Who Are The World’s Best Tippers?

restaurant tip

In a worldwide poll that aimed to gauge tipping habits around the globe,  Germans have emerged as the most likely to leave a tip while traveling, while  Italians emerged as the stingiest of tippers. In a TripAdvisor poll of more than 9,000 respondents across  eight countries, 69 percent of German holidaymakers said they always leave a tip  while traveling — out-tipping Americans, for whom tipping is ingrained in the  service culture.

Rounding out the top five nationalities most likely to tip are Americans at  57 percent; Russians, 53 percent, Brazilians at 40 percent, and the French, 39  percent.

Among US respondents, meanwhile, helpful, friendly and polite service at both  restaurants and hotels were cited as the primary reasons that drove Americans to  tip.

The tipping rate also rises among US travelers to 59 percent when staff go  the extra mile.

To educate themselves on the different tipping cultures around the world, the  majority of American travelers said they consult travel guides (73 percent),  online reviews (48 percent), and online forums (46 percent).

Here’s how countries rank when it comes to how often travelers from each  country surveyed said they always tip on vacation:

1. Germans – 69% 2. Americans – 57% 3. Russians – 53% 4.  Brazilians – 40% 5. French – 39% 6. Brits – 39% 7. Spanish – 36% 8. Italians – 23%

Meanwhile, CNTraveler offers a country-by-country guide of tipping etiquette  for everything from hotel staff to restaurants, guides and drivers at http://cntrvlr.com

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Autobahn Speed Limit

autobahn

For many in this car-crazy nation, the freedom to hurtle down the famed autobahn at 190km/h or more is an inalienable right. Germany, one of the world’s top car producers, is alone among industrial countries in allowing drivers to decide for themselves how fast to race down the motorway. So a proposal last month to impose a speed limit of 120km/h has set off an election-year battle that has some people questioning a basic tenet of German identity.

The traffic-cop-like suggestion from an opposition leader challenged Germans to pick two popular obsessions – safety and sustainability – over another: a seemingly primal need to use their 500-horsepower engines to catapult themselves across their country’s gently rolling countryside.

On speed limits, “the rest of the world has been doing it for a long time”, Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the Social Democratic party, told the Rheinische Post, adding that Germans should drive slower for safety. Traffic deaths have been dropping for years in Germany, but Gabriel said they would drop faster if there were a speed limit.

His proposal, which revived a decades-old discussion in Germany, was quickly disowned by other senior members of his party, although other Social Democrats and members of the Green party quickly lined up in support. This month, lawmakers debated the speed limit in parliament – under a dome from which one can see the rotating logo of German car giant Mercedes-Benz dominating the skyline of western Berlin. They took no action, nor is any expected before September’s parliamentary elections.

On 60% of Germany’s autobahns, drivers are free to go as fast as they wish, and German-made BMWs and Mercedeses frequently shoot down the left lane at nearly 200km/h. Elsewhere on the highways, usually in areas where traffic is heavier or near cities, there are already speed limits of roughly 95-120km/h.

Speed-limit advocates have appealed to the one thing that many Germans like almost as much as their cars – the environment – and that, in the end, may be what pushes the country to act. Driving more slowly reduces emissions and uses less petrol, and at a time when Germany is moving ahead with ambitious plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rocket-fast Porsches strike some here as a little hypocritical.

Opinion polls show Germans split over the idea, but the issue is so sensitive that it is unlikely to be acted upon until after the September ballot. Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes speed limits, although she is never seen behind the wheel, unlike her Audi-loving predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has a comfortable lead in the polls.

“There won’t be a general speed limit on Germany’s highways under my rule,” transportation minister Peter Ramsauer said in a statement. Ramsauer is an amateur pianist who in 2011 released a CD called Adagio im Auto, on which he and other musicians played slow classical compositions intended to calm drivers as they navigated Germany’s almost 13,000km of autobahn.

Speed limits are deeply tied to Germany’s postwar identity. Adolf Hitler built up the country’s highway network, but the Nazis instituted a nationwide speed limit of 80km/h to conserve resources during wartime. By 1953, with the country’s postwar industrial boom under way, speed limits for cars were eliminated altogether. They were later added in cities and on some stretches of highway.

In a country so devoted to safety and sustainability that it is phasing out nuclear power in large part due to fears stemming from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan, Germany’s strict adherence to fast driving seems somewhat incongruous.

“People think they have more freedom” without the speed limits, said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, the director of the Centre for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, who added that he takes his BMW up to 185km/h if the road is clear but usually drives at 120. “You could compare it a little bit with the US position of having guns.”

Dudenhöffer used to work for Porsche, where American buyers would occasionally come to pick up their cars and sample German roads, he said.

“But they would then just drive it at [95km] an hour,” he said. “They weren’t used to driving 250km per hour,” he said.

Germany’s roads, constructed to some of the strictest safety standards in the world, rank firmly in the middle of industrialised countries in terms of traffic deaths. For every billion kilometres driven on German roads, 5.6 people were killed in accidents in 2011, according to figures released this month (PDF, p14) by the International Transport Forum of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In the United States, 6.75 people died for every billion kilometres driven, while in Britain, 3.9 people were killed.

Britain’s speed limit is around 110km. US speed limits are set by the states. The highest, 135km/h, is found in some parts of Texas. Most highways range between 100 and 120km/h, though in urban areas the limits are often lower.

German opponents of speed limits say that drivers are smart enough not to go faster than is safe.

“We have a lot of motorway sections that have bottlenecks and congestion, so people are quite happy if they can drive a little bit faster on tracks where it’s possible,” said Jürgen Berlitz, a traffic expert at ADAC, a German drivers association.

But some say that argument is absurd given that 387 people died in accidents on the autobahn last year.

“If in Germany within one year, two fully booked airliners with 400 people crashed, what a debate about air traffic security we would have,” said Stephan Kühn, traffic policy spokesman of the Green party, in a parliamentary debate last month. “Every road traffic death and injury is one too many.”

Manchester City Fans Build 2,000 Tile Mosaic Of Club’s Crest In Their Bathroom

manchester city fans

Dedicated Manchester City supporters Greg Collier and Rachel Nugent turned their bathroom wall into this amazing 2,000 tile mosaic of the club’s crest. And after spending six months working together on the mosaic – Mr Collier decided it would be the perfect backdrop for him to ask his girlfriend for her hand in marriage.

To complete the 5ft  dazzling design, Mr Collier, 37, and Miss  Nugent, 30, patiently stuck each individual tile chip to the wall.

Samsung Schedules June 20th Event To Showcase New Galaxy And Ativ Devices

new galaxy

Samsung has announced that it will be holding an event on June 20th in London to showcase new Galaxy and Ativ devices. The Next Web reports that the company will hold the event at Earl’s Court while also livestreaming it out to the internet via its YouTube channel. Samsung included several teaser images, but leaks over the past few weeks give us a better picture of what to expect.

First up is the Galaxy S4 Active. The existence of the ruggedized version of the Galaxy S4 was revealed back in April, although the phone itself was caught on camera more recently. The Galaxy S4 Active looks to ditch the famous plastic build that Samsung uses across its Galaxy line, instead swapping in a metal chassis that reportedly resists water and dust. Specifications for the device are also said to be similar to the Galaxy S4.

The Galaxy S4 Mini is also expected to make an appearance. Just like the Galaxy S3 Mini, this handset is apparently intended to be a smaller and more affordable version of Samsung’s current flagship. The purported specs aren’t up to snuff with the real Galaxy S4, of course, but those seeking a more comfortable 4.3-inch handset may be interested.

Finally, there’s the Galaxy S4 Zoom, an alleged mid-range handset that will feature a 16-megapixel camera. It might be a device born out of Galaxy Camera sales, or it might just be that Samsung is yet again trying to fill every possible niche. The Active and the Mini seem locked in at this point, but the Zoom seems a bit more far-fetched. We’ll find out more come June 20th.

60th Anniversary Of The Queen’s Coronation

queen coronation

A spectacular display of purple and gold flags was today unveiled on Regent Street to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

The 189 flags, featuring gold crowns to mark the anniversary, span the length of the road down to St James’s.

The flags will remain on display for the next two months.

BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe Concept

bmw pininfarina gran lusso coupe

The German car maker and Italian design studio come together to create what  could well be the ultimate GT car. The BMW  Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupé combines all of the engineering know-how and  driver-focused technology that has made BMW the company it is today with the design excellence that  has made Pininfarina Ferrari’s designer of choice for over 50 years.

A long wheelbase two-door, four-seat coupe with a low roofline and a huge V12  engine, the Gran Lusso manages to retain all of the physical design cues and  indicators of the current BMW range while at the same time offering something  entirely new — a vehicle that could conceivably compete head to head with a  Bentley Continental GT or Porsche Panamera in terms of comfort, performance and  looks.

BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe concept interior

No performance figures have been released regarding the engine’s output or  top speed, but the way that the controls ‘wrap’ around the driver’s seat  suggests that if the car did go into production, it would be more than a little  sprightly.

As well as a driver-focused console, the cabin benefits from the best wood,  leather and wool that money can buy — for example, the use of 48,000-year-old  Kauri wood, which is sourced from fossilized swamps in New Zealand and which can  be cut and polished like fresh timber.

BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe interior

Its natural grain has an iridescent quality, meaning that the wood appears to  change color as light hits it at different angles. The entire cabin is finished  from a single piece of Kauri wood to ensure the grain, grade and color are a  prefect match.

Added to the fossilized wood is Foglizzo leather in tobacco and black  adorning the four seats and an embroidered roof liner of the finest virgin  Italian wool.

BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe photo

Muslim Council Of Britain Responds To Announcement Of Government Taskforce On Extremism

We understand that the government has announced a Task Force on Extremism. Farooq Murad, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General, issued the following statement in response:

“This has been a challenging week for all of us. The killers of Drummer Lee Rigby attempted to sow division amongst Britons through the propaganda of their deed. Yet in large numbers, British Muslims stood up and declared loudly and clearly that this murder was not in our name.

It was natural for the Muslim Council of Britain to reflect that sentiment. It has always condemned terrorism and extremism in the strongest possible terms, and it will continue to do so.

Extremism is fostered on the margins of our society. All of us – government, civil society and religious institutions – have tried to stand firm against this.

Earlier this month, the Muslim Council of Britain spoke out against Anjem Choudhury responsible for stoking sectarian tension on the streets of Britain.

In a subsequent community forum with the Metropolitan police co-organised by the MCB, many participants expressed exasperation that such an individual and his extremism is given a platform and airtime. This is extremism that is tolerated and given airtime.

After Woolwich, we understand the Prime Minister needs an effective strategy in the face of such a horrific instance of extremism. In doing so, we hope wisdom prevails as we reflect on the response of these past few days and the missed opportunities of previous years.

We must be vigilant and ensure we do not inadvertently give into the demands of all extremists: making our society less free, divided and suspicious of each other. Lessons from the past indicate that policies and measures taken in haste can exacerbate extremism.

We acknowledge that there is a difficult conversation to be had about extremism and the role of our mosques and religious institutions. We have been here before. But a muddled discussion about what constitutes extremism over, say, social conservatism, or disagreement of foreign policy, will not assist us in our end goal: the prevention of future attacks.

This will be a thorny issue in a country that possesses one of the most diverse Muslim community’s in the Western world. As a democratic, cross-sectarian umbrella body, that challenge is not lost on us. We call on all those concerned to establish the creative space necessary for this discussion to take place.

We need leadership to foster greater civic and political engagement, ensuring young people are equal stakeholders in British public life. The challenge of civic apathy affects us all.

In the past 48 hours we have witnessed an upsurge in anti-Muslim hatred with targeted attacks on mosques and the Muslim individuals, not to mention the torrent of hateful abuse on social media. Attitudes against Muslims have hardened. Any Task Force must examine extremism from all quarters.

The last few days have taught us good lessons in other ways too: we have broadened our partnerships and solidarity.  In our view, the biggest repudiation to extremism came in the expression of solidarity across all parts of our society: this was symbolised so poignantly when His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged the condemnation of the Woolwich murder with my colleague Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, MCB’s Assistant Secretary General on Friday.

Finally, as objectives of the new strategy are yet to emerge, it would be premature for us to second-guess what our government will be doing. We only outline here our broad hopes and fears based on the feedback from our affiliates – a cross section of British Muslim civil society.

Details of this murder and the motivation of the assailants are still emerging. Questions will no doubt be asked about how these individuals arrived at their most destructive point and why; worries will be expressed about how they slipped through the net of the security services while within their radar. 

While tackling extremism requires the participation of all of us, at the end of the day, it is the job of the police authorities to protect us, as the public has no power of enforcement.

We need evidence-based strategies to ensure such violence does not return to the streets of the United Kingdom.”

— ENDS —

Notes to Editors: 1. The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools. 

2. The Muslim Council of Britain’s condemnation of the Woolwich murder can be found here:

http://www.mcb.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2333:pr-template&catid=40:press-release

3. WATCH: MCB’s Press Conference on the Woolwich mercer: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAad-bIPXpbKwpBHTlj5scS92E6lOs26y

4. Community advice on public safety: http://www.mcb.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2334:mcbnewstemplate&catid=82:mcb-news

5. Farooq Murad was elected Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain in 2010. His term ends in 2014.

For further information please contact: The Muslim Council of Britain PO Box 57330 London E1 2WJ Tel: 0845 26 26 786 Fax: 0207 247 7079 media@mcb.org.uk   Follow MCB Interactive Twitter: www.twitter.com/MuslimCouncil Youtube: www.youtube.com/MuslimCouncil

Snooper’s Charter Debate

nick clegg

The government will examine whether extra powers are needed in the wake of the Woolwich attack, but none of the measures in the “snooper’s charter” bill would have prevented the savage murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has said.

The cabinet minister, who attended an emergency Cobra meeting on Thursday, defended the role of the security services, saying they had been “very successful at stopping a number of similar plots”.

But he also confirmed that a thorough investigation would be held into what, if anything, went wrong with the monitoring of the two men arrested over the murder, who had been known to MI5 for eight years but dismissed as peripheral threats.

Pickles’s clear rejection of any immediate attempt to revive the draft communications data bill, or “snooper’s charter”, is significant. The bill, which would lead to monitoring of everyone’s email, text and mobile phone use, was dropped from the Queen’s speech in the face of strong objections from the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, but a battery of former home secretaries and security ministers have demanded its revival over the past 48 hours.

The public pressure is believed to reflect the hopes of the home secretary, Theresa May, to put it back into the government’s legislative programme.

Pickles told the BBC Today programme: “What I am certain about is a free society is vulnerable to an unexplained, heavy violent attack, whether it was, as our dear friends in Norway faced a couple of years ago, a white supremacist or whether what we faced on the streets of Woolwich, a blasphemy and distortion of Islam,” he said.

“I know of nothing that would suggest that provisions that were in that bill would have made any difference in this case or would have saved the life of the young member of the armed forces.

“I think it’s probably too soon to assess the powers we need but, once the investigation is through, both aspects of the security services and aspects of the policing of these two individuals will be thoroughly investigated and no doubt recommendations will come out of that,” he said.

Pickles’s view that the communications data bill would not have helped prevent the Woolwich murder echoed a similar view expressed by Liberal Democrat sources on Thursday. It follows David Cameron’s promise that although the need for extra counter-terrorism measures would be examined, he was not in favour of a knee-jerk response. A second cabinet minister, Baroness Warsi, has also said it would be wrong to pass legislation on the back of such a tragedy.

The former home secretary Jack Straw has called for a parliamentary investigation into whether the snooper’s charter would have made a difference. Others, including the former Home Office ministers Lord Reid and Lord West and the former government reviewer of terrorism laws Lord Carlile have asked for the government to reconsider its decision to shelve the bill.

David Anderson QC, the current official reviewer of terrorism laws, has tweeted: “We have strong laws, excellent intelligence and enforcement – the attackers want us to panic, let’s hold our nerve.”

Lego Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Becomes Largest Ever Model

lego

If you are a Star Wars and Lego fan the news a life-size X-Wing Starfighter, which is made from the toy bricks, has been built will come as a pleasant surprise.

The impressive life-size model was unveiled in New York City’s Times Square and contains an astonishing 5,335,200 bricks, making it the largest Lego model ever made.

The model, which was made to promote new animation series The Yoda Chronicles, towers above at a lofty 11ft (3.35m) and is 43ft (13.1m) in length.

Lego Star Wars
The model is 11-feet tall.

It is 42 times the size of the original Lego toy it was based on and took 32 people four months to build.

Unsurprisingly fans of the hit movie have been impressed by the creation.

YouTube user rondthomas1993 wrote: ‘If I ever get rich that’s the very FIRST THING IM BUYING SO YEA I CALLED DIBS’.

Lego Star Wars
It is made out of over 5 million Lego pieces.

HaohmaruHL was also in awe of the model and added: ‘This looks epic, I can’t imagine what Star Wars fans even feel seeing this.’

Luke Skywalker, who used the aircraft to fight against the Galactic Empire in the original Star Wars films, would be able to fit into the model.

Journey’s End For Travelers’ Cheques With Just One In 12 Holiday Makers Using Them

traver cheque

The trusty travellers’ cheque could be dying  a death amongst British holidaymakers, a new study has revealed.

Just one in 12 have used them in the past  year and most people now prefer cash or cards.

The survey examined the financial habits and  preferences of Britons abroad; questioning more than 1800 UK adults who had been  to foreign parts in the last 12 months.

Asked what kind of money they took away with  them the majority (78 per cent) said hard cash with 56 per cent choosing debit  or credit cards and 34 per cent taking pre-paid cards.

Of the eight per cent who said traveller’s  cheques, three quarters (75 per cent) saw them as a more ‘secure’ option whilst  13 per cent said they ‘didn’t like’ carrying cash while travelling.

Of those who carried currency, only 18 per  cent claimed to have shopped around for the best exchange rates before changing  their British pounds.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) claimed to  be aware that they hadn’t got the best rate but went ahead with the transaction  anyway.

Asked if they had ever lost or had money  stolen whilst they were abroad, 64 per cent said ‘yes’. And more than half of  those admitted they did not have the correct insurance in place to replace the  cash.

Almost two thirds (60 per cent) of those who  took cash with them on their last holiday admitted that they had run out of  before the end of their stay. In contrast, just 14 per cent of those with  travellers’ cheques had done the same.

Mark Pearson, Chairman of  MyVoucherCodes.co.uk who commissioned the survey, said: ‘It seems travellers’  cheques aren’t as popular as they once may have been – probably because of the  other options now available which seem somewhat easier, such as a prepaid  card.

‘Britons still seem to favour cash when it  comes to travelling abroad, but it seems this does nothing for successful  budgeting, as the majority of those taking cash with them last year ended up  overspending.

‘Whatever method you choose, just make sure  you’re protected against loss or theft of money.

‘Holidays don’t come cheap, and you don’t  want them to cost more than they have to.’