Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Technology: Interactive TV sets.

Soon, TV that obeys voice commands and gestures!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Apple computer company is devising a new television, nicknamed the iTV, that not only hears your shouts and sees your gestures – but can understand them too.
According to experts, the revolutionary new interactive sets may be available by late next year.

In a posthumous biography, the late Apple founder Steve Jobs had hinted at the new technology being developed, the Daily Mail reported.

“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs was quoted as saying.

“It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it,” he said.

In October it emerged that the US patent office had received details of an Apple device for ‘real-time video process control using gestures’.

These gestures could be used, for example, to edit videos or transfer footage from the TV to a telephone.

The new TV is also likely to make it easy to access whole films from the Internet and watch them on the big screen, introducing powerful competition to pay TV firms and rival electronics manufacturers like Samsung.

High BP

Now, simple scan to spot curable cause of high BP
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
A simple, less-invasive scan can help diagnose the most common curable cause of high blood pressure and can save thousands of lives per year, a new study has suggested.

The scan can accurately detect Conn’s syndrome, the most common curable cause of high blood pressure and is thought to affect five per cent – or around 600,000 – of all those with the condition.

The current test to identify those with the syndrome involves taking a blood sample from a specific vein supplying the adrenal gland to measure levels of a key blood pressure-regulating hormone called aldosterone.

This is complex, can be difficult to perform, and often fails to diagnose it properly.

Although it is extremely difficult to spot Conn’s syndrome but once identified, it can be successfully treated.

The study found that a PET-CT scan, commonly used to detect cancer, could identify Conn’s syndrome.
For the study, the researchers analysed scans of 44 patients and found that the quick scan accurately identified adenomas causing high blood pressure in 76 per cent of patients.

“We were excited to see our technique work so well, and shortcut the delays and discomforts associated with the alternative test,” the Daily Express quoted Morris Brown, professor of clinical pharmacology who led the Cambridge study, as saying.

“In the future, PET-CT could be a quick way to reassure a lot of patients without the need for detailed investigations.”

The study has been published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Disclaimer: Bioscholar is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The articles are based on peer reviewed research, and discoveries/products mentioned in the articles may not be approved by the regulatory bodies.

India: foreign direct investment in retail business.

Re-tell retail
Posted: Thu Dec 01 2011, 01:39 hrs======================================================================
In his forceful address at an Indian Youth Congress meeting in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the decision to open up retailing to foreign direct investment was “well-considered” and caused by the firm conviction that it would “benefit our country”. He went on to point out greater investment in retail supply chains would help upgrade rural infrastructure, reduce the spoilage rate of agricultural output and help farmers get a reasonable price for their produce. When food inflation is running at around 10 per cent, there is little option but reform of the way food gets from the farmer to our plates.
Given that this decision is the correct one to have taken, there is every reason for the government to ensure the argument is comprehensively won. Whatever political concessions it may have to make to ensure Parliament begins to run more smoothly should be accompanied by a reminder of the necessity of the actual reform. Of course, this is made difficult by the Congress party’s apparent inability to unequivocally support its government’s decisions. Yet the importance of using this fraught moment as a reminder that it remains a reformist party cannot be overstated. What is needed is to put forward the arguments as to why improving India’s retail processes matters, and to pitch those arguments to those that will benefit: India’s consumers and India’s farmers. The former have tired of endless price rises, and are willing to listen to what solutions their government has provided to the problem. The latter have consistently been treated as objects of compassion and handouts, rather than as what they are — producers demanding better connections to their markets and final customers. The government needs to make it clear to both these disgruntled groups of people that a decision that allows for greater investment in retail is a crucial step towards increasing both groups’ welfare.

The prime minister’s words, and the government’s PR offensive, have been a good start. It will need, however, a sustained effort. UPA 2 knows by now that its first necessity is to tackle, head-on, the sense that it is paralysed and unable to take decisions. Now that it has partially addressed that by apparently taking one, it needs to make the case, repeatedly and effectively, that the decisions it takes are the right ones — and that FDI in retail is just the start.

To become rich.

Rule of '9-9-9' to make you rich

Published on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 at 11:40 | 
Source :
Updated at Sat, Nov 26, 2011 at 11:48
US Presidential nominate, Herman Cain, had come up with a program titled '9-9-9' aimed at reforming the US tax system. The program was proposed to help the US economy out of its financial troubles. In essence, it proposed to have a 9% income tax, 9% business transaction tax and a 9% federal sales tax. Hence the connotation 9-9-9.

Whether the program gets approved or not, the connotation can actually be used in another way. As proposed by Forbes magazine, the rule of 9-9-9 can be used by people like us to increase our wealth. True, it is written keeping the people of America in mind, but we feel that if tweaked a bit, it is something that each of us can adopt in our lives.

How does it work?
Well it works in 3 steps. It helps to reduce your personal debt burden, reduces spending and increasing your saving. In short, it is the recipe of becoming richer.

Let's take a look at the 3 steps involved.

Step 1: Pay off all debts that have an interest rate of 9% or more.
You may read this and go "Ha! With the increasing interest rates ALL the debts would fall in this category". Well that is actually true. So we are going to tweak this rule a bit. Pay off all debt that has an interest rate higher than what you can earn by investing in a relatively risk-free investment. We are referring to the returns on the investment which is what you earn by holding on to the investment over a period of time.

The way this works is that suppose a relatively risk free investment gives you 12% returns (note we are talking of returns not the face value interest rate). And you have a loan on which you pay 11% interest. So it would be better for you to invest your money in the investment and use the interest income received to pay off the interest on the loan. Any loan that has a higher interest rate deserves to be paid back. Otherwise the interest liability just keeps on growing and your debt burden goes up over time (using compounding power of money ).

So once you have identified the loans that need to be paid off first, the next question is how much money should you put aside to pay off such loans? This is where steps 2 and 3 come in.

Step 2: Have at least 9 months of necessary expenses in savings

Everyone has their monthly expenses. This includes basics like food, travel, clothing, housing, etc. Excluding expenses on luxury, it would be a good idea to work out how much you need each month. At any point of time, it is necessary to put at least 9 months of necessary expenses in savings. These should ideally be completely risk free and easy to get. A savings bank account or a fixed deposit are usually good places to park these savings.

But here one may ask, with expenses going up almost daily, how does one set aside this huge quantum of savings?

Well the idea is no different from what economists and experts prescribe for the countries. You have to adopt austerity measures. Prioritize your expenses and cut back on anything and everything that you may regard as unnecessary and wasteful. True it would mean that you like in a frugal manner for sometime but at the end if you are able to build up more funds, then the whole process is totally worth it. Initially it may seem difficult but saving at least 2 -3 months of expenses is doable to start with. As you move higher in life and continue following these rules in a disciplined manner, even the 9 months' savings become achievable.

Step 3: Save 9% of your income each year for retirement

So once you are done with saving up to meet your expenses, you should be saving at least 9% of your total annual income for retirement. Again, this looks like a low savings rate for us Indians. But this is the bare minimum that one should try to achieve. These funds should ideally be parked in long term investment options depending on your risk taking appetite. And these should be kept for a long period of time. Imagine the kind of funds you would have at the end of 10 years or 15 or even 20. The power of compounding comes in and the funds multiply over the time period.

The balance that is left over is used to pay off your debt burden, which you have sorted out on the basis of the interest rates.

Following these steps may seem difficult. But followed diligently and with discipline, it does become possible. And with these steps, you would soon be debt free and have sustained savings. This in turn can compound over time leading to larger wealth for you.
(Equitymaster is a Mumbai-based independent equity research firm)

UK Angry.

Angry UK expels Iranian diplomats

PTI | Dec 1, 2011, 06.00AM IST
LONDON: Furious over storming of its embassy in Tehran, UK on Wednesday ordered immediate closure of the Iranian embassy here, expelling its staff, and shuting down its mission in Tehran . PM David Cameron warned Iran of "serious consequences" as Britain also withdrew its diplomatic staff and families from Tehran.

Foreign secretary William Hague said UK had now closed its embassy in Tehran and had evacuated all its UKbased staff.

He said, "If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here.

"This does not amount to the severing of diplomatic relations in their entirety. It is action that reduces our relations with Iran to the lowest level

Pakistan's dilemma: Comment.

Pakistan's dilemma
Dec 1, 2011, 12.00AM IST
Following the friendly fire incident in which a Pakistani checkpost was hit by a Nato air strike - leading to the death of 24 soldiers - Islamabadhas reacted with outrage to what it perceives to be a violation of its territorial sovereignty. It has shut down supply lines to US bases across the Durand Line, ordered the Americans to terminate their drone operations from Shamsi airbase and pulled out of an upcoming international conference on Afghanistan.

Islamabad, however, should also use the occasion to introspect about what it has done to preserve its territorial sovereignty from armed jihadi groups such as the Haqqani network or theLashkar-e-Taiba, which have made neighbouring countries their targets. Thereby their sovereignty too is violated, and that is the fundamental problem preventing India, Pakistan and Afghanistan becoming friendly neighbours.
For example, in the case of the strike on the Pakistani checkpost, the Afghan version is that the shelling started from the Pakistani side. That's a familiar narrative in India. Since General Kayani took over from Musharraf, there have been frequent incidents of Pakistani shelling on the border.

That hardly indicates peaceful intent or respect for India's sovereignty, especially if the intention is to provide covering fire for pushing terrorists across. In the case of the current Pakistan-US spat, Islamabad stands isolated and has few options in hand. It's bound to restore Nato supplies after a while, since it's critically dependent on US aid.

Dropping out of the Afghanistan conference isn't of great significance, since Islamabad's participation in previous conferences hasn't delivered much. The game changer can come only if Pakistan's security services were to make that strategic shift in favour of peace.

Vietnam News:

Schoolgirls offer their babies free online
Last update 18/11/2011 02:17:04 PM (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Being infertile, a woman recently kidnapped a 2-day baby to raise up. But some pregnant women who are students, offer their babies for free online.


A student offers her unborn baby for free on an online forum.
While many people desire to have a baby (the recent kidnap of a 2-day baby at the Central Obstetrics Hospital in Hanoi is an example), there are mothers who are ready to give up their babies, who are not born yet.

They are not ready for family life but some young women are pregnant because of lacking knowledge on contraceptive measures. They are afraid to give an abortion or they know about their pregnancy when the fetus is too big, so they could not perform an abortion. As a result, some offer their unborn babies for free on the Internet.

“I’m pregnant for seven months and I want to give the baby for free.” This is the advertisement of a student on an online forum for childless people. “I’m a student so I cannot afford to bring up this baby. Moreover, my family does not know about the baby, so I want to give the baby for free. I will give birth in late December. I hope someone can bring up my child very well. I’m in Binh Thanh District, Saigon. Let’s call me at 0120291xxx.”

Another pregnant woman wrote: “I’m pregnant for 34 weeks but I cannot raise up the child. My boyfriend has abandoned me and I don’t dare to bring the baby home and could not bring up the child. Is there anyone who wants to adopt my baby…”

“My girlfriend is at 6th month pregnancy and the baby is a boy. We planned to bring up our son but we are students so cannot afford it. We have decided to give the baby for someone who is good-hearted,” a ‘young father’ advertised.

Everyday, obstetrics hospitals in Hanoi and HCM City welcome hundreds of infertile couples. Among them, there are young couples who have got married for 4-5 years but they could not have a baby. Some of women, according to doctors, had abortion several times and now they cannot be pregnant and penetrate the aspiration for a baby.

Being discontented about young women who offer their babies for free on the net, Mrs. Kim Anh, from Cau Giay district, Hanoi said: “It is easy to give up their baby but it is extremely difficult to take them back. Children are the greatest assets of parents. I’ve witnessed many couples who took great pains to have a baby.”

“I lost my baby when my delivery time was very near. It is the most painful thing for a woman. How can they give up their babies that way,” said a woman in Hanoi.

Social experts said that families, schools and the society need to strengthen education on reproductive health for young people to avoid such cases.

Lao Dong

Soc Trang’s woman lives with thousands of pimples

Last update 30/11/2011 07:30:00 AM (GMT+7)
VietNamNet Bridge – At birth, Thach Thi Sa Ly had several small spots which looked like moles on her back. One year later, pimples emerged on her entire body. They grew and deformed her body.

At the age of 35, the body of Ms. Ly, in Ngan Ro 1 village, Tran De town, in the southern province of Soc Trang, is covered by thousands of pimples. Many pimples are as big as lemons or oranges.

The woman cannot see clearly because pimples have covered her eyes. She is always in pain and could not walk. Ly’s personal activities depend on her mother, Mrs. Thach Sa Phai, 60.

Mrs. Phai has had to stay at home for years to take care of her daughter. Her husband, Mr. Thach Teo, 63, is now the mainstay of the family. However, he could earn $1-2 a day from catching fish or working as hired worker.

The chief of Ngan Ro 1 hamlet, Dang Van Ep, said that perhaps Sa Ly is infected with Agent Orange. The local government is seeking support for the woman.

China News:HIV/AIDS cases soaring

China says HIV/AIDS cases are soaring
BEIJING | Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:09am EST

(Reuters) - The number of new HIV/AIDS cases in China is soaring, state media said on Wednesday, citing health officials, with rates of infections among college students and older men rising.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued figures showing 48,000 new cases in China in 2011, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Nearly 82 percent of those new cases were transmitted through sexual intercourse, Xinhua said, up from 11.6 percent between 1985 and 2005.

"The distribution of HIV/AIDS cases in our country is now wider and more scattered than ever, posing great difficulties for prevention and control efforts," Wu Zunyou, the director of the Center, said according to Xinhua.

The Center said the number of HIV positive men 60 and above soared from 483 in 2005 to 3,031 in 2010, or 8.9 percent of the total HIV cases in the country.

That same age group accounted for 2,546 of all AIDS cases, or 11 percent. Infections among male college students between the ages of 20 and 24 has also risen, it said.

The number of officially registered HIV carriers and AIDS patients in China is expected to jump from 346,000 to 780,000 by the end of 2011 after the data is updated, Xinhua said.
China's government was initially slow to acknowledge the problem of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s and had sought to cover it up when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers in rural Henan province became infected through botched blood-selling schemes.

Beijing has since stepped up the fight, spending more on prevention programs, launching schemes to give universal access to anti-retroviral drugs to contain the disease, and introducing policies to curb discrimination.

But in a country where taboos surrounding sex remain strong and discussion of the topic is largely limited, people with HIV/AIDS say they are often stigmatized.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Pakistan News: BBC pulled off the airwaves

Why Pakistan pulled the BBC from airwaves

Pakistan cable news operators pulled the BBC off the airwaves after deeming a program called 'Secret Pakistan' one sided. The move reflects deepening public hostility toward the West.

By Issam AhmedCorrespondent / November 30, 2011
Pakistan’s cable news operators have taken BBC World News off the air and are “reviewing” the broadcast of other channels for “anti-Pakistan” content in the wake of the NATO cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last week.
The current row centers on a BBC documentary called “Secret Pakistan,” which covers the alleged double-dealing of Pakistan’s military with Taliban militants. The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association determined that between the show's timing and content it was anti-Pakistan propaganda that could offend viewers by playing down Pakistan's sacrifices against militants, so it pulled the channel from their cable networks. 
While an official in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority told the Monitor that the ban has was undertaken by private cable operators without official sanction, the move reflects deepening public hostility toward the West and raises concerns about censorship amid an overall opening up of media, particularly broadcast. 
“We want to send them [the West] a strong message to stop this [propaganda]. If they don’t stop this, then it is our right to stop them,” the organization's chairman, Khalid Arain, told local newspaper the Express Tribune.
He added that other channels like Britain’s Sky News would also be under review. At time of filing, US cable channel Fox News was the only foreign news channel available on cable news.
Over the past decade the opening up of media has arguably been the root of the democratic reforms the country has seen. While this ban is on the BBC, it could have a chilling effect on that domestic development.

Public opinion

Raza Rumi, a political and cultural commentator, says “Unfortunately, the uncalled for NATO attack has mobilized public opinion. [But] instead of constructing an alternative discourse, which highlight our concerns and national interest, we are being ‘reactive’ and the ban on BBC by cable operators is one such example.”
According to Mr. Rumi, the government could have stepped in to prevent the ban. Private ownership in Pakistani media exploded under the tenure of former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the early 2000s, but some recent examples of censorship have free-speech advocates worried.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority issued directives to mobile phone operators to ban a list of some 1,500 words (the ban has not yet been enforced), and last year some Facebook and YouTube were blocked over the "Draw Muhammad" cartoon competition.

NATO airstrike aftermath

The BBC ban, expected by observers to be temporary, comes at a time of media uproar over the NATO strike last Saturday that left 24 soldiers dead and prompted Pakistan to pull out of theBonn-conference on Afghanistan peace talks next week.
On Wednesday, Pakistani media outlets published the most detailed accounts yet of Pakistan’s Army’s version of events, suggesting the attack was not just unprovoked, but deliberate.
According to Maj.Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, the director general of military operations who briefed the Pakistani press on Tuesday, NATO jets approached their target just after midnight on Saturday night, opened fire, and returned 45 minutes later, despite knowing the exact location of the Pakistani posts. Prior to the first attack, NATO forces had received fire at a post some nine miles away from the incident.
According to an analyst who was present at the briefing, the Pakistani brigade had one anti-aircraft gun whose gunner was killed early on. When the brigade’s commanding officer went to replace him at his post, he too was “obliterated.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Congo's erupting volcano boosts tourism

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Stephanie Busari, CNN
November 28, 2011 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is inviting tourists on overnight treks to witness the latest lava eruptions from nearby Nyamulagira volcano.Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is inviting tourists on overnight treks to witness the latest lava eruptions from nearby Nyamulagira volcano.
Tourists to trek to see erupting DRC volcano
  • Virunga National Park in the DRC is inviting tourists on overnight treks to see an erupting volcano
  • Eight volcanoes are found in the vicinity of the national park but only two are currently active
  • Surrounding wildlife, like the endangered mountain gorillas, are out of harm 50 km away
Editor's note: This article is part of a series spotlighting the Democratic Republic of Congo as elections get underway on 28 November.
(CNN) -- Spewing red hot lava 300 meters in the air, an erupting volcano in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is turning the war-torn African country into an unlikely tourist destination.
Tourists have been visiting the Virunga National Park on overnight treks and in increasing numbers to witness the latest lava eruptions from the volcano, which have been flowing since November 6.
Mount Nyamulagira is considered to be the most active volcano in the area and for $300 each, around 60 to 70 volcano fans have been traveling an hour from the eastern city of Goma to the start of the trek at the Virunga National Park.
With the aid of the European Union, Virunga National Park has been a driver in boosting tourism to eastern Congo over the past few years.
Tourism officials predict that visitor numbers at Virunga National Park will rise to nearly 4,000 this year -- up from 1,800 in 2010, while Africa's oldest national park is expected to raise over $1 million in revenue for the first time in its history, according to a report in the International Business Times.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to eight national parks, five of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as being home to many endangered species, making it ripe territory for eco-tourism.
However statistics on the country, which has been embroiled in civil war since 1998, are grim reading. It is a place where women are systemically raped, children are forced to fight as soldiers and most people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day.
The colors are so much more vivid. It really is beautiful. We slept with our tents open so we could see it, and the tents face the volcano so we could see the explosions in the night.Ethan Kinsey, tour operator
But the volcano's proximity and its vivid colors are worth braving the rough terrain for, according to one of the first people to visit the area.
"We really wanted to go in," says Ethan Kinsey, a tour operator from Tanzania who was in one of the first overnight volcano treks. "(National park wardens) had to assess the safety of it and then we hiked in immediately."
On the northern side of the volcano, participants can watch lava spew out of the Earth from a tented camping site 1.5 kilometers away, which has been deemed safe by a volcanologist.
Kinsey says: "Where you look across at the volcano, there is nothing between you and it except a few piles of rock. It is really quite dramatic.
"You really don't know what is happening underneath (the ground) -- it could just blow up. But it seemed like pretty regular explosions."
Kinsey traveled into the national park with two friends and recommends staying overnight.
"The colors are so much more vivid ... It really is beautiful. We slept with our tents open so we could see it, and the tents face the volcano so we could see the explosions in the night."
Kinsey says he felt very at ease while on the trek despite the warnings about the region.
"There are a lot of people walking around with guns, a lot of people walking around with AK-47s, carrying rocket launchers ... But obviously, if the national parks are confident that they can provide a safe experience then it's safe," he says.
"The rebel activity that is causing instability is not targeted at tourists. It is not really targeted at the rangers either. I felt safe."
He added: "I think that there will be a lot of interest (in volcano trekking) so now I just have to spread it out and get it out there that we can do this."
The impoverished central African country also made its debut at the World Travel Market in London in September this year, signaling to the world that it means business when it comes to boosting tourism revenue.
In its efforts to promote tourism, the DRC government, in conjunction with the Institut Congo pour la Conservation de la Nature (Congolese Wildlife Authority), has recently launched a tourism visa that can be obtained online through Virunga's website for $50.
DRC borders Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda at the junction of the Rift Valley Lakes region, but despite the country's more varied biodiversity, Uganda and Rwanda generate more revenue from the gorilla tourism trade, because of the instability in the area according to analysts EuroMonitor.
Many governments currently warn their citizens against traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo due to extreme security risks as a result of continued military activity.
However, GoCongo, a tourist operator in the area, describes the DRC as a place of adventure.
The company wrote on their website: "No one goes there to rest and sit in a chair for a couple of weeks. Congo is an experience and asks for active people ... If you really need (five star) lodges, whisky on the rocks and your 20-channels television, please go somewhere else."
National park experts are unsure how long the volcano will continue to erupt, spraying vibrant lava and rocks into the sky.
The Virunga National Park, a World Heritage site has eight volcanoes that spread across the Virunga mountain range, but only two are currently active. The 7,900 hectare site is also home to critically endangered mountain gorillas.
"The area where the eruption is taking place is an area that has been affected by eruptions for around two-and-a half-years ... Our mountain gorillas don't live in that area. They are about 50 kilometers away so they are completely untouched," says Virunga National Park development officer Cai Tjeenk Willak said.