Monday, October 18, 2010

The globalization of car theft

Monday 18th October, 2010

(Op-ed) Cesar Chelala - The Japan Times Monday 18th October, 2010

Every 24 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States.

Contrary to popular belief, thieves target not only expensive cars but also, most frequently, those in the mid-price range.

Cars are stolen usually for the resale value of their parts, which become particularly valuable when they are no longer manufactured or are too difficult or too expensive to obtain.

Stolen cars transported across international borders have become a common, almost inevitable consequence of globalization.

Recently, in Albania, I was amazed at the large number of Mercedes Benz cars in Tirana, the capital city, until a friend explained to me that many of them were stolen cars that came from Germany. A similar sight can be observed in Central American countries, where many stolen cars stolen up north in the U.S. end up.

When I told a policeman recently that I lived in Soho, downtown Manhattan, and drove a leading Japanese model, he said, "You are a prime candidate to have your car stolen."

He explained that Japanese cars get a good resale price and that downtown Manhattan is near the Holland tunnel. This makes it easy for robbers to flee to New Jersey, out of reach of the New York police. From New Jersey, the car may be transported to other states. Since then, I've decided to use a parking garage rather than leave my car in the street, even though garage fees in New York can run into several hundred dollars a month.

Recent research from the Netherlands found that thieves are less likely to steal brightly colored cars because they have a lower resale value. They can also be more easily detected. Of 109 pink cars in the study, none were stolen.

In the past, if thieves didn't steal a car, they often might break a window and take the portable radio or CD player. For a long time, parking a car in the street could be annoying, particularly when one was liable to find a broken window and the car's interior vandalized.

My wife had this unpleasant experience when she left the car in a suburban parking lot. The car was stolen by adolescents for a joy ride, and when the police returned it, the interior had been practically destroyed — probably by the police looking for hidden drugs.

A physician friend of mine thought he had solved this problem. When he parked his car in the street, he used to put up a note in the window reading, "RADIO ALREADY STOLEN, NO CD PLAYER, NO VALUABLES INSIDE."

For a long time his car was safe and my friend was happy at having fooled would-be robbers. One day, though, he came back to his car and found a note in the back window: "NOW, NO SPARE TIRE."

(The writer Cesar Chelala, M.D. and Ph.D., is a writer on human rights and foreign policy issues).


Major storm breaks in Philippines

Monday 18th October, 2010

Big News Monday 18th October, 2010

Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled their homes as a powerful storm approaches.
A man is believed to have died in the northern Philippines with Typhoon Megi sweeping in with heavy rain and strong winds.

Megi, is generating winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour in the strongest storm the country has faced in four years.

More than 30 provinces and islands in the north have been placed under a storm alert and many people have been evacuated as the fears of mudslides grow stronger.

The so-called super-typhoon reached the country early on Monday with the high winds damaging buildings, power supplies and agriculture.

The typhoon is forecast to move toward the South China Sea after sweeping the northern Philippines.

The last storm of this magnitude occurred in 2006, triggering mudslides, destroying villages and killing about 1,000 people.

Floods have already been reported in the north-eastern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.

China says US is using currency as a scapegoat

Monday 18th October, 2010

Big News Saturday 16th October, 2010

A spokesperson for the Chinese Commerce Ministry alleges the US is using the yuan as a scapegoat, despite ongoing criticism of China's restrictive financial system.
China has told the United States not to make the yuan, their national currency, a scapegoat for domestic problems with the US dollar, in a new twist to the deteriorating trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

Yao Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Commerce Ministry made the comments just hours before the United States decides whether to formally label their biggest trade competitor a currency manipulator due to allegations of China artificially depressing the value of the yuan.

Jian accused the US government of looking only at China’s trade surplus as evidence of currency manipulation, rather than considering whether that trade surplus was the result of China’s legitimate supremacy over the US in the current financial climate.

China offers a cheaper alternative to most developed countries, which makes it difficult to compete with the export giant, especially in a financial climate in which businesses and governments are seeking to save money wherever they can.

China remains under pressure from major economies such as Japan and the US to enact faster currency reforms in the Asian powerhouse, which is renowned for a financial system that remains restrictive compared to other major economies.


Explosion in Chinese mine kills 20, over 30 trapped

Monday 18th October, 2010

Big News (ANI) Saturday 16th October, 2010

An explosion in a Chinese coal mine has killed 20 workers and trapped over 30 underground in Yuzhou City.

According to Xinhua news agency, the blast happened at about 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Rescuers have retrieved 20 bodies, and are still searching for other miners.

The mine is owned by Pingyu Coal and Electric Co. Ltd., a company jointly established by Zhong Ping Energy Chemical Group and China Power Investment Corp.he China blast comes shortly after the world was riveted by the Chile's dramatic rescue of 33 trapped miners after they spent over two months in the collapsed San Jose copper and gold mine. (ANI)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback

William C. Eckenberg/The New York Times
The study of urban blight has long been influenced by political fashions.
For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord Voldemort: That Which Must Not Be Named.
George Tames/The New York Times: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his office at Harvard in 1971.
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times:
A Chicago mother and child in 1997 at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes, since demolished.

The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report. Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune.
Moynihan’s analysis never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers, whose arguments ultimately succeeded when President Bill Clinton signed a bill in 1996 “ending welfare as we know it.” But in the overwhelmingly liberal ranks of academic sociology and anthropology the word “culture” became a live grenade, and the idea that attitudes and behavior patterns kept people poor was shunned.
Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly about you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed.
“We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at Princeton who has argued that Moynihan was unfairly maligned.
The old debate has shaped the new. Last month Princeton and the Brookings Institution released a collection of papers on unmarried parents, a subject, it noted, that became off-limits after the Moynihan report. At the recent annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, attendees discussed the resurgence of scholarship on culture. And in Washington last spring, social scientists participated in a Congressional briefing on culture and poverty linked to a special issue of The Annals, the journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
“Culture is back on the poverty research agenda,” the introduction declares, acknowledging that it should never have been removed.
The topic has generated interest on Capitol Hill because so much of the research intersects with policy debates. Views of the cultural roots of poverty “play important roles in shaping how lawmakers choose to address poverty issues,” Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California, noted at the briefing.
This surge of academic research also comes as the percentage of Americans living in poverty hit a 15-year high: one in seven, or 44 million.
With these studies come many new and varied definitions of culture, but they all differ from the ’60s-era model in these crucial respects: Today, social scientists are rejecting the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty. And they attribute destructive attitudes and behavior not to inherent moral character but to sustained racism and isolation.
To Robert J. Sampson, a sociologist at Harvard, culture is best understood as “shared understandings.”
“I study inequality, and the dominant focus is on structures of poverty,” he said. But he added that the reason a neighborhood turns into a “poverty trap” is also related to a common perception of the way people in a community act and think. When people see graffiti and garbage, do they find it acceptable or see serious disorder? Do they respect the legal system or have a high level of “moral cynicism,” believing that “laws were made to be broken”?
As part of a large research project in Chicago, Professor Sampson walked through different neighborhoods this summer, dropping stamped, addressed envelopes to see how many people would pick up an apparently lost letter and mail it, a sign that looking out for others is part of the community’s culture.
In some neighborhoods, like Grand Boulevard, where the notorious Robert Taylor public housing projects once stood, almost no envelopes were mailed; in others researchers received more than half of the letters back. Income levels did not necessarily explain the difference, Professor Sampson said, but rather the community’s cultural norms, the levels of moral cynicism and disorder.
The shared perception of a neighborhood — is it on the rise or stagnant? — does a better job of predicting a community’s future than the actual level of poverty, he said.
William Julius Wilson, whose pioneering work boldly confronted ghetto life while focusing on economic explanations for persistent poverty, defines culture as the way “individuals in a community develop an understanding of how the world works and make decisions based on that understanding.”
For some young black men, Professor Wilson, a Harvard sociologist, said, the world works like this: “If you don’t develop a tough demeanor, you won’t survive. If you have access to weapons, you get them, and if you get into a fight, you have to use them.”
Seeking to recapture the topic from economists, sociologists have ventured into poor neighborhoods to delve deeper into the attitudes of residents. Their results have challenged some common assumptions, like the belief that poor mothers remain single because they don’t value marriage.
In Philadelphia, for example, low-income mothers told the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas that they thought marriage was profoundly important, even sacred, but doubted that their partners were “marriage material.” Their results have prompted some lawmakers and poverty experts to conclude that programs that promote marriage without changing economic and social conditions are unlikely to work.
Mario Luis Small, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and an editor of The Annals’ special issue, tried to figure out why some New York City mothers with children in day care developed networks of support while others did not. As he explained in his 2009 book, “Unanticipated Gains,” the answer did not depend on income or ethnicity, but rather the rules of the day-care institution. Centers that held frequent field trips, organized parents’ associations and had pick-up and drop-off procedures created more opportunities for parents to connect.
Younger academics like Professor Small, 35, attributed the upswing in cultural explanations to a “new generation of scholars without the baggage of that debate.”
Scholars like Professor Wilson, 74, who have tilled the field much longer, mentioned the development of more sophisticated data and analytical tools. He said he felt compelled to look more closely at culture after the publication of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s controversial 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” which attributed African-Americans’ lower I.Q. scores to genetics.
The authors claimed to have taken family background into account, Professor Wilson said, but “they had not captured the cumulative effects of living in poor, racially segregated neighborhoods.”
He added, “I realized we needed a comprehensive measure of the environment, that we must consider structural and cultural forces.”
He mentioned a study by Professor Sampson, 54, that found that growing up in areas where violence limits socializing outside the family and where parents haven’t attended college stunts verbal ability, lowering I.Q. scores by as much as six points, the equivalent of missing more than a year in school.
Changes outside campuses have made conversation about the cultural roots of poverty easier than it was in the ’60s. Divorce, living together without marrying, and single motherhood are now commonplace. At the same time prominent African-Americans have begun to speak out on the subject. In 2004 the comedian Bill Cosby made headlines when he criticized poor blacks for “not parenting” and dropping out of school. President Obama, who was abandoned by his father, has repeatedly talked about “responsible fatherhood.”
Conservatives also deserve credit, said Kay S. Hymowitz, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, for their sustained focus on family values and marriage even when cultural explanations were disparaged.
Still, worries about blaming the victim persist. Policy makers and the public still tend to view poverty through one of two competing lenses, Michèle Lamont, another editor of the special issue of The Annals, said: “Are the poor poor because they are lazy, or are the poor poor because they are a victim of the markets?”
So even now some sociologists avoid words like “values” and “morals” or reject the idea that, as The Annals put it, “a group’s culture is more or less coherent.” Watered-down definitions of culture, Ms. Hymowitz complained, reduce some of the new work to “sociological pablum.”
“If anthropologists had come away from doing field work in New Guinea concluding ‘everyone’s different,’ but sometimes people help each other out,” she wrote in an e-mail, “there would be no field of anthropology — and no word culture for cultural sociologists to bend to their will.”
Fuzzy definitions or not, culture is back. This prompted mock surprise from Rep. Woolsey at last spring’s Congressional briefing: “What a concept. Values, norms, beliefs play very important roles in the way people meet the challenges of poverty.”

Over 80 million threatened by poverty in EU Society

BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (KUNA) -- The European Union (EU) is one of the richest regions in the world, yet over 84 million people are still threatened by poverty, EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Laszlo Andor said here in a statement today to mark the International day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The decision to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020 sends a powerful message that the EU takes social inclusion very seriously, he added.

The 27-member European bloc has a population of over 500 million people.

"The International Day for Eradication of Poverty is a day when the whole world is reminded that there are people who suffer from poverty and we need to act together to make a difference," he added.

On his part, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs declared that radicating poverty is also a global challenge. "Today, 1.4 billion people in the developing world are still denied the chance to build a future by living in extreme poverty. In September, global leaders gave a new impetus to the fight against poverty and committed to make the Millennium Development Goals a success by 2015," he noted.

The UN summit on MDGs in September adopted a global action plan to achieve the anti-poverty goals by 2015. (end) KUNA 171332 Oct 10NNNN 


Southern Russia floods leave 11 dead

Updated: 08:21, Sunday October 17, 2010

Floods in southern Russia have killed 11 people, and three are missing, authorities say.

Two days of heavy rain in the Krasnodar region caused a mountain river to burst its banks, sending torrents of water down the mountains onto villages.

Local Emergency Ministry spokesman Roman Kravchenko said three of the 11 killed were elderly people trapped in their houses. Two more were found dead in a sewer hole.

About 160 people were evacuated from their homes on Friday, but as the rain stopped on Saturday they headed back home to take stock of the damage, the spokesman said.

Authorities say heavy rain also caused mudslides in the mountains, blocking several sections of the North Caucasian railway.

Source Article


The Rot Within: Our Culture of Financial Fraud and the Anger of the Honest (October 15, 2010)

Misrepresentation, fraud and gaming the system are all heavily incentivized in the U.S. culture and economy, and honesty is punished. This truth is finally being revealed on a grand scale. The coming implosion of the U.S. economy has been richly earned. Today I am publishing a commentary by an accountant with decades of experience in high-level global consulting firms and Fortune 50 U.S. corporations. What he has observed is unknown to the vast majority of Americans.
I have documented the poisoning of the nation's culture and economy by a "game the system"/exploitation mentality:
The Coming Collapse of the Real Estate Market
Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System
Imagining A Middle Class Does Not Create One
With accountability effectively lost, cheating, lying, misrepresention, embezzlement and fraud, both petty and monumental, have all been incentivized. Thus the "little people" game the welfare/entitlement system and the Financial Elites game the mortgage market, and everyone gamed whatever piece of the housing bubble they could grab.
Where does that leave the honest citizenry? At an extreme disadvantage. Lying, sins of omission, misrepresentation and doing the bidding of evil organizations gets you bonuses and career advancement, while refusing to game the system as instructed gets your fired.
How does that make honest people feel? How about righteously angry?
I'd like to provide some context for this commentary from the Survival+ critique. Here is how I would summarize an integrated understanding of our plight:
1. Humans are selected to seek windfalls and exploit them. I call this windfall exploitation. It is neither good nor bad, it is simply a profoundly advantageous strategy in a hunter-gatherer-wanderer environment.
Individuals can maximize their gain by exploiting windfalls alone, but some windfalls are better exploited by groups. This is the basis of cooperation, which is expressed in both capitalist and socialist systems.
2. The natural resources windfalls have all been exploited. In general, the natural resources are in depletion and there is active competition for them which reduces the windfall.
3. Neoliberal Capitalism developed a solution for this paucity of natural windfalls: the partnership of the Financial Elites and the Central State. The Central State gathered powers of taxation and control which enable it to "enforce" the collection of the national income which can be channeled to its cronies in wealthy (and hence politically powerful) cartels.
The investment banking/mortgage banking industries are the example of this dynamic par excellence. (Please see The Coming Collapse of the Real Estate Market for more.)
4. The last significant windfall available to advanced global Capitalism was the financialization of the global economy. In the U.S., we see this clearly in the financial share of corporate profits; from a pittance in the "real growth" decades of the 1950s and 60s, finance-derived profits came to dominate Corporate America's profits.
5. This financialization effected a net transfer of public and private income streams and wealth from the citizenry and State to the coffers of the financial Elites. As actual productivity and wealth-creation declined, so did wages and incomes when priced in purchasing power.
To offset that decline, people, companies and governments replaced income with debt: they borrowed to fill the gap between their desires/commitments/spending and their net income.
The financial Elites were happy to supply the debt and capture the income streams of servicing that debt. By securitizing those debts and writing derivatives against them, the Elites created a stupendously profitable windfall to exploit. The Central State and its central bank were happy to comply, as they are in partnership with the Elites which enrich and empower them.
6. The net result of this expansion of credit is asset bubbles. When the asset bubbles pop, the debts remain, impoverishing the over-indebted holders of the busted assets.
7. Unfortunately for the Financial Elites, this destruction of assets and debt feeds runaway feedback loops which threaten the entire foundation of their wealth and control.
8. The strategy of both the Financial Elites and the Central State (its willing partner in exploitation of the citizenry) is to conjure up simulacra to replace the truth, which is fatally dangerous to the status quo that is now completely dependent on maintaining a culture of financial untruths.
The order of the day is thus necessarily propaganda, bogus balance sheets, toothless facsimiles of "reform" presented as "real reform," and endless frauds, embezzlements, lies, misrepresentations, omissions, etc., all of which have come to full flower in the credit-housing bubble/mortgage-forclosure debacle.
This is why the Financial Power Elites and the Federal Government are both wedded to lies, half-truths, misrepresentation, omissions, fraud, corruption and the full panoply of propaganda. To tell the truth is to bring down the entire status quo.
Here is our accountant's commentary:

I belong to a large number of finance organizations and sometimes I even assist clients with hiring a finance person. Since I have a lot of experience with finance and accounting, when I am interviewing these people I know when I am getting a BS answer and unlike most BS recruiters I do not steer away from controversy since I am truly looking for the most qualified for my clients and not who is just most marketable to them. After I start drilling down you would be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t) how many of these CFO’s and Controller types were basically dismissed because they would not cook the books in some manner. Now maybe I have told you that I was asked to resign from one of the nations largest companies (a company that I worked hard for and saved from bankruptcy and due to my actions had created) in the US because I refused to book a revenue entry for over a million dollars which was unsupported and the CFO (I had been the CFO up until a merger) blew up with me when I asked him to send a memo telling me to record it. Funny, a few years and one acquisition later it melted down as one of the biggest accounting frauds in US history.
My next gig as the CFO for a NYSE company I basically walked in and found what I would consider a $60 million dollar accounting fraud in one day (once again a mark to market issue draining cash flow and sucking the company into a dark hole). Corrected that accounting problem and the company began to prosper but since I thought the board and upper management was so corrupt I left (Chairman of the Audit Committee was found guilty at another large company for back dating options).
The next public company where not only was I the CFO but prior to that a board member, I was basically asked to resign for BS reasons a couple of weeks later after I pointed out what the board was asking me to do was basically wire fraud and of course they backed off quickly and said they would get a legal opinion from our law firm (one of the top 10 in the US) to cover me. In the same meeting our outside legal counsel said he had a problem giving such an opinion and I pointed out that a legal opinion did not keep me from being both civil and criminally liable. It should be noted that this was another company that 2 years before I came in and took the reins as CFO/COO and pulled the company out of black hole of looming bankruptcy and made it profitable in the first time in its history since it went public and then refinanced the company. In summary a year after I left the company had burned through the money I raised and the Board sold the company for nothing.
There is lots of bitterness out there with the straight shooting finance people. Many of them find themselves unemployable. This stretches from banks, Private Equity, Investment Banking, through the large accounting firms (the average partner in the large accounting firms any more is a pathological liar) to senior finance people in organizations. Right before Enron and MCI blew-up, I actually had a BS HR person tell me I was not flexible enough. I wanted to tell this idiot that I knew where flexibility got me and it was an orange jumpsuit. Bankers and Companies only hire the weakest and most pliable senior finance executives they can find.
One other short story. A while back I was at a networking meeting with a large group of CFO and ex-CFO’s. I asked this group how many thought that most CEO’s wanted a weak CFO working for them. Approximately 70% of the attendees raised their hand! You have to remember that the only person who had steady access to the Board is the CFO.
The point, the middle class is becoming torn and frayed and there is real anger out there. The common belief is that only the liars and thieves are moving ahead in this country.
The anger of the honest will soon know no bounds, and the guilt of the complicit will settle like a silent pall over the nation: guilty as charged. Who will raise their hands to plead the guilt we all see and know?

If you would like to post a comment where others can read it, please go to, (registering only takes a moment), select Of Two Minds-Charles Smith, and then go to The daily topic. To see other readers recent comments, go to New Posts.


Why I'm an optimist about changing the world

By Melinda French Gates, Special to CNN

Click to play
What nonprofits can learn from Coke

  • Melinda Gates: The UN adopted Millennium Development Goals 10 years ago
  • She says there's been extraordinary progress in many areas
  • Reduction in child mortality alone will save 4 million lives in 2010, compared to 1990, she says
  • Gates: I'm optimistic about the world but impatient for faster change

Editor's note: Melinda French Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website.
(CNN) -- At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we consider ourselves to be impatient optimists -- we are impatient with the way the world is, but optimistic that changing it is possible.
One reason for this optimism is the progress that we have seen in the 10 years since the United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals, eight international goals to improve social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries.
Recently, we partnered with TED to create a global event to discuss this progress. TEDxChange was hosted in New York and broadcast live to over 80 simultaneous TEDx events in 40 countries around the world, including sites in Kibera, Kenya; Abuja, Nigeria; Pune, India; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Lahore, Pakistan.
The millennium goals themselves embody impatient optimism. They recognize how much there is to be done, while at the same time signaling the scale and scope of the world's ambition.
The world is not called on to conjure progress from a void. Instead, it is called on to learn from very real progress on nearly all the goals, to expand it, and to speed it up.
One refrain I hear is that we are off track on many of the goals. That statement is technically accurate. Not every country will meet every goal, and there is a risk that some of the global goals won't be met. But that binary outlook -- with total success on one side, total failure on the other, and people on all sides blaming each other -- obscures extraordinary progress driven by extraordinary people across the globe.
Take the goal for child mortality. The goal is a two-thirds reduction, and we may not reach it by 2015. But have we failed when 4 million children who would have died in 1990 will survive in 2010? Have we failed when we have reduced polio, a crippling childhood disease, by 99 percent in the past 20 years?
Another complaint I hear a lot is that progress isn't spread evenly. Some people dismiss the fact that 1.3 billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty by pointing out that most of them live in China and India, not in African countries.
I believe that when poor people lift themselves out of poverty, we ought to celebrate, no matter where they happen to live. Bill and I started our foundation because we believe that all lives have equal value, and I am not comfortable comparing one person's suffering to that of another.
While it's true that some countries are reducing poverty more quickly than others -- and some, sadly, have moved backwards -- eight African countries have already achieved the goal on poverty reduction, and several more are on schedule to do so by 2015. Across nearly every goal, there are inspiring examples of even the poorest countries making dramatic improvements in short periods of time.
However, we can also learn from the successes in other sectors. My TEDxChange talk focuses on the question of how Coca-Cola has become so ubiquitous around the world and what governments and the development community can learn from the company's success. By analyzing what Coca-Cola has done to become so prevalent, we can apply those lessons to the millennium goals and save even more lives.
The task ahead is to learn what's working so that we can spread best practices. In difficult economic times, it is imperative that we increase support for effective interventions that provide maximum value for money -- and not shift even bigger burdens to the poorest by cutting back on development spending.
So I am impatient. I am impatient because the world is not getting better fast enough, or for enough people.
But I am also optimistic. I am optimistic because there are proven and affordable ways to decrease hunger and poverty, to help mothers and their babies thrive, to make rapid progress on all the Millennium Development Goals.
And I am optimistic that our impatience will lead us all to be more motivated, not less. I am optimistic that our sense of urgency will inspire us to work together, not to isolate ourselves. For if we are motivated, if we are inspired, if we work together -- then we can meet again in five years to celebrate achievements that few of us might have dared to imagine.
I'm grateful to CNN for including my TEDxChange presentation as part of their TEDTalks Tuesday series. There were several other speakers who joined our event that day, and I urge you to come to our TEDxChange website and watch their speeches as well.
Hans Rosling, professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who uses statistics to show concrete examples of progress in child health;
Graca Machel, a renowned international advocate for women's and children's rights, on the key role of women and girls in achieving social change;
Mechai Viravaidya, aka Mr. Condom, the founder and chairman of the Population and Community Development Association, on creative approaches to family planning.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Melinda French Gates.

Former UK Chancellor says West is running out of money

Kenneth Clarke, the former UK chancellor, has warned the West is in grave danger of financial collapse.

Now the Justice Secretary under Britain's coalition government, Mr Clarke told a conference of prison authorities that the country faced "quite the most dramatic spending cuts in living memory."

In a forceful address to his audience, he said: "There is an extremely serious financial crisis. I actually am one of those who believes, with a grave danger of financial collapse, we’re not out of the woods in the Western world yet.

Speaking prior to next week’s comprehensive spending review, which will see most Government departments’ budgets cut by 25 per cent over four years, the Justice Secretary said: "These are difficult circumstances. There’s no one alive who remembers a crisis of this kind. It is not the usual public spending squeeze."

His remarks appeared to contradict the Prime Minister, who insisted days ago that the Coalition’s early decisions have put Britain out of the danger zone.

When the comments were put to Mr Clarke, he said: "We have rescued the moment".

He told the prison governors there would be no extra money available to drive through the Government’s radical jail reforms in which the government wants inmates to work a 40-hour week, in return for the minimum wage.

Mr Clarke said: "I want to be clear, so far as all these reforms go, we don’t have any money."

Big News Sunday 17th October, 2010


Students join the large demonstrations in France

Students in France have joined the mass protests against government plans to increase the state retirement age.

High school students have swelled the ranks of protesters, claiming moves to raise the pension age will mean fewer jobs for young people.

Oil refineries and fuel depots have hard-hit by the strikes and there have been major disruptions to the country's supplies, especially at airports.

Fuel supplies to Paris and France’s main international airports are now suffering fuel shortages.

On Friday, Trapil, a company that operates a petrol pipeline to Paris’ airports announced that they’d had to shut it down due to strikes.

The pipeline is supplied by a refinery in Seine-et-Marne, which has been crippled by strikes.

Resistance grows to the government’s plan for pension reform with numbers of young people now out of work in France.

Unions have said they will turn the heat up on the government if it refuses to budge.

The unions have claimed up to three million people took part in this weekend's protests.


Susan Boyle wows fans at book signing event


Big News (ANI)

Susan Boyle stunned fans when she arrived to sign copies of her autobiography 'The Woman I Was Born to Be'.

The Britain's Got Talent star arrived at Waterstone's flagship store in London's Piccadilly wearing a navy blue overcoat with a purple scarf.

One fan, a man in his 50s, revealed how the star had confided that she still has the gold frilly dress which she wore for her first appearance on the show.

"I asked her if she if she still has the dress and she told me she kept it for sentimental value although she could probably make a fortune if she sold it," the Daily Express quoted the fan as saying. (ANI)


Stories from the mine starting to emerge

background blue line Big News     Sunday 17th October, 2010  

The rescued Chilean miners are preparing to tell the story of life underground in dangerous, confined conditions.

The tales of the struggle to survive are beginning to emerge from the 33 men who were pulled from a collapsed Chilean mine.

While they arrived above ground to rapturous receptions, two remain in hospital undergoing routine checks after their 69-day ordeal.

It is believed the stories to emerge will include how the man drank oil-contaminated water and even detonated explosives to alert rescuers.

Victor Sergovia, one of the miners who has been given the task of detailing the events, described the experience as a living nightmare.

He has said the miners had made a pact not to talk about the hardest situations, including the occasional flare-up of tempers during their confinement.

There have been unconfirmed reports of fist-fights and arguments over food.


Death toll from Central China's mine accident reaches 26

Big News (ANI)     Sunday 17th October, 2010
The death toll from Saturday's coal mine gas leak in Central China's Henan Province climbed to 26 on Sunday with rescuers still battling to reach the eleven miners, who are still trapped inside.
"Rescuers were battling to reach the 11 miners still trapped underground, but chances for them to survive were very slim. Based upon past experience, the remaining 11 miners could be buried in coal dust, so the survival chances are frail," The Xinhua quoted Rescue Headquarters Deputy Chief Du Bo, as saying.
"More than 2,500 tonnes of coal dust smothered the pit after the gas leak, which hampered the rescue," he added.
The blast occurred around 6 a.m. on Saturday when 276 miners were working underground in the mine in Yuzhou City.
Out of 276 miners, 239 escaped when the gas burst.
As per the reports of the initial investigation, around 173,500 cubic meters of gas leaked out in the accident.
"At around 6 a.m., I felt there was something wrong with the airflow in the shaft, and one of the team captains told me he also felt it and had already reported the problem," said Liu Wenbin, a deputy hief engineer by Pingyu Coal and Electric Co. Ltd., who was in the pit when the accident happened. (ANI)


US state department defends Europe-wide terror alert


Friday, October 15, 2010

10 Things You Really, Really Don't Need

Shopping is an adrenaline rush. How else to explain the talking ceramic cat you had to have, or the face cream that you bought because it was guaranteed to return your skin to the hue it had in the womb? Sure, the Great Recession has shifted Americans’ shopping habits, but we’re still a spending force to be reckoned with. Luckily, there are things we just don’t need on this planet. So take a look at some items you might want to trim from your shopping list.

1. Microwave oven

I haven’t had a microwave since Clinton was in the White House. Sure, on occasion I’ll miss the opportunity to melt down butter without burning it on the stove. I’d just rather give the counter space to something more deserving, like cookies. Or cupcakes. Or brownies…

2. Electric wine bottle openers

Waiters can open a bottle of organic wine, at the table, with just a mere flick of a wrist and cork-screw. Mentally raising a cork out of the bottle with special brain powers would be cooler, but for now a simple corkscrew works fine. And gives good strength training!

3. Bread machines

Sure, bread machines can be an awesome way to get perfectly-shaped loaves of steamy, fresh bread. But allow us to face the delicious reality of fresh bread. If you’re taking the time to make fresh bread in your bread machine, you probably have the time to bake fresh bread in your oven. Hard realities, folks. Hard realities.

4. Neck creams

It’s become casual sport in Hollywood to guess an actress’ age by her neck, which still remains hard to control by Botox or a lift. So now there’s a whole industry of creams dedicated to the neck. In reality, you should just use the same creams and treatments on your neck as you do on your face. Moisturize tone, mask – just bring it down a few inches lower than your jaw line.

5. Beauty products tested on animals

To which we and super cute-bunny-that-fits-in-a-hand say – really? Products like said Botox are continually tested on animals with appalling results. There’s a whole world of products, beauty or otherwise, that are cruelty-free. You can find them here.

6. Hand sanitizers

I’m not saying medical professionals should go without, or that we should immediately start diving into gas station bathrooms to dance around barefoot. But washing your hands will kill germs just as easily as hand sanitizers. Sanitizing your paws every time you touch a door knob will kill most bacteria. But the tough ones that survived will multiply and will be stronger than the cousins you killed off. (Read more about that here.)

7. The latest product from Apple

iPods are fun. As are iPhones and yes, even iPads are kind of cool. Do they get more fun as the latest updates cycle through every year and/or month? (As giant UFOs bearing the Apple insignia lower into our horizons.) Sure, maybe we all need the ability to instantly play music/record/brew latte with our phones. But why not let your old apples actually fall from the tree before you replace them?

8. Automatic toilet flushers

One of the greatest questions of our time is obviously – do toilets really need to flush on their own, causing us to flee to the other side of the stall to avoid splash back? And repeat.

9. Motion-Activated Anything

Recently, I saw an advert for a motion-activity candy dispenser. (Because obesity isn’t enough of a problem in this country. Yes, I’m waving a cranky cane right now.) Motion-activated devices are fantastic for people with disability issues. But how many wheelchairs do we see on escalators? We also opened doors for centuries without the power of electricity.

10. Throw pillows

When you’re lost under a gigantic pile of plush, you have no one but yourself to blame.

This post first appeared on EcoSalon.

© 2010 EcoSalon All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

By Katherine Butler, EcoSalon
Posted on October 15, 2010


Cotton Hits Record High After Poor Crops

Heavy buying in China takes futures prices past closing-levels on New York markets, creating fears of acute local shortages.

Cotton prices hit a record high both in global and local markets with Rs.7,600 per 40kg in Pakistan and 125 cents per pounds internationally.

Pakistani exporters have done the export deals of 200 tons at a rate of 120 pound per cent.

Due to the recent devastating floods, cotton production in Pakistan has reduced drastically, below than the domestic industrial needs.

However, no cotton export policy has yet been announced. Whereas contrary to it, India has put a ceiling on exports exceeding 5.5 million bales of cotton, although their production is far above than their domestic needs..

Article Source: Wall Street Journal

Charging of Australian soldiers for Afghan crimes provokes frenzied reaction

By James Cogan

WSWS, October 14, 2010

An unprecedented controversy has erupted in Australia over the charging of three special forces’ commandos on September 29 for the killing of five children in Afghanistan in early 2009. Just weeks after an election, in which the conflict barely rated a mention, blanket justifications for the Afghan war, and civilian deaths at the hands of Australian troops, have been thrust to the centre of political life.

The three soldiers are being prosecuted after an almost year-long investigation by the Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), a legal arm of the armed forces that is formally independent of the government of the day. The details of the case have further fuelled the popular opposition to a war that is repeatedly being exposed as a murderous and brutal neo-colonial occupation.

On Tuesday, conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott lashed out and publicly labelled the charges as "soldiers being stabbed in the back by their own government". In statements deeply prejudicial to the conduct of a military court martial that has not yet begun—and which have been promoted throughout the mass media—Abbott declared that the soldiers had been doing "the right thing by Australians" and were being "thrown to the wolves" by the Labor Party-led minority government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

While Abbott’s statements on the case were unexpected and somewhat unhinged, they were made as the entire political establishment is pre-occupied with demonstrating its commitment to the US-led war in Afghanistan.

Gillard’s first overseas trip as prime minister was to Afghanistan on October 3. Abbott made his own visit on October 10. Both were briefed by US and Australian commanders to the effect that while the 1,550 Australian troops currently deployed were adequate, the efforts to crush the Taliban-led insurgency were at a critical stage and more might be needed.

Full detail is yet to emerge, but there are ample indications that dissatisfaction in Washington with Australia’s Afghanistan policy was one of the factors in the conspiratorial and anti-democratic political coup that removed Kevin Rudd as prime minister on June 23-24. Under Rudd, Labor had ruled out sending more Australian troops and, on the same day as the coup began, had announced they would be withdrawn within two to four years.

Since Rudd’s ousting, Gillard has gone out of her way to stress her government’s unconditional support for both the US alliance and the Afghan war. The Labor government now faces the task of disregarding public sentiment and escalating Australian involvement if called upon to do so by Washington.

Abbott has elevated the case of the three commandos to intensify pressure on the government. He has placed himself at the forefront of a campaign to mobilise a right-wing constituency that will vocally defend the war and seek to intimidate and drown out opposition.

Abbott made his remarks on the DMP prosecution on the Sydney-based 2GB radio program of Alan Jones, one of the most provocative right-wing commentators, or "shock jocks," in the Australian media.

Jones, infamous for such outrages as helping to whip up the anti-Muslim sentiment that led to the December 2005 riot in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla, has made the case of the three soldiers his latest hobby-horse. His broadcasts and a 2GB bulletin board have been turned into a vehicle for vitriolic denunciations of DMP head Brigadier Lyn McDade, as well as the Labor government and Gillard.

A typical entry, posted yesterday, reads: "Leave our brave soldiers alone you SCUM… This scum who wants to prosecute our elite men and women should first have to serve on the front line for a few months and see how well they go. Gillard is GUTLESS SCUM. Her response was a disgrace. Either support our brave soldiers, or pull them out, don’t hang them out to dry!"

A petition, initiated by a former military officer who declared his outrage at soldiers having to fight with "one hand tied behind their back" and promoted by 2GB, has been signed by some 21,000 people. The petition calls on the governor-general—the constitutional commander of the Australian armed forces—to intervene and cancel the prosecution over the head of the DMP and the government.

Among those who have supposedly written to 2GB or signed the petition are hundreds of active military personnel, in contravention of military discipline. Many might well have been emboldened by the lack of action against a special forces officer who appeared on national television on September 30 to denounce the charges and declare that soldiers, especially those who had served in Afghanistan, were "dismayed" and "angry".

The chief of the army, General Ken Gillespie, who has himself reportedly voiced opposition to the charges internally, was forced to send out an army-wide email following Abbott’s statements. In it, Gillespie warned that soldiers commenting on the case could face charges of contempt of court or other penalties under the Defence Force Discipline Act.

The rage in the military over the charges stems from the fact that the incident in which the five children were killed was a typical operation for the Australian special forces in Afghanistan. In the brutal campaign to crush opposition among the Afghan people to the US occupation, the task of the special services is to hunt down and assassinate or capture alleged guerrilla fighters. Missions often involve raiding villages and smashing into civilian homes in the dead of night. If non-combatants, women and children are killed in the process, the deaths are generally blamed on the alleged insurgents themselves—for "sheltering" among civilians—or dismissed as unavoidable "collateral damage".

The three men charged on September 29 are the first Australian soldiers ever to be prosecuted for war crimes, not only in Afghanistan, but in Iraq and Vietnam as well. The only reason the incident was not buried was because journalists from the government-owned Australian television station SBS independently gathered and widely broadcast witness statements that called into question the military’s account of what had taken place.

It appears that the DMP only proceeded with the charges in order to pre-empt a possible indictment from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which was carrying out its own investigations into the killings. As a result, the soldiers will only ever appear before an Australian military court, which can carefully vet what evidence is introduced.

Regardless of the DMP’s motives, however, the case inevitably calls into question the propaganda, used since 2001, to justify the war in Afghanistan as a "good war" being fought against terrorism and for the benefit of the Afghan people. It sheds light on the criminal and neo-colonial nature of the operation, in which soldiers have been trained to view the lives and well-being of the Afghan population with indifference and contempt.

At the same time, real responsibility for the atrocities that have been committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan lies with those political leaders who sent them there.

The extraordinary frenzy whipped up over the charges coincides with preparations for a debate on the Afghan war in the lower house of parliament next Tuesday, October 19. Both Gillard and Abbott will deliver speeches, outlining their standpoint on Australia’s ongoing and deeply unpopular involvement in the nine-year long, US-led occupation of the country.

Holding such a debate was one of the terms for the Green Party member Adam Bandt and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie supporting the return of Labor to power, following the hung parliament that resulted from the August 21 federal election. The formal electoral position of the Greens is that Australian troops should be withdrawn so they are available for military operations in the Pacific. Wilkie, a former army officer and intelligence official who supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has also called for a troop withdrawal on the grounds that the war has become unwinnable.

It is clear, however, that the debate will not centre on these criticisms of the war.

Gillard has already spelt out the Labor government’s position. Following her return from a visit to Afghanistan on October 3, she declared that Australian troops would be deployed in a combat, training or "over-watch" capacity for an indefinite timeframe, to prevent Afghanistan becoming a haven for "terrorists". She stressed that the number of Australian forces in the country was "not a cap". While it was "about right," she stated, troop levels would be determined by what military commanders told her was "required".

Up until now, the Liberal-National opposition has maintained bipartisan agreement with the Labor Party on the conduct of the war, as well as on the indefinite commitment of troops. No-one in the opposition, however, has distanced themselves from Abbott’s inflammatory comments, or from the hysteria being promoted in the military over the DMP charges.

Opposition defence spokesman Senator David Johnston told journalists today that he had been told by military sources that the legal defence provided to the three soldiers had been inadequate and had contributed to the charges being laid. He has demanded the release of all defence submissions to the DMP.

The central purpose of the campaign now being carried out by Abbott, the entire Liberal-National opposition and figures like Alan Jones, is to create a climate where any questioning of the conduct of the war, or any suggestion that, under international law, genuine war crimes have been committed, is regarded as tantamount to treason.

The author also recommends:
Australian soldiers charged over civilian killings in Afghanistan[1 October 2010]

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


Zardari: US ‘Arranging’ Taliban Attacks in Pakistan

Jason Ditz

Zardari Says 'Karzai Told Him'

October 14, 2010

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari believes that the United States has been secretly behind a number of Taliban suicide attacks across the nation, according to a detailed account from Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars.

According to the book, Zardari expressed this concern to then-US envoy Zalmay Khalizad during a dinner, telling him that they were being arranged by either the US or India and that he "didn’t think India could be that clever."

Met with shock by Khalizad, Zardari explained that it was part of a US plot to "destabilize Pakistan so that the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons." Zardari also apparently claimed that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had told him the US was responsible for the attacks.

The claims continued to get more elaborate, as Zardari claimed the CIA was overtly supporting Baitullah Mehsud and that the US had "revealed its support of the TTP." Mehsud, the former leader of the TTP, was assassinated in August 2009, and has since been replaced by Hakimullah Mehsud.


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


The Wars on Drugs and Terror: mirror images

Doc who ‘inspired’ torture program gets $31 million Army contract

RAW STORY, October 14, 2010
A psychologist whose research was used in constructing the US's program to torture terrorism suspects has been granted a $31-million no-bid Army contract to provide "resilience training" to US soldiers.
Mark Benjamin at reports that University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman's research "formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration's torture program."
The Army awarded the "sole source" contract in February to the University of Pennsylvania for resilience training, or teaching soldiers to better cope with the psychological strain of multiple combat tours. The university's Positive Psychology Center, directed by famed psychologist Martin Seligman, is conducting the resilience training.
Army contracting documents show that nobody else was allowed to bid on the resilience-training contract because "there is only one responsible source due to a unique capability provided, and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements." And yet, Salon was able to identify resilience training experts at other institutions around the country, including the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. In fact, in 2008 the Marine Corps launched a project with UCLA to conduct resilience training for Marines and their families at nine military bases across the United States and in Okinawa, Japan.
In a 2009 article, the New York Times described Seligman's small but crucial role in the establishment of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on terrorism suspects before the techniques were suspended in 2008.
In December 2001, a small group of professors and law enforcement and intelligence officers gathered outside Philadelphia at the home of a prominent psychologist, Martin E. P. Seligman, to brainstorm about Muslim extremism. Among them was Dr. [Jim] Mitchell, who attended with a C.I.A. psychologist, Kirk M. Hubbard.
During a break, Dr. Mitchell introduced himself to Dr. Seligman and said how much he admired the older man’s writing on "learned helplessness." Dr. Seligman was so struck by Dr. Mitchell’s unreserved praise, he recalled in an interview, that he mentioned it to his wife that night. Later, he said, he was "grieved and horrified" to learn that his work had been cited to justify brutal interrogations.
Dr. Seligman had discovered in the 1960s that dogs that learned they could do nothing to avoid small electric shocks would become listless and simply whine and endure the shocks even after being given a chance to escape.
According to Benjamin, Seligman is "most famous for his work in the 1960s in which he was able to psychologically destroy caged dogs by subjecting them to repeated electric shocks with no hope of escape. The dogs broke down completely and ultimately would not attempt to escape through an open cage door when given the opportunity to avoid more pain. Seligman called the phenomenon 'learned helplessness.'"
In an interview with Harper's in 2008, author Jane Mayer said that in 2002, as the US was trying to extract information from Abu Zybaydah, Seligman was brought in by the CIA to speak on his research. But Selgiman asserted that his involvement had to do with helping soldiers resist torture, not carry it out.
It was completely fascinating to me to learn that Martin Seligman, one of the most esteemed psychologists in the country, a former head of the APA, was connected to the CIA after 9/11....
Seligman confirmed for me, by email, that in the spring of 2002, as the CIA was trying to figure out how to interrogate its first major high-value detainee, Abu Zubayda, he was brought in to speak about his theories to a high-level confab apparently organized by CIA officials, at the Navy’s SERE School in San Diego. He said his talk lasted some three hours. Seligman said his talk was focused on how to help U.S. soldiers resist torture—not on how to breakdown resistance in detainees....
Among the U.S. Government’s interrogation techniques that seem to echo these experiments are the uses of random maltreatment—taking away any predictable schedule from detainees so that they have no idea what time it is, no sense of when meals are delivered, no idea if it is day or night, as well as manipulating temperature, sound, sleep, and using isolation, all of which are meant to cause psychic stress that would erode a prisoner’s resistance to being interrogated and foster total dependency upon an interrogator. Perhaps just coincidentally, the detainees have described other ways in which they were treated like dogs—the use of dog cages and of a collar and leash.
Benjamin notes that Seligman in considered by at least some of his colleagues to be a social conservative. He points to an online comment Seligman wrote, urging scientists to use their knowledge to aid in the war on terrorism.
The civilized world is at war with Jihad Islamic terrorism. It takes a bomb in the office of some academics to make them realize that their most basic values are now threatened, and some of my good friends and colleagues on the Edge seem to have forgotten 9/11. If we lose the war, the laudable, but pet projects they endorse, will not be issues. Fighting fatwahs and no education for women will displace grousing about random assignment of schoolchildren to study education. If we win this war, we can go on to pursue the normal goals of science.

By Daniel Tencer

:: Article nr. 70779 sent on 15-oct-2010 01:34 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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Calcium and vitamin D linked to weight loss

Big Pharma's diet pills come with big risks and small results... but if you want to kick-start your own weight loss plan, there are a few things you can take that really do work.

And they're nutrients you need anyway.

Researchers have found that vitamin D and calcium, two nutrients that work so well together in everything from bone health to cancer prevention, can help you shed pounds.

And it doesn't take much of either.

In a new analysis, researchers examined data on 322 people with an average age of 52 and BMI of 31. While most of the patients were tracked for two years, 126 of them were followed for an extra six months to track their levels of vitamin D.

The researchers found that volunteers with an average daily intake of 580 milligrams of calcium along with vitamin D blood levels of 30.2 nanograms per millimeter lost nearly 12 pounds over two years, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Like I said, these aren't especially high levels of either nutrient--580 mg of calcium is barely half the U.S. government's "recommended daily intake," and those blood levels of vitamin D are below what many in the mainstream now recommend.

And while 12 pounds over two years isn't a stunning level of weight loss by any stretch, it's actually better than the results we've seen from studies on many of Big Pharma's diet drugs--with none of the dangerous side effects.

Most people can get the calcium they need from a good diet of natural foods, but a supplement isn't a bad idea if you think there's a chance you're not getting enough.

Vitamin D, on the other hand, is much trickier. Our bodies can make it from sunlight--but since so few of us get the sun exposure we need to stimulate D production, most people are actually badly deficient.

In fact, it's become the world's leading nutritional deficiency--so if you're not taking a D supplement now, you should... whether you need to lose weight or not.

Add these key nutrients to a healthy lifestyle low in sugar and other refined carbohydrates, and you won't believe how easily the pounds will come off.

No drugs necessary.

On a mission for your health,

Ed Martin
Editor, House Calls

How 'B' can beat dementia

There may "B" an answer to Alzheimer's after all--and it might even be something you're taking right now.

Researchers have found that high levels of three common B vitamins can dramatically slash the brain shrinkage associated with dementia and related conditions.

Naturally, they're already hoping to sell this to you as a "drug," but you don't have to wait for Big Pharma's blessing--because the ingredients are sitting on the shelf at your local vitamin store right now, and I'll tell you all about them in a moment.

But first, let's take a look at this remarkable new study.

Researchers recruited 168 seniors who suffered from mild cognitive impairment and assigned them to either a placebo or TrioBe Plus--a patented blend of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid.

After two years, MRI scans revealed that those who had been taking the B vitamin blend had a much slower rate of brain shrinkage: .76 percent of volume per year, versus 1.08 percent in those who were given the placebo, or a difference of 30 percent.

What's more, patients with the highest blood levels of the inflammation marker homocysteine at the start of the study had a 53 percent reduction in the shrinkage rate, according to the study in PLoS One.

By the way, here's a humbling piece of trivia: All of our brains are shrinking. Even the healthiest ones lose about half a percent each year. Just a guess, but they may end up in the same place as keys, wallets and left socks.

Now, before you run off to try to slow your own shrinkage with some B vitamins, the researchers behind this study have a warning: Their blend, they say, is a high-dose "drug" and should only be given under the care of a doctor.

But that sounds a lot like patent-protecting greed to me, because one look at the TrioBe Plus ingredients label reveals that these high doses aren't so high after all: 800 micrograms of folate, 500 micrograms of B12 and 20 milligrams of B6.

They're high levels in that they exceed the U.S. government's lowball recommended daily intakes... but not so high that they can't be found without a prescription. In fact, you can pick them up at almost any supermarket or health food story in those exact amounts.

Since your own needs could vary depending on your age and condition, talk to a naturopathic physician about the best ways to add some B to your regimen now--but don't be afraid to do it.

And don't be afraid to start today--before your brain shrinks even more than it already has.

Those aren't the only ordinary vitamins that can beat Big Pharma meds... keep reading for the latest news on safe and inexpensive supplements that can help you lose weight! 

Kremlin fury over 'worm salad' tweet


* Dmitry Zelenin, governor of Tver region, tweeted that he found a worm in his salad
* Took place during a reception of Germany's president at the Kremlin
* Kremlin officials have promised to take action if the claims prove false

(CNN) -- A senior Russian official has been branded an "imbecile" after tweeting that he found a worm in his salad during a Kremlin banquet for visiting German President Christian Wulff.

Dmitry Zelenin, the governor of Tver region in central Russia, wrote: "The beef came with live worms. That's an original way to show that the lettuce leaf is fresh."

He also published a photograph of the offending invertebrate online.

Far from amused, Kremlin foreign policy advisor, Sergei Prikhodko, told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday that he regretted there was no rule on "firing governors for imbecility."

An official from the office of President Dmitry Medvedev told RIA Novosti that a preliminary study of the image showed "it represents neither the place [of the reception], nor the serving of the table layout during this protocol event in the Grand Kremlin Palace."

Ominously, he added that if the information in the message, which has since been deleted, proves incorrect "then the person who made this statement will be held accountable in line with the current law."

Kremlin officials said the kitchens would also be checked.

Source Article


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