had cornered the snake under a car

The self-confessed snake-lover went to rescue the wild reptile from being attacked but it quickly turned on her

The self-confessed snake-lover went to rescue the wild reptile from being attacked but it quickly turned on her

‘If I had a friend over or someone we could have sorted it, I’m so sorry guys I just couldn’t deal with it on my own’ she says. 

The woman continues to apologise before one of the officers says it is ‘the most interesting job they have had all day’. 

They continue to unwind the snake’s tail off the woman’s leg before she picks him up and walks across the driveway.

When officers offer to help put the snake ‘back into its pen’ that the woman admits it’s a wild reptile.

‘It’s not mine, he’s wild… he’s a wild snake,’ the woman says. 

The carpet python wrapped its tail around the woman's leg and constricted, prompting her to call emergency services to help her remove the python

The carpet python wrapped its tail around the woman’s leg and constricted, prompting her to call emergency services to help her remove the python

She tried to pull the creature off herself but it soon became clear it was not keen on letting go

She tried to pull the creature off herself but it soon became clear it was not keen on letting go

Both police officers are clearly shocked by the revelation.

‘Oh, seriously… so how’d you end up with it?’ one of them exclaims. 

‘Rightio…’ the other says. 

Footage shows the woman putting the python back into the grass beside her driveway before thanking police. 

Carpet pythons can grow up to 3.6 metres in length and is the largest snake found in south-east Queensland. 

While they are non-venomous to humans a bite can still cause damage such as deep puncture wounds. 

It isn't until the officers offer to help put the snake 'back into its pen' that the woman admits it's a wild reptile

It isn’t until the officers offer to help put the snake ‘back into its pen’ that the woman admits it’s a wild reptile

WHAT IS A CARPET PYTHON? 

Carpet pythons are medium sized pythons that can grow up to 3.6m in length.

The average adult carpet python is 2.5m long and is the largest snake found in south-east Queensland.

They typically eat a variety of birds and mammals and is non-venomous to humans.

However a bite to a human by a carpet python can still cause damage, including deep puncture wounds.

Typically carpet pythons like to live in above ground areas such as roofs or wall cavities.

However they have also been found in shrubbery.   



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Entertainment USA

Josh Brolin leaves Los Angeles after buying $1.1M Simi Valley home and $3.5M Atlanta house


Oscar nominee Josh Brolin has reportedly left Los Angeles behind after purchasing two properties – a $1.1M Simi Valley home and a $3.5M Atlanta home.

The 52-year-old SoCal native sold his $6.55M Brentwood mansion earlier this year in favor of the 3,743-square-foot house 40 miles northwest in Simi Valley, according to Dirt.com.

Josh’s two-story home was built in 1989 and it features three bathrooms and four bedrooms – one of which has a private balcony, sitting room, and fireplace.  

Farewell City of Angels! Oscar nominee Josh Brolin has reportedly left Los Angeles behind after purchasing two properties – a $1.1M Simi Valley home and a $3.5M Atlanta home (pictured in Atlanta on Friday)

Still in California: The 52-year-old SoCal native sold his $6.55M Brentwood mansion earlier this year in favor of the 3,743-square-foot house 40 miles northwest in Simi Valley

Still in California: The 52-year-old SoCal native sold his $6.55M Brentwood mansion earlier this year in favor of the 3,743-square-foot house 40 miles northwest in Simi Valley

Brolin’s central foyer has marble tiling and opens up to a dining room and living room with a grand staircase leading to a wall of shelving and large chandelier overhead.

The Avengers: Endgame action star’s modest-sized kitchen has a double-wide island and oak cabinets leading to an adjoining breakfast nook.

Josh’s family room has sliding doors leading to the backyard as well as a wet bar and a whitewashed brick corner fireplace. 

Master bedroom: Josh's two-story home was built in 1989 and it features three bathrooms and four bedrooms - one of which has a private balcony, sitting room, and fireplace

Master bedroom: Josh’s two-story home was built in 1989 and it features three bathrooms and four bedrooms – one of which has a private balcony, sitting room, and fireplace

Eighties retro: Brolin's central foyer has marble tiling and opens up to a dining room and living room with a grand staircase leading to a wall of shelving and large chandelier overhead

Eighties retro: Brolin’s central foyer has marble tiling and opens up to a dining room and living room with a grand staircase leading to a wall of shelving and large chandelier overhead

Hungry? The Avengers: Endgame action star's modest-sized kitchen has a double-wide island and oak cabinets leading to an adjoining breakfast nook

Hungry? The Avengers: Endgame action star’s modest-sized kitchen has a double-wide island and oak cabinets leading to an adjoining breakfast nook

Take a seat! Josh's family room has sliding doors leading to the backyard as well as a wet bar and a whitewashed brick corner fireplace

Take a seat! Josh’s family room has sliding doors leading to the backyard as well as a wet bar and a whitewashed brick corner fireplace

Backyard: Brolin's estate sits on half an acre featuring a lushly-planted garden, wooden pergola terrace for outdoor dinning, as well as a lagoon-style swimming pool and hot tub

Backyard: Brolin’s estate sits on half an acre featuring a lushly-planted garden, wooden pergola terrace for outdoor dinning, as well as a lagoon-style swimming pool and hot tub

Brolin’s estate sits on half an acre featuring a lushly-planted garden, wooden pergola terrace for outdoor dinning, as well as a lagoon-style swimming pool and hot tub.

The Joe Biden supporter’s personal assistant-turned-third wife Kathryn Boyd announced on August 22 that they had already started moving into their 1.5-acre property in the Georgia suburbs.

The Midheaven Denim owner – celebrating her 33rd birthday this Monday – will welcome a sibling to their nearly two-year-old daughter Westlyn Reign in late November. 

'Decided to skip out on our beloved Cali!' The Joe Biden supporter's personal assistant-turned-third wife Kathryn Boyd announced on August 22 that they had already started moving into their 1.5-acre property in the Georgia suburbs

‘Decided to skip out on our beloved Cali!’ The Joe Biden supporter’s personal assistant-turned-third wife Kathryn Boyd announced on August 22 that they had already started moving into their 1.5-acre property in the Georgia suburbs 

Celebrating her 33rd birthday this Monday! The Midheaven Denim owner will welcome a sibling to their nearly two-year-old daughter Westlyn Reign (L) in late November (pictured August 31)

Celebrating her 33rd birthday this Monday! The Midheaven Denim owner will welcome a sibling to their nearly two-year-old daughter Westlyn Reign (L) in late November (pictured August 31)

'My kids and their Mama': Josh also has two grown children - daughter Eden, 25; and son Trevor, 31 - from his first marriage to Alice Adair (R), which ended in 1994 after six years (pictured January 22)

‘My kids and their Mama’: Josh also has two grown children – daughter Eden, 25; and son Trevor, 31 – from his first marriage to Alice Adair (R), which ended in 1994 after six years (pictured January 22)

Josh also has two grown children – son Trevor, 32; and daughter Eden, 25 – from his first marriage to Alice Adair, which ended in 1994 after six years.

Kathryn – who boasts 126K Instagram followers – wrote last Monday that they’re already missing Brolin’s famous father James and stepmother Barbra Streisand.      

When the 78-year-old EGOT champ isn’t doting on her granddaughter Westlyn, she keeps busy caring for her three cloned Malteses Fanny, Scarlet, and Violet.    

'Missing our Cali quarantine pod in a big big way!' Kathryn wrote last Monday that they're already missing Brolin's famous father James (R) and stepmother Barbra Streisand (M)

‘Missing our Cali quarantine pod in a big big way!’ Kathryn wrote last Monday that they’re already missing Brolin’s famous father James (R) and stepmother Barbra Streisand (M)

'So fun playing with my dogs today!' When the 78-year-old EGOT champ isn't doting on her granddaughter Westlyn, she keeps busy caring for her three cloned Malteses Fanny, Scarlet, and Violet (pictured Saturday)

‘So fun playing with my dogs today!’ When the 78-year-old EGOT champ isn’t doting on her granddaughter Westlyn, she keeps busy caring for her three cloned Malteses Fanny, Scarlet, and Violet (pictured Saturday)

The Goonies alum next play weapons master Gurney Halleck opposite Timothée Chalamet in Denis Villeneve’s two-part sci-fi epic Dune, which won’t hit US/UK theaters until October 1, 2021.

Warner Bros. adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel also features Javier Bardem, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Oscar Isaac, and Rebecca Ferguson.

Sir Patrick Stewart originated the role of Gurney Halleck in David Lynch’s dismally-reviewed 1984 film, which only earned $37.9M back from its $42M budget.

It won't hit US/UK theaters until October 1, 2021! The Goonies alum next play weapons master Gurney Halleck opposite Timothée Chalamet (R) in Denis Villeneve's two-part sci-fi epic Dune

It won’t hit US/UK theaters until October 1, 2021! The Goonies alum next play weapons master Gurney Halleck opposite Timothée Chalamet (R) in Denis Villeneve’s two-part sci-fi epic Dune





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California Headline USA Ohio

Silicon-Valley start-up launches ‘Nespresso machine’ for whisky


Barrel-aged whisky, rum or brandy in just three to five DAYS: Silicon-Valley start-up launches ‘Nespresso machine’ for spirits which claims to accelerate the ageing and create specific flavours

  • Bespoken Spirits exposes alcohol to ‘micro staves’ of wood and applies pressure 
  • Company likened the process to a ‘Nespresso machine on an industrial scale’ 
  • The technology reproduces the ‘chemical fingerprints’ of aged liquors and can tailor tastes, colors and aromas as required, the company said 

A Silicon-Valley start-up has launched a ‘Nespresso machine’ for spirits which they say can speed up the ageing process of whisky, rum or brandy to between three or five days.  

California-based Bespoken Spirits’ technology involves exposing alcohol to ‘micro staves’ of different woods under pressure. They compared their process to a ‘Nespresso machine on an industrial scale’. 

The company, which was founded by materials scientists Martin Janousek and entrepreneur Stu Aaron, say they can reproduce the ‘chemical fingerprint’ of aged spirits and tailor tastes, colors and aromas as required.  

Bespoken Spirits claims it can reproduce taste of barrel-aged drinks in days. Pictured: Bespoken Spirits’ ‘American Light Whisky’ 

Bespoken Spirits claims it can reproduce taste of barrel-aged drinks in days. Pictured: Bespoken Spirits’ ‘Bourbon Mash Whisky’

Mr Aaron told the Financial Times: ‘Rather than putting a spirit into a barrel and passively waiting for nature to take its course over decades, our technology instils the barrel into the spirit, delivering a premium-quality tailored spirit in days rather than decades.’ 

Bespoken say the process uses just three per cent of the wood involved in barrel ageing and just a fraction of the energy. 

It claims to retain the so-called ‘angel’s share’, which is the first 50 bottles of spirit that usually evaporates during the maturation process.  

The company’s launch on Wednesday was not welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association [SWA], which said the requirement of maturation in casks to legally sell a product as whisky ‘protect[s] the reputation’ of the spirit. 

‘Other spirits produced with other techniques should be labelled in a way which doesn’t take unfair advantage of that reputation,’ it added.    

The SWA said they would take legal action ‘all over the world’ against any company seeking to compete with Scotch Whisky without meeting the legal requirement to do so. 

Bespoken say the process uses just three per cent of the wood involved in barrel ageing, and just a fraction of the energy. Pictured: The chemical ageing process used by Bespoken Spirits

Bespoken say the process uses just three per cent of the wood involved in barrel ageing, and just a fraction of the energy. Pictured: The chemical ageing process used by Bespoken Spirits

In certain countries, including the UK and EU, a spirit must be aged in casks for three years to legally call itself whisky. The US, however, does not specify an ageing process. 

Distillers across the US have been experimenting with the ageing process, often while retaining some aspects of the traditional method. 

Lost Spirits, based in California, use a chemical reactor to accelerate their ageing process. Ohio-based Cleveland Whiskey pour its spirits in tanks with barrel wood and applies pressure.    

Bespoken won two gold medals at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and ‘best of category’ for craft blended whisky at the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits. The company also won two awards last year. 

The company said they have been offered the chance to make spirits for a US grocery chain and drinks for bars and restaurants.  

Bespoken, whose investors include National Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, has set its eyes on using expired beer that was unused during lockdown as a base for a new spirit.  

According to the Financial Times, some analysts say the rapid ageing process may struggle to replicate certain processes that produce fruity aromas.   

Sampling the company’s Bourbon, Portland-based review site Whiskey Wash called most of their offerings ‘young’ or ‘rushed’

‘I would not kick it out of my liquor cabinet, but there was very little that was exciting about this drink either,’ the review site reads.  

‘Easy to drink, but it tastes young.’

How is whisky made?

The flavor of whisky depends on a slew of factors, including the type of grains used, the distillation technique, and above all else, the ageing process.

Step 1: Malting

Barley is soaked for two to three days in warm water and then spread on the floor of a building called a malting house. This converts the starch in barley into soluble sugars to make alcohol.

Step 2: Mashing

The ground-down malt, now called ‘grist’, is added to water to extract soluble sugars. The combination of malt and water is called ‘mash’. After the sugars dissolve, the resulting liquid becomes ‘wort’.

Step 3: Fermentation

The wort is cooled and yeast is added to it to begin fermentation. The type of grains used in the fermentation process defines what type of whiskey you’ll end up with.

Step 4: Distillation 

Distillation separates the different chemicals in the mixture based on their boiling points.

Step 5: Maturation 

The whiskey is put into oak casks and stored. It matures in the casks for a minimum of three years. The ethanol causes it to leech flavor chemicals out of the wood. These barrels can be charred with flames to produce additional smokey flavors.





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Delhi The Buzz

Army builds memorial in Ladakh for soldiers killed in Galwan Valley clash


New Delhi, October 3

The Indian Army has built a memorial for its 20 personnel who were killed while valiantly fighting Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15, official sources said on Saturday.

The memorial, located at Post 120 in eastern Ladakh and inaugurated earlier this week, mentions the heroics of the ‘Gallants of Galwan’ under operation ‘Snow Leopard’ and the way they evicted the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops from the area while inflicting “heavy casualties” on them in “hand-to-hand combat”.

China is yet to disclose the number of its soldiers killed and injured in the clash though it officially admitted to have suffered casualties. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.

Post 120 lies along the Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) road. The names of all the 20 Indian Army personnel were inscribed at the unit-level memorial.

Colonel B Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment, was among the Indian Army personnel killed in the clash that had significantly escalated the border tension between the two countries with India calling it “a premeditated and planned action by China”.

The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs in carrying out brutal attacks on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China around patrolling point 14 in Galwan Valley.

Giving a brief account of Operation “Snow Leopard”, the Army mentioned in a plaque at the memorial that Colonel Babu led the ‘Quick Reaction Force’ of 16 Bihar Regiment and attached troops tasked to evict a group of Chinese troops from the general area in ‘Y nala’ (a junction) and stop them from moving further to Patrolling Point 14.

“The column successfully evicted the PLA OP from Y Nala and reached PP14 where a fierce skirmish broke out between the IA (Indian Army) and PLA troops. Col B Santosh Babu led from the front and his troops fought gallantly in hand-to-hand combat, causing heavy casualties to the PLA. In the ensuing fight twenty ‘Gallants of Galwan’ achieved martyrdom,” the Army wrote.

The list of 20 personnel in the memorial included three naib subedars, three havildars and 12 sepoys.

The defence ministry has also started the process to inscribe the names of Colonel Babu and other soldiers at the National War Memorial in Delhi.

During a visit to Lukung forward post in eastern Ladakh on July 17, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh personally conveyed his appreciation and compliments to the troops from the Bihar regiment for displaying exemplary grit and courage in fighting the Chinese troops.

In his address to the soldiers, the defence minister said the Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clash not only showed exemplary courage in safeguarding the border but also protected the pride of 130 crore Indians.

Army Chief Gen M M Naravane has already awarded ‘Commendation Cards’ to five soldiers of the unit for their bravery in dealing with Chinese troops during the Galwan Valley clashes as well as confronting them in Pangong Tso in May.

India and China are locked in a five-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained bilateral ties.

Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff. — PTI





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