Duo develop breathable cocktail

A walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail in a bar was attracting a new kind of customer to London\’s Soho.

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For five pounds, visitors receive special protective suits and can enter the cocktail mist made of Hendrick\’s Scottish gin and tonic water.

“Basically what we do is we take the G & T, vaporize it using industrial technology, and it creates a vast cloud,” said Sam Bompas, a designer of the Bompas & Parr bar.

“It\’s like going into a cocktail on an architectural scale and hence alcoholic architecture,” he said.

Visitors are allowed to stay in the bar for a maximum of one hour.

“You had different experiences. If you breathed in through your nose it was very chemically, but if you breathed in through your mouth you had a very different experience as well. So it was like being in a steam room but sort of a dry ice room,” said twins Nicola and Pippa MacKenzie-Dodds.

“A city like London is often described as having the culture of Paris, but also the vibrance of New York City. There is another side of London and that is the alternative lifestyle. The alternative things that happen in the city. And I think this exhibition in many ways typifies exactly that,” added visitor Christopher Pang.

The artists were inspired by the Anthony Gormley\’s Blind Light construction which was shown at the Hayward Gallery in 2007. Sound artist Douglas Murphy created a soundscape of eighties disco music in the bar.

Bompas said he worked with three doctors to calculate how much alcohol people would breathe in at a certain room volume and amount of time in order to minimize the health risks.

“It varies whether you are a massive rugby player or someone who is very petite with small lungs. But it is probably the equivalence of a 35 millimetre. It depends on how deeply you breathe as well. We also advice people to breathe responsibly,” said Bompas.

Other Bompas & Parr projects include a liquid banqueting table, design jelly moulds, and create a glow-in-the-dark dessert chamber.

The breathable bar lasts until April 25.

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Zuma urges big turnout in polls

South Africa\’s ruling party leader Jacob Zuma called for a big turnout for this week\’s general elections, which are expected to launch him to the presidency.

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“Vote in numbers to give the party the authority and power to change things,” Zuma told a meeting with the transport industry.

“If people don\’t vote for ANC, they will deny the party a majority, which will mean it can\’t take correct decisions,” he said.

With elections just two days away, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) was enjoying a wave of publicity and public enthusiasm following the surprise appearance of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela at a rally Sunday.

Even though the ANC is expected to easily win the general elections, 90-year-old Mandela gave a moral boost to the party which has been ripped apart by in-fighting and clouded by allegations of corruption against Zuma.

“My prediction is that the ANC going to get over 60 percent of the votes,” said political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi.

However, Matshiqi cautioned that the results might be full of surprises, as an ANC breakaway called the Congress of the People (COPE) is for the first time challenging for power along with the current opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

“Firstly, the ANC might just get the two thirds majority and surprise everyone, and COPE might do better than the DA. On the other hand, the DA might improve on its 2004 results,” said Matshiqi.

The ANC has held a two-thirds majority since the 2004 polls, allowing the party to bring in constitutional changes at will.

Sunday\’s rally, dubbed Siyanqoba, or “victory” in Zulu, drew over 120,000 supporters and was beamed to eight venues around the country.

Zuma’s Troubles

Until just two weeks ago, Zuma had been the subject of a corruption investigation stemming from a 1999 arms deal.

Prosecutors dropped the charges saying that political meddling had compromised the legal process, but insisting they remained confident of the case against him.

The opposition condemned the decision, but the move reinvigorated his followers who have long believed that his prosecution was plotted by political enemies to prevent him from becoming president.

The ANC has promised to rid South Africa of corruption and improve on poor delivery of government services, a point of great public frustration that has been seized upon by the new opposition.

But analysts say the only question in the elections is whether the ANC will hold on to its two-thirds majority.

“The key question is whether the ANC will hold on to its existing two-thirds majority in the upcoming election,” said Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

Although COPE is seen as the first significant opposition to take on the ANC, experts and polls suggest the party is likely to win no more than 10 percent of the vote.

After 15 years of democracy, the ANC is still the party of choice for the country\’s mainly black and poor majority, who feel populist presidential candidate Zuma will tackle the still crushing rates of poverty and unemployment.

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Recession admission not a distraction: Swan

Treasurer Wayne Swan denies that the government\’s admission that Australia will be dragged into recession is an attempt to deflect attention away from Labor\’s border protection policy.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told an economic forum in Adelaide on Monday that it was “inevitable” Australia would be dragged into recession.

The economy recorded its first quarter of negative growth in eight years during the final three months of 2008 and the March quarter economic growth reading will be released on June 3.

But Mr Swan dismissed opposition claims the government was acknowledging a recession after months of avoiding the term to deflect attention away from the issue of boat people.

“That is completely ridiculous and demonstrates just how desperate the opposition has become,” Mr Swan told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

He said Labor had been warning the Australian public of an impending recession for some time. Economic growth forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due out on Wednesday, as well as next month\’s budget growth predictions and national accounts figures were likely to further downgrade growth in the domestic economy, Mr Swan said.

“What I can be is frank with the Australian people about the magnitude of the global recession,” he said. “The fact that seven of our 10 largest trading partners are already in recession, about the fact that the IMF is about to further downgrade its growth forecasts.”

But Mr Swan said the Australian economy was still the best positioned of those in the developed world to weather the global financial crisis.

“It\’s also important … we underline the strengths in the Australian economy because out of all of the developed economies in the world there is one that most people would want to be in and it still remains the Australian economy.”

Political debate on boat people was sparked by last week\’s boat explosion near Ashmore Island off the northwest coast of Australia, in which five asylum seekers were killed and dozens more injured.

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Liberals \’in disarray\’ over protection visas

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull\’s push to revisit the issue of temporary protection visas (TPVs) appears likely to create unrest in parts of the Liberal Party.

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Mr Turnbull on Monday said he wanted to reinstate TPVs designed to make permanent residency status harder to get for people who arrive by boat.

Debate on the issue was sparked by last week\’s boat explosion near Ashmore Island off the northwest coast of Australia, in which five asylum seekers were killed and dozens more injured. Liberal Party member and former MP Bruce Baird said “it\’s not on” to bring back TPVs.

“We have moved on as a country. We have recognised the injustice of the previous system, and that\’s the way it should be,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday morning.

Mr Baird, still actively involved in the party, said there had been no polling, head count or vote on the issue but there would certainly be a lot of people, particularly moderates in the party, who would find it totally unacceptable.

However, Mr Turnbull indicated the party should examine the issue “with an open mind”. “So yes, TPVs, or perhaps I should put it another way, a different visa category, reinstating a different visa category for unauthorised boat arrivals should certainly be high on the agenda,” he said.

But going back to the exact same system before August needed to be considered based on advice and intelligence assessments, Mr Turnbull said.

There was always a range of views on the issue in the Liberal Party, he said.

“We don\’t all have the same opinion on every issue but we debate it, people have different views and then we come to a common view.”

The government seems unlikely to revert back to TPVs with Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus saying TPVs actually encouraged people smugglers and asylum seekers to come to Australia.

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Aussie bans NZ town

A Sydney man has triggered a rash of anti-Aussie sentiment across the Tasman after banning an entire New Zealand town from staying at his motel.

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Steve Donnelly, the Australian owner of Supreme Motor Lodge in the central North Island town of Palmerston North, has put a block on bookings from any of the 16,000 residents of Wainuiomata, close to the capital, Wellington.

Donnelly, who has lived in New Zealand for two years, claimed the town was full of young “troublemakers” who consistently trashed his motel during visits for sporting events, and says all residents are now banished.

But his ban has some New Zealanders spitting tacks.

They say it\’s stupid, unfair and outrageous, and have labelled Donnelly the country\’s Basil Fawlty, the bumbling John Cleese character in the Fawlty Towers series.

Newspapers have run headlines like “Australian bans town” and a senior Labour politician, Trevor Mallard, born and bred in Wainuiomata, said: I\’m not surprised he\’s Australian”.

“His actions show the sort of blind prejudice I thought we didn\’t have in New Zealand anymore”.

Another group of prominent residents said they planned to book in just to spite the Australian.

“Give me the number and I\’ll go and book myself in for the week,” one man told the Dominion Post newspaper.

Donnelly, for his part, says he\’s furious that New Zealanders are making a point about his home country.

“Whenever something goes on that the Kiwis don\’t like they seem to take great pleasure in pointing out the Australian connection,” he told AAP.

“But I don\’t get it. Is it that I\’m nasty? Is it that I\’m short sighted or arrogant or intolerant, or what?

“Me being an Aussie has got absolutely nothing to do with the awful behaviour of these people, that\’s for certain.”

Donnelly said visiting sports teams from the town had consistently behaved badly, spitting, swearing and playing loud music at night.

“I\’m not saying there aren\’t any nice people in Wainuiomata, but plenty of them are bad and we don\’t want them here,” he said.

The Motel Association of New Zealand said Supreme was well within its rights to ban a town.

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