Saturday 8 August 2009

Ad' Campaign to Promote Sarkozy's Election Promise

The French government has launched a media blitz in an attempt
to convince people that it really is winning the battle to
increase purchasing power.

In the coming weeks the French will be treated to over 1,600 TV
commercials as well as Internet advertising and full page
spreads in the national and regional daily newspapers.

It's all part of a drive by the government to get across three
measures it has taken to increase purchasing power; the drop in
the security deposit required for renting and buying properties,
tax breaks for students and untaxed overtime for those who want

Nicolas Sarkozy's major promise during his campaign last year
in the run up to the presidential elections was that he would
increase the purchasing power of the average man and woman on
the street here in France.

The solution to boost the country's sluggish economy was
simple, he maintained. He would free up the job market and
release businesses from the shackles of the 35-hour working week
thereby giving people the chance to put in overtime without it
being taxed.

A general "work more to earn more" mantra echoed along the
corridors of power and would make its way through the land and
eventually into the pockets of the masses. At least that was the

Except it hasn't really turned out that way at all. By all
accounts people are still feeling the pinch, the economy isn't
booming and France remains a country in which half the
population earns less than €1,500 per month.

The media has been especially critical with Sarkozy and his
government, continually questioning when the promised increase
in purchasing power would actually happen.

Sarkozy, whose approval ratings have been hovering around the
35 per cent mark for a couple of months now, even admitted in
his 90-minute long televised interview back in April that there
had been a failure in his fiscal package - but only in terms of

And that's very much the line his government is now taking in
an effort to convince people that it's on the right track.

At the launch of the campaign earlier this week French prime
minister, François Fillon, insisted that measures had been in
place for over a year to boost purchasing power but the message
hadn't come across to the general public because the fiscal
changes that had been made were complicated and difficult to

That at least was his justification for blowing over €4 million
of taxpayers' money on a television and press campaign to
explain how the government is going to win the battle to
increase purchasing power.

All well and good but critics point out that the media blitz
could also be interpreted as propaganda on behalf of Sarkozy's
ruling Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular
Movement, UMP) party, aware that it had failed to deliver on an
election promise but trying to convince the public otherwise.

The government can also expect to face an uphill battle in its
attempts to convince a largely sceptical public if the latest
opinion polls are to be believed. They show that around 63 per
cent think the government is failing in its job to run the
economy properly.

Mind you both Sarkozy and Fillon can take some comfort from the
fact that the French traditionally seem to believe that their
governments aren't really up to the job of running the economy

A similar poll in 2006 when Dominique de Villepin was prime
minister showed 74 per cent unhappy with the economy, and under
his predecessor Jean-Pierre Raffarin in 2005, the level was at
69 per cent. So on that score at least Sarkozy-Fillon are doing
all right.

As a corollary, there's a perhaps a certain irony in the
government using TV commercials to get its message across at
exactly the same time as it's finalising plans for dropping
advertising from all public channels.

Maybe for once, the chairman of the Socialist party, François
Hollande, summed up best what many are thinking he when he said
"quand on n'a rien à dire en politique, on fait sa pub".

Which roughly translates as "When you have nothing to say in
politics, you talk about what you're doing rather than what
you're achieving." – pretty much a definition of "spin".

About The Author: Johnny Summerton is a Paris-based
broadcaster, writer and journalist specializing in politics,
sport and travel. For more on what's making the headlines here
in France, log on to his site at

Friday 7 August 2009

World Culture Association

Representing the cultures of the world understand each other, live in peace together! To draw on the rich tapestry of culture in our society, connecting individuals, groups and associations interested in culture and wanting to see a brighter world. This is to show the best of the world’s culture in a setting of friendship and understanding. Through beauty, to discover who we are and draw us closer as one world family.

For more information visit

CAIR: U.S. Mosques Urged to Host 'Share the Quran' Ramadan Meals

Islam's holy text to be given to local opinion leaders, policymakers

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today launched its annual "Sharing Ramadan" outreach effort designed to enhance understanding of Islam and to help Americans of all faiths meet their Muslim neighbors by taking part in a Ramadan "iftar," or fast-breaking meal.

In this year's outreach effort, Muslim communities nationwide are being encouraged to take advantage of CAIR's "Share the Quran" initiative to provide Islam's holy text to local opinion leaders and policymakers who attend the dinners each year.

SEE: Share the Quran

"Because many public officials, law enforcement authorities and community leaders are invited to Ramadan fast-breaking meals, it is a perfect opportunity to present them with a beautiful copy of the Quran for their reference libraries," said CAIR Board Chairman State Senator Larry Shaw (NC).

The CAIR Sharing Ramadan and Share the Quran campaigns are both designed to address the rising level of Islamophobia in American society. Research shows that anti-Muslim bias decreases when people have access to accurate information about Islam and are able to connect on a personal level with ordinary Muslims.

CAIR is also helping local Muslim communities organize "Sharing Ramadan" iftars by providing step-by-step instructions for hosting the events. The "Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2009" contains items such as a sample media advisory for an iftar, an advertisement for the event and a "Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast-Breaking" brochure designed to be copied and distributed to iftar participants.

CAIR's resource guide is available online at:

'Sharing Ramadan" Guide Table of Contents:

-- Welcome Letter from CAIR Executive Director

-- Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing an Iftar

-- Sample Media Advisory

-- Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast-Breaking Brochure

-- Ramadan FAQs

-- Islam/American Muslims FAQs

-- Sample Event Program

-- Sample Newspaper Ad

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: [email protected]; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: [email protected]

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations

Michael Jackson's Death, Swine Flu and Obama's Presidency Were Top Three Issues Used to Distribute Malware This Year

- PandaLabs' study finds that cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of latest news and current events to distribute malware

- Infidelity and how to catch cheating partners are also topics on the rise
GLENDALE, Calif., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Panda Security, the Cloud Security Company, today announced that PandaLabs, the company's laboratory for detecting and analyzing malware, has published an analysis of major malware campaigns in 2009 and determined that cybercriminals are more frequently using current events as their primary vehicles for distributing malware.

Michael Jackson's death, swine flu and Barack Obama's political campaign and presidency have been the top issues used by hackers in the past year to distribute viruses via email or through social media such as Twitter or Facebook. By being aware of people's increasing use of the Internet to search for the latest news on social events, virus creators are relying upon highly trafficked terms and the latest news items as bait to spread viruses.

Issues involving applications for spying on partners when suspecting infidelity are also highly successful. For example, attackers have been offering applications that supposedly allow people to read the SMS messages sent or received on a specific cell phone via the Internet. Visual representations of these types of messages can be found here on Flickr:

PandaLabs' study of the top issues cybercriminals used from January to July to distribute viruses resulted in the following breakdown:

Topic %
Michael Jackson's death 30%
H1N1 (swine flu) virus 27%
Obama's campaign and presidency 11%
Software to spy on partners' SMSs 9%
Independence Day 8%
Reuters agency news 5%
Online shopping discount vouchers 4%
Valentine's Day cards 2%
Farrah Fawcett's death 2%
Links to Pussycat Dolls videos 1%
Other 1%
One of the most active virus families as of late is Waledac. Waledac appeared two years ago and is still thriving, using topics like those above. For more information about these techniques, please visit:

Simple Tips to Avoid Falling Victim

Usually, once attackers have attracted attention, they redirect users to web pages to view or download something. However, YouTube's official website, for example, does not require users to download a codec to watch videos. If you are taken to a Web page that looks exactly the same as a legitimate one, such as YouTube, for example, make sure that the URL displayed in the address bar is the official one.

If you don't know what the official address is, find it by performing a search in any of the search engines that you normally use. Generally, the first result corresponds to the official site.

You can use security software to avoid carrying out these checks manually.

If you do not have a solution that provides this service and do not know whether the Web page accessed is dubious, you can still prevent your computer from being infected. Remember that you must agree to the file download for the malicious code to download and install on the system. Finally, scan every file with a security solution before running it.

About PandaLabs

Since 1990, its mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible to offer our clients maximum security. To do so, PandaLabs has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of collective intelligence, Panda Security's new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions.

Currently, 99.4 percent of malware detected by PandaLabs is analyzed through this system of collective intelligence. This is complemented through the work of several teams, each specialized in a specific type of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, spam, etc), who work 24/7 to provide global coverage. This translates into more secure, simpler and more resource-friendly solutions for clients.

More information is available in the PandaLabs blog:

SOURCE Panda Security

Thursday 6 August 2009

U.S. Senate confirms Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court

The Senate confirms Sonia Sotomayor to become a justice of U.S. Supreme Court. She becomes the first Hispanic to join the nation's highest court.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES U.S. SENATE TV - Judge Sonia Sotomayor won U.S. Senate approval on Thursday (August 06, 2009) to become the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Democratic-led Senate voted largely along party lines, 68-31, to approve President Barack Obama's nomination of Sotomayor for the lifetime appointment on the highest U.S. court.

The large number of Republican "no" votes reflected the party's resistance to the Democratic president on several fronts including his bid to overhaul healthcare.

When sworn in, Sotomayor, a federal appeals judge in New York since 1998, will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the 220-year-old Supreme Court.

"A more diverse supreme court is a better supreme court," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Sotomayor.

Democrats hailed Sotomayor as fair-minded but Republicans charged she lacked impartiality.

Critics had zeroed in on her past comments that a "wise Latina" woman might reach a better decision than a white man.

At her confirmation hearing Sotomayor offered no apology but said a jurist had to guard against internal prejudice.

In replacing retired Justice David Souter, Sotomayor is not expected to change the court's ideological balance. Souter sided with the liberal wing of the court, which in recent years often issued 5-4 rulings in favor of conservatives.

The appointment underscores an effort by Obama, six months in office, to move the court to the left after eight years of rightward pushing by his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush.

"These core American ideals -- justice, equality, and opportunity -- are the very ideals that have made Judge Sotomayor's own uniquely American journey possible," Obama said. "They're ideals she's fought for throughout her career, and the ideals the Senate has upheld today in breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union."

Zambian journalist on trial over childbirth pictures

A Zambian journalist went on trial for distributing obscene materials on Wednesday (August 5) after she sent the vice president photographs of a woman giving birth.
Chansa Kabwela, news editor at Zambia's The Post newspaper, was arrested last month after she sent selected senior officials images of the woman giving birth without medical assistance during a national health workers' strike over pay.

The case has grabbed national headlines, with various rights groups accusing the government of harassment.

"This case is a very emotional case in the sense that as artists and people who benefit from the media and freedom of information, we feel this is a wrong case altogether, because the charges that have been brought against Chansa Kabwela, first of all we feel they are not worthy charges to be brought before the courts of law, because they are charges that have been instigated by the Head of State for whatever reasons," said Michael Zulu, a popular Zambian musician who joined Kabwela's supporters at the court house.

Kabwela told Reuters the woman's family had taken the pictures and given them to the newspaper, and that since they were not publishable, she had sent them to government officials so that they could stop the strike.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda condemned the Post for circulating what he called pornography.

"It's clear what is coming out is that the state has no issue at all, they are fishing, really, they are fishing and are unable to pick the fish because they are fishing from a dry pond," Sheik Chifuwe, secretary general of the Press Freedom Committee.

The health workers' strike that led to the case ended on June 29th, after the government threatened to recruit health workers from neighbouring countries.

Source - REUTERS

Bank of England tips in more cash

The Bank of England wrongfooted most economists on Thursday when it unexpectedly hiked its quantitative easing programme to 175 billion pounds.

The Bank of England says it will pump even more money into the British economy.

In a surprise move Britain's central bank raised its quantitative easing programme by 50 billion pounds, from 125 to 175 billion.

The move is designed not to boost growth, but to ensure inflation remains around the Bank's 2 percent target.

Peter Warburton is director of Economic Perspectives.

Peter Warburton, Economic Perspectives director saying,

"I'm delighted, I think it's much too soon to abandon this policy and I'm glad we have the additional scope."

While a spate of recent data points to an economic recovery, the Bank of England says it remains worried about a widening output gap.

And the Bank says more quantitative easing remains an option.

As expected its interest rate remained at 0.5 percent.

And there were no surprises in Thursday's other major announcement, as the European Central Bank kept its interest rate at a record low one percent.

ECB president, Jean-Claude Trichet, warned the euro zone will remain weak, despite a more positive outlook.

European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, saying:

"While uncertainty is still high there are increasing signs that the global recession is bottling out. As regards the Euro area, recent surveys suggest that the pace of contraction is clearly slowing down. However, economic activity over the remainder of this year is expected to remain weak."

The Euro Zone's gross domestic product plunged by 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

The ECB has slashed interest rates by 325 basis points since October.

Analysts expect this level to remain until the end of the third quarter in 2010.

Andrew Potter, Reuters

Dungeon votes British PM top villain

An effigy of Gordon Brown, Britain's Prime Minister, is place in medieval stocks and pelted with fruit and eggs after being voted Britain's top villian by visitors to a London tourist attraction.

An unusual sight to greet commuters as they make their way past popular tourist attraction the London Dungeon.

An effigy of Gordon Brown being put in medieval stocks and pelted with fruit and eggs.

In medieval England, stocks were used for torture and public humiliation of criminals.

London Dungeon asked 400 people who they regarded as the country's top modern day villian - the British Prime minister topped the list.

Their PR officer Ellie Cowley:


"It's just a bit of tongue and cheek fun. The London Dungeons are a very cheeky kind of attraction. It's just a chance for the public to vent some frustrations. I obviously don't recommend that they go and pelt the real Gordon Brown with some rotten eggs. I don't think he would appreciate that very much."

Gordon Brown's popularity has been mostly fading since he took over as prime minister from Tony Blair in 2007. And for some, the recession hasn't helped.


"He actually hasn't done much to help us at the moment. He really made a mess of everything. So it's probably a good thing."


"I think it's a good idea. It's just a shame it's not the real Gordon Brown because we would like to pelt him with some rotten eggs. He brought this country to its knees.

It seems the London Dungeon has latched on the mood of the moment - political commentators say Brown is almost certain to be defeated at the next general election by opposition Conservative leader David Cameron.

Matthew Stock, Reuters.

Clinton says it's a 'great regret' the U.S aren't signatories to the ICC

America's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it is a "great regret" that the U.S. is not yet a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

NAIROBI, KENYA (AUGUST 06, 2009) REUTERS - The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in Nairobi on Thursday (August 6) it was a "great regret" that her country was not a signatory to the International Criminal Court - the world's first permanent war crimes court.
The U.S. signed the ICC treaty when Hillary's husband, Bill Clinton, was president, but it was never ratified by Congress. Clinton's successor George W. Bush later rejected the idea of joining the court.

"That is a great regret, but it is a fact that we are not yet a signatory," she said at a public meeting in the Kenyan capital.

"Well I think we could have worked out some of the challenges that are raised concerning our membership by our own government, but that has not yet come to pass," Clinton said.

The ICC was set up in 2002 to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.

It has fought to fend off criticism that it has so far only investigated crimes in Africa -- in conflicts in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Darfur. It has issued indictments against Uganda's rebel leader Joseph Kony and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

With the recent addition of the Czech Republic, 110 countries have ratified the Rome statute. Absent from the list are the United States, Russia, China and Israel.

Under the new administration of President Barack Obama, there have been hints of greater U.S. cooperation with the ICC, although no formal shift in policy.

The court only has jurisdiction over crimes committed after July 1, 2002, in countries that have ratified its treaty.

Clinton is due to meet Somalia's president later on Thursday, showing U.S. support for a fragile government that is battling militants including al Shabaab insurgents.

She said she would discuss with President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed how the world could help stabilise the Horn of Africa country, which Western security agencies say is a haven for militants plotting attacks in the region and beyond.

"The legitimacy of his election (Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's) is something we want to recognise and support him as he tries to assert governance over parts of Somalia that have been riven with conflict since 1992. It's a tragedy. There are many Somalis in Nairobi and in Kenya who would love to go home so that they can make a living and raise their families in peace and they cannot. So our goal is to try to help create conditions of stability." she said at a forum at Nairobi university.

Clinton took questions from participants at the meeting ranging from Kenya's governance to the environment.

Asked if the U.S. was ready to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2015, Clinton said President Barack Obama's administration was investing heavily to do so, even ahead of a landmark environmental meeting set for Copenhagen in December.

"The United states is now -- under president Obama's leadership -- accepting our responsibility of having been historically the largest greenhouse gas emitter. We are moving very aggressively. We put about 90 billion dollars into a fund in our own country to develop technology to make changes so we can actually begin to reduce our emissions regardless of what Copenhagen ends up with," said Clinton.

On another topic, the ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a focus for Clinton's seven nation Africa visit. She will visit Goma where she plans to highlight the plight of women who are raped and subjected to other atrocities.

"It is the worst example of man's inhumanity to women... and women are being used in conflicts. Now what are the conflicts about? Yes there are tribal and other reasons why the conflicts are going on, but get below the surface. It is because there are mines in eastern Congo that produce the minerals that go into our cellphones and our other electronics. There is a lot of money being made by a lot of people but it sure isn't helping the people of the DRC," said Clinton.

Another subject on her DRC agenda with Congolese leaders will be the need to fight corruption.

The DRC is of huge strategic importance to the region and home to U.S. corporate interests in the mining industry.

Hiroshima's legacy

More than 60 years after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima -- it continues to shape thinking on nuclear policy.ShotlistStory
August 6, 1945, 8:15 AM. The US drops the first atom bomb, striking Hiroshima. The attack lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, and leveled the city. Koji Kobayashi, was nine years old at the time -- he was in school when the bomb struck.

Hiroshima survivor Koji Kobayashi, saying:

"I fainted because of the broken school house, but my mother could be in time to dig me out of broken school house with help of neighbors."

Three days later another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

The US entered World War II after Japan struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Japan surrendered on August 15 -- less than a week after Nagasaki.

Mark Clodfelter of the National War College:

Mark Clodfelter of the National War College, saying:

"It was viewed as payback, retribution for what the Japanese had done and I don't think many Americans regretted what we were doing, particularly if what we did ended the war sooner and saved American lives."

Even today polls show most Americans think it was the right thing to do -- according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

At the time the US was the sole nuclear power.

Now some 64 years later, the US and Russia have restarted talks on reducing their arsenals. Obama said even if full elimination does not happen in his lifetime -- it is the right pursuit.

Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund.

Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, saying:

"In the last few years we've seen a remarkable shift in international opinion both in the publics and among the security elite, what these nuclear weapons are now seen as not an instrument of safety and security, but a liability,

Cirincione thinks the biggest barrier to eliminating these weapons is cynicism that it could ever happen.

Hiroshima survivor Koji Kobayashi, saying:

"Let's be smart enough for us human being, stay alive."

The 73-year-old Kobayashi marked the 64th anniversary of the bombings at a service in New York.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.

Volunteer Abroad with a Clean Conscience

It is understandable why the green lobby and the tourism
industry has brought into question the justification for
volunteering abroad and why volunteers sometimes feel like
they are caught in a conundrum.

Global warming is one of the most serious threats facing the
world and some of the leading campaign groups have stated that
the most ethical thing we can do for the environment is to stay
at home. Whilst we can all agree that the best form of travel is
to avoid flying, we should not stop flying altogether. That would
send us back to the dark ages with massive unemployment (1 in 10
people work in the tourism sector), business recession, and
increased poverty (deepening recession, increased unemployment
and worsening poverty is not conducive to creating new lower
carbon technologies and lifestyles).

There are many people who rely on tourism for their livelihoods
and many natural habitats depend on visitors for their survival.
If you want evidence of this you should look no further than
Latin America. Tourism is a big contributor to the economy of
many Latin American countries and the industry generated nearly
US$2 billion in Costa Rica alone in 2007 (three-fifths of GNP).
Tourism helps support some of Latin America's most fragile
natural habitats and if we stopped flying there many national
parks and private reserves will lose their incomes, deforestation
will increase and global warming will accelerate. Unless we
support the people and communities now making money through
ecotourism they have no other choice but to exploit natural

Similarly, it is worth noting the importance of international
volunteers to conservation efforts in the region. Without the
commitment and financial support of international volunteers,
many organizations would be unable to carry out their vital work.
This is because there is generally very little governmental or
outside support for these organisations and the projects which
they manage. Your contribution as a volunteer could help ensure
the long-term survival of a tropical forest or an endangered
species. This is because you are actively participating in the
conservation of that habitat or species. The participation of
international volunteers also enables money to reach grassroots
level of society and this can change a small communities
perception of their environment or an endangered species.

The question of whether it is possible to be an ethical volunteer
seems to largely rest on the ability to make informed choices
before and during your trip. If you choose the right project,
minimise the impact of your travel, maximise the benefits for
local economies, and stay for a considerable period of time, then
you can most definitely volunteer abroad with a clean conscience.

It is worth mentioning the importance of choosing the right
project before setting off and the key message is - do your
research if you want to so some really valuable work. Prospective
volunteers must examine the work they will be doing and how it
affects local people and the natural environment. Although there
are some good placement companies out there, a do-it-yourself
placement is the most ethical form of volunteering as you work
directly with the host organization. You also have the assurance
that all your money goes to the cause rather than paying for the
marketing and administration expenses of a volunteer placement
(sending) agency. If you opt to work through an agency please be
aware that some of these agencies offer little more than
glorified holidays and others are more interested in making money
than helping the environment or providing sustainable and
well-targeted help for local communities. No one benefits from
these placements apart from the companies that organise them. An
ethical volunteer ensures that as much of their money as possible
reaches the grassroots level of society. Eco-conscious travellers
should consider contributing to a project that helps reduce the
impact of climate change and/or provides a hands-on approach to
offsetting their own carbon emissions.

It is also worth mentioning the length of time volunteers spend
overseas. You are clearly going to do more harm than good if you
travel all the way to Costa Rica from the UK (a carbon-heavy
8,700km flight) to rescue sea turtles and stay for only a few
weeks. To maximise the benefits for local communities and negate
the environmental impact of your flight you need to contribute to
a project for a much longer period of time. A long stay is more
sustainable if travelling long distances as this will enable you
to minimise the impact of your flight. The time spent as a
volunteer is time not spent contributing to carbon emissions in
your home country (i.e. non use of home appliances, zero
emissions form you car, etc). A long stay also eliminates the
need to take several shorter holidays throughout the year.

In reality, the dramatic growth in short breaks and cheap flights
is a more pressing issue than questioning the justification for
volunteering abroad, particularly if volunteers wish to devote
their time and energy to do something positive for the
environment. Those who want to stop us flying should focus more
on the business and the leisure side of flying rather people
wanting to make a difference (e.g. those that fly with a
purpose). The destruction of the Amazon and other tropical
forests around the world should also be a priority for campaign
groups (e.g. air travel accounts for less than 5% of carbon
dioxide emissions, clearing tropical forests for agriculture is
estimated to produce 18% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions
- more than the entire global transport system).

Stephen Knight is the webmaster of Volunteer Latin
America and the main contributor to the Latin Lounge
( We enable
volunteers to work abroad without paying large
participation or placement fees. We are your gateway
to independent volunteering in Central and South America.
Learn more at:

Wednesday 5 August 2009

U.N. chief urges Myanmar to carefully consider any verdict in the trial for Aung San Suu Kyi

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Myanmar to give "careful consideration" to any verdict in the trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ban also called for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.
Ban met with the "Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Myanmar" for a closed-door meeting inside the United Nations headquarters on Wednesday (August 5).

After the meeting, Ban told reporters, "I informed the members of the group that I had met on July 31st with the permanent representative of Myanmar and my request to reiterate two key messages which I delivered directly to Myanmar's senior leadership during my visit. The first, my clear expectations and that of the international community that the government of Myanmar will give careful consideration to the implications of any verdict in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi and use this opportunity to exercise its responsibility to ensure her immediate release. And secondly, the international community has high expectations that the government of Myanmar will act in Myanmar's interests by taking timely and positive steps in follow up to the specific proposals which I made the to the senior leadership during my visit starting with the release of all political prisoners so that they could participate in a credible and inclusive political process," said Ban.

Ban's meeting comes one week before the expected verdict in the case. Suu Kyi is on trial for breaching the terms of her house arrest after John Yettaw, an American Vietnam War veteran, swam to her lakeside house and stayed uninvited for two nights. The verdict is expected on Tuesday, August 11, but could be delayed.

Suu Kyi faces five years in prison and critics say it is an attempt by Myanmar's military rulers to ensure the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize winner remains in detention until after next year's elections.


An opening for North Korea talks?

After Former US President Bill Clinton secured the release of two American journalists held in North Korea, increasingly there speculation that trip could signal an opening for North Korea to resume talks

A homecoming for two journalists. Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrive in Los Angeles with former President Bill Clinton, who had secured their release in North Korea.

Ling said the end came when she and her fellow reporter for Current TV were told they needed to go to a meeting.

Journalist Laura Ling, saying:

"We were taken to a location and when we walked in through the doors we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton. We were shocked. But, we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end."

President Barack Obama welcomed the news.

US President Barack Obama, saying:

"I want to thank President Bill Clinton. I had a chance to talk to him, for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists."

The White House offered no details of Clinton's trip, but analysts suggest his visit and discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il could open the way to direct talks on the country's nuclear weapons program.

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, saying:

"My hope is that this might be an opportunity to help push the North back into discussions, both bilateral and multilateral, the six party talks. That we're going to have to see, that to me is the critical issue of trying to resolve the issue of the nuclear weapons and missile tests. 12.01.22

Washington faces a tricky task of trying to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions without seeming to reward it for repeated military action.

John Park of the US Institue of Peace.

John Park of the US Institute of Peace, saying:

"But managing expectations is incredibly important because as much as this is an opening that could potentially led to some kind of restarting of talks, the bar has been set very very high in terms of the conditions under which North Korea comes back and what would be discussed."

Last year North Korea last year quit on-and-off six-party talks with the US, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea and has since suggested it will only talk to Washington.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

New role for Bill Clinton?

Former President Bill Clinton's success in gaining the release of two American journalists from North Korea may signal a new role for the 42nd president as an elder statesman -- with relevance -- who can serve as a roving U.S. ambassador.

The rave reviews Mr. Clinton is receiving now are a far cry from the heavy criticism he received during last year's Democratic Presidential primaries, when his efforts to support his wife Hillary Clinton's candidacy at times backfired.

Julian Zelizer is a presidential scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

Julian Zelizer, history professor, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, saying:

"What happened during the Democratic primaries was he looked again not like a post President, but a very political and partisan figure. So I think by resolving a very delicate international crisis, doing this without then need for military intervention, I think he elevates his stature both within the United States, but also abroad."

Since serving two terms as president, Bill Clinton has carved a high-profile path in private life-- establishing the Clinton Global Initiative and a charitable foundation -- which seek to combat poverty and climate change and promote health and education programs worldwide.

He's also teamed up with former President George H.W. Bush to establish the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, to help hurricane survivors, and Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund.

But it is the publicity surrounding his successful 24-hour trip to North Korea that some analysts suggest may provide the former president with a platform to help President Barack Obama in other hot spots around the world.

Julian Zelizer, history professor, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, saying:

"He's a broker and an effective broker, I don't know if he's seen as an honest broker. I think some of Clinton's reputation and memories of him as President lingers both here and abroad, someone who is willing to compromise, someone who's willing to say one thing and do another, that's part of who he was. But that doesn't mean he can't be a very effective negotiator."

The big question is whether and when Obama will call upon the former president again on the larger question of North Korea's nuclear program, or to help him tackle other tough issues around the globe.

Jon Decker, Reuters.

Outraged Brazil sends trash back to Britain

A ship loaded with 1,600 tonnes of rubbish set sail on Wednesday (August 5) to return the rotting cargo to Britain from Brazil, where it had been shipped falsely declared as plastic for recycling.
Eighty-nine containers packed with trash that includes dirty diapers, used syringes, food waste and computer parts were hoisted on to the freighter MSC Oriane in the early morning hours at Santos, South America's largest port.

The incident outraged many Brazilians and prompted President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to criticize Britain and developed nations for urging higher environmental standards while using developing nations as garbage dumps.

Brazilian environment minister Carlos Minc has said he would raise the issue with Britain's climate change minister, Ed Miliband, who is currently on an official visit to Brazil.

Criminal investigations are under way in Britain and Brazil to discover how the waste came to be shipped this year and last to Santos and another port further south.

Brazil has fined firms that imported or handled the waste.

Ana Alice Pereira, head of the Brazilian environment enforcement agency Ibama in Sao Paulo, said Britain would also be held accountable for the waste containers.

"The responsibility, all those involved in this episode have been indicted, but there is a full investigation behind the facts that is still taking place. But the British government is also responsible because this garbage was sent from there," she said.

According to Ibama, the importing firms said they had been expecting shipments of recyclable plastic. But even the company that alerted the authorities to the trash was fined because it had no license to recycle.

Brazilian law prohibits the import of household waste for any purpose, including recycling.

Retiree Herberto Gomes, a Santos resident, said there was no reason for Brazil to be treated as a third world country.

"I think this was a lack of respect with the Brazilian people. Just because we are an emerging country, they think we're not important, but we continue to receive everyone in our country with our arms wide open, without prejudice of race, religion or color. Why do they treat us like this," he said, questioning Britain's attitude.

British police arrested three men in late July but no formal charges have been brought against them and they have been released on bail after surrendering their passports.

From unemployed to self-employed

Courtney Adams has always loved cooking. As a kid she baked brownies for her friends and in college her apartment was the place to go to for a home-cooked meal. But she never thought she'd cook for a living. That is until she was laid off from Sony music in December, after working in the music business for more than eight years.

She started the new year without a job and no substantial savings.

Courtney Adams, owner of Uptown Comfort, saying:

"You don't learn how to save until you realize what the effects of not saving could be. I was financially responsible but my lifestyle was according to working. It changes very drastically."

After recovering from the shock, Adams launched her catering company called Uptown Comfort.

Courtney Adams, owner of Uptown Comfort, saying:

"My boyfriend Chris was the first one to say 'you know people would pay for this'. You've been entertaining for a really long time and maybe that's what you really should do because it's something I'm passionate about."

Courtney participated in Fasttrac, a program that helps new entrepreneurs with their business plans.

Tom Moebus is the Vice President of The Levin Institute which helps organize the program.

Tom Moebus, Vice President of The Levin Institute, saying:

"Times like this people are definitely more apt to start their own businesses, they're out of work, they're trying to make something happen and they'll use this opportunity."

Adams, who is self-taught, focuses on comfort food like lasagna, mac and cheese and bbq chicken sliders. On small jobs she cooks from her home. For the larger contracts she rents an incubator kitchen and hires extra staff. Her cash flow is tight but she has no regrets.

Courtney Adams, owner of Uptown Comfort, saying:

"For each person you really have to figure out what your skills are and how they can be exploited. The same way you work for anybody else you can easily work for yourself."

Since starting her business three months ago, Adams has landed ten clients mainly through word-of-mouth and networking. She also recently catered an event for 500 people.

Karina Huber, Reuters.

Clinton talks trade in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Kenya, her first stop in a seven-nation Africa tour.

Her arrival comes as the US is looking at ways to boost trade with sub-Saharan Africa.

That trade now accounts for little more than 1 percent of total U.S. exports and about only 3 percent of U.S. imports.

At a gathering of the Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum Clinton sounded an optimistic note.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying:

"The ingredients are all here for an extraordinary explosion of growth, prosperity and progress

Clinton's seven nation tour, following U.S. President Barack Obama trip to Ghana last month, gives the US a chance to recalibrate its relationship with Africa, as it increasingly competes with China on the continent.

China's diplomatic and trade links with Africa have deepened in recent years, with most investments dominated by minerals and oil.

Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation.

Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation., saying:

"China has in ways quiet different from us been pursuing a kind of mercantile and commercial approach to African economic development where I think our approach to African on the whole has been more a philanthropic exercise. As sort of a Sunday school exercise of trying to help deal with poverty, AIDS, the sort of down side problems of Africa. And, I think that you know the difficultly in that is it puts us always in the dower, the sort of the worst bucket of problems, and China on the other hand is building everything from football stadiums to dams and telecommunications facilities and to some degree on an economic basis China has been building the new economic and political elites in these countries."

Clinton's top diplomat for Africa has dismissed talk of rivalry with China in Africa , saying the White House was not following a "Cold War paradigm."

Clinton's trip includes stops in South Africa and Nigeria.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

An international team of scientists aims prove nuclear fusion is the power source of the future

It is just a building site at the moment but an international team of scientists hopes this will be the launch pad for a new, clean, unlimited energy source.

This is the south of France, the home of ITER - formerly the International Thermo-nuclear Experimental Reactor.

Neil Calder is the project's head of Communications.


"it is a game-changer. If this works we will have inexhaustible, unlimited energy for humanity with none of the drawbacks of some of the other current energy sources."

Fusion works by forcing atoms together to release energy.

It is the reaction that is taking place constantly in the sun and occasionally here on earth.

This is a tokamak -- a machine capable of containing a gas heated to more than a million degrees Celsius in a magnetic field.

"The whole point of this project isn't to prove if we can do fusion or not, we already know that. Machines like this and a handful of others around the world have proven that. What we need to know now is can make on of these work for long enough and turn it into a power station."

Gary Johnson is charged with overseeing the design of ITER's tokamak and changing the way we generate power.


"The high-side is essentially unlimited fuel. You know, we get deuterium out of seawater, essentially, virtually limitless. It is a very clean technology, no greenhouse gases. It is a very safe technology. You put all that together, if we can make this work it is going to be a great option for the very long term, you know, lets say fifty years and as far into the future as we can see."

Nearly 400 scientists and engineers from around the world are involved in project - to find an answer to our increasing energy needs.

They are designing a machine capable of containing a miniature star for up to 50 minutes - the record is currently less than 10.

If they succeed they will have blueprint for the power stations of the future - fuelled by seawater.


"We know our energy needs are going to continue to go up over the long term. We have to have something that will provide these energy resources for the long term. Fusion is part of the answer we think."

ITER began life at a summit between Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in 1985 - but what started as a thaw in the Cold War has been spurred by global warming, and the result could benefit us all.

Stuart McDill, Reuters, Provence

small caps can lead us out of recession

Business week agrees: small caps can lead us out of recession - Smaller companies may carry greater weight for many investors

MIAMI, FL, Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ - In a recent Esquire column of July 15th 2009, Ken Kurson states his case on small cap stocks.

Today's Alerts include: General Motors Corp., Citigroup Inc., American Intl Group Inc., Bank of America, and Yahoo Inc..

"Everyone knows that small caps outperform large caps over the long haul, with the overperformance linked to the higher risk supposedly represented by companies with market caps under $1 billion," Kurson writes. "As we've watched alleged blue chips like Lehman, AIG, GM, Chrysler, Citi, and Countrywide crumble, the wisdom of that risk-reward profile seems dubious."

His conclusion? "That's why I love small-cap stocks to lead out of recessions. Their businesses tend to be single-minded and far less financially engineered than those of hydra-headed conglomerates. And they also tend to carry less debt, especially compared with the engorgements large companies were encouraged to undergo in the past decade."

More nimble + More ideas + Less debt = all the ingredients for a great future...and a great potential opportunity for investors.

Small- and micro-cap research source focuses solely on emerging companies it believes are poised for growth and could offer potential for investors who act early. In an effort to help these investors make educated and sound decisions, the team publishes a twice-monthly research report (currently available at no charge) with thorough coverage of what it believes to be the most promising companies and stocks out there.

About is a U.S.-based leading market research provider, specializing in micro-cap and small-cap companies, many of which are not covered by most Wall Street investment advisors. We believe smaller emerging companies represent potentially significant opportunities. Our mission is to provide both the experienced and newer investors who subscribe to our information services with the relevant and necessary information they seek before making investment decisions. For more information and to reserve your free subscription, please visit: Disclosure is not a registered investment advisor and nothing contained in any materials should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. is a wholly owned entity of a financial public relations firm. Please visit our website,, for complete risks and disclosures.

Christopher Lim of is a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers, CRD number 2124654.


Tuesday 4 August 2009

Protests continue as Pakistan suspects Al Qaeda allies killed Christians

As protests continue in Pakistani cities, the government say Islamist militants from groups linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban are suspected of being behind the mob violence that killed eight Christians in central Pakistan over the weekend.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (AUGUST 4, 2009) REUTERS - As protests continue in Pakistani cities, the government said on Tuesday (August 4) Islamist militants from groups linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban are suspected of being behind the mob violence that killed eight Christians in central Pakistan over the weekend.
The army is battling a Taliban insurgency in the northwest, and there are fears that jihadis based in the central province of Punjab, where the attack on Christians took place, could become more active in trying to destabilise mostly-Muslim Pakistan.

Over 50 men, women and children marched through the streets in the capital Islamabad in a protest rally on Tuesday.

"Today we are protesting against the spilling of Christian blood. We will take revenge for the blood of Christians," said Tasneem Kausar, chairperson of Pakistan Minorities Methodist Churches Committee.

Incensed by unsubstantiated allegations that the Koran had been desecrated by a Christian, an angry mob torched dozens of houses in the town on Saturday (August 01), killing eight people, including four women and a child.

The governor for Punjab province, Salman Taseer visited Gojra on Tuesday.

"Yes, they are the ones who had been driven out of Swat. They are involved (in the rioting). God willing, we will also expel them from Punjab," he told reporters.

Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), an outlawed pro-Taliban Sunni Muslim sectarian group, and its al Qaeda-linked offshoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), were suspected of orchestrating the attack in Gojra town, according to Rana Sanaullah, Punjab's law minister.

Sanaullah said "masked men" had come from the nearby district of Jhang, birthplace of both SSP and LeJ, to incite the anti-Christian rioting in Gojra.

Around 150 people were detained for questioning.

The government received an intelligence report two months ago suggesting that militants were switching from suicide bombings to inciting sectarian strife in the country, Sanaullah said.

Dozens of Christians alongwith activists of a major Islamic party Jamat-e-Islami protested in the southern city of Karachi.

"We have confidence in government and we want justice. The obstacles, due to which injustice and tyranny take place, should be removed," said reverend Avarist Pinto, the Archbishop of Karachi.

A deputy leader of Jamat-e-Islami party, while addressing the protest rally, said the Gojra incident has brought shame to Muslims as Islam is a religion of peace.

SSP was founded in the 1980s and is primarily connected to sectarian violence against minority Shi'ite Muslims. It was officially banned in January 2002.

LeJ, a splinter group of SSP, has forged ties with al Qaeda.

Militants from LeJ were behind a suicide truck bomb attack that killed 55 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad last year, and LeJ members were also involved in attempts to assassinate former president Pervez Musharraf.

Minorities, including Christians, account for roughly four percent of Pakistan's 170 million population.

Muslims and minorities generally live in harmony but Islamist militants, angered by Pakistan's alliance with the United States since 2001, have carried out periodic attacks on them as part of a campaign to destabilise the state.