‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Oscars on edge after Harvey Weinstein scandal

“Suicide always remains a secret, the unknown bit beyond all reasons and explanations,” says Maria Schrader, the German actor best known in Britain for her role as ruthless, wicked but captivating Stasi agent Lenora Rauch in Channel 4’s spy drama Deutschland 83. She is talking about the subject of the Oscar-nominated film she has directed, Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe. The Viennese Jewish writer fled his homeland in 1934 with the rise of Hitler to London, Bath, New York and ultimately Petrópolis, a mountain town 40-odd miles north of Rio de Janeiro that…

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How to embrace unexpected silences

We all know what silence means. Yet how many of us have experienced it? Since pure silence is an ideal, we tend to use the term to mean something a bit less exact. We could say that a “working silence” is a relational state: we consider our surroundings to be silent if they are significantly quieter than what we are used to. Most people aren’t hankering after actual silence – that is, the complete absence of sound – but something a little more complex and subtle. We want to capture…

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Ask Alys: can I grow blueberries without peat?

I grow fruit and vegetables organically in my front garden in boarded raised beds. I would love to grow blueberries, but I know they need an acidic soil. How can I create a bed for them without using any peat-based products? Peat-free soil for acid-loving plants does exist, but you might not be able to get it from every garden centre you visit. The best one I’ve tried is made by Melcourt and is called SylvaGrow ericaceous compost – this is the bee’s knees, although I’d say that about all of this company’s composts. You can get hold…

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Coffee drinking linked to lower risk of death

People who drink the most coffee are less likely to die than those who drink the least or none, according to two new studies that followed nearly three quarters of a million people for about 16 years. The results don’t necessarily mean coffee directly prevents people from dying, but researchers suggest they should at least reassure people who can’t get by without their daily cup of joe. “It’s premature that people start consuming coffee to improve health outcomes,” said Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean…

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Anti polio campaign kicks off

After a gap of a couple of month,  Sub National-Immunisation anti polio campaign started on Monday, aiming to cover the persistently “refusal cases” in several areas of Karachi. Commission Karachi Ejaz Ahmed Khan launched the drive by vaccinating the children at a  maternity home in district south. While talking to media, Commissioner Karachi  said that during the last one year not a single case of polio has been reported in Karachi that shows the commitment of the health  workers, their dedication and parents’ resolve against the disease. According to a…

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Mother´s obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

Paris: Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday. The fatter the mother, the higher the risk, it found. “We found that risks of major congenital malformations in offspring progressively increase with maternal overweight and severity of obesity,” researchers wrote in The BMJ medical journal. “Thus, efforts should be made to encourage women of reproductive age to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to obtain a normal body weight before conception.”…

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I was talked into getting a health check. Big mistake

’m on my way into the supermarket when a young woman pokes her head out of a screened cubicle and asks me if I would like to come in for a health check. How long will it take? Fifteen minutes, says she, so I think: why not? I am healthy as anything for my age. I have never had high blood pressure or cholesterol, barely smoke or drink, am not overweight, the dog forces me to take regular walkies. This test will just confirm what I know already, quell any…

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Kitchen gadgets review: mini chopper – a tool to shred both prejudice and vegetables

What? Taylor’s Eye Witness Mini Chopper (£9, cookshopclearance.co.uk). Recoil-started, tri-tiered mini-blades, engaged by drive shaft mounted on a lidded bowl. Shreds veg. Why? Sometimes a bigger chopper just isn’t worth the clean-up. Well? It’s hard to make the case for this toy blender in a tub. It’s made by Taylor’s Eye Witness, whom I previously dismissed for having a name that sounds like a dating app for haberdashers. It operates by a pull-string, like those horrendous talking dolls that tell you they’ve fouled themselves and order you to love them…

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Are frozen fruit and vegetables as good for you as fresh?

When you are shopping for juicy strawberries or fresh greens, you may not stop at the frozen food aisle. Frozen fruit and vegetables often don’t look the part once defrosted, and you may think that the freezing process depletes them of some nutritious value. Nothing is as good for you as fresh – right? On the other hand, frozen is often cheaper and is there all year round. And fresh is a relative term; fruit and vegetables can be in transit, sit in stores or wait in your fridge for…

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