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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Hogwarts (UNSATISFACTORY).

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

This essay was originally published on Peter Wharmby’s blog, Life, Teaching, and Other Distractions.

The Achievement of Pupils Is Satisfactory.

Pupils at Hogwarts have access to a reasonably wide range of esoteric qualifications, suited to its key demographic. As an independent school, it does not have to follow the National Curriculum closely; however, it is disappointing to note that basic requirements such as English, Mathematics, and Religious Education are all lacking or entirely missing from the school’s syllabus. This has had adverse effects on all students, many of whom have never even been taught basic KS1 or 2 literacy. A few students have attended state or independent primary schools, and these students typically perform very well in contrast to their peers.

The majority of students appear to be underperforming, with most pupils struggling in all their lessons, most of which appear to be set at too challenging a level. One particular class, which seemed to be based on A-Level chemistry, proved too difficult for even the most proficient students. Only one pupil managed to complete the lesson objectives, mainly thanks to his use of an annotated textbook. However, certain subjects appear to be either very short-term or far too easy for the majority of students. An outdoors lesson was observed where students made very little progress over several lessons, simply performing the same repetitive tasks again and again, counting and feeding small maggot-like creatures. Clearly the curriculum requires an overhaul to bring literacy and numeracy levels up to the appropriate level for such a prestigious establishment.

The bullying of students by staff is at unacceptable levels, with some students singled out from an early age for grudges that seem to date back decades.

Extracurricular activities are well-established at the school, with chess clubs, animal care groups, and “duelling clubs” all vying for popularity. There is a definite sense of social responsibility among some students, with evidence of a student-led campaign to get the canteen workers more breaks and holiday time. The school library is underused and often totally empty. The librarian has no idea why this is the case.

The sixth form is indistinguishable from the main school, as the students all remain on to study to the age of 18. The subjects offered remain the same, though with more rigorous examinations. End of KS4 results are generally average, whereas end of KS5 results this year were disrupted by unforeseen and external events. Students typically go into government posts, journalism, or remain unemployed.

The Quality of Teaching Is Unsatisfactory.

Teaching at Hogwarts is generally very old-fashioned and lets the students down considerably. Lessons are formulaic and, other than the occasional impressive display of skills from teaching staff, are dull and lifeless. Lessons all too often revolve around tedious rote-work and use of textbooks. The study of History is particularly poor, with very little teacher interaction and no group work of any kind. Students were frequently found to be asleep during these lessons and, on one occasion, the teacher was also sleeping at a desk. Clearly this is not good enough and suggests that Senior Leadership need to have far more rigorous Continuing Professional Development in place for struggling teachers, alive or dead.

Teachers have very high expectations of their pupils—often far too high for their age and ability. Again, during chemistry, the teacher was seen to display entirely unfounded expectations of a Year 7 class who could barely keep up with his description of various chemicals, poisons, and antidotes. Students in this class were often punished for their lack of prior knowledge after knowledge harvests—a worrying trend that the SLT need to counter as soon as possible.


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Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/low_concept/2013/11/the_board_of_education_finally_inspects_harry_potter_s_hogwarts.html
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iTunes’ Official Music Charts for the week ending Nov. 4, 2013:

Top Songs

1. “The Monster (feat. Rihanna)”, Eminem

2. “Royals”, Lorde

3. “Story Of My Life”, One Direction

4. “Roar”, Katy Perry

5. “Wake Me Up”, Avicii

6. “Let Her Go”, Passenger

7. “Counting Stars”, OneRepublic

8. “Wrecking Ball”, Miley Cyrus

9. “Demons”, Imagine Dragons

10. “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”, Ylvis

Top Albums

1. “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”, Eminem

2. “Reflektor”, Arcade Fire

3. “PRISM “, Katy Perry

4. “Pure Heroine”, Lorde

5. “Midnight Memories “, One Direction

6. “Nothing Was the Same”, Drake

7. “It Goes Like This”, Thomas Rhett

8. “Wrapped In Red”, Kelly Clarkson

9. “RECHARGED”, LINKIN PARK

10. “Bangerz “, Miley Cyrus

___

(copyright) 2013 Apple Inc.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/top-10-songs-albums-itunes-store-172918537.html
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Posted by: Evan Litsios / added: 11.05.2013 / Back to What Up

Think Thank is proud to release Mr. Ted “Bundy” Borland’s full part from last year’s release: “Mind The Video Man.” Ted’s super-consistent style owes itself to his ability to make very difficult and technical tricks look smooth and effortless. Not to mention that Ted is choosey with his tricks, always delivering a well-curated trick selection.

Bundy killed it in Mind The Video Man, and went even harder last season. If you haven’t seen Think Thank’s most recent release, “Brain Dead and Having a Heart Attack”, we strongly suggest you do.

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Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing as the panel seeks reassurances about problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans on the committee emphasized their longstanding criticism of the law, citing examples of cancellations and increased costs while raising questions about cyber-security for healthcare.gov. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing as the panel seeks reassurances about problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans on the committee emphasized their longstanding criticism of the law, citing examples of cancellations and increased costs while raising questions about cyber-security for healthcare.gov. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa greets Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, prior to he testifying before the committee’s hearing on problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee member Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., questions Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, as she testified before the committee’s hearing as the panel seeks reassurances about problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. At right is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Republicans on the committee emphasized their longstanding criticism of the law, citing examples of cancellations and increased costs while raising questions about cyber-security for healthcare.gov. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

File-This April 17, 2013 file photo Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as she testifies on Capitol Hill before the committee’s hearing on President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014. After warning months ago that a “train wreck” was coming in implementing the nation’s new health care law, Baucus now says he thinks the rollout can get back on track after a bumbling beginning. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under growing pressure, the administration refused repeatedly to state a position Tuesday on legislation formalizing President Barack Obama’s oft-stated promise that people who like their existing coverage should be allowed to keep it under the new health care law.

Senate Democrats spoke dismissively of the proposals, signaling they have no intention of permitting a vote on the issue that marks the latest challenge confronting supporters of “Obamacare.”

An earlier controversy appeared to be ebbing on a law that has generated more than its share of them. Even so, one strong supporter of the health care law, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R. I., good-naturedly told an administration official, “Good luck getting through this mess.”

Whitehouse spoke to Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the agency deeply involved in implementing the law. She had assured lawmakers that initial flaws with the government’s website were systematically yielding to around-the-clock repair effort.

“Users can now successfully create an account and continue through the full application and enrollment process,” said Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “We are now able to process nearly 17,000 registrants per hour, or 5 per second, with almost no errors.”

She encouraged consumers to log onto the site and check it out, and said the administration had estimated that enrollments will total 800,000 by the end of November.

At the same time, she repeatedly refused to tell inquiring Republicans how many enrollments have taken place to date, saying that information would be made available at mid-month.

Across the Capitol, that reluctance drew a subpoena from Rep. Dave Camp, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. He said the material was “critical government information” that the administration has refused to provide voluntarily, and demanded that it be turned over by Friday.

In response, a CMS spokeswoman, Tasha Bradley, said: “We have received the subpoena and are committed to working with the committee to accommodate their interest in this issue.” She did not explicitly pledge compliance.

In her testimony, Tavenner also sought to reassure lawmakers who expressed concerns about cybersecurity at http://www.healthcare.gov .

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., cited the case of a Columbia, S.C. attorney, who used the website to look for coverage, only to learn later that some of his personal information had been made available to a different browser, a man in North Carolina.

“Has this happened before?” Scott asked. “Can you guarantee that Social Security numbers … are secure? Will you shut down the website, as my friends from the left have already suggested, until security issues are fixed?”

Tavenner offered reassurances, and said officials from her agency were attempting to get in touch with the man whose information had been disclosed.

Scott said what the “consumer sees is not what’s going wrong, it’s that their confidence is going down.”

The controversy over the ability of consumers to keep their existing plans flared last week, when insurance companies mailed out millions of cancellation notices, often citing the new health care law as the reason.

House Republicans intend to vote as early as next week on legislation that permits insurers to reinstate the canceled plans, which fall short of the coverage requirement under the health care law. One Democrat, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, has proposed requiring insurers to do so.

But the Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Democrats had voted unanimously against similar proposals in the past and were having “foxhole conversions.”

“I think what will be really interesting to see in the Senate is the number of Democrats in very red states who are up in ’14 and what they start demanding … in terms of adjustments to this law,” he said.

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney refused repeatedly to state a position on the proposals, saying he hadn’t “reviewed or seen an examination internally” on any of them.

Shifting the focus away from what Obama has said repeatedly, the spokesman said, “The world back to which many critics want us to go, is a world in which insurers have that power to say that, you know, your relative, who has a pre-existing condition either has no chance of getting coverage or is going to be charged so much that he or she can’t afford it.”

In words Republican critics cite frequently, Obama pledged in mid-2009: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period” and “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

In recent days, Obama and top aides have sought to amend or clarify the pledge, a tacit acknowledgement that it hasn’t been kept.

Like Carney, Tavenner sidestepped questions on the subject, telling Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and other committee members she hadn’t read the legislation in question.

A few hours later, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., showed no enthusiasm for permitting a vote on the measure introduced by Landrieu, who is seeking a new term in what is potentially a difficult race in a swing state. “We’ll have to see,” he said, noting that hundreds of bills are introduced in the Senate each week.

Tavenner took her seat in the witness chair in a different atmosphere from a week ago, when she testified before a House panel and apologized to the public for the poor performance of the website.

This time, Alexander and other Republicans said almost in passing they assume the website woes will be repaired, and focused on areas of cost, cancellation and security concerns.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., displayed a sign behind his seat saying, ‘Tip of the iceberg’ that showed a pale blue iceberg floating in water. Above the waterline, the iceberg was labeled ‘website failures.’ Below were examples of reported health care law problems including canceled coverage, higher co-pay and deductibles, premium increases and fraud and identify theft.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said as of Monday, only three people in her state had been able to enroll, and added there were concerns that they had done so on the basis of incorrect information.

Alexander said “Obamacare” had resulted in thousands losing coverage through a state program in Tennessee.

Committee Democrats were less pointed, although Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland cited consumer confusion.

“I think it’s very confusing about where you go,” she said. “I can tell you, people really don’t know, they really, really don’t know.”

There were also expressions of urgency from Democrats.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., asked if the website in use in his state could be streamlined.

When Tavenner said she would look into the issue and get back to him, he said: “Can we do that today?”

____

Associated Press writers Josh Lederman, Alan Fram and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2013-11-05-US-Health-Overhaul-Problems/id-b1bd2e8180f74022bbcc6c32fcea05e3
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Global change: Stowaways threaten fisheries in the Arctic

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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

4-Nov-2013

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Contact: Chris Ware
cware@utas.edu.au
61-497-568-763
Aarhus University

New study predicts a sixfold increase in the number of potential invaders by 2100


Just think of the warty comb jelly or sea walnut, as it is also known. It has caused tremendous damage to fisheries in the Black Sea after arriving in ballast water from its original habitat along the East coast of North America. This example should serve as a warning to everyone to take care and not to introduce new species into our waters.

In the Arctic, the cold water has so far prevented harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but this will change as the climate becomes warmer. In addition, the expected warmer climate will lead to an increasing number of ships in the Arctic as the routes through the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage are becoming ever more navigable. All in all the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in e.g. Norway and Greenland.

An international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Troms in Norway has for the first time been able to calculate the risk of new species establishing themselves in Arctic waters. Specifically, the researchers have investigated the maritime traffic to Svalbard. Chris Ware explains:

“For the first time we have shown that in the future the port of departure will be more similar to the port of destination in the Arctic than it is today with regard to climate and the environment. This development will increase the chance of survival for those organisms that could arrive with ballast water or through biofouling.

One example could be the Red King Crab, a species that would thrive in the Arctic. This is an example of an animal that could change the balance between the current species, as it would become very dominant in the fragile environment,” explains Chris Ware.

Other potential invaders are the shore crab, certain tunicates like Didemnum vexillum and the so-called “Japanese skeleton shrimp” (Caprella mutica).

The survey shows that up to one third of the 155 ships that entered the ports of Svalbard during 2011 came from ports that will in the future have an environmental match with Svalbard, thereby increasing the risk that harmful species, which may be brought in as stowaways on ships, will be able to establish themselves.

The potential donor pool will multiply

The stowaways can arrive either as biofouling on the outside of the ships or via water in the ballast tanks.

In 2011 ships that called at Svalbard emptied their ballast tanks 31 times, producing a total volume of 653,000 cubic meters, equivalent to more than 261 Olympic-size swimming pools. Considering each cubic metre of ballast water may contain hundreds of thousands of organisms, billions of organisms can be introduced by ships every year. Slightly more than half of the vessels had replaced the water at sea as required, for example in the North Sea.

The vessels had connections to four ecoregions with similar environmental conditions. Here the researchers know of a total of 16 introduced species, one of which comes from Svalbard.

14 of the remaining 15 species will be able to act as biofouling on the ships’ hulls. Therefore, if the aim is to keep introduced species out, then only taking ballast water into consideration will not be enough.

Already in 2050 the climate around Svalbard will be more similar to the climate found in the ports to the south where ships to Svalbard typically depart from. This increases the risk that introduced species will survive and compete with the original species around Svalbard.

In 2100, the number of matching ecoregions will increase to nine, increasing the number of known harmful species with connections to Svalbard more than sixfold.

Early warning to Greenland



Senior Researcher Mary Wisz from Aarhus University has contributed to the study. She is worried about these figures:

“We consider our results as an ‘early warning’ for what could happen, not just in Svalbard but also in Greenland and other parts of the Arctic.”

What can we do?

“The next step is to find out which stowaways will have the greatest chance to survive the journey in ballast tanks or on the ship hulls, and which are most likely to establish breeding populations after arriving in the Arctic. These questions are the focus of our current research.

Each species has its own physiological characteristics and relationship to the environment, so if we can foresee that some particularly problematic species are at risk of becoming established as the climate warms, we are in a better position to concentrate specific effort and resources to keep them out.”

How to curb harmful species?

The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) is on the verge of entering the Ballast Water Management Convention into force, but this will not happen until 12 months after countries with a combined total of at least 35 % of the World’s commercial fleet (measured in gross tonnage) have ratified the Convention. Denmark and Norway have both done so, although the Convention does not presently apply to Greenland. It is up to Greenland’s government to decide whether or when they want to join.

In Denmark the Danish Nature Agency states that Denmark is working on ensuring that the Convention enters into force as soon as possible, and that the Convention can be expected to come into effect in 2015. Among other things, they have established a partnership on ballast water with the Danish Maritime Administration and the Danish Shipowners Association and, as one of its activities, the partnership organised an international conference in Copenhagen on 1 November.

In addition to ballast water, biofouling on the hulls is also a source of introduced species. All shipowners are interested in alleviating fouling because a coating of algae etc. on the hull increases the consumption of fuel. However, there is no legislation that requires the shipping industry to take special measures to stop stowaways on the outside of the hulls. The UN’s maritime organization has, however, adopted a set of guidelines for this area.

###

Further information

PhD candidate Chris Ware, University of Troms and University of Tasmania, tel. +61 497568763, cware@utas.edu.au
Senior scientist Dr.Mary Wisz, Aarhus University, Department of Bioscience and Arctic Research Centre, tel. +45 8715 8707, mobile +45 30183157, msw@dmu.dk

Climate change, non-indigenous species and shipping: assessing the risk of species introduction to a high-Arctic archipelago. Ware, C. et al. Diversity and Distributions, (2013), pp. 1


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Global change: Stowaways threaten fisheries in the Arctic

[ Back to EurekAlert! ]

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

4-Nov-2013

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]


Share Share

Contact: Chris Ware
cware@utas.edu.au
61-497-568-763
Aarhus University

New study predicts a sixfold increase in the number of potential invaders by 2100


Just think of the warty comb jelly or sea walnut, as it is also known. It has caused tremendous damage to fisheries in the Black Sea after arriving in ballast water from its original habitat along the East coast of North America. This example should serve as a warning to everyone to take care and not to introduce new species into our waters.

In the Arctic, the cold water has so far prevented harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but this will change as the climate becomes warmer. In addition, the expected warmer climate will lead to an increasing number of ships in the Arctic as the routes through the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage are becoming ever more navigable. All in all the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in e.g. Norway and Greenland.

An international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Troms in Norway has for the first time been able to calculate the risk of new species establishing themselves in Arctic waters. Specifically, the researchers have investigated the maritime traffic to Svalbard. Chris Ware explains:

“For the first time we have shown that in the future the port of departure will be more similar to the port of destination in the Arctic than it is today with regard to climate and the environment. This development will increase the chance of survival for those organisms that could arrive with ballast water or through biofouling.

One example could be the Red King Crab, a species that would thrive in the Arctic. This is an example of an animal that could change the balance between the current species, as it would become very dominant in the fragile environment,” explains Chris Ware.

Other potential invaders are the shore crab, certain tunicates like Didemnum vexillum and the so-called “Japanese skeleton shrimp” (Caprella mutica).

The survey shows that up to one third of the 155 ships that entered the ports of Svalbard during 2011 came from ports that will in the future have an environmental match with Svalbard, thereby increasing the risk that harmful species, which may be brought in as stowaways on ships, will be able to establish themselves.

The potential donor pool will multiply

The stowaways can arrive either as biofouling on the outside of the ships or via water in the ballast tanks.

In 2011 ships that called at Svalbard emptied their ballast tanks 31 times, producing a total volume of 653,000 cubic meters, equivalent to more than 261 Olympic-size swimming pools. Considering each cubic metre of ballast water may contain hundreds of thousands of organisms, billions of organisms can be introduced by ships every year. Slightly more than half of the vessels had replaced the water at sea as required, for example in the North Sea.

The vessels had connections to four ecoregions with similar environmental conditions. Here the researchers know of a total of 16 introduced species, one of which comes from Svalbard.

14 of the remaining 15 species will be able to act as biofouling on the ships’ hulls. Therefore, if the aim is to keep introduced species out, then only taking ballast water into consideration will not be enough.

Already in 2050 the climate around Svalbard will be more similar to the climate found in the ports to the south where ships to Svalbard typically depart from. This increases the risk that introduced species will survive and compete with the original species around Svalbard.

In 2100, the number of matching ecoregions will increase to nine, increasing the number of known harmful species with connections to Svalbard more than sixfold.

Early warning to Greenland



Senior Researcher Mary Wisz from Aarhus University has contributed to the study. She is worried about these figures:

“We consider our results as an ‘early warning’ for what could happen, not just in Svalbard but also in Greenland and other parts of the Arctic.”

What can we do?

“The next step is to find out which stowaways will have the greatest chance to survive the journey in ballast tanks or on the ship hulls, and which are most likely to establish breeding populations after arriving in the Arctic. These questions are the focus of our current research.

Each species has its own physiological characteristics and relationship to the environment, so if we can foresee that some particularly problematic species are at risk of becoming established as the climate warms, we are in a better position to concentrate specific effort and resources to keep them out.”

How to curb harmful species?

The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) is on the verge of entering the Ballast Water Management Convention into force, but this will not happen until 12 months after countries with a combined total of at least 35 % of the World’s commercial fleet (measured in gross tonnage) have ratified the Convention. Denmark and Norway have both done so, although the Convention does not presently apply to Greenland. It is up to Greenland’s government to decide whether or when they want to join.

In Denmark the Danish Nature Agency states that Denmark is working on ensuring that the Convention enters into force as soon as possible, and that the Convention can be expected to come into effect in 2015. Among other things, they have established a partnership on ballast water with the Danish Maritime Administration and the Danish Shipowners Association and, as one of its activities, the partnership organised an international conference in Copenhagen on 1 November.

In addition to ballast water, biofouling on the hulls is also a source of introduced species. All shipowners are interested in alleviating fouling because a coating of algae etc. on the hull increases the consumption of fuel. However, there is no legislation that requires the shipping industry to take special measures to stop stowaways on the outside of the hulls. The UN’s maritime organization has, however, adopted a set of guidelines for this area.

###

Further information

PhD candidate Chris Ware, University of Troms and University of Tasmania, tel. +61 497568763, cware@utas.edu.au
Senior scientist Dr.Mary Wisz, Aarhus University, Department of Bioscience and Arctic Research Centre, tel. +45 8715 8707, mobile +45 30183157, msw@dmu.dk

Climate change, non-indigenous species and shipping: assessing the risk of species introduction to a high-Arctic archipelago. Ware, C. et al. Diversity and Distributions, (2013), pp. 1


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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/au-gcs110413.php
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Adding another Indie flick to her resume, Kristen Stewart earned a spot in “Anesthesia.”

According to Deadline, the “Twilight” babe is set to hold a small role in the flick, which follows a group of New Yorkers who are touched by the same philosophy teacher.

KStew will shoot for a few days in the Big Apple for the Tim Blake Nelson-directed movie.

In addition to “Anesthesia,” Kristen is getting ready to release “Camp X-Ray” and “Sils Maria.”

Source: http://celebrity-gossip.net/kristen-stewart/kristen-stewart-earns-role-anesthesia-955033
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Insane Baby Stroller Sports LCD Display, Headlights, Phone Charger

It’s hard to say whether the 4moms Origami is a high-end stroller built with babies in mind or whether it’s more of a treat for the person pushing it. Its specs read more like those of a high-end car than …Source: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/11/4moms-origami-babystroller/
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