• San Francisco skyline (Mike Krumboltz/Flickr)

    Landlords are supposed to want tenants to stay. Right?

    Welcome to San Francisco, where things don't always make perfect sense. Rent-controlled apartments, where city laws prevent the price of rent increasing by too much, don't come along every day in S.F. If a person has one and they've lived there for years, motivation to move out can be low. Why leave a place with below-market rent in a booming city where new residents are paying through the nose?

    Some landlords, eager to get long-term tenants out so they can raise the rent on a new tenant, are offering residents tens of thousands of dollars to hit the bricks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. While the practice isn't new, it is seeing a renaissance in light of the recent influx of tech workers willing and able to pay more rent.

    This is a controversial topic in San Francisco, where the city has become divided over whether the resurgence of tech workers is hurting the city's culture.

    So what is a rent-controlled apartment and how

    Read More »from Some landlords in SF offering tenants big bucks to move out. Here's why
  • By Nathan Dabrowski

    To call them unlikely bedfellows would be an enormous understatement. Hard-line Conservative MPs have made a mission out of pushing for a British exit, or 'Brexit', from the European Union, threatening the very cohesion of their party. But in an especially ironic twist, the recent parliamentary skirmish over plain packaging for tobacco products could find the eurosceptics on the same side as the eurocrats.

    After what has been largely billed as a government U-turn, plain packaging is officially back on the table. The policy, based on the idea that flashy colourful pack designs are partly responsible for stubborn smoking rates in the UK, would force tobacco countries to remove any branding from their products (colours, logos, trademarks, or corporate logos). All tobacco products would henceforth be sold in standardised drab packages (a purposely 'unattractive' colour is chosen, usually black, brown or a urine-tinged yellow) with graphic images and health warnings
    Read More »from Brussels bureaucrats and Tory eurosceptics can work together to defeat plain packs
  • First lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign released a totally '90s video promoting the White House's forthcoming Easter Egg roll.

    Creators of the video used radical graphics and standard-def 4:3 footage to make the promo look like a '90s sitcom. But instead of "Saved by the Bell" stars Mario Lopez and Tiffani Amber Thiessen, this "show" features Jim Carrey, Bo and Sunny, the "first dogs," Michelle and Barack Obama, Ariana Grande, and, last but never least, Cookie Monster.

    The party will take place April 21 on the White House South Lawn and will be live-streamed for those unable to attend.

    Online reaction to the delightfully cheeseball promo was, to use a phrase appropriate to the era depicted, "hella positive."


    Read More »from 'Cheesetastic' '90s-style Easter Egg roll promo from first lady's 'Let's Move' campaign
  • She Ping covered with a swarm of bees in southwest China (AFP)

    Whatever you do, don't sneeze.

    Beekeeper She Ping of Chongqing, China, managed to stand still while 100 pounds of bees (approximately 460,000 stingers) swarmed and crawled over his body, according to local media reports cited by Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

    And, yes, he did it on purpose. What can we say? The man loves bees.

    The feat was accomplished with queen bees. The queens drew hundreds of thousands of worker bees toward the intrepid She.

    Assistants use burning incense and cigarettes to drive bees away from the face of She Ping. (Reuters/China Daily)

    Helpers used incense and smoke to keep the bees away from the beekeeper's face until he was ready. We're willing to bet She buys his aloe by the gallon.

    Beekeeper She Ping (AFP)

    As for why She subjected himself to hundreds of thousands of swarming bees with the potential to leave marks, it was all done in the name of commerce. He told AFP that although he was "very nervous," he did it to promote his honey.

    "It hurt but I didn't dare to move," She told AFP.  "The main preparation is avoiding taking a shower, especially avoiding using soap because it can excite the

    Read More »from Don't sneeze! Beekeeper wears 100 pounds of bees
  • Courage of three cancer-fighting girls captured in photograph

    'Sometimes strength comes in knowing that you are not alone'

    A photograph of three young girls battling different forms of cancer has drawn hundreds of comments and  thousands of likes and shares on Facebook.

    The photo, taken by Lora Scantling, shows 3-year-old Rylie, 6-year-old Rheann and 4-year-old Ainsley sharing a tender moment. They didn't know each other before the photo was taken, but their bond seems timeless.

    Rylie is battling kidney cancer. Rheann has brain cancer. Ainsley is fighting a form of leukemia. The three girls have already come a long way and are sure to continue to fight, knowing they aren't alone.

    "I just wanted something that showed the strength and the bond and that they weren't alone," Scantling told KOCO.com.

    Rheann's mom, Valeria Franklin, told KOCO, "The girls had a lot of fun. ... It was just very moving watching their bond form."

    You can follow Rheann, Ainsley  and Rylie on Facebook.

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

    Read More »from Courage of three cancer-fighting girls captured in photograph
  • By Francis West

    CEOs of big business aren't trusted by the public.

    A toxic combination of executive salaries, bailouts, pricing structures that appear to hit consumers rather than profits and the Rana Plaza tragedy has taken its toll. A 2013 Ipsos MORI poll found only 34% of people questioned trusted business leaders to tell the truth.  Perhaps the clearest indictment is that trust in business leaders has been eroded to the extent that only government officials are seen as less credible, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

    So it was with no small hint of irony that MPs met last night to debate 'transparency and public trust in business'. Ranging from the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, transparency of environmental impacts and labour standards in the supply chain, the scale of the issues raised clearly demand attention from the public, private and third sectors alike.

    There are a number of tangible steps that can change behaviours and better align

    Read More »from Five ways to restore public trust in big business
  • World War I-era love letter from U.S. soldier to his girl goes up for auction

    'Let the French poppy which I am enclosing represent my kisses for you'

    Photo courtesy Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers LTD

    Let's hear it for old-fashioned amour.

    The most romantic tweet in the world couldn't hold a candle to this 100-year-old letter written by an American World War I soldier named Charles.

    The letter, which included a pressed French poppy, is going up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers in Derbyshire, U.K. Written on American YMCA paper, headlined "On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force," the letter is as tender as it is mysterious. 

    Text as follows:

    Dearest Girl, I love you so, for your prayers and your love. If prayers will aide and they will God will take care of everything. Of course it is hard to understand this war in regards to the Lords will and means of protecting his people – but I guess it was not intended that we should understand.

    In the meantime I must stop – sweet girl, I will be so careful and you must be good and write very often. Tell me everything as you do and let the French poppy which I am enclosing represent my kisses for you – dearest

    Read More »from World War I-era love letter from U.S. soldier to his girl goes up for auction
  • Peaches Geldof's death and the Oscar Pistorius trial shines a creepy light on our voyeuristic culture

    Our star columnist Janet Street Porter believes three news stories this week have highlighted a certain darkness in modern society

    Tragic death: Peaches Geldof

    In one day three mums die, leaving grieving families and children. All the women were clever, but one of these tragic deaths led the evening news because of the way in which her mother’s life had ended almost 14 years ago.

    I felt a bit queasy when news channels kicked off the main evening bulletins with the death of Peaches Geldof, sending reporters to her family home in the Kent countryside. What is achieved standing around in the dark in a deserted lane, when a young woman’s body is in the mortuary, awaiting a post-mortem? At a time like this, the bereaved deserve to be left in peace.

    Meanwhile, Twitter was trending as the rich and famous spewed out their messages of condolences - that sums up the age we live in, where celebrities show they are ‘deeply moved’ by writing RIP as a sign off.

    Relegated in the headlines: Uma RamalingamThe very same day that Peaches Geldof was found dead, two British doctors lost their lives trying to rescue their children in stormy seas on holiday in Tenerife. Uma Ramalingam was a consultant

    Read More »from Peaches Geldof's death and the Oscar Pistorius trial shines a creepy light on our voyeuristic culture
  • Maria Miller's departure from the government was fully avoidable. But for years her scornful attitude has combined with some terrible decision-making to leave her no choice but to resign. Here's a breakdown of her seven biggest mistakes...

    Dodgy expenses

    Maria Miller's expenses claims were, at the very least, dodgy. She had bought a home in London in the late 1990s where she lived with her children and parents. When she became elected an MP in Basingstoke - just an hour from central London - she began renting a home in her constituency. This was subsequently declared to be her main home, allowing her to claim the London property as her second home for which she began claiming expenses. On the balance of probabilities, the commissioner found, the designation of Miller's home was wrong. MPs decided not to agree with that judgement.

    Playing the Leveson card (part one)

    When the story originally emerged, Miller's special adviser threatened the Telegraph newspaper by linking the issue to the

    Read More »from Maria Miller’s seven deadly errors
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen holding his Big Mac chart (C-SPAN)

    Congress loves to debate pork, even if it has to use pictures of hamburgers to make a point.

    On Tuesday, two members of Congress got into a detailed discussion over inflation, with Rep. Chris Van Hollen using pictures of hamburgers to argue that inflation estimates are necessary to undercut future budgets.

    Holding up a chart that showed the average cost of a McDonald’s Big Mac in 2004 ($2.71) compared with its cost today ($4.62), Maryland Democrat Van Hollen argued that not adjusting budget numbers for inflation equates to a net cut.

    "That's not Washington math, it's reality based math!” Van Hollen said in comments first picked up by the Washington Post after a reporter noticed the unusual visual tools on display during a House budget debate being aired on C-SPAN.

    Van Hollen and Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Woodall were debating the Baseline Reform Act of 2013, which would effectively stop Congress from automatically approving budget increases tied to inflation.

    So, why did Van Hollen

    Read More »from Members of Congress debate budget with Big Macs


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