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  • 24 Sep 2011 10:20 PM | Anonymous

    IMF: Global economy needs collective action now

    Chancellor George Osborne: ''They have got weeks not months to sort it out''

    IMF chief Christine Lagarde has called for countries to "act now and act together" to keep on the path to economic recovery.

    "We are by no means strangers, and we are linked by a common destiny," she said at the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington.

    "And these turbulent times must bind us ever closer together."

    Ms Lagarde was speaking after another week of volatility on the world's share markets.

    In Europe, the main share indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt all fell about 4% over the week.

    Meanwhile, UK Chancellor George Osborne warned time was running out to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

    Speaking in Washington, where the G20 is also gathering, Mr Osborne said European leaders had six weeks to end the crisis.

    'Dark clouds'

    Ms Lagarde said: "There is a path to recovery. It's narrower than it was three years ago but there is a path and we have options." 

    “That money had just gone in two or three weeks due to a very sharp downturn in a very short period of time”

    John Frary from Bedfordshire has seen his retirement fund fall by £7,000 in value in four weeks

    But she added: "There are dark clouds over Europe and there is huge uncertainty in the US. And with that we could risk a collapse in global demand.

    "Well, so what? Let's remove the clouds and remove the uncertainty. Easier said than done, and it requires clearly a collective action.

    "We are all in it together and nobody should be under any illusion that there could be a de-coupling."

    Global shares had slumped on Thursday, sparked by a Federal Reserve warning late the previous day about the outlook for the US economy.

    And on Friday, Greece denied media reports it was contemplating defaulting on its debts, with creditors taking a 50% hit on Greek government bonds.

    Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Athens was focusing on reducing its debt levels.

    "All other discussions, rumours, comments and scenarios which are diverting our attention from this central target and Greece's political obligation... do not help our common European task," he said.

    Also on Friday, credit rating agency Moody's downgraded eight Greek banks due to concerns about Greece's ability to pay back its debts.

    Two of the Greek banks downgraded, the Emporiki Bank of Greece and General Bank of Greece, are majority-owned by France's Credit Agricole and Societe Generale respectively.


    Thursday's market falls had sparked the G20 to announce a commitment "to take all necessary actions to preserve the stability of banking systems and financial markets as required". 

    Which way now for Greece?

    A maze

    Make your way through the maze of Greece's debt decisions

    It said it would follow up this pledge with a "bold action plan" at the beginning of November.

    Analysts said investors were unimpressed by the announcement.

    "The statement from the G20 last night may have taken the edge off the current bitter market sentiment, but the reassurances from the finance ministers lack substance," said Jane Foley at Rabobank.

    "Until politicians back their actions with words in respect to moving closer to a solution to the eurozone debt crisis, markets will continue to worry about a messy and painful outcome from the eurozone debt crisis."

    The G20 has given little hint of what action it may take, but markets have long been calling for a substantial increase in the eurozone's communal bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), from its agreed level of 440bn euros ($596bn; £385bn).

    Many investors also want the eurozone to issue bonds guaranteed by every one of the 17-member nations - so-called eurobonds. However, a number of policymakers, particularly those in Germany, have resisted the idea.

    In July, European finance ministers proposed making the EFSF more flexible, allowing it to buy individual government bonds - which would bring down the cost of borrowing for heavily indebted nations - and to offer emergency credit lines to banks. However, the proposals have not yet been ratified.

    Sense of urgency

    Analysts say far swifter action is needed in order to soothe investors' jittery nerves.

    “There still seems to be a large gap between what economists and markets say is needed - and politicians are able to provide. ”

    "Markets work on a second-by-second basis, while politicians seem to be working to a monthly calendar," Jeremy Stretch from CIBC told the BBC.

    UK Chancellor George Osborne also said that time was of the essence.

    "There is a far greater sense of urgency than there was three weeks ago about the necessity for the eurozone to address its problems and there is pressure on the eurozone from across the international community," he told the BBC.

    He said there was a recognition that a solution needed to be found in weeks not months, and a comprehensive solution needed to come from the G20 leaders' meeting in November.

    The BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, said the chancellor was echoing comments from people outside the eurozone, who think the Europeans missed an important opportunity to resolve the situation over the summer.

    They had the summit in July then the perception was that they all went on holiday, leaving question marks over the markets which has now cost them dearly, she said.

    The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has called for the November G20 meeting to be brought forward so that leaders can agree a plan for growth.

    Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, suggested this weekend's meeting in Washington could mark the beginning of concerted action to tackle the debt crisis in Europe which is the cause of so much stock market volatility.

    "The thing that really brought the world to a better place in 2008 was genuine collective action involving both the developed and the developing world through the G20," he told the BBC.

    "The fact that they're all there together in [Washington] DC this weekend should lay the framework for thoughts about quite significant actions... sometime between now or possibly at the November G20 in France."

  • 24 Sep 2011 10:16 PM | Anonymous

    Speed-of-light results under scrutiny at Cern

    Opera detector Enormous underground detectors are needed to catch neutrinos, that are so elusive as to be dubbed "ghost particles"
    A meeting at Cern, the world's largest physics lab, has addressed results that suggest subatomic particles have gone faster than the speed of light.

    The team presented its work so other scientists can determine if the approach contains any mistakes.

    If it does not, one of the pillars of modern science will come tumbling down.

    Antonio Ereditato added "words of caution" to his Cern presentation because of the "potentially great impact on physics" of the result.

    The speed of light is widely held to be the Universe's ultimate speed limit, and much of modern physics - as laid out in part by Albert Einstein in his theory of special relativity - depends on the idea that nothing can exceed it.


    “We want to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy”

    Thousands of experiments have been undertaken to measure it ever more precisely, and no result has ever spotted a particle breaking the limit.

    "We tried to find all possible explanations for this," the report's author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration told BBC News on Thursday evening.

    "We wanted to find a mistake - trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects - and we didn't.

    "When you don't find anything, then you say 'well, now I'm forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinise this'."

    Friday's meeting was designed to begin this process, with hopes that other scientists will find inconsistencies in the measurements and, hopefully, repeat the experiment elsewhere.

    "Despite the large [statistical] significance of this measurement that you have seen and the stability of the analysis, since it has a potentially great impact on physics, this motivates the continuation of our studies in order to find still-unknown systematic effects," Dr Ereditato told the meeting.

    "We look forward to independent measurement from other experiments."

    Graphic of the Opera experiment

    Neutrinos come in a number of types, and have recently been seen to switch spontaneously from one type to another.

    The Cern team prepares a beam of just one type, muon neutrinos, and sends them through the Earth to an underground laboratory at Gran Sasso in Italy to see how many show up as a different type, tau neutrinos.

    In the course of doing the experiments, the researchers noticed that the particles showed up 60 billionths of a second earlier than they would have done if they had travelled at the speed of light.

    This is a tiny fractional change - just 20 parts in a million - but one that occurs consistently.

    The team measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 16,000 times, and have reached a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.

    But the group understands that what are known as "systematic errors" could easily make an erroneous result look like a breaking of the ultimate speed limit.

    That has motivated them to publish their measurements.

    "My dream would be that another, independent experiment finds the same thing - then I would be relieved," Dr Ereditato told BBC News.

    But for now, he explained, "we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy".

  • 24 Sep 2011 10:09 PM | Anonymous

    Dutch engineers make 'robot legs' for stroke patients

    LOPES therapeutic robot The LOPES therapeutic robot can do all or some of the walking for you

    Related Stories

    Scientists in the Netherlands are using robotic legs to try to improve the movement of stroke patients.

    The prototype device is called the Lower-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, or LOPES, and works by training the body and mind of a patient to recover a more natural step.

    The machine is also being tested on spinal injury patients who have recovered some restricted movement in their legs.

    It is hoped a commercial version could be made available to rehabilitation centres around the world as early as next year.

    Feedback mechanism

    LOPES has been developed by engineers at the University of Twente in Enschede in the Netherlands over several years. Designed for the rehabilitation clinic, it is not a mobile device but supports the patient as they walk on a treadmill.

    It can do all the walking for the patient, or it can offer targeted support in either one leg or with one element of the walking process. The machine can also detect what the patient is doing wrong.

    "For instance, some people cannot lift their foot up appropriately," explains Dr Edwin van Asseldonk, who is working on the project. "What this device does is it senses that the foot is not lifting properly.

    "It then compares it with a reference pattern and then exerts a force or torque to assist that subject in doing it."

    Dr Edwin van Asseldonk explains what LOPES can do

    Petra Hes is one of those testing the device. She suffered a stroke aged just 17. Years of physiotherapy have helped, but she still has what is known as a "drop foot", which means she cannot lift and flex her left foot in the way she once did, or even remember how to do so.

    The machine provides the forces to enable her to physically move her left leg and foot the way it should move, but it also operates as a memory aid, the researchers believe.

    "I got a eureka moment because I felt an old feeling of how to walk normally," she recalls of the first time she used the machine.

    "That push-up I felt and my knee lifting it is what I've forgotten. I couldn't reproduce it myself so I had to feel it again."

    Dr van Assledonk believes that by physically showing patients how to walk properly, the machine can help them develop the brain signals required to drive improved movement.

    "With stroke survivors, it's very important that they get signals to the brain but also that they send signals downwards from the brain," he says.

    "It's only when you get information from your legs to your brain and vice-versa that can you hope for some plasticity in your brain."

    Dr Sharlin Ahmed from The Stroke Association in the UK hopes the innovation will help.

    "Mobility issues have negative effects upon stroke survivors' quality of life, so we welcome any research or technology that will help improve mobility for stroke survivors and enable them to have a better quality of life," she told the BBC.

    Military exoskeletons
    Soldier lifting weights with the HULC exoskeleton The HULC exoskeleton is designed to take the load off US infantry

    Work on a commercial version of the LOPES machine is already under way, with two private companies co-operating on the project. Two rehabilitation centres in the Netherlands will then test the device before it is rolled out to other clinics at home and abroad.

    The LOPES project is by no means the only example of scientists turning to "exoskeletons" to aid human performance.

    Berkeley Bionics of California has designed an exoskeleton called the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC). The device enables infantry soldiers to lift and carry weights of up to 90kg in the field, and consists of a hydraulic-powered frame which straps around the soldier's body.

    The same company has also developed an exoskeleton called "eLegs". Billed as an alternative to the wheelchair for those with restricted mobility, the frame can help users to walk upright with the aid of sticks.

    A rival machine called ReWalk by Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies is also intended to help those with lower-limb disabilities to walk upright using sticks.

    Dr van Asseldonk believes the possibilities are manifold.

    "I foresee that older people in the future might just wear an exoskeleton when they're going around so they can keep pace with the grandchildren.

    "You can imagine devices like this could keep people mobile for longer."

  • 24 Sep 2011 10:04 PM | Anonymous

    Troy Davis' execution

    Troy Davis Troy Davis had been issued a stay of execution two years earlier
    Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis was executed amid a massive outcry by Twitter users, who documented every minute of his final hours. Will social media change the way people view the death penalty, or will the Davis case change the way social media users view politics?

    On the night Troy Davis was executed for the death of officer Mark MacPhail, thousands of outraged Americans flocked to social media to register their disgust.

    Celebrities like Martha Plimpton and Alec Baldwin tweeted about the case, and Outkast artist Big Boi posted photos from outside the jail to his TwitPic account.

    "Troy Davis", "Letter to Georgia" and NO EVIDENCE were all trending topics in the US throughout the night.

    But all the angry tweets and online petitions did nothing to prevent Davis being executed at 23:08 local time in an Atlanta, Georgia prison.

    Digital outrage

    Public anger over death row cases has a mixed record when it comes to winning stays of execution.

    In 1998, protests and extensive media coverage weren't enough to keep then-Governor George W Bush from executing Karla Faye Tucker, a confessed but converted killer.

    Following a long and vocal campaign, Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of murdering a police officer, was ordered to receive a new hearing that could commute his sentence to life in prison. He's still on death row while that ruling is appealed.

    The inability to turn the digital outrage over Davis into real-life action served as a stark contrast to the new realities of much of the digital world.

    "We've lowered the bar for activism. Now it's a click away”

    End Quote Brian Southwell Research scientist, RTI International

    "We are living in a 21st Century communications infrastructure, but we are still governed by a 20th Century political system," says Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Media, which focuses on the intersection of politics and internet culture.

    In an age when movies and music can be accessed instantly and a customer service issue can be resolved with a quick tweet, social media has already been cited in the success of the Arab Spring revolutions.

    But the case of Troy Davis showed its limits.

    "I'm not sure that 1,000 tweets or Facebook posts have the same power as one phone call," says Brian Southwell, a professor at the University of North Carolina.

    He says: "We've lowered the bar for activism. Now it's a click away."

    That's a bad thing, according to some on Twitter, who saw the last-minute pleas on Davis' behalf as too little, too late.

    "To the people yelling injustice for Troy Davis, where were you last month, six months, years ago & not just the week prior to his execution?" asked one such tweet.

    'Elite' power

    In fact, the changes that have come to America's execution rates - which have dropped by 50% since 1999 - don't always come about due to the force of public will, registered online or otherwise.

    "Some of that is reduced worry about crime and lower levels [of] homicide, and some of that is fiscal austerity," since death penalty cases are more expensive to prosecute, says Franklin Zimring, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Protesters holding signs for Troy Davis Davis' death sentence generated protests both online and off

    Also important is the opinion of "elites" who make a lot of decisions about how the death penalty is enacted - judges, prosecutors, and the American Legal Institute, who initially wrote the guidelines for death penalty legislation, only to publicly denounce them in 2010.

    Thanks to the concerns of this group, "the death penalty is in trouble," says Zimring, despite the fact that overall public opinion for the death penalty remains strong.

    A 2010 Gallup poll shows that 64% of Americans support the death penalty for someone convicted of murder, down from 65% in 2006 and 68% in 2001.

    Cynicism or confidence?

    To some, the realities of how the system works may be jarring. "If this is your first introduction to politics, and having grown up with [social media] as a way to express yourself, there is going to be a wake-up call," says Prof Southwell.

    That could lead to cynicism, or it could lead to an evolution of younger Americans working towards a more sophisticated bridge between online activism and real-life change.

    For now, the impact of social media in the Troy Davis case shouldn't be entirely discounted.

    "With social media, a lot more people heard about the Troy Davis case than they would have before this existed," says John Blume, professor of history and director of the Cornell University death penalty centre.

    "Maybe they didn't know about the case and weren't involved in the efforts, but a lot more people now know what happened, and perhaps the increased awareness will have a corrosive effect on support for the death penalty down the road."

    Meaning this: by the rules of instant communication, social media failed. People tweeted, posted, and forwarded, but Troy Davis was still executed.

    But in the much less satisfying long-term, the burst of internet activity served as a tiny push in the glacial slog of evolving public policy.

  • 24 Sep 2011 9:58 PM | Anonymous

    Al-Shabab returns Somali victims to famine-hit villages

    Children queuing for a meal at a WFP-feeding centre in Somalia's capital Mogadishu Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled their villages in search of food

    Foreign aid workers are concerned about the fate of thousands of Somalis being taken back to famine-hit villages by Islamist militants.

    The al-Shabab group says it is moving people out of camps in the central town of Baidoa ahead of the rainy season so they can prepare to farm.

    An al-Shabab official told the BBC that food rations to last a month would be given to the families.

    The UN has declared a famine in six regions of Somalia.

    There are mostly in southern parts controlled by al-Shabab, which banned many Western aid agencies from its territory two years ago.

    This has prompted tens of thousands of people to seek food aid in the capital, Mogadishu, which is ruled by the weak interim government, or in camps in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.

    But some local charities have been able to distribute food in al-Shabab areas like Baidoa, where six displacement camps hold an estimated 50,000 people.

    'Death row'

    "There are about 6,500 families who are ready to move back [to their original area]; we are arranging food that they can use for this month," al-Shabab's disaster committee spokesman Suldaan Aala Mohamed told the BBC. 

    Al-Shabab at a glance

    • Al-Shabab means "The Youth" in Arabic
    • Formed as a radical offshoot of the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006
    • Affiliated to al-Qaeda
    • Controls large swathes of south and central Somalia
    • Killed 76 people in double attack in Uganda during 2010 football World Cup
    • Estimated to have 7,000 to 9,000 fighters

    "We are also giving them seeds for the planting season."

    Several water tankers had left with the first lorries full of people from Baidoa, Mr Mohamed said.

    He said people needed to be on the farms in time for the rains.

    The BBC understands that they were not given a choice. Some aid workers, who fear speaking on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation, said they were appalled at the move.

    One said it was like putting people affected by the famine on death row.

    The BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross says no crops were expected to be ready for harvest until January at the earliest, so a massive food distribution operation would be needed for months to come.

    In Mogadishu, thousands of people prayed for rain on Friday.

    The region is affected by what the UN says is East Africa's worst drought for 60 years.

    Somalia - racked by 20 years of conflict and without a functioning central government - is worst-affected.

    East Africa drought map
  • 24 Sep 2011 9:46 PM | Anonymous

    Oxfam warns about effects of 'land rush'

    A worker on small-scale farm in Zimbabwe (archive shot) Among the worst affected by so-called land grabs are women, Oxfam says

    An increasing number of land deals are displacing farmers and leaving poor communities homeless, campaigning charity Oxfam has warned.

    It says up to 227m hectares (560m acres) have been sold or leased worldwide since 2001.

    Half of all deals that have been verified are in Africa, amounting to an area the size of Germany - 35m hectares, Oxfam says.

    Vulnerable communities in Uganda and South Sudan have been affected.

    The report also focuses on Honduras, Guatemala and Indonesia.

    'Frenetic competition'

    The organisation's Chief Executive, Barbara Stocking, said the "blinkered scramble" for land by investors was ignoring the needs of those who live on the land and depend upon it for their survival.

    "Many of the world's poorest people are being left worse off by the unprecedented pace of land deals and the frenetic competition for land."

    Oxfam says that among the worst affected by these so-called land grabs are women, who despite producing up to 80% of food in some poor countries, are often more vulnerable as they have weaker land rights.

    "Investors, no matter how noble they pertain to be, cannot sweep aside the needs and rights of poor communities who depend on the land they profit from," she said.

    The organisation said that land grabs had accelerated especially since 2008, when soaring prices highlighted the issue of food security.

    It said an increasing demand for food, combined with climate change and the increase of agricultural land being used to grow biofuels, meant that the number of such deals would be likely to only rise in the future.

    It called on the EU to scrap its target of obtaining 10% transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020 - which has fuelled the planting of crops for biofuels - and asked investors and governments to implement policies to ensure land deals are fair and those affected are properly consulted.

  • 24 Sep 2011 9:42 PM | Anonymous

    Uganda author Vincent Nzaramba: Anger at 'police abuse'

    Ugandan anti-riot personnel fire teargas to disperse supporters of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye (May 2011) Uganda's government says it will not tolerate attempts to depose President Yoweri Museveni
    A Ugandan author has accused police of assaulting and threatening to kill him after detaining him for a controversial book about President Yoweri Museveni.

    Vincent Nzaramba told the BBC he was unlawfully detained for five days for publishing People Power - Battle the Mighty General.

    A police spokesperson said Mr Nzaramba had been interrogated for incitement.

    This year Uganda has been hit by a series of protests against Mr Museveni's 25-year rule.

    Mr Nzaramba said police arrested him on Saturday after ransacking his home in the capital, Kampala, and confiscating copies of his book, laptop and phone.

    "I was arrested without an arrest warrant, which is illegal.

    "I was beaten up. I was flogged. They told me: 'Don't you know we can kill you?'," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.


    Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba confirmed that Mr Nzaramba, who was released on Wednesday, had been "interrogated" over the book.

    "Every dictator fears this concept [of peaceful resistance]”

    End Quote Vincent Nzaramba Ugandan author

    "It's not the first time we are holding people for inciting material," she said.

    Mr Nzaramba told the BBC he doubted that the police had read the book, which has a photograph of President Museveni in his military attire with the words "he is finished" underneath.

    The book advocates peaceful change and he had been inspired by US civil rights activist Martin Luther King and Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi when he wrote it, he said.

    "Every dictator fears this concept [of peaceful resistance]. It sweeps dictators away faster than any other concept," Mr Nzaramba said.

    Earlier this year, Mr Museveni - who won controversial elections in February - warned that he will not tolerate an Egypt-style uprising.

    Nine people were killed in April after security forces intervened to end an opposition protest about the rising cost of living.

    Last year, police impounded a consignment of the book, The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni, authored by Olive Kobusingye, a sister of opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

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Disclaimer: This is a membership website and its content is for educational and business development purposes only. Our Founder, Pastor and CEO, Claud A. Sinclair, is an Ordained Minister in Life and not Death. He is a licensed Attorney going on 23 years, in the State of California, who believes that if a person is properly groomed and developed and given the proper tools for success, they can and will become a beacon of light in their own life and a creator/blessing to those they come into contact. This is his vision of a 21st Century Ministry, a wealth creation and preservation membership, which requires like any other Ministry, a portion of the members Time, Talents and Treasures to dedicate in self study and group participation in the areas of spiritual attainment, history, politics, personal and business management, law and critical thinking. The membership is an investment in yourself just like any other educational and personal development program, but we concentrate on understanding ourselves and the world we live in order to become more competitive. In essence we take our reality based Faith and put it to Work. This 21st Century Ministry is like no other, because is not a 1 way transaction, but 2 way transaction where blessings and opportunities flow both ways. As individuals, we spend countless years and resources seeking wealth and prosperity, but we really don't understand the fundamentals of wealth creation, accumulation and preservation, which is because of our lack of knowledge in this area.  So, this is a non expensive supplemental education that can be introduced into your homes in order to help our young men and women,  both young and old, become better informed and educated members within an ever evolving competitive world. One of the biggest problems that we face is the proper creation, accumulation and preservation of wealth, while creating the infrastructure of generational wealth, which is the passing of wealth from one generation to the next. This means that each individual and generation must be properly educated and financially savvy enough to handle wealth, without bickering and fighting among one another. Take the time to go through each step of the 12 step process, which has been created for your overall personal growth and financial development. This membership will enhance your life, JOIN NOW! 

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