Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Draconian Olympic Act

The Olympic symbol is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world. Is it so easy to use?

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, restricts the use of words associated with the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London.

These words include 2012, Twenty twelve, Two thousand and twelve in conjunction with medals, London, sponsors, summer, games, gold, silver and bronze in combination except by those who are official sponsors of the games.

Businesses who are not official sponsors of the Games cannot use any marks that could suggest the Olympics. These include words with “Olympi—” prefixes, the interlocking rings symbol and the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius.”

The action taken

The act also allows the Games’ authorities to enter private residences and may use “reasonable force” to remove the infringing material whether commercial or non-commercial use.

The person guilty shall be fined an amount not exceeding £20,000

Used to combat ambush marketing

The draconian measures to protect the trademark are used to prevent ambush marketing. Ambush marketing enables brand owners who are not official sponsors of the Games to be associated with the Games.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in USA, Nike bought billboard space around the venues and constructed a Nike Village near the athletes’ village. Nike went to the extent of distributing Nike flags, ‘ambushing’ Reebok, the official sponsor. Nike was immediately asked to take down their banners and the village but by then the damage was already done. Television audiences were asked to recall the names of official sponsors. 22% cited Nike while only 16% cited the official sponsors, Reebok.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several countries were tuned into the Opening Ceremonies. Olympic gymnast Li Ning lit the torch. Li Ning owns a shoe company with the same name and is a direct rival of Adidas in China. Adias was an official Olympic sponsor. The irony though was that Li Ning was wearing Adidas clothing during the ceremony.

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Winter Wonderland opens at Hyde Park

It is mid-November and the festive season of Christmas has begun in Hyde Park in London.

Twenty acres of Hyde Park has been transformed into a fair and Christmas market called the Winter Wonderland. Entry is free but you have to pay for the games, rides, observation wheel, circus, ice-skating and food.

Winter Wonderland is open from November 19, 2010 to January 4, 2011 from 10 am to 10 pm.

Things to do

Winter Wonderland is an ideal outing for the whole family. The event has something to offer to all age groups. “This place is really good. The lights, decoration and Christmas carols being played has has gotten me into the Christmas spirit more than a month before Christmas,” says Jackie Smith, a visitor.

Families can enjoy shows in a heated big top or a cosy meal in restaurants. Small children can enjoy the carousel or the helter-skelter. Older children can enjoy the rollercoaster called the Euro Coaster, outdoor ice-skating, the giant observation wheel and other rides such as the Black Hole and Power Tower. Young children can visit Santa’s free grotto to meet Santa Claus and receive a gift.

One popular activity for people of all ages is ice-skating called the Lidl Magical Rink. “I want to go ice-skating but I have never done it before and I am just too scared,” says Sam Blake. The ice-skating rink is the largest open-air rink spread over 15,000 square feet created from 405,000 pints of frozen water. There are several ice guides to help those who have never used skates before.

For those who want a glimpse of London, the giant observation wheel is an excellent alternative to London Eye.

Food and Markets

Angel’s Christmas Market is at the entrance of Hyde Park. There are over a hundred stalls featuring arts and crafts, jewellery, wooden toys, decorations and more from around the world.

The German Christmas Market has a range of wooden huts offering continental food and sweets like roasted nuts, gingerbread hearts, crepes and confectionary.

The Bavarian Village is an impressive wooden structure that offers Bavarian Hog Roast, seasoned steaks and hearty German Bratwurst sausages. Accompanied by the German food are Bavarian chilled beer and warming ‘Glühwein‘ (German Mulled Wine).

The English style cafés and bars serve real ales, pies, fish and chips, hot cider and other gourmet.

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How is Britain going to suffer from the Irish bailout?

The UK is not obliged to contribute, but decided to offer support amounting to the equivalent of £300 per household because of the close trading relationship with Dublin.

Speaking to The Telegraph, former Conservative Cabinet minister John Redwood said that European Central Bank should be responsible for ensuring Ireland remains solvent and claimed the burden should not fall on Britain’s shoulders because we are not part of the Euro single currency.

Mr Redwood, who is co-chairman of the Conservative Policy Review Group on economic competitiveness, told Channel 4 News: “I don’t think this is Britain’s problem; I think it’s a Euro area problem. Ireland is part of the Euro because it wanted to be. It is the duty of the European Central Bank to make sure that their banks are solvent and liquid.”

Impact of the bailout on Britain

Sam Bowman, head of research at Adam Smith Institute, the free market think tank said that the Government’s decision to offer around £7 billion in aid, including direct loans, to Dublin, was a “bad deal” for Britain.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom confirmed that Britain would provide an international rescue package of around £7bn to support Ireland.

“What we have committed to do is to obviously be partners as shareholders in the IMF in an international rescue of the Irish economy,” Osborne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But we have also made a commitment to consider a bilateral loan that reflects the fact we are not part of the euro but Ireland is our very closest economic neighbour.”

UK anger

Twitter users from the UK have condemned the governments decision to provide a financial bailout to Ireland. AnnJ says “Is the UK so rich that it can afford to bailout Ireland?” JohnnyLee5 says, “We cannot take this lying down. The government should not be so generous.”

Ireland’s request for a financial bailout

After weeks of speculation into the financial situation in Ireland, the country has come out in the open and has asked for help of £16bn.

Speaking to Channel 4, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said, “The European authorities have agreed to our request. A formal process of negotiation will lead to the provision of assistance on the basis of programme to be negotiated by the government with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund in liaison with the European Central Bank.”

For over a week, the Irish administration insisted that they did not need financial help. This has left the public angry as they feel thy have been lied to.

People of Ireland have vented out their anger on Twitter. “When have we ever been told the truth about our economy?” asks Bond123 on Twitter. Alpha says, “First they take Northern Ireland and then the entire Ireland will go into UK pocket.”

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No More Harry Potter :(

It seems like yesterday that Harry Potter and his friends started out at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This is me at Platform 9¾ at King's Cross station in London

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been around since 1997 with the release of the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The series has been a great part of my teenage years.

I was introduced to the series in 2002 when I was 15. By then, the first four books and the first film had already released. I do not usually read fiction but the Harry Potter series was an exception.

After reading a few pages from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I was impressed by J. K. Rowling’s ingenious creativity and imagination. I was hooked onto the series instantly and went on to the next book in the series. I have been in the same age group of Harry and his friends since the beginning of the series.

By the time, the last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released in 2007, I had become a Harry Potter maniac and found myself standing first in the line at the bookstore to get my hands on the first copy before they were sold out. I even made a special trip to London’s King’s Cross station to take a picture at Platform 9¾.

Books vs. Films

I have always complained that the films never matched up to the standards of the book in terms of delivering suspense and excitement. In spite of this, I have made it a point to watch the first day first show of all the Harry Potter films in whichever part of the world I am in. After years of attachment and months of anticipation, I went for the first day first show of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I yesterday at 0900 GMT. I booked a ticket for the movie a month in advance.

The movies have tried to follow the books storyline. However, what the book can say in over a thousand pages, a film cannot portray it in about two hours. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have been divided into two parts. Part I released worldwide yesterday and Part II releases in July next year.

I feel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has for the first time, done justice to the book. The film finally found a way to tell J. K. Rowling’s story to the world.

The end of an era

As I was watching the movie, it dawned on me that the movie was the end of an era. The series has touched millions of hearts, including mine. I have spent almost a decade being a dedicated Harry Potter fan. For me the novels and the films are more than just a story. It is a part of my life. I have witnessed the characters come to life on the big screen. The end of the series, in a way, signals the end of my teenage years.

In July 2011, bidding farewell to Harry Potter will be like saying goodbye to an old friend. From then on there would be no more Harry Potter books to read or Harry Potter films to watch. Harry Potter will always be “the boy who lived”.

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Who will foot the Royal wedding bill?

Prince William is going to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton.

After months of speculation, Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales announced today the engagement of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in October 2010 during their holiday in Kenya. The Royal wedding is expected to take place in the spring or the summer of 2011 in London.

The couple, both 28, met in 2001 at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland.

The cost of the wedding

The cost of the Royal union is likely to run into millions of pounds and will be largely met by public funds. The main expenditure will be the huge security bill. Securing the Royal Family, VIP guests and the important locations will be the expense. The high-profile royal wedding will be draw thousands of fans and onlookers who will surround the venue.

In last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the Queen agreed to cut the Royal Household expenditure by 14% in 2012-13. The Buckingham Palace has cancelled its £50,000 Christmas party this year in view of reducing public expenditure.

The Department of Culture shells out an annual cost of £15m towards the upkeep and maintenance of royal palaces. The department has demanded that maintenance costs and Royal travel costs should be reduced by 25%.

Who will pay?

When the debt-ridden city of London is facing spending cuts and people are getting laid off work, it would be unfair for taxpayers to pay for the royal wedding. If taxpayers do end up paying, they probably could demand an invite to the extravaganza.

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A sneak peak into The Christie

I was in Manchester over the weekend and was privileged to have a preview of the new £35 million Christie cancer centre.

The Christie is the world’s largest clinical trials unit.

Chemotherapy chair for day patients

The Christie is the world’s largest clinical trials unit for cancer and the largest cancer treatment centre in Europe. The Christie registers around 12,500 new patients and treats about 40,000 patients every year.

The hospital has one of the largest clinical trials units in the United Kingdom for phase I/II cancer trials, with around 1,200 patients going on new trials.

The day patient treatment centre includes 70 beds, 65 treatment chairs, 19 consulting suites, blood room, pharmacy, researching sample processing laboratory and a state of the art pod system for transporting items around the Christie.

The centre will treat 600 patients a week and around 2,400 patients a year will be treated in the new clinical trials unit – double the number we currently treat.

The architecture

The centre has been designed in consultation with patients, using environmental friendly materials and maximising on the use of natural light.  A large glass atrium on the second floor will also maximise natural light and help create a peaceful atmosphere.

Undertaking research that will save lives.

The current cancer treatment is not always successful, the Christie wants to improve the condition of people with these diseases so that they can be better treated and the quality of life is improved. Professor John Radford, The Christie consultant and director of research says, “The way we do that is by running clinical trials. Over the last 20-30 years there have been huge improvements. We want to improve cancer outcomes for people with cancer as well as host clinical research.”

“Research taken in the centre will provide patients locally with the best possible care and will affect cancer research globally,” said Caroline Shaw, chief executive at The Christie.

Improving patient care with the UK’s largest chemotherapy unit

The centre has new chemotherapy services that will provide much better facilities for people receiving standard chemotherapy. “We can do everything is a more integrated and efficient manner. Our patients are at the heart of everything we do at the Christie. This centre will provide the best possible care for patients at the time of difficulty in their lives,” says Caroline.

“Everything we do is for cancer patients. It’s their stories that inspire us,” says Caroline

Kim, 19, from Blackpool was diagnosed with rare bone cancer in August 2009 and took part in the clinical trial. “It really scared me at first when they told me it was cancer as everything was going to change. I went through an intense six cycles of chemotherapy. Sometime I got the feeling that I just don’t want to carry on. I used to feel very drained by it. All the nurses were very helpful and supportive and that helped a lot to stay positive,” says Kim.

Nichola, 48, from Cheshire was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009. Her treatment included chemotherapy. “The Christie people were fantastic. They make you feel that cancer happens and that they have got the treatment and expertise. Now I have to visit my oncologist once every six months,” says Nichola.

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From the Bulgarian border to a radio station

For Mladen Petkov, the Bulgarian Army taught him that life was not a bed of roses.

Since his childhood, Mladen enjoyed a comfortable life and was spoiled by his

Mladen Petkov

parents. On 1 April 1997, his friends told him to join the Bulgarian Army. What was supposed to be an April Fool’s Day prank, turned out to be true when he received a phone call asking him to join the Army.

Mladen joined the Bulgarian military as part of the compulsory military service when he was 17-years-old. “I did not like it as I was forced into it,” says Mladen. He was posted at a railway station at the border of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece and had to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.

The challenges

During his time in the army, Mladen faced several challenges. Right from rigorous training regimes to long hours of work and horrible living conditions, Mladen battled it all with courage. “We lived in a forest and had to cut wood and use it to cook food,” says Mladen.

During winter, Mladen had to battle the freezing cold. “One traveller coming from Germany gave me expensive whiskey and I drank 200 ml of it,” he says.

Mladen did not like the hierarchy there as Superiors used to bully them several times. “One day I reached saturation point and threw my helmet and said that I will not do anymore work. As a result of that, the superiors told all of us to run 5 kilometres more,” Mladen informs.

Life after the army

At the end of his one-year stint with the army, Mladen came out as a mature young man who had learnt many lessons for life. He says, “I have learned about positive thinking and how not to be bogged down by what people do or say.” Mladen can now detect a fake passport with just a glance.

After completing his military service, Mladen returned to his first love – the radio. Mladen has worked on several profiles in different radio stations since the last 14 years. He worked as a newscaster on FM Plus. He then went to Radio Atlantic in Sofia as a weekend radio jockey and went on to become the interim programme director. “I did not like being the programme director as it involved shooting down peoples ideas and firing them,” Mladen says.

Mladen has a bachelors degree in Clinical Social Work. He had to conduct interviews with drug addicts. Interviewing drug addicts has been his most fulfilling interview.Interviewing them has improved his interviewing skills on the radio. “While interviewing people, the interviewer and the interviewee are always at the same level,” says Mladen Petkov.

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