Monday 29 February 2016

Virtual Window Cleaning - First VR Game Released

Virtual Window Cleaning - First VR Game Released.
Wipe on, wipe off: Pane In The Glass is a VR window cleaning sim you need to play. Now the day where we finally get to play with our own HTC Vive headset isn’t all that far in the future, thanks to the pre-orders being open, it’s time to start making a list of must-try games. How about one that simulates the joy of cleaning windows? Yeah, really. The game’s called Pane In The Glass, and it just may be one of the first free games you download for the Vive.

That’ll be welcome enough on its own, considering the amount of money you’ll have already spent acquiring the kit, but the great news is, cleaning windows while wearing the HTC Vive turns out to be way more fun than actually cleaning windows in the real world. We got a chance to play Pane In The Glass during the VRUK Festival event held at the beginning of February.

Now the day where we finally get to play with our own HTC Vive headset isn’t all that far in the future.
Developed specifically for the HTC Vive by UK-based VR content production studio Rewind, it makes great use of the Vive’s controllers. One is your sponge, and the other a squeegee — the only weapons a window cleaner usually needs, except this is no ordinary mission. You’re being sent up in one of those unsteady-looking platforms that climb up the sides of massive buildings. Here you get a bucket, water, and a speed control, plus your lunch for later on.

What do you do? Clean the windows, of course. Standing on the platform, the windows pass in front of you, requiring a sponge down and a wipe over with the squeegee. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. The sponge soon gets gross from all the dirt, requiring constant dipping, windows are left open and need to be closed, and there’s a seagull that’s always after your grub. And all the while you’re ascending higher and higher, and the windows that need cleaning are more than a stretch away.

Like the sponge you wield in the game, Pane In The Glass was utterly absorbing to play. The platform setting means you don’t stray outside of the Vive’s play area, you get to use both the controllers in unison, and the gameplay gets more frantic the higher you get. The bright colors, convincing feeling of being in motion, chunky Lego-look world, and the voiceover from your boss giving you feedback emphasize the fun. If you didn’t guess from the title, Pane In The Glass doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Enjoy knocking that seagull off the platform. We did, and could have channeled our inner George Formby all day.

Games like Pane In The Glass, and the most recent Job Simulator demo, where you complete silly tasks set by robots, prove VR isn’t only going to be about engrossing first-person shooters or horror games. It’s about fun, creativity, and easily accessible time-wasters. Pane In The Glass is exactly the type of game many will use to demo the wonders of VR to non-gamers, and is reminiscent of the titles that came right before mobile gaming exploded in popularity. Rewind will release Pane In The Glass through Steam in time for the HTC Vive’s official release.

Friday 26 February 2016

When Trump Hired Illegal Window Washers

The tycoon’s anti-immigration stance is being undermined by his use of illegal workers.
US election - Trump’s Polish worker problem: High quality global journalism requires investment. The men were known in New York as “the Polish Brigade”. There were hundreds of them, illegal immigrants for the most part, who could be found on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 1980 working around the clock on 12-hour shifts for low pay, sometimes even less than the minimum wage. Many went without hard hats as they did the dirty and difficult job of demolishing an Art Deco landmark made of limestone.

The fruits of their labour are known around the world. The Polish workers cleared the way for the construction of Trump Tower — the glittering backdrop for the US version of The Apprentice television programme, and the setting last year when the star of the show, Donald Trump, said he would run for president and build a “great, great wall” along the Mexican border to keep out unauthorised migrants.

Now, Mr Trump is coming under pressure to explain what happened on that stretch of Fifth Avenue more than three decades ago. At Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, alleged that Mr Trump had paid a judgment of $1m for hiring illegal Polish workers at one of his projects. “You lied about the Polish workers,” Mr Rubio charged. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, 38 years ago,” Mr Trump replied, prompting Mr Rubio to respond: “You lied 38 years ago? I guess there’s a statute of limitations on lies.”

The facts of the matter can be found today in 19 boxes stored in a federal archive in Missouri that contain the records of a complex 16-year legal battle over the Polish Brigade. From Ronald Reagan’s first term as president to Bill Clinton’s second, Mr Trump and his partners in the tower project fought against a lawsuit demanding that they make contributions to a union pension fund to account for the illegal Polish workers.

A settlement in the dispute was finally reached in 1999 and sealed by a federal judge in New York, keeping the financial terms a secret. But the record available to the public contains a good measure of inconvenient truth for the leader of the Republican presidential pack. The candidate who made immigration a central issue in the 2016 race is being asked to explain why he used so many unauthorised migrants on the project that even today looms as a symbol of his personal brand. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Making his mark - The tower project took shape when Mr Trump, now 69, was still a young man in a hurry, looking to make a splash in the wider world. His father Fred had amassed a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars by building middle-class housing in the “outer boroughs” of Brooklyn and Queens. Fred Trump’s office was on Avenue Z in Brooklyn; his family home was in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens. The bright lights and high property prices of the big city were far away — and the elder Trump, who died in 1999 aged 93, was content to keep a respectful distance.

His son Donald was a different story. He was drawn to Manhattan — and took advantage of his father’s contacts to make it there. One of his first breaks came in the late 1970s, when the administration of Abe Beame, the New York mayor and a long-time ally of Trump père, granted Trump fils a 40-year property tax abatement to renovate the rundown Commodore Hotel next to Grand Central Station. With Chicago’s Pritzker family, Donald Trump turned the property into the Grand Hyatt.

That success set the stage for Trump Tower. Like Holly Golightly, the heroine of the Truman Capote novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Mr Trump was drawn to the real estate around the renowned jewellery store — the “Tiffany location”, as he called it (he later named one of his daughters Tiffany). His chance came when he reached a deal to buy the Bonwit Teller department store next to Tiffany’s and persuaded the owner of the land, Equitable Assurance, to join him in building a Fifth Avenue skyscraper that would house the super-rich and stores selling their favourite brands.

To demolish the old Bonwit Teller building, Mr Trump and his partners turned to an unlikely contractor — William Kaszycki, a Polish immigrant from the small town of Herkimer, New York, more than 200 miles away from Manhattan. A window cleaner by trade — operating under the banner of Interstate Window Cleaning — he had done interior demolition work, but had never been entrusted with taking down an entire building until he was recruited for the Trump project, according to court documents.

Testimony in the case established that Mr Trump had observed Kaszycki’s Polish workers while they were doing demolition work inside a building he owned near Bonwit Teller. Mr Trump was said to have called the Poles “good hard workers”. After he was hired, Kaszycki testified in a deposition that he set up a new company called Kaszycki and Sons to do the Bonwit Teller job because “it didn’t sound good for a window cleaning company to do demolition work”.

“He was a wheeler-dealer, Bill Kaszycki was,” said his Herkimer-based attorney, George Aney, who is still practising law at the age of 80, and said that his client has died. “He was self-taught and earned his way.” The results of the demolition proved controversial from the start, as Mr Trump recounted in his bestseller, The Art of the Deal. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art had asked Mr Trump to save two bas-relief sculptures on the building’s exterior, and he said he would if he could. However, when Mr Trump learned the friezes were heavier than expected and extra scaffolding would be needed to remove them, he said he “ordered my guys to rip them down”. Howls of protest from art lovers followed, but Mr Trump emerged nonplussed, arguing that the publicity was good for business.

“My carrying charges on the construction loan for this project were enormous — not to mention the extra construction costs of delaying the job,” he wrote. “I just wasn’t prepared to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to save a few Art Deco sculptures that I believed were worth considerably less, and perhaps not very much at all.”

To obtain workers for the project, Kaszycki signed an agreement with House Wreckers Union Local 95. However, “much of the demolition work” was done in the first half of 1980 by “some 200 Polish aliens — sometimes referred to as the ‘Polish Brigade’ — who were not union members”, according to court documents.

“Most, if not all, of Kaszycki’s Polish workers had recently arrived from Poland,” Charles Stewart, a federal judge in New York, wrote in his 1991 ruling in the case. “They were undocumented and worked ‘off the books’. No records were kept, no social security or other taxes were withheld.” He said the Polish workers “were obvious not only in numbers but appearance” because “most” lacked hard hats. Read more

Thursday 25 February 2016

Window Cleaning News

A Windsor window washer works on the downtown Chrysler building, as the Detroit skyline is reflected on a sunny day.
Windsor needs to get its downtown right: The image of downtown, the policy of parking tickets — the removal of the free first hour of parking. The festivals and downtown patios all add atmosphere to the ambience of a downtown. Let us encourage people to come downtown, ease up on the parking ticket fiasco, support the festivals, help the downtown business be viable, promote patios instead of penalizing small business owners.

Historic Dutch chamois factory to become huge indoor cycling centre:  A historic sponge and chamois factory in the Netherlands is being transformed into a huge cycling experience centre. Called De Fietser – or, The Cyclist – the former factory in Ede will be a brand experience centre for the Accell Group's bike brands, and it will also have a permanent indoor 1400-metre test-out track that Accell claims will be the longest in Europe.
The 10,000 square metre factory was built in 1919 for ENKA, the Dutch Art Silk Factory. It produced man-made fabrics and later specialised in chamois (for window cleaning, not cycle shorts) and sponges. In its heyday 5000 workers were employed at the factory. The factory closed in 2002 and was partially demolished in 2008, and has since become a venue for car shows. De Fietser will be housed in the former factory's West Hall, built in 1928 and which is a listed national monument.

The glass storage discs can hold a whopping 360 terabytes each.
This Glass Disc Can Store 360 TB of Your Photos for 13.8 Billion Years:  If you back up your photos on optical disks or storage drives, there’s a good chance your data won’t last as long as you do due to things known as “disc rot” and “data rot“. But what if you want to ensure that your precious photos live longer than you? Good news: a new “eternal” storage technology may be on the horizon.
Scientists have created nanostructured glass discs that can storage digital data for billions of years. Researchers at the University of Southampton announced this week that they’ve figured out how to store huge amounts of data on small glass discs using laser writing. They call it five dimensional (5D) digital data because in addition to the position of the data, the size and orientation plays a role too.
If you back up your photos on optical disks or storage drives, there’s a good chance your data won’t last as long as you do due to things known as “disc rot” and “data rot“. But what if you want to ensure that your precious photos live longer than you? Good news: a new “eternal” storage technology may be on the horizon.
Scientists have created nanostructured glass discs that can storage digital data for billions of years.
Researchers at the University of Southampton announced this week that they’ve figured out how to store huge amounts of data on small glass discs using laser writing. They call it five dimensional (5D) digital data because in addition to the position of the data, the size and orientation plays a role too.
The glass storage discs can hold a whopping 360 terabytes each, are stable at temperatures up to 1,000°C (1,832°F), and are expected to keep the data intact for 13.8 billion years at room temperature (anything up to 190°C, or 374°F). It’s a discovery that “opens a new era of eternal data archiving” because the discs have “virtually unlimited lifetime,” the university says, and museums, national archives, and libraries could benefit from having this eternal storage.
So far, scientists have preserved important documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Magna Carta, and Kings James Bible on individual discs that will likely survive the human race.

Cleaning the fourth floor windows in the wet.
Spotted on a block of local authority apartments in South East England, a window cleaner risking it all on a pitched roof four storeys up in search of that perfect shine.
Complete with grey skies, droplets of water clinging to the trees, and a windblown plant pot, this man really hasn't picked the right day for this sort of foolery. A lone seagull has even stopped off to see what how he fares.
Perhaps having believed the myths that ladders are now banned he thinks this method might be safer, and not a harness in sight. And yet he looks positively petrified. Definitely one for our Death Wish Series.

New Earswick Folk Hall, where the inquest was held.
Man died after falling from balcony in York:  An out-of-work window cleaner died when he fell from a balcony after taking drugs, an inquest heard. Forensic tests showed Mark Hanshaw, 31, had heroin, diazepam, ketamine and methadone in his body but no alcohol, coroner Jonathan Leech said at a hearing on Tuesday at New Earswick Folk Hall. In a witness statement, staff nurse Jessica Middleton said she was returning home with her dog through Pateley Place, Acomb, shortly before 10pm on Sunday, May 24, when she heard a noise and turned. "I saw a male fall through the air," she said.
She tried to help him with towels and at one stage saw Mr Hanshaw's girlfriend Sabrina Mariga on the first-floor balcony from which the man had fallen. The woman didn't seem to realise what had happened, the hearing was told. The coroner read out police statements that officers found no sign of a struggle or fight in the flat and made a finding that the death had been accidental. "It is unclear how and why he fell," he said. He concluded that the death was accidental.
Mr Hanshaw's girlfriend, Sabrina Mariga said he split his time between her flat in Pateley Place and his mother's. On May 24, she spent the day in bed with back pain. She heard Mr Hanshaw playing with his daughter and thought he had been drinking wine because she found three empty bottles in the kitchen later. Only when she heard screaming outside did she realise he had fallen and went outside to him.
Simon Thomson, consultant neurosurgeon at Leeds General Infirmary, said Mr Hanshaw was admitted to its accident and emergency department just before 11pm on May 24 with head, brain, chest, leg and other injuries. He was on intensive care for some time and received other treatment, but did not improve and after discussions with the family his life support was switched off and he died on June 30. Police intelligence reports given to the coroner said several people suspected that Mr Hanshaw had been trying to reach for drugs hidden in the roof void. Asked if she was aware Mr Hanshaw had drugs in the roof void, Ms Mariga replied: "No, no". The inquest heard that Mr Hanshaw had regular meetings with a drug rehabilitation agency, Lifeline.

SEATTLE — KIRO 7 viewers are stepping up after our story about a South Seattle school in need of sports equipment. Supersonics legend and current P.E. teacher, Donald “Slick” Watts, has gotten dozens of calls after telling KIRO 7 of a $500 donation from his friend at GHB Window Cleaning.
On Monday morning, George Brewer presented the $500 check at an assembly at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.  Watts says it’s all about making sure kids get physical activity. “With all these computers in the world we need to do something to get kids moving,” said Watts.  “And this is a start.”

Metro Vancouver looks to reduce drought shaming:  Metro Vancouver’s considering new rules to make another water shortage more bearable in the wake of the chaos caused as neighbours water-shamed each other last year. The regional government met with local businesses and associations after last year’s summer drought that saw stage three restrictions put in place, including a ban on all watering — even golf course fairways — and on washing cars and other vehicles. “Several participants reported being harassed and physically threatened by people who believed they were operating illegally,” reads the Metro Vancouver report.
Feedback included that from local governments that felt the scrutiny prevented them from even watering public sports fields and medians — areas individual cities can exempt from the watering ban. Some businesses reported staff layoffs and revenue losses, particularly companies that specialize in window cleaning or pressure washing. This type of cleaning is considered washing for an “aesthetic purpose” and was prohibited even in stage two. There also wasn’t much warning when a new water restriction was put into place — cities suggested they needed at least two to three days to properly inform people about the change. Metro Vancouver is proposing to allow commercial cleaning services such as window washers continue operating in stage two.

CGI of the new café with retractable windows planned for Duke of York Square, off King's Road in Chelsea
Plans revealed for Chelsea café with windows that retract underground: Plans for a new café off King’s Road in Chelsea are going on public display. It will include an innovative glass facade which will see windows retract below ground much like a car window, believed to be a UK first, and follows an international architectural competition.
The plans by Cadogan for the café in Duke of York Square will go on display in February and provide an opportunity for local people to comment on the plans before they are submitted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as a planning application later this year. The architectural competition took place in 2012 and saw 150 entries from across the world. But designs by London-based Nex Architecture for the independently run new café.
The glass facade will lower into a single storey basement during fine weather - the first of its kind anywhere in the UK - and it will have a circular roof terrace, open to the public as an additional green space to relax. The public can view the plans at the exhibition held in the Gelateria building on Duke of York Square on February 4 (4pm-8pm) and February 6 (10am-2pm). The plans will also be accessible from February 4 through .

An Ilminster resident fears being forced out of the town by the “extortionate” service charge on her flat. Sally-Anne Walmsley, 46, of Walnut Place, is a resident of Stonewater Housing Group who has bought her one-bedroom flat, but still has to pay a service charge on top of her mortgage. She is also deeply upset by the treatment from Stonewater Housing Association. Sally-Anne, who has lived in Ilminster for more than 15 years, said: “I moved in to the flat two years ago.” “The service charge was about £60, which was reasonably high. Within a year, it went up to £102.22.”
Sally-Anne has been trying to find answers, with very little result. “I have phoned them and spoken to them a few times and they would ignore my calls. I asked to speak to a manager but they wouldn’t let me. “This led to complaints that didn’t get a response, it was very worrying. “I emailed them but again didn’t really get a response, and it has been a year now.”
Marcus Canning, head of Home Ownership at Stonewater, said: “This flat is a former Shared Ownership property. The owner purchased the property at 100% - this is not a social or affordable housing property. “The payments have increased partly due to the number of repairs carried out to communal areas increasing and the cost of window cleaning which has increased.

A flyer distributed in north Tel Aviv that offers cleaning services according to the ethnic origin of the (female only) cleaner.
Tel Aviv service offers cleaners priced by ethnic origin: Cleaning services are being promoted to potential clients in north Tel Aviv with a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin. The advert also refers to its employees in the feminine only. A service provider offering cleaning and housekeeping in north Tel Aviv has taken the term “human resources” to a whole new level, distributing a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin.
Starting out with a corny infomercial-style list of questions, the ad asks: Do you need a housekeeper? Are you tired of hiring illegal foreign workers and getting fined? Not prepared to have an Arab cleaner for security reasons? Are you tired of employing according to the law and being sued by temporary workers? The flyer then presents the “solution” to all these unpleasant and onerous problems, by offering “legal only” housekeepers and cleaners, with hourly rates scaled according to the cleaner’s ethnicity.
The cheapest labor comes from employees from African countries, at NIS 49 per hour. Slightly more expensive are Eastern European workers, at NIS 52 an hour. By far the most expensive are Eastern European employees who hold Israeli citizenship, at NIS 69 per hour. The flyer also refers to the cleaners in question exclusively in the feminine (Hebrew is a gendered language), which in conjunction with the illustrative photo of a serene (and white) woman cleaning a window, adds a healthy wallop of sexism into the mix.
The immediate assumption of many that this is satire designed to highlight the very open and profound racism that runs through Israeli society was unfortunately dispelled, according to national news outlet Mako [Heb], which said it managed to contact an employee of the company to confirm that the ad was indeed real. The employee also reportedly claimed that paying employees different salaries according to their ethnicity is not illegal.
Each time such a brazen and shameful display of casual racism pops up in this country, the immediate response is to compare it to how it would look if another country did the same thing: to imagine, for example, the uproar that would be caused if an American company priced its (female-only) cleaning services according to whether the cleaners were from southeast Asia, say, or African-American.
It’s a valid and tempting comparison to make. But it’s also sad, because it demonstrates just how deep-seated the prejudice is in Israel: people have to be shown other examples of horrendous discrimination in order to understand just how unnatural this state of affairs is. And anyone who may want to console themselves with the idea that this kind of precision racism is not a perfectly normal part of the discourse here need only look back to another mini-incident from a few months back.
Underneath all of this, of course, is the unspoken understanding that this kind of manual work is only to be assigned to non-Jews (thus, for example, a fairly prominent lawyer once blithely remarked to me that “Jews are too smart” for this kind of labor). One more thing: the last carrot the flyer dangles in front of its prospective clients is a special price for a “full day” of 12 hours of work. Human resources, indeed.

Pay falling 'in real terms' for many workers: Workers in sectors such as leisure and caring have seen their pay fall by more than 15% in real terms since the recession, according to a new study.  Research by the GMB union found that pay has not recovered for many professions since 2008. Average earnings for all workers are 13.4% below pre-recession levels, said the union after an analysis of official data. Ambulance staff have suffered a 19% fall in real time earnings, cleaners and sales assistants 18%, bar staff 15%, hospital porters 11%, refuse staff 10%, postal workers 9%, farm workers 8% and window cleaners 6%, said the report.

I have adult incontinence: Imagine how difficult it was explaining to someone who hadn’t witnessed the cause of my incontinence why I found it so difficult to be physically close. It was during this relationship that things became even worse with my condition. Together, we ran a successful window cleaning business employing ten people. Mortifyingly, I started wetting myself in front of our staff - and a couple of customers, too. I always wore dark trousers as a precaution, along with pads. Finally, I accepted that I had to swallow my pride and talk to my GP about it.
How I wished I’d gone sooner, because she immediately told me she had seen it all before. I’d been convinced I was the only person with such a vile problem. She sent me for tests, and the consultant was reassuring. She, too, insisted that my situation, while extreme, wasn’t unique.
I had surgery in 2005 - a sling made from plastic mesh called Trans Vaginal Tape (TVT) was used to provide support under the neck of my bladder, helping to keep everything closed. Unfortunately, my body rejected the synthetic material and as well as not working, it made me dreadfully ill. I suffered rashes, hot and cold sweats and near constant urinary tract infections. It took almost a decade to work out the sling was to blame. 
Last year it was removed, after which I spent eight months having to change pads every 20 minutes. I had nappy rash, was virtually housebound and despaired at how miserable my life had become. Finally, in October, another sling was fitted, this time made from my own body tissue, taken from above my pubic bone. Thankfully, it worked and, for the first time in 33 years, I am back in control of my bladder, and my life, too.

Churchill offers more to Wiltshire Council: Churchill Services Group has announced the addition of water hygiene monitoring to its service delivery to Wiltshire Council. The contract will see Churchill deliver water and legionella monitoring services to approximately 600 sites across the Wiltshire Council portfolio of properties, including public toilets, car parks, schools, offices, leisure centres and care homes, starting 1st April 2016. Churchill already provides window cleaning and caretaking services to approximately 130 sites within the council portfolio.

“Something in the top left hand window caught my eye. It looks like a ghostly image of an evil-looking face. “Look closely and it looks like it is breathing on the inside of the window. “Next to the face is what looks like a man in a tuxedo and dickey bow.”
Ghost caught on camera in haunted hotel window on Google Street View: A creepy other-worldy figure was caught peering from a haunted hotel window on Google Street View. The ghostly face can be seen in the top left window – when you see it you'll get shivers down your spine. The haunting apparition was spotted by an unsuspecting Twitter user, who was Googling a nearby fish and chip shop.  After spotting the "ghost" in the Stuart Hotel in Walton, Liverpool, he took to Twitter to share his creepy finding.
The Twitter user Lallana Experiment, said: "I was looking on Google Street View to find a fish and chip shop in Walton, and I came across The Stuart Hotel. “Something in the top left hand window caught my eye. It looks like a ghostly image of an evil-looking face. “Look closely and it looks like it is breathing on the inside of the window. “Next to the face is what looks like a man in a tuxedo and dickey bow.”
Flying into windows kills as many as one billion birds each year in the United States and accounts for an annual loss of between two and nine percent of North America’s estimated bird population. Migratory species, especially those that fly at night, account for most of the deaths. Many campuses pose a heightened risk because they feature wooded or landscaped areas surrounding low- and medium-rise buildings with large expanses of glass.

Graduate students at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment began conducting daily surveys around six buildings on Duke’s West Campus in 2014 to identify how many birds, and of which species, were being killed by flying into windows at each building during peak migration periods each spring and fall. To augment their survey results, the team also collected incidental data on collision deaths that occurred during other times of the year.
“What we discovered, not surprisingly, is that the buildings with the most glass, the highest percentage of glass to solid wall, and high amounts of surrounding forest cover killed the most birds,” says PhD student Scott Winton.
A more revealing finding, Winton says, was that buildings with collision-deterring patterned or fritted windows caused substantially fewer deaths than those with plain windows. This was true regardless of building size, height or proximity to wooded landscapes, and even if patterned or fritted windows comprised significantly more of the building’s exterior.
Armed with their findings, the researchers approached university administrators and asked them to take action to mitigate the collisions by having patterned films applied on windows responsible for the most deaths. Winton spearheaded passage of a resolution by Duke’s Graduate and Professional Student Council supporting these proposed measures, and the researchers also gave interviews to local television stations and newspapers to raise community awareness of the problem and its potential solution.

Window cleaner sentenced to community order for Bradford cannabis farm:  A 52 year old window cleaner caught growing more than 180 cannabis plants at his Bradford home has been sentenced to a 12 month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. Antony Stafford, whose crop would have yielded up to 3.24 kilos of the Class B drug, told his probation officer he enjoyed "an occasional cannabis cigarette," Bradford Crown Court heard today.
Stafford pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to production of cannabis at his then home in Briarwood Crescent, Wibsey, on August 6 last year. Prosecutor John Bull said that the police found 36 mature plants at the address, along with 28 non-flowering plants and 123 seedlings. There were also cuttings in a propagator. Cannabis with a wholesale value of £5,000 could have been produced by the existing mature crop, Mr Bull said.
Stafford told the police he bought the equipment on line to set up the cannabis farm. He had ten convictions for 17 previous offences, mainly for dishonesty and non for drugs matters, the court was told. Stafford's barrister, Rodney Ferm, said he had now moved to Nelson in Lancashire. He was a hard working man who was inexperienced at growing cannabis. "It was his first attempt and he did not know how well things were going to take," Mr Ferm said.

Kevin O’Rourke, owner of Fish Window Cleaning in Wallingford and chairman of the board of directors for the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce, said he’s been fortunate to experience 20 percent growth in his commercial and residential business last year. “I don’t think things are nearly as bad as they say,” said O’Rourke, who did not attend the forum. “We did over 1,000 homes last year.”
O’Rourke recalls in 2009 when the phone rang, it was a client canceling an appointment or calling to scale back on cleaning services. Last year was a significant improvement on that.
However, O’Rourke said he is still concerned about the challenges facing other small businesses that are leaving the state. He acknowledged he can’t pick up and leave, but he has heard from others who can no longer stay.
“A lot of these legislators haven’t run a business so they don’t get it,” he said. “Something has to give.” O’Rourke said he already pays his workers above minimum wage, but a mandated wage increase forces him to increase salaries to attract quality workers.

As well as a full range of cleaning services for all property sizes, the company will also offer add-ons including ironing, window and interior cleaning. Maid Up North has also pledged to give its customers a free and complete re-clean if they aren’t 100% satisfied with the outcome.
Mum and son business team launches first online home cleaning service in Newcastle:  A mother and son business team have launched an online cleaning service in Newcastle where customers can book a cleaner in 60 seconds – and they already have ambitions on a national roll-out. Scott McMullan quit his job with Apple Inc to set up Maid Up North with his mum Kerry Patton, taking inspiration from the American home clening model. Designed with tech-savvy professionals with busy lifestyles in mind, the pair believe the business will be a game-changer in the North East, promising to bring the service into the 21st Century.
Currently operating throughout Newcastle , Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Maid Up North’s website allows customers to book a professional cleaner in their local area and will remove the need for time-consuming phone calls and needless correspondence. As well as a full range of cleaning services for all property sizes, the company will also offer add-ons including ironing, window and interior cleaning. Maid Up North has also pledged to give its customers a free and complete re-clean if they aren’t 100% satisfied with the outcome.
The duo are on course to clean up with first year turnover of £300,000 by the end of 2016, and have forecast an ambitious sales target of £1m inside three years. “We will deliver a seamless, affordable and hassle free booking experience which customers can trust,” said Mr McMullan. “We aim to expand the brand across the North of England once we have established ourselves in Newcastle. Currently, it isn’t possible to book a cleaner online in the North East of England, and we’re changing that. We will not lock any customer into a contract like some companies do either, and we aim to have the best customer support possible.
“We’re already looking to expand into Carlisle, Durham , Leeds and York. “And in the not so distant future, we aim to have a presence in every major city in the North of England as well as Scotland.”
Having received hundreds of applications from cleaners in the region this month, Maid Up North expects to double its current roster of staff by the end of 2016 as it expands throughout the North East.
Scott McMullan said: “Regardless of whether a customer’s property is large or small, we promise to deliver a range of services and schedules to suit all. “All customers need to do is select the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that need taking care of, and we’ll generate a price for them. It really is that simple. All cleaners will routinely leave a checklist of completed tasks, signed and dated for peace of mind. “All our cleaners have been interviewed, vetted and would have completed a trial shift before being added to our roster.
“Potential customers should use our service due to its ease and the peace of mind knowing that our cleaners are insured and have been vetted and reference checked. Customers can book around the clock at any time of the day, and they can also log into our online system to change an appointment if something came up last minute.”
With plans for expansion in the pipeline Mr McMullan will look to begin working with the commercial sector as well as landlords in all of major northern UK cities to provide a full online tenancy cleaning service. He added: “It’s our mission to make our customer’s home life easier and hassle free, and we’ll be hooking up with like-minded sectors to make this a reality. We want to give people a convenient service via our online platform and our first class team of cleaners.”

Window cleaner, Rab Simpson with MD Robin Barr and Director of Strathcarron Irene McKie.
Fundraiser hands over last cheque after 30 years of collecting glass bottles: The decision by the makers of Irn Bru to stop accepting returned bottles has meant Stirling man, window cleaner, Rab Simpson and his fellow volunteers handed over their last cheque this week. While it is the end of an era, however, the 83-year-old has fond memories of his days gathering in the “empties”.
Rab started his fundraising idea back in 1985 while, as a window cleaner, he realised how many Barr’s bottles workers had managed to stack up. Cashing them in, he handed over his first donation to Strathcarron Hospice — a sum of £36. Word of his efforts quickly spread and it wasn’t long before people from all over the central belt were in contact, asking him to collect their bottles. His travels took him as far afield as Callander, Kippen and even Glasgow and Edinburgh to ensure as many bottles got returned and as much was raised as possible for the hospice.
In 2011, Barr’s presented Rab with a limited edition 1905 ginger beer bottle on a plinth in recognition of reaching the incredible sum of £100,000. Former Barr’s chairman Robin Barr said: “Rab’s story is an inspiration to us all, and also a rare story of great generosity for an incredible cause. His efforts go well beyond anything that one would expect even from the most avid charity supporter.”
And Strathcarron director Irene McKie said: “Rab’s fundraising efforts are astounding and have helped us to continue to provide much needed support to the communities we serve. We are delighted to be able to thank Rab for all his hard work and dedication.” An AG Barr spokesperson said: “Rab has undoubtedly been an invaluable source of support to Strathcarron Hospice, raising an incredible amount of cash. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Common household products kids mistake for candy or juice: Gatorade and window washer solution look similar. "This [window washer solution] contains methyl. One teaspoon full in a child can cause blindness," said Weber.

Household cleaners can be of a great help in keeping the house clean. Little do you know, many of them can also be considered as toxic household cleaners and are dangerous to the health. Experience Life Org has recently compiled a list of the most toxic household cleaners as well as the safer and more natural alternatives for each one. Cleaning the house is important but keeping the members of the household healthy is actually much more important.
The first toxic household cleaner on the list is phthalates. These chemicals are found in air fresheners, dish soaps and toilet paper -- known to disrupt the body's endocrine system. The safer alternatives to phthalates are fragrance-free and organic products, essential oils and plants.
The second toxic household cleaner chemical on the list is perchloroethylene or "perc". These are usually found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers and carpet or upholstery cleaners and are considered as possible causes of cancer. The safer alternatives include wet cleaners, liquid carbon dioxide, Ecover spot remover and castile soap.
The next on the list is triclosan, which is usually found in liquid dishwashing soaps and anti-bacterial hand soaps. Triclosan can make bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics and might also cause cancer. Using detergents and soaps with less and simpler ingredients and always checking if the product has triclosan is an effective way to avoid the toxins.
Quarternary ammonium compounds or quats, which are usually found in fabric softeners and antibacterial household cleaners, are also considered as toxins. They also cause the development of antibiotic-resistant microbes and different respiratory problems. The safer choice is vinegar instead of fabric softeners and antibacterial tea-tree oils instead of antibacterial household cleaners.
2-butoxyenthanol is found in window cleaners. This chemical might be responsible for sore throats, narcosis, pulmonary edema and liver or kidney damage. Using newspaper and vinegar to clean windows is such a safer alternative.
Ammonia, which is found in polishing agents and liquid glass cleaners. "People who get a lot of ammonia exposure, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma," chemical engineer Donna Kasuska told Experience Life. The safe alternative to ammonia is vodka.
Chlorine is the next on the list. It is found in toilet cleaners, clothes whiteners and even household tap water -- potentially causing respiratory problems and thyroid disorders. Vinegar, baking soda and Biokleen bleach powder are safer alternatives.
Sodium hydroxide found in chemical products for cleaning ovens and opening drains. It can cause skin burns and sore throat. The better choice is a "DIY paste" made of water and baking soda, or vinegar mixed with baking soda.
"Most of the products on the market are too strong for regular household cleaning. Most of the time, vinegar, borax and some simple elbow grease goes a long way to keeping our homes dirt and germ-free," advised Green Living Ideas on eliminating toxic household cleaners.

A woman suspected of drinking window cleaner spent 50 days in a coma before she died. Natalia Jelagina, 53, of Buckingham Village, Dublin 1 and originally from Lithuania, died at the Mater Hospital on September 11 2014. Her medical notes contain several references to the ingestion of window cleaner although her partner denied she had been drinking that day. Dublin Coroner’s Court heard Ms Jelagina, a mother of one with a history of alcoholism, came to Ireland in 2000. Her husband had passed away and she was living with a new partner Sergei Kuzmicius, off Buckingham Street. In his deposition, he said the pair were at the flat when she collapsed suddenly on July 21 2014.
He told Coroner Dr Brian Farrell the front door was open and Natalia had been outside for a cigarette.
Mr Kuzmicius added when she sat down on the couch, her head dropped toward her chest and she became unresponsive. An ambulance was called and Dublin Fire Brigade also attended the scene. Ms Jelegina was in cardiac arrest and was taken to the Mater Hospital.
Following her death almost two months later, Garda Eric Fox of Mountjoy Garda Station asked the woman’s partner if she had ingested window cleaner. Through an interpreter, Mr Kuzmucius said she had had nothing to drink. Garda Fox said there was a difficulty for officers because so much time had elapsed between Ms Jelegina’s collapse and her death. Dr Farrell said: “It’s certainly possible that she ingested something. Ethylene glycol is a cardio toxic substance.
The Mater’s General Medical Consultant Dr Jack Lambert said after he was admitted the victim was having seizures that were difficult to control. He told the court there was evidence of alcohol ingestion and hypoxic brain injury. Ms Jelegina never regained consciousness. Dr Peter del a Harpe-Golden, who carried out the postmortem, gave the cause of death as bilateral bronchial pneumonia.
Doctors found Ms Jelegina had a blood alcohol level of 172 mg % at some point after her admittance to hospital but the exact date of this reading was unknown. She had a low level of ethylene glycol in her system, a substance not naturally occurring in the body, the court heard. The coroner said: “We don’t know the cause of the cardiac arrest and there is some indication she may have taken ethylene glycol but I can’t put it any higher than a possibility.”

Window cleaner to pay heavy price for driving dangerously near Kendal:  A young businessman is set to pay a heavy price after he admitted driving dangerously near Kendal. Jonjo Verity, 22, appeared at Carlisle Crown Court today and was banned from getting behind the wheel for a year. This followed his guilty pleas to charges of dangerous driving and having no insurance for a Ford Fiesta which was driven on the A65 at Oxenholme in June last year.
Verity's vehicle was described as a "development project" which a police expert concluded was unroadworthy. It was fitted with oversized tyres but no seatbelts, and a lack of inside door covers left sharp pieces of metal exposed. The court heard Verity, a self-employed window cleaner, would now have to employ somebody to drive him to jobs. Judge Peter Davies imposed the mandatory disqualification as part of a 12-month community order. Verity, of High Park Caravan Park, Oxenholme, must also take an extended re-test before getting his licence back.

Small fox stuck at Pyramid Plaza:  LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A small fox seems to be stuck on the ledge of a south Lubbock office building at the South Loop and Indiana. People from the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center were on scene Wednesday afternoon. They're hoping the fox can make his way down overnight. If not, a window washing crew has volunteered to help.

Gateshead thief Sean Boyle jailed after posing as window cleaner to con victims:  A thief who posed as a window cleaner to steal from residents is today behind bars. Sean Vincent Boyle has been jailed for 29 months after being convicted of four counts of fraud and making a false representation, two counts of dwelling burglary dwelling and one of attempt burglary. The burglaries happened at homes in the Gateshead area, from which Boyle stole items including a laptop computer and a mobile phone.
And during the fraud offences Boyle, 38, from Pottersway in Deckham, Gateshead, pretended to be a window cleaner to try to take money from residents in the town.
On a number of occasions he was also found trying door handles and looking into people’s homes. Chief Inspector Steve Ammari, of Northumbria Police, said: “It’s a great relief for residents in Gateshead that Boyle is now behind bars. “He targeted residents trying to dupe them into thinking he was a window cleaner and pressuring them into handing over money. “He also used the same lie when confronted when he was checking people’s door handles and windows. Thankfully people saw through this deceit and contacted the police.

Telegraph readers help snare bogus Derby window cleaner: Daniel Bradshaw knocked at the doors of two victims claiming they owed him money for his services. In one case the woman who answered the door's daughter challenged the 29-year-old and he left. But he was unaware he had been captured on CCTV walking away from one of the properties and images of him were handed to the police.
In turn, investigating officers circulated the pictures to the media and that led to calls from Derby Telegraph readers identifying Bradshaw. He was arrested, charged and last week, at Derby Crown Court, was convicted of two offences of dishonestly making false representation and a separate breach of bail offence. A judge sentenced him to a total of four months and two weeks in prison and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £80.
A police spokesman said: ""When the second incident was reported to us, our investigations led to seize CCTV images of Bradshaw leaving the property. "We circulated those images to the local media and on the back of that appeal a number of people came forward to say they recognised who the man was. "Without a doubt issuing those images to the media allowed us to identify and secure the conviction of a man who was deliberately targeting elderly and vulnerable victims."
The offences both took place in Mansfield Road in August and February last year. In both cases, Bradshaw, formerly of Osmaston Park Road and now of no fixed address, knocked at the doors of the houses and when the victims answered he claimed he was their window cleaner and that they owed him cash for previous work he had done.
PC Harriet Hitchon, from the Darley safer neighbourhood team, said: "We are particularly pleased that we have been able to secure a prosecution on this individual as it is clear that he was targeting vulnerable victims. "Both offences happened on the same street and although there were several months between the two we were able to link them. "I would particularly like to thank people who responded to our appeal for information after the second offence in August as this helped us in our enquiries to trace the offender."

Chorlton art teacher creates his own 'efit' after being 'conned' by doorstep caller:  When a retired art teacher was swindled on his doorstep he decided to warn others... by creating his own homemade ‘efit’ of the alleged conman. Tom McGrath, 70, quickly put pencil to paper to draw the workman with an ‘unhealthy pallor’ when he realised he had been tricked. Ex-secondary teacher Tom initially gave the doorstep caller £30 to clear out his gutters when he turned up at his Chorlton home last Thursday afternoon asking for work.
But when the friendly man, who called himself David, turned up at Tom’s house again later that evening he asked the pensioner for more money. Tom says ‘David’ told him a complicated tale about a broken key persuading him to hand over £10. He has heard nothing from the workman since. Tom says it is now clear that it was ‘an obvious con trick’ and he now hopes to warn others about ‘David’.
He said: “He turned up again at about 6.30pm after cleaning the gutters and said he had broken his key off in the lock and his brother was sending a replacement key by taxi from Rochdale. He said he didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi. “I gave him £20 and took a £10 note from him. He said he would come back but of course he never did.”
Artist Tom, who taught at St Alban’s and Wright Robinson, said ‘David’ was around 45-50 years old, wore a dirty hi-vis jacket and had “the unhealthy pallor of the incorrigible alcoholic or drug taker”. He has posted his sketch and details of the incident on the Chorlton Facebook group. Several people have commented that they have paid a man fitting David’s description for window cleaning work.

Bogus window cleaner jailed after conning Hatfield people: Ben Robertson, 32, knocked on doors along Old French Horn Lane claiming he was owed £20 for work that was carried out earlier. At one house a resident believed him and handed over the money, St Albans Crown Court heard on Thursday, February 18. Three days later he tried the same trick in St Albans Road West and was let into the house, where he stole a £400 iPad.
Robertson, of Jubilee Court, Hatfield, admitted burglary and fraud. He had 15 convictions for 27 previous offences. Puneet Rai, mitigating, said he had spent four months in custody where he had been addressing his drink problem. Recorder Amanda Tipples QC jailed him for 12 months saying the offences were aggravated by the number of victims.

Gage Park autopsies: Woman shot; other five beaten, stabbed - Six white wooden crosses in the front yard of a Southwest Side home mark the gruesome scene where six family members were murdered — including a mother of two boys who was shot to death and five others who were beaten, stabbed, or both. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Friday released the results of the autopsies of the six victims, whose deaths were all ruled homicides. The victims — two men, two women and the boys, ages 10 and 13 — were three generations of the same family.
They were found slain Thursday afternoon in 5700 block of South California in the Gage Park neighborhood after police checked on the well-being of Noe Martinez Jr. (pictured), who had not shown up to work for two days. A worried co-worker called 911 to ask police to go to the home, authorities said.
Family members and the medical examiner’s office have identified the victims as: 62-year-old Noe Martinez Sr. and his wife, 58-year-old Rosaura; their adult children, 38-year-old Noe Martinez Jr. and 32-year-old Maria Herminia Martinez; and Herminia’s sons, 10-year-old Alexis Cruz and 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz.
Autopsies found the boys suffered “sharp force” injuries, which a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office defined as either a stabbing or cutting wound, or both. The office did not speculate on what kind of weapon was used. Herminia died of gunshot wounds. Noe Martinez Sr. died of “sharp force” wounds. And his wife and his son, Noe Jr., died of “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries,” autopsies showed.
Noe Martinez Jr. worked for United Service Companies since 2012 and was a window washer at O’Hare Airport, according to the company. “We are deeply saddened by this news,” said Gabrielle Weiss, a spokeswoman for the company. “He was well-liked by his co-workers.”

The family of a killer who stabbed his partner to death on Mother’s Day left her body for her brother and stepfather to find, a court heard. Mum-of-two Melissa Liddle, 23, was found dead in bed at the home she shared in Oak Avenue, South Shields, with Anthony Ross after her family grew concerned about her absence on the special day, March 15, last year. Ross, 24, was yesterday ordered to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital, having previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibilty. Melissa had been stabbed 41 times by Ross, who had become convinced she was having an affair.
Ross, who had become convinced she had started an affair, told his mother around the time of the killing he had “an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other”. The court heard his mental state had “deteriorated significantly” two days before Melissa’s death, with him telling his family that time seemed to be “moving slow”, that he was hearing voices and wanting to stay with his father so he was safe. The former gardener and window cleaner had attended a walk-in health centre in South Tyneside the day before the killing due to his state.

A Tweedbank pensioner was brutally stabbed to death in his own flat, it has emerged. David Farish, 75, was found dead in his home on Thursday afternoon after police were tipped off by an anonymous phone call. They raced to his home address in Broadlee Bank where the body of the retired window cleaner was discovered. A post mortem over the weekend confirmed he had been murdered. The flat was cordoned off as forensic officers searched the house and surrounding  area for clues.
Two police vans were parked at the front and rear of the property over the weekend. It is only the second ever murder in the 45-year history of Tweedbank which has a population of 1,700. One neighbour said last night: "I have been told Davie was stabbed to death. At first the police were not saying anything which was a bit unnerving for people living around here with all the police activity. But apparently it was a nasty stabbing.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

NY Rescue.. Sort Of

Two window washers are stuck on a scaffold near the top of a Manhattan high-rise building in New York. The workers became trapped near the 62nd floor of the building at West 54th Street and Broadway. Firefighters later cut a hole in a glass window and safely removed the workers from the scaffold.
Firefighters Rescue Window Washers Trapped Outside 65th Floor of Manhattan High Rise: A pair of window washers were trapped on their rig more than 60 stories up outside a high-rise hotel in midtown Manhattan for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said. The washers were working outside Marriott's Courtyard New York Manhattan/Times Square hotel at Broadway and West 54th Street when they became stuck outside the 65th floor at about 1:30 p.m, officials said.

Firefighters were called to the scene and they were able to secure the workers with a rope. They then pulled them to safety at about 2:30 p.m. Video from the scene showed firefighters creating a hole in the window near the scaffolding. Several other firefighters could be seen on the roof of the skyscraper, and they were able to use ropes to pull the rig toward the window. The two workers were then pulled inside. 

Louis Merced, a scaffoldng mechanic who helped firefighters with the rescue described the demeanor of the window washers after the harrowing ordeal. "They came off the rig laughing, joking," Merced said. "To them it's not that serious either. They were not hurt."

Merced, who works for the company that manages the scaffolding, said that the men weren't in any real danger and that he had the scaffolding working again before firefighters cut out the window. An electrical issue was blamed for causing the scaffolding to get stuck. Several streets around the building were cordoned off as crews worked. 

Two workers were rescued Tuesday afternoon after their scaffold stalled outside a Midtown high-rise building. The workers, became stuck outside the 62nd floor of 1717 Broadway, between West 54th and 55th streets, when the scaffolding stopped working around 1:20 p.m. Firefighters said the scaffold was stabilized with fire department ropes, but since mechanics couldn't get the scaffolding moving again, the FDNY had to cut through a pane of glass in order bring the workers inside.

No injuries were reported, and the entire incident lasted just over an hour. Tom Dembinski, the workers' supervisor at Permasteelisa Group, said the pair was done for the day and on their way back up to the roof when the scaffolding stalled. "A malfunction on the scaffold," he said. "The scaffold shut down, and they were stuck out's the nature of the beast."

The operator of the scaffold, however, criticized the FDNY response and called firefighters' actions unnecessary. "There was no need for the fire department at all," Louis Merced said. "This was overdone." He said the FDNY acted too quickly and that he already had the scaffold active again after a breaker problem caused the stall. "They were not in danger," he said. "It's not like the scaffold was falling. Nothing happened. There was no problem where they were in danger." There is no word on whether the conditions played any role in the malfunction.

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