Friday, June 30, 2006

Despite good harvest, hunger rampant in Africa

About 3mn people remained short of food in Southern Africa as a result of poverty and HIV/Aids despite recent good harvests, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) reported during a one day conference held in Johannesburg, where representatives from 10 countries announced preliminary agricultural production levels for the 2006/7 consumption year.

WFP executive director James Morris said that although the region, plagued by drought in recent years, had now seen bumper crops, it paradoxically made the task of the UN agency more difficult.

“Good harvests do not necessarily mean people have enough to eat,” Morris said in a statement issued in Johannesburg.

“Food and good nutrition are crucial in battling against HIV/Aids but it is very tough to convince the international community of the complexity and depth of the pandemic in this region, especially when people’s misery is masked by green fields and good harvests,” he said.

Many people in the region will remain dependent on donor assistance because they were unable to grow enough food to feed themselves until the next harvest or because they could not afford to buy food available at markets and shops.Over the last five years the WFP has had to assist up to 13mn people left hungry by erratic weather, poor government policies, economic stagnation and shortages of seeds and fertilisers.

The poor are caught in a vicious cylce of poverty.

Cellphone talkers as dangereous as drunk drivers

People who talk on cellphones while driving, even using "hands-free" devices, are as impaired as drunk drivers, researchers in US said on Thursday.

The study, published in Human Factors, also found that compared with undistracted drivers, motorists who talked on either handheld or hands-free cellphones:

• Drove slightly slower.
• Were 9% slower to hit the brakes and 19% slower to resume normal speed after braking.
• Displayed 24% more variation in following distance as their attention shifted between driving and talking.
• Were more likely to crash.

The study supports the previous findings that there's no difference between hand-held and hands-free phones.

Even now in US and most other countries, it is illegal to talk on cell phones while driving. Keep the attention on the road without getting distracted by the phone, if one is driving. Pull up and talk, if one really has to. You would think that this is common sense. But the fact that more stringent legislation and enforcement is called for, makes one believe that some people prefer to take leave of their senses than do what is right.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How the bottled water affects the environment

In the United Kingdom, campaigners have attacked the country's £2bn thirst for bottled water as "environmental insanity" after a report showed that tap water in the UK is among the safest and purest in the world.

More than two billion litres of bottled water fly off shop shelves every year and sales are growing at nearly 9 per cent a year - one of the highest growth areas in retail. At an average of 95p per litre, it costs as much as petrol, while the average cost of tap water in the UK is £1 per 1,0000 litres.

The Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, said the situation in Britain was being replicated across the developed world with bottled water being transported across borders to reach consumers. Janet Larsen, its director of research, said: "Transporting water around the globe involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels and thus emitting greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. This contrasts starkly with tap water, which is distributed through an energy efficient infrastructure."

Green groups in UK said that the statistics served to highlight the damaging ecological impact of bottled water. The energy cost of producing a billion plastic bottles from by-products of crude oil, transporting the water over hundreds or thousands of miles and then disposing of the containers in landfill sites or incinerators made bottled water one of Britain's most wasteful luxuries, they said.

Businessweek seeks out Asia's young entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurialism is at the forefront of the economic growth which makes Asia's tigers roar. And across the region a growing class of young entrepreneurs is contributing the innovative ideas behind Asia's economic transformation. With this in mind, BusinessWeek Online is embarking on a search for Asia's Best Entrepreneurs Under 25.

click here and find out more.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The business of philanthropy has come of age

With the news that businessman Warren Buffett will give $37bn to enable Bill and Melinda Gates to run the world’s largest charitable foundation, philanthropy has now emerged as big business. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, already a major player on the global health scene, is set to become even more powerful.

Charitable giving used to be seen as dropping coins into the collector's tin or the issuance of modest cheques to support the causes we believed in. Organised philanthropy is altogether different, a business of central economic and social significance.

With Buffet's contribution, Bill and Melinda foundation increases it's total endowment to some 60 billion dollars, nearly five times the size of the next largest U.S. charity, the Ford Foundation.

That total is greater than the 2004 gross domestic product (GDP) of all but 53 countries, according to the World Bank, or the total official development assistance (ODA) provided by the European Union and its member states to poor countries and multilateral agencies last year.

The foundation, which in 2005 disbursed almost 1.4 billion dollars from its 30 billion-dollar endowment, is expected to at least double its annual giving to some three billion dollars, which is twice the annual budget of the Geneva-based World Health Organisation (WHO) with which it has established close working relations in recent years.

Laptop failure rate is outrageous

COMPUTERS have become more reliable in recent years as manufacturers have improved designs, but one in every six new laptops still needs to be repaired within a year after purchase.

Failure rates of both desktop and portable notebook computers have improved in the 2005-06 period compared with 2003-04, according to a market research by Gartner.

For PC reliability—the main enemies are motherboards and hard drives—could still be improved in some areas, especially for notebooks, the report says.

Coffee once bad is now good

Coffee is just one of a number of foods and beverages that were once considered bad for you but are now good for you again.

Researchers said Monday that women who drank six or more cups of decaffeinated coffee a day were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 18 million Americans.

The study, which followed other research this month showing that coffee my help prevent cirrhosis, was published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine

But while the findings sound encouraging for avid coffee drinkers, the American Diabetes Association is warning against reading too much into the data.

Dr. Luciano Koladny, an endocrinologist with the American Diabetes Association and Health Partners Clinics, says it's important not to change your diet based on this one study. Still, he says, "There have been at least eight or nine studies in the past that have shown coffee has decreased the instance of diabetes." Experts just aren't sure why.

You can read about this in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Information flow around the World Cup

Technology providers for the World Cup laid 8,000 kilometers of cable to keep a computer network running for 12 match venues plus official hotels and media hubs.

Mike Kelly, head of FIFA's IT Solutions estimated 15 terabytes of data - that's 15,000 billion bytes or, the equivalent of 100 million text books - would travel across the network during the June 9-July 9 tournament.

Kelly said an average of 5 million unique users were spending more than 30 minutes on the official World Cup Web site - with 2.5 billion page views in the first two weeks.

Buffet and Gates team up to reduce global poverty

Warren Buffett on Monday signed over much of his $44-billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uniting the world's two richest people in a bid to fight disease, reduce poverty and improve education.

The roughly $30,7-billion donation doubles the Gates Foundation's size to $60-billion, five times larger than any other US charitable group and bigger than the gross domestic product of Kuwait.

"I am not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when the alternative is six billion people having much poorer hands in life than we have," Buffett said at a signing ceremony with the Gateses at the main branch of the New York Public Library which itself is the product of several storied fortunes, including those of John Jacob Astor and Andrew Carnegie.

"In business, you look for the easy things to do," said Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and long considered the world's leading investor.

"In philanthropy you are really tackling the problems that people of intellect, people with money have thought about in the past and have had a tough time coming up with solutions. So philanthropy is a tougher game."

The unveiling of Buffett's charitable intentions was orchestrated for maximum publicity.

More than 200 journalists thronged a function room at a midtown Manhattan hotel after the library signing ceremony for the news conference, featuring the Gateses and Buffett.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said the point of the publicity was to help coax "more of the people who are super-lucky to get involved" in philanthropy.

During the Q&A session, an Italian journalist asked whether Buffett had considered leaving his money to the U.S. government, which already is organized to address societal ills. The question got a laugh, but Buffett took it seriously, saying he thought the Gateses had shown a greater ability to maximize the per-dollar benefits "than if you dropped it into the federal treasury."

Floating Book Fair arrives this region again

The world’s largest floating book fair, the MV Doulos, which has over 6,000 titles and 500,000 books on board, is visiting this region again.

The vessel is scheduled to arrive at Port Klang tomorrow and will be opened to the public at the Star Cruise terminal from July 6 to 31.

After visiting Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, the vessel will call Singapore on from 9 to 24th Nov, according to the vessel's schedule.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mind-reading computers on the way

A computer being developed by British and US scientists will be able to estimate an individual's thoughts by analysing a combination of facial movements that represent underlying feelings.

"The system we have developed allows a wide range of mental states to be identified, just by pointing a video camera at someone," Professor Peter Robinson, of Cambridge University, said.

The scientists believe that the "mind-reading" computer's applications could range from improving people's driving skills to helping companies tailor advertising to people's moods.

Imagine walking into a shop. A computer inside the store reads your facial expressions, senses your emotions and in no time offers you exactly the type of products that are most appealing to you at that moment. Certainly it is good business. But it is also a good way to fleece your wallet in what is turning out to be a geeky world.

People can see how this technology works by visiting the four-day science exhibition in Lonodon starting today. The event is organised by the Royal Society, Britain's academy of leading scientists in collaboration with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the United States.

You can even face-off with the computer to read your mind.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Married during the London Marathon

This happy couple were among the 34,500 participants who ran in this year's drizzly marathon.

Katie Austin and Gordon Fryer from Hampshire said they were initially trying to fit their wedding around the marathon, but decided they would do both at the same time.

They have raised £13,000 for the Help the Hospices charity, after asking friends to donate money to the charity rather than give them wedding presents.

What a delightful party they had!

Beware of mobile phone risk during storms

Doctors in the United Kingdom have warned of the danger of lightning strikes when using mobile phones outdoors during stormy weather.

In the British Medical Journal, they highlight the case of a teenager left with severe injuries after being struck by lightning when talking on her phone.

The metal in the phone directs the current into the body, they say.

A 15-year-old girl was struck by lightning while talking on her phone in a large park in London during stormy weather. She has suffered brain damage and now is in a wheel chair.

Treat the mobile phone as any other metal object and it's best not to use it during a thunderstorm.

India's top designers are going beyond the catwalk

Big names in India's top fashion industry are diversifying into chocolates, flowers and more.

They are following in the footstep of major Western labels like Christian Dior, with its clothes, cosmetics and perfumes.

Top Indian designer JJ Valaya's flower boutique is known as India's first, and only the second of its kind in the world.

Here, he sells not bouquets, but what he calls "flower installations".

The personalised floral creations are an extension of his popular fashion label, and it is part of a move by Indian designers to go beyond the catwalk just like their famous western counterparts.

This is how you brand your products to suit individual tastes for sophisticated and fast changing consumers.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Taiwan kid campaigns to help African kids

A 12-year-old Taiwan boy, touched by the poverty in Africa, has launched a campaign to send 200 000 sweets and chocolates to African children, his school said on Thursday.

Lin Hung-chun, a sixth-grader at the Ping Ho Primary School in Changhwa, central Taiwan, launched the "candy-raising drive" two weeks ago after seeing a photo exhibition on the poverty in Africa.

He was touched by the photos of skinny African children and vowed to help them by sending them 200 000 sweets and chocolates.

After the press reported his wish, people from all over Taiwan have been sending boxes and bags of candy to four collection points.

Swatch issues special Human Rights Council product

According to a report on UN News Centre, keeping up with the march of time, the Swiss watch maker Swatch has presented a special edition of its product to Secretary-General Kofi Annan to commemorate the inauguration of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.

The United Nations' reformed Human Rights Council started its first-ever session on June 19th, with hopes high that it will overcome the failings of its predecessor.

Addressing the two-week inaugural session of the 47-nation panel, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the world was watching - particularly the victims of human rights violations.

"The Council's work must mark a clean break from the past," he said in the presence of ministers and senior representatives from 100 countries.

The new Council replaces the former UN Commission on Human Rights which was widely regarded as discredited due to the dominant presence of countries with poor human rights records.

After accepting the Swatch, Mr. Annan said in a light-hearted manner. "We must use our new Swatch – to ensure that we’re all on time, on time for the 21st century as far as human rights are concerned. Our work in this field must be synchronized with the most active part of civil society, of which Human Rights Watch is a very good example.”

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may cut cataract risk

According to a Reuters Health report, taking a 'statin' cholesterol-lowering drug may be good for the eyes as well as the heart.

People who take statins such as Zocor or Lipitor, for example, have a 45 percent reduced risk of developing a cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye, according to a report in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers analyzed data on 1299 subjects who participated in the Beaver Dam Eye Study, a population-based study that focused on age-related eye disease.

The subjects were considered to be at risk for developing cataracts and were evaluated between 1998 and 2000, and between 2003 and 2005. All of the participants had ocular photographs taken of both eyes.

During follow-up, 210 subjects developed a cataract. The 5-year rate of cataract occurrence among statin users was 12.2 percent, significantly lower than the 17.2 percent rate noted in those who did not take a statin.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nokia launches its cheapest handset

Overshadowing the merger of Nokia and Siemens, Nokia Corp, the world's top mobile phone maker, on monday introduced five new mid-to-low-range handsets , including its cheapest third-generation phone to date.

The new phones - three models for the global market and two exclusively for Asia - are designed to appeal to a mass market audience and strengthen Nokia's appeal among everyday users, the company said.

In Stockholm, the company said that the 6151 handset will be Nokia's cheapest phone with 3G technology, and will sell for about $300 when it is expected to hit the stores during the third quarter of 2006.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The longest day over Stonehenge

Several thousand people gathered to watch the sun rise at Stonehenge in the UK for the summer solstice - the longest day of the year.

The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world.

Saudis warn oil prices could triple

World oil prices could triple if the West's stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme escalates into conflict, the Saudi Arabian government has warned.

The Saudi ambassador to the US has said that such an event could send prices spiralling from their current level of about $70 per barrel.

Iran is the Opec cartel's number two oil producer and analysts fear it could halt exports if the dispute worsens.

Tehran is currently examining proposals aimed at ending the diplomatic impasse.

"The idea of somebody firing a missile at an installation somewhere will shoot up the price of oil astronomically," Prince Turki, the Saudi Ambassador told a conference hosted by the United States Energy Association.

He warned that any conflict involving Iran would threaten the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Middle East nations export their oil.

Tankers carry 17 million barrels of oil through the Strait of Hormuz every day, according to the International Energy Agency.

Geopolitical uncertainties, particularly the West's nuclear dispute with Iran and output disruptions that may come about if Iran stops its supply of oil to the international community or block the Strait of Hormuz, will create tremendous consequences to the already volatile oil markets.

Soccer Balls to help refugee kids play

20 June 2001 is the first World Refugee Day recognized by the UN general assembly to mark and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Many countries have previously celebrated a refugee day, but this year marked the first internationally celebrated day.

Since then World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries.

According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR or United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are some 20.8 million refugees in the world, of which 9.2 million are children who need help in one way or the other.

This event was celebrated at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C yesterday. Its centerpiece of the presentation was the launch of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' project, a global campaign dedicated to giving the world's estimated nine million refugee children a chance to learn and play.

Currently partner Right to Play has 40 active projects in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It organizes soccer games and other sports events to bring communities together for immunization drives against measles, tuberculosis, and other preventable diseases.

The Nike Foundation announced a matching grant for the first US$1 million donated to The sportswear company has produced special T-shirts featuring the campaign logo and has donated 40,000 colourful and durable balls for refugee kids.

The love of play may be universal, but for children living in refugee camps around the world, play is often out of bounds.

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo, a goodwill ambassador for UN who knew poverty growing up said, playing sports teaches discipline, builds character, and fosters competitiveness.

The problem of refugees is much more than just fun and play. The children deserve to play and have meaningful lives. The millions of children displaced from their homes by the actions of warlords, dictators and despots need to be addressed by the international community so that every human being has the dignity and the opportunity to a respectable living.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Penguin's 60 Classic Years

2006 is the 60th anniversary of Penguin Classics, the world's preeminent publisher of great literature.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Penguin Classics, another version of "The Odyssey," an extract beginning with Odysseus's return home from the Trojan War, has been published in the new Penguin Epics series. Featuring the most dramatic passages of 20 classic texts, including "Beowulf" and Dante's "Inferno," each Epic is designed in a glamorous neo-Gothic style by EstuaryEnglish. "These are stories of the brutality, drama and tragedy that people love in computer games," said Jim Stoddart, art director of Penguin Press. "By drawing on the visual language of computer games, we wanted to persuade games fans to read about the same themes in these books."

Penguin Books is a British publisher founded in 1935 by Allen Lane. Lane's idea was to provide quality writing cheaply, for the same price as a pack of cigarettes. He also wanted them to be sold not only in bookshops but in train stations, general stores and corner shops. Its most emblematic products are its paperbacks.

In the early days, Penguin paperbacks had distinctive colour schemes: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, a maroon colour for the travel series and dark blue for biographies. Some recent publications of literature from that time have duplicated the original look.

In the 1980s and 1990s, design was marginalized in book publishing as the balance of corporate power shifted towards finance and marketing. The exceptions were mostly small independent publishing houses. This situation seems to be changing for obvious reasons.

It is necessary to entice younger readers , who are more tuned to the digital medium, to read these classics. So Penguin has to make its classic covers cool by offering inspiring graphics and woo a seductive audience.

Looking at Penguin's covers it is clear that the publishers have given their classics a makeover.
Cartoonists and graphical artists are coming to the forefront of the design industry through their cover works of the much loved Penguin Classics.

Click here and see how these timeless works have turned colourful and out of the box.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Black wins at IIFA festival in Dubai

The Hindi film 'Black' released in 2005, largely based on Helen Keller's amazing life story, swept the prizes at Bollywood’s top film festival hosted this year in Dubai.

Bollywood's superstar Amitabh Bachchan won the best actor award, while his co-star in Black Rani Mukherji received the best actress.

The movie’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was voted best director, while his sister Bela Sehgal was chosen best editor.

The trophy for best supporting role for a female was given to child star Ayesha Kapoor, who played the young Mukherji in Black, which grabbed the best picture award.

The film is about a deaf-blind girl born to an Anglo-Indian family and her eccentric and alcoholic teacher who falls victim to Alzheimer’s disease.

Helen Keller's life and her work continues to captivate modern audiences.

Norway plans to build a 'Doomsday' seed bank

The Norwegian governement is set to work in a cave on the ice-bound island of Spitsbergen to build a seed bank that will avert a world famine.

The "doomsday vault", is a vast top-security seed bank to ensure food supplies in the event of environmental catastrophe or nuclear war.

It will be designed to withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy the planet's sources of food.

The "doomsday vault" is to hold around 2 million seeds, representing all known varieties of the world's crops.

There are currently about 1,400 seed banks around the world, but a large number of these are located in countries that are either politically unstable or that faced threats from the natural environment.

According to the New Scientist, The vault will have metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete and will be protected behind two airlocks and high-security blast-proof doors. It will not be permanently manned, but "the mountains are patrolled by polar bears", says Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an independent international organisation promoting the project.

"This will be the world's most secure gene bank by some orders of magnitude," says Fowler. "But its seeds will only be used when all other samples have gone for some reason. It is a fail-safe depository, rather than a conventional seed bank."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Helen Keller- A truly inspiring life

Here's Napoleon Hill's thought of the day.


The life of Helen Keller is an outstanding example of the triumph of the human spirit over a physical handicap.

Even today, decades after her death, her life stands as a beacon of hope for those who must constantly struggle just to perform routine tasks that most of us take for granted.

Whenever you feel fate has been unkind to you, all you must do is look around you and you will begin to appreciate how fortunate you are.

Make sure your life’s plan includes giving something back to the community without expecting anything in return.

Giving time and effort, not just money, reinforces your connections to your community, provides you with concrete proof of the effectiveness of deliberate action, and reminds you of the inspiring power of determination in human endeavor.

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation at .

Paul McCartney faces what he wrote

Sir Paul McCartney was a teenager when he wrote the song "When I'm Sixty-Four," and only 24 when the Beatles recorded it in 1967 for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

McCartney's lyrics delivered to the self-consciously youthful generation of baby boomers an enduring if satirical definition what their golden age might be like.

Today, many of those who embraced his vision of enduring love, caring, knitting and puttering in retirement - "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four?" - could not have been more wrong.

"The bliss of being with a lifelong partner, as expressed in 'When I'm Sixty-Four,' was shattered by his wife Linda's tragic death. "The little things expressed in the song, such as working the garden and going for a Sunday morning drive, reflects his life with Linda.

But far from the enduring love he described when he wrote the Beatles' classic "When I'm Sixty-Four", McCartney now finds his life in turmoil after he and second wife Heather Mills decided to separate after a four-year marriage.

Paul McCartney who turns 64 today, will find out how far the reality of life is against what he wrote then.

KFC gets sued, and it gets rolling on

A US consumer health group, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)has filed a lawsuit against the 'Colonel' over the amount of transfats in their fried chicken. The group wants KFC to stop cooking with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil which contains transfats or prominently warn customers about the amount of the fats in their food.

The group says a three-piece combo meal has 15 grams of trans fat. Health officials recommend eating as little transfat as possible since the increase risk of heart disease.

The group is now targeting Starbucks. A spokesperson for the movement said regular customers of Starbucks may get large-sized problems referring to the 'large' portion size of their products.

They would like Starbucks to list nutrition information -- which is currently available online and in store brochures -- on its menu boards.

"Customers can ask for nutrition information, but when you're talking about a transparent business in a busy world, that's not enough," union organizer and Starbucks "barista" staff member Daniel Gross said in an interview.

A Starbucks spokesman also said in a statement it is "actively researching" alternatives to high-fat products.

CSPI, often nicknamed the "food police," is known for campaigning against high-calorie and high-fat fare.

The group is primarily funded by newsletter subscribers and individual donors and they work for consumer freedom and awareness.

This is a very healthy beginning. According to some doctors in US, obesity is a grave national problem requiring action to be taken now. It seems some two-third of the US population is obese and the trend is getting worse. The alarm bells have been rung.

Following the US lead, many other countries have taken up to ready made foods pretty fast. A whole generation has gotten addicted to the fast food experience, thanks to the demands of the hectic modern life and the enticing marketing that makes this fast food so cooool.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Who should control the Internet?

Should internet remain neutral? This is becoming the latest hot-button issue.

People on both sides of the issue -- but mostly those who favor Net neutrality, or treating all Internet traffic the same -- have turned to the Web to get out their messages in a complicated debate before Congress now. More than a dozen online videos sound off on whether Congress should let cable and phone companies create a two-tiered Internet that could end up with content providers, such as Google Inc., paying to ensure speedier delivery of their services.

The debate over Net Neutrality, which involves many powerful interests, can be complicated and each side has marshaled a number of arguments to support their position. The crux of the matter, though, centers on the extent to which network operators can control the traffic that flows over their networks -- email, music downloads, video games, and so forth.

Are network operators like public roads, open equally to all, or are they like private shippers such as UPS, able to charge different rates for different levels of service?

Net-neutrality supporters, who got another crack at shaping the debate in a hearing Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee, generally view the Internet as a public right of way.

A wide range of companies that do business over the Internet, including search-engine giant Google say Congress needs to pass a bill to prevent network operators from showing favoritism or exhibiting excessive control of the Internet. Consumer groups and other organizations have also rallied to the cause.

Network operators dismiss those concerns, saying a problem doesn't exist and promising not to block customers from accessing legitimate Web sites. They argue that these companies are demanding regulation based only on hypothetical scenarios.

We have to wait and see what the US federal regulators do.

Bollywood Oscars kicks off in Dubai

The seventh International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend in Dubai kicked off on Thursday in inimitable style , heralding a star-studded four day spectacular event. A number of Bollywood stars descended on this booming city where Indians make up the largest community.

Launched seven years ago at the Millennium Dome in London, the IIFA Awards ceremony has grown into a three-day extravaganza showcasing the best of Indian cinema and providing a platform for its interaction with global media.

The Idea IIFA Awards 2006 is a salutation to the world’s largest film industry and has attracted the stalwarts of both Indian and International cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapur, Angelina Jolie, Kylie Minogue, Jackie Chan, Bo Derek and Miranda Richardson.

Bollywood, which is the Indian version of Hollywood produces more than 1000 films a year, twice that of Hollywood. The Indian insatiable appetite for movies continues to grow and with it comes the realization that an untapped opportunity exists outside India to promote and sell their films.

It said that poor dubbing and subtitling, ineffective marketing and low investment were to blame for the Indian film industry’s failure to make more of an impact overseas.

By bringing the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, by hosting the IIFA Awards in a different city each year, organizers are hoping to dazzle and entice their audiences to watch the Indian films.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Indonesia records 37th bird flu death

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed an Indonesian teenager who died last week was infected with bird flu, taking the country's total deaths from the virus to 37.

Indonesia has seen a steady rise in human infections and deaths since its first known outbreak of H5N1 in poultry in late 2003.

It has infected 48 Indonesians so far and the country has the second highest total bird flu deaths in the world.

Indonesia's government has been criticised by some experts for what is perceived as its lack of resolve in stamping out the H5N1 virus.

Unlike neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, which have conducted mass culls to get rid of sources of infection, Indonesia has only carried out selective culling and only in places where there are known outbreaks of H5N1.

Singapore creates 45,000 new jobs in 1st quarter

Singapore's employment grew strongly by 45,000 in the 1st quarter of this year, more than double the increase of 17,800 in the same period last year. All the major sectors registered increases in employment.

This increase is due to sustained economic growth.

The unemployment is remaining steady at 2.6 per cent in March, and jobs outlook is set to improve in the coming months as more companies beef up their workforce.

This sentiment was shared by economists and manpower consultants who see the beginning of an employees' market, with jobs chasing workers, rather than the other way round.

They attribute the tightening labour market to continued economic growth.

The economy grew at a robust pace of 10.7 per cent between January and March, and the Government believes it will expand by 5 to 7 per cent this year.

Bill Gates: From Microsoft to continue Philanthropy

Bill Gates is widely considered one of the world's most influential people. Time magazine named him one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005 and again in 2006.

Bill Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. He is widely respected for his intelligence, foresight, and ambition.

Gates is the co-founder, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, the world's largest software company.

After being at the helm of his company for 25 years, Bill Gates has announced he will end his day-to-day role as head of software giant Microsoft by July 2008.

"I'm not leaving Microsoft," said Mr Gates.

"What's happening now is we're starting the transition plan... I'll be working as hard as I ever have during these next years."

The firm said it would take two years to make sure the transition takes place smoothly.

Technology and philantropy have been Bill Gates' passions. Mr. Gates has made Microsoft's windows operating system as the dominant and most widely used software in the world. In achieving this global foothold, his competitors and critics have accused him of unfair business practices.

A case was filed in a US Court in 1998 against Microsoft by the United States Department of Justice and twenty U.S. states. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer.

Over the past decade Mr Gates has made a name as one of the world's top philanthropists, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledging $7bn to good causes.

Mr Gates has decided to reduce his involvement with Microsoft so that he can spend more time on health and education work at his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Set up in 2000 by Mr Gates and his wife Melinda from the merger of two family charitable trusts, the foundation has a $27bn endowment and is dedicated to promoting greater equality in global health and learning.

Mr Gates has said his long term vision is to improve the lives of millions of people across the globe.

It is no small order, but Microsoft's co-founder is one of the few people in the world whose money may actually be able to match his words.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The blind can see through this 'Seeing Machine'

A legally blind poet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has designed a “seeing machine” that allows people with limited vision to see faces of friends, read or study the layouts of buildings they intend to visit.

The device, which MIT estimates costs about $4,000 to manufacture, plugs into a personal computer and uses light-emitting diodes to project selected images into a person’s eye, allowing visually impaired users to see words or pictures.

“The advantage of this kind of display is there’s no extraneous stuff in your peripheral vision that gets in the way,” Elizabeth Goldring, who has published three volumes of poetry, said in an interview. “The image gets projected right onto the retina.”

The device, which Goldring calls a "seeing machine," is housed in a box that measures about 12 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches.

A device such as this could open doors to new, unfamiliar places, which the visually challenged are often terrified of visiting, Goldring said.

Fewer than 10 percent of the blind read Braille, making it difficult to find their way in unfamiliar places, and directions from well-meaning bystanders are often inaccurate.

"If you are visually challenged, if you see something once using the machine, you remember," Goldring said.

Donald Hall is named the new US poet laureate

New Hampshire poet Donald Hall has been named the United States’ new poet laureate, following in the footsteps of Robert Pinsky and Anthony Hecht.

The poet laureate works for the Library of Congress, but the library tries to keep the laureate’s duties to a minimum so they may work on their own projects.

Donald Hall is one of America’s most distinctive and respected literary figures,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in an announcement prepared for delivery Wednesday. “For more than 50 years, he has written beautiful poetry on a wide variety of subjects that are often distinctly American and conveyed with passion.”

He spoke briefly about his decision to accept Librarian of Congress James Billington's invitation, then turned his attention to the bold peonies in bloom along the front of his porch. "They're still exactly Jane's peonies, and she'd be pretty pleased with them right now," he said.

Hall's wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia at 47 in 1995. The experience defined his life and later work.

He told Associated Press that he hopes to persuade satellite radio to create a poetry only channel or have a poetry program on cable television.

Hall’s selection to the one-year post is a “long-overdue recognition for one of America’s greatest and most-admired men of letters,” National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said in the announcement.

Born in Connecticut in 1928, Hall for the last 30 years has lived on an old family farm in the tiny west-central New Hampshire town of Wilmot, in the house where his mother and grandmother were born. Life among the region’s farms and mountains has been a theme of his poetry.

Hall has won the Lenore Marshall/Nation Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Ruth Lilly Prize for Poetry.

Also a writer of prose and children’s books, he won the Caldecott Medal for his children’s work “Ox-Cart Man.”

He is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has received two fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation.

Poet laureates receive $35,000 for the year as well as a travel allowance.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

eBay launches world's largest commercial Wiki

eBay and JotSpot have just released a new community wiki - making it almost certainly the world's largest wiki platform for a commercial website (Wikipedia is bigger, but it's non-commercial). eBay Wiki is described as "a collection of fact-based articles written and maintained by eBay Community members" and is powered by JotSpot's innovative wiki technology.

eBay Wiki is located at and the wiki topics are categorized and tagged. You must be logged in as an eBay member to edit a wiki page, which then presents you with an easy-to-use wysiwyg HTML editor.

The site will serve as a central repository of tips and tricks for eBay's 183 million buyers and sellers, who will edit and update the information on the site as a group and try to determine the best ways to make money and save money using eBay.

More than 10,000 of eBay's users gathered in Las Vegas Tuesday for the eBay Live! conference at the Mandalay Bay hotel, where chief executive officer Meg Whitman addressed her company's avid auctioneers. This is conference season for eBay -- the company's developers conference wrapped up Monday.

Though wikis are most popular among the tech-savvy set, such as the programmers and technologists present at the developers conference over the weekend, Whitman chose to present the new eBay wiki to the entire user base, composed of small business owners, retirees and hobbyists.

Hawking theorises Man could colonise Moon an Mars

Stephen Hawking, the world renowned astrophysicist and distinguished Cambridge University professor who wrote "A Brief History of Time" has claimed that humans must learn to live on other planets to survive because there is an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy our Mother Earth.

Professor Hawking said humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years if humans could avoid killing themselves in the next 100 years, he told a news conference in Hong Kong.

"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," he said. "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of." said Prof Hawking.

Professor Hawking is wheelchair-bound and communicates with the help of a computer because he suffers from motor neurone disease. He is due to give a sell-out lecture in Hong Kong today.

The scientist is teaming up with his daughter to write a children's book about the universe, aimed at the same age range as the Harry Potter books.

His daughter Lucy said it would be aimed at people like her eight-year-old son, "a bit like Harry Potter but without the magic".

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

10th Annual Webby Awards

The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence in web design, creativity, usability and functionality. Established in 1996 during the web's infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 500-member body of leading web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

The cream of the online world gathered in New York on Monday night for the 10th annual Webby Awards ceremony, hosted by comic Rob Corddry.

The Webbys have been described as the "online equivalent of the Oscars" and reward web excellence in a range of categories.

BBC News Interactive won two news awards, while BBC Cumbria won the community award for a website that allows people to tell their stories.

Prince (in the pic) picked up a lifetime achievement award for being the first major artist to release his 1997 album, Crystal Ball, exclusively online, saying "You think. It's true".

Other winners include virtual band the Gorillaz, search giant Google, and photo website Flickr.

The winners were chosen from nearly 5,500 entries from 40 different countries.

One aspect of the Webbys that is noteworthy this time is that each winner gave an acceptance speech of five words or less. This could be something that the film industry oscar organizers could think about.

Dare to be Digital Competition Begins

UK's premier design competition 'Dare to be Digital', hosted by the Dundee's Abertay University, has kicked off.

The competition, now in its sixth year, has provided places for Chinese and Indian students.

Team members from previous years have gone on to work for major industry players, which include Lionhead and Electronic Arts.

Read more on Dare to be Digital.

Robotic Behaviour Needs To Be Regulated

Robots have entered into our homes and offices. They perform simple and complex tasks in our daily lives.

Just like their human counterpart, a robot has a body structure, a muscle system and sensory system that receives information from the body and the environment.

The robot needs a power source to activate the muscles and sensors.

A brain system that processes sensory information and tells the muscles what to do
Of course, we also have some intangible attributes, such as intelligence which is also now being incorporated into the robot by the use of artificial intelligence.

Essentially, robots are man-made versions of animal life -- they are machines that replicate human and animal behavior.

Regulating the behaviour of robots is going to become more difficult in the future but it has to be done given the importance of them in our personal life as well as in industrial activities.

The following gruesome accident illustrates this point.

IN 1981 Kenji Urada, a 37-year-old Japanese factory worker, climbed over a safety fence at a Kawasaki plant to carry out some maintenance work on a robot. In his haste, he failed to switch the robot off properly. Unable to sense him, the robot's powerful hydraulic arm kept on working and accidentally pushed the engineer into a grinding machine. His death made Urada the first recorded victim to die at the hands of a robot.

Indeed, despite the introduction of improved safety mechanisms, robots have claimed many more victims since 1981. Over the years people have been crushed, hit on the head, welded and even had molten aluminium poured over them by robots. Last year there were 77 robot-related accidents in Britain alone, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Making sure robots are safe will be critical and accidents or issues arising out of robot safety are likely to surface in the civil courts as the human counterparts sue each other for product liability and other damages.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Downside of Computer Games

When we talk of addicts, we do so mostly in the context of drug addicts, alchoholism , accidents or incidents arising out of compulsive and violent behavior.

South Korea is faced with the same problem in the virtual world. Addiction to online gaming.

South Korea has the world's highest per capita rate of broadband connectivity, at 78 percent. It is a trend created by South Koreans' fascination with new technology, a government policy of encouraging the Internet as an engine for economic growth, and urban clusters of high-rise apartment blocks that make broadband networks commercially viable.

Here, Internet cafés are as commonplace as phone booths once were, and most are filled with people playing online games.

Under corporate sponsorship, platoons of young cyberspace warriors eat and sleep in dormitories, training for "e- sports" leagues that participate in competitions. The games are broadcast live on cable channels or watched at e-sports studios, where hundreds of fans cheer or weep over their heroes' fates.

Experts say that South Korean society's relentless focus on competition and its shortage of recreational diversions force millions of students and adults to escape into cyberspace and battle for the status they may never achieve in the real world.

In multiplayer role-playing games, they are transformed into knights who slays dragons, spaceship captains who save the world from aliens, or princesses who crusade for a lost throne in medieval Europe.

Some play themselves to death. Last year, the deaths of at least seven people were attributed to excessive game- playing. In August, a 28-year-old man died after nearly 50 straight hours of playing online games. In December, a 38-year-old day worker collapsed and died at an Internet café; his logs showed that he had played for 417 hours in his last 20 days.

One problem with those games is that you build your online persona through countless hours of battles, and you develop a huge emotional attachment to your game character," said Chang Woo Min, a onetime online gamer who is now a counselor at the government-run Center for Internet Addiction Prevention and Counseling.

Well, it's time to wake up and save those who are vulnerable from going down this dangerous path of an addiction, the consequences and their remedies have not been fully addressed or explored yet.

"Four Million Smiles" to welcome IMF to Singapore

Singapore will host 16,000 delegates and visitors for the IMF/World Bank Group annual meetings, which are held outside of Washington, D.C., every three years. It will be the largest international event Singapore has ever hosted.

On Sunday Singapore has launched the "Four Million Smiles" campaign to welcome the delegates and visitors, who will be in the city state in September.

Launching the campaign, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee said, "It's more than just a collection of friendly faces, but our collective desire to offer our guests a positive, unique and unforgettable 'Singapore Experience'. For visitors in September, this experience will start from the moment they step off the plane and present their passports to immigration officers."

"Beyond the organization, logistics and facilities, what the city state need is the human face and the human tough of the Singapore people, he said, adding that Singaporeans must stand united and proud of the country, ready to welcome the delegates and visitors warmly.

During the campaign, which will last for seven weeks, everyone is invited to submit their digital photos through the "Four Million Smiles" website, and the photos will be compiled into a mural to welcome the visitors.

Meanwhile, the organizer will also be sending 16 smile ambassadors to various parts of the island over the next few weeks, to encourage people to smile, have their photos taken and be part of this nation-wide project.

Singapore has a population of 4 million.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Brad and Angelina lift up Namibia

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have left Namibia and may be headed home to California with their three children, including newborn daughter Shiloh.

Meanwhile a Namibian governor confirmed that the star family left Namibia after a two-month stay at a luxury beach resort, an official said Saturday.

This time, we can be glad that Africa is in the news for positive reasons. Most of the time you see captivating images of human tragedies due to famine or drought and when that is not the case, you hear of the tribal war lords creating havoc and untold suffering.

The story is different this time. Brad and Angelina had retreated to Namibia for government-assisted privacy in the weeks leading up to the birth. They were accompanied by Jolie's children, 16-month-old Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia, and 4-year-old Maddox, adopted from Cambodia.

Picking Africa as the birthplace for baby Shiloh, has left many quizzical minds wondering why. Why bother with luxury natal care in Beverly Hills when you can turn an entire impoverished Third World nation into your own fantasy delivery suite?

Well, the couple gave as the reason for choosing Namibia because it is the "cradle of human kind". Sceptics say that this model of cradle isn't available in the US at the moment, although it can be only a matter of time before the Namibian birthing experience is made affordable to ordinary Californians who want their special moment to be just that little bit more special.

Beyond the spectrum of conspiracy theories, this was an act of great altruism on the part of Brad and Angelina.

At least the Namibian minister for tourism was grateful, pointing out that: "For a small country like ours, with a small economy and a growing tourism industry, this is of major marketing value for us."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

EA's Game Makes Czech Republic the World Cup Winner

The Czech Republic to win World Cup 2006? That is what a computer simulation has predicted as the event kicks off in Germany on Friday.

The simulation of the tournament was designed and created by software engineers from Electronic Arts, which specialises in sports computer games.

Using artificial intelligence, the game simulated all 64 matches based on players' statistics from FIFA, the international football federation.

It predicted that the Czech Republic, regarded by many as underdogs, will clash with Brazil in the final, with the Czechs winning the Cup by a 2-1 scoreline.

Developers say the game was created in the name of fun and does not factor in things like penalties or weather.

World cup is a fascinating spectacle, bringing in many different nations to compete in 'the beautiful game' as Brazil's football legend Pele has put it.

Now the virtual world adds another exciting aspect where players from different parts of the globe can engage and compete in this immensely popular game.

Coral Reefs Are Dying...

There are'nt many natural wonders underwater. Coral reefs are one, but you need to look deeper underwater to be amazed by this unique wonder. Sadly, man's own doing is threatening it's very existence.

Living reefs host one of every four of ocean species known, providing them protection and an abundant supply of food.

These reefs that surround the islands also them shelter from the onslaught of tidal waves.

Global warming , acidification of oceans, pollution, over fishing and human intrusion is having a devastating impact on the coral reefs.

In 50 years, three-fourths of reef systems could be lost forever. Bleaching — because of warming — has destroyed more than 90 per cent of coral around Seychelles.

This is bad news, since 90 per cent of the world's coral reefs are found in the Indo-Pacific region.

Globally, coral reefs cover an estimated 300,000 sq km, many acting as effective buffers against erosion and storms. Reefs are also a rich source for medical formulations used to treat a wide range of diseases like asthma, viruses, fungal and bacterial infections, heart disease and cancer.

It takes millions of years for a full-fledged coral reef system to establish itself as a biodiversity-rich underwater rainforest, and it takes only a few decades to destroy it.

Coral reefs host a wide diversity of marine life that feed predating species and contribute to maintaining the delicate balance of life in the oceans.

Belize, which is a few hours getaway holiday destination from the United States is also a popular place for scuba divers.

Scientists in Belize working on the barrier reef there believe their case is particularly strong. They say the reef, which runs for almost 200 miles along the coast of central America, has suffered more than 40 per cent damage due to bleaching since 1998, and that much of it is now so badly fractured that another hurricane this season would simply sweep it away.

Today, we know that the environmentally harmful green house gases are causing global warming leading to bleaching and destruction of reefs. Some scientists say that the changing environment will cause the reefs to adept to the new conditions and the reefs will regenerate and grow again. What if this growth doesn't come fast enough. We may lose the coral reefs in some parts of the world forever. So isn't it better for us to reduce the pollution and the green house gases now, rather than quibble with the semantics of what might happen.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Global stocks hammered again

Global share markets nosedived yesterday with India, Norway and Russia experiencing the biggest losses, on concern that higher interest rates will stifle spending and earnings growth.

Prices for gold, copper and oil also fell as investors rushed for the exits on trades that delivered sharp gains in the first five months of the year.

At the same time, crude prices extended declines to a two-week low below US$70 a barrel after Iraq's prime minister announced that the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, had been killed by security forces.

Emerging markets have led global declines in equities in the past month as the prospect of higher rates led investors to favour safer assets.

Investors are always nervous and markets are extremely jittery about shifting global monetary policy. Now we are seeing this type of volatility in the markets.

McDonald's increases sales

McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food chain, said on Thursday that receipts are up at restaurants open longer than a year -- the key industry measure known as same-store sales -- climbed 4.5% across the system.

Same-Store Sales are sales dollars generated only by those stores that have been open more than a year and have historical data to compare this year's sales to the same time-frame last year.

In the United States, McDonald's biggest market, same-store sales grew 3.4% compared with last year's 4.2% increase. Chief Executive Jim Skinner said that breakfast sales popped after the chain introduced the new -- and pricier -- coffee products. The longer store hours also fueled sales.

In Europe -- where McDonald's has struggled on economic woes, particularly in the United Kingdom -- same-store sales rose 4.9% against an easy comparison a year ago, when sales fell 1.4%.

Positive results came out of France with thanks to the Mythics Chicken premium selections promotion and from the Big Tasty premium-hamburger promotion in Germany. Sales in the United Kingdom, the largest European market, improved with marketing linked to the World Cup, including a new text-messaging game.

Same-store sales in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions jumped 6.5%, compared with last year's 0.6% slide, on strong sales in Japan and ongoing positive results in Australia.

Total sales rose 6.2% in May.

European Central Bank raises rates and others follow

The European Central Bank on Thursday raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to 2.75 percent, but avoided saying it would sharply tighten credit to head off inflation - a prospect that has been roiling global financial markets.

It is the first time the ECB has changed rates since June 2003 and the first time they have risen since 2000.

Critics argued that higher borrowing costs could cause a slowdown in growth and pointed to the mixed economic picture in key eurozone members.

The ECB president, Jean-Claude Trichet, said that the bank would continue gradually increasing borrowing costs, a course it began in December and that has become part of a long-anticipated worldwide trend toward higher rates.

On Thursday, central banks in South Africa, India, Denmark and South Korea all increased rates, something Turkey had done on Wednesday and the U.S. Federal Reserve now appears likely to do this month.

India's central bank unexpectedly lifted benchmark interest rates by a quarter percentage point, joining policy makers in Europe and Asia, as rising oil prices and an expanding economy threatened to fuel inflation.

The Reserve Bank of India increased the reverse-repurchase rate at which it drains money from the banking system overnight to 5.75 percent, citing ``current macro-economic and overall monetary conditions.'' It raised the rate at which it adds funds to the banking system to 6.75 percent.

India's $775 billion economy expanded 9.3 percent in the quarter ended March 31, rounding off the fiscal year with growth of 8.4 percent, the fastest after China among the world's 20 biggest economies. Inflation may accelerate after the government this week raised fuel prices for the first time in nine months.

As inflation has quickened in both Europe and the United States, global stock markets retreated over much of the past month amid fears that central banks would have to squeeze growth by raising interest rates above a "neutral" level that neither promoted nor curbed growth.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

By pass gas pumps, ride an e-Bike

The new e-Bike (in the centre of the picture) manufactured by Avon Cycles in India will hit the roads soon. The bike has been manufactured in collaboration with British, South Korean and Chinese companies.

With petrol and diesel prices skyrocketing, lot of people are hoping that it does sooner than later.

Here's one advantage of the e-Bike. Avon claims the bike requires two to three hours of charging to take you around for about 40 kilometers. So you don't need to fill up at the pump ever.

But don't plan an adventurous getaway on the bike as its top speed is just about 23 kilometre per hour.

Initially, these e-bikes will be made available only in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi in India and will come with a one-year warranty.

With fuel prices on the rise, you may soon find these electronic bikes fast replacing their conventional counterparts.

After it's test run, it has been decalared that it runs smoothly, softly and is beauty on the road.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Road Rage has emerged a bigger problem

Researchers in the United States are saying that Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) often known as Road Rage, may be far more common than previously thought.

The next time someone cuts you off while driving, you might want to think twice before reacting. A new study states 16 million Americans, much more than originally thought, suffer from intermittent explosive disorder (IED) or what is commonly referred to as road rage.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IED attacks are out of proportion to the social stressors triggering them and are not due to another mental disorder or the effects of drugs or alcohol.

As a rule people with the disorder overreact to situations with uncontrollable rage, feel a sense of relief during the angry outburst, and then feel remorseful about their actions.

According to researchers from Harvard Medical School and Chicago University 4% of the US population have severe IED which is manifested with three or more outbursts a year.

The researchers suggest that identifying the condition early on through violence prevention strategies in schools and providing appropriate treatment, might prevent problems such as alcohol and drug dependency and depression, which are associated with the disorder, appearing later in life

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Google to release online spreadsheet

Google is set to launch an Online Spreadsheet extending a range of internet-based alternatives, which will be made available on a limited test basis. It follows Google's March purchase of a company offering a Web-based word processor called Writely.

The two Google Web-based applications represent possible challenges to Microsoft Corp.'s core personal-computer software business. Microsoft's Word and Excel dominate the word processing and spreadsheet markets.

The internet search company said it believed its latest service would be “complementary” to Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet, which is included in Office, rather than a rival.

IBM to invest $6bn in India

IBM on Tuesday announced it would invest $6bn in India over the next three years, the most striking example of a multinational information technology company identifying the country as a market in its own right as well as a resource for talent.

Presenting the plan in Bangalore, Samuel Palmisano, IBM's chairman and chief executive officer, said: "We are [already] the largest IT company in India and we are so excited by the prospect of India that we are investing another $6bn in the next three years. This money will go into expanding the work force and creating a large technology centre, software development and R&D."

Here's what happens in a globalized world

The Fed chairman warns of fast-rising prices. The American stock market falls. The Japanese stock market falls. The dollar gains ground against the yen in foreign exchange markets.

Arguably, the biggest part of Ben Bernanke's job as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington is to keep a lid on inflation. If he thinks prices are going to accelerate upwards, it's because of the data he receives - sometimes before the rest of the world - about the American economy. He applies the brake by shrinking the money supply, thus making short-term credit harder to obtain.

American businesses start worrying that they won't be able to invest and produce as much in the future. The stock market, where share prices depend on expectations for future profits, falls. The Japanese market falls, too, perhaps in part because of worries about lower demand for imports in the United States.

The dollar gains value against the yen as investors anticipate relatively higher returns on American assets - because of higher interest rates in the United States, lower profits in Japan, or both. And it all happens within minutes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mitsubishi's High-Tech Table

Mitsubishi's DiamondTouch displays a PC screen on a high-tech tabletop. People sitting around it use their fingers to create and manipulate projected virtual objects, with the system knowing whose fingers did what thanks to small currents of electricity that flow through the chairs.

Masakazu Furuichi, chief engineer at the Japanese electronics maker, hopes DiamondTouch will become a tool for games, and other areas in which several people need to interact intuitively and instantly.

But first the price will have to drop -- the tables can cost as much as $10,000 each.

"It's a futuristic way to use a computer without a keyboard or a mouse," Furuichi said. "It's simple to use for everybody, including older people and others who aren't very used to handling computers."

Old Luxury versus New Luxury; A shift in paradigm

In the old luxury world view, luxury is defined as the special qualities, features and attributes intrinsic to a product. In most categories, whether fashion, watches, automobiles, furniture, linens, or jewelry, specific product features constitute luxury.

New luxury companies recognize that the intrinsic definition of luxury does not reflect the changes taking place in the luxury market today. New luxury companies recognize the need to incorporate consumer experience and perception into the luxury branding equation. They begin by offering the ‘best of the best’ quality, but go that extra step to deliver not just a great thing, but a wonderful experience to the customer.

Though leading luxury goods makers still continue to serve a niche market, cheaper imitations of the same products are being constantly introduced into the mass market.

As mass market personal goods increasingly appear to bridge the gap with the luxury segment, much is being done to differentiate and maintain value in goods marketed towards the luxury segment.

Whether it is luxury market or the mass market, the consumer is spoilt for choice. He can sit in the comfort of his home and buy online, he select organic products, or select cosmetics and beauty care items on which no animal testing is involved.

Indeed, the consumer is given a wonderful experience at personal care and beauty saloons, the KFCs and McDonalds, not to mention the top end brand names from watches to cars.

Although the market for luxury goods is far more developed in the US than Europe, a direct result of higher spending power, the market is still evolving rapidly, and there are a number of indicators that European consumers will also be looking towards such luxury experiences.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

US employers add fewer jobs

Cautious employers added just 75,000 new jobs in May, the fewest in seven months, in a fresh sign the US economy is losing momentum heading into summer.

Rising energy prices, higher borrowing costs and a cooling of the once red-hot housing market are the main forces shaping the slowdown in the country's overall economic activity. Those factors, along with sagging consumer confidence, are making companies wary of bulking up their payrolls in case the economy takes an unexpected turn for the worse, analysts said.

The US unemployment remains at 4.6%, the lowest in five years.

Tighten Law against software piracy

Expressing concerns over rising software piracy in India, Infosys mentor and chairman N R Narayana Murthy on Saturday called for enactment of laws to prevent illegal duplication.

Dissemination of information on existing laws could also prove to be a deterrent, Murthy said at the inauguration of the International Institute of Information Law.

He also emphasised the need to ensure that e-commerce was conducted according to laws and that no individual was harmed for using software or the Internet.

Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph, who also attended the function, meanwhile said there should be proper perception about justice.

"Sometimes, people think that justice implies arithmetical equality. Justice need not necessarily mean arithmetical equality and arithmetical equality need not necessarily mean justice", he said.
Unless there was a proper perception about justice, there would be "friction", which would retard development.

"In a just society, everyone should get what he needs and deserves. None should desire more than what he needs and deserves," he added.

Yahoo cuts CEO salary to $1

Yahoo Inc said that its board of directors have shrunk Chairman and CEO Terry Semel's annual salary to $1, while boosting his overall future compensation through stock options and grants.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Yahoo said its board had approved a long-term executive retention plan where Semel would receive $1 for the next three years till 2008.

He had been receiving a salary of $600,000 per annum for the past three years.
Yahoo is not unique among Silicon Valley companies in de-emphasising salary and linking compensation to company performance in the form of share bonuses.

Earlier in 2004, Google Inc, Yahoo's biggest rival, had paid $1 in salary to its top executives.
Google’s Co-founder Larry Page, Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt were the astounding billionaires who received compensation through stock options and grants.

The world's largest Internet media company said Semel stands to benefit from a discretionary bonus in the form of a fully vested stock option of up to 1 million shares a year, priced at Yahoo's closing trading price the day of the grant.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Etiquette tips for globe-trotters

Proper etiquette is generally acquired through a combination of upbringing and common sense, augmented by the occasional attention- focusing embarrassing moment in one's youth.

Lillian Chaney, professor of office management and an expert in business etiquette at the University of Memphis and a colleague, Jeanette Martin, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi business school, have published a book called "Global Business Etiquette: A Guide to International Communication and Customs."

I don't normally put a lot of stock in books on things like business manners because, to put it impolitely, so many of them are full of baloney, with silly tips like not wearing a striped tie in Britain because you might offend some chap who regards your tie as an infringement on his regimental colors.

"Global Business Etiquette" does, in fact, address the British stripe fixation, but in a more sensible way: Avoid giving striped ties as gifts. "Purchasing a striped tie would not be an appropriate gift for a British man; it may represent a British regiment other than his own," they write.

"When you're working with people from all over the world, you learn very quickly that we don't always do things the same way," Martin said. "Common sense helps, of course, but it isn't always enough. Sometimes you need some tips along the way.

Such etiquette involve how you dress, dine and speak in different cultures. Employers want their staff to take cultural nuances seriously so that staff don't embarass them abroad.

There are seminars and workshops that can help you learn these cultural differences before you venture across borders in today's globalized world.

Fish Stocks Under Threat Due To Virus

A rare virus which has struck only once before in the UK has killed 50,000 rainbow trout and is seriously threatening stocks of the fish.

The outbreak, which has been traced to a farm in the Yorkshire Dales, has led to movement restrictions being placed on more than 30 other premises along the river Ouse, in an area stretching from the Pennines to the coast near Scarborough and Bridlington, east Yorkshire.

As yet the virus, viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS), has been confined to the single farm on the river Ouse but stock movement restrictions have been placed on 33 fish farms while the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) carries out tests on nearby farms.

According to information from the California Academy of Science, Aquatic Biology, more than 70% of the world's fish stocks are overfished, depleted, or worse—extinct—as a food resource.

Since there are inextricable links between animal and human health and the state of our environment, anything that affects the mortality of fish must be taken very seriously for further study and action.

Over the years we have seen that unregulated or irresponsible fish farming has led to depletion of stocks in some parts of the world. There are concerns also arising from pollution due to chemicals and waste dumped by human activities. These will have an impact on the environment and human life.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Greatest 100 Albums

The book British Hit Singles and Albums and conducted the survey of the greatest 100 albums to mark 50 years of the official UK albums chart. Votes were submitted from as far afield as Colombia and New Zealand.

Here are the top 10.

1. Definitely Maybe - Oasis

2. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

3. Revolver - The Beatles

4. OK Computer - Radiohead

5. (What's The Story) Morning Glory? - Oasis

6. Nevermind - Nirvana

7. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses

8. Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd

9. The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths

10. The Bends - Radiohead

UN labels Aids 'unprecendented catastrophe'

The UN is to pronounce HIV/Aids an "unprecendented human catastrophe" following a UN conference on the epidemic this week, officials said today .

The declaration would point to the more than 25 million deaths caused by Aids in the past 25 years. A draft document was being negotiated by governments and civil society groups attending the three-day conference, which will end Friday with the joint declaration.

While civil society groups said the UN has not done enough for the most vulnerable groups in the world, the draft did include their demands on human rights, funding and preventive measures.

Many of the preventive measures are similar to a declaration issued in 2001, when the UN General Assembly drew up its first five- year global plan to fight HIV/Aids.

This week's conference was intended to review progress made in the global fight against the epidemic since that time.

The draft said the world is facing an "unprecedented human catastrophe and that a quarter of a century into the pandemic, Aids has inflicted immense suffering on countries and communities around the world."

Aids has infected 65 million people, 25 million of whom have died. Of the 40 million people that have lived with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), more than 95 per cent are in developing countries.

The UN said 4.1 million people became infected and 2.8 million died in 2005 of Aids. The virus kills an estimated 8.500 people each day and infects 13,500 others.

Each year, a total of 700,000 children become infected.

Prince William Boosts England's World Cup Hopes

England players made a pledge to their future king to bring back the World Cup during a visit by Prince William to a training session on Thursday.

The prince spoke to all the squad, including injured striker Wayne Rooney, at Manchester United's Carrington complex and wished them luck at the finals in Germany.

Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, was clearly a hit with Sven-Goran Eriksson's men, with midfielder Frank Lampard saying the players were left "dumbfounded" by his maturity and presence.

The 23-year-old's natural ease was picked up by winger Joe Cole, who said: "Prince William is a normal down to earth guy who is the future King of England. I thought he was a really nice person."

Speaking later to reporters, Prince William said: "I'm wishing England all the best and am 150 percent behind them as I imagine the rest of the country is."

As for what it would mean for England to win the World Cup, he said: "It's inexplicable. It would be awesome.

Dixie Chicks have the No. 1 U.S. album

The Dixie Chicks call it "the Incident": the anti-Bush remark that Natalie Maines, their lead singer, made onstage in London in 2003. "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," said Maines, a Texan herself.

It led to a partisan firestorm, a radio boycott, death threats and, now, to an album that's anything but repentant: "Taking the Long Way" (Open Wide/Monument/ Columbia). The Dixie Chicks - Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire - were the top-selling country group of the late 1990s and early 2000s. After country's gatekeepers disowned them over politics, they decided to keep their politics and let country music fend for itself.

Country music radio may be cool toward The Dixie Chicks, but the Texas group Wednesday scored its third No. 1 U.S. album with 'Taking the Long Way.'

Music fans have apparently forgiven or forgotten the dustup following the band`s disparaging remarks about U.S. President George Bush and the Iraqi war in 2003, because 'Taking the Long Way' sold 526,000 copies in its first week, placing it atop both the Billboard 200 and Country Albums charts.

US Rally Slams India Over HIV

A day after the grim projection that India now heads the world AIDS table, several hundred activists staged rallies in front of the Indian mission and the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday to protest the “lack of effective action” to contain the spread of AIDS.

The demonstration coincided with the launch of the UN General Assembly special session to review the global progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The spotlight turned on India with a UN report stating a day earlier that India has overtaken South Africa as the country with the highest number of people living with the HIV virus in the world — an estimated 5.7 million cases.

Although the projection has been hotly contested by India’s Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, Indian activists of the US-based ‘Stop HIV/AIDS in India Initiative’ (SHAII) kept up the offensive against the Indian Government on the streets of New York.

“In 2001, the Government committed to reducing HIV prevalence by 2005. Instead, there has been a 32 per cent increase in AIDS cases and an additional 1.3 million people infected with HIV. Lack of effective action by the Government is costing lives every day,” SHAII director Vineeta Gupta said.

With activists from other nations in their midst, the group accused the Indian authorities of “failing to disburse a $37 million grant from the Global Fund to scale up treatment programmes that could potentially have saved more than 45,000 lives.”

Thursday, June 01, 2006

OPEC brushes off call to cut production

Oil-rich nations brushed off a push by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez for a production cut that could raise world prices, but he used the OPEC meeting to lobby for expanding the cartel's membership and praised Bolivia's nationalization of its natural gas industry.

Qatar's oil minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah, said ahead of Thursday's meeting that he did not believe output should be cut now, echoing comments by other important players in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

But he said OPEC will be watching the situation between now and its next meeting in September, and could then change course.

Bird flu experts warn of under-reporting

A number of countries in the throes of serious bird flu outbreaks are underreporting the extent of the problem, generally because they do not have the money, veterinary expertise or health systems to track the disease adequately in animals, international health officials said Wednesday.

"We think countries might be underreporting, but they do not do it deliberately," said Christianne Bruschke, head of the bird flu task force at the World Organization for Animal Health, at the end of a two-day conference on the disease.

Indonesia's decentralized government system has made controlling the disease particularly difficult, experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said, allowing the virus to skip from one village to the next.

While some countries meticulously report every last outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health, which tracks the disease, there has been no reporting from the Indonesian government since April 24, even though scientists presume that outbreaks crop up constantly.

"In their decentralized system, information does not always get back to Jakarta," said Juan Lubroth a senior veterinarian at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. "The information in Jakarta doesn't reflect what's happening on the ground."

The current H5N1 avian influenza virus is an animal virus and does not readily infect humans.

But 48 people in Indonesia have now been diagnosed with the disease and 36 have died, nearly half of them in the past month - a sign that bird flu is widespread in the country.

Humans who are stricken with avian influenza almost always have a history of extremely close contact with sick birds.

Taking on Microsoft

MICROSOFT recently announced that it would be releasing Windows Live OneCare, a security product targeted at the consumer and small- to medium-sized business markets, which places it in direct competition with Symantec.

“I’m not convinced that just because Microsoft enters the market, it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll win. Quite the contrary,” Symantec chairman and chief executive officer John Thompson argued.

He said Symantec’s strategy would be to “out-innovate” Microsoft.

“We know more about security than Microsoft ever will. We’ll make sure we use the strength of our global brand to leverage – we protect more people from more online threats than anyone in the world.

“Our brand is synonymous with security. Microsoft is synonymous with a lot of things, but security is not one of them,” he added.