10 Crazy Headlines That Could Only Be Created by Florida Man

01. Florida Man launches chair at mailman because he had no mail for him.

Source: Ocala Star Banner

Ocala Star Banner: “The mailman told Officer Kyle Drawdy that Smith approached the driver’s side of his truck. The postal carrier said he tried explaining to Smith that the reason he did not receive any mail was because there was none for him. The mailman said Smith got angry and struck him with an open fist at least three times on the right arm. Smith, he said, then walked away from the vehicle, picked up a broken chair or stool and threw it at the mail truck.”

02. Florida Man mistakes senior government officials for foreigners.

Foreign Policy: “Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about ‘your country’ and ‘your government,’ in reference to the state of India.
“‘I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,’ the Florida Republican said. Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color, Clawson also asked if ‘their’ government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India.”

03. Florida Man sentenced to prison for attempting to start “race war” near Disney World.

Source: Miami New Times

Miami New Times:  “On a rural compound just 11 miles from Disney World, Marcus Faella and his followers spent years stockpiling weapons and food, erecting barbed wire, and conducting elaborate paramilitary drills. Their goal, according to federal agents: igniting a ‘race war’ in Central Florida.”
Circuit Judge Jon Morgan sentenced him yesterday to six months and gave him credit for 61 days served, meaning he could return home in about four months. His American Front followers yelled, ‘We love you, Mark!’ after hearing the sentence, the Orlando Sentinel reports.”

04. Florida Men surprised to learn mannequin is actually dead body.

Associated Press: “Two men hired to clean out a vacant Tampa Bay-area house thought they found a mannequin hanging in the garage. They cut it down and hauled it to the local dump, where landfill workers realized it was actually a human body.”

05. Florida Man leaves Florida.

Womp womp.  Sun Sentinel/Getty Images

LeBron James as told to Sports Illustrated: “Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home.

“I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

06. Florida Man proposes to girlfriend, ties ring to alligator.

Fox 8 Cleveland: “Eric was on his knee, but he didn’t have a ring box. Instead, the ring was tied to a baby alligator, which Samantha took into her hands while nodding yes. ‘I was secretly more excited to hold the baby alligator than the ring!’ Samantha told Fox 8 News. ‘My dream has always been to be an alligator wrestler so an infant alligator was nothing!'”

07. Florida Man removes facial tattoos with welding grinder.

Tampa Bay Times:  “Just before the 2012 Labor Day weekend, Eriks bought gauze and hydrogen peroxide, 18 Budweisers and a bottle of Sailor Jerry rum. He’d asked his friend Brian to do it. Brian was, after all, a certified welder. The worst part was when Brian poured rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide on the wound and scrubbed the dead skin with a steel wool pad. Tears trickled down Eriks’ face, but he didn’t scream.”

08. Florida Man claiming to be Teddy Roosevelt’s relative banned from Holiday Inn after threatening to hit manager.

Island Packet: “Over the course of several months, the 40-year-old West Palm Beach man repeatedly tried to eat breakfast at the Holiday Inn on Bluffton Road despite not having a room there.
When employees asked him to leave, he would curse and yell at them, according to the report. The manager tried to intervene May 15, and the man claimed he was the great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and owned the hotel and the United States.”

09. Florida Man convinced school tests will turn students gay.

Source: Phil Sears/AP

NBC 2: “State Representative Charles Van Zant of northeast Florida claims the company hired to design the test is attempting to turn students gay. ‘They are promoting as hard as they can any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda,’ Van Zant told an audience in Orlando. ‘They will promote double-mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.'”
Lest you concern yourself too much with the future of the state, however, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel:

10. Florida Man announces he’s exploring presidential run.

Source: Susan Walsh/AP

Time: “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday morning he will ‘actively explore’ a run for the White House in 2016, becoming the first Republican out of the starting gate nearly two years before Election Day.
“‘As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States,’ Bush wrote.”

Tomorrow, the EU will vote on the future of the internet (again)

By 

The fight over EU copyright reform is not over yet. Tomorrow, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on amendments to the Copyright Directive, a piece of draft legislation that was intended to update copyright for the internet age but has been mired in controversy after the inclusion of two provisions: Articles 11 and 13, also known as the “link tax” and “upload filter.”

Critics of the directive claim that these clauses threaten the internet as we know it. The link tax would require online platforms like Google and Facebook to pay media companies when linking to their articles, and the upload filter could force them to check all content uploaded to their sites to remove copyrighted material. Supporters of these measures, meanwhile, say their dangers are being exaggerated and that the legislation simply gives small players a way to reclaim the value of their work in an ecosystem monopolized by Silicon Valley.

You might have thought these issues were settled already if you remembered that the legislation was rejected by EU politicians in July. However, that vote only sent the directive back to the drawing board, giving MEPs a chance to suggest amendments. (They did so with gusto, sending in hundreds.) Tomorrow, these amendments will be voted on. The result could be that the legislation carries on exactly as before (with Articles 11 and 13 intact); the articles might be removed; or any number of other changes introduced.

EU watchers say it’s impossible to predict the outcome of tomorrow’s votes, and, whatever happens, we’re still a long way from actual legislation. Any amendments approved on Wednesday will be subject to further negotiations between politicians and member states in a closed-door process known as “trilogues.” Whatever emerges from those debates will be subject to a final vote by the EU Parliament in January. After that, it will still be up to individual member states to interpret the directive and turn it into law.

In other words: you haven’t heard the last of the Copyright Directive yet.

This seemingly endless back-and-forth (over legislation that was first introduced in 2016) is confusing even to those directly involved. “The system is so complicated that last Friday the [European Parliament] legal affairs committee tweeted an incorrect assessment of what’s happening,” Joe McNamee, executive director of digital rights association EDRi, told The Verge. “If they don’t understand the rules, what hope the rest of us?”

WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING ABOUT AGAIN?

Leaving aside procedural vagaries, there’s the trickier issue of assessing the actual impact of the Copyright Directive. Much of the discussion online has focused on its destructive potential, with figures like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee warning that it could lead to the “death of the internet” by impeding the free flow of information.

Article 13 is particularly controversial. Critics compare it to YouTube’s Content ID: the automated system that checks videos for copyright material like songs and blocks anything that hasn’t been licensed. Implementing such a system for the entire web would likely be a recipe for disaster: it would be a boon for copyright trolls, would block legitimate material by accident, and would be so difficult to implement that it would stop smaller platforms (like rivals of Google) from getting their foot in the door.

“The Copyright Directive entrenches the power of dominant internet platforms, which are the only ones that can afford the automatic copyright filter,” Gus Rossi, global policy director of US nonprofit Public Knowledge, tells The Verge.

But supporters of Article 13 (and other controversial parts of the directive) say this is an unfair caricature, pushed in part by the tech giants themselves. The UK’s Society of Authors, one of the many artist organizations that supports the Copyright Directive, notes that US companies have spent “millions of pounds lobbying against the Directive,” and says their campaign has been “characterized by a loop of misinformation and scaremongering.”

The Society of Authors’ own gloss of the directive sounds much more reasonable. Its 12-point breakdown says the legislation is primarily about delivering fair pay to content creators, and it notes that a number of amendments have been added to the legislation (such as the safeguarding of parody content and memes as an exception to copyright claims) that neutralize critics’ most alarmist claims. The society concludes: “Not allowing creators to make a living from their work is the real threat to freedom of expression.”

Speaking to the Financial Times today, the EU’s digital commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, makes a similar case, saying: “None of the positions now on the table will destroy the internet or prevent citizens from sharing hyperlinks, parodic images or their wedding memories. […] Only big platforms will benefit from the absence of a copyright reform: not the creators, not the press, not the citizens.”

It’s impossible not to see sense in both sides, but it’s equally impossible to say which is definitively correct. That’s partly because whatever version of the Copyright Directive passes will still have to be interpreted by individual member states. These deliberations could turn the directive into the threatened “censorship machines” or could return revenue to artists and creators usurped by the internet’s titans. They might even do both.

AFTER THE VOTE, MORE TALK

Whatever happens in tomorrow’s vote, it won’t be the end.

Once each amendment to the directive has been accepted or rejected, the resulting legislation will be subject to further debates. These are the so-called trilogues; behind-doors negotiations that will aim to find a compromise between the version of the Copyright Directive approved by the European Parliament, and the version approved earlier in the year by the European Council.

These negotiations will be very influential, and will be led by the Copyright Directive’s rapporteur: an MEP named Axel Voss who is a strong supporter of Articles 11 and 13. EDRi’s McNamee describes Voss as a “copyright fundamentalist” and says his involvement means that politicians fighting to remove Articles 11 and 13 will have an “uphill battle.”

“Even if we get reasonable amendments adopted tomorrow, unless they’re very, very, very good, Voss will be negotiating behind closed doors for the next two or three months to reach a compromise with the council,” says McNamee.

Following those negotiations, a final version of the Copyright Directive will be subject to approval by the European Parliament, a vote that will likely happen in January. The timing is notable, as it’s just before European parliamentary elections in May, meaning that MEPs seeking reelection will be eager to keep on the good side of any vocal constituents.

What happens next is still anyone’s guess. “It’s hard to know,” says Public Knowledge’s Rossi. “My best guess scenario would be a rejection of Article 11 and Article 13. But the EU Parliament is a body of compromise, and I think everybody feels there has to be an Article 11 and Article 13 in some form.”

5 Strange Technologies That Might Have Been Covered Up

Ever hear about the many water-powered vehicles? Or, what about the General Motors EV1, the world’s first mass produced electric car that made its debut in 1996? Those are just two of the strange technologies that are alleged to have been suppressed by powerful person(s), companies, government, etc. Continue reading to see more.

5. General Motors EV1

The EV1 was the world’s first mass-produced electric car, with 800 of them up for lease from GM in the late ’90s. GM ended the EV1 line in 1999, stating that consumers weren’t happy with the limited driving range of the car’s batteries, making it unprofitable to continue production.
Many skeptics, however, believe GM killed the EV1 under pressure from oil companies, who stand to lose the most if high-efficiency vehicles conquer the market. It didn’t help that GM hunted down and destroyed every last EV1, ensuring the technology would die out.

 

4. Chronovisor

What if you had a device that could see into the future and revisit the past? And what if you didn’t need Christopher Lloyd to help you? Father Pellegrino Maria Ernetti, an Italian priest, claimed in the 1960s to have invented what he called a Chronovisor, something that allowed him to witness Christ’s crucifixion.
The device supposedly enabled viewers to watch any event in human history by tuning in to remnant vibrations that are caused by every action. (His team of researchers and builders included Enrico Fermi, who also worked on the first atomic bomb).

3. Magnetic / Anti-Gravity Technology

Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin (1887-1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida in Miami-Dade County at the intersection of South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) and SW 157th Avenue. The structure comprises numerous megalithic stones (mostly limestone formed from coral), each weighing several tons.
It currently serves as a privately-operated tourist attraction. Coral Castle is noted for legends surrounding its creation that claim it was built single-handedly by Leedskalnin using magnetism and/or supernatural abilities. The stones are fastened together without mortar. They are set on top of each other using their weight to keep them together. The craftsmanship detail is so skillful and the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes through the joints.

 

2. Water-Powered Cars


At least as far back as 1980, Stanley Meyer claimed that he had built a dune buggy which ran on water instead of petrol. The “fuel cell”, which he claimed was subjected to an electrical resonance, would split the water mist into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which would then be combusted back into water vapour in a conventional internal combustion engine to produce net energy.
Insiders have loudly claimed that Meyer was poisoned after he refused to sell his patents or end his research. Fearing a conspiracy, his partners have all but gone underground (or should we say underwater?) and taken his famed water-powered dune buggy with them. We just hope someone finally brings back the amphibious car.

 

1. Free Energy

Nikola Tesla was more than just the inspiration for a hair metal band, he was also an undisputed genius. In 1899, he figured out a way to bypass fossil-fuel-burning power plants and power lines, proving that “free energy” could be harnessed using ionization in the upper atmosphere to produce electrical vibrations.
J.P. Morgan, who had been funding Tesla’s research, had a bit of buyer’s remorse when he realized that free energy for all wasn’t as profitable as, say, actually charging people for every watt of energy use. Morgan then drove another nail in free energy’s coffin by chasing away other investors, ensuring Tesla’s dream would die.

What To Tell People Who Say You Have To Accept Donald Trump's Presidency Now

If you’re an opponent of Donald Trump, you’ve probably heard one of his supporters insist that “He’s your president now, so you have to accept him,” or some variant thereof. The implication is that because Trump cleared 270 votes in the Electoral College, Americans must refrain from criticizing him and root for his unabated success instead. But that is nonsense — accepting that Trump is our president now does not mean what a lot of his supporters seem to think it means.
I vehemently oppose Trump and his agenda, but I accept that he’s my president now. To be more specific, I accept the fact that he has completed the legal process necessary to serve as president of the United States. It is factually correct to say that, as of Jan. 20, he is America’s 45th president.
But that’s all I accept. The rest I reject.
I reject the implication that just because Trump is president, we aren’t allowed to condemn him anymore. On the contrary, we most definitely are allowed to condemn him, whenever we like and as strongly as we see fit. One of the nice things about living in a democracy is that we’re allowed to freely criticize our government. This is the constitutional right of every American, and I’ll exercise it under any president with whom I disagree. I suspect I’ll be exercising it frequently under the Trump regime.
Here’s what you can say to people who tell you that you have to accept Donald Trump:
I accept that Trump is the president. But I condemn his unabashed bigotry and his hateful comments about women, Muslims, Hispanics, and other marginalized groups. I condemn him for mocking Serge Kovaleski and welcoming white supremacists into his administration. I condemn him for running a campaign based on division, and for lying to the American people. I condemn his inability to admit personal fault. I condemn his lack of intellectual curiosity and his disrespect for American norms and values. On the most fundamental level, I condemn Trump as a human being.
Furthermore, accepting that Trump is president doesn’t mean you have to root for his success. Sure, I’d love for Trump to make the country a better place. The thing is, Trump’s concept of “better” is diametrically opposed to mine. I don’t want him to succeed in implementing a ban on Muslims entering the country. I don’t want him to succeed in building a wall on the Mexican border or in repealing Obamacare. I want him to fail at these goals, because I think the country will be a worse place if he succeeds in them.
Lastly, while I accept Trump’s presidency, he certainly doesn’t represent me. Sure, in a strictly diplomatic sense, he is the United States’ chief ambassador and representative. But his ideological and moral views are the opposite of mine, and indeed of many Americans. That didn’t change just because he won the popular vote in Florida and Wisconsin. Just as Kim Jong-un doesn’t represent the many North Koreans who oppose his dictatorship, Trump doesn’t represent the many Americans who oppose his presidency.
Still, I accept that Trump is the president. And I despise him, reject everything he stands for, wish he hadn’t won, and sincerely hope that he fails in implementing his policy proposals.
But I don’t deny that he occupies the White House. And that might be the only common ground I find with Trump supporters over the next four years.

Martin Schulz wants 'United States of Europe' within eight years

German SDP party leader sets out his demands before entering into grand coalition talks with Angela Merkel in bid to end political deadlock
Martin Schulz told his party delegates that he would insist on a more robust social security safety net in a potential coalition with the CDU. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/Reuters
The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party has sketched out red lines for talks to form another coalition government with Angela Merkel.
In a speech at the SPD’s party conference in Berlin that called for the creation of a “United States of Europe” by 2025, as well as a more robust social security net and a phasing out of coal power, Martin Schulz made the case for entering open-ended talks with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

“We don’t want to govern at any price,” Schulz said. “But we also shouldn’t refuse to govern at any price.”
SPD members later voted overwhelmingly to allow their party’s leadership to enter talks with the CDU. The vote means leaders can discuss options including a renewed “grand coalition”, an informal cooperation or a formal agreement to tolerate a conservative minority government by not voting down certain parliamentary motions.
Attempts to build Germany’s next government have been at a standstill since last month’s collapse of coalition talks between the CDU, the Free Democrats and the Greens.
Other European states have expressed their growing impatience with Germany’s political paralysis. Leaders including the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, have called on Schulz to break the deadlock.
The SPD leader acknowledged those appeals on Thursday when he warned that “the continent cannot afford four more years of German European policy a la Schäuble”, referring to the austerity measures of the country’s conservative former finance minister.
Schulz told delegates that he wanted EU member states to sign off on a “constitutional treaty” that committed the bloc to take steps towards a federal Europe – a proposal likely to be met with some resistance from Merkel and other EU leaders.
“Such a constitutional treaty has to be written by a convention that includes civil society and the people. This constitutional treaty will then have to be put to the member states and those that don’t approve it will automatically have to leave the EU,” Schulz said.
The SPD leader called for stronger social security for workers in the digital services economy, increased investment in academic and vocational education, and binding green energy targets. Phasing out coal energy was inevitable, Schulz said, and the next government should focus on creating new opportunities for those currently employed in the sector.
“Let’s first see which policies we can push through and then decide about the precise form in which we do it,” he said.
Despite the vote by SPD members to allow talks with the CDU to start, Thursday’s party conference also laid bare the centre left’s deep-seated reservations about teaming up with Merkel as a junior coalition partner for a third time in 12 years.
Schulz apologised for presiding over his party’s worst result since the second world war; the SPD was well beaten by the CDU in September’s elections.
Some delegates used their speeches to vent their annoyance with the party leadership opening the door to talks with Merkel, expressing fears that a new “grand coalition” could deal their party an existential blow. Surveys show that a majority of SPD members would prefer their party to prop up a Merkel-led minority government rather than rejoin a coalition.

World-record Da Vinci painting to be exhibited at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Salvator Mundi, a painting depicting Christ by Leonardo, was recently auctioned for a record $450m
A visitor takes a photo of the painting Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci at Christie’s New York Auction House. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Salvator Mundi – the painting depicting Christ by Leonardo Da Vinci recently auctioned for a record $450m – is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a coup for the new museum.
The first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France has been billed as “the first universal museum in the Arab world” in a sign of the oil-rich emirate’s global ambitions.
“Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to LouvreAbuDhabi,” the museum said on Twitter in Arabic, English and French, displaying an image of the 500-year-old work.
The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting’s sale last month in New York for $450.3m, with auction house Christie’s steadfastly declining to identify the buyer.
“Congratulations,” Christie’s said in a tweeted reply to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The auction house said no more, and a Christie’s representative declined to offer more details.

Timeline

The 10 most expensive works of art sold at auction

The French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported that two investment firms were behind the purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums.
The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia.
The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4m paid for Pablo Picasso’s The Women of Algiers (Version O) in 2015, also in New York.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on 8 November in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described it as a “bridge between civilisations”.
It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate’s Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York’s Guggenheim.
The island will also feature the Zayed National Museum, which had signed a loan deal with the British Museum – although the arrangement has come increasingly into question due to construction delays.
Featuring a vast silver-toned dome, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, drawing inspiration from Arab design and evoking both an open desert and the sea.
The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16bn).
The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci: La Belle Ferronniere, one of his portraits of women.
Salvator Mundi, which means Saviour of the World, went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at the National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.
It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to Christie’s.
It had sold for a mere £45 pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.
Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.
He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5m although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.

No more 'my dog ate it' excuses. Where are the Brexit impact reports? John Crace John Crace

David Davis knew he had a choice to make. Either to be in contempt of parliament for deliberately failing to provide full disclosure on his department’s Brexit impact assessments. Or to own up to incompetence and laziness. No contest. Incompetence and laziness won hands down. For one thing, they had the virtue of truth. For another, he was just too lazy and incompetent to do anything else.
This was the moment that the Brexit secretary had to come clean. Summoned to explain to the select committee why it had taken him three weeks to hand over a couple of lever arch files – junior barristers are better prepared for defending shoplifters at Horseferry Road magistrates court than the government appears to be for Brexit – Davis was at his sulkiest, snarkiest best, sucking loudly on a sweet throughout.

The committee chair, Hilary Benn, looked unimpressed. Like a schoolteacher who has finally lost patience with his stupidest pupil. Why had it taken so long for him to hand over the reports? Davis shrugged. Because the dog had eaten his homework. Because it had taken him three weeks to cobble something together once he realised that what he had thought existed didn’t exist after all. The committee could take its pick.
So, had the government undertaken any impact assessments? No. Why should they? Davis pouted. Benn took a deep breath, trying to contain his irritation. Because everyone in government had kept saying they had. Including Davis, who had claimed they existed in excruciating detail.
“We are looking at the effect …” Davis mumbled. “I mean … do not draw the conclusion that because you use the word impact that you have written an impact assessment.” Or have done anything at all, in fact. Brilliant. Just because he had said he had written some impact assessments, there was no reason for anyone to believe him.

Q&A

If David Davis is held in contempt, what are the implications for him?

Besides even if he had written some impact assessments they would probably have been a bit rubbish as most forecasts were always wrong, so it was probably better that he hadn’t bothered. Just behind him, Davis’s advisers were in a state of mini collapse. Their expressions, pure pain. Quit while you’re no further behind, they begged him.

Brexit select committee chair, Hilary Benn.
Pinterest
‘Like a schoolteacher who has finally lost patience with his stupidest pupil’: The Brexit select committee chair, Hilary Benn. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Davis ploughed on, too dim to realise he was about to contradict himself. Yet again. “These folders … ” he said, proudly pointing towards the two files that he had just admitted were basically full of mindless, anodyne drivel. “These folders represent 15 man years of expert work.” That explained the country’s productivity crisis.
There was a moment’s silence while everyone tried to absorb the Brexit secretary’s seeming indifference not just to truth but to any objective reality. It was possible he was even dimmer than they had given him credit for. Benn chose to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Would he like to explain why the government hadn’t done any contingency planning when it had originally intended to get to the second phase of the Brexit talks back in October? Davis wouldn’t. Though he could probably hazard a guess that he hadn’t bothered because he had never imagined the talks progressing before the new year anyway. Slow and unsteady wins the race.
Once Benn had given up the unequal fight of finding sentient life in the Brexit secretary, he let Labour’s Seema Malhotra have a go. She went forensically through the times and dates when parliament had been assured the impact assessments not only existed but were of the highest quality, but was met with only incomprehension by Davis. What bit of Schrödinger’s impact assessments did she not get? There and not there. Stephen Timms went for a simpler approach. How many pages of the reports had been withheld because they were confidential? Davis looked blank. He didn’t know because he hadn’t read them.
Sensing their man was not waving, but drowning, several Tory Brexit hardliners tried to come to his assistance. There must be other material that hadn’t made it into the folders, they said. Not really, Davis said, declining the helping hand. Did the EU have such detailed contingency planning? “Not on a similar scale,” Davis said confidently, unconsciously telling the truth. The EU have done more. A lot more.
Even Jacob Rees-Mogg got in on the act. Normally the Tory MP prides himself on putting parliament above party politics. Not this time. Last week he had castigated Davis in the Commons for failing in his duty; now he was fawning in his praise for the minister’s generosity in providing such riches. Rees-Mogg’s silver sword of truth began to look somewhat tarnished.
Long before the end, Davis got visibly twitchy, frequently reminding everyone he had another appointment, despite having been told to prioritise the committee. Benn asked one last question. Had the government done any planning before deciding to leave the customs union? “Oh no,” he said breezily. Don’t be silly. Brexit was no biggie. Was that all? Right, he’d be off then. Some might have called it a dereliction of duty. If there had been any sense of duty to start with.

  • John Crace’s new book, I, Maybot (£9.99), is published by Guardian Faber. To order a copy for £6.99 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.

Top 10 Most Amazing Christmas Trees in the World

So evergreen! So staggeringly tall! So twinkly! These are all exclamations worthy of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world. The decades-long Christmas tree lighting ceremony in almost every hometown of the world draws in millions of people who steadfastly brave the blistering cold to witness the making of tradition.
However, tradition has been taking on a polish of the postmodern with some wonderfully bizarre Christmas trees, from a 45-foot high Disney tree in a train station in London last year to the already iconic Lego tree in the Southern hemisphere.
Will Santa Claus recognize some of the trees on display below given their outlandish, Picasso-inspired appearance? And which of the design pieces below is worth a trip this winter?

Here are the most beautiful Christmas trees of 2016 and yesteryear:

1. THE PAPER CHRISTMAS TREE, GALERIES LAFAYETTE, PARIS

The Frozen theme is still going strong this year. Hence, Galeries Lafayette’s chosen Christmas décor for 2016. The biggest department store in Paris and the only one sporting an Art Nouveau, 100-century old dome 43 metres up, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann turned to artist Lorenzo Papace to build art with an environmental and social reach this year.
The tree is made entirely of recycled paper, while a representation of bears and cubs shows them abandoning their crib on the North Pole in search of a new ice pack that has not melted yet.
Shoppers can also empathize with the polar bears’ plight by way of a virtual trip on the second floor of the store, where they can download the free app for Android and iOS and watch the mall magically transform into a swirl of snow and paper animals.

2. THE LEGO CHRISTMAS TREE, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

You can build everything out of LEGO, including a 450,000 bricks full, 3500 kilograms heavy Christmas tree.Ryan NcNaught has been in charge of putting the Southern Hemisphere on Santa’s map this year by erecting a towering LEGO tree to put other evergreens to shame. The creator and his team of LEGO builders invested some 1200 hours into creating a Christmas phenomenon.
The man is a rare breed, just like his tree. Ryan McNaught is one of only 14 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world. His 10m tall Christmas tree has already been on a tour Down Under, in Sydney and Melbourne, but the Kiwi version includes – no surprise here – a LEGO rugby ball, a pukeko, some Kiwi, and a local kingfisher. Who says modern art doesn’t pay homage to tradition?
 

3. THE POPE’S CHRISTMAS TREE, VATICAN CITY

Photo Credit: St. Peter’s Square / Flickr

A spruce to rival the towering St. Peter’s Basilica was erected in St. Peter’s Square this year, as the Nativity Scene featuring 17 life-size statues focused on such heavy themes as migration and the refugees issue.
This particular tradition is not as old as the Church, as you might thing. Pope John Paul II initiated it when he imported the Christmas tree as a Northern symbol of holiday cheer and unification.

4. ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE, NEW YORK PLAZA

Photo via Rockefeller Center

This year, the grandiose illumination of the 94-foot tall Norway spruce at the Rockefeller Center was a typically extravagant affair. On display were 50,000 multicolored LED lights, among which the invariably present Swarovski star weighing a staggering 550 pounds and numbering some 25,000 crystals.
The tradition took root in 1931, when a group of demolition workers cropped up their own Christmas on the construction site of the Rockefeller Center with a 20-foot tall balsam fir.

5. THE WORLD’S MOST ILLUMINATED CHRISTMAS TREE, OSAKA, JAPAN

Source: Osaka Christmas tree as a record holder for most lit up tree in 2016, www.usj.co.jp

You don’t have to wait for the cherry blossoms to light up Japan in magical colors when you have a Guinness record holder for “Most lights on an artificial X-mas tree”.
550,000 lights make for quite a dazzler on the Island of the Rising Sun. It’s no surprise the Japanese have managed to yet again hold the trophy for most ribbons, sparkle and glamour on Christmas. Snow may be a rare sight on this tip of the island, but it’s the sixth year Osaka’s Christmas tree has earned this title.

6. THE FLOATING CHRISTMAS TREE, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Photo via flickr

Another Christmas miracle? Floating on a barge in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the Brazilian Christmas tree made a spectacular appearance in 2014 on a background of a dazzling show of fireworks.
The 279-foot high mammoth tree blinked with the power of 3.3 million micro light bulbs, which reflected brilliantly in the waters of the South American lagoon.

7. DISNEY CHRISTMAS TREE, ST.PANCRAS TRAIN STATION, LONDON

Christmas tree in St. Pancras, London year 2015. Photo via Pinterest.com

Another eyecatcher that may have accounted for many missed trains and canceled meetings, the Disney Christmas Tree set up in London’s St. Pancras train station was stuffed with 45-foot high worth of fluffy toys. The Disney characters ran the gamut from the classics Mickey, Ariel, and Dumbo to the more modern Elsa from the movie Frozen.
The characters may be evergreen for generations to come, but the toys that stood for the branches were dismantled and donated to a children’s charity.

8. MURANO CHRISTMAS TREE, VENICE, ITALY

The Glassware Christmas Tree 2015. Photo via Pinterest

Keeping up with a seven century-old tradition, the Island of Murano brings glassware to life with their creative decorations. Of course, Christmas is crossed off the list when the glass blowers set up for work.
Every year, the Natale di Vetro, or Christmas in Glass hosts an elegant Christmas tree entirely made of Murano glass. Fortunately, the winds are mild on this side of Venice, so the tree will not shatter too easily.

9. KALPATARU, THE WISHING TREE, VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON

Kalpataru, the Wishing Chritmas Tree on exhibit on V&A Museum 2015 via Twitter.com

Once upon a time, there was a tree that could fulfill all desires. And you could find it no farther than at the V&A Museum in London. A modern spin-off on an Indian classic “tree of life”, the Kalpataru design piece by a couple of Delhi artists stood its ground amid various other masterpieces on display.
Handcrafted beaten brass was the primary material used in the making of the postmodern Kalpataru, while the colored motifs depicted scenes from the Indian mythical scene and Diwali celebrations.

10. JBEIL CHRISTMAS TREE, BYBLOS, LEBANON

Illumination ceremony of the Christmas tree in Byblos 2015. Photo via Lebanon on Youtube

With a 40.4% Christian population, Lebanon has certainly made it to the big league of the most beautiful Christmas trees of all times.
Every year, Byblos is home to an architectural masterpiece that springs up in the square of the world’s oldest port just in time for Santa and his gift-heavy sleigh. Last year’s design kept true to Lebanese local tradition while incorporating elements reminiscent of the tricky rocks hidden in the port’s waters and the sailing skills of the people.
The rule does not say that the most beautiful Christmas trees need to have blossomed from tiny seedlings in the ground. On the contrary, it’s the human spirit and creativity that pours into the design and oversees that an evergreen remains so on a floating barge in Brazil or a train station in London.

European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans

The passing of the non-binding resolution comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries
The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU.
It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa.
The vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, meaning Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months after the European Commission implements a “delegated act” to bring the change into effect.
The Commission discovered three years ago that the US was not meeting its obligations under the reciprocity agreement but has not yet taken any legal action. The latest vote, prepared by the civil liberties committee and approved by a plenary session of parliament, gives the Commission two months to act before MEPs can consider action in the European Court of Justice.

Australia, Brunei, Japan and Canada were also failing in their obligations, but all four have lifted, or are soon to lift, any visa restrictions on travel for EU citizens.
The Commission is legally obliged to act to suspend the visa waiver for Americans, but the European Parliament or the Council of the European Union have the chance to object to the “delegated act” it uses to do so.
In December, MEPs pressed for the move in order to “encourage” Washington to play its part, according to a statement by the parliament.
But Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned of “consequences”, including potential “retaliation” and a drop in visitor numbers precipitating substantial losses for the continent’s tourism industry.

I will not be used as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations

Just days ago the Council said it would liberalise the visa regime for citizens of Georgia travelling into the EU.
Georgians can now, subject to final approval of the regulation, stay in any EU country for 90 days in any period of 180 days without needing a visa.
Carmelo Abela, Malta’s minister for national security, said: “This agreement will bring the people of Georgia and the EU closer together and will strengthen tourism and business ties. It follows the completion of the necessary reforms by Georgia, addressing document security, border management, migration and asylum.”
Last month it was reported that the EU was considering the adoption of a US-style electronic travel permit scheme – a move that could create a new administrative hurdle for British tourists after Brexit.

Immigration minister Robert Goodwill told Parliament the EU was discussing the possibility of introducing a version of America’s Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
Currently foreign travellers must pay a fee of $14 (£11) when they complete ESTA, an automated online system that determines their eligibility to travel to the US.
“British people are now used to the US ESTA scheme and, therefore, we view with interest how the European scheme might develop and what similarities, and differences, there may be to the US scheme,” Mr Goodwill said.

EU politician says women ‘must earn less than men’ because they are ‘weaker and less intelligent’

“This type of scheme is generally there to help enhance security. To get to know as much as possible about the people who are intending to travel.
“It isn’t just flights, it could be people using ferries, or other border crossings into the European Union.”
Alan Brown, an SNP member of the European Scrutiny Committee, pointed out that Leave advocates in the referendum campaign had said there would be no need for visa-like travel schemes after Brexit.

5 Strange Things You’ll Experience When Your Third Eye Opens Accidentally

The Third Eye, is an invisible eye which provides Sight beyond sight. It is an eye which actually correlates to an important and powerful Energy centre located in the forehead, according to some scholars. For most, it is placed between the eyebrows and an inch higher. But what happens when the third Eye Opens accidentally?
The Third Eye
It is located inside the skull and has the shape of an egg. The concept of the Cosmic Egg, from where All creation sprung, is actually a metaphor for our 3rd Eye, which when activated, can create – or transfer us – to a whole new world.
It is called Ajna and it is believed to be our Soul’s Gate. When activated it leads to higher perception of other realms. It gives a sense of cosmic Awareness and it brings forth knowledge and wisdom without material means. It is believed that when the Third Eye is activated, we can transfer telepathic messages, see spirits and ghosts or even receive prophetic messages and visions from the above. This is why, people with activated 3rd Chakra are also called the ‘Seers’.
According to H.P. Blavatsky, and her school of ‘Theosophy‘, the Third Eye is actually related to the pineal gland . Allegedly, the human race had an actual Third eye with legendary functions and abilities. This third Eye atrophied because of the desecration and decay of our divine origin. Over time, the third eye diminished and shrunk, thus became the Pineal Gland. However, we can actually grow it back into a third Eye if we manage to follow certain rules and exercises.

When the Third Eye Opens
To answer the question we have to deepen our knowledge about the 3rd Eye.  Let’s make things clear.
It’s completely different if the Third Eye opens automatically. The ‘Symptoms’ that may have been appeared in these cases can cause many problems and should be avoided.There are many ‘good’ and ‘creative’ ways to open your third eye chakra. In future articles we will guide you into how to ‘open’ you third eye – without drama. If you already practice Qi-Qong or meditation (Raja Yoga) you have probably opened it already.
Third Eye – Balance Check
As seen in our detailed articles on Chakra balance, when Third Eye is troubled ‘Physical imbalances are manifested as issues with your sight, headaches and it can also affect hearing and smell. At an emotional level, a blocked Third Eye chakra can create illusions about ones life, extreme daydreaming with no sense of grounding, volatility and ignorance towards our intuition.‘
5 Signs / Symptoms, When the Third Eye Opens Accidentally
1. You ‘See’ the Colours and the Light of the Day in a completely different way.
The third eye, is actually called an ‘eye’ for a reason. When activated, all senses are modified as now the predominant sense, is the 6th sense provided by the Third Eye. Colours may seem brighter. You may catch weird smells. Moreover, you can feel or hear things that actually do not exist. This almost psychotic experience is common to the ones who have accidentally activated their 3rd eye.
2. Dreams are Vivid, Weird and affect your Sleep.
It’s true. This is actually the most common trap, when the third eye opens accidentally. Your increased perception, ‘catches’ visions and telepathic messages from beyond. The easiest way to ‘perceive’ them is via your dreams. Hence, your Dream World becomes a battlefield of weird emotions and images. When this becomes more intense, the individual will probably seek medication for better sleep, forcing the third eye back to atrophy.
3. Headaches and Weird Feeling of Heaviness.
This is caused by the imbalance of your chakras. When the third eye opens accidentally, probably no balance have been achieved in your chakras. No proper cleansing either. Hence, all these ‘energy’ troubles will start to manifest. A non greased wheel cannot roll properly. If we apply more pressure to this un-greased wheel, then problems might appear. The exact same thing can happen to our chakras – also known as energy wheels. It goes without saying, that you should always consult with your medical doctor when headaches appear.
4. Reality doesn’t Feel so Real anymore.
When the Third Eye opens accidentally, you may feel detached from the real world. You may have this weird feeling like you are living in a dream, like everything is a lie and nothing matters anymore. This is caused because the third eye connects you with other Realms, forcing you to perceive the existence of so much more than the material world.
5. Relationship Dynamics Change Rapidly.
This happens because when your third eye is activated can see and feel more even in relationships. What you thought was true, may now seem lame and false. An activated third can find out the truth faster than the speed of light. If you are not ready for this information overflow, you may not be able to handle it and break many relationships up.