Kim Chambers set record for 17-hour, shark-infested Golden Gate swim

(CNN)New Zealander Kim Chambers has become the first woman to finish a record 30-mile marathon swim from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

It took her 17 hours and 12 minutes to complete the notoriously cold and difficult crossing. She left late on Friday arriving at the bridge Saturday evening just after 5pm.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” the 38-year-old Chambers said. “It’s something I’ve wanted for so long.”
Chambers, who did not wear a wetsuit, was followed by two boats carrying her crew and her mother who tossed her food and water.

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“It was a really tough swim,” Chambers said. “I was pretty ill in the middle of the night. And I couldn’t keep any food down and so I actually felt my swim was over because I need to feed every 30 minutes and I just couldn’t take anything down.”
Before this, only four men had completed the Farallones to Golden Gate Bridge swim.
Last month, a man attempting to swim the same stretch had to abandon his attempt after encountering a Great White shark.
Chambers, who works for Adobe in communications, began swimming in 2009 to rehabilitate from an accident in which she nearly lost a leg, according to her website.She was the sixth person, and third woman, to complete the Ocean’s Seven, a collection of long-distance swimming challenges, including the English Channel, Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar, and the North Channel.

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Bruce Springsteen Cancels North Carolina Concert Over Anti-LGBT Law

North Carolina’s controversial new anti-LGBT law doesn’t sit well with Bruce Springsteen.

The Boss, 66, has been thrilling audiences across the country on The River Tour with his E Street Band since the start of the year. Although he and his bandmates had been slated to perform at the Greensboro Coliseum on April 10, Springsteen announced Friday that he was canceling the show following North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2, or HB2, last month.

Springsteen blasted the new legislation, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law March 23, in a lengthy statement on his official website April 8.

“HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use,” Springsteen wrote in the statement. “Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”

Calling the law “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress,” he added, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.”

Canceling the concert, he said, is “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

According to Springsteen’s website, all tickets for the April 10 concert will be refunded at point of purchase. No word on whether or not he’ll return to the Tar Heel state in the future.

The legendary rocker is the latest to join a growing chorus of celebrities and public figures who’ve spoken out against HB2. On April 3, basketball legend Charles Barkley cited the law when he called for the NBA to relocate its 2017 All-Star Game, which is slated to take place in Charlotte, in an interview with CNN.

Meanwhile, stage and screen composer Stephen Schwartz has said he’ll deny the production rights to his Broadway musicals, including “Wicked,” to all North Carolina-based theaters and performing arts groups until the law is repealed.

Just further proof that they don’t call Springsteen “The Boss” for nothing.

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Leicester City ‘could make 150m from Premier League win’ – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Leicester City’s Algerian-born star Riyad Mahrez celebrates a goal

Leicester City are set for a potential 150m boost for winning the Premier League title, analysts at sports data and marketing firm Repucom have said.

The sum comprises Premier League prize money, Champions League participation cash, and increased match day revenues from ticket and hospitality sales.

The Foxes will also enjoy a higher valuation of sponsorship assets, and a growth in fan bases globally, it said.

Leicester clinched a fairytale first championship on Monday evening.

Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur meant the north London club could not catch Leicester.

The East Midlands club will now feature in the Uefa Champions League next season, taking them to an even larger European and world TV audience.

Social media surge

Spencer Nolan, head of consulting at Repucom UK and Ireland, said adding fans worldwide remained “central to realising the club’s full potential as a commercial entity”.

“While it is too early to really evaluate the rapidly growing fan bases we are starting to see across Asia for example, social media provides us an opportunity to start to quantify this surge.”

Image copyright Leicester City/Facebook
Image caption The club is growing its overseas Facebook presence, including in Thailand

This season, the club’s Facebook page following has grown by a huge 540%, making it one of the fastest growing accounts of any sports team globally.

Algeria’s 500,000 followers represent Leicester City’s largest fan base on the social network (16.7%), thanks to the performances of PFA Player of the Season, team winger Riyad Mahrez.

There have also been large increases in Thailand and Italy, the homelands of the club’s owners and manager respectively.

‘Maximise returns’

Mr Nolan said the summer would be an important time for the East Midlands club to build its commercial presence.

“Leicester City FC’s real commercial potential will become clearer in the season break as brands vie to associate themselves to the club and, in turn, the league winners aim to maximise the returns their status could command,” he said.

He also said that in the 2015-16 season, Leicester’s TV audiences had soared by more than 23% globally – “which will help… to increase the value of their sponsorship properties next term”.

“The task now is to optimise the value of those assets and ensure they attract the incomes Leicester City could now generate.”

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GE’s new hot sauce is so hot it’s encased in jet engine material

GE scientists are trying to educate the world about thermal technology with in an unusual and delicious way: Hot sauce.

The company released limited-edition hot sauce called 10^32 Kelvin made with Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers, two of the hottest peppers in the world. The sauce is meant to represent “absolute hot,” or the highest temperature matter can withstand before it begins to break down.


“With the hot sauce we wanted to create a conversation starter that would lead people down a path of discovering what we do in our industrial business and how it could relate more on human level with them,” Alex Drinker, global manager of partnerships and innovation at GE, said in an interview.

GE manufactures everything from washing machines to jet engines, and many of its products like those engines and turbines must withstand heat of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Thermal scientist researchers helped develop a way to explain how and why that actually works by turning to hot sauce.

The hot sauce bottles come in the same type of materials used in manufacturing. A sparkly cylinder containing the hot sauce bottle is made up of Silicon Carbide, an element in GE’s Ceramics Matrix Composites.

The components that go into the ceramics matrix used in jet engines and other parts manufacturing is unique in that it get stronger under heat. Components in other products will “creep” when put under extreme heat, meaning they extend and become larger over time than when first put into a machine, Drinker explained.

Nickel-based superalloys are also used in the hot sauce casing. The superalloys can withstand high temperatures and prevent oxidation, and the top of the hot sauce container is a scaled-down version of a forward operating seal that goes into GE’s leap engines.

The hot sauce is essentially a marketing prop to educate people on what GE actually doesthermodynamics and life sciences can be complicated topics to breakdown and explain to people. At an event this month, GE brought a DNA researcher to explain his work through hot sauce, using a centrifuge to separate different elements of the hot sauce and explaining a similar process as applied to cancer research. Material scientists partnered with the hot sauce creators to explain how supermaterials are used in manufacturing. And GE provided a thermal imaging scanner to take photos of people to better describe how the research is done.

GE teamed up with Thrillist and High River Sauces to create just 1,000 bottles of the hot sauce to be made available for purchase, which have already sold out (but you can try and win one here.) It’s likely GE will have another food science experiment soon. Through experimenting with food, GE is hoping to make science more easily digestible.

Photo via GE (CC-BY)

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5 things to know about Cinco de Mayo

(CNN)Guacamole and fajitas. Mexican flags and mariachi bands. Margaritas, beer — and more beer. (Sometimes with lime, thanks to that clever marketing campaign.)

It’s May 5, and America is celebrating Cinco de Mayo — but why?
The Mexican holiday is still celebrated in Mexico, but the local tributes pale next to the giant celebration in the United States, complete with restaurant specials, high-volume advertising and endless promotion. Here are five things you should know about May 5.
1. It’s not Mexican Independence Day.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over France (of all countries) at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862.
Mexico had been invaded by Spain, France and Great Britain in late 1861, but within six months Spain and Britain had pulled out. With the U.S. Civil War raging north of the Mexican border, the French decided to take advantage of the chaos and invade Mexico, which had been torn apart by war in the late 1850s.
The French made inroads in April 1862, but in May, at the town of Puebla — about 85 miles east of Mexico City — a small Mexican army under the command of Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a larger French contingent. It was a classic David-over-Goliath victory, and it’s been celebrated ever since for its symbolic value … even though the French did eventually take over Mexico and establish the short-lived Second Mexican Empire under the Emperor Maximilian.
Mexican Independence Day, incidentally, is celebrated September 16.
2. It’s got a Texas connection.
Zaragoza was born in what’s now Goliad, Texas, about 60 miles due north of Corpus Christi. In 1999, the Texas Senate declared it the official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
And celebrate it does, with live music, ballet folklorico dancers and barbecue. There’s also a giant party at the Goliad Fairgrounds.
“It has opened the doors for Goliad. It is something that we are all very proud of. That’s one of the reasons we hope our youth will continue with the traditions,” former justice of the peace Emilio Vargas told the Victoria (Texas) Advocate in 2014.
3. It’s not just a big deal in the Southwest.
Among the best and most visited Cinco de Mayo festivals in the United States are held in Chicago (where the party in Douglas Park attracts 200,000), Denver (400,000 over two days), Portland, Oregon (the Waterfront Park festival attracts 300,000), and St. Paul, Minnesota.
St. Paul, Minnesota? Yes, indeed. The city includes a neighborhood known as the District del Sol, an area in the Minnesota capital’s west side that started attracting Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century. The Latino population now numbers more than 25,000 — close to 10% of the city, according to St. Paul Historical — and the Cinco de Mayo festival takes up two days.
4. Why so American?
Though Americans have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo practically since the battle ended — especially in the West — it was largely unknown in most parts of the U.S. until the 1960s, when Mexican-American activists started raising its profile. It’s become a way to celebrate pride in the community.
But, the United States being what it is, it’s also a great marketing opportunity. In 2014, Cinco de Mayo (or the nearest Friday, anyway) happened to be the biggest non-winter drinking day of the year, and it’s in the top five drinking holidays in general. Hey, you’ve got to have something to take the edge of the spicy food.
5. Have you considered mole poblano?
Speaking of food, don’t limit yourself to Taco Bell and nachos with refried beans. Puebla is actually one of Mexico’s best food cities, Smithsonian magazine observes, and its delicacies should be more widespread, especially on its most notable holiday.
So for Cinco de Mayo, the magazine recommends you sample the following: mole poblano, the chocolate-colored sauce that’s the city’s favorite dish; chalupas, thick tortillas with meat, salsa and onion; and chiles en nogada, fried peppers with walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds and parsley — which offers the colors of the Mexican flag.
Felices fiestas!

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Oil Companies Spent At Least $114 Million Fighting Climate Action In 2015

Non-profit organization Influence Maphas released a report alleging that oil companies spent $114 millionlast year to prevent action being taken on climate change. The money was divided between publicity to mislead the public on the science and lobbying of politicians to prevent the passage of legislation. The estimate does not include contributions from other fossil fuel companies, and probably misses some under the table payments.

The UK-based NGO used tax records and lobbying registers to assess corporate influence andestimate the total spend,not only on direct lobbying, but alsoadvertising, marketing, public relations, political contributions, regulatory contacts, and trade associations. They donot, however, include what Influence Map refers to as dark pools, money being channeled into anti-climate think tanks and institutes, as it is harder to allocate fully the origins of these funds.

The funds were predominately spent in the United States, climate obstructionism having limited traction in most of the rest of the world. The majority of the $114 million came from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the representative body to which most oil companies contribute.

However, Influence Map says that Exxon Mobil spent $27 million directly, despite knowing about climate change since the early ’80s and having promised to cease its climate denial operations in 2008.Shell spent $22 million, in addition to their contributions to the API. In July 2015,Shell leftthe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing body thatlobbies U.S. state governments, because of ALEC’s denial of human responsibility for global warming, but they seem keen to keep on resisting legislative change.

Source and type of expenditure. Influence Map.

The single biggest expenditure was the $43 million the API spent on advertising and public relations campaigns, including holding conferences and conventions to influence debate.

Most of the rest of the money went to paying communications and media staff to shape the debate around the science and policy of climate change. The organizations’ total expenditure on communications staff was much larger, but Influence Map only included the component they estimate was spent on working against climate activities. Donations to politicians’ campaigns represented a very small cost by comparison.

Although the study captured expenditure incurred by smaller oil companies through the API and two other trade organizations, direct payments from these companies were not included, so the true total is almost certainly higher. It is not unreasonable to estimate that in excess of $500m is spent by the corporate sector globally on obstructing ambitious climate policy and regulations in line with achieving less than 2C warming, the report argues.

Much of the money was spent, not on attacks on official climate policy, but on attempting to undermine programs to support renewable energy.

The tide may be turning against this sort of behavior, however. Influence Map’s report notesthat in the first three months of 2016 there have been 15 shareholder resolutions filed by investors in the U.S. alone, seeking to force companies to cease lobbying against climate action or to be more transparent about their activities. Many of these resolutions are coming from unions and retirement funds increasingly concerned about the long-term economic consequences of failing to take action on climate change.

[H/T:Climate Home]

Photo Gallery

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A generation of artists were wiped out by Aids and we barely talk about it

A new film about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is a shocking and brilliant reminder of the devastation HIV and Aids wreaked and still does

There are many shocking images in the brilliant new documentary Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, made by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. You probably know many of them already. Some are just seared into our culture and no longer disturb anyone. The cover of Horses with Patti Smith was as much of a statement as her music. His celebrity pics of Eurotrash and rich collectors, or actual celebs such as Debbie Harry and Bianca whispering in Mick Jaggers ear remain fascinating. Their beauty blasted by his light into timelessness; his naked flowers, the sex organs of plants in all their glory. As he said himself, he could perfect a bowl of carnations just as well as a fist up someones ass. Then there was the documentation of his S&M activities and his fetishisation of the black body so many of these images remain, to use the word du jour, problematic. Good. His life was an artwork. He would pick up guys, do drugs, have sex and then get down to work. He would photograph them.

When you see these pictures, you wonder why with sexual imagery everywhere all the time these pictures linger, hanging somewhere in a dark part of the collective memory. You keep looking because he kept seeing.

In this film, we have Mapplethorpe in his own words, not the rose-tinted memories that Smith gave us in Just Kids. He is openly a man of sociopathic ambition who wants sex, fame and money, and would use anyone to get them. That countercultural drive echoed what was going on in the 1980s so much that it would become indistinguishable from mainstream culture. When people talk about the end of the New York scene, thats what they mean.

Just as he got what he wanted, he got sick. This ruined Cupid, this beautiful man, we see skeletal with Aids giving his final party.

Whether its an orgy or a cocktail party I know how to do it. He certainly did. Its hard to see this vain man visibly dying. But he made his death part of his art. His 1988 self-portrait with a skull cane remains a masterpiece. I feel sorry for those who say photography is not an art. Bowie used his death in his final work too. No hiding away.

But what the film also brings home is the erasure of history the fact that all those deaths from Aids have been somehow glossed over. Gay people can get married. Everything is lovely now!

Its hard to see this vain man visibly dying Mapplethorpes 1988 self-portrait with skull cane. Photograph: By permission: Mapplethorpe Foundation

Yet there was a time when you could walk around London or New York and see these gaunt faces, marked with sarcomas, and everyone you hung out with was dying. The official culture was in denial. Sometimes it was easier to be. I remember seeing Derek Jarman at a play. At that point he was blind. I didnt want to see him like that. And then my friend was queer-bashed on the way home. Freddie Mercury died. Keith Haring died. Eazy- E from NWA died. Denholm Elliott died. Rock Hudson died. Fela Kuti died. And my uncle who wasnt famous or even my actual uncle died. One of my friends lost seven people who were all under 30.

I was explaining this to my 25-year-old daughter. She understood what happened, but said, I just cant imagine it. And somehow nor can I, but we lived through it. HIV, we say, is now no longer a death sentence. But, of course, it is in many parts of the world. South Africa has a 19% HIV rate. Russian is only just starting to admit the scale of its problem with an estimate of 1.5 million people with HIV. Neither homosexuality nor addiction can be spoken about in Putins Russia.

Mapplethorpes work was censored by US senator Jesse Helms who, like many Republicans, saw Aids as a punishment for homosexuality. Nancy and Ronald Reagan pretty much signed up to this line. Republicans banned needle exchanges. The Catholic church banned condoms. Mapplethorpes work is shot through the lens of his Catholic upbringing, the black mass and rituals of S&M his composition, his invocation of the devil not as a metaphor, but as a living presence.

He was but one of a generation of artists, activists and athletes wiped out by Aids. Why dont we speak about this anymore? Is it ancient history? Not for me, as it propelled a politics of queer solidarity arising from horrific circumstances.

The debate about safe spaces came to mind watching this film. Mapplethorpes entire oeuvre was a trigger warning. A bullwhip up his rectum, a penis lit like Mona Lisa. He died at 42.

When Paul OGrady was asked in the Guardian about the death of his friend Cilla Black, he said: Ive lost about everybody I know. He talked about Aids wiping out all his friends, and about having to pretend to some of their families that they were dying of cancer as he nursed them. People my age will never get over the horrors.

Antiretrovirals may make us think it has all gone away. It hasnt. Aids is killing people all over the world. The living death mask of Mapplethorpe disturbed me more than any pictures of fisting. Because I thought of all those we lost, and how we dont really want to remember any more. Mapplethorpes unblinking need to document his life, his sex, his magic and his death reminded me why we must never forget. The battle is not won.

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