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Friday, November 6, 2009

The luxurious £2m underground mansion designed to keep away prying eyes

By Daily Mail Reporter

Proving just how much the housing market has gone through the floor, the go-ahead has been given for Britain's first underground mansion.

Developers have announced plans for a £2m subterranean property, which will be entered via an unassuming door at ground level and descend up to 50ft below.

Several footballers are believed to be engaged in a desperate battle to buy the underground property, in a bid for maximum privacy.

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Underground lair: An artist's impression of the jacuzzi in Britain's first underground house currently being built in Bowdon, Cheshire

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Secret entrance: The plot where the house is due to be built in the gardens of Limehurst a former eight-bedroomed home converted into flats.

The plans were unveiled after wealthy residents in an upmarket Cheshire neighbourhood complained about the tacky Footballers Wives-style mansions being built above ground in the area,many of which are home to Premiership stars.

The new house, however, is barely visible beneath the landscaped gardens of a Victorian apartment block in the exclusive Devisdale area of Bowdon, near Altrincham.

Despite protests from 29 locals who called it a 'degeneration of the area,' Trafford Council granted planning permission for developer Huntsmere to go ahead with the build.

Tory councillor Michael Young, who opposed the planning committee's decision, said today: 'It is simply not in character with the area.

'A lot of trees will be removed and the whole point of the conservation area is that the larger houses have lots of trees.

'One of these planning applications was rejected so they have kept the same theme by going underground with it. The developers have just got around the initial rejection and there is considerable objection in the local area.

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Luxurious family home: Many of the rooms, like this reception area, are 'wedge'-shaped and surround the main source of natural light from a dome window above the central atrium

'What concerns me is when we have got these old beautiful houses and there isn't so much need for eight bedroomed houses with several reception rooms anymore, so people are making drastic changes to them which changes the whole look of the place.

'They used to be the houses for the cotton kings - and now they are footballer mansions.

'I just don't understand who would want to live underground.

'Any new building in the area needs to be tasteful so they don't lose the character of the area and going around digging houses in gardens definitely changes that.'

The entrance to the two-storey, three-bedroom mansion, named the Earth House, is a front door disguised as a 2.6m-high garden folly, leading to a central spiral staircase down to the main hallway and living area on the lower ground floor.

Enlarge Eco-friendly: One of the three bedrooms in the planned Bowdon house. The developer claims it will require up to 75 per cent less fossil fuel than a regular family home

Eco-friendly: One of the three bedrooms in the planned Bowdon house. The developer claims it will require up to 75 per cent less fossil fuel than a regular family home

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The underground house will feature a state-of-the-art kitchen

The main source of natural light will come from a dome window behind the front door.
Many of the rooms are 'wedge'-shaped, and surround a central atrium.

The main reception rooms and kitchen are located on the lower ground floor as well as the master bedroom suite.

The second level below will have two more bedrooms plus gym, swimming pool and jacuzzi.

Chris Oakes of Huntsmere, which is developing the property said: 'We are absolutely thrilled with the decision by the council and very excited by the challenges of building a luxurious family home entirely underground.

'We have quite a few bespoke developments under our belt that include elements housed underground, but this will be the first entirely subterranean home we have built.'

Mr Oakes said the fact that the property was underground would make it more eco-friendly as it would be well-insulated.

Enlarge Underworld: The luxurious underground mansion is being built beneath the grounds of Limehurst, a Victorian property converted into flats

Underworld: The luxurious underground mansion is being built beneath the grounds of Limehurst, a Victorian property converted into flats

The house will be heated by an underfloor heating system, while hot water will come from a large-scale ground source heat pump which uses heat exchange technology to capture warmth in the ground to heat the house.

Mr Oakes said the the property would be fitted with a state-of-the-art ventilation system, and claimed that it would require up to 75 per cent less fossil fuel than a regular family home.

He said: 'There are some very sensible and practical reasons for developing down as opposed to upwards. The property has very little impact on the surrounding environment.

'It is easy to heat in winter and to keep cool in summer; and by incorporating the highest standards in renewable design solutions the energy demands of the building can be cut to almost zero.

'I am confident that this house in Bowdon will become an architectural landmark - albeit one that most people will never see.'

Trafford's Labour Councillor Laurence Walsh said: 'I think this proposal is innovative and exciting. I am absolutely supportive of it. I don't think it will have the impact on residents that they genuinely feel.

'It does not set a precedent. Each application is considered on its own merits,' he added.

NIC CAGE BROKE BECAUSE OF COBRA VENOM, DINOSAUR SKULLS

A few weeks ago it was reported that Nic Cage was suing his former business manager for $20 mil. Then there were stories going around about how he was broke and owed money to the IRS, which is funny because he made $40 million last year. Celebrities are always suing their business managers. Guys you pay to take care of your money are almost never worth what you pay them, but usually it’s because the celebrity grew up without any concept of money and the guy who takes care of it keeps them from ever having to think about it until it’s finally gone and they get blamed. On that note, here are some highlights from the Daily Beast article about all the ridiculous crap Nic Cage bought:

  • At least two yachts and a gulfstream jet.
  • Two private islands in the Bahamas.
  • Paid $500,000 for a Lamborghini confiscated from the Shah of Iran which was worth $250 - 300,000
  • A dinosaur skull that Cage purchased in 2007 for $276,000 in a heated auction with Leonardo DiCaprio.”
  • “In June 2004, he owned 18 motorcycles and 30 cars, a member of his entourage says. And that was on the low end: At another point, two sources say, the car total was around 50. At one point, Cage was snapping up cars at a rate of about “one per month.” [Ed. Note: not really that much if you're pulling $40 mil a year.]
  • “Cage’s pet collection, which in addition to a handful of purebred dogs [tré lavish!], included rare birds and a host of lizards, snakes, and other creepy crawlies.” Also: an octopus.
  • Two actual castles, one in Bath, England, and another in Etzelwang (hehe), Germany
  • “He also had two albino King Cobras (Moby and Sheba), this person says, as well as ‘an antidote serum on the wall, so that if you got bit by a snake you could save yourself.’”

Well sure. If you own venomous snakes, not having the antidote serum on the wall is just irresponsible. No one wants to end up like my cousin Charlie. Yeah, so here’s the best quote of the article:

Three people who visited his house also report seeing shrunken heads. None is sure whether they were actual people’s heads (which are illegal to import) or simply those of animals (which generally are not). Still, one thing was for certain. “They were pretty weird,” says a source.

Aw, he’s like a tragic hero. Surely the shrunken heads were a manifestation of the one thing Cage wanted that money couldn’t buy, that impossible dream that mocked him every time he looked into the mirror — the enormous, custom-made mirror he commissioned in the hopes of seeing his entire forehead.

Dutch 'among lowest cannabis users'

THE Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands' well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study.

Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 per cent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 per cent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures.

A higher percentage of adults in Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and France took cannabis last year, the EU agency said, with the highest being Italy at 14.6 per cent. Usage in Italy used to be among the lowest at below 10 per cent a decade ago.

Countries with the lowest usage rates, according to the Lisbon-based agency, were Romania, Malta, Greece and Bulgaria.

Cannabis use in Europe rose steadily during the 90s and earlier this decade, but has recently stabilised and is beginning to show signs of decline, the agency said, owing to several national campaigns to curb and treat use of the drug.

"Data from general population and school surveys point to a stabilising or even decreasing situation," the report said.

The policy on soft drugs in the Netherlands, one of the most liberal in Europe, allows for the sale of marijuana at "coffee shops", which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz).

Nearly a fifth of the 228 coffee shops in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, a popular draw for tourists, are scheduled to be shut down because they are too close to schools.

McDonald's across the world


Following the financial crisis in Iceland, McDonald's has decided to close its business and pull out of Iceland, as the country's financial crisis has made it too expensive to operate its franchise.

The first McDonald's in Iceland opened in 1993, the BBC reports, now 16 years on, the company has three outlets which it plans to close.

Besides the economy, McDonald's blamed the "unique operational complexity" of doing business in an isolated nation with a population of just 300,000.

Difficult decision

McDonald's worldwide

The franchises are run by a firm called Lyst, with owner Jon Gardar Ogmundsson saying the decision was "not taken lightly."

The restaurants imported the goods from Germany, but that costs had almost doubled, with the falling krona making imports prohibitively expensive.

Ogmundsson said the restaurants had "never been this busy before... but at the same time profits have never been lower."

"It just makes no sense. For a kilo of onion, imported from Germany, I'm paying the equivalent of a bottle of good whisky," he added.

His plan now is to run the restaurants under another name so that he is able to buy cheaper Icelandic products.

Iceland's banks collapsed at the height of the global credit crisis - wrecking the country's economy and forcing it to rely on an GBP£6.1 billion international aid package.

Around the world

After the news of the closure in Iceland, Business Management Europe has looked an McDonald's dominance around the world, finding that you'd find a franchise in most countries, with the most being in the US.

And what about price? You'd find yourself paying a huge US$7.18 for a burger in Norway, compared to only US$3.57 in the US.

And where can would you find the world's busiest McDonald's? That would be the one located on the famous Pushkin Square in Moscow, where you would find yourself greeted with seats for 700 customers.

My Father, the Drug Lord: Pablo Escobar's Son

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar with his son Juan Pablo
Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar with his son Juan Pablo
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

While on the phone with his son 16 years ago, Pablo Escobar stayed on the line just long enough for Colombian police to trace the call. Minutes later, the world's most violent and notorious drug lord was gunned down on a Medellín rooftop. Fearing for their lives, Escobar's wife, son and daughter sought safety in exile, but most nations shut their doors. After stopovers in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique — a whirlwind on par with the deposed Shah of Iran's desperate 1979 world tour — the widow and her children finally entered Argentina as tourists on Christmas Eve 1994. They've lived relatively quiet lives in Buenos Aires ever since.

But the son on the phone on that fatal day is breaking his silence. Now an architect and industrial designer, Juan Pablo Escobar, 32, has changed his legal name to Sebastián Marroquín to avoid scrutiny and notoriety. He is, nevertheless, emerging as the central character in a documentary about his father's brutal legacy, Los Pecados de mi Padre (The Sins of My Father). The film shows Marroquín returning to Colombia to renounce Escobar's violent legacy and apologize to the families of some of the victims. "I wanted to do something positive that would help Colombian society," Marroquín told TIME in a telephone interview. "I wanted to show the errors of getting involved in drug trafficking." (See the tale of Pablo Escobar's son.)

Some observers wonder about the value of an apology from the son of the perpetrator of the crimes and not the criminal himself. But the film's Argentine director, Nicolás Entel, says the point is to promote reconciliation in Escobar's homeland. "Colombia is a nation in which cycles of violence can continue from generation to generation," he says. "If you do something to me, my family members will look for your family members ... So [the film] has the value of saying, 'It stops here. We are not going to inherit our parents' hatred.' " (See how police tracked and killed Pablo Escobar.)

Among the documentary's highlights are emotional meetings between Marroquín and the son of one of his father's most famous victims: Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara, who was killed in 1984. Lara's son, also named Rodrigo Lara, is a Colombian senator. He was just 8 years old when he helped bodyguards bring his bullet-riddled father to the hospital. Still bitter about the assassination, he was skeptical about Marroquín. But after receiving a gracious letter from drug lord's son, he met Marroquín in a Buenos Aires suburb and the two ended up embracing. (See a 1990 TIME story on the ferocious war against Pablo Escobar.)

In the film, which premieres this month in the Argentine city of Mar del Plata, Marroquín also meets with the three sons of Luis Carlos Galán, a charismatic presidential candidate whose public denouncements of Escobar prompted the kingpin to order his death in 1989. Marroquín says the meeting with the Galáns was more nerve-racking than the time when he, as a teenager in Medellín, was summoned by pistol-packing leaders of a rival cartel. (At the time, he made out his will beforehand.) "I felt 10 times more afraid, even though I knew that no one was going to hurt me physically," he said, "because I felt an enormous responsibility [to the Galán family.]"

At first, Carlos Fernando Galán, the slain politician's youngest son, wondered if his father would approve of the meeting. But he kept reminding himself that no one chooses their parents. "My father always told us that the first victims of the drug traffickers are themselves and their families. And that's something I found when I met Sebastián Marroquín. He was a victim, and he suffered a lot because of that. And I thought my father would say that this is the right thing to do."

Los Pecados de mi Padre also delivers a poignant message from Marroquín to Colombian youths, some of whom still view his father as a romantic, Robin Hood–like figure and remain tempted by the wealth and power of a new generation of drug lords. "Marroquín knows his father was an evil man, and he doesn't want to be like his father," Lara says. "Coming from the son of the most important and violent drug trafficker ever ... He says, 'Hey, I'm the son of Pablo Escobar. Don't be like my father.' That's an important message for the Colombian people."

Marroquín, who has the same thick face and wide girth of his father, describes Escobar as a doting parent. But as the manhunt for the drug lord intensified in the late 1980s, the family was forced underground and Marroquín saw his father only sporadically. Still, Escobar encouraged his children to lead their own lives. "My father did everything to keep us separated from his business," Marroquín says. "If I wanted to be a doctor, he said he would give me the best hospital. If I wanted to be a hairdresser, he said he would give me the finest salon in the whole city."

After his father's death, Marroquín suffered from depression. Landing in impoverished, war-ravaged Mozambique as his family sought refuge, he contemplated suicide as he considered how far his clan had fallen. The family's troubles continued in Buenos Aires. Escobar's widow, now known as Maria Isabel Santos, started a real estate business, but her accountant learned her true identity and tried to blackmail her, Marroquín says. His mother reported the extortion attempt but was forced to reveal her ties to Escobar. Startled Argentine authorities abruptly detained Santos, who was held for 18 months on charges of money laundering while Marroquín spent 45 days behind bars. Escobar's daughter, who is now a 25-year-old university student, was also ostracized as nervous parents demanded that she be expelled from school.

After a seven-year legal battle, the charges were dropped against the family. Marroquín married his longtime Colombian girlfriend and now, along with an Ecuadorian partner, designs buildings in Buenos Aires. Still, his upbringing among fabulously wealthy criminals can show through in his blueprints. "He's a very good architect," say Entel, the filmmaker. "But sometimes you can see the way he grew up around Pablo Escobar reflected in his ideas. Because I would never think of designing furniture for inside a swimming pool."

Sony takes 'Risk' with board game

Studio acquires bigscreen rights to Hasbro franchise

Risk
More Articles:

Sony Pictures Entertainment has its sights set on world domination, acquiring bigscreen rights to the board game Risk from Hasbro. SPE will produce the adaptation with Will Smith and James Lassiter's Overbrook shingle.

Property, which pits players against one another in a quest to annex all of the world's territories, has become desirable thanks to the box office success of the Paramount adaptations of Hasbro's Transformers and G.I. Joe.

"The strategic thinking and the tactical gambles that players must take in the game are what make Risk a classic, thoroughly engaging game," said Columbia prexy Doug Belgrad. Those elements translated into an action-packed, thrilling story are what will make this a uniquely exciting movie."

The toymaker's topper, Brian Goldner, and inhouse film exec Bennett Schneir will produce the actioner with Lassiter.

As Hollywood studios have become more risk-averse in recent years, toys with name recognition and limitless branding opportunities are being sought and developed as adaptations with A-list producers attached.

In recent years, William Morris and now WME -- which reps Hasbro -- has set up a number of properties on behalf of the company, including Monopoly, Ouija, Stretch Armstrong and Candyland.

Early last year, Hasbro inked a six-year pact with Universal to produce at least four movies. The studio recently tapped Peter Berg to helm "Battleship" and has already set its sights on July 1, 2011, to release the actioner.

The deal with Sony now enables Hasbro to get two large-scale military movies off the ground as high-profile tentpoles, with the resulting exposure at the megaplex hopefully upping interest in the toys the way "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" helped boost sales for those brands this summer.

Hasbro already has a relationship with Overbrook, with the shingle developing two TV projects with the toymaker.

Risk was created in 1957 by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse as La Conquete du Monde (The Conquest of the World). Two years later, Parker Brothers published the game in the U.S. as Risk.

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

Bikini Leia and her stunt double nap in the Tatooine sunshine

Bikini Leia and her stunt double nap in the Tatooine sunshine

In what has to be the best found image of the day, Kottke came across this photo of Carrie Fisher and her stunt double napping during the Tatooine shoot in Return of the Jedi. Enjoy!

The 12 hottest female sports uniforms

from: http://guyism.com/2009


sports-uniforms-female

Over the years, women have proven to be stellar athletes and, over time, some experts expect women to be able to compete and defeat male athletes. But that doesn’t mean they don’t look downright foxy in their different uniforms.

The Beach Volleyball Bikini

tnwalshandtreanor

By far, the Gold Medal of Sports Uniforms. You could put the ugliest professional beach volleyballer out there and every dude would be staring at her backside. That’s what you get for wearing a bikini and calling it a uniform.

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The Tennis Skirt

tnanna-kournikova

An oldie and a classic. Truly stands the test of time. Although, lately women have gone with the tight shorts and or suit look (Serena Williams anyone?), the skirt is still the consensus winner for tennis.

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The Gymnastics Leotard

tnalicia-sacramone-picture

Very underrated but very much appreciated. Just make sure you’re staring at someone who is of age. In fact, stick to the college competitions to avoid looking like a pedophile.

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Track and Field Shorts/Tank Top

tnallisonstokke1

Hard to ignore the popularity explosion of girls like Allison Stokke and other pole vaulters who flaunt their backside but you can’t ignore the runners who try to wear the flimsiest shorts possible in an effort to gain that extra advantage.

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Indoor Volleyball Shorts

tnvolley1

There is a human being out there (probably a man) who decided that girls needed for some odd reason to wear these uncomfortable and extremely short shorts. I pray to that unknown person every day.

beach_college_volleyball_2beach_college_volleyball_25volley4volley5

Cheerleading Uniform

tnAmanda4

Debatable whether its a sport but they get the nod because as my friend said “they do have competitions”. I think that was code for, “they’re in short skirts, put them on the list or I kill you”.

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Field Hockey skirt

tnfieldhockey5

Not often seen unless you’re watching the Olympics or ESPNU for a random college game. Nonetheless, an extremely strong competitor in this category.

fieldhockey1fieldhockey2Russia Olympics Field Hockeyfieldhockey4

Surfing wetsuit

tnsurfing1

Another one of those sports that we just don’t get to see enough. Probably because none of us know whats going on and what constitutes a good score. But if they could just focus on the bikini bottom and wetsuit, we could probably figure out everything from there.

surfing2surfing3surfing4twins-allure-2

Soccer Shorts

tnsexy-soccer-lead

Most would say that the soccer uniform has no business on this list but yet, its one of the few sports where a woman can be overtly muscular and still remain attractive. Helps if the shorts ride a little high….I’m just sayin

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Netball Dress

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Very unknown sport that was derived from basketball. However, they were smart enough to add some sex appeal and put them in these one piece dresses. Not common in the States for sure and more of an English/Australian/New Zealand thing….which is fine by me.

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Figure skating attire

tncohen

Dresses, skirts, shorts….whatever these ladies put on seem to work well. Probably because most of them could fit into a suitcase but hey, I’m not complaining.

7TanithBelbinFemale_Figure_SkaterFigure_Skating_002michelle-kwan-6

Golf Shorts

tnnatalie-gulbis-3

Fair to assume that us men hate women on the golf course. They’re slow and they often don’t advance the ball beyond 50 yards. But those outfits could make Bea Arthur look attractive….(ok, maybe not her…RIP Bea)

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(Didn’t make the cut: Basketball, Swimming, Softball, Ice Hockey)

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