Archive for the ‘Local and World News and Environmental’ Category

The Roman Colosseum is soon to undergo renovations, image courtesy of Sébastien Bertrand (Flickr- tiseb)

According to the BBC it was in september that the Italian government called for financial help with their project to renovate the Colosseum. Tod’s the Italian shoe brand answered the call.

The Italian government had asked for sponsors to come forward by October 31st but according to The Telegraph “the response was disappointing” and hopes of overseas investment was quashed as it just did not materialise.

Diego Della Valle, the head of the Tod’s shoe and bag empire, has stepped in and decided to pay for the entire renovation which is expected to take around three years.

According to The Telegraph the Italian was happy to pay the 25 million euro (£21 million) to uphold his country’s reputation. He is quoted by the paper saying that, “We believe it is a duty and an honour to help support our country’s image and credibility” he continued stating that Tod’s “want to save a monument that represents Italy abroad.”

Authorities in the capital have promised that despite the offer the advertising that the brand get in return will be discreet and tasteful.

Sponsorship of the Colosseum has already been called into question by an interviewee of the BBC. Darius Arya from the American Institute for Roman Culture, has voiced his concerns about the project.

He says, “We already see that much of central Rome is beginning to look like Times Square. It can be overwhelming to see some of the advertising hoardings on existing classical buildings.”

After a section of ceiling caved in back in May the government has been pushing for the restoration to begin.

It will involve cleaning the exterior walls, removal of the metal barriers which currently block access to the Colosseum’s ground level arches, and a possible ticket office being built outside.




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It sounds too good to be true, the power-house french label, Lanvin collaborating with H&M. There have been some collaborations in recent years but none so spine-tinglingly exciting.

The 48 piece collection focuses on cocktail hour clothing with dresses, jackets, jewellery and shoes, yes shoes!

Now you can own a little slice of designer heaven for a fraction of the price. Normally one would expect to pay substantially more for Lanvin’s fun and flirty designs but on the 23rd November fans can afford to indulge.

The maximum you will pay for a dress is £149.00.

The acid bright chandelier earrings that have an almost punky feel to them are a steal at £14.99.

Smoke net dress, £149.99, image from Fashionista.com

The Scoop

Grazia magazine, who got a sneak preview of the whole collection, spoke to creative director Alber Elbaz about the clothes. He revealed his need for everything to be happy and joyful;

‘The range is all about colours, shapes, flowers and happy clothes, inspired by creations from Lanvin’s recent past. It is very much about melodrama…and also full of humour.’

The colour palette is a blend of bright and youthful pinks and reds combined with some neutrals such as taupe and dark gold.

The standout pieces

One favourite item that will surely fly off the hangers is a seemingly strapless smoke net dress (seen above). It features the finest of nude meshes on top, a truly Elbaz touch, which is attached to a sweetheart bust in smoky grey net.

With its ribbon tie waist and full net skirt this dress is dainty and delicate whilst also being show-stopping, it also comes in fiery red.

Some of the other party dresses, frankly, couldn’t have landed sooner. The yellow asymmetric mini dress with ruffle neckline and black contrast waist band is a Grazia favourite.

Meanwhile the black evening jacket made from light-as-air tulle would sit beautifully over any cocktail dress adding sophistication and a note of Parisian elegance.

Round it all off with a pair of Lanvin for H&M heels, leopard print with ribbon ankle ties, and you are set to go for the winter party season.

See the must-have pieces HERE

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The BBC World Service has been an figurehead of British journalism since the 1930’s, now it faces cuts and is to be funded by the BBC’s licence fee money.

Just how will the broadcaster be affected if it is to be financially governed by a body already stretched and facing large spending cuts?

The World Service

The channel originally broadcast to British civilians serving the country in far flung outposts of its empire.

Since its first broadcast on 19th December 1932 the channel has established a firm reputation both at home and on an international level.

The BBC press office virtually beams with pride as it notes that Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, said in 1999 at the opening of the BBC’s Washington DC news bureau,

“The BBC World Service is perhaps Britain’s greatest gift to the world this century.”

After the spending review can the World Service retain its international reputation for excellence?

George Osbourne’s Spending Review

In his budget plan at Parliament Osbourne revealed that the current annual license fee of £145.50 will remain fixed for 6 years causing its funds to be reduced ‘similar to the savings made by government departments’.

The BBC has also committed to spend £340m of licence-fee money to fund the World Service, Welsh language channel S4C and BBC Monitoring by 2014-2015 The Guardian reports.

The Chancellor told the congregation that the move would ‘help every family’ in the country and that the government is now looking to save £340m from general taxation.

Hilary Clinton Fears for the BBC World Service

The Financial Times reported that the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, was worried at the move and feared for the quality of the service.

‘In a private meeting in Washington, Mrs Clinton told Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, of her worries that if the Foreign Office imposed cuts on the World Service in line with the general reductions of its spending, it could be badly damaged.’

BBC Boss Bites Back

The BBC director general Mark Thompson has since commented on the pressures placed on the corporation by the spending review revealing that content is still their main focus;

‘It will mean a leaner BBC, with fewer managers and much simpler processes and structures, which focuses above all on ensuring as much of the licence fee as possible is directed to high quality content.’

In a Guardian comment blog he continued to detail the positive side to the negotiations,

‘The BBC will have complete editorial and operational independence over these services [World Service and Monitoring] and, for the first time ever, international audiences will know that the services are funded not by the UK government, but directly by the British public.

How has the World Service Itself Reacted?

During the Over to You show Rajan Datar spoke to members of the public and various media enthusiasts in an attempt to glean a general feeling for the change.

He spoke to Torin Douglas the media correspondant at the BBC who said,

‘The trick will be to keep the best of The World Service and also the identity of The World Service while trying to build on the big BBC brand which is indeed a global brand.’

Rajan Datar noted that there will be programme closures, some of which are to go by march.

The Interview, World of Music, and special programming of Wimbledon are amongst the known list of shows to go.

Another guest speaker Sir Michael Lyons, who is chairman of BBC governing board the BBC Trust, was keen to reiterate the fact that people have always been paying for the service.

Previously they paid with their taxes and now they will pay through their licence fee.

What do you think?

Trevor Randall, 52, from West Sussex believes that the shift of funding for the World Service is a good        thing.

‘I don’t worry about The World Service’s content suffering, it is down to them, it’s their obligation to maintain standards.’

‘Every sector has to see cuts and now the BBC can focus on redirecting their funds in better ways.

‘There is a huge amount of duplication in the media so why should they [the BBC] try to do everything.’


Lucy Laycock, 22, from Harrow is not so optimistic about the future of The World Service.

‘I think its a real shame, the world service is one of the most prestigious services this country provides and gives the united kingdom a worldwide reputation of media excellence’.

‘I am sure the quality will be affected; the BBC is already stretched to its limit, as people demand news that is faster and more informed in troubled times.’

‘I do worry that the world service will fall to the wayside as people become obsessed with the here and the now.’



Phillip Marsh, 22, lives in Kent and is fearful about the quality of programming across the BBC.

‘My issue is how the cuts within the BBC will be allocated.’

‘It is hardly likely that the popular reality shows will be axed whereas the The World Service and the arts programming is not so safe. These are the programmes that are important and valuable to me.’

‘A public broadcast company should appeal to high culture, commercial interests can be dealt with by the populist TV and radio

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Jon Sopel with students

BBC correspondent and broadcaster Jon Sopel trekked all the way to Harrow for the benefit of students at the University of Westminster.

My class was lucky enought to have the insightful and dynamic political broadcaster discussing his career highs and lows for a full hour this evening.

With stories like you wouldn’t believe he entertained us and imparted some much appreciated advice.

‘There are jobs that will be better paid’ – Jon Sopel

I do not think for one second that any of the trainee journalists on my course, or in fact on the undergraduate pathway, have illusions of sizeable pay checks at the end of our year of study.

It was good to hear it voiced by someone who would actually know.

When he posed himself the question ‘would you change it if you could do it all again?

The response was reassuringly, ‘not a chance.’

This is the kind of speaker that you want to listen to.

The Stories

Over his career he has covered the Tsunami in Thailand, Hurricane Katrina and the hunt for Raoul Moat.

He has interviewed Gordon Brown, current PM David Cameron, David Beckham and Heather Mills.

And yet he also openly admitted his ‘blind terror’ during air raids in Kuwait City and his panicked fumbling to get a gas mask on in seven seconds.

A story that stuck in my mind was his shocking introduction to the darker side to the old adage of ‘getting stuck in’.

The Lockerbie Diaster

In 1988 as a young reporter he was asked to cover the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland.

Upon arrival in the small village, amongst a hoard of other reporters, he saw an opportunity and started chatting to a chinook helicopter crew member.

He secured a flight with helicopter but failed to ask for details about the excursion and found himself on mission to recover bagged bodies and air-lift them away from the site.

The experience stayed with him as a particularly shocking and unsettling time;

‘That Christmas was hard,’

he warned young, eager journalists;

‘So brace yourself for that’.

‘My Job is Not to Keep Secrets’

On his position as presenter of the BBC’s Politics Show Sopel spoke easily.

He told us to be confident in our approach to interviewing and to always be fully prepared;

‘You are looking for a story, you aren’t trying to impose your views.’

Identifying and pursuing newsworthy lines in a polite and persistent manner is key according to Sopel.

He was completely different to the man described in reviews.

Then again the reviewers hadn’t even spelt his name correctly so are probably not the most reliable of sources.

Overall he was honest and got us thinking about the questions that we really do need to address before we embark on our journalistic careers.

Can you deal with the often horrific realities and images that a journalist will have to encounter?

Are you going to ask the questions that need to be asked?


What is the journalists role in times of extreme need? Is it to continue to report and maintain objectivity or to get involved and try to help?

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A Tate Modern security guard discusses his views off record


Due to growing fears for health and safety the Tate Modern has announced it will close Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds exhibition in the Turbine Hall.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei presented visitors to the Tate with a fully immersive experience in which they could walk across and play in the porecelain seeds.

The work consisted of millions of small porcelain pebbles hand painted to look like sunflower seeds.

Public opinion was positive on the opening day of the exhibition as many walked straight out onto the seeds.

Alex Graham from Oregan, USA was being buried in the seeds at the time of interview;

‘I like it, the way you can experience and touch it. It isn’t every day you get to be buried.’

Fears Over Dust

Many visitors and a security guard at the Tate who did not want to give his name mentioned the amount of dust created by the seeds.

The Telegraph reports that due to the high volume of human traffic staff at the gallery noticed,

‘A fine dust rising from the seeds as people crunched them underfoot.’

Medical journalist Jodi Dixon from London spoke about the risks;

‘There is so much dust here, people keep getting up and brushing themselves down and then wishing they hadn’t ventured into the middle of it all.’


From now on the public can only view Sunflower Seeds from the bridge above the hall.

The Telegraph spoke to Leanne Metcalf, Director of Research at Asthma UK, who was happy about the decision;

‘Visitors walking over the porcelain sunflower seeds have inadvertently created a cloud of potentially damaging porcelain dust in the air which, if breathed in, can have a detrimental effect on lung function due to the silica which is found within it.’

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Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds exhibition at the Tate Modern encourages a multiplictiy of people to examine the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon, the Tate Modern says.

The gallery revealed the Chinese artists exhibition on Tuesday 12th October and already people are getting involved.

What look like millions of sunflower seeds covering the Turbine Halls floor are actually hand-painted porcelain pebbles.

Alex Graham from Oregan, USA, was being buried in the seeds at the time of interview;

‘I like it [the piece], in a way you experience it and get to touch it. It isn’t everyday that you get to be buried in art.’

Weiwei’s Art

Crafted in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen the work took place in small-scale workshops as opposed to being mass produced.

The Tate Modern website details the thoughts behind Ai Weiwei’s piece;

‘The casual act of walking on the work’s surface contrasts with the immense effort of production and the precious nature of the material. Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports.’

The Weiwei exhibition actively invites public comment. There are cameras set up so that the people who view Sunflower Seeds can respond in a video and send their thoughts directly to Weiwei’s website.

Is it Art?

Greg Dawson from London commented;

‘It is art because it is in a gallery.’

A security guard at the gallery did not want to give his name was kind enough to share his own personal feelings on the piece;

‘It is a bit dusty and we have had more dramatic exhibitions but I suppose it is different. Did you see the crack?’

He alludes to Doris Salcedo’ Shibboleth for which the Tate Modern revealed a 548 ft long crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall which was three feet deep in places according to The Telegraph.


Ben Ye and Jin Wang


Jin Wang and Ben Ye from China were fascinated, Ben Ye asked;

‘What are they? we are confused, it is so big.’

Sunflower Seeds will be at the Tate Modern until May 2011.

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A proposed super sewer in South London has received a frosty reception from local residents.

The new proposal by Thames Water attempts to combat London’s Victorian sewerage system. As overflowing drainage sewers along the river Thames reach their capacity the company predict that they spill 39 million tonnes of sewage back into the river every year.

Donna Spedding has spearheaded the campaign to save the Kings Stairs’ Gardens that would be the construction site for the new tunnel system.

Sewage water in the Thames

According to Thames Water, rainfall and sewage is being discharged back into the river Thames by these basins after only 2mm of rainfall.

Seven years in the making the proposed tunnel would be situated under the Kings Stairs Gardens near Bermondsey and would transport the excess water to a sewage treatment plant in East London.

The company reports that,

‘The discharge of untreated sewage into the River Thames is harmful to the environment. It reduces river water quality, harms the aquatic life, causes unsightly litter and increases the risks to health for users of the River Thames.’

The view of the river Thames from Kings Stairs Gardens

Residents urge for another solution

A petition calling for Thames Water to relocate the proposed site for construction is led by Donna Spedding.

‘It is outrageous that TW have proposed to put one of their major sites in a densely populated residential area, destroying a much loved park for at least 7 years and then leaving very large buildings and a sewage vent.’

She fears the disruption to the community and added pollution for local residents.

‘Surely, this is a completely inappropriate site – next to a church, children’s nursery, homes and in a public green space recognised for its ecological importance.’

The official proposal details the amount of room needed for the project but does also admit that this could change during construction.

A Seven Year Plan

Thames Water estimate that the site will take seven years to finish and will be completed by 2020. The only permanent structures remaining would be a 15m high ventilation column and a building to provide ventilation and filtering of the air in the tunnel.

There are plans to landscape the King’s Stair Gardens with ‘soft planting’ say Thames Water but the areas surrounding the structures will be concrete to allow access for maintenance.

Donna Spedding adds,

‘King Stairs Gardens is a beautiful green space, has been designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and is one of the last remaining riverfront parks with fantastic views of the Thames and London landmarks including Tower Bridge.’

A Southwark public exhibition has been organised by Thames Water for residents to review their plans. The event is taking place on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th October between 10.30am-8pm in the Beormund Community Centre.


 <span><a href=”http://soundcloud.com/the-starling/kings-stairs-gardens-super-sewer-investigation”>Kings Stairs Gardens Super Sewer Investigation</a> by <a href=”http://soundcloud.com/the-starling”>The Starling</a></span>
For more details see:



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