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City centres 'could become ghost towns'

City centres 'could become ghost towns'

Business
City centres are in danger of becoming ghost towns as shopping habits change, a committee of MPs has warned.To combat this, the government should "level the playing field" for High Street retailers by raising taxes on online giants such as Amazon, it said.The MPs also called for lower business rates and more regeneration in town centres. The government said it was investing to ensure High Streets "adapt and thrive for generations". A fifth of UK retail sales now occur online with that proportion likely to grow, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee said. Replacing failed shops 'won't save cities' Three things that could save the High Street But it said the impact on high streets had been "stark", resulting in "store closures, persiste...
Thailand's king condemns bid by sister to become PM

Thailand's king condemns bid by sister to become PM

World
Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn has denounced as "inappropriate" his sister's unprecedented bid to run for prime minister in March's election.In a palace statement, he said such an act would "defy the nation's culture".Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 67, has been nominated as a candidate for a party allied to divisive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.Such a move would break with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.Analysts say the king's intervention is likely to lead to the election commission disqualifying her from the 24 March election.The vote is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule. Thailand army's pivotal role in politi...
Even short-lived insects become elderly

Even short-lived insects become elderly

Science
Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Even insects grow old before they die. Among mammals, birds, reptiles and even fish, the signs of aging are easily observed. The aging process is less visible among insects. But new research confirms even short-lived species, like field crickets, experience physical decline before they die. Scientists have previously observed aging among insects in the lab, but some researchers surmised their protection from the dangers of life in the wild allowed signs of senescence to surface. For the latest study -- published this week in the journal Evolution -- scientists observed field crickets in their natural environs, in the fields. Using more than 130 video cameras, researchers recorded and analyzed the movements and behaviors of several generations of field crickets over the co...
Andry Rajoelina to again become Madagascar's president

Andry Rajoelina to again become Madagascar's president

World
Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Andry Rajoelina, who has been Madagascar's president once before, won December's presidential runoff, election authorities said Thursday. Rajoelina last served as president from 2009 to 2014 under military pressure after President Marc Ravolomanana resigned. Rajoelina received nearly 56 percent of the vote compared to Ravolamanana's 44 percent in the presidential runoff last week, the electoral commission announced. Madagascar's Independent National Election Commission announced the results at a news conference Thursday. Former prime ministers, a pastor and a rock star also ran for president in the November election, but former presidents Ravaolmanana and Rajoelina emerged as front-runners, leading to the runoff. Voter turnout was about 48 percent in the Dec. 19 runoff. T...
Contest to inspire schoolgirls to become code-breakers

Contest to inspire schoolgirls to become code-breakers

Technology
A competition with a mission to inspire the next generation of cyber security experts will open on Monday... and it's just for girls. The contest is run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to encourage 12 and 13-year-old girls to get involved in code-cracking and problem-solving, in the hope they chose computer science for GCSE and go on to do further qualifications in the subject.The problem is, only 11% of the global cyber workforce are women - something the deputy director of the NCSC Chris Ensor says is "not good enough".He said: "Often we talk about boys, girls, male, female, but ultimately we want people across the spectrum working in this space who will bring different things."They might have the same technical skills but they look at things in a different w...