Chinese crime film wins top Berlin prize

 The Berlin Film Festival’s top prize has gone to the Chinese crime film “Black Coal, Thin Ice” directed by Diao Yinan. Best Director went to Richard Linklater for “Boyhood.” Best Actress went to Japan’s Haru Kuroki.
Berlinale Preisverleihung Goldener Bär 2014 Berlin Goldener Bär Bester Film
The Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival was awarded Saturday to the Chinese entry “Black Coal, Thin Ice.” Diao (pictured) crafted a crime story about a suspended policeman turned detective investigating a mysterious series of killings.

The film, whose Chinese title is “Bai Ri Yan Huo,” also captured the Silver Bear best actor award for its star Liao Fan.

“It’s really hard to believe that this dream has come true which didn’t come true for such a long time,” a tearful Diao said during his acceptance speech.

The picture is set in the late 1990s in northern China and its mystery plot is told through a set of enigmatic flashbacks.

Liao put on weight to play the alcoholic suspended police officer who falls hard for a mysterious murder suspect (Gwei Lun Mei).

Diao’s winning entry was one of three Chinese films in Berlin’s main 23-movie competition this year.

Strong Asian showing

Haru Kuroki of Japan was awarded Berlin’s prize for best actress for playing a discreet housemaid in wartime Tokyo in Yoji Yamada’s “The Little House” that was directed by veteran filmmaker Yoji Yamada.

“I will take this happiness and joy for winning the prize back to Japan,” Kuroki said, wearing a kimono.

Best director for ‘Boyhood’

Richard Linklater won the Silver Bear as best director for “Boyhood,” an epic filmed over 12 years about a boy growing up with chaotic divorced parents. It follows a boy and his family from first grade to college.

“I accept it on behalf of the more than 400 people who worked on my movie,” said Linklater, clutching the trophy. “This says best director but I want to think of it as best ensemble.”

The festival’s runner-up Silver Bear Grand Jury prize went to US director Wes Anderson for his nostalgic movie ” The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which was set against the backdrop of the buildup to the Second World War.

The picture starring Ralph Fiennes had opened the Berlinale on February 6.

Best screenplay

The Silver Bear for best screenplay went to “Stations of the Cross,” a German film starring Lea van Acken about a 14-year-old girl who falls victim to a fundamentalist Catholic sect.

The awards were decided by an eight-person jury headed by American director and producer James Schamus. Some 400 films were screened, 23 of them in the competition category.

The Ethiopian film “Difret”, based on a real case of bride abduction in Ethiopia, took the audience award.

The Berlin festival, officially called the Berlinale, is one of the oldest and most prestigious film showcases in the world. This year’s lineup included more than 400 films overall.

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Harvard Overpaid for Timber as Romanian Agent Held for Bribery

An investment agent who represented Harvard University faces charges in Romania that he took more than $1 million in bribes to induce the school to buy forest land at inflated prices.

Dragos Lipan Secu arranged with unnamed sellers to artificially boost prices that Scolopax, a Harvard-owned company, paid for timberland between 2007 and 2009, anti-corruption prosecutors said in a statementJan. 21, the day after Lipan Secu was arrested.

Lipan Secu collected bribes valued at 4.45 million lei ($1.3 million), as well as a 2007 trip to the Canary Islands and a Chrysler Sebring car, prosecutors said. He was also charged with money laundering, and his wife, Mariana, was arrested for complicity. The two are being held in preventive custody in Bihor county and are facing more than 10 years in jail.

“This whole matter harmed Scolopax’s shareholders because the forest lands were overpriced and the difference went to the defendants,” Livia Saplacan, a Bucharest-based spokeswoman for the Romanian Anti-Corruption Department, said in a telephone interview.

The pair were caught when two people who allegedly paid the bribes reported the Lipan Secus to authorities, prosecutors said. Under Romanian law, a person who reports a crime before it comes to the attention of prosecutors receives immunity, Saplacan said, adding that the sellers won’t be investigated.

Phone Disconnected

Attempts to reach Lipan Secu through a mobile-phone listing were unsuccessful. The publicly listed telephone number for Scolopax no longer works. Scolopax, based in Brasov, Romania, is owned by Harvard through an investment entity called Phemus Corp., according to the university’s tax filings.

“We are aware of the allegations and gathering further information,” Kevin Galvin, a spokesman for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard, said in an e-mail.

Neither Harvard nor prosecutors would say how much Scolopax may have overpaid for its forests.

The matter is an unseemly one for Harvard, the world’s wealthiest university, which prides itself at identifying esoteric investment opportunities such as third-world forestry, said Jack Lutz, a consultant on timberland investing at Forest Research Group in Rowley, Massachusetts.

Harvard University, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has an endowment worth $32.7 billion.

‘Risky Places’

“They’re going into some risky places but maybe here’s one that isn’t going to work out well for them,” said Lutz, who formerly worked for Boston-based Hancock Timber Resource Group, the world’s largest timberland manager for institutional investors.

Prosecutors said Lipan Secu was managing director for Scolopax. The university said he was a contractor rather than an employee.

“The matter in Romania pertains to actions of an outside contractor who is no longer associated with Harvard Management Co.,” which oversees the school’s endowment, Galvin said. The relationship with Lipan Secu ended in December 2012, he said.

In 2010, Lipan Secu was listed as executive director of Oriolus Srl in the Journal of Economic Agents. Oriolus, which specialized in timber and forestry, had the same address as Scolopax. Galvin declined to comment about Oriolus. Harvard doesn’t own the company, according to the university’s tax filings.

Harvard Management has been increasing investments in natural resources in foreign countries, including timberlands that are farmed for paper and wood products.

Exploring Timberland

Jane Mendillo, president and chief executive officer of Harvard Management, began exploring timberland as an investment in the 1990s when she was a vice president. The company sold its U.S. tree farms in the past decade and began making similar purchases overseas, including in New Zealand and most recently in Brazil.

Ziarul Financiar, a daily newspaper based in Bucharest, reported in 2011 that Harvard had emerged as the largest owner of forests in Romania after the state government, controlling 35,000 hectares through Scolopax, as well as 2,000 hectares of farmland in the country. Harvard’s endowment was valued at $32.7 billion as of June 2013.

The arrests point to a need for greater oversight of entities used for overseas investment, the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition said in a press release. The group has also criticized Harvard-owned companies’ operation of tree farms in South America.

Scolopax had assets of $126 million as of June 30, 2012, according to a tax filing by Phemus, which is incorporated as a nonprofit entity and based in Boston.

Vudu will soon let you send movies to your Chromecast

Vudu on Android

There isn’t exactly an abundance of major movie services that will send video to a Chromecast; for the most part, Google Play Movies and Netflix still rule the roost. It’s a good thing, then, that Vudu has announced plans to support the TV media adapter through both updated mobile apps and Chrome on the desktop. The provider won’t say just when Chromecast support is coming other than “soon,” but early adopters can register for a beta test. Either way, it’s clear that Vudu still wants its video platform on every living room device you own.

Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans

The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, Ocean Cleanup Array, Boyan Slat, pacific garbage patch, garbage patch, plastic fibres, plastic foodchain, plastic recycling, TED, gyres

19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling.

At school, Boyan Slat launched a project that analyzed the size and amount of plastic particles in the ocean’s garbage patches. His final paper went on to win several prizes, including Best Technical Design 2012 at the Delft University of Technology. Boyan continued to develop his concept during the summer of 2012, and he revealed it several months later at TEDxDelft 2012.

The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, Ocean Cleanup Array, Boyan Slat, pacific garbage patch, garbage patch, plastic fibres, plastic foodchain, plastic recycling, TED, gyres,

Slat went on to found The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization which is responsible for the development of his proposed technologies. His ingenious solution could potentially save hundreds of thousands of aquatic animals annually, and reduce pollutants (including PCB and DDT) from building up in the food chain. It could also save millions per year, both in clean-up costs, lost tourism and damage to marine vessels.

It is estimated that the clean-up process would take about five years, and it could greatly increase awareness about the world’s plastic garbage patches. On his site Slat says, “One of the problems with preventive work is that there isn’t any imagery of these ‘garbage patches’, because the debris is dispersed over millions of square kilometres. By placing our arrays however, it will accumulate along the booms, making it suddenly possible to actually visualize the oceanic garbage patches. We need to stress the importance of recycling, and reducing our consumption of plastic packaging.” To find out more about the project and to contribute, click here.

UK weather live updates: Terror storm kills 2 as 85mph gales rip across Britain

Snow, ice , floods and even FIRE wreak havoc as UK is battered once again by storms

7:53 am
Carl Harris has described to the BBC how he endured the “landing from hell” last night as he flew back from Oslo after circling London for about 30 minutes.

He wrote: “Came into land, skewing all over the place, just about to touchdown when engines were fully powered up and headed straight back up.

“Captain advised that Air Traffic Control aborted landing after something went across runway.

“Took another 10 minutes to attempt second landing, again coming in towards the runway, the intensity of the winds never abated and even as we were touching down the plane was all over the place from side to side and front lifting.

“Thankfully made it with applause sounding immediately amongst the passengers. ”

However, if poor Carl, from Cardiff, thought that was the end he then had to drive home as the worst of the storm hit the country.

He added: “I then endured the drive down the M4 to Cardiff with the gales, lashing rain, lorries swerving into lanes with the powerful gusts, tree branches and debris blowing across the lanes. Thankfully made it home safe and sound unscathed from the experience.”

7:48 am

Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers has told BBC Breakfast that the insurance industry is dealing with “hundreds of thousands of claims” and that there is “no end in sight”.

7:01 am

A man who was killed in North Wales yesterday after being hit by a falling tree in his back garden has been named as Bob Thomas.

Mr Thomas, aged 77, was moving hens in his garden in in Caeathro, Caernarfon when the incident happened.

He was taken to hospital in Bangor where he sadly died.

6:58 am

Forecasters are warning of more heavy rainfall and gale-force winds today. Southern England will see between 10mm-20mm (0.4in – 0.8in), while the South West and south Wales could see up to 40mm (1.6in), the Met Office said.

Winds have wrought fresh havoc, with gusts of up to 80mph hitting exposed parts of the south coast.

6:57 am

There is major disruption across Britain’s road and rail networks, with hundreds of trees uprooted across roads and rail tracks. Many train services have been cancelled.

The Environment Agency and emergency services continue to battle with the latest instalment of the worst winter storms in living memory.

6:04 am

Train services continue to suffer disruption this morning as gale force winds and heavy rain batter Britain.

First Great Western has advised passengers on the Paddington to Reading route not to travel unless “absolutely necessary.”

“Network Rail has confirmed that floodwater is likely to continue to affect trackside signalling and safety equipment for some time.

“While they work to fix the problem we will only be able to run five trains an hour between Paddington and Reading in each direction. This is around a fifth of the services that would normally be scheduled.

“This will continue until Network Rail lets us know it is safe to run a full service again.

“We strongly advise customers not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary, and to consider alternative routes.”

Services across our network continue to be disrupted due to the recent bad weather. For details please visit http://t.co/O3nJm1ZvI8

— First Great Western (@FGW) February 15, 2014

6:00 am

Environment Agency reported to have warned that flooding will continue in some areas of the UK into March

5:32 am

Environment Agency Flood Map

Among those with severe flood warnings are the coast of south Cornwall, the River Thames at Hamm Court and the River Severn at Alney Island in Gloucester

5:25 am

The Environment Agency has currently issued 22 severe flood warnings covering parts of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey.

Stay with us for further updates throughout themorning.

22 severe flood warnings – visit our website to find out if your area is at risk http://t.co/J8tGZK9Gbs take care and be #floodaware

— Environment Agency (@EnvAgency) February 15, 2014

5:23 am

Outlook for for Monday and Tuesday:

Monday will see rain spreading east across the UK and turning to snow on the hills in Scotland. It will be quite windy in western areas again. Rain is not expected to reach into south-east England until the evening.

Tuesday will be a mild but rather damp day with showery spells of rain expected for many. More persistent rain is forecast for Scotland, but this will be rather light.

5:22 am

Weather forecast for today (from METEOGROUP UK):

A chilly night for many with clear spells. A few showers are expected in Northern Ireland, and in northern and western Britain. Showers in Scotland will turn wintry over hills. Very windy across the northern half of the UK, particularly near coasts.

Tomorrow will be chilly but largely dry start for many places. The odd shower is expected in northern and western areas, but it will be a fine day otherwise with spells of sunshine. Sunshine will become hazier in the west with showery rain edging into Northern Ireland and then westernmost parts of Britain.

4:41 am

Search for missing Ben Nevis walkers will resume later today, according to reports.

The pair went missing after apparently becoming disorientated when bad weather struck while they were at the summit of the mountain yesterday.

4:21 am

Video shows waves smashing into the sea front in Torquay, Devon.

The force of the wind and waves was demonstrated when a jet of water crashed into the cameraman.

Watch the video: Valentine’s Day storms at Torquay, Devon, UK

3:46 am

Emergency services and the army have rescued 32 people trapped in a beachfront restaurant.

Lymington coastguard, fire services and the army were called to the Marine Restaurant in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, at 10pm yesterday after wind-blown shingle smashed windows and a tidal surge flooded the ground floor.

A coastguard spokesman said: “The restaurant customers and staff moved upstairs while waiting to be rescued. They were evacuated in an Army vehicle. Conditions were described as extremely dangerous.”

Hampshire Police said there were no serious injuries.

2:59 am

Strong winds and driving rain are causing damage across the UK.

The stormy conditions are blowing off roof riles and felling trees all over the country.

so many trees & branches down, loads debris in road, roads closed, roads flooded, torrential rain, strong winds #UKstorm #goodtobehomesafe

— Anne Bradford (@AnneGBradford) February 15, 2014

2:55 am

Holborn building collapse:

London Fire Brigade said the concrete fascia of the building collapsed on to the car, which was in Kingsway.

Around 20 firefighters helped with the rescue, freeing the trapped pair from the car.

A spokesman said: “Another woman travelling in the car managed to get out of the vehicle before the brigade arrived.

“Around 10 people were evacuated from nearby buildings as a precaution.”

2:01 am

Heavy snow affected several parts of Scotland yesterday, with blizzard conditions reported on higher ground.

Snow gates were closed Braemar, Spittal of Glenshee and Cockbridge – Tomintoul.

Reports of the search came as the Scottish Government issued a warning to walkers and climbers.

Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games Shona Robison urged the public to be careful when visiting Scotland’s hills and mountains, with avalanche warnings in place across a number of popular destinations.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or one thousandth trip to a mountain you must prepare properly and check the weather and avalanche conditions as close as possible to departure,” she said.

“The majority of walkers and skiers have safe and enjoyable trips but lives can be easily lost. Scotland’s snow topped scenes are as potentially deadly as they are beautiful.”

1:50 am

Hill walkers go missing on Ben Nevis:

A rescue team is searching for two hill walkers missing on the UK’s highest peak.

The search was launched after the walkers became disorientated because of poor weather conditions on the summit of Ben Nevis in the Highlands, police said.

Police Scotland and Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team are co-ordinating the search, which is being resumed today.

Heavy snow affected several parts of Scotland yesterday, with blizzard conditions reported on higher ground.

1:14 am

A spokesman for London Ambulance Service said four people had been injured by falling masonry.

Paramedics rushed to the scene in central London to find four people injured including one woman in a car.

The spokesman said: “Sadly, despite extensive efforts a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

“A man in his mid 20s suffered leg injuries and was taken to the Royal London Hospital.

“Two other people – a woman and a man were taken to University College Hospital with minor injuries.”

12:55 am

Tragic news of the woman’s death outside Holborn Tube Station.

It has not yet been revealed why the building collapsed onto the car she was in.

A woman has died after a building collapsed onto her car opposite #Holborn Tube Station. A man has been taken to hospital #MPSnews

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) February 15, 2014

Happy Pi Day! It’s a celebration of all things round

picycle

So why is Pi Day green? We have justified it by noting that ” As Bucky Fuller would remind you, a circle encloses the maximum area per unit of perimeter, a sphere the maximum volume. It is theoretically the most efficient form,” and we are all about efficiency. That’s why we start with the Picycle, created by Tang Yau Hoong; it combines the efficiency (and round-ness) of the bike with Pi.

Last year our roundup included this important Pi Chart, among other stories.

Two years ago we showed this trivot on which you can cool your pi.

Warren started it all in 2008 with his paean to his favorite thing that goes round, the bicycle.

In case you feel like baking, here is Kelly’s recipe for Apple Pi.


More from the original article here.

11 Surreal Photos That Make Sochi Look Like The Summer Olympics

The official slogan for the Sochi Olympics is “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Prior to the Olympics we could not have anticipated just how prescient that would be.

With temperatures reaching the 60s on several days, the warm weather has wreaked havoc on some events.

But it has also created some amazing photos of the Olympics, both during the events and outside the venues. We collected 11 of our favorites from Getty, AP, and Reuters.

A volunteer takes a break to soak in some rays.

A volunteer takes a break to soak in some rays.

Lots of people are taking to the beach.Lots of people are taking to the beach.The water is even warm enough for some to swim.The water is even warm enough for some to swim.American cross country skier Sophie Caldwell switched to a tank top to deal with the heat.American cross country skier Sophie Caldwell switched to a tank top to deal with the heat.Some spectators ditched more than sleeves.Some spectators ditched more than sleeves. Such as this spectator at the cross-country course.Such as this spectator at the cross-country course.One man stripped down to his underwear before going in the water.One man stripped down to his underwear before going in the water.The Olympic Village at times looks like Central Park in the spring.The Olympic Village at times looks like Central Park in the spring.With temperatures reaching the low 60s, some turned to t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.With temperatures reaching the low 60s, some turned to t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.Chris Jepersen, a Norwegian cross country skier, cut the sleeves and legs off of his uniform.Chris Jepersen, a Norwegian cross country skier, cut the sleeves and legs off of his uniform.And of course, people love the beach.And of course, people love the beach.

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