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Richard Branson Launches £1m Competition for UK Start-Ups

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UK entrepreneurs and start-ups have been invited to take part in a nationwide competition to compete for a record prize of £1m. 

The #VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015 competition aims to support British innovation by providing a number of cash prizes, marketing support and mentoring to the most exciting and innovative businesses in the UK.

Sir Richard Branson, who announced the competition in a televised message to Channel 4, said that bravery was the defining characteristic of an entrepreneur and that a good business is ‘simply coming up with an idea that will make people’s lives better’. He invited start-ups and innovators to pitch their ideas to him in what is Virgin Media Business’s latest initiative to support small, growing UK businesses.

The competition, which is being run in association with the professional network LinkedIn, will help highlight the success of thousands of businesses across the UK and provide inspiration for start-ups to develop great ideas and become a success.

“Launching a business can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming” says Branson. “But entrepreneurs shouldn’t let this hold them back from achieving their full potential. Pitch to Rich is a brilliant opportunity for UK businesses to make their mark on a global stage. If you think your business has great potential, then enter Pitch to Rich today, as you never know where it may lead you.”

The Virgin billionaire will be joined by a ‘prestigious’ panel of judges to help chose winners from each of the three categories in a live final to be aired 26 June 2015.

Start-up: for exciting new businesses with huge potential

The winner of this category will receive a £150,000 in marketing support as well as support from Virgin StartUp’s professional business advisers for a year. Two runners-up will receive £50,000 marketing support.

New Things: for big new ideas with the capacity to disrupt

The winner gets a £50,000 cash prize towards development and mentoring from Virgin’s Investment Team. Runners-up will receive £10,000 each towards development.

Grow: for existing businesses that are ready to go big-time

The winner will receive £250,000 marketing support, with £100,000 in marketing support for the two runners-up.

In addition to the above prizes, all three category winners will receive:

Finally, the semi-finalist with the most votes at the end of the competition will be awarded a £50,000 marketing support prize.

Commenting on the growing importance of digital connectivity for successful new businesses, Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: “Right now, great British businesses, like the thousands we work with, are seizing the opportunity that digital can have and shaking up their respective markets. Every strong economy needs game-changers and through Pitch to Rich we hope to inspire even more.”

Since launching on the 27 March, the competition has received over 75 pitches. Interested businesses and individuals should register their interest at www.pitchtorich.co.uk

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The Ultimate American Road Trip: Route 66

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route 66

If you’re looking for the omega American road trip then you’ve got to hit the Mother Road, otherwise known as Route 66. From Chicago to LA, it’s a journey that’ll provide the experience of a lifetime, showing you the heart of a great nation.

Start in Chicago & Chase the Sun

In reality, the best always head west. Would you rather end the trip in the Windy City, or just in time to catch a gorgeous L.A. sunset on the beach? There’s just something deeply spiritual for folks when we head west. It becomes an adventure. It becomes a vehicular voyage to the sea. Here are some of the highlights you can expect in order:

Illinois: It’s a pretty straight shot through the state from Chicago through Springfield (which has some stretches of restored Route 66) and southwest to St. Louis. There’s a bit of the bright lights of big cities, but also a good calm stretch of rural to cruise through as well; vast fields of corn and farmland for close to 300 miles.

Missouri: Once you hit East St. Louis you’ll again be greeted by sky scrapers, industrial areas and the mark of modernity but then it’s another SE straight shot through the entire belly of the state.

Kansas: You’re only going to spend a little time in the good’ol Kansas heartland. And by little we mean a whopping 14 miles far down in the bottom south east corner. You’ll go through two towns: Galena and Baxter Springs but rest assured there’s great classic restaurants and places that’ve been open as long as Route 66 has been around. In fact, it’s because of road tripper like you just passin’on through that keep’em goin.

Oklahoma: You’re going to go through two huge metropolises that have “country” written all over’em: Tulsa first and then into Oklahoma City before heading directly west towards the Pan Handle. Of all 8 states, it’s here that they take Route 66 the most seriously. It’s got the most preserved still-drivable miles and you’ll be able to see the remnants of Kiowa, Apache and Comanche Native American land. And, you’ll get to take the same route as families long ago in the Dust Bowl took to escape.

Texas: You’re going to go through the upper tip of the Texas Pan Handle that takes you through Amarillo. It looks short on a map but the 200-mile stretch of plains is a sight to behold like none other. If you can time it so you cut through here in the afternoon on a sunny day your spirit will be recharged. Just try not to pay any attention to all the truckers!

New Mexico: Welcome to the Land of Enchantment where you’ll pass through Sun Belt city and Albuquerque. These days, it can be a bit challenging to stay strictly on the old road but with all the sandstone mesas and pine forests it’s definitely worth it.

Arizona: In Arizona you’ll stay in the northern plains rather than heading down into the really hot areas around Phoenix. Instead, you’ll pass directly through Flagstaff which is a mountain town and where Northern Arizona University is located. The sights here are like a completely different world from everything you’ve seen so far, especially once you begin to head south right before passing into California. Oh, and because of the high speeds on the I-40, this will feel like one of those awesome car track days.

California: Once you reach this point get ready to cruise through rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, stunning landscapes and then at Barstow you should begin smelling the sea. From San Bernardino and Pasadena to Santa Monica it’s simply breathtaking.

This is only a taste of the experience really. You’ve just got to get out and do it. There’s plenty of great resources online to keep you on track and if you have the time you don’t have to miss a thing. Enjoy!

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Key Moments from Trump’s Impeachment Hearing

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Trump's Impeachment
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Heartbreaking; Another School Shooting Santa Clarita, CA

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Santa Clarita School SHooting

Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) — A 16-year-old boy shot five fellow students, two fatally, Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita before turning the .45-caliber handgun on himself, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said multiple 911 calls prompted firefighter-paramedics to respond about 7:40 a.m. to the school at 21900 Centurion Way.

Six students, including the gunman, were found in the quad suffering from gunshot wounds, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. All six were transported to hospitals, where two of them, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were later pronounced dead.

The surviving victims were described as two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy.

In a tweet, Henry Mayo Hospital said it had received four patients.

Their names were not immediately disclosed. The sheriff said the deceased girl’s parents were at the hospital. He was notified of the second fatality during a press conference at the school.

Gunman turns .45 caliber on himself

According to sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener, surveillance video “clearly” shows the suspect pulling a semi-automatic handgun out of his backpack in the quad and shooting five classmates before shooting himself in the head.

Thursday was the gunman’s 16th birthday, the captain said.

He was listed in grave condition at a hospital, according to Villanueva.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, authorities released a description of the suspect as a manhunt got underway. Heavily armed deputies and an armored SWAT vehicle were seen at a home near the school, but it was unclear if the house was connected to the investigation.

The high school remained on lockdown for hours after the incident. Shortly before 11 a.m., lockdowns were lifted at all campuses in the district, as well as Rosedell and Highland elementary schools.

Central Park, at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, was being used as a reunification point for parents and students, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to parents, saying investigators need to interview “every student at Saugus HS” before they can be released.

In a statement, the White House said President Donald Trump was monitoring ongoing reports about the shooting.

“The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,” the statement said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an expression of gratitude to the emergency responders.

“We simply should not have to fear for our kids’ lives when we drop them off at school,” the governor said. Addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Newsom asked: “How many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”

Amid the chaos at the scene, the number of reported victims fluctuated throughout the morning. The sheriff later confirmed that six people were shot, including the gunman.


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