The world today is enough to make some people want to get up and just run to the ends of the Earth, so that's what Kai Markus decided to do. Troubled by what he sees as growing bigotry and division in the world, the German management consultant gave up a successful business to run the ancient Silk Road from Hamburg to Shanghai in a Quixotic quest to show that we are all one. Nine months, eight countries, 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) and two fractured heel bones later, Markus hobbled across a symbolic finish line in Shanghai on Saturday with a feeling of mission accomplished.
Bitcoin investors expect futures volumes to perk up when CME Group Inc, the world's largest derivatives exchange operator, launches its own contract to wager on the cryptocurrency on Sunday. The second U.S. bitcoin futures launch is seen as another step towards big institutional investors warming up to a volatile asset that had until recently been accessible only via largely unregulated markets. Like the futures contract launched last week by rival Cboe Global Markets, CME's will be cash settled.
On the menu below | Flora Shedden's festive recipes With one week to go until the big day we are manically preparing for Christmas orders at ARAN Bakery. It has been nearly a year since I took over 2 Atholl Street in Dunkeld, Perthshire, and, hand on heart, there have been many points during the past 12 months when I feared we wouldn’t reach this stage before 2017 ended. I had even come to accept that a six-week delay was standard for any sort of building developments in the bakery; now we are open, even a six-hour delay feels infuriating, especially when there is cake at stake! Almost a year has passed, too, since I started writing this column. When I wrote my first few sentences I had no idea how ARAN would turn out – heck, I didn’t even know what my bakery was going to be called. And so I feel very fortunate to still be blethering away, and to have the bakery up and running. It’s probably the closest thing to a Christmas miracle I will ever experience. Get cooking | Flora Shedden’s latest recipes ARAN Bakery has had a busy few weeks, despite the arrival of the snow. We enjoyed Santa Day in the village last weekend – for which the community gathers at a Christmas market and follows Santa and his reindeers make their way over the River Tay to his grotto – and are now in the midst of baking our festive menu. Try not to stress too much in the kitchen this Christmas. Bake simple things and enjoy them with loved ones My family and I always have the classics: Christmas cake, Christmas pud, and my granny Joan’s delicious trifle. In addition to this booze-laced buffet I like to do a few alternative desserts. In previous years I’ve turned out entremets (delicate layered mousses), baked cheesecakes, buches de Noel, and even little pistachio fruit tarts. A white chocolate cheesecake is on the ARAN Bakery order menu this year (the full product list is online, by the way, and orders close at 5pm tonight!) Flora serves customers at ARAN Bakery Credit: Chris Watt But since I am not able to post chocolate-mousse logs and cheesecakes around the country, I have shared my favourite Christmas recipes with you here, including my fig mince pies and cava-filled gimlet cocktails, to be enjoyed at home without too much hassle. I urge you not to stress too much in the kitchen this Christmas. Bake simple things and enjoy them with loved ones. My bakery will be closing on December 23 for a month and I am looking forward to spending that time with my nearest and dearest. So, merry Christmas – and after such a year, I think we all deserve a gimlet or two. White chocolate cheesecake Credit: Lisa Linder SERVES 10 INGREDIENTS 200g gingernut biscuits 50g ground almonds 100g unsalted butter, melted 400g mascarpone 400g cream cheese 1 tbsp cornflour 100g caster sugar 2 large eggs 200g white chocolate, roughly chopped 300ml double cream To decorate 200ml double cream White chocolate curls Cocoa powder or icing sugar, for dusting METHOD Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Blitz the gingernuts and almonds together in a food processor. Melt the butter over a low heat then add this to the food processor. Blitz again to combine. Tip out of the bowl and press into the base of the prepared tin. Level with a spatula then place in the fridge for 10 minutes. For the filling, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, cornflour and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the eggs. Once combined, set aside. Melt the chocolate over a low heat then fold this into the cream cheese mixture along with the double cream. Spoon this on top of the chilled base. Bake for 60-70 minutes. You want the middle to retain a slight wobble so try not to over bake it. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon so that it remains ajar. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the oven. This helps stop any cracking. Chill in the fridge until required. To serve, lightly whip the cream (try not to over-whip it – you want it to be soft and pillowy) and spread it over the top. Cover with chocolate curls and dust with a little cocoa or icing sugar to finish. Fig mince pies Credit: Lisa Linder You will need a muffin tray to make these. MAKES 12-14 INGREDIENTS For the pastry 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 125g unsalted butter 100g icing sugar 50g ground almonds 1 egg For the filling 300g mincemeat 100g dried figs, finely chopped 50g hazelnuts, finely chopped Zest of 1 orange 3 tbsp brandy To serve demerara sugar, to sprinkle chopped hazelnuts, to sprinkle icing sugar, for dusting METHOD Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. For the pastry, weigh out all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until just combined. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring together. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes. For the filling, place the mincemeat in a bowl with the figs, hazelnuts, zest and brandy and stir to combine. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 2mm thick and stamp out circles that are roughly 1cm larger than the holes of your muffin tray. Press the circles into your tray, making sure they are well pressed in to the edges of the base. Fill each pastry shell with some of the mincemeat, to about four-fifths full, leaving a little of the pastry edges exposed. Combine the pastry scraps and roll out again to cut out stars large enough to reach the edges of your pies. Place one on each pie and sprinkle with demerara sugar and chopped hazelnuts around the edge. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool fully then scoop out of the tins and dust with icing sugar. Best served with a big dollop of clotted cream. Fizzy Christmas gimlet Credit: Lisa Linder SERVES 1 INGREDIENTS Plenty of ice 4 tbsp gin 1 tbsp sugar syrup (equal parts water and caster sugar gently heated until dissolved, then cooled) 1 tbsp lime juice 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds Cava to top up Strip of clementine peel to serve METHOD Fill an Old Fashioned glass or your favourite cocktail glass with ice. In cocktail shaker, mix together the gin, syrup, lime juice and half of the pomegranate seeds. Mix well. Strain over the ice then add the remaining seeds. Top up with cava and add the clementine peel to finish.
A Sydney-based "loyal agent of North Korea" has been charged with trying to sell missile parts and technology on the black market to raise money for Pyongyang in breach of international sanctions, Australian police said on Sunday. Chan Han Choi, a naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent, was attempting to broker illicit deals that could have generated "tens of millions of dollars" for North Korea, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said. The 59-year-old was involved in discussions to set up a ballistic missile production facility and the supply of missile construction plans in addition to components, software and the transfer of technical expertise from Pyongyang, police alleged. Neil Gaughan, AFP Assistant Commissioner, told reporters the case was "like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil", alleging the man was in contact with high-ranking North Korean officials. "This man is a loyal agent of North Korea, believing he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose." North Korean missile ranges The alleged agent’s plans did not involve other governments or officials, police said. Authorities did not reveal which individuals or entities the man was allegedly trying to trade with. Mr Gaughan said the charges related to his alleged activity over the past year, but that allegations dated back to 2008. Police started investigating Choi after a tip-off from another international agency on another matter, he said. "I know these charges sound alarming, but we are not suggesting that there are any weapons or missile componentry that came to Australian soil," he said. "We're alleging all of the activity occurred offshore." Australian Federal Police agents collecting evidence in relation to Chan Han Choi's case Credit: Australian Federal Police North Korea is under tough United Nations sanctions aimed at choking off revenue to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. "This is a very important arrest, the charges laid are the greatest nature," Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, said in Sydney. "It is vitally important that all nations ... enforce those sanctions." Key Questions | UN sanctions The man, who has lived in Australia for three decades, allegedly used encrypted communication services to facilitate the attempted trades, which included the transfer of coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam. He is in custody and faces a total of six charges, with maximum penalties of up to 10 years in jail. Investigators would not rule out further charges, and are probing other attempted commodity trades involving oil and gemstones. "This is black market 101," Mr Gaughan said. This is the first time charges have been laid for breaches under Canberra’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and for violating UN sanctions against North Korea in Australia. Global anxiety about North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s authoritarian government has steadily risen this year, with Washington calling on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.
If the U.S. actually goes back to war with North Korea, American troops are going to need a uniform that is lightweight, breathable, and provides adequate camouflage in the forest, complete with a solid pair of boots for humping up and down all of those big mountains. Fortunately for Marines, the Corps has been working hard to ensure they’ll have both. Lt. Col. Christopher Madeline of Marine Corps Systems Command told Marine Corps Times on Dec. 9 that tropical uniforms and boots should be available starting in late 2018.
Cuba’s leaders are now facing the same challenge that dogged their fellow communists in China and Vietnam. Cuba is adrift—it has been more than a year since Fidel Castro, the socialist caudillo, passed from the scene. Despite long-standing predictions that Fidel’s death would spark great changes in the Caribbean island’s political life, the Castroite state, headed by the 86 year old Raul Castro, remains very much in power.
The Boeing 747, the original jumbo jet that was the favorite American presidents and key to affordable mass market air travel in the United States, will pass into aviation history this week. Nearly 50 years after the its debut, the 747 will take its final commercial flight with an American carrier Tuesday on Delta Air Lines' Seoul-to-Detroit route. It "made flying available for everyone," said Boeing chief company historian Michael Lombardi said of the iconic jet.
By Caroline Anderson VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's reported move to ban words including "fetus," "diversity" and "transgender" in budget-related documents triggered outrage, astonishment and calls for the decision to be reversed Saturday. "Among the words forbidden to be used in @CDCgov budget documents are 'evidence-based' and 'science-based.' Here's a word that's still allowed: ridiculous," the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrote on its Twitter account. "To prevent the agency from losing its legitimacy, CDC Director Fitzgerald must speak up now to reinforce the centrality of science to the agency’s work," Halpern wrote in a blog post.
The Pentagon acknowledged on Saturday that its long-secret UFO investigation program ended in 2012, when U.S. defense officials shifted attention and funding to other priorities. The New York Times reported on Saturday that the hush-hush program, tasked with investigating sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, ran from 2007 to 2012 with $22 million in annual funding secretly tucked away in U.S. Defense Department budgets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.