Home » Page 398
Categorieslatest

Hatton Gardens robbery nine years on – where the ‘diamond wheezers’ are now

Over the course of the 2015 Easter weekend, a group of pensioners broke into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. The elderly thieves made off with an estimated £14 million worth of jewellery, precious stones, gold, and cash, all of which had been stowed in the understanding that it would be kept safe and secure in the safe deposit facility, which was located in London’s most luxurious jewellery district. Shortly after staff locked the doors on Thursday, April 2, 2015, the group gathered outside, dressed as utility workers, before entering the premises through a lift shaft. They were then able to access the treasures by drilling a hole in the wall of the vault, before filling bins with the contents of 72 safety deposit boxes. The following day, Good Friday, Met received a call, informing them that an intruder alarm had gone off. They decided at the time that this alert didn’t warrant a response. On April 7, police announced that the facility had indeed been burgled, released CCTV of six intruders the Mirror nicknamed ‘Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man, and The Old Man’. All six of the men were eventually arrested and stood trial, with the court hearing how the gang had plotted for months at the Castle pub in Islington. The audacious crime caught the public imagination, inspiring multiple films, TV shows and radio plays, including King of Thieves (2018) starring Michael Caine. Nine years on, the Mirror looks at what happened to the so-called ‘diamond wheezers’…. Michael Seed Known as ‘Basil’ to his fellow gang members, Seed, 63, was regarded as the ring leader of the group. The unemployed electronics expert, who was one of the men who squeezed through the hole in the vault, managed to evade capture for three years. The game was finally up however when, on March 27, 2018, officers raided his one-bedroom Islington flat – located approximately two miles from the scene of the crime. Police seized more than 1,000 items from Seed’s home – the majority of which had been stolen during the heist. They also discovered specialist devices in his flat including alarm blockers and radio jammers. After failing to pay up less than £50,000 of the £ 4.7 million he pocketed during the raid, Seed was handed an extra six-and-a-half years on top of his 10-year 2019 sentence. During sentencing at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Christopher Kinch QC said: “Your role was a central one. You were at the heart of the core activities that had to be carried out. You were not just there to fetch and carry. In my judgement, this must rank among the worst offences of its type.” Brian Reader Reader pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit burglary and was sentenced to six years and three months behind bars at Belmarsh prison. He ended up serving just over three years, however, and was released with remission in July 2018 after suffering from prostate cancer and multiple strokes. The 84-year-old, who was referred to as ‘The Guv’nor’, received a sentence seven months shorter than the other ringleaders of the group. Reader, who appeared at the confiscation hearing in a wheelchair, had been due to spend an extra seven years inside if he failed to pay the £6.5million confiscation order. In 2018, The Sun reported that the then newly-released Reader had been enjoying the summer sunshine in his Kent garden, and was being taken out for drives in his son Paul’s red -Porsche sports car. John Collins John ‘Kenny’ Collins, who served as a lookout and getaway driver, was handed seven years, but was released in late 2018 after serving less than half his sentence. As reported by the Mirror at the time, the now 82-year-old, who the court described as ‘instrumental in gaining access to the vault’, was spotted out and about enjoying the festive season in North London, while his early release sparked anger. Former Met Police chief Peter Kirkham said: “We are talking about lots of victims. Some of them have lost everything, their -livelihoods as jewellery dealers and some may not have been insured. It can destroy people’s lives and the maximum sentence available to the judge was only 10 years. This is -inadequate for top-end burglaries with so many victims.” Terry Perkins Perkins, who suffered from diabetes and heart problems, died in HMP in February 2018, from natural causes, at the age of 69. His death came just one week after he was ordered to repay an approximately £6.5 million. Shortly before his death, Perkins’ lawyer stated that he’d had been diagnosed with ‘severe heart failure’. Perkins had suffered a heart attack in Belmarsh Prison and was fitted with a defibrillator at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. At his funeral, a floral tribute in the shape of an ‘H’ and ‘G’, as well as an arrangement shaped like a safe was placed on top of his hearse. A family friend told The Sun: “Terry was criminal royalty and always liked a laugh. But the last laugh was on him today. H and G meant Hatton Garden, though you could easily have had SE and maybe a couple of other letters.” Carl Wood Wood, who suffers from Crohn’s disease and relies on disability allowance, is believed to have taken part in the heist after getting into £8,890 worth of debt. However, he pulled out on the second night of the raid, after discovering the fire escape door was shut. As a consequence, the 58-year-old was refused any of the cash to clear his debts, and police didn’t find any stolen items at his house. Wood was arrested in May 2015, and given a six-year prison sentence. Addressing Woolwich Crown Court Wood’s defence barrister described him as a ‘dogsbody’ who was treated with scorn by the rest of the group. Speaking of Wood’s decision to abandon the heist, as per The Guardian, Judge Christopher Kinch said: “You were motivated not by any change of heart about stealing jewellery but by self-preservation because it became apparent someone had locked the fire escape door and danger might lie within the building.” Jon Harbinson Harbinson, 42, stood accused of storing many pieces of the stolen jewellery, gems and gold before returning them to the gang to divide. He was however cleared of all charges. Hugh Doyle One of the smaller players in the heist, Doyle was given found guilty of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property. The 50-year-old plumber, who provided an exchange point for loot to be handed over outside his business premises remained upbeat despite his predicament, continuing to offer his professional services throughout the trial. One light-hearted tweet, from March 2016, read: “Forget A rated prison – have you got a G-rated boiler? £400 cash back for new boiler.’ William Lincoln Getaway driver Lincoln was arrested in May 2015 while driving his black Audi A3. It was at this point officers discovered a ripped-up, handwritten note on the floor next to him – giving the address of the Wheatsheaf pub, where some of stolen goods had been handled. The 68-year-old – nicknamed ‘Billy the Fish’ due to his tendency to visit Billingsgate Fish Market on Fridays – was given a seven year sentence. Do you have a story to share? Email me at julia.banim@reachplc.com

Categorieslatest

How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Solar Eclipse

More Must-Reads From TIME Jane Fonda Champions Climate Action for Every Generation Passengers Are Flying up to 30 Hours to See Four Minutes of the Eclipse Biden’s Campaign Is In Trouble. Will the Turnaround Plan Work? Essay: The Complicated Dread of Early Spring Why Walking Isn’t Enough When It Comes to Exercise The Financial Influencers Women Actually Want to Listen To The Best TV Shows to Watch on Peacock Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time Contact us at letters@time.com

Categorieslatest

How English’s Global Dominance Fails Us

More Must-Reads From TIME Jane Fonda Champions Climate Action for Every Generation Passengers Are Flying up to 30 Hours to See Four Minutes of the Eclipse Biden’s Campaign Is In Trouble. Will the Turnaround Plan Work? Essay: The Complicated Dread of Early Spring Why Walking Isn’t Enough When It Comes to Exercise The Financial Influencers Women Actually Want to Listen To The Best TV Shows to Watch on Peacock Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time Contact us at letters@time.com TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.

Categorieslatest

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter: The Western visuals, decoded

Of all the pop stars currently working in America, Beyoncé is undoubtedly the most visually sophisticated. Every new album comes with a lush, rigorously staged set of images, dense with allusions and Easter eggs, that act as an elaboration and a commentary on the themes of the album. In the Lemonade era around 2016, Beyoncé made herself into a goddess of many identities: the Christian Virgin Mary, the Roman Venus, the Yoruba Oshun. With 2022’s Renaissance, she became a disco diva celebrating the pleasures of the dance floor as a safe space for queer Black joy. Now, in Cowboy Carter, the country-inflected album she dropped at the end of March, Beyoncé has reinvented herself in perhaps the most difficult transformation of all. She’s transformed herself from American goddess into goddess of America. Let’s decode the imagery of Cowboy Carter together. The album cover for Cowboy Carter sees Beyoncé sitting sidesaddle on a white horse, in red, white, and blue leathers. In one hand she’s holding the horse’s reins, and in the other, the American flag. Together, her upraised arms and her head and neck create a sort of W shape. “It’s such an awkward and specific gesture,” says Sonya Abrego, a design historian specializing in the history of American fashion. “I really don’t think Beyoncé and her team did that accidentally.” Abrego sees Beyoncé’s pose as echoing the posture of a woman in an illustrated map called “Evolution of the Cowboy,” created by artist Jo Mora in 1933. The full illustration charts the way cowboy gear and techniques changed over time, along with a rundown of the different cowboy archetypes of various territories. In the center top of the chart, though, we see a woman in a cowboy hat and riding leathers, standing with her arms upraised so that, together with her head and neck, they create a W shape. Behind her, a legend reads “sweetheart of the rodeo.” Flowers blossom in the air where she gestures; she is the bountiful source of the rodeo and all that it signifies. The sweetheart of the rodeo has appeared on album covers. The Byrds used her on the cover of their 1968 album, tellingly titled Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It was known as one of the first country-rock albums, a crossover country album from a band that, like Beyoncé, built their name on a different genre. The horse Beyoncé is riding on the cover of Cowboy Carter looks white, but it’s not just any white horse. It’s a Lipizzaner, a breed that is usually born with a brown or black coat that grows in gray and then white over time. This transition is common among gray horses, but it’s a telling choice here — especially given the themes of the album, with its name-check to Linda Martell, the first solo Black woman country artist to play the Grand Ole Opry. The title Cowboy Carter, too, nods to the whitewashed work of Black artists in the history of country music. The Carter Family was one of country’s weightiest acts, and they developed their distinctive sound under the influence of Black musician Lesley Riddle. Riddle taught them his innovative style of guitar picking, and he got the Carters entrance to Black spaces, like churches, to help them gather songs from Black communities that went on to help form the basis of the white country songbook. Cowboy Carter is a history lesson on the Black musicians who helped build country music and whose contributions were swiftly whitewashed. It’s fitting, then, that Beyoncé ride a horse that was black at its birth but is now considered white. On the official album cover, Beyoncé’s wearing the colors of the American flag on her body and holding the American flag. On the vinyl cover, she’s standing in a Statue of Liberty pose with a Miss America sash around her torso and her hair in red, white, and blue beads. She’s playing with one of the common visual motifs of country music, which is Americana kitsch. In country and Western music, the West acts as a synecdoche for America itself: Western iconography is American iconography because the West is America. “If you go around the world and ask people for a symbol of the United States, it’s the cowboy that people say,” says Josh Garrett-Davis, H. Russell Smith Foundation curator of Western American history at the Huntington. The cowboy becoming a symbol of America is not an accident, Garrett-Davis points out. In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner posited the frontier thesis, claiming that the distinctive American character was rough and independent and that it came from the nation’s constant movement westward. Theodore Roosevelt, a wealthy East Coaster who needed to add some grit to his image, picked up on the ideas and began to make much of his time in North Dakota. “All these indicated that just a touch of sort of wildness on the Western frontier could kind of give America its character and refresh,” says Garrett-Davis. “It’s in a sense masculinizing because they were worried that, in the Industrial Age, the country was becoming too feminized.” The heroic myth of the cowboy was also a deeply white supremacist idea. “They erase the fact that a good portion of the working cowboys in the American West were Indigenous, Mexican, and African American,” says Garrett-Davis. “This was a fiction that was created using these icons of the cowboy, but not really the truth of what cowboy life was like. Cowboys were migrant agricultural laborers in terrible conditions being underpaid.” By placing her Black female body in the poses and costumes of Western Americana, Beyoncé disrupts that mythology. She evokes the lineage of the erased people of color who came before her — in the West, in country as a genre — and she insists on her right to be there now. Let’s go back to the vinyl cover, with Beyoncé standing in the pose of the Statue of Liberty, replacing the statue’s torch with a boss-man cigar and the statue’s crown with beaded braids. It’s worth remembering that the statue is also a goddess — she’s the Roman goddess Libertas, or Liberty. Beyoncé is pulling from the Lemonade playbook here to evoke a classical goddess while keeping the details specifically Beyoncé. She’s also added a touch of masculine swagger with that cigar, reminding us all that before she was a goddess, Beyoncé crowned herself King B. On the pageant queen sash around her torso, Beyoncé’s name appears to be misspelled: Beyincé. The apparent error references a painful family episode. Beyoncé’s name comes from her mother, Tina Knowles, born Celestine Beyoncé. On her birth certificate, though, Tina’s last name was misspelled as “Beyincé.” On a recent podcast, Tina says she asked her mother why she didn’t get the birth certificate corrected. “And she said, ‘I did one time. The first time, and I was told, ‘Be happy that you’re getting a birth certificate,’ because, at one time, Black people didn’t get birth certificates,” she added. In the same image where she re-establishes herself as a goddess, Beyoncé references a moment where the very infrastructure of America seemed designed to inflict humiliation on her family because of their Blackness. The play between those two ideas is part of the play of this whole album: placing Black people back in the center of a genre and aesthetic that erased them, and making the moment beautiful.

Categorieslatest

Women Politicians Face Sexism Amid High-Octane Poll Campaigns

Elections are open season for targeting women politicians, a familiar pan-party, pan-country sexist sub-text again in play in Election 2024 with BJP’s star candidates Hema Malini and Kangana Ranaut, and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee early targets. On Thursday, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala was in the dock for a derogatory remark against Ms Malini that invited the fury of her party and its leaders and prompted the National Commission for Women to move the Election Commission against him. The comment at a rally in Haryana late last month stirred a massive political row with the BJP alleging the opposition party had touched a new low with its “vile, sexist” comment and the Congress leader stating he had also said in the same video that Malini is respected a lot because she is married to “Dharmendra ji and is our bahu”. Regardless of the apology, the BJP’s two-term MP from Mathura was at the centre of debate with the almost casual reference in the speech objectifying her status as a star, wife and as daughter-in-law and corralling her identity. Many years ago, she was the subject of another offensive analogy when RJD chief Lalu Yadav claimed he would make Bihar’s road as smooth as her cheeks. “And it’s not only between rivals, even inside political parties all women politicians face sexism from their male colleagues. You can ask any woman politician and she will tell you the same,” women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari told PTI. Gender parity and pluralism, added Sushila Ramaswamy, political science professor at Delhi University’s Jesus and Mary College, which are essential to modern society are “still nascent and uneven in India”. “Women representation is far less than many other democracies. The few women that are there are from privileged and well connected families,” she added. Before Mr Surjewala, his party’s leaders Supriya Shrinate and H S Ahir found themselves in trouble over posts linking Ms Ranaut and her constituency Mandi on their social media handles. Shrinate removed the offensive comment saying they were not posted by her. Besides, Congress’ Karnataka MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa said about BJP’s Gayathri Siddeshwara that she was only “fit to cook”. And BJP’s Dilip Ghosh issued an apology for a comment on Banerjee’s parentage. The Election Commission issued notice to Ms Shrinate and Ms Ghosh but the course, it seemed, was set for this election season just as it had in earlier ones, In what is an unfortunate refrain, towering figures in Indian politics, including Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Smriti Irani, Jaya Prada, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have all been targets of the sexist side of politics at one point or another. The recent incident involving the “Queen” actor was a haunting reminder of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s crass comment on BJP leader and his former colleague Jaya Prada in 2019. At a campaign rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur in August 2019, Mr Khan said, “I brought her (Jaya Prada) to Rampur. You are a witness that I did not allow anyone to touch her body. It took you 17 years to identify her real face but I got to know in 17 days that she wears khaki underwear.” Discussing misogyny in Indian politics, women rights activist Ranjana Kumari said it is a common mindset to “run a woman down by commenting on her body”. She added that while women perpetrators in such cases tend to apologise eventually, men seldom do so. Similar incidents were witnessed during the 2019 general elections when political heavyweights targeted their female rivals with distasteful remarks that would be termed nothing but misogynistic in the contemporary political narrative. Then Union minister Ashwini Choubey advised former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi to stay behind her “ghoonghat” (veil). And another BJP leader, Vinay Katiyar, reportedly asked whether Congress leader Sonia Gandhi would be able to give proof to Rahul Gandhi that his father was Rajiv Gandhi. Mr Katiyar had also targeted Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, saying there were already “much more beautiful star campaigners in politics”. The same year, actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar became a target of sexist remarks as BJP’s Gopal Shetty said that she had been given a ticket because of her looks. BSP supremo Mayawati has also been the target of remarks as vile as being called “worse than a prostitute” by BJP’s Dayashankar Singh in 2016, who alleged that the Dalit leader sold tickets in exchange for money. The comment by then BJP’s Uttar Pradesh vice president resulted in his party colleagues like Keshav Prasad Maurya and Arun Jaitley apologising to Mayawati in Parliament. In 2022, police registered a case against Congress leader Ajay Rai for a sexist remark against Union minister Smriti Irani. According to Ms Ramaswamy, the rampant use of offensive language and treatment when it comes to women politicians stems from the “larger patriarchal order that creates an uneven field for women both in private and public spheres”. “This is due to lack of proper education, nurture and awareness which results in a perverted perception of male superiority which is not reflected in the real world. We have a liberal political structure but the corresponding development of a liberal society is an ongoing process and that will take time,” Ms Ramaswamy told PTI. This is not the first time BJP’s Ghosh has targeted West Bengal chief minister and Banerjee. Ms Banerjee, who had suffered a foot injury, was seen in a plaster while campaigning for the 2021 assembly polls in West Bengal. Addressing a poll rally in Purulia, Mr Ghosh said, “We have never seen someone take off their plaster. What is this sorcery? She is wearing a saree with one of her legs exposed. I have never seen anyone drape a saree like that. Wear a bermuda instead so that everyone can take a clear look”. While it is not rare for political rivals to make sexist and derogatory remarks, especially when the rival is a woman, Congress leader Digvijay Singh had joined ranks of such politicians by commenting on one of Congress’ own members. In 2013, Mr Singh described Meenakshi Natarajan, then-MP from Mandsaur, as “sau taka tunch maal” (100 per cent pure material or totally unblemished), which resulted in criticism from across party lines. The instances are many and frequent with several women politicians being subjected to sexist comments either from their colleagues, their rivals and voters, their achievements being reduced to their gender. The male gaze, as many would attest, is difficult to get away from. PTI MAH MIN MIN (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Categorieslatest

‘They can’t afford the rent’: Meet the teachers demanding a 25 per cent pay rise

“We’re not saying the exact dollar amount, but the pay should be comparable,” said Matthews, the NSW and ACT branch secretary of the Independent Education Union of Australia. “We’re calling on the NSW government to fund these increases.” Under current arrangements, workers at preschools attached to existing public schools are paid the same as kindergarten to year 12 teachers. However, those employed in community-run preschools receive thousands of dollars less under the current award. “It is a historical anomaly,” Matthews said. “We need a 25 per cent increase for beginning preschool teachers and more for experienced teachers working in preschools.” The push for a substantial government-funded pay rise comes after public school primary and high schools secured pay rises of up to $10,000 in September. A graduate public school teacher now earns about $17,000 more than preschool teacher, who starts on about $67,000 a year.

Categorieslatest

Looking to pick up carpentry skills? In Newfoundland, you can learn to build a boat

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — There are many reasons a dozen people gathered two evenings a week this year in St. John’s to build a traditional Newfoundland boat, bending and clamping long planks of wood and handling high-strength industrial glue. Some, like John Handrigan of Placentia Junction, N.L., were drawn in by the history and felt a connection to the centuries of fishermen who had built similar boats — though without the help of power saws and Bostik 920FS marine sealant. Others wanted to learn to build their own boats or had already started. Derrick Cove was constructing a vessel in a garage outside St. John’s, in tandem with the class. “I’m retired, I don’t like sitting down and I want to try to retain some of my Newfoundland culture,” he explained during a class late last month. And some enrolled to learn basic carpentry skills. “There aren’t a lot of options for amateur, recreational woodworking learning,” said Ellen Davis, who works in public relations. She laughed about running out of her office to be on time for her “boat course.” “It’s really fun, and now at the end, we have this really cool project.” The 12-week course is offered through the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador in a wide, bright classroom at Memorial University. From January to late March, students built a 16-foot-long traditional wooden fishing boat, called a punt, or a rodney. They began by laminating long strips of wood together to form the vessel’s keel, which runs the length of the craft from stern to bow. By late January, they had added the punt’s distinctively flat rear end, with its small planks running perpendicular to the keel below. And in late March, they were steaming and bending long, smile-shaped planks to fasten over the hull. Instructor Jerome Canning, the museum’s resident wooden boat builder, weaved bits of historical context into his demonstrations, explaining how in the past fishermen would use simple geometry to build boats, since they didn’t have tapes or rulers. “This is from my great-uncle’s tool box. It could be 100 years old,” Canning said in a late-January class, holding up a planing tool made of rusted black metal. Once completed, the vessel is seaworthy and offered to the students for purchase, said Jim Dempsey, the museum’s president. They typically sell for about $5,000, and there have been bidding wars in the past among course participants, he said. Punts and dories — another well-known Newfoundland and Labrador wooden fishing boat — can still be seen in outport communities, often painted in bright primary colours. Some fishermen use signature colours, particularly on the gunnels — or top rails — of the boat. Dempsey’s personal hallmark hue is forest green. The 12-week course was first held in 2017, and several students have since gone on to construct their own boats, Dempsey said. The students often become close, and after they complete the course they follow each other’s progress on personal carpentry projects. Ken Snelgrove, a retired Memorial University engineering professor, took the course with the museum in 2018. He loved it so much, he joined the museum’s board of directors and vowed to build a punt of his own, though he admits he hasn’t made much headway. “I’ve tinkered with my own design, but haven’t really got a material start yet,” he said. Snelgrove goes to every class to help out, joking that he’s there to “make sure (the students) don’t cut their arms off.” Ellen Davis is not planning to build a boat just yet, but she said the course gave her the skills and confidence to begin building a closet. “I’m definitely more comfortable with things like power tools, which I probably wouldn’t have even considered before,” she said during a class last month. This year’s cohort has also become close, as Dempsey predicted. Davis said they learned from one another almost as much as they did from Canning. She said he began the course by telling everyone to be humble and assume they’re all beginning with no prior knowledge. That made it safe for those who didn’t have building skills, since every question was valued as a learning opportunity, she said. “It’s a really good environment,” she said. “I would love another course taught this exact way, in anything at all.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2024. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

Categorieslatest

‘You’re the chef’: Fast-food chains embrace menu hackers’ creative combinations

TORONTO — Menu hacks rarely escape Meera Patel. The marketing director for fast-food chain Harvey’s keeps a growing list of ways customers mash together or transform menu items into something new. Some are as simple as coating chicken nuggets in a blend of barbecue and ghost pepper sauces — nicknamed “cowboy caviar” — but others take things to a new level, like dropping pie or mini cinnamon sugar doughnuts into a milkshake or ensconcing a hotdog in onion rings. “Two weeks ago, when I was in a restaurant for a (photo) shoot, someone ordered our bacon double-cheese poutine with just an Angus burger patty and then cut up the Angus patty and put it into the poutine,” said Patel. “There are some crazy things out there that people are doing.” Conventional wisdom might view such combinations at fast-food chains as an irritant. They can add complexity and delays to the ultra-streamlined processes restaurants have perfected to quickly pump out items that taste the same no matter what location you order them at. But chains are increasingly embracing hacks — in most cases, as long as diners build the dishes themselves — and letting the most raved-about concoctions shape their menus, marketing, equipment and training. The reasons restaurants are leaning into the phenomenon is as much about appeasing customers as it is about boosting brand awareness and profitability. “More and more restaurants understand they need to move toward the social element versus just a value play, gut-fill experience,” said Robert Carter, a food industry analyst with the StratonHunter Group. Carter and other industry experts agree menu hacking is not new. People have been reimagining fast food for decades, but social media has pushed the pastime to the extreme. A lot of early reimagining came from secret menus — unadvertised dishes whose existence often spread by word of mouth — and an increased access to customizations such as choosing burrito fillings or burger or pizza toppings, Carter said. Cafés like Starbucks even made individualization their specialty, allowing customers to adorn drinks with whipped cream, extra pumps of flavoured syrup, custom quantities of ice or stronger coffee brews. Starbucks now counts 170,000 different drink combinations — a staggering figure when one considers the company only started to see personalization soar around 1989, when it first allowed milk customizations. “We’ve just been expanding since then,” said Deborah Neff, Starbucks Canada’svice-president of product and marketing. The growing inclination to go beyond standard customizations to menu hacking, many say, is being driven by social media, shorter attention spans, an affinity for all things new and a younger generation. “They want constant instant gratification and constant stimulation and often, it comes from them combining and mashing things,” said Patel. Much of it gets shared online by influencers demonstrating how to make unofficial dishes like the Land, Air and Sea, which combines a Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, and McChicken. For Jay McKinney, the Calgary man behind @tacotycoon420, the “big nug” has been a major hit. The sandwich ditches the middle bun in a Big Mac and replaces it with nuggets. It landed him more than 1.4 million TikTok views. (He is also behind the hotdog surrounded by onion rings.) His menu hacking began when he moved from B.C.’s Lower Mainland to Calgary during the COVID-19 pandemic and didn’t know anyone, so he started reviewing tacos. Eventually, he ran out of taco joints and switched to testing wacky and wonderful dishes he creates himself. “Now, the staff at my local Harvey’s know me and they’re kind of up on my shenanigans,” he said, laughing. Fellow diners and his followers treat him as inspiration too, recreating his orders. “It’s like a snowball effect,” Patel said. She saw this first-hand when menu hackers started combining Harvey’s poutine and pickles. It led to the November launch of limited time menu item pickle pickle poutine, where skin-on fries are topped with deep-fried pickles, diced pickles and ranch. “It got such great love from people — and hate,” said Patel. “Pickles are very polarizing. You either love them or you hate them. They’re kind of like Marmite.” It was no quick decision to launch the dish. Every item on the Harvey’s menu is the product of months, if not years, of planning and deliberation. The chain explores whether customers are likely to try any new creation and then delves into perfecting a recipe and ensuring suppliers will be able to stock enough ingredients to make it in high volumes. Harvey’s considers the cost, preparation time, whether it requires new equipment to produce and even how long the dish will hold up. “Does it travel well if someone’s going to order it at the restaurant and then get it delivered? Is it going to still look good 15 to 20 minutes later?” Patel said. “All of those little things come into play.” McDonald’s Canada mulled similar factors when it debuted a slate of menu hacks last week including a chicken cheeseburger and a sweet chili junior chicken. A&W did the same ahead of its February launch of the piri piri potato buddy, a hash-brown-filled sandwich. Creative customers are also behind Starbucks Canada’s “pink drink” — a strawberry açai beverage with passionfruit and coconut milk — that landed on its menu in 2017 and more recently, the iced pumpkin cream chai tea latte. To keep up with demand, Starbucks introduced portable blenders that quickly foam drinks and when stores are renovated or built, they are created “with cold (drinks)in mind,” Neff said. While she wouldn’t name all outlandish orders she’s seen or comment on elaborate drinks that go viral for taking up several cups or feature at least a dozen changes, Neffs admits customization has limits. Starbucks staff won’t put non-blender-safe ingredients in the appliance and if a drink is unwieldy, they’ll work with customers to achieve the same result in a simpler way. The protocol is similar at Harvey’s, where Patel said menu hackers must take a do-it-yourself approach by ordering the pieces they need to assemble their own creations. “If someone’s asking to take a grilled chicken wrap and dip it in buffalo sauce and then put it on the grill … and then dunk it again in the sauce, that’s not going to happen because it’s operational complexity,” she said. Despite having to roll up their sleeves and get messy, she finds customers are happy to build their own menu hacks because they feel “a little bit powerful, like you’re the chef.” That’s certainly true for McKinney who promises, “I’m not going to stop anytime soon.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2024. Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Categorieslatest

A battle for hope: the brewing campaign clash between the Conservatives and the NDP

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s path to power may be by prosecuting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s past eight years in government, but his road to victory is painted NDP orange. Appealing to working-class voters in rural and northern ridings — like those held by New Democrats across British Columbia and Liberals in northern Ontario — is part of what Poilievre sees as a winning formula. That offensive was on full display recently as he traversed NDP turf on Vancouver Island, rallying supporters in Nanaimo and snapping photos with mill workers in Port Alberni. He also stopped at a steel plant and port in B.C.’s Lower Mainland as part of his tour to rub shoulders with workers, images of which lit up his social media. “We’re seeing Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative party, on the floor of shops and factories,” said Allie Blades, a strategist who worked on his 2022 leadership campaign in B.C. Blades, who works for Mash Strategy, which produces the party’s slick digital videos, cited a recent speech to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade — an invitation it took Poilievre 18 months to accept. It was his first appearance before a corporate crowd since becoming leader in 2022, not out of spite — “it’s nothing to do with my view on business; I love business,” he said — but because “utterly useless” corporate lobbyists in Ottawa are too focused on currying favour with elected officials. Instead, the Conservative plan is a “bottom-up, free enterprise agenda,” he said, vowing to end the days of self-interested CEOs and politicians working together solely to advance their own self-interests. “When I’m prime minister, if you want any of your policy agenda pushed forward, you’re going to have to convince not just me, but the people of Canada that it is good for them.” Blades said it’s a populist approach that so far has served Poilievre well. “It’s a switch that the Conservatives, I think, have done very rightly and strategically,” she said. “We’re seeing the floor versus the stage.” The shop floor, of course, is traditional New Democrat territory — home to a critical voting bloc the NDP is not about to surrender without a fight. “You’ve never seen him on a picket line,” said Anne McGrath, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s principal secretary and formerly the party’s national director. “You can go to shop floors and look at things on a shop floor, but when push comes to shove and workers need support from their political leaders, we’ve never seen him there.” Poilievre has clearly struck a nerve by tapping into legitimate public anxiety around affordability, McGrath acknowledged, but his message is “simplistic.” So too is the choice facing voters, she said. “They’ve got the big, loud megaphone voice of the Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre, or they’ve got the constructive, positive proposals and actions that they can expect from the NDP.” Selling that will take “a lot of hard work and (a) clear message,” not to mention outreach to voters, she added. The NDP has already begun to ratchet up its attacks on the Conservatives and flood traditionally friendly territory with mailers. Their battle looks like an uphill one — not only is Poilievre’s message crisp and resonant, but the Conservatives are flush with cash, said Melanie Richer, a former communications director for Singh. Poilievre’s populist approach has helped the Conservatives smash fundraising records — funds vital to the leader’s aggressive public schedule and outreach to new voters, like those who typically vote NDP. So far, he’s held 16 rallies and other meet-and-greets this year, six of them in ridings held by the NDP, compared to eight Liberal ones. Throughout 2023, his first full year as leader, the ratio was 12 NDP, 19 Liberal. Blades said she believes Poilievre’s success with typical NDP voters in places like B.C. is a result of “down-to-earth messaging” that Singh, she argues, “could never authentically achieve.” It is a province that is also deeply affected by the housing crisis as well as the opioid epidemic, both of which Poilievre blames squarely on two factors: the federal Liberal government and its B.C. NDP counterpart. While critics pan his crusade against the consumer carbon price as an exercise in sloganeering and misinformation, supporters see it as an optimistic message, Blades said — even in B.C., where a provincial carbon price has been in place for years. It also can’t hurt Conservative fortunes that the NDP is bleeding caucus members. Six MPs have already left or said they won’t run again, including three just last week — one of whom was Charlie Angus, a 20-year fixture for the party in northern Ontario. It’s time for New Democrats to reflect on the party’s relationship with working-class voters, said Richer, many of whom have been drifting away from the party since the death of Jack Layton in 2011. “We’re just not connecting with them,” she said. Richer urged the party to be more vocal about the role it played in securing Liberal commitments on national pharmacare and dental care plans through its supply-and-confidence agreement with the government. So far, efforts to do just that have borne little fruit. She pointed to Manitoba, where NDP Premier Wab Kinew secured a historic election win last year by confronting public anger “and gave people hope instead.” Poilievre’s office did not respond to a request for comment about whether a Conservative government would maintain a federal dental care plan. He’s also been non-committal on pharmacare. “I do think that we need to start having a more aggressive, hopeful message,” agreed Kathleen Monk, a campaign strategist and Layton’s former communications director. “Things can get better … we have a vision to do so.” At the same time, she added, New Democrats have to convince Canadians not to believe Poilievre’s claims that he is “fighting for little people.” Union leaders say the Conservative frontman borrows the language of the working class, but in fact poses a threat to organized labour, citing his frequent support for back-to-work legislation over 20 years in Parliament. The party has been working hard to rehabilitate its image with unions, with its MPs backing a Liberal bill — spurred by the NDP — to ban replacement workers during lockouts and strikes in federally regulated workplaces. Renze Nauta, a former Conservative staffer who is now program director for work and economics at Cardus, suggests politicians must also be aware that Canada’s working class has changed. While unionized, blue-collar trade workers still make up a portion of the working class, he says there has been a decline in unionization rates. Nauta said the working class has shifted to include more service jobs, including those done by women and new immigrants, and now includes people who work as Amazon delivery drivers or hairstylists. Many in working-class jobs have a post-secondary education, he added. “These are the quintessential people who … as the politicians say, who did everything that they were supposed to, and still can’t get ahead.” The next federal election must take place on or before Oct. 20, 2025. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2024. — With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Categorieslatest

Exploring Ireland: Day trips worth taking from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway

Whatever you think of the name, the concept of “daycations” is pretty straightforward: take a day to explore the region around where you live and then return to sleep in your own bed at night. It’s the chance to break up a regular routine, plus it’s a great way of engaging in a little tourism without spending a fortune on accommodation, usually the heftiest expense of any holiday. And in Ireland, where tourist accommodation is squeezed by seasonality and availability – in the last couple of years, up to a third of all hotel beds have been tied up in public contracts – that can mean significant savings. The idea is simple: be a tourist in your own area. Take a visit to a nearby attraction, or maybe explore some ruins. Go for a hike in the mountains, or kayak on a nearby lake. Everyone’s version of the ideal day out is different and can change depending on the season and the weather. Here are some ideas on where to explore from the base of a number of Ireland’s largest populated areas – Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Dublin Of course, you could devote plenty of days to exploring without leaving the city centre: when was the last time you went to the Natural History Museum, for example? Have you ever visited Marsh’s Library or the Casino at Marino? And while we all know it’s there, have you ever actually been to the Guinness Storehouse? But there’s a lot to explore within a couple of hours’ drive of O’Connell Street – including some genuine surprises. Brú na Bóinne, just west of Drogheda, is one of the most known neolithic sites in the world, a Unesco world Heritage attraction that draws hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors. If you have never been, you should go. But if you like your neolithic sites without the crowds, there’s the cairns at Loughcrew, 50km to the west, near Oldcastle along the R154. Of the 32 tombs here, Cairn T is the most accessible, a 15-minute walk up the hill from the car park. Although it mightn’t seem as impressive as Newgrange, the passageway is illuminated during the spring and autumn equinoxes, and the passageway is visible when Heritage Ireland guides are present; otherwise, the key to the gate is available from the cafe at Loughcrew Gardens. Glendalough is one of the country’s most significant and beautifully located monastic sites, but it does get busy. A far less visited alternative is the Fore Valley in Co Westmeath, about 5km east of Castlepollard near the shores of Lough Lene. There’s nary a visitor here, but the setting for the ruins of St Féchín’s 7th century monastic village is stunning: a cluster of ruins huddled at the base of a beautiful valley, that is looped by a 3km walking trail. If you do visit, be sure to pick up a guide map at the Fore Abbey Coffee Shop, which will also explain the “seven wonders” of the valley – the monastery in the bog, the water that flows uphill, the tree that won’t burn, the water that won’t boil, the anchorite in a stone, the mill without a race, and the lintel raised by the prayers of St Fechin. And even if you don’t believe, it’s a beautiful place to linger. Cork Corkonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do beyond the city limits. The train ride to Fota Island, for instance, is one of the most scenic in the country, as you chug past marshy Harper’s Island and over the bridges on Lough Mahon and the Slatty Water. Fota has plenty to keep you entertained for the day with the wildlife park and, just by the tiger enclosure, Fota House, which can be visited by guided tour. Even if you don’t step inside, take time to walk around the gorgeous arboretum. Although most Corkonians are well familiar with Cobh, how many have set foot inside the excellent Titanic Experience? While it may lack the high-tech razzmatazz of its sister museum in Belfast, the visit to the old White Star Line building (the last port of call before setting out into the North Atlantic) is a stirring one: when you enter you’re given a ticket with a real passenger’s name on it; you then go through the exhibits and find out at the end if they survived or not. Further along the seafront is the dock for Spike Island, whose 1300-year history is told in compelling detail; particularly arresting is the artwork by inmates upstairs in the punishment block. Cork has no shortage of terrific hikes, including the wonderful cliff walk that starts at Knockadoon Pier, 45km east of the city on a headland looking out over Capel Island. The 7km-long looped cliff walk is stunning, taking you along the coastline past the old signal tower (which dates from 1803) and back to the pier, which is a popular spot for a swim. About 500 metres offshore, Capel Island is an uninhabited bird sanctuary; you’d need permission from Birdwatch Ireland to visit. Limerick There’s a lot to see in Limerick these days, from the relatively new to the very old. The wonderful International Rugby Experience opened in 2023 and tells the story of the sport as well as providing a chance to test your kicking skills. King John’s Castle has stood on the banks of the Shannon for 800 years, but when was the last time you went inside? If it’s been a while, you might enjoy the primer on Irish history (there’s a lot of gore) and the chance to try some medieval games in the courtyard, like a proper game of hopscotch. What about experiencing Limerick from the water? Nev Sail has kayaking tours that start just behind the Hunt Museum and take you up and down the river, under the bridges and up close to the sturdy walls of the castle. If you’re looking for more watery adventures outside the city, head north to Killaloe, where Aoife O’Mara’s My Next Adventure has a range of kayaking tours: the Brian Ború Experience is a two-hour trip through 1000 years of history (and 13 of Killaloe’s stone bridges) as far up as Lough Derg. The Full Moon Kayaking takes you right out into the middle of Lough Derg at sunset before returning to Killaloe. For an even more active day out, the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails are, at 98km, the largest of its kind in Ireland, weaving in and out of thick forest and gorgeous mountain views – and they’re only a 45km drive south of the city, just beyond Kilmallock. There are five loops of varying length and difficulty, from gentle, family-friendly slopes to rugged speed tracks designed to challenge the most intrepid riders (you might even catch world champion rider and local lad Oisin O’Callaghan going for a spin). If you don’t have a bike, you can rent everything – including helmets and protective pads – from the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Centre at the base of the mountain. If you prefer to do your wandering on two feet, the waymarked Ballyhoura Way wends its way through 90km of forest trail, field paths, moorland and tarmac road. Galway With Connemara, the Aran Islands and the Burren on its doorstep, Galwegians have no shortage of day trip options from the City of the Tribes. But even within the city there are some interesting ways to discover, not least with a tour that takes full advantage of Galway’s reputation as a capital of fine food. Galway Food Tours is a local outfit that operates a range of food tours where you get to sample lots of different local produce, from sushi to chocolate. Day tours start outside McCambridge’s on Shop Street include six food and drink stops and you finish in the Soul Garden at the back of Massimo’s in the West End (where you bid farewell with a goody bag). They also offer whiskey and craft beer tours as well as a food and cycling tour that uses e-bikes. Outside of the city, a journey around Lough Corrib is a fantastic day trip option. Just before you get to Oughterard, Aughnanure Castle was once home to the “fighting O’Flaherty’s”; these days the six-storey tower house on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake is open to visitors. If you fancy getting out on to the lake, Corrib Cruises has twice-weekly summer sailings from Oughterard that take you out to explore the monastic ruins of Inchagoill, the largest island on the lake. Just beyond Oughterard is the Quiet Man bridge, the idea of which has raised collective eyebrows since the 1950s film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara became part of the Irish-American cultural lexicon, but there’s no denying that it’s an absolutely gorgeous spot. In Cong, there’s the Quiet Man Museum (strictly for the hard-core fans) but far more interesting is the 3km forest loop walk that brings you to Leonard’s Tower, aka the Guinness Tower, on the grounds of Ashford Castle. Climb the 85 steps to the top for views and a decent leg workout. One final stop, on the eastern side of the lake, are at the ruins of Ross Errilly Friary, just beyond Glencorrib, the most complete Franciscan monastic ruins in the country. From here, it’s 27km back to Galway City along the N84.

Verified by MonsterInsights