From the left side of my forehead to the left side of my chin, every one of my facial features is in complete, open mutiny.
I can't raise my left eyebrow. I can't close my left eye.
And when I try to smile, while the right side of my mouth still obligingly pulls itself into the requisite shape, the left side refuses to budge.
The resulting expression turns out to be useless at signalling a friendly hello but it might come in handy if I ever decide to hold up a corner store.
Welcome to the strange world of a Bell's palsy sufferer.
Bell's palsy is not a great thing to happen to a TV reporter.
That said, it's not a great thing to happen to anyone who needs his or her face and from the many accounts I've seen online, plenty of people carry on with their daily lives.
So I've decided that I will too.
And while I fully accept that my ailment might be about the least important bit of news out of China at the moment, writing about it here means there's a ready explanation for any member of my global fan-base (you know who you both are) wondering why half my face doesn't work when they see me on screen.
But whatever my own reasons, this peculiar and fascinating ailment surely deserves a bit more of a mention – not least because the condition has quite a list of celebrity endorsements.
What is Bell's palsy?
Scottish clinician Sir Charles Bell first identified the condition, which causes paralysis on one side of the face, in the 19th Century.
Bell's palsy disproportionately affects pregnant women and people with diabetes, flu, colds and other upper respiratory ailments. But scientists do not know why this group of people are more at risk.
About one in 5,000 people develop Bell's palsy every year. Most are aged 15-45.
In most cases, the symptoms – which tend to develop within 48 hours – begin to improve within weeks, but it can take months to fully recover.
Both George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone are reported to be past sufferers and both recovered.
Clearly I'm hoping my recovery will be a little bit more like George's.
Bell's palsy owes its name to Sir Charles Bell, the 19th Century anatomist and surgeon-hero of the battle of Waterloo who discovered the function of the facial nerve.
He wouldn't have put it quite like this, but what we now know is that if human beings were cars, then Bell's palsy is the kind of fault that ought to lead to a mass recall. It is certainly a sign of some pretty shoddy wiring.
The facial nerve, on its way from the spinal cord, passes through a narrow bony passage close to the ear. At times of lowered immunity, a dormant virus, usually the chicken pox or cold sore virus, can wake up and attack the nerve causing it to swell. Sometimes this can be triggered by an event – in my case a minor injury to my left eye – but at other times there is no apparent trigger at all.
The result of the swelling, though, is a constriction of the facial nerve inside that narrow bony passage, which in turn causes the paralysis.
Symptoms can include:
- Weakness or paralysis in one side of the face causing the mouth to droop
- Difficulty in closing eyelids
- Problems eating or drinking
- Impaired speech
- An altered or reduced sense of taste
- Increased sensitivity to sound in the affected ear
Source: NHS Choices
No matter how hard the brain tries to send messages, from that one point of swelling onwards the face beyond sits there in blissful radio silence.
The thousands of endings into which the facial nerve eventually divides, embedded in cheeks and forehead and lips and eyelids and responsible for every emotion from a smile, and a wink to a frown, are cut off and stranded.
Sir Charles would certainly have noticed the palsied faces on the streets of his native Edinburgh 200 years ago and what is true then is true today. Bell's palsy can strike anyone, of any age, gender or race, and although it's classified as a "rare" illness, it is common enough that about one in 60 people will experience an episode at some time in their life.
The very good news is that most people make a full recovery within the space of a few months.
Famous faces who have had it
- George Clooney told CNN in 2006: "It was the first year of high school, which was a bad time for having half your face paralysed"
- Pierce Brosnan told Movieline in 1995: "Suddenly my face was half-numb and I couldn't close one eye"
- Beat poet Allen Ginsberg said in 1975: "I can't suck with the right side of my lips"
- Investigative journalist Amy Goodman said in 2007: "It has made me realise what a precious gift a smile is"
- In 2011 Indian cricketer Rahul Sharma told ESPNcricinfo: "It's just that now my eye closes a bit while bowling, that is all"
The nerve, over time, is able to recover and regenerate.
The worrying news is that a significant minority of sufferers are left with permanent effects, sometimes serious. Either way, the condition means at least weeks, sometimes months, coping with facial paralysis, which can of course be difficult, socially at least.
The blogs and postings of other Bell's palsy sufferers show that, for those who don't recover fully, it can be a devastating and life-changing condition. One father writes of his inability to ever appear again in a family photograph.
For me, so far at least, I haven't been too troubled by my onset, and besides, I am of course hoping to recover. So for those interested in following a neurological TV first, my slow progress, or lack of it, can be watched live on the BBC over the next few months.
Of course, with the likes of Clooney and Stallone in his club, old Sir Charles is already used to hobnobbing with real stars.
But now he can claim the odd spot on the Beeb too, and I like to think he would be proud of me.
If Mitt Romney's 5-point plan for fixing the current economy crisis looks familiar to you that's because it recycles — nearly word for word — from the same playbook as John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004.
In his campaign for president, Bush made it his goal to lower taxes for every American citizen. By the time he left office, that promise was half-fulfilled. Bush tax policies did more to line the pockets of wealthy Americans instead of lower to middle class families in the United States. During this election season, voters have voiced their concern about returning to such policies. Addressing Romney during the second presidential debate, undecided voter Susan Katz said, "I'm disappointed with the lack of progress I've seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America's economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration."
Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?
"The — President Bush and I are different people," Romney answered, "and these are different times. And that's why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done." What is Romney's five-point plan? According to the campaign site, Mitt Romney’s Plan for a Stronger Middle Class is a five-part proposal for turning around the economy and delivering more jobs and more take-home pay for American families.
 Part one of Mitt’s plan is to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020. America is blessed with extraordinary natural resources, and developing them will create millions of good jobs – not only in the energy industry, but also in industries like manufacturing that will benefit from more energy at lower prices. America’s economy will boom when the billions of dollars we send overseas for our oil are kept here at home instead.  Part two of the plan is trade that works for America. Mitt believes that trade can offer enormous opportunities for American businesses and workers, but only if they are given a level playing field on which they can compete and win.  Part three is to provide Americans with the skills to succeed through better public schools, better access to higher education, and better retraining programs that help to match unemployed workers with real-world job opportunities.  Part four is to cut the deficit, reducing the size of government and getting the national debt under control so that America remains a place where businesses want to open up shop and hire. Finally, part five of Mitt’s plan is to champion small business. Small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country, but they will struggle to succeed if taxes and regulations are too burdensome or if a government in Washington does its best to stifle them. Mitt will pursue comprehensive tax reform that lowers tax rates for all Americans.
"My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush had a very different path for a very different time," Romney concluded. But when Mike Konczal at Next New Deal's Roosevelt Institute looked over Romney's plan in detail, Konczal found something interesting: Romney's plan is the same plan that John McCain proposed in 2008, and George W. Bush proposed before him. Create more jobs in America: 2008
With unemployment at 6.1 percent, what were McCain's recommendations for the economy in in 2008? The McCain economic plan for his 2008 campaign states: John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan that will create millions of good American jobs, ensure our nation's energy security, get the government's budget and spending practices in order, and bring relief to American consumers.
 John McCain will lead America to strategic energy independence. We'll produce more energy at home.  Lower Barriers to Trade. I will open new markets to our goods and services. To do so, the U.S. should engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules.  Competitive American Workers. We must prepare the next generation of workers by making American education worthy of the promise we make to our children and ourselves. We must be a nation committed to competitiveness and opportunity. We must fight for the ability of all students to have access to any school of demonstrated excellence. We must place parents and children at the center of the education process, empowering parents by greatly expanding the ability of parents to choose among schools for their children.  Eliminating Wasteful Spending. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will bring the budget to balance, reduce federal borrowing, and control spending to reduce the burden on the economy.  Small businesses create the majority of all jobs in America. Small businesses are the job engine of America, and John McCain will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs. We all know that keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs.
It's the same exact agenda. Specifically, the Romney agenda for job creation in 2012 is same plan that John McCain wanted to do in 2008 if elected. Create more jobs in America: 2004
On September 2nd, 2004, George W. Bush delivered his acceptance speech at the Republican convention to run for a second term as President of the United States. "Unemployment was 5.4 percent. A major housing bubble is kicking into high gear, and the country is debating the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the future of the War on Terror. What were some priorities for a second George W. Bush term in creating jobs?" As transcribed by the Washington Post: "My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy. We now compete in a global market that provides new buyers for our goods, but new competition for our workers. To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business," Bush said.
 To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent.  To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.  To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe.  And we must protect small-business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across our country. Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess…  In this time of change, most new jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college, yet only about one in four students gets there. In our high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help students at risk. We will place a new focus on math and science.
Voters rejected a rehash of the Bush ideas in 2008, and Mitt Romney is back trying to sell the same plan in a different order in 2012, politicususa reported. In reality, voters are voting for Bush’s economic ideas, not Romney’s.
Rais wa Zanzibar na Mwenyekiti wa Baraza la Mapinduzi Alhajj Dk.Ali Mohamed Shein,pamoja na Viongozi wengine wakijumuika na waislamu na wananchi katika swala ya EID el Hajj katika Msikiti wa Mwembeshauri Mjini Zanzibar juzi.
Baadhi ya Waislamu wakisikiliza Hotba,baada ya Swala ya Eid el Hajj iliyotolewa na Sheikh Soraga,katika Msikiti wa Mwembeshauri Mjini Zanzibar juzi.
Rais wa Zanzibar na Mwenyekiti wa Baraza la Mapinduzi Alhajj Dk.Ali Mohamed Shein,akisalimiana na waumini ya Dini ya Kiislamu baada ya kuswali swala ya EID el Hajj katika Msikiti wa Mwembeshauri Mjini Zanzibar juzi. Picha na Ramadhan Othman, Ikulu Zanzibar.
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300g ribeye steak
1.3kg butter, softened
500g button mushrooms, sliced
500g portobello mushrooms, sliced
200g shallots, sliced
50g garlic, sliced
1tbsp thyme, chopped
1tbsp rosemary, chopped
60g parsley, chopped
1 1/2tsp truffle oil
salt and pepper
pinch fine chilli flakes
pinch rosemary, finely chopped
pinch thyme, finely chopped
pinch lemon zest
10ml olive oil
For truffle butter
For the rub
1. To prepare truffle butter, melt 300g butter and sauté mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme and rosemary. When vegetables are cooked, fold in chopped parsley, truffle oil, salt and pepper. Purée in a food processor. Fold in remaining butter and check seasoning. Spoon into cling film, roll into a sausage shape and refrigerate.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Mix all the ingredients for the rub, massage into steak and set aside for 20 minutes.
3. Fry steak in non-stick pan until browned, then transfer meat on to a roasting tray and cook in the oven for six minutes.
4. Take the steak out of the oven and leave on the tray for three minutes to rest. Serve with salad and a slice of truffle butter (store the remaining truffle butter for later use).
Back in the day, muscle cars were ground-shaking, ear-destroying and heart-pumping beasts. None more so than the Pontiac GTO — the original muscle car.
Taken out of context, Russ, Bill and John don’t sound like particularly impressive names. But throw the cognomens Gee, Collins and DeLorean into the mix, and we’re left with three legends of the automotive world. These guys gave us the Pontiac GTO — the first real muscle car. Thank you very, very much chaps.
Regular readers will know that I’m mad for American muscle and find it surprising when I chance upon critics of these thundering beauties. “They’re no good around corners…” or “they’re too big and thirsty…” are the usual, tiresome complaints. Sounds like they’re running scared to me.
This lot are probably not man enough to grab a Hurst shifter let alone row it, because back in the days of free love and Hendrix, American muscle cars were fire-breathing monsters. The GTO started the trend of arriving everywhere sideways in a cloud of smoke emanating from the burning rear rubbers, wrapped around those gorgeous Rally II wheels.
Gee, Pontiac’s engine specialist, along with Collins, the chassis guy and chief engineer, DeLorean collaborated to create the GTO, which started life as the Tempest. It had a decent enough 326 cubic-inch (5.3-litre) V8 but those three wise men weren’t convinced. They knew it could be better, and so they set about transforming the car and once they were done, it ought to have come with a warning sticker.
A massive 389 cubic-inch (6.5-litre) V8 from the Catalina and Bonneville was shoehorned into the bay of the front-engined, rear-wheel drive Poncho. The GTO moniker came from DeLorean.
He basically stole it from the Ferrari 250 GTO, which drew objections from fans of the Italian beauty. But since GM had banned all use of auto racing in their advertising campaigns since 1963, this was a smart way of creating attention.
The youth market lapped it up even though it was in violation of GM policy. The bigger 389 cube motor went against A-body regulations but since the GTO was just an option package for now, Pontiac’s visionary management team used this as a loophole to get it into production and 5,000 models were built in 1964. It was powerful and (unlike the Fezza) affordable and brought muscle to the masses.
By retaining the refined looks of the Tempest, the GTO really was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The 350bhp brute, nicknamed the ‘Goat’ went from 0-100kph in 6.6 seconds. That, back in the early Sixties was as emphatic as today’s CTS-V hitting the same mark in 4.0. The 1965 model year remained as an option for the Tempest but gained vertically stacked headlights, bonnet scoops (which were only for show) and a revised grille.
1966 saw the start of a revolution as the GTO was now available as a stand-alone model. It became the highest-selling muscle car of the year and when the 1967 GTO arrived, it made grown men weep — it was that hot. From the chain link grille to the cleaned up taillights, it was a sight to behold. It didn’t just look stunning; it had stunning power to boot.
Under that pumped bonnet sat a 400 cubic-inch motor (6.6-litre) with a four-arrel carburettor mated to a three or four-speed manual or three-speed auto making 335bhp. You could spec a single four-barrel High Output carb which upped power to 360 horses.
For those wanting yet more grunt, an underrated Ram Air option could be had. These had 600Nm of tyre-melting torque and way in excess of the advertised 360 ponies. Although more potent models arrived later from Ford, Chevrolet et al, the Pontiac GTO will always be remembered as the one that started it all.
If you want one of these iconic cars, then be sure to look carefully because base model
Tempest’s have been cloned countless times to look like a GTO. Specific VIN codes (they all start with the numbers 242 for 1966-71 model years) or some rock solid paperwork (such as the build sheet) will help verify GTO status.
Microsoft has officially launched its new Windows 8 operating system as it attempts to compete with Apple and Google in the smartphone and tablet market.
The touch-friendly computer software, announced in July, was unveiled at a press conference in New York and is set to go on sale alongside Microsoft's new Surface tablet at midnight.
It is seen as Microsoft's biggest overhaul of its flagship Windows computer software in over a decade and the most important to the company's future since its ground-breaking Windows 95 product.
Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky, heralded the new Windows 8 operating system as 'simply the best release of Windows ever'.
CEO Steve Ballmer added: 'You can imagine what your own Windows 8 device will look like and how incredibly personal it will be.
'What can you do with a new Windows 8 device? Anything.'
He told Reuters ahead of the launch: 'We've re-imagined Windows and we've re-imagined the whole PC industry.'
Microsoft has launched Windows 8 in New York
Featuring a much-changed new user interface, Windows 8 places an emphasis on touchscreen technology and will also feature new app-style versions of Office mainstays such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Commenting on the new software, CNET UK editor, Jason Jenkins, said: 'Microsoft was about to embark on its biggest gamble in recent times with a Jekyll and Hyde operating system.'
He added: 'Windows 8 is a huge departure from the last few versions of the software, aimed at heading off the competition from tablets, especially Apple's iPad.
'The result is something that is part modern-day tablet, part old-fashioned corporate Windows, and I'm not sure it truly succeeds at either.
'From Microsoft's point of view, this has to work. If it fails, its dominance of the computer industry is over.'
New and improved: Windows 8
Microsoft has been widely criticised for its short-sightedness and slow adaptation to the post-PC era tablet market, with the Windows 8 launch described as CEO Steve Ballmer's 'defining moment'.
'We are trying to re-imagine the world from the ground up with Windows 8,' Mr Ballmer told The Seattle Times.
Rivals Apple and Google are currently dominating the tablet and smartphone arena, with their respective iOS and Android operating systems the current market leaders.
Microsoft's new Surface tablet
Last month, internet search engine giant Google leapfrogged Microsoft in the league table of finance for first time to become the second most valuable tech firm on the planet, behind Apple.
A greater emphasis on hardware is also being pursued by Microsoft, with the new Surface representing its first foray into the tablet market as it attempts to rival Apple's iPad.
Mr Ballmer said it is likely Microsoft will start to put a greater focus on hardware moving forward into 2013.
'Is it fair to say we're going to do more hardware? Obviously we are,' he told the BBC. 'Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we'll dive in.'
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's 'defining moment'
With pre-orders of the Surface tablet selling out in the US ahead of its launch, there is clear consumer interest in Microsoft's latest chapter.
'The fact it's back ordered is indicative that there's consumer interest,' said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner.
'How Microsoft introduces it and explains it will determine long term success.'
Kia Motors America has unveiled a Batmobile-themed Optima SX, the first in what is planned to be a long line of vehicles designed in partnership with DC Comics.
The Batmobile was designed by superstar comic book artist Jim Lee in partnership with Rides magazine. The vehicle is now on display at NYC’s Time Warner Center.
The customized Optima SX is the first of eight Justice League-themed vehicles, with cars inspired by Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Cyborg expected to follow in the next few months.
All of these models are part of the campaign We Can Be Heroes, which aims to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa.
In the same spirit, Hyundai made a splash at San Francisco’s Comic-Con back in July with its anti-zombie concept based on the Elantra Coupé, designed in partnership with Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead.
The Dubai-based luxury hotel, Burj Al Arab is celebrating the Breast Cancer Awareness Month by launching the Pinking Burj Al Arab campaign.
The highlight of the Pinking Burj Al Arab campaign is the exclusive, one-of-a-kind 24-carat rose gold iPad created by bespoke jeweler Gold & Co. London especially for the cause, with an engraved pink ribbon and the hotel’s logo.
The ‘pink’ iPad will be reserved in Burj Al Arab’s boutique for the person with the highest bid for the item on the hotel’s Facebook page, with all proceeds going towards breast cancer initiatives.
The Pinking Burj Al Arab campaign started with the lighting of Burj Al Arab’s sail in pink on Dubai Goes Pink day – 4 October, and will last throughout October.