Vancouver 'riot kiss' photo: details emerge

The image of a couple in a passionate clinch as a riot rages around them was not all it seems.

The image above appears to show a couple lying on the street locked in a passionate kiss as the Vancouver hockey riots raged around them. Taken by Canada-based photojournalist Richard Lam, the photo quickly went viral ans was carried on news sites around the world.

The couple's identity was not known. Lam said that he couldn't tell whether they were kissing, or if one of them was hurt. "I keep looking at the picture but I don't know what I think anymore," he said.

Now it looks as though the less romantic option may be true. An eyewitness, William, contacted the Vancouver Sun. He said thatthe couple were knocked over by two riot police: "The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landed partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the two officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. Bystanders went to make sure she was OK."

Several readers sent in another version of the photo, which shows the couple from another angle, appears to corroborate this.

An Australian news website, NineMSN, claims to have identified the man in the photograph as Scott Jones, a 29 year old Australian who has been living and working in Vancouver for six months. It identifies the woman as Alex Thomas, a Canadian. According to the report, lots of his friends had posted on his Facebook wall about the story, and he replied: "Classic! This was shortly after the riot police run over the top of us and naturally Alex needed some comforting."

Officials in Vancouver said almost 150 people required hospital treatment and almost 100 were arrested during the riot.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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#Match4Lara: Lara has found her match, but the search for mixed-race donors isn't over

A UK blood cancer charity has seen an "unprecedented spike" in donors from mixed race and ethnic minority backgrounds since the campaign started. 

Lara Casalotti, the 24-year-old known round the world for her family's race to find her a stem cell donor, has found her match. As long as all goes ahead as planned, she will undergo a transplant in March.

Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December, and doctors predicted that she would need a stem cell transplant by April. As I wrote a few weeks ago, her Thai-Italian heritage was a stumbling block, both thanks to biology (successful donors tend to fit your racial profile), and the fact that mixed-race people only make up around 3 per cent of international stem cell registries. The number of non-mixed minorities is also relatively low. 

That's why Casalotti's family launched a high profile campaign in the US, Thailand, Italy and the US to encourage more people - especially those from mixed or minority backgrounds - to register. It worked: the family estimates that upwards of 20,000 people have signed up through the campaign in less than a month.

Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, also reported an "unprecedented spike" of donors from black, Asian, ethcnic minority or mixed race backgrounds. At certain points in the campaign over half of those signing up were from these groups, the highest proportion ever seen by the charity. 

Interestingly, it's not particularly likely that the campaign found Casalotti her match. Patient confidentiality regulations protect the nationality and identity of the donor, but Emily Rosselli from Anthony Nolan tells me that most patients don't find their donors through individual campaigns: 

 It’s usually unlikely that an individual finds their own match through their own campaign purely because there are tens of thousands of tissue types out there and hundreds of people around the world joining donor registers every day (which currently stand at 26 million).

Though we can't know for sure, it's more likely that Casalotti's campaign will help scores of people from these backgrounds in future, as it has (and may continue to) increased donations from much-needed groups. To that end, the Match4Lara campaign is continuing: the family has said that drives and events over the next few weeks will go ahead. 

You can sign up to the registry in your country via the Match4Lara website here.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.