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12 Feb 19:00

The 20 best board games of 2014, finalists from Board Game Geek

by Charlie Hall

The community at, known hobby games tastemakers, have announced this year's nominees for board game of the year. If you're a fan of the hobby, or interested in learning more, this is a great place to start.

BoardGameGeek is a massively popular gaming resource and online community, made up of board and hobby games fans. Every year the community votes on the Golden Geek Awards, celebrating the best games of the year in many categories, broadly including board games, role-playing games and video games. This year's board game of the year category is crowded, with 20 nominees.

Alchemists - A strategy game for 2-4 players where each takes the role of a "budding alchemist" trying to discover the secrets of their "mystical...

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24 Jul 20:24

Here's What Comes After Generation Z

by Christina Sterbenz

kid with iPhone

You've heard all about Millennials or Generation Y, the tech-savvy youngsters who were born in the 1980s and came of age around the turn of the millenium.

And retail strategists are already paying attention to Generation Z, the post-1990s generation that doesn't remember a world before the tech boom.

But what comes after Z? Clearly someone didn't think this through, but now an answer is emerging.

Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha.

Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand and never live without a smartphone and the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.

"In the past, the individual had no power, really," McCrindle says. "Now, the individual has great control of their lives through being able to leverage this world. Technology, in a sense, transformed the expectations of our interactions."

Coining "Generation Alpha"

It all started when McCrindle and his team started wondering what comes after Z.

In 2005, McCrindle's group ran a national survey in Australia asking respondents to think up potential names themselves. "Alpha" emerged and seemed like a natural fit, considering science disciplines, such as meteorology, often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman alphabet or Arabic numerals.

While possibilities like Gen Tech, Digital Natives, and Net Gen have been posed, many have unofficially dubbed the group "Generation Alpha." McCrindle, for one, hopes it sticks.

Everyone under the age of 5 falls into the Alpha category, as does anyone born in the next 15 years, what McCrindle considers the usual span of a generation. Unlike previous generations, which have used technology, Alphas will spend the bulk of their formative years completely immersed in it.

"Even new technologies have been transformed," McCrindle says. "It's not just email — it's instant messaging. It's not just sharing a document online — it's a Prezzi or a YouTube video."

A Demographic Shift

Shifts in global population will also affect Generation Alpha's experience. For example, as early as 2028, India could surpass China as the most populous country in the world, according to United Nation's recent data.

"Generational labeling has been a Western phenomenon," McCrindle says. Consider Baby Boomers, named for those born in the U.S. during the post-World War II "baby boom." And "teenager," a term coined in the mid-20th century.

Such labels are a much newer concept in developing countries, which may lag behind in both population and technology, creating less variety between generations. 

In Generation Alpha's time, however, "India and China will become the center of gravity," McCrindle notes. Countries who have experienced less development until recently will naturally experience a more pronounced generation gap with Alpha.

With better technology and more people to fuel its growth, children in these countries will trade some of their traditional, Eastern values for more tech-savvy and global ideas, McCrindle explains. 

The Biggest Leap Ever

This new climate of connectivity makes the leap from Gen Z to Alpha the largest in history, according to McCrindle — even bigger than than from Baby Boomers to Gen X, who experienced the invention of computers. 

For Baby Boomers, the newest computers were still mechanical and manual. They required effort and knowledge of programs to use. "But what we have with social media is a shift from the auditory and visual to the kinesthetic process," McCrindle explains. "The platform may stay the same, but it's gone from a computer with a keyboard to one with a touchscreen."

Alphas will also interact for the first time with these technologies at much younger ages than any other generation. Now, many teenagers don't wear watches because they use their cell phones for telling time, McCrindle notes. Imagine what Alphas will or won't wear or do because of their attachment to tech.

"They don't think about these technologies as tools," McCrindle says. "They integrate them singularly into their lives."

SEE ALSO: 15 Facts About Millennials And The Economy Everyone In Business Should Know

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08 Aug 09:43

iPhone 6 Clone Passed Off as Real Product to Street-Goers in Prank Video [iOS Blog]

by MacRumors

While Apple next-generation iPhone is still over a month away from being announced, a number of clones from various companies have hit the market to try and capitalize on customer anticipation. In a video posted to his channel, YouTuber Jonathan Morrison took Goophone’s “i6″ clone to Hollywood Boulevard to see if people would see the Android-based device as a real iPhone 6.

Individuals were told that the clone was the iPhone 6 and came with a number of new features, including an eight-day battery life, an “A10″ processor, and a high-resolution 8K sapphire display with 3D capabilities. Most people in fact believed those features, with one man proclaiming the phone felt “super fast” and another saying that the display “looked much clearer” than the display on his iPhone 5s.

At one point, a young individual in a crowd asks “How many milliamps does it have?” Morrison replies with “7,000″, causing the person to respond “How does that fit in there?!” Others were also told about additional features, with one woman believing that the phone’s photos were too high of a resolution for its screen, and a man in awe over the claimed “26-core” processor.

After being asked about Apple’s efforts in comparison to Samsung’s, one man even claims that the device is “really great” and that Apple has “caught up with this one.” Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel pulled a similar prank on Hollywood Boulevard last month, with his team showing pedestrians a $20 Casio watch and claiming it to be Apple’s long-awaited iWatch.

The post iPhone 6 Clone Passed Off as Real Product to Street-Goers in Prank Video [iOS Blog] appeared first on AIVAnet.

15 Jul 14:06

Chrome Is Ruining Your Windows Laptop Battery (GOOG)

by Dylan Love

Screen Shot 2014 07 15 at 9.59.33 AM

Ian Morris writes on Forbes that Windows users who prefer Google's Chrome web browser are inadvertently ruining their computer batteries. The problem lies in what's called a "system clock tick rate."

By default, a Windows PC tick rate is set to 15.625 milliseconds, meaning the processor "wakes up" and looks for work to do about 64 times per second. But running Chrome resets the tick rate to 1 millisecond — the processor is now up and looking for work 1,000 times per second.

Here's how Morris explains what this is all about:

What is a clock tick anyway, and why does it matter? In an OS like Windows, events are often set to run at intervals. To save power, the processor sleeps when nothing needs attention, and wakes at predefined intervals. This interval is what Chrome adjusts in Windows, so reducing it to 1.000ms means that the system is waking far more often than at 15.625ms. In fact, at 1.000ms the processor is waking 1000 times per second. The default, of 15.625ms means the processor wakes just 64 times per second to check on events that need attention.

According to Microsoft, such a drastic change in system clock tick rate can increase power demands by up to 25%, and your laptop battery is left carrying that burden. And because a tick rate is universal, it only takes one application messing with it (Chrome) to affect it system-wide.

Surprisingly, little ol' Internet Explorer is savvy enough to adapt its tick rate. Casual browsing inside of IE that's full of idle time will leave the rate unaffected at 15.625 milliseconds. Start playing a video on YouTube and it will adjust the rate to 1 millisecond for smooth media playback. By contrast, Chrome on Windows sets the rate up high and leaves it there until you close the browser.

The only real "solution" to this problem for now is to close Chrome and adopt another browser. Internet Explorer and Firefox do not have this problem.

Morris calls for those who want Google to doing something about it to "star" the issue in the company's bug tracking system. Click here, then click on the star at the left to light it up.

Screen_Shot_2014 07 15_at_9_54_03_AM


SEE ALSO: Boston Dynamics's Robot Dogs Are Already Training With The US Marine Corps

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08 Jul 12:35

PS4 fails to impact Japanese console market

by Emily Gera

PlayStation 4 consoles made a minimal impact on Japan's console market, according to data released by Tokyo-based magazine Enterbrain and translated by consultant Dr. Serkan Toto.

The Sony console, which launched in Japan in February following its release in the West, saw revenue of 706.3 million yen during the first half of 2014 — only a slight increase from the 663.9 million yen earned during the first half of 2013.

According to data from Media Create, the PlayStation 4 has failed to sell more than 10,000 units in a single week in over two months in Japan. This places the console behind both Wii U and PlayStation Vita in popularity.

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07 Jul 11:12

Command & Conquer multiplayer is saved following GameSpy shutdown

by Emily Gera

Fans of the Command & Conquer series have launched a new multiplayer server for a number of games in the strategy franchise following the shuttering of GameSpy's servers earlier in the year.

C&C: Online is a free emulation of the original GameSpy servers for the Command & Conquer games affected by GameSpy's closure. This includes Command & Conquer: Generals, Command & Conquer: Zero Hour, Command & Conquer 3, Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

Those interested can sign up for free by registering with Revora.

Fifty titles from Electronic Arts, including those from the Command & Conquer series, were affected by the termination of GameSpy's hosting service.

GameSpy Technology, a service that provides...

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07 Jul 10:39

A new Kinect for Windows is coming, and this is why you should care

by Tom Warren

Microsoft’s second Kinect for Windows sensor is arriving on July 15th for $199, and it’s aiming to take things even further away from gaming. While Kinect’s early usage was boosted by the Xbox 360, developers haven’t enthusiastically supported Kinect on the Xbox platform ever since. Instead, Kinect has become extremely popular with Windows developers. The latest Kinect for Windows sensor takes the same form as the Xbox One’s version and it’s practically the same. Compared to the previous version, it now features a higher fidelity sensor with a 1080p camera, a larger field of view, and better skeletal tracking.

Developers have been calling out for reduced latency and improved finger tracking, and Microsoft has largely answered those...

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03 Jul 11:24

The Web We Lost

Update: A few months after this piece was published, I was invited by Harvard's Berkman Center to speak about this topic in more detail. Though the final talk is an hour long, it offers much more insight into the topic, and I hope you'll give it a look.

The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we've lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.

So here's a few glimpses of a web that's mostly faded away:

  • Five years ago, most social photos were uploaded to Flickr, where they could be tagged by humans or even by apps and services, using machine tags. Images were easily discoverable on the public web using simple RSS feeds. And the photos people uploaded could easily be licensed under permissive licenses like those provided by Creative Commons, allowing remixing and reuse in all manner of creative ways by artists, businesses, and individuals.
  • A decade ago, Technorati let you search most of the social web in real-time (though the search tended to be awful slow in presenting results), with tags that worked as hashtags do on Twitter today. You could find the sites that had linked to your content with a simple search, and find out who was talking about a topic regardless of what tools or platforms they were using to publish their thoughts. At the time, this was so exciting that when Technorati failed to keep up with the growth of the blogosphere, people were so disappointed that even the usually-circumspect Jason Kottke flamed the site for letting him down. At the first blush of its early success, though, Technorati elicited effusive praise from the likes of John Gruber:
[Y]ou could, in theory, write software to examine the source code of a few hundred thousand weblogs, and create a database of the links between these weblogs. If your software was clever enough, it could refresh its information every few hours, adding new links to the database nearly in real time. This is, in fact, exactly what Dave Sifry has created with his amazing Technorati. At this writing, Technorati is watching over 375,000 weblogs, and has tracked over 38 million links. If you haven’t played with Technorati, you’re missing out.
  • Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn't yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren't about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links.
  • In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company, even if you documented the protocol and encouraged others to clone the service, you'd be described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act. There was such distrust of consistent authentication services that even Microsoft had to give up on their attempts to create such a sign-in. Though their user experience was not as simple as today's ubiquitous ability to sign in with Facebook or Twitter, the TypeKey service introduced then had much more restrictive terms of service about sharing data. And almost every system which provided identity to users allowed for pseudonyms, respecting the need that people have to not always use their legal names.
  • In the early part of this century, if you made a service that let users create or share content, the expectation was that they could easily download a full-fidelity copy of their data, or import that data into other competitive services, with no restrictions. Vendors spent years working on interoperability around data exchange purely for the benefit of their users, despite theoretically lowering the barrier to entry for competitors.
  • In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company's site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.
  • Five years ago, if you wanted to show content from one site or app on your own site or app, you could use a simple, documented format to do so, without requiring a business-development deal or contractual agreement between the sites. Thus, user experiences weren't subject to the vagaries of the political battles between different companies, but instead were consistently based on the extensible architecture of the web itself.
  • A dozen years ago, when people wanted to support publishing tools that epitomized all of these traits, they'd crowd-fund the costs of the servers and technology needed to support them, even though things cost a lot more in that era before cloud computing and cheap bandwidth. Their peers in the technology world, though ostensibly competitors, would even contribute to those efforts.

This isn't our web today. We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

Back To The Future

When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram's meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can't search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

We'll fix these things; I don't worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we're going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.

This isn't some standard polemic about "those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!" I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They're amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they're based on a few assumptions that aren't necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

The first step to disabusing them of this notion is for the people creating the next generation of social applications to learn a little bit of history, to know your shit, whether that's about Twitter's business model or Google's social features or anything else. We have to know what's been tried and failed, what good ideas were simply ahead of their time, and what opportunities have been lost in the current generation of dominant social networks.

So what did I miss? What else have we lost on the social web?

A follow-up: How we rebuild the web we lost.

27 Jun 23:30

Practicing immoral behavior in a game may make you more morally sensitive, study says

by Samit Sarkar

The conventional wisdom about violent video games is that playing them can desensitize you to the violence in question, leaving you less able to care about those immoral acts in the future. New research indicates that the exact opposite may be true.

A study led by Matthew Grizzard (photo below), assistant professor in the department of communication at the University at Buffalo, reaffirmed previous research saying that committing immoral acts in games can cause players to feel guilt. Moreover, the study found that players would become more sensitive to the specific moral codes that they violated while playing — and according to Grizzard and his co-authors, that may eventually lead players to practice prosocial behavior (that is,...

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26 Jun 22:06

These Photoshopped Portraits Show How People Define Beauty In 19 Different Countries

by Aaron Taube


In an effort to get a glimpse of how the world thinks about beauty, the journalist Esther Honig sent out a photo of herself to graphic designers in more than 20 countries.

Their task: to edit the photo to make Honig look "beautiful" — however the designer defined the term.

The results are telling. Each photo represents the personal and cultural beauty standards of the designer, with the American editor giving Honig bright blue eyes and long hair, and the Israeli designer darkening her eyes and skin.

You can read more about the project at Honig's website. Click below to see photos from the 19 different countries she's posted so far.

Here's Honig's original photo.

And here's how she was photoshopped in Argentina.


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

26 Jun 09:47

The world must build more nuclear power plants to halt climate change

by Rich McCormick

Nuclear power plants aren't being built fast enough for the world to hit important carbon emissions targets, according to the International Energy Agency. A lack of trust in nuclear technology, coupled with the global economic downturn that began in 2008, has resulted in a slowdown of construction and a plateau of the world's nuclear energy capacity.

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27 May 19:52

Russia's Aircraft Carrier Crossed Into A NATO Member State's Territory With Total Impunity

by Jeremy Bender

russia ship Admiral Kuznetsov

On May 8, Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, passed through the Netherlands' exclusive economic zone. Although the Dutch Navy had spotted the Kuznetsov days earlier, it was unable to provide an escort for the Russian warship as it passed through their territorial waters, David Cenciotti wrote for Medium

Just as it is common practice for NATO air forces to scramble and intercept intruding aircraft, non-NATO vessels are supposed to be escorted as they pass through a member state's territorial waters. 

Ultimately, the Dutch Coast Guard resorted to deploying a Dornier-228 aircraft to shadow the Russians through the Netherlands' territory. But the aircraft lacks the equipment necessary for comprehensive electronic or photographic intelligence gathering. 

Since 2002, the Dutch have retired their entire fleet of dedicated patrol aircraft. The Royal Netherlands Navy has also shrank due to years of military budget cuts. 

This failure of the Dutch to escort a Russian ship through its own territory underscores a wider failing within Europe to maintain a state of military readiness. NATO members are meant to spend at least 2% of their GDP every year on defense spending, although only four member states reached that goal in 2013. 

NATO military spending

Defense spending throughout much of Europe has steadily fallen over the past two decades, partly because of the U.S.'s treaty-bound protection of its European allies. And the end of the Cold War convinced European states that a period of peace was at hand. 

The average defense spending of European NATO members fell from 2.5% of GDP between 1990 to 1994 to only 1.6% of GDP by 2013. In comparison, the U.S.'s defense spending remains over the NATO minimum at 4.1% of GDP. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted that NATO members began to make credible commitments to increase their defense spending over the next five years. 

SEE ALSO: NATO's secretary general tells Europe to stop relying on the US and provide its own defense

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24 May 13:59

Europeans Have Started Speaking ‘Globish,' A Kind Of Global English

by The Economist

flags EU Parliament

What language does Europe speak? France has lost its battle for French. Europeans now overwhelmingly opt for English. The Eurovision song contest, won this month by an Austrian cross-dresser, is mostly English-speaking, even if the votes are translated into French.

The European Union conducts ever more business in English. Interpreters sometimes feel they are speaking to themselves.

Last year Germany's president, Joachim Gauck, argued for an English-speaking Europe: national languages would be cherished for spirituality and poetry alongside "a workable English for all of life's situations and all age groups".

Some detect a European form of global English (globish): a patois with English physiognomy, cross-dressed with continental cadences and syntax, a train of EU institutional jargon and sequins of linguistic false friends (mostly French).

In Brussels "to assist" means to be present, not to help; "to control" means to check, rather than to exercise power; "adequate" means appropriate or suitable, rather than (barely) sufficient; and mass nouns are countable, such as advices, informations and aids. "Anglo-Saxon" is not a historical term referring to Germanic tribes in Britain, but a political insult followed by "capitalism" or even "press".

Ordinary Europeans got a first taste of Euro-globish in the televised debates among leading contenders for the European election on May 22nd-25th. The idea of the main European political groups picking "Spitzenkandidaten" to become the president of the European Commission is a novelty (and has created Brussels's first German neologism in years). It is meant to close the democratic deficit, stir excitement, arrest the fall in turnout and check the rise of anti-EU parties.

In contrast with popular music, though, Euro-globish has a long way to go before it dominates electoral politics. Of the five Spitzenkandidaten debating in Brussels on May 15th, Alexis Tsipras, champion of a far-left alliance, insisted on speaking Greek.

Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's standard-bearer for the Christian Democrats, chose French. The three others gamely abided by the request to speak English: two Germans, Martin Schulz and Ska Keller from the Social Democrats and Greens, respectively, and a Belgian, Guy Verhofstadt, for the Liberals.

As they replied to the Italian moderator's questions about growth, austerity, the euro, economic integration, free trade with America and much else, the politicians showed remarkable fortitude in trying to reach out to voters in what was often their second language.

And spare a thought for the viewers who, for the most part, were not native English-speakers (many broadcasters provided simultaneous interpretation). Inevitably, it made for a stiff and stilted exchange.

The candidates were uninspiring and hard to tell apart in their desire for "more Europe".

But language barriers added to a sense of strange remoteness. Europhiles are pleased that the final debate stimulated more than 100,000 messages on Twitter.

But contrast that with the 5m tweets around the Eurovision contest, and it is plain that European-level democracy has not gripped the public.

Politics is surely best conducted in the vernacular.

John Stuart Mill, for one, thought multilingual democracy a nonsense because "the united public opinion, necessary to the working of a representative government, cannot exist."

EU languages parliamentYet, as Switzerland shows, a country can have more than one vernacular.

In theory that might work for Europe. Mr Schulz and Mr Juncker got more prime-time attention when they debated separately on French and German TV in the local tongue.

However, even the finest polyglot would struggle to reach voters in 24 official languages.

Philippe Van Parijs, a professor at Louvain University, argues that European-level democracy does not require a homogenous culture, or ethnos; a common political community, or demos, needs only a lingua franca. Was Nelson Mandela less democratic for speaking English in multi-ethnic and multilingual South Africa?

English is spreading fast, with more than 40% of young Europeans claiming to be able to speak it in some form. The answer to Europe's democratic deficit, says Mr Van Parijs, is to accelerate the process so that English is not just the language of an elite but also the means for poorer Europeans to be heard.

An approximate version of English, with a limited vocabulary of just a few hundred words, would suffice.

Yet European politics remains firmly national.

There is often a gap between the Spitzenkandidaten and the national parties they supposedly represent. The Christian Democrat, Social Democratic and Liberal Spitzenkandidaten may believe in Eurobonds, but their German colleagues do not.

Mr Schulz was told by Britain's Labour Party not to show his face there. Mr Juncker has no real ally from his European People's Party in Britain (the Tories left in 2009) and the wrong sort in Italy (Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia is waging an embarrassing anti-German campaign).

And The English Problem

The experiment with Spitzenkandidaten will probably end badly. If one of them wins, it will be seen as a power-grab by MEPs to take from elected national leaders the right to choose who runs the commission; if they all fail, the EU-wide democratic contest will look a sham.

It also poses a dilemma for the British prime minister, David Cameron. He finds all the Spitzenkandidaten unacceptably federalist (Britain vetoed Mr Verhofstadt's bid for the commission in 2004). But he cannot block anybody alone.

Several leaders, including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, have more or less endorsed Spitzenkandidaten, and few have criticised the idea openly. If Mr Cameron is isolated and an arch-federalist is chosen, that will increase the risk that Britain may leave. How strange if Europe were to become an English-speaking union without its largest English-speaking country.

Click here to subscribe to The Economist.

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16 May 18:05

Why One Of New York's Best Instagrammers Deleted The App For Good

by Caroline Moss

In December, WNYC named Taylor Lorenz one of the 16 best New Yorkers to follow on Instagram.

The recognition was well deserved. Taylor takes beautiful photos that really capture NYC. Like this one.

Taylor Instagram

Lorenz, Head of Social Media at The Daily Mail (and disclosure, close friend of the author of this post), announced she deleted the app off her phone today:

Taylor Twitter

People were not happy to hear it.

Twitter Taylor

Lorenz explained in various tweets that it had to do with the now-defunct broad Explorer tab, which Instagram recently swapped out for a more tight-knit community feel, showing you photos your friends and friends of friends have been liking.

Business Insider reached out to Lorenz for the full explanation on why Instagram's changes forced Lorenz to clear it off her phone.

Here was what she said:

The Explore tab was basically what I loved about Instagram the most. It used to be called the "Popular page" and when Instagram was really small, you actually had a chance of getting [your photos featured] on it. Some of my favorite NYC Instagrammers had pics featured on it in the beginning, and it's basically how I found a whole community on Instagram.

As the platform began to grow, the Popular page turned into the Explore tab. And it was less about local Instagram people and more about celebrities, Russian socialites, Australian YouTubers, landscape photographers who always went crazy with editing, but it was still my primary tool to discover new people and photos.

When I would go on Instagram, I'd spend 20% of my time scrolling through my own feed of people I follow and 80% trolling the Explorer tab, finding cool photos, and awesome communities, like Cheerlebrities.

With the new update, 90% of my Explorer tab is just photos my friends have liked or commented on. It's like, they're giving you a photo from a friend of a friend that your other friend has engaged with.

It feels like the app has closed in on itself and I can't find all the random cool people/photos that I could there before. It seemed like Instagram was creating the communities for you instead of letting you find your own.

It's pointless to me. I checked out the Explorer tab for the last few weeks, and there are fewer and fewer cool things, and I got bored.

When we asked Lorenz if she thought she'd ever add the app back onto her phone, she told us she'd consider it if they developed a better discovery tool. 

"I like what Vine has done in terms of categories," she added, speaking to Twitter's 6-second video platform, "I like Vine a lot."

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14 May 14:06

An Apple Employee Admits That iPhones Often Won't Deliver Texts If You Switch To Android (AAPL)

by Jim Edwards

Apple Android

For years, Apple has said very little about persistent rumors that its iPhone text messaging system in some way discriminates against Android users, either by delivering messages to them late or not delivering them at all.

Now an Apple customer support employee has admitted to Lifehacker's Adam Pash that, in fact, "a lot" of users have this problem: If you switch from an iPhone to an Android, iMessage won't deliver texts from iPhone users to your new Android phone.

There is no fix in sight, Pash says he was told. (At Business Insider, I've had a version of this problem firsthand: My iPhone colleagues get my texts immediately; those on Android seem to get them later, up to a few minutes behind.)

The issue was raised earlier this year by The New York Times, Mashable and Fast Company. The latter went so far as to allege, "Apple is punishing you for ditching your iPhone by cutting you off from your friends, and they want to make it feel like you need to be on an Apple device to talk to the people you care about."

We spoke to Apple recently and it pointed us to this customer support page which instructs users how to turn off iMessage so that other iPhones don't continue to try to deliver messages to your disused iMessage address. The technical issue here is that iMessage is not the same as a regular mobile phone text. It's a separate, different system. Texts get "stuck" briefly or permanently inside iMessage when they're directed to someone who has switched their number to an Android phone because they're trying to find your old, inactive iMessage address.

Apple's customer support was initially useless when Pash called for help. Pash writes:

Apple Support: “Can you try deleting the contact from your new iPhone and re-adding it?”

Me: “I can’t tell everyone I know to delete and re-add me as a contact.”

Eventually, the service rep admitted there was a problem. Pash writes:

  • This is a problem a lot of people are facing.
  • The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it.
  • There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.

This is, apparently, a key admission from Apple. Previously the company had advised people to actively switch off iMessage before disposing of their old iPhone in favor of an Android. Its help page hints at how long the Android text issue lasts, too:

If you want to transfer your SIM card or phone number to a device that doesn't support iMessage

Go to Settings > Messages and turn off iMessage if you plan to transfer your SIM card or phone number from an iPhone to a device that doesn't support iMessage. If you don't, other iOS devices might continue to try to send you messages using iMessage, instead of using SMS or MMS, for up to 45 days.

We asked Apple for further comment but did not immediately get a response.

SEE ALSO: Here's A Chart That Really Does Show Android Is For Poor People

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13 May 11:36

Syrians Will Soon Make Up One-Fourth Of Lebanon [MAPS]

by Michael Kelley

Screen Shot 2014 05 13 at 6.55.36 AM

More than one million Syrians — including 520,000 children — are now living in neighboring Lebanon as a result of civil war. And the UN is still registering one person each minute.

Nine million people out of a population of 27 million have been displaced by the war, which has killed at least 150,000 people, and Lebanon has bore the brunt of the 2.5 million who fled the country.

“The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” United Nations high commissioner António Guterres said in a statement recently. Lebanon's population is about 4.4 million.

This deluge of humanity has overwhelmed Lebanon's schools and public services, strained its economy, and stoked the sectarian and political tensions that continue to fuel the war in Syria.

Here another look at Lebanon as of April 30, 2014:

Screen Shot 2014 05 13 at 7.05.49 AM

Here's a look at how fast the refugee crisis overtook Lebanon:

Syrian Refugees Lebanon

They came from areas that saw heavy fighting, i.e., all over:

Syrian Refugees Lebanon

SEE ALSO: This Is Syria's Third Largest City [PHOTOS]

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09 May 00:52

Nobel-Prize Winning Economists: The War On Drugs Is A Catastrophic 'Billion-Dollar Failure'

by Paul Szoldra

colombia drug war

Five Nobel-Prize winning economists have signed onto an academic report published Tuesday in the London School of Economics calling for an end to the "war on drugs," calling it a "global failure."

The report, titled "Ending the Drug Wars," points to a failure to stem the flow of drugs around the world in addition to other negative effects, including violence in Afghanistan and Latin America, the explosion of drug-related incarceration in the United States, and an HIV epidemic in Russia, Al Jazeera reports.

Far from winning the fight, the report says the United Nations' "one-size-fits-all approach" has instead created a $300 billion black market.

"It is time to end the 'war on drugs' and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis," the authors write in the forward of the report. "The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global 'war on drugs' strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage."

Signatories include Nobel Prize winners Kenneth Arrow (1972), Christopher Pissarides (2010), Thomas Schelling (2005) Vernon Smith (2002) and Oliver Williamson (2009), as well as George Shultz, former Secretary of State under President Reagan, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and former NATO and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Among recommendations offered to the U.S. specifically, Ernest Drucker writes that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders should be ended and blanket amnesty should be offered for drug offenders already behind bars.

"The rapid rise in incarceration in the U.S. and several other countries ... " Drucker writes, has "impacted those imprisoned but also their families and communities."

While it does call for an end to the "war," the report does not call for legalization of all drugs — instead the authors ask for "rigorously monitored" experiments with legalization with a focus on public health and a minimization of the illegal drug trade as keys to solving the problem.

You can read the full report here >

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03 May 23:26

Here's How A Bunch Of Firemen Created A Viral Image That Ended Up Fooling The Internet

by Caroline Moss

If you spent any time on the Internet over the last few months, there's a chance you saw this photo of firemen who had found a fool-proof way to lay a hose over train tracks.

Firehose and Train Tracks 685x513

The photo went viral, being shared all over Twitter and Facebook. According to, this "smart trick" caused a train to derail.


Insane, right?

Not quite. The photo was actually a joke.

Firefighter Tom Bongaerts from Belgium took the photo at the beginning of April, posting it to Facebook:

train shares

The caption says something like: "Fire early this morning. Our hoses are still protected from the train!"

But that track was down that week for repairs. Those in town — presumably Tom's Facebook friends — knew that the photo was created and posted for laughs. There was no chance a train would be coming.

But soon, hundreds of people were sharing the photo on Facebook, adding their own commentary:

share gif

People who didn't know Tom or about the defunct train track began to see the photo, and, in disbelief, share the photo themselves.

After his picture was shared hundreds of times, it eventually became separated from its original source and its sarcastic caption.


People believed it was real. Stories — like the one about how a train derailed — began going viral as well. 

Several days later, after tons of tweets, shares, and email forwards in lots of languages, he wrote a follow up post explaining what happened:


It says:

Hey, this past week our funny photo went viral throughout the whole world. Thousands of shares and likes in many different countries!

Once and for all: The picture was taken in Belgium, in a small village called Bornem. After a minor intervention, we had some time left near the railway to make this picture. Since there were no trains running at all for a week due to maintenance works, we can state that our joke was a real success! 

A good reminder: Everything on the internet is a hoax.

[H/T Twenty Two Words]

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01 May 21:15

Microsoft’s decision to patch Windows XP is a mistake

by Peter Bright
Aurich Lawson

Microsoft officially ended support of the twelve-and-a-half-year-old Windows XP operating system a few weeks ago. Except it apparently didn't, because the company has included Windows XP in its off-cycle patch to fix an Internet Explorer zero-day that's receiving some amount of in-the-wild exploitation. The unsupported operating system is, in fact, being supported.

Explaining its actions, Microsoft says that this patch is an "exception" because of the "proximity to the end of support for Windows XP."

The decision to release this patch is a mistake, and the rationale for doing so is inadequate.

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01 May 18:27

NATO OFFICIAL: Russia Is Now An Adversary

by Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — After two decades of trying to build a partnership with Russia, the NATO alliance now feels compelled to start treating Moscow as an adversary, the second-ranking official of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Thursday.

"Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner," said Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary-general of NATO.

In a question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Vershbow said Russia's annexation of Crimea and its apparent manipulation of unrest in eastern Ukraine have fundamentally changed the NATO-Russia relationship.

"In central Europe, clearly we have two different visions of what European security should be like," Vershbow, a former U.S. diplomat and former Pentagon official, said. "We still would defend the sovereignty and freedom of choice of Russia's neighbors, and Russia clearly is trying to re-impose hegemony and limit their sovereignty under the guise of a defense of the Russian world."

In April, NATO suspended all "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Russia, although Russia has maintained its diplomatic mission to NATO, which was established in 1998.

Vershbow said NATO, created 65 years ago as a bulwark against the former Soviet Union, is considering new defensive measures aimed at deterring Russia from any aggression against NATO members along its border, such as the Baltic states that were once part of the Soviet Union, Vershbow said.

"We want to be sure that we can come to the aid of these countries if there were any, even indirect, threat very quickly before any facts on the ground can be established," he said.

To do that, NATO members will have to shorten the response time of its forces, he said.

Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said that among possible moves by NATO is deployment of more substantial numbers of allied combat forces to Eastern Europe, either permanently or on a rotational basis.

For the time being, he said, such defensive measures would be taken without violating the political pledge NATO made in 1997 when it established a new relationship with Moscow on terms aimed at offsetting Russian anger at the expansion of NATO to include Poland and other nations on Russia's periphery. At the time, NATO said it would not station nuclear weapons or substantial numbers of combat troops on the territory of those new members. For its part, Moscow pledged to respect the territorial integrity of other states.

Vershbow argued that Russia has violated its part of that agreement by its actions in Ukraine, and thus, "we would be within our rights now" to set aside the 1997 commitment by permanently stationing substantial numbers of combat troops in Poland or other NATO member nations in Eastern Europe. He said that question will be considered by leaders of NATO nations over the summer.

Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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01 May 20:03

Starting today, Yahoo will not honor Do Not Track settings

by Russell Brandom

Starting today, anyone visiting Yahoo will be tracked by default, regardless of whether they've enabled the Do Not Track setting on their browser. It's a bold stance by the company, which described the shift as a personalized experience by default, and a serious blow for the Do Not Track standard, which has suffered major setbacks in recent years. Users can still manage their privacy settings through the Yahoo Privacy settings, but they'll have to do so individually, and Yahoo sites won't be responding to any automated anti-ad-tracking signals like DNT. "We fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one," the privacy team said in a blog post.

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28 Apr 07:44

First photos of the NASCAR Dogecoin car

by Cassandra Khaw

Last month, members of /r/Dogecoin, a subreddit dedicated to the meme-inspired cryptocurrency, helped raise more than $50,000 for NASCAR driver Josh Wise. As a result, his number 98 racecar will be sporting Dogecoin imagery during the upcoming race at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4th. Photos of the finished "Dogecar," as some are calling it, were tweeted by Phil Parsons Racing yesterday. An illustrated likeness of Kabosu, the now iconic Shiba Inu, features prominently on both the hood and rear bumper of the vehicle.

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24 Apr 19:37

Can a tiny Pacific island nation stop nuclear powers?

by Jacob Kastrenakes

The tiny Pacific republic of the Marshall Islands has filed suit against the United States and the eight other nuclear-armed countries, alleging that they haven't met their obligations in working toward global nuclear disarmament. The lawsuits were filed in US federal court and the International Court of Justice and aim to compel the nine nations to begin making a "good faith" effort toward disarmament, as many of them have agreed to do under the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. "The failure of these nuclear-armed countries to uphold important commitments and respect the law makes the world a more dangerous place," Nobel Peace Prize-winner archbishop Desmond Tutu says in a statement supporting the lawsuits.

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23 Apr 19:20

Check Out The Fantastic Videos Made By The Vice Reporter Who Was Kidnapped In Ukraine

by Brett LoGiurato

Simon Ostrovsky

Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky, who was detained and held by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, has been responsible for a compelling video narrative series that has provided invaluable insight into the on-the-ground situation in the Ukrainian crisis.

His dispatches are perhaps the main reason the pro-Russian forces in the town of Slavyansk have detained him. The spokespeople for the pro-Russian militia holding him captive say he's not a hostage, but they refuse to let him leave the spot at which they're holding him. They have made it clear they are not happy with his reporting on the crisis.

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the separatist, self-declared "People's mayor" of the town, said he is being held for reporting false information. Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the pro-Russia insurgents in the town, told The Associated Press he is suspected of spying for the Right Sector, an ultranationalist pro-Ukraine group.

Ostrovsky's recent reporting in eastern Ukraine has only been the latest example of his feather-ruffling dispatches, which are part of a 28-part video series, "Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine." He garnered mainstream attention from his first video, when he witnessed a standoff between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers outside of a military base in Crimea:  

One of his most trafficked reports came with his third dispatch, when he openly challenged members of the so-called "Crimean defense force" who told him and Vice's cameraman they could not shoot at the location. Throughout the video, Ostrovsky encountered people openly hostile to journalists, from the pro-Russian forces to ordinary civilians.

"Why can't we film? Just because you don't want us to?" Ostrovsky asked the soldier outside of a naval base in Crimea. 

"Show me a document," he continued. "Your only document is your gun." 

But perhaps his most harrowing dispatch comes when he was confronted by members of the Berkut, the riot police force disbanded by authorities in Kiev, at a Russian checkpoint. During one interaction, one member says he'll "shoot to kill," before attacking Ostrovsky and his cameraman. Later in the video, Ostrovsky said the forces searched both him and his cameraman, and he speculated he was saved solely because he was an American and his cameraman was from Britain, and they "didn't want to create an international incident."

This scene shows the relieved aftermath from the chaotic scene:

Simon Ostrovsky

Here's the whole dispatch: 

Ostrovsky's final dispatch came on Sunday, when he began detailing the events in Slavyansk. It ended with the same final credits as the other 27 that came before it: "TO BE CONTINUED." 

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22 Apr 21:46

iPhones and Macs get fix for extremely critical “triple handshake” crypto bug

by Dan Goodin

Apple has patched versions of its iOS and OS X operating systems to fix yet another extremely critical cryptography vulnerability that leaves some users open to surreptitious eavesdropping. Readers are urged to install the updates immediately.

The flaw resides in the secure transport mechanism of iOS version 7.1 and earlier for iPhones and iPads and the Mountain Lion 10.8.5 and Mavericks 10.9.2 versions of Mac OS X, according to advisories here and here. The bug makes it possible to bypass HTTPS encryption protections that are designed to prevent eavesdropping and data tampering by attackers with the capability to monitor traffic sent by and received from vulnerable devices. Such "man-in-the-middle" attackers could exploit the bug by abusing the "triple handshake" carried out when secure connections are established by applications that use client certificates to authenticate end users.

"In a 'triple handshake' attack, it was possible for an attacker to establish two connections which had the same encryption keys and handshake, insert the attacker's data in one connection, and renegotiate so that the connections may be forwarded to each other," Apple's warning explained. "To prevent attacks based on this scenario, Secure Transport was changed so that, by default, a renegotiation must present the same server certificate as was presented in the original connection."

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22 Apr 19:29

This Bizarre Structure Could Provide Drinking Water Even In A Desert

by Leslie Baehr


The tower in the image above might look like art, but the strange 30-foot gourd shape is an incredibly practical device that can pull water out of the air — up to 25 gallons a day.

The tower, called the Warka Water, works even in the desert and costs less than $700 for materials.

The beauty of the structure is its low-tech simplicity.

The Warka Water, a product from Architecture and Vision, is biodegradable and can be set up without mechanical tools in less than a week. The primary ingredients are bamboo — which can be bought or harvested where local conditions allow — and mesh, Architecture and Vision Director Arturo Vittori told Business Insider.


"Once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka," Vittori told Tuan C. Nguyen on Vittori created the Warka with Andreas Vogler.

How It Works

Each piece of the structure has a purpose. The exoskeleton of each Warka is made of bamboo and is designed for stability and ease of airflow. Inside the exoskeleton is a mesh net, designed to attract water condensation. Once collected, the droplets of water make their way down the mesh to a container at the bottom.

The water that is collected is drinkable as is, as long as the local air conditions are not too polluted, said Vittori. Exactly how much water is produced depends on seasonal and climatic conditions such as humidity, wind, and temperature difference.

The Warka Water is not the first mesh device designed to harvest water from the air, but it may be the most economical. It creates more water at a lower cost than its predecessors, according to Nguyen.

WarkaWater Providing Needed Water

In certain parts of rural Ethiopia, obtaining drinking water means a six-hour journey. Constructing a well close by often requires drilling a 1,600-foot hole — an expensive undertaking.


"We can say a Warka could provide drinking water for a small rural community of 40 inhabitants," Vittori said, pointing out that that number would vary based on climate.

Vittori hopes each one will last four to eight years with regular maintenance, but they're still doing tests.

The Warka has held its own in field tests, providing more than 25 gallons of water in a day. Because it relies on temperature differences between day and night, it can collect water in the desert, where that difference can be extreme.

It should get even cheaper as components are mass produced, Vittori said. Maintenance requires only that the mesh and container are cleaned regularly and broken parts are fixed.

The towers aren't available yet. They're still in the testing phase. "We are looking for funding to complete the design phase and built three or four test structures in different parts of central Africa," said Vittori.

The testing phase should cost less than $280,000 to complete, he said.

SEE ALSO: With This Robotics Program Thriving In Public Schools, It's 'Cool To Make Mistakes Again'

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20 Apr 21:41

Powdered alcohol may be coming to a liquor store near you

by Dante D'Orazio

Putting a can of beer in a brown paper bag is about to look like child's play. A new product that's somehow been approved by US regulators makes booze as discreet as a packet of sugar. It's called Palcohol, and it transforms a shot of vodka or rum into a pocketable pouch of powder. Tear it open, add some water, mix, and you've got hard liquor. Considering the age group that Palcohol is going to appeal to, however, the sweet, pre-mixed powders are probably going to be far more popular. To start off, the company plans to make margarita, mojito, cosmopolitan, and lemon drop flavors.

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19 Apr 21:01

SOE president says H1Z1 makers are 'fans and contributors' of DayZ

by Owen S. Good

In an AMA on Reddit yesterday, John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, was asked about similarities that SOE's upcoming MMO H1Z1 shares with DayZ, the tremendously successful ArmA 2 mod from 2012 set in a post-apocalyptic open world. Smedley acknowledged that he, and "most of the people on our team" are 'fans and contributors' of DayZ.

"Not going to give some politically correct dodgy b.s. answer," he wrote. "H1Z1 is a survival in a Zombie Apocalypse game. So is DayZ. They have made a brilliant game (first I might add). So sure. We're another Zombie Apocalypse game. Call it what it is. But our goal is to make ours fun, accessible, hard core and super, super deep.

"This is our take on the Zombie Apocalypse with a lot...

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18 Apr 18:29

SpaceX's third supply mission takes off for the ISS

by Adi Robertson

Update April 18th, 2014 3:30pm: The Falcon 9 has successfully launched, and the capsule is headed towards the ISS for a Sunday docking.

After weeks of delays, SpaceX is preparing to launch its third supply mission to the International Space Station. The Falcon 9 rocket and accompanying Dragon capsule are expected to blast off from Cape Canaveral at 3:25 EDT, and the craft is set to rendezvous with the space station on the morning of Sunday, April 20th. A video feed of the takeoff will go live around 2:45PM. The CRS-3 mission, carried out through a partnership with NASA, comes almost two years after the Dragon capsule became the first commercial craft to ever dock with the ISS. This time, SpaceX is using the flight to test the next steps...

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17 Apr 22:03

Pope Francis Washes Feet Of Disabled, Including An Elderly Muslim

by Agence France Presse

pope kisses and washes feet

Pope Francis washed the feet of a dozen elderly and disabled people including a Libyan Muslim during an Easter ritual in Rome on Thursday imitating Jesus Christ's humility.

The 77-year-old bent down with difficulty to wash and kiss the feet of the nine Italians and three foreigners aged between 16 and 86 years old at the Don Carlo Gnocchi foundation's Santa Maria della Provvidenza centre.

Francis arrived in a Ford Focus to cheers from crowds and stopped to speak with elderly and disabled people gathered at the centre's modern Church in Rome's suburbs, before picking up a silver urn of water and a white towel, and kneeling in front of the chosen 12.

"It was the slaves, the servants who washed the dirt from the street off the feet of arriving guests. Jesus did a slave's job. He is God and became our servant," the pope said.

The youngest to have his feet washed at the ceremony, which is part of the run-up to Easter Sunday, was 16-year-old Osvaldinho from Cape Verde, who is wheelchair bound after damaging his spine diving into the sea last summer.

Angelica, 86, who fell and broke her hip last year, was the oldest -- along with artisan Pietro, who suffers from muscular problems and poor balance.

Among the others was 75-year-old Hamed, a Libyan Muslim who worked for years for the Italian-Arab chamber of commerce, before a road accident left him with serious neurological damage.

Francis has often shown particular attention to disabled people and the elderly, condemning a "hidden euthanasia" in modern societies against the old.

Shortly after his election last year, Francis visited a youth detention centre where he performed the washing of feet ritual on a group of young inmates -- including two Muslims, the first Catholic leader ever to do so.

Copyright (2014) AFP. All rights reserved.

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