Spectacular super bloom transforms South African desert – BBC News

Spectacular super bloom transforms South African desert – BBC News

Spectacular super bloom transforms South African desert 13 September 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Tommy Trenchard
Each spring, for a few short weeks, kaleidoscopic carpets of wild flowers transform vast swathes of arid land along South Africa’s western seaboard into a vivid explosion of colour. These “super blooms” occur in deserts and arid landscapes around the world, but few are as consistent or diverse as South Africa’s flower season.
Typically lasting for just a few weeks between late July and late September, the flowers are annuals and will die with the first hot winds of the year, their seeds then lying dormant through the baking heat of summer until next year’s rains.
Photographer Tommy Trenchard captured this natural phenomenon.
“It’s was a pretty surreal sight” said Trenchard, who stumbled across the flowers by chance on an anniversary getaway with his wife in South Africa’s Biedouw Valley.
“And the short-lived, ephemeral nature of this natural display just makes it all the more special. People tend to think of South Africa as a destination to view wild animals, but its wild flower blooms rival anything you might see on a typical safari.” Image copyright Tommy Trenchard

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PM to discuss no-deal Brexit plans – BBC News

John Lewis boss rejects Raab Brexit jibe
He said: “No, I can’t give a cast-iron guarantee. What I can say is that the government would legislate to limit the ability of roaming charges to be imposed on customers.”
The government has published its latest contingency plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit. On mobile phone charges, the document says that “in the unlikely event” of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, consumers should “check the roaming policies of your mobile operator before you go abroad”.
The main points include: UK drivers may have to get an international permit if they want to drive in European countries Anyone travelling to the EU should make sure they have at least six months left on their passport, although that will not apply to travel in Ireland People applying for a new passport after Brexit will continue to get burgundy passports for a while – although they will not say “European Union” on the front cover Blue passports will start being issued from late 2019 Many products tested in the UK after Brexit will no longer be able to be sold on the EU market without being re-tested by an EU recognised body to meet minimum safety standards This does not cover automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, chemicals or medical devices
Mr Raab told Laura Kuenssberg Cabinet ministers earlier spent three hours examining “all the plans across government to make sure we can manage, mitigate or avoid the risk of a no-deal scenario”.
He also said there must be a “shift across the board in the EU’s approach” on the issue of Northern Ireland: “They will have to meet us halfway… if they meet the ambition, the pragmatism we’ve shown through our White Paper proposals then I’m confident we can get a good deal for this country, but also for the EU.”
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “The only reason the government is talking about no-deal is because the Tory civil war on Europe prevents the prime minister from negotiating a good deal.
“With the clock ticking, ministers should drop the irresponsible rhetoric and start putting jobs and the economy first.” Image copyright Getty Images
Extra charges for people using their phones in another EU country were scrapped in June 2017. But the EU regulation banning them will not automatically be part of UK law after Brexit on 29 March next year.
In theory this means UK mobile operators, if they want to, could reintroduce the charges that could make it expensive to use a mobile phone in another EU country.
However, the government said it would legislate to make operators set a cap of £45 a month on data usage while abroad – in line with the current EU limit of €50.
Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme two mobile operators, Vodafone and Three, had publicly agreed not to bring back roaming charges for British citizens.
The government was aiming to get a Brexit deal with Brussels by mid-November at the latest but was stepping up contingency planning in case that did not happen, he added.
He said one of the consequences of a “no deal” Brexit “is that obviously we wouldn’t pay out the money that has been agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement”.
The UK would “recognise our strict legal obligations” but that the amount paid would be “significantly, substantially lower” than the £39bn agreed with the EU.
Analysis by BBC Political Correspondent Laura Kuenssberg
Ministers believe the chances of there being no agreement are now relatively small.
They are hopeful that next week EU leaders will give helpful hints at a special meeting in Salzburg.
Yet there is a long way to go until Dominic Raab, or anyone in government, can be sure. And don’t doubt that many Tory MPs are adamant they simply won’t vote for the kind of proposal Theresa May has put on the table.
A senior EU diplomatic source told BBC News Mr Raab’s divorce bill comments were “a statement of the obvious” as the financial settlement was part of the withdrawal agreement.
“The [EU27] will keep our heads cool as we always do,” he added.
Business leaders have repeatedly warned about the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal, with the CBI saying the UK would face tariffs on 90% of its EU exports and a number of new regulatory hurdles.
UK consumers could find going on holiday and making card payments for EU products more expensive because Britain would no longer be part of the EU’s payments process.
CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn said the government’s latest planning papers “make clear firms would be hit with a sledgehammer in the event of no-deal”.
“They also illustrate the extent of the disruption consumers can expect if ideology wins over evidence.”
There are also concerns about delays at the UK border.
The Road Haulage Association has warned it will take “an average of about 45 minutes to process one truck on both sides of the channel” if customs checks are put in place.
“If that happens then the queues of HGVs in Kent will make the jams seen in the summer of 2015 appear as little more than waiting for the traffic lights to change,” it adds. Image copyright PA Image caption Lorries on the M20 during 2015’s ‘operation stack’
Mr Raab said there was a risk of disruption at the border if the EU did not respond “with the collaborative spirit” he said the UK “would want to show”.
The UK government was planning contra-flow systems on the M20 and was talking to EU member states about “mitigating” potential disruption.
And he took a swipe at businesses, such as John Lewis , saying: “I think it’s probably rather easy at this moment in time for any business that isn’t doing rather well to point to Brexit.”
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Last month the government published 24 no-deal documents covering industries including medicine, finance and farming. There were warnings of extra paperwork at borders and extra credit card charges for Britons visiting the EU.
More no-deal publications are expected in the coming weeks.
Labour MP Ian Murray, a member of the campaign for another referendum, said: “Nobody voted to make Britain poorer, to diminish our national influence or to ruin their holidays.
“The government has no mandate for any of this and it’s too big an issue to be left to a Brexit elite in Westminster. That is why we must have a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal.”

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Can cold water swimming treat depression? – BBC News

Can cold water swimming treat depression? By Dr Chris van Tulleken The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs 13 September 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Jumping into the sea in winter is the most alive and present I ever feel. I get in fast – a dangerous approach if you’re a beginner – when the cold shock response provokes an uncontrollable urge to inhale.
Underwater, I feel an intense mixture of burning pain and, even after doing this for years, a little panic. But it’s the only time the anxious negative chatter in my head is truly silenced.
After two minutes, as my skin reaches the same temperature as the water, I start to feel comfortable and my breathing slows. After even a brief swim, I feel elated for hours and calm for days.
Like many other people who swim in cold water regularly, I love it, but I also believe it has mental health benefits.
And the first case report on cold water swimming published in British Medical Journal Case Reports shows that it may be an effective treatment for depression. Diving in
The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs, a series broadcast on BBC One in 2016, which I developed and presented, followed Sarah, a 24-year-old who had been taking antidepressants since the age of 17.
Her symptoms had started earlier in her teens. When we met, she was desperate to stop her antidepressants, saying they put her in a “chemical fog”.
She loved swimming and, because of my own experience, I approached Prof Mike Tipton and Dr Heather Massey, both scientists at the extreme environments laboratory at Portsmouth University.
I also spoke to their collaborator Dr Mark Harper, a consultant anaesthetist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, to see if there was any scientific basis for trying out cold water swimming on Sarah. Image caption Sarah wanted to stop taking antidepressants, which she started at 17 Stress response
Outdoor exercise and the companionship of fellow swimmers can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. But the team at Portsmouth believed there might be an effect of cold water immersion itself.
There is a convincing, biologically plausible, theory about how this might work.
Immersion in cold water evokes a stress response: a set of physiological and hormonal reactions that evolved millions of years ago to cope with a wide range of potential threats.
Animal attack, jumping in cold water and sitting an exam all elicit a similar response.
Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all increase and stress hormones are released.
But, if you immerse yourself only a few times in water of 15C or less, this stress response is reduced.
However, it is not only the stress response to cold water that reduces with repeated immersions. Cold water swimming – how to do it safely Approach it with the same caution you would exercise – if you have heart disease, start slow and warm Make sure you can swim and go with a friend who can swim Start in summer/early autumn when UK sea temperatures are 15-20°C Start shallow – a gently shelving beach, or somewhere with a ladder Go on a calm day – the initial two to three-minute period gasp when you can inhale water is the risky bit. Relax, do as little as possible and keep your head above the water for this period Time yourself for two to three minutes. Once your skin reaches the same temperature as the water you’ll feel warm Six three-minute swims will have an effect on your cold shock response that will last for months. As for your mood – you’ll have to be the judge until there are more studies
Check out the The Outdoor Swimming Society website for safety advice and more.
Prof Tipton and Dr Massey have shown that the response to the stress of exercising at altitude is also diminished.
This is called “cross-adaptation”, where one form of stress adapts the body for another.
There is increasing evidence linking depression and anxiety with the inflammation that accompanies a chronic stress response to the physical and psychological problems of modern life.
Through cross-adaptation, cold water swimming may be able to reduce this chronic stress response together with the inflammation and mental health problems that affect so many of us. Image caption Sarah and Dr van Tulleken go cold water swimming
The theory is sound, but the evidence it works is all anecdotal, apart from this case report.
Cold water swimmers describe many benefits: they never get colds and never turn the heating on in winter. Many have stories of how they came to outdoor swimming in times of grief or bereavement and found comfort, even joy, in the water.
The team at Portsmouth are starting to test these stories. A preliminary study supports the claims made about colds and further reports are being prepared about patients with a range of conditions. ‘Life is good’
Since 2006, prescriptions of antidepressants have more than doubled and, while patients may take these drugs for many years, there is debate about their effectiveness.
New approaches which attempt to tackle the multiple causes of depression are badly needed.
Dr Mark Harper is cautiously optimistic. He says: “Our observations so far support the hypothesis that cold water swimming may have a range of benefits.”
More than two years later, Sarah is still swimming and off all medication.
“Life is good. I still have counselling but the swimming is something I’ll never turn my back on,” she says.
“It helped me so much in a time of need.”
Do not stop antidepressants or any other medication without discussion with your prescriber first. Related Topics

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Sugarcane causes diabetes, grow other crops: CM Yogi to west UP farmers | Meerut News

MEERUT: “Inculcate the habit of growing crops other than sugarcane because excessive production of sugar leads to more consumption of the commodity, which is a major cause of diabetes. Try sowing vegetables as well, as there is a huge market for these in Delhi. You are producing too much of sugarcane now,” said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Baghpat after the foundation stone laying ceremony for developing the 154-km Delhi-Saharanpur Highway on Tuesday. The highway passes through Muzaffarnagar and Shamli — considered sugar bowl of UP — and will be developed with an estimated cost of Rs 1,505 crore.
Patting his government’s back in clearing sugarcane dues to the tune of Rs 26,000 crore, the CM said, “We have paid Rs 26,000 crore to sugarcane farmers this year and the remaining Rs 10,000 crore will also be released soon by sugar mills. We have made adequate arrangements for the same.”
Union minister of transport and road highways Nitin Gadkari , who was also in Baghpat for the stone-laying ceremony for the project, said, “The situation will change very fast for farmers of the region. More ethanol will be made from molasses and mixed with petrol. There will be ready demand for their produce and therefore farmers will earn more.”
On ethanol mixing, CM Yogi said, “We will soon have this mechanism in place. But it might take two years. Ethanol will also fetch you (farmers) good profits.”
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, sugarcane is again causing a great deal of embarrassment for the incumbent BJP government as Rs 10,000 crore dues to farmers is still pending. As a result, farmers are unhappy with the BJP government, and this has given ample ammunition to opposition parties to target the ruling government for leaving cultivators in the lurch. In fact, in the recently held Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, pending cane dues was the main election issue so much so that the opposition coined the term “Jinnah Vs Ganna” to cash in on farmers’ sentiments. Eventually, BJP lost in its own turf by 44,000 votes to RLD candidate.
Meanwhile in Shamli, police detained 25 Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) activists at Shamli railway station who were on their way to Baghpat to show black flags to CM Yogi in protest against non-payment of pending sugarcane dues to farmers. The activists were later released.”
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Sugarcane causes diabetes, grow other crops: CM Yogi to west UP farmers | Meerut News

MEERUT: “Inculcate the habit of growing crops other than sugarcane because excessive production of sugar leads to more consumption of the commodity, which is a major cause of diabetes. Try sowing vegetables as well, as there is a huge market for these in Delhi. You are producing too much of sugarcane now,” said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Baghpat after the foundation stone laying ceremony for developing the 154-km Delhi-Saharanpur Highway on Tuesday. The highway passes through Muzaffarnagar and Shamli — considered sugar bowl of UP — and will be developed with an estimated cost of Rs 1,505 crore.
Patting his government’s back in clearing sugarcane dues to the tune of Rs 26,000 crore, the CM said, “We have paid Rs 26,000 crore to sugarcane farmers this year and the remaining Rs 10,000 crore will also be released soon by sugar mills. We have made adequate arrangements for the same.”
Union minister of transport and road highways Nitin Gadkari , who was also in Baghpat for the stone-laying ceremony for the project, said, “The situation will change very fast for farmers of the region. More ethanol will be made from molasses and mixed with petrol. There will be ready demand for their produce and therefore farmers will earn more.”
On ethanol mixing, CM Yogi said, “We will soon have this mechanism in place. But it might take two years. Ethanol will also fetch you (farmers) good profits.”
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, sugarcane is again causing a great deal of embarrassment for the incumbent BJP government as Rs 10,000 crore dues to farmers is still pending. As a result, farmers are unhappy with the BJP government, and this has given ample ammunition to opposition parties to target the ruling government for leaving cultivators in the lurch. In fact, in the recently held Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, pending cane dues was the main election issue so much so that the opposition coined the term “Jinnah Vs Ganna” to cash in on farmers’ sentiments. Eventually, BJP lost in its own turf by 44,000 votes to RLD candidate.
Meanwhile in Shamli, police detained 25 Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) activists at Shamli railway station who were on their way to Baghpat to show black flags to CM Yogi in protest against non-payment of pending sugarcane dues to farmers. The activists were later released.”
Read this story in Bengali

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