Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Itchier poison may increase with Global Warming

Here is another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy.

The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers reported on Monday.

Higher carbon dioxide levels expected in the next 50 years could breed ivies that grow twice as fast, and, unexpectedly, manufacture a nastier form of poison, research in the United States have shown.

"It'll be more dangerous to go in the forest," team leader Jacqueline Mohan of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts was quoted by Nature magazine as saying.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which grows as a shrub or tree-climbing vine, is already the scourge of gardeners and hikers in North America for the excruciating skin rash it can trigger. The plant makes a fatty toxin called urushiol in its leaves.

Unlike trees, which use extra carbon to grow more wood, vines use it to produce more leaves. The extra leaves help the plant to harvest even more carbon dioxide, the cycle continues and the vines flourish.

Brain Secrets Breakthrough

A YOUNG Australian scientist has unlocked a secret of the mind that has puzzled brain specialists for decades.

Victor Anggono, 25, has discovered how brain cells communicate with each other, opening a new window on brain research.

Mr Anggono has found how two important proteins, syndapin and dynamin, communicate.

Scientists had long believed syndapin had no major role in nerve communication.

Mr Anggono said the new understanding could help scientists understand, and potentially cure, brain disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

Sands' Singapore casino hits a financing jackpot

Las Vegas Sands, which last week beat three rival bids to develop Singapore's first casino-resort, said Tuesday that banks including Citigroup have lined up $6 billion to fund the project.

Between six and eight banks, including Goldman Sachs Group, HSBC Holdings and Lehman Brothers Holdings, have committed financing for the casino, Bill Weidner, chief operating officer at Las Vegas Sands, said in Singapore.

The money on offer to Las Vegas Sands, the world's biggest casino operator by market value, is almost double the company's 5 billion Singapore dollar, or $3.2 billion, bid for the contract. Singapore authorities chose Las Vegas Sands over MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment and Malaysia's Genting.

"We will offer the Singapore government entirely external financing that's not dependent on Singapore capital," Weidner said. "With the highest market cap among casino operators, that gives us the flexibility on financing."

Weidner said the project would be financed with equity and debt, and that a portion of the loan would be guaranteed by the parent company.

Las Vegas Sands is upbeat about the prospects of getting good earnings from its integrated resort at Marina Bay.

Its Chief Operating Officer, William Weidner, expects to break even as early as 5 years from the start of operations.

Sands, which owns The Venetian on The Strip and Sands Macau, is set to go big on conventions for its Singapore Marina project, setting aside enough convention space to host up to 54,000 delegates.

Its offer will also include an ArtScience museum, six signature restaurants with celebrity chefs and two theatres with a seating capacity of 2,000 each.

Sands has also pledged to provide over 10,000 jobs at the Singapore resort, with 75 percent of them going to the locals.

Maradona: Argentina's football legend

EVEN footballing non-believers do not need telling that he attributed the most infamous moment of the 1986 World Cup to a divine power. Yes, the infamous hand of God goal.

Maradona led the Argentine national team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, the team winning 3–2 in the final against West Germany. Throughout the 1986 World Cup, Maradona asserted his dominance and was widely regarded as the best player of the tournament. However, it was the two goals he scored in the quarter-final game against England which cemented his legend.

Action replay footage showed that the first goal was scored with the aid of his hand. He later claimed it was the "Hand of God" and described it as "A little of the hand of God, and a little of the head of Maradona," implying that God was ultimately responsible for the goal, because the referee had missed the handball offense.

However, on 22 August 2005 Maradona acknowledged on his television show that he hit the ball with his hand purposely and that he immediately knew the goal was illegitimate. He recalled thinking right after the goal that "I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came . . . I told them, 'Come hug me, or the referee isn't going to allow it.'"

In contrast, however, Maradona's second goal was an uncontroversial and impressive display of footballing skill. He ran half the length of the pitch, passing five English players (Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid, Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher, and Terry Fenwick) as well as goalkeeper Peter Shilton. This goal was voted Goal of the Century in a 2002 online poll conducted by FIFA. Argentina went on to defeat England 2-1 in that game.

The two goals were ranked 6th in the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002 by the UK's Channel 4 television channel.

He is someone many people want to emulate, a controversial figure, loved, hated, who stirs great upheaval, especially in Argentina.

In his personal life he has paid a heavy price for his addiction to drug abuse leading him to poor health and obseity. After his recent rehabilitation and surgery, many are hoping that he has taken a turn and would stay clear of old habits that cloud over his achievements on the football pitch.

The fight to combat AIDS

2006 marks the 10th anniversary of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS with its 10 Cosponsors is making a difference.

According to new data in the UNAIDS 2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic the AIDS epidemic appears to be slowing down globally, but new infections are continuing to increase in certain regions and countries. The report also shows that important progress has been made in country AIDS responses, including increases in funding and access to treatment, and decreases in HIV prevalence among young people in some countries over the past five years.

In Aril 2005, a senior Aids expert has warned that HIV in India is "out of control".
The executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids said that the epidemic in India is spreading rapidly and nothing is being done to stop it.

Richard Feachem warned that India has overtaken South Africa as the country with the most HIV positive patients.

He warned that the epidemic has spread so quickly that India needed to "wake up" and take the problem seriously, otherwise millions of people will die.

For the first time in the UN's history, an HIV infected person will address the United Nations General Assembly, during the 2006 high level meeting on AIDS.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

US law targets anti-gay protests at Iraq soldier funerals

A new US law bans protests at military funerals, targeting a small but persistent group of Christian conservatives who believe that the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq are God's punishment for US tolerance of gays.

President George W Bush signed the bill into law on Memorial Day, the national holiday that honours fallen US soldiers.

Shortly after Monday's signing, protesters carrying anti-gay signs lined the road to Arlington National Cemetery as Bush's motorcade brought the president to a ceremony at the famous US war cemetery, located across the Potomac river from Washington.

Under the new Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act signed by Bush, unauthorized demonstrations are banned within 150 feet of a route leading to a US federal cemetery.

A Bee Gees Reunion

The Bee Gees were an Australian and British band comprising three brothers who emigrated from the Isle of Man during their childhood. They were one of the most successful musical acts of all time. All three Bee Gees – frequent lead vocalist Barry Gibb and his younger twin brothers, co-lead vocalist Robin Gibb and keyboardist/guitarist Maurice Gibb – were born on the Isle of Man in the 1940s. The group was successful for all of its forty years of recording music and, in the public's mind, they defined the sound of disco. They sang tight three-part harmonies that were natural and infectious, and their sound was instantly recognizable. Barry was notable for singing in an R&B falsetto on a number of songs. All three brothers co-wrote most of their songs, and they often said that they felt like they became 'one person' when they were writing. The group's name was retired when Maurice died in January 2003.

Recently the brothers showed a united front (seen above) as they collected the Ivor Novello statuette, symbolizing their acceptance into the Fellowship of the Ivor Novello Academy. "This is the highest British award you can get for songwriting," Robin told ET. "We've come together for this very important award." Barry agrees. "It's extremely special," he says. "It's about songwriting and being part of a fellowship."

Barry also made it clear that he and Robin are not only working out their professional but personal differences. "We've lost two brothers and we're not going to lose each other," he told ET backstage after accepting their award.

It's a historic meeting of the minds for the Grammy-winning team. After years of hard feelings, the estranged brothers reunited on stage in February for the first time since their brother MAURICE passed away.

They performed in a private concert to raise money for the Diabetes Research Institute at their annual Love and Hope event held at the Diplomat Hotel in Miami, FL. Among the hits the supergroup sang were "Staying Alive," "Massachusetts," "How Deep is Your Love" and a stunning tribute to Maurice: "Don't Forget to Remember.

But the reunion doesn't end there, and Barry says the brothers look forward to getting back together on stage to perform. "We're sort of rediscovering each other," he added. "Working together and as individuals."

Brad and Angelina donate to Namibian hospitlas

Hollywood couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will donate $300 000 to the maternity wards of two state hospitals in Namibia following the birth of their daughter in the southern African country.

"We want to contribute to Namibia and the people who have been so gracious to us at this time," they said in a statement released on Monday by the Namibian government.The funds will be used to purchase medical equipment for the maternity wards at the state hospitals in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay on Namibia's west coast.

Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, born late on Saturday and instantly one of the hottest celebrity stories of the year, is being shielded from the prying lenses of paparazzi eager to score some extremely valuable baby pictures.

The new baby joins the couple's adopted children Maddox and Zahara, rounding out a family People magazine has already dubbed "the most beautiful in the world."

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Google-Dell Alliance: The End of the Microsoft Domination?

The battle for market share among computer makers and internet companies took a new twist on last thursday after Dell, the world’s biggest PC maker said it would sell PCs with pre-installed search software from Google.

For Dell, the partnership represents the latest attempt to boost revenues as it struggles against slumping margins, slowing sales growth and a turnround at Hewlett-Packard, its biggest PC rival. Dell last week announced that it would begin shipping some high-end servers containing AMD microchips in a separate attempt to increase sales.

For internet search giant Google, the move to offer Dell customers factory-installed search technology represents a direct challenge to Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company, whose suite of software tools has long dominated the PC desktop.

But the question who keeps haunting everyone for the moment is: how much will this partnership change the way things look in IT now? Without any doubt, we're in one of those moments when the world as we know it may change. Google demonstrated that they've been learning their lessons very well and, if necessary, they have the capacity to form any alliance needed.

Human smuggling and human trafficking in Somalia

The United Nation's Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air defines the smuggling of migrants as "the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident." In most cases, individuals will contact smugglers themselves to realize their objective of crossing a border illegally in search of a better life and improved economic prospects.

Human smuggling is quite different to human trafficking which is defined in the United Nation's Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, either by the threat or use of abduction, force, fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having the control over another person."

The human trafficking trade out of Somalia is now one of the busiest, most lucrative and the most lethal in the world. The ferocious violence and anarchy in the region has kept the scale of profits and misery the most hidden from outside eyes.

The ones who want to go are desperate and those offering to take them across the sea are greedy and murderous - fateful encounters which are resulting in a trail of death and misery in the Somali Peninsula also known as Horn of Africa.

Human smuggling continues unabated from the north east coast of Puntland, Somalia, resulting in the death of hundreds of Ethiopians and Somalis. Hundreds of Ethiopians travel for days, often by foot, across the desert from Ethiopia to Puntland with the aim of crossing the sea to Yemen. As a result of the worst drought in a decade, there has also been a notable increase in the number of Somalis from the south of the country attempting the journey. Yemen is mostly used as a point of transit en route to the Gulf States, Europe and other destinations in search of work. Most of the passengers are young men and women between the ages of 15 to 30.

Smugglers are charging between thirty and fifty dollars per person for each voyage, often cramming hundreds of people onto small vessels, with little food and water for a 30 hour passage on high seas. In one recorded account of a voyage, there were six dead among 65 passengers and 14 more had been thrown overboard during the journey. Such casualty rates are not uncommon with some individuals tied up and/or thrown overboard by the smugglers in an attempt to avoid capsizing in dangerous waters. Others drift for days at a time with little food or fresh water on board. Even when the boats do reach Yemen's coast, passengers - including children - are forced to swim to shore so the boat is not detectable to Yemen authorities. Most passengers including children cannot swim and drown. While fatality figures are difficult to verify – the trade is secretive and many bodies are never found – the UN confirmed 262 deaths in January and February 2006. Since September 2005, officials say, the dead could number close to 1,000.

Pope confronts the Nazi past at Auschwitz

Pope Benedict visited the Auschwitz death camp as "a son of Germany" on Sunday and asked God why he remained silent during the "unprecedented mass crimes" of the Holocaust.

He also met former inmates and viewed an execution wall and starvation cells where some of the 1.5 million victims died.

The Pontiff, 79, walked under the entry gate's infamous motto "Arbeit macht frei" (work makes you free) to tour the main Auschwitz camp, the nerve center for a huge complex serving Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution" of wiping out Jews.

Pope Benedict walked along the row of plaques (in the pic) at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex's memorial, one in the language of each nationality whose members died there. As he stopped to pray, a light rain stopped and a brilliant rainbow appeared over the camp.

The rulers of the Nazi Party wanted to crush the entire Jewish people, to cancel it from the register of the peoples of the earth," he said, standing near the demolished crematoriums where the Nazis burned the bodies of their victims.

"By destroying Israel with the Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention."

Shoah is the Hebrew term for the Holocaust, the killing of six million Jews by the forces of Adolf Hitler during the Second World War

"To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a pope from Germany," he said later.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bloggers do not have to reveal sources: Court Rules

A California appeals court ruled Friday that online reporters are protected by the same confidentiality laws that protect traditional journalists, striking a blow to efforts by Apple Computer to identify people who leaked confidential company data.

The three-judge panel in San Jose overturned a trial court's ruling last year that to protect its trade secrets, Apple was entitled to know the source of leaked data published online. The appeals court also ruled that a subpoena issued by Apple to obtain electronic communications and materials from an Internet service provider was unenforceable.

In its ruling, the appeals court said online and offline journalists are equally protected under the First Amendment.

The ruling states that Web sites are covered by California's shield law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources.

Apple had argued that Web sites publishing reports about Apple were not engaged in legitimate news gathering but rather were misappropriating trade secrets and violating copyrights.

The Sixth District Court of Appeals disagreed. Though the judges accepted Apple's argument that it is entitled to protect its trade secrets, they ultimately ruled against the company for failing to demonstrate that it had exhausted its investigative options to find the alleged leakers.

This is a victory for the rights of journalists, whether online or offline, and for the public at large.

The ruling is also noteworthy because it takes Apple to task for its "dismissive characterization" of the defendants as something other than journalists.

Earthquakes and volcanoes, Indonesia's twin nightmares

The Indonesian region devastated by a violent earthquake is also facing the threat of an imminent eruption by the Mount Merapi volcano, two incidents that are closely linked, according to experts.

At least 3,002 people were killed, more than 2,500 people were seriously injured and at least 3,824 houses were destroyed, said an official at the ministry's disaster relief center in Jakarta.

Yogyakarta is in the heartland of Indonesia’s main island of Java and stands near Mount Merapi, a volcano that has been on course for a major eruption this month. Yogyakarta is also Indonesia's ancient capital and it has bore the brunt of the earthquake. It is a densely populated city which lies almost exactly halfway between the rumbling volcano and the epicentre of Saturday's violent earthquake.

Fearing a tsunami, many residents fled for higher ground, but the ocean brought no further destruction.

Indonesia sits on Asia-Pacific’s so-called ‘Ring of Fire’, which is marked by heavy volcanic and tectonic activity. The country’s Aceh province was hardest hit by the December 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, which left around 1,70,000 people dead or missing. A major quake in March 2005 killed about 1,000 people on Nias island and nearby areas off Sumatra.

While the "Mountain of Fire", whose belching of searing clouds of gas and volcanic dust has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of villagers, lies 35 kilometres (20 miles) to the north, the quake's epicentre is 37 kilometres to the city's south.

Both are created by a single force: the meeting of giant, shifting plates of the Earth's crust.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Woman pitch invader hugs Ronaldinho

A Brazilian woman ran onto the pitch and hugged striker Ronaldinho as the world champions finished a training session in Switzerland, watched by around 5,000 fans, on Friday.

At least four other fans followed her onto the field, raising worries about security and underlining the concerns about the carnival-like atmosphere which has been created around the world champions in the small Swiss village.

Brazil's players had finished an attack-versus-defence practice and were doing stretching exercises on the ground when the incidents happened.

Ronaldinho appeared to take it as a joke and even waved goodbye to the woman as she was led away.

A security official said that five people were arrested and taken away by police for questioning.

He said that one appeared to be drunk and bit a policeman.

Brazil have been in Weggis since Monday to prepare for the World Cup finals where they face Croatia, Australia and Japan in their first-round group.

Brazil's practices have also been televised live in Brazil and scrutinised by around 800 journalists.

Football has a religious fervour for millions of fanatical fans in Brazil and the football fever has caught on even before the world cup contest has begun.

Organic Weddings and Green Weddings

A wedding is one of life's major rites of passage. It is certainly something to celebrate! Today, wedding books and magazines promote large weddings so that more and more wedding products can be sold. Wedding expenditures run into many thousands of dollars. And after this major outlay of money, most of what is purchased is never used again.

Well, change is under way. More and more couples are choosing to keep things simple. A hotel in UK is offering organic weddings. Click here for more.

The Climate Care group in UK says the average wedding emits 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide. When set against the 12 tons emitted by the average person during a year, it is a huge amount.

Green used to be associated with everything slightly frugal, but if you want you can still spend a fortune on ethical fabrics and the best organic food.

The popularity of ethical wedding gift lists from charities such as Oxfam has also soared in the past year, setting a new trend which hopefully will become fashionable in the mainstream wedding industry and it will all be for the good.

How to Make Objects Invisible

Scientists say a cloaking device can make it possible.

Researchers are saying new materials, which they call "metamaterials", can change the way light and other forms of radiation bend around an object and this may offer a method to make objects invisible.

Harry Potter's cloak or The Invisible Man of films and fiction might be a bit harder to emulate, however, because the materials must be used in a thick shell.

The concept begins with refraction - a quality of light in which the electromagnetic waves take the quickest, but not necessarily the shortest, route.

This accounts for the illusion that a pencil immersed in a glass of water appears broken, for instance.

"Imagine a situation where a medium guides light around a hole in it," physicist Ulf Leonhardt of Britain's University of St Andrews, wrote in one of the reports, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The light rays end up behind the object as if they had travelled in a straight line.

"Any object placed in the hole would be hidden from sight. The medium would create the ultimate optical illusion: invisibility," Mr Leonhardt wrote.

"Such devices may be possible. The method developed here can be also applied to escape detection by other electromagnetic waves or sound."

The theory is different from that used on modern "stealth" bombers, for example, which bounce radar off their surfaces so they cannot be seen.

Instead, an object would be encased in a shell of metamaterials and they would create an illusion akin to a mirage, said David Schurig of Duke University in North Carolina, who worked on the second report.

Metamaterials are composite structures that deliberately resemble nothing found in nature. They are engineered to have unusual properties, such as the ability to bend light in unique ways.

Like all physics, the invisibility idea requires a little imagination.

Friday, May 26, 2006

06/06/06: Another Date with Para-Science

If you're just a bit more cautious on a Friday the 13th, wouldn't fly on 9/11 or could never live in a house numbered 666, you are not alone.

With 06/06/06 looming (June 6, 2006), authorities in some cities are worrying prophecy theorists or hate groups might read something ominous into the date and use it as an excuse to stir tension. Some expectant mothers are making birthing appointments to ensure they avoid the date, according to the Sunday Times in London.

The number 666 is cool. Made famous by the Book of Revelation, it has also been studied extensively by mathematicians because of its many interesting properties. Look at the compendium of some mathametical facts here.

Modern numerology has since morphed into a kind of para-science in the same vein as astrology, according to skeptics. Still, many numerologists claim to rely on Pythagoras' ancient system to divine the hidden connections between numbers—often a birth date—and an individual's life.

People are subconsciously drawn towards specific numbers because they know that they need the experiences, attributes or lessons, associated with them, that are contained within their potential.

Mathematicians are quick to dismiss numerology as having any scientific merit, however.

Putin meets with EU leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with three top European Union leaders at his summer retreat near the town of Sochi in southern Russia Thursday to discuss issues including illegal immigration and energy policy.

President Putin sought to reassure his guests that Russia remains a reliable supplier of gas and oil, despite concerns about policies pursued by the giant Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom.

In addition to causing a shortfall of natural gas supplies to Europe earlier this year due to a price dispute with neighboring Ukraine, Gazprom refuses to open up its distribution network to other companies.

Putin tried to assure his European Union partners that China was no substitute for Europe as a market for Russia's oil and gas although Russia was developing markets for its energy resources.
European fears of excessive energy reliance on Russia, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas and is its second-biggest supplier of oil, increased further amid talk that Russia's state-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom, was considering acquiring Britain's largest gas distributor and negotiating similar deals in other EU nations.

When British officials warned of possible legal changes to block such a deal, Gazprom and even Putin himself angrily warned that the gas monopoly could refocus its future export strategy toward an energy-hungry eastern neighbor - China - if the EU blocked the company's access to the European retail gas markets.

Russia is also seeking to expand its grip on gas distribution networks in Western Europe.

Also adding to the already downward relations with US, Mr Putin hit back at the criticism from US Vice-President Dick Cheney earlier this month. Mr Cheney accused Moscow of rolling back democratic reforms and of using its energy resources to blackmail other countries but Mr Putin said his allegations smacked of hypocrisy.

"We see how the United States defends its interests, we see what methods and means they use for this," he said. "When we fight for our interests, we also look for the most acceptable methods, and I find it strange this seems inexplicable to some."

Jennifer gives a 2-handed try at new life

Jennifer Capriati, who burst into the public consciousness as a gum-chomping, ground-stroke-blasting prodigy, is in the throes of a professional athlete's equivalent of a midlife crisis. She has been immobilized by a landslide of questions triggered by her injury.

"You don't know what's your driving force," Capriati said. "Is it sponsors, pressure, money, self-worth? Or is it that you really love the game so much that you can't be away from it?"

Capriati, 30, who has won $10 million in prize money and three Grand Slam titles, had her shoulder operated on in January of last year and again in June. Instead of traveling the tennis circuit, she is making the rounds of doctors.

"I feel stuck," she said. "Sometimes I feel like this is another life already."

She said that she was constantly being asked when she would resume her tennis career. "Basically, I'm retired until I can play," Capriati said. "That's the easiest way to put it."

Her life is more complicated today than it was at the French Open five years ago, when she pulled out a three-set victory against Kim Clijsters in a riveting final on the red clay at Roland Garros.

Capriati, who had won the Australian Open earlier in the year, became the first woman since Monica Seles in 1992 to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam. On that day, she never felt more fit, more fulfilled.

The last time Capriati dropped out of sight, after losing in the first round of the 1993 U.S. Open as a 17-year-old, she resurfaced nine months later in a seedy Miami hotel room, where she had been using marijuana. She then spent 28 days in drug rehabilitation. Capriati knows that her past gives people reason to wonder if a relapse is not the reason for her latest disappearing act.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Science Of Love

According to the New Scientist, science of love is still in its infancy. Yet scientists are beginning to get early insights into the nature and origin of love. We can now look inside human brains to view changing patterns of activity and biochemical changes that take place during love, explore diverse human experiences of love, study how we select mates and woo lovers, and look for the evolutionary roots of love.

The word love appears in many contexts: there’s maternal love, familial love, romantic love, sexual love, a wider love for fellow humans and religious love for God, to name but a few. Some cultures have ten or more words for different forms of love, and poets and songwriters always find myriad aspects of love to celebrate.

In the brain, romantic love shows similarities to going mildly insane or suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Read more of this interesting article.

Soon you can run in an iPod Nike

Nike has announced that it will make running shoes that will tell the wearer how far and how fast he or she has run and how many calories they have burned. The instant information will come from a miniature iPod, made by Apple Computer, and a new wireless system called Nike+iPod.

Nike shares rose more than 2 percent after the announcement Tuesday that it planned to capitalize on the popularity of iPod portable digital music players with runners, 75 percent of whom already listen to music while they exercise.

The Nike+iPod Sports Kit, which is expected to sell for about $29, will use miniature versions of the iPod to provide audio data on time, distance, pace and calories burned through an attachable receiver that will get the data from a sensor embedded in the insole of special Nike shoes.

Fans crown Hicks new 'American Idol'

Taylor Hicks, the gray-haired live wire, was named the winner of "American Idol" on Wednesday night, beating Katharine McPhee, the looker with the lovely voice.

More than 63 million votes were cast for the singing showdown, host Ryan Seacrest announced.

Taylor Hicks, the winner in the nationally televised finale Wednesday of "American Idol," has two distinguishing features: He's a 29-year-old Alabaman who has gone prematurely gray, and he tries awfully hard to over-sing like soul-crushing crooner Michael Bolton.

But even as Hicks huffed and puffed his way through his ponderous signature ballad, "Do I Make You Proud," while runner-up Katharine McPhee faded into an instant prime-time footnote, it was clear that he was not the night's biggest story.

Instead, show-stopping performances by Mary J. Blige and Prince signaled that Wednesday's decisive winner was the music industry, which shows that the"Idol" has become a greater phenomenon than a novel song contest . The franchise has led to 33 million records sold by contestants since 2002. It draws an average of more than 25 million viewers a show, nearly double the size of the audience for the Grammy Awards, and commands $1.3 million per 30-second advertisement, a rate exceeded only by the Super Bowl and Academy Awards telecasts.

In addition to its TV success, "Idol" is also rocking the music industry.

Sales figures for albums and singles connected to "Idol" are in the multimillions, and past contestants are proving to be much more than flashes in the pan. The first winner, Kelly Clarkson, has gone on to nab Gram of mys, and last year's winner, Carrie Underwood, just received her first Academy of Country Music awards.

The 'Idol' is also turning out to be a world phenomenon. It is pervasive and has a far outreach, promoting a culture akin to what was seen in the 1960s. That was the decade of youth when baby boom generation became teenagers and young adults and they moved away from the conservative 50s. John F. Kennedy, the youngest president in US history ushered in a new era of change. American's loved rock music and Elvis Presley became a legend. Short skirts became a fashion for the young who became independent. Just across the Atlantic, a young music band of four Englishman "the Beatles," sporting long hair transformed a whole generation's lifestyle.

Well, the "Idol" bandwagon is roaring across the globe. These contests will bring exciting opportunities and prospects for the young and talented.

An Inconvenient Truth

'An Inconvenient Truth' is a book by Former Vice President Al Gore ( in the pic) and now a must-see film by the same name.

In the film, director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way.

Al Gore's efforts in this film perhaps would counter the US right-wing strategy, which is quick to paint global warming as a lofty hypothetical crisis and relegates the issue out of the bounds of national consciousness.

An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share.

"It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely," said Gore.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Singapore prices rise as economy expands

According to this IHT News Singapore's inflation rate in April held near the previous month's pace, the government said Tuesday, as an expanding economy created jobs and spurred consumer spending.

The consumer price index increased 1.1 percent from a year earlier after a 1.2 percent gain in March, the Department of Statistics said. From March to April, consumer prices rose 0.5 percent.

Singaporeans are paying more for food, housing and recreation as accelerating economic growth adds jobs and lifts wages. The island's central bank last month kept its policy of allowing a "gradual and modest" currency appreciation to help reduce the cost of fuel and other imported goods.

"Consumer spending has been rising as the labor market and the economy strengthened, and that is pushing prices higher," said Tomo Kinoshita, an economist at the Singapore unit of Nomura Securities. "The rise in prices may be mitigated by the central bank's monetary policy to allow the currency to appreciate."

Jetstar Asia/Valuair merger is good value

Jetstar Asia/Valuair merger is good value for budget travellors.

Jetstar Asia and Valuair are now part of the same family, offering consumers more destinations and choices for smart travellers

Both airlines will continue to operate under their own unique brands with little or no change to the services offered to consumers in the Asia Pacific region.

Jetstar Asia currently flies to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Manila and Kolkata and Valuair operates flights to Chengdu Xiamen, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Perth.

Singapore's Changi International Airport will be the centerpiece in Jetstar Asia's and Valuair's strategy to offer seamless connections for travel within Asia.

7UP Goes All Natural

7UP, a flagship brand in the Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages portfolio, is getting a natural makeover. Starting this month – just in time for its 77th anniversary – the original uncola will be made from 100 percent natural ingredients.

According to 7UP, 7UP has been stripped of its preservatives. The move to all natural is in response to rising consumer demand for natural products, the company said.

All the ingredients in 7UP now come from natural sources and all artificial ingredients, such as the artificial flavor preservative, calcium disodium EDTA, have been removed. That means that only five simple, natural ingredients remain: filtered carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural citric acid, natural flavors and natural potassium citrate. All of these ingredients are commonly found in a number of natural products, including soups, baked goods and beverages. Additionally, sodium has been reduced nearly 50 percent in the 12-ounce can, from 75 milligrams to 40 milligrams.

I'll only know after I try the taste of the natural 7UP.

Fortunes of kings, queens and dictators

'KINGS, Queens and Dictators.' Even the title strikes a little awe into the heart. And indeed the latest list to be published by Forbes magazine is brimful of the names of those in whose ostentatious presence you'd probably feel obliged to curtsey or bow - possibly both at the same time.

Entrepreneurs they’re not. Their fortunes are largely derived from inheritances or positions of power. And the lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual. No surprise then that these estimates are more art than science.

What do Cuba’s fatigue-wearing president Fidel Castro and Monaco’s playboy bachelor Prince Albert have in common? Not much other than lofty positions and vast fortunes. It's a diverse group that includes a British queen, an African dictator and a few Middle Eastern potentates. This year, several new faces appear on our list, in part because of the deaths of some well-known rulers, such as Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd. Taking his spot: his half-brother Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who became king in August 2005.

World's Wealthy rulers:

Click below for more information on the world's wealthiest leaders.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Hans Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein
Prince Albert II
Fidel Castro
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard


SEE how the wealth of 'Kings, Queens and Dictators' compares to that of the world's 10 richest entrepreneurs and winners in business.

Washington, 50, £26.6 billion. Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975 and is now the chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, which had a turnover of £20.7 billion in 2005 and employs 61,000 people in 102 countries and regions.

Nebraska, 75, £22.3 billion. The American chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, an organisation that invests in various companies, Buffett has an impressive portfolio that includes utilities, insurance, apparel and flight services, as well as chunks of American Express, Coca-Cola and Gillette.

Mexico, 66, £15.9 billion. Helu has built an industrial, retail, and telecommunications empire with about £8.5 billion in annual sales. His companies include Telmex and Prodigy Inc, the third-largest internet service provider in the US.

Sweden, 79, £14.9 billion. Kamprad founded IKEA at the age of 17 when his father gave him some money for doing well at school. IKEA originally sold a variety of goods from watches to stockings but, in 1947, Kamprad introduced furniture into his product line. Despite having stores in 33 countries, he still takes the subway to work and flies economy class.

India, 55, £12.5 billion. Mittal oversees the world's largest steel company, Mittal Steel, which he founded in 1976. Mittal owns 87.4 per cent of the £14.9 billion company, which has operations in 14 countries.

Washington, 53, £11.7 billion. A childhood friend of Bill Gates, Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft but was forced to resign in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. He has now invested in more than 50 companies, including two professional sports teams.

France, 57, £11.4 billion. Nicknamed "the pope of fashion", Arnault is the chairman of LVMH, an influential international group with more than 50 luxury brands including Moet & Chandon, Louis Vuitton and Fendi.

Saudi Arabia, 49, £10.6 billion. A member of the Saudi royal family, Bin Talal is a private entrepreneur and an international investor. He founded the Kingdom Holding Company which invests in banking, hospitality and agriculture, among other things.

Canada, 82, £10.4 billion. Chairman of the Thomson Corporation, a publishing group that covers printed titles, electronic media and financial services software, Thomson has also amassed an internationally famous art collection and, in 2002, he purchased Rubens' Massacre of the Innocents for £50 million.

Hong Kong, 77, £10 billion. Asia's richest and most influential investor's fortune comes from diverse investments, including real estate, mobile phones and retail. Ka-Shing is also a major supplier of electricity to Hong Kong and owns the world's largest operator of container terminals.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

OECD concerned about US high deficit and trade imbalance

The US economy is set to grow by a robust 3.6 percent in 2006, but the Federal Reserve should increase interest rates, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)said as it issued a stern warning about high deficits, deep trade imbalances and low savings.

The Paris based OECD said in its twice-yearly review of the world economy. "Monetary policy, currently near neutral, needs to tighten slightly to keep the economy in balance," the OECD said Tuesday. The report described current account imbalances in the US -- which the OECD predicted could reach 7.5 perent of GDP in 2007 -- as "unsustainable," adding that "most observers agree that ... a rebalancing looks increasingly unavoidable."

Such a correction could entail a further depreciation of the already weakened dollar, on the order of one-third to one-half, the report said, citing experts.

Short-term interest rate for 2006 of would settle at 5.1, remaining steady in 2007, the OECD forecast. The current fed funds rate is 5.0 after three quarter-point increases this year, and eight quarter point increases in 2005.

The projection for the US economy's real GDP growth in 2006 was 3.6 percent, up from its forecast six months ago of 3.5 percent. Growth in 2007 should taper off to 3.1 percent, the report says.

The OECD forecasts were based on oil prices stabilizing around 70 dollars per barrel. Light sweet crude for July delivery closed at 69.96 dollars per barrel in the United States on Monday.

The OECD said of the US economy that "profitability is high, business confidence is strong and job creation robust," adding that unemployment had come down to near structural levels.

But it also noted that real growth has lagged behind productivity.

The "vast majority of wage earners," the report said, have seen their purchasing power actually decline, with most gains in wealth coming from the housing and stock market.

Nepal's Last Emperor?

Lawmakers in Nepal's newly reinstated parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution last Thursday stripping the royal family of most of its powers. Here's Rediff's full article.

Boy, 7, swims from Alcatraz to San Francisco

A 7-year-old boy has become one of the youngest people to swim the cold, swift waters between Alcatraz Island and San Francisco, completing the 1.4-mile distance in 47 minutes.

No official records are kept for the feat, but Braxton Bilbrey could be the youngest ever to accomplish it.

Braxton, a second-grader from Glendale, Ariz., made the swim seven months after it was completed by 9-year-old Johnny Wilson of Hillsborough. Wilson swam the distance in just under two hours.

Braxton's coach, Joe Zemaitis, said Johnny's accomplishment was an inspiration for the Arizona youngster.

Braxton trained for the event by swimming two hours a day four times a week, Zemaitis said.

Zemaitis said Braxton is an average kid in terms of strength and physical stature.

"He's about 4 feet tall and weighs 65 pounds," Zemaitis said. "It's not that he's extremely large or super strong. But he has the determination and mental toughness to swim cold, dark, choppy water."

Braxton said his next ambition is to swim the English Channel.

Stacey Bilbrey, Braxton's mother accepted the idea of her son swimming from Alcatraz, when once he proved he was dedicated to his goal.

Monday, May 22, 2006

China Completes World's Largest Dam

China completed construction of the world's largest dam on Saturday in Three Gorges area, central China's Hubei Province, signifying a milestone accomplishment of major structure of the mammoth Three Gorges water control project that aims to tame the flood-prone Yangtze River, the nation's longest.

At 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, as the final concrete was poured for main wall of the Three Gorges Dam, hurrah broke out and six workers were tossing over head by their fellows on the worksite before a brief celebration ceremony was held.

The 1.4-mile-long dam was designed to stop deadly floods that regularly ravage China's farming heartland, and eventually produce 22.4 million kilowatts of electricity - enough to light up Shanghai on a peak day with power to spare.

The Three Gorges, which consist of Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling Gorges, extend for about 200 km on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze. They have become a popular world-class tourist destination noted for beautiful natural landscapes and a great number of historical and cultural relics. This section of the Yangtze has a narrow river course which is inconvenient for shipping but boasts abundant hydroelectric resources.

US Senator McCain Urges Students To Learn Courtesy

John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936, Panama Canal Zone, Panama) is an American politician of the Republican Party. McCain has been a U.S. Senator from Arizona since 1987, winning re-election in 1992, 1998, and 2004. He was a presidential candidate in the 2000 election, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by then-Texas Governor and now President George W. Bush. McCain's initiatives in the Senate include campaign finance reform, immigration reform, and concerns about the detention of extrajudicial prisoners.

Prior to entering politics, McCain was a Captain in the United States Navy and a prisoner of war in Vietnam from 1967 to 1973. He was honorably discharged upon his retirement from the Navy in 1981.

Senator McCain is a true American hero.

Even if you disagree with his political ideology, he deserves respect.

Senator McCain who appeared at a fundraiser for Republican hopeful David Emery, told reporters he was saddened by the reception he received last week from hecklers during his commencement speech at the New School.

The Arizona senator said he has spoken at schools throughout the country but never before found himself in a situation where it became difficult for him to get his message across.

Senator McCain on Sunday lamented the nation's bitter political climate and suggested that students at the New School in New York take a courtesy lesson from those at Liberty University, where he delivered a speech last week.

New York's New School, is a historically liberal university while Liberty is a Christian conservative bastion in Virginia founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Martina Hingis Wins The Italian Open

Former world no.1 Martina Hingis beat 16th-seeded Dinara Safina 6-2, 7-5 Sunday for her first title since coming out of retirement.

Hingis returned in January after nearly three years out of the game with foot and ankle injuries. This was the 41st title of her career, but first since winning in Tokyo more than four years ago.

The victory should give Hingis a boost heading into the French Open, which starts May 28. The Italian Open is a key clay-court tuneup for Roland Garros, the only Grand Slam that Hingis hasn't won.

The Swiss, who returned in December, had last won a tournament in Tokyo in February 2002. "I never thought I'd be here again," Hingis said after claiming her second title in the Italian capital.

"But they say never give up hope and keep fighting, and here I am. It's just great to be back on top of the game."

The power of dedication, perseverance, and the never give-up attitude does work to bring amazing results as we see here with this remarkable champion.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Global Warming A Greater Threat: Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton said on Saturday global warming is a greater threat to the future than terrorism and that the United States and other countries must "get off our butts" and do something about it.

Clinton, speaking to the graduating class at University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, said the United States must pursue policies that make "more partners and fewer enemies" and use "institutionalized cooperation" before there is catastrophic damage from global warming.

"Climate change is more remote than terror but a more profound threat to the future of the children and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren I hope all of you have," Clinton said.
During Clinton's administration, the global Kyoto Protocol to curb the release of greenhouse gases was created but the Bush administration has rejected it on grounds it will hurt the U.S. economy.

Ozone hole may disappear around 2050

Good news for the low lying countries threatened by sea level rise due to global warming.

The ozone hole over the Antarctic is likely to begin contracting in the future and may disappear by 2050 because of a reduction in the release of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting gases, according to a team of Japanese scientists.

The findings are based on a series of numerical simulations carried out by Eiji Akiyoshi of the National Institute for Environmental Studies, near Tokyo, using projected emissions of chlorofluorocarbons and other gases blamed for the ozone hole.

According to a report posted Friday on the institute's Web site, the hole is at its largest now but is likely to gradually start contracting around 2020 and disappear by around 2050.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Hobby Turned To A Toy Museum In Singapore

Mr. Chang Ya Fa now 56 years old, started collecting the toys when he was just six years old.

His 30-year love affair with toys has led this Singapore collector to open a toy museum.

Called the Mint Museum of Toys, this treasure trove of toys will be a joy for both the young and the old.

There, they can catch a glimpse of rare collections of Popeye the Sailor, Felix the Cat, and superheroes such as Batman, Superman, and Robin.

The S$2 million museum is owned by Mr. Chang. Over the years, he built up his collection to about 50,000 pieces of toys from auctions and curio shops around the world.

The exhibit, which is housed across the street from Raffles Hotel, is estimated to be worth a cool S$5 million.

The entrance fee is S$10 for adults and S$5 for children.

Well done Mr. Chang.

From Stardom to Sufism: Diane Cilento

Diane Cilento (born October 5, 1933 in Brisbane), is a theater and film actress.
Her parents, Sir Raphael Cilento and Phyllis, Lady Cilento, were both highly respected medical practitioners.

At a young age she decided to follow a career as an actress, and moved to the United Kingdom in the early 1950s. She quickly secured work in British films, and steadily worked until the end of the decade, without making a major impression with film audiences.

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Tom Jones (1963), but allowed her film career to decline following her marriage to actor Sean Connery. Connery was the second of Cilento's three husbands, and they were married from 1962 until their divorce in 1973. They are the parents of the actor Jason Connery.

In ABC's "The Spirit of Things" programme presenter Rachael Kohn describes Diane Cilento, as one of those rare people who’s followed her heart, in love, in her profession, and in her spiritual life. If anyone’s been on a journey, Diane has, leading her ever forward into new territory, even to Mecca, as a Sufi pilgrim.

Diane Cilento's life is a fascinating journey.

Here's an interesting sufi poem.

Listen to the reed forlorn
Crying since it was torn
from its rushy beda song of love and pain.

The secret of my song, though near,
none can see and none can hear.
Oh, for a friend to know the sign
And mingle all his tears with mine.

'Tis the flame of love that fired me,
'Tis the wine of love inspired me.
Would you learn how lovers bleed?
Then listen, listen to the reed.

Click here and read about this accomplished star, writer and film maker and her spiritual journey that led to sufism.

World's biggest passenger jet lands in Britain

The new double-decker Airbus 380, the world's largest commercial aircraft, hit European skies on May 18, when it did a test run out of London's Heathrow airport.

The plane has a maximum cruising speed of 660 mph and is considerably more fuel-efficient than all its predecessors.

This super jumbo airliner can carry as many as 840 economy class passengers, that is about one-third more than a Boeing 747 can. It has a wingspan of 50 feet, a little shorter than a cricket pitch, a length equivalent to eight elephants, but looks much squatter and more unsightly than an elephant.

It can also house duty-free shops, hair salons, jacuzzis, lounges, bowling alleys in its galleys -– like a mini flying airport -– depending on how much its future passengers are willing to pay for tickets.

Singapore Airlines Ltd. will be the first carrier to put the plane into passenger service by the end of the year -- already six months behind its original schedule. The airline said Thursday it expected to take delivery of its first A380 in November and plans for the plane to enter commercial service in December.

The A380 will overtake Boeing's 747 as the world's largest commercial jet when it enters service. Boeing announced last year it is launching the 747-8 to compete with the A380.

Britney's Baby Drama

Britney Spears stumbled outside a Manhattan hotel, nearly dropping her 8-month-old son and further fueling the ever-growing media scrutiny of her parenting skills.

In photos splashed across the front page and inside the New York Post on Friday, the 24-year-old pop star is shown exiting The Ritz-Carlton hotel with Sean Preston in one hand and a glass in the other.

Earlier this week, she was photographed driving with Sean Preston in a car seat facing forward rather than facing backward, which some safety regulations say is best.

Spears, who recently announced that she's pregnant with her second child, was visited by a sheriff's deputy at her home in Malibu, Calif., last month after Sean Preston slipped from his nanny's arms as she was lifting him from a high chair and something in the chair snapped.

In February, authorities visited Spears' home after photos showed the singer in a car with her son in her lap, instead of being strapped to a car seat in the back seat. She first blamed pursuits by the paparazzi, but later said it was a "mistake."

Britney needs to grow up and look after her child with good care and safety. These public incidents of carelessness do not show her as good role model. The Britney Watch should allow her space and privacy to raise her child without constant intrusion into her life. So just give her a break.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Nanotechnology is the future

Wikipedia says that Nanotechnology comprises technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 0.1 to 100 nm (1/1,000 ┬Ám, or 1/1,000,000 mm). A possible way to interpret this size is to take the width of a hair, and imagine something ten thousand times smaller. The term has sometimes been applied to microscopic technology. Read More here.

Until only a few decades ago, nanotechnology was an unknown entity in the public space. But now it is widely known to be the next revolutionizing frontier of science. In simple terms nanotechnology is about understanding and manipulating structures at the atomic and molecular levels. It is the science of building atomic particles. It has tremendous technological implications ranging from space sciences to microbiology. It is widely understood to be the propeller of the new century of evolutions. There are tremendous growth prospects for the nanotechnology industry that is expected to grow from $225 million to $700 billion by 2005 to 2007.

Now let us get up close and personal with nano.

According to ABC, consumers in Australia are using cosmetics and toiletries that contain unregulated and untested nanomaterials, says a new report.The report released this week by Friends of the Earth (FOE), documents 116 products it says contain nanoparticles, a large number of which are available to Australians either in stores or online."We believe this represents a small fraction of the number of products that are actually on the market," says Georgia Miller of the FOE nanotechnology project.

Well, it appears nano isn't a well regulated market and plenty of headaches and heartaches are bound to occur during the process of this industry's maturity.

The junk food smugglers

The drive to promote healthy eating in schools in London is giving rise to an unexpected black market in junk food among children who are refusing to change their eating habits.

Enterprising children have always found a way around school bans - from cigarettes to catapults - and their trading patch has tended to be out of sight, behind the bike sheds.

At a school in north-west London, a 17-year-old sixth-form pupil says some children at his school, in lower years, are selling soft drink cans from their schoolbags.

He asks not to be identified and talks on condition that the name of his school is not publicised.

"The food available in the canteen is limited to jacket potatoes or pasta," says the boy, who gets around the rules by organising regular lunchtime car trips to McDonald's or Subway.

"Driving off the premises means we can have sugary or fatty alternatives to the food they serve in school.

These kids need to be taught to respect the school rules so that they can be future law abiding citizens, productive and useful to society. Schools will have to do more to stop such problems at its source. Making money by illegal means is wrong and students should learn good conduct as future leaders will emerge from them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Human, Chimp Ancestors May Have Mated???

According to this National Geographic article, early human ancestors and chimpanzee ancestors may have mated and produced offspring, according to a new DNA study.

The study suggests that the human and chimp lineages initially split off from a single ape species about ten million years ago. Later, early chimps and early human ancestors may have begun interbreeding, creating hybrids—and complicating and prolonging the evolutionary separation of the two lineages.

The second and final split occurred some four million years after the first one, the report proposes.

"One thing that emerges [from the data] is a reestimate of the date when humans and chimps last exchanged genes," said David Reich, a professor at Harvard Medical School's Department of Genetics in Boston.

In another study, scientists have sequenced the genome of the chimpanzee and found that humans are 96 percent similar to the great ape species.

This is no conclusive proof of a mating relationship between chimps and humans even if we accept the genome similarity, science hasn't yet proved how these genomes were formed in the first place.

Science refers to verifiable knowledge and until this thoery can be proved it must remain in the realm of fiction.

Paul McCartney joins lonely hearts club

Up until now they’ve denied the rumours but today Paul McCartney and wife Heather Mills have officially announced they are to separate after just four years of marriage.

They have issued a joint statement on the decision: “Having tried exceptionally hard to make our relationship work given the daily pressures surrounding us, it is with sadness that we have decided to go our separate ways.”

“Our parting is amicable and both of us still care about each other very much but have found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives, and we have actively tried to protect the privacy of our child.”

There are pressures on all relationships. For a realtionship to work, both partners must make the compromises necessary for each partner to grow and achieve the aspirations of their life. Thus, in a happy marriage, each partner contributes and compliments with the other. It makes them a strong team.

When you are a star, you are under the media spotlight. They make you rich and famous for what you do. To unravel a marriage because of intrusion into their lives is not good enough.

By the time Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were married, in 2002 in Ireland, there was already a strong tide of anti-Mills opinion in the British media, abetted by an army of anonymous "friends" of the couple.

She was a latter-day Yoko Ono, they said, who came between him and his children, him and his friends, and him and his longtime publicist, Geoff Baker, who left the job after she made his life unbearable.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yahoo harnesses users’ collective knowledge

Yahoo is setting out plans to harness the collective knowledge and interests of its 400m regular users to develop the next generation of search technology and narrow the gap with internet juggernaut Google.

Yahoo is picking on our brains to jump ahead of Google. Yahoo is creating a community site that will work as a social event calender.

Yahoo has mounted a series of acquisitions to assemble the tools for its push into social search. They include Flickr, a website where millions of people share their personal photos;, a service where users “tag” web pages they find interesting, creating a filtered view of the web; and Upcoming, a community site for sharing information about forthcoming events.

Indian marathon boy grounded

He runs seven hours at a stretch, sometimes as much as 48km (30 miles). On a daily basis.

And Budhia Singh is just three and a half years old.

The Indian wonder boy who ran 65km will not be allowed to participate in more races after doctors discovered he had severely damaged his health.

Police and state welfare authorities in the eastern state of Orissa took the boy, Budhia Singh, for medical tests on Friday after India's human rights watchdog ordered an inquiry into the case.

A team of doctors who conducted medical tests on the boy found he was undernourished, anaemic and under cardiological stress.

This is an icredible story. First when his father died his mother sold him to a person for Rs800(USD 20), because she could not provide for her four children.

But the young boy came to the attention of Biranchi Das, a judo coach (seen in the pix with the boy) and the secretary of the local judo association.

Mr Das said he noticed Budhia's talent when scolding him for being a bully.

"Once, after he had done some mischief, I asked him to keep running till I came back," Mr Das told the BBC.

"I got busy in some work. When I came back after five hours, I was stunned to find him still running."

This is unaccepable behavior from a professional coach and it shows the alarming abuse of children.

Hopefully good sense will prevail to stop abusing children.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Want to succeed? Fail first

If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.' Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, uttered these famous words.

As you try to leave an impressive mark at work, a failure can bring unexpected twists and turns. How you deal with failure is what will ultimately help you succeed.

The question is: are you smart enough to learn from your mistakes?

The answer is we are all unique, gifted and smart. We are all capable of success but we need to set long term goals and commit ourselves to achieving them. It requires dedication, focus and the flexibilty to make changes when necessary.

For some pointers read this article.

New US Alligator Killings Feared

The bodies of two more women have been found in Florida having suffered apparent attacks by alligators.
The finds follow a fatal attack last week, only the 18th confirmed alligator killing in Florida since 1948.

In the latest cases, a 23-year-old woman was pronounced dead after being pulled from the jaws of an alligator in the Lake George area.

The body of another woman who had apparently suffered alligator bites was found in a canal near St Petersburg.

Residents have been warned not to swim in vegetated areas or walk pets near water, particularly at night.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Willie Puz said increasing temperatures meant alligators were more active in searching for food and mates.

But why are alligators attacking humans? Perhaps we have encroached on to their living habitats depriving them of their normal feeding habits and instead we now find the gators attacking anything that comes by including humans.

Here is what experts advice: Keep your distance from alligators, they are dangerous and unpredictable. They do not choose what is on their menu. They just pick whatever comes their way.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Zidane Blasts Perez For Creating Disunity

France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane blamed the policies of former president Florentino Perez for the demise of Spanish giants Real Madrid in an outburst on Saturday.

Zidane said that Perez’s "Zidanes and Pavons" policy, that of buying the world’s top stars and mixing them with the club’s young players, had divided the dressing-room.

"What was a shame was saying that: the "Zidanes and Pavons", because within a group like ours, that divided us. That was clear," Zidane told television channel Antena 3.

"Those who spoke of the ’galacticos’ are those who created problems within the camp.

"Our problems stemmed from the number of different personalities in the group.

"Players with big personalities and possibly a lack of communication."

Real Madrid have had to settle for a third straight season without any silverware, something that helped convince midfield talisman and French legend Zidane to retire from football after the World Cup in Germany.

"There are five or six titles every year and you can’t win them all, but to win none, that hurts. It’s better to quit," he said.

Zidane will play his final game in a Real Madrid shirt on Tuesday against Sevilla, after which he will be the second of the generation of galacticos to leave the club.

It is such a shame that Real Madrid, the richest club in the world, could not build the team-spirit among the supremely gifted palyers, thus going without a single trophy for three years. To see great players like Zidane leave in disappointment is frustrating to say the least.

Using Knowledge For Public Good

Traditionally, economics has been dealing with only two factors of production: labor and capital. This is now changing. Information and knowledge are replacing capital and energy as the primary wealth-creating assets, just as the latter two replaced land and labor 200 years ago. In addition, technological developments in the 20th century have transformed the majority of wealth-creating work from physically-based to "knowledge-based.". Technology and knowledge are now the key factors of production.

Knowledge is a product which is difficult to price on a regular market. Knowledge is usually found in the form of an intermediate good, rather than the final good. It is essential in the development, production, distribution, and sales of products.

A public good is when consumption of it by one party does not prevent consumption of it by other parties. Some examples of public good are public parks, roads, and bridges. Yet these can become private good if a person or group of persons makes excessive use of it and deprive other people the benefits of using such facilities.

The third wave of human socio-economic development is described by Charles Savage in "Fifth Generation Management". The first wave was the Agricultural Age with wealth defined as ownership of land. In the second wave, the Industrial Age, wealth was based on ownership of Capital, i.e. factories. In the Knowledge Age, wealth is based upon the ownership of knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to create or improve goods and services. Product improvements include cost, durability, suitability, timeliness of delivery, and security.
In the Knowledge Age, 2% of the working population will work on the land, 10% will work in Industry and the rest will be Knowledge Workers (Ann Andrews).

Given the scope and reach of knowledge work, there is enormous potential for using knowledge for public good.

An Amazing Act Of Courage

Noraini Othman, the victim of an attempted murder and rape last Tuesday, is alive today because she played dead.

The 16-year-old, from Kampung Gual Kulim, Malaysia pretended to be dead after her assailant hit her on the head in an attempt to rape her in a wooden shed in Jalan Senggora.

The ruse worked as he stopped beating her, but her ordeal was not over as the man, who was her brother’s friend, wrapped her in a mat that he found in the shed.

He then placed pieces of wood on her prone body in an attempt to make a funeral pyre for the Sekolah Perempuan Pasir Mas student.

The assailant then started a fire using her textbooks.

"After he started the fire, I waited several minutes just to be sure that he was gone," Noraini said from her hospital bed where she is now recovering.

I salute the strength of a cool head in a horrible situation and wish her well.

Can Home Advantage Win World Cup For Germany?

Some Psychologists think that having a massive, roaring crowd can inspire tired home players, intimidate opposition goalies -- and cow the match officials, too.

For the record:
Of the 17 World Cup finals so far, six have been won by the host nation -- Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, England in 1966, Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978 and France in 1998.

Two hosts (Brazil in 1950 and Sweden in 1958) finished runner-up, and three made it to the semi-final stage: Chile in 1962, Italy in 1990 and South Korea, co-organiser with Japan, in 2002.

But this extraordinary home success is not exclusive to the World Cup.

According to a FIFA study of more than 6,500 top-level international matches, almost exactly half were won by the home side, and only a quarter were won by the away side. The rest were draws.

But what creates the home-side benefit?

Psychologists and sociologists agree that the big factor is crowd support, although how this works is poorly understand and in some circumstances may even work against a home team.

Whatever the reasons behind the home advantage, we know that the world cup will be an exciting contest and may the best team win. That's my head talking, but the heart goes for Brazil, for the beauty of samba and smooth flowing soccer.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Betrayal Of Trust

"I was betrayed by someone I had no reason to distrust, especially after all the favors I had done for him," said Ruzana in a telephone interview from Sydney airport before boarding a plane for Kuala Lumpur.

"Because of him, 13 months of my life is gone. I could have achieved so much during that time. Now I have to start from scratch.

"The 36-year-old's outburst was targeted at an Iranian, identified only as Haj, whom she had befriended in Kuala Lumpur three months before she left for Sydney and carried a package for him at his request.

Although trust is one of the highest value that binds human relationships Ruzana should never have accepeted a package and carried it to another country without checking its contents. She is naive and unsuspecting and clearly has been trapped by a crooked individual whose intention is only to make money by illegal means. She has paid a price and hopefully there will be a lesson for many others in this unfortunate incident.

Civilization Exists By Gelogoical Consent...

Paul Saffo writes a thought provoking piece on the topic here.

Cities and societies that live in them seem to follow a pattern of construction and destruction, for reasons which are hard to explain and beyond the cotrol of mortal beings.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake left many legacies for California, including anticipation of the next, inevitable, great quake. Our 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference will bring together earthquake professionals from around the world – scientists, engineers and preparedness experts – in San Francisco on April 18, 2006, to commemorate the 1906 Earthquake, review what we have learned, and discuss what we can do to further preparedness.

Reading through Paul's piece I get the impression, that we are in the same loop after 100 years, certainly with much more sophistication in building methods and earth quake prediction capabalities, but the eventual destructive forces emerge the same nevertheless.

Words Of Wisdom From Bill Gates

Bill Gates delivers a speech at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, June 28, 2005. He received an honorary science doctorate from the university in recognition of the major contributions he has made to the university.
Photograph: Unko Kimura/Getty Images.

Bill Gates always has something interesting to say and here are some.

  • "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."
  • "If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.
  • "Life is not fair; get used to it."
  • The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
  • "My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things."
  • "I like my job because it involves learning. I like being around smart people who are trying to figure out new things. I like the fact that if people really try they can figure out how to invent things that actually have an impact."
  • Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity.
  • Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • "Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority."
  • "As I look forward, I'm very optimistic about the things I see ahead. As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others."
  • "In this business, by the time you realise you're in trouble, it's too late to save yourself. Unless you're running scared all the time, you're gone."

Saturday, May 13, 2006


There are no degrees of honesty. There are only absolutes. Either you are honest or you are not. Honesty does not come for a price; honesty is its own reward. It’s also the most efficient form of human behavior. Honest persons never have to worry about which lie they have told to whom, and they never have to worry about getting caught. Thus, they are free to focus all their energies on more productive things. Make it a habit to be honest in all your dealings. If you can’t be truthful in what you say, don’t say anything at all. Remember, small lies start out innocently enough but soon assume lives of their own. A small lie requires a larger one to conceal it, and soon more, even larger lies are required. Don’t tell that first lie or take a single thing that doesn’t belong to you, and you’ll never have to worry.

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

Henry Wants England To Win World Cup

French international Thierry Henry, who will spearhead his country’s assault on the World Cup finals, fervently hopes that England will one day add to their lone world title triumph of 1966.

Henry was speaking after receiving the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year Award on Thursday.

"I really hope that you can have another 1966 happen to you. I see the passion you have here for your national team and how much you want them to win," said the Arsenal striker.

"You are a nation who loves sport and football and I hope you win the World Cup again because you deserve it. People like you deserve to win it."

Casual Online Gaming Is The New Trend

While hard-core video games remain multi-billion-dollar cash cows, there is an untapped mother lode in games as simple as puzzles, experts said on Thursday at the world's premier trade show.

As thousands of cultish gamers jammed exhibition halls crammed with the latest action games for Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo consoles, a panel of analysts said the surging sector of the market was "casual games".

"There is a huge untapped market of people who haven't been bitten by the video-game-playing bug," said Anita Frazier, an entertainment industry analyst with NPD Group in the United States.

Sales of console-based video games peaked in Japan in 2001 and have trailed downward ever since, according to Hiroshi Kamide, an analyst at KBC Securities in that country.

"The key message from Japan is that if you don't have casual content you don't have outlook for growth at all," Kamide said.

"You need casual games, not splashy, but interesting and different. Then, you will do pretty well."

The second-hand and rental game gear markets that allied with poor economic conditions to undermine the console video game market in Japan were likely to spill west to the United States, warned Kamide.

At least one Japanese video game company was "cleaning up" by getting children and their parents to play "brain games" with low development costs and high profit margins, Kamide said.

Many casual gaming sites are being developed on the premise people can play for free as long as they wish, but pay nominal fees to "jazz up" a game by customizing characters or adding features or levels of play, Kamide said.

"People are very happy to try them," Kamide said of the simple, free games.

Increasingly common "micro payment" software allows players to buy features for small change, essentially "recreating those days when you would go to an arcade with a bag of quarters," one mobile game maker said.

Micro payment systems have given rise to online virtual worlds in which players buy land, work jobs, invest and more in a synthesized cash economy.

The Creative Individual

Creative People tend to be bright rather than brilliant.

Extraordinarily high intelligence is not required to be creative, but creative people are good at generating many different ideas in a short period of time.

Creative people are imaginative in their thinking.


The left hemisphere of the brain controls analytical and logical tasks, such as that used in programming a computer.

The right hemisphere of the brain controls intuition. It specializes in detecting patterns and meanings rather than breaking things down into analytical bits.

An individual with the characteristics and brain makeup of a creative person will inevitably bring forth creative solutions to problems.

Triggering creativity from a individual requires the right interaction between that person and the environment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Indians switching to green tea

Indians, the world’s largest consumers of tea, are developing a taste for a new brand of drink — Chinese green tea, attracted by its medicinal properties.

Chinese tea, which is taken without sugar or milk, is now on top of the menu at plush restaurants where health-conscious Indians riding an economic boom dine.

“When we introduced Chinese green tea in our menu earlier this year, we did not know how popular it would become,” said Bipul Roy, food and beverages manager at the Kenilworth Hotel in Kolkata, the hub of India’s tea trade.

Regular consumption of green tea could help to protect brain cells from conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, says a study in Japan published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Infosys Chairman Murthy is the most admired biz leader

Infosys Chairman and Chief Mentor N R Narayana Murthy has emerged as India's most admired business leader, for the fifth consecutive year, in the 5th Annual B-School Study conducted by Brand-comm, a leading brand consulting, advertising and PR firm headquartered in Bangalore .

About 545 students from 13 leading management institutes across the country participated in the survey.

B-school students admire Narayana Murthy for being a socially responsible individual. He is looked up to as a leader who is honest and passionate about his work. The clarity and consistency in Murthy's personal branding and positioning seem to have been highly effective for the last five years.

"Video games: The rock-and-roll of the millennial generation

The Video Gamer generation is reshaping business across the United States and gamers swear that it is good for the soul.

Video games are transforming technology, education and the US economy, a trade leader proclaimed on Wednesday at the world's largest computer games show.

Entertainment Software Association President Doug Lowenstein backed his claim with a new study that concluded the multi-billion dollar industry was growing fast and stimulating innovation in areas ranging from medicine to anti-terrorism technology.

"The video game industry is playing a pivotal role in shaping the economy of tomorrow," Lowenstein said at a press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). "Clearly, this is an industry that is much more than just fun and games."

The tendency for political and business leaders to trivialise and marginalise video game playing would likely wane as the generational divide narrowed, Lowenstein predicted.

Fusion of Hollywood films and video games at premier trade show

Hollywood glamour and video game thrills united to entrance the thousands of hard-core gamers that crammed the world's premier computer trade show in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Games based on major films and game titles with blockbuster status in their own right, complete with movie-like action scenes, played out on screens both colossal and small in the cavernous venue.

A game titled "Strangle Hold" crafted by film director John Woo featured a virtual Chow Yun-Fat hero.

There were games based on the "Superman" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" films slated for release later this year.

Games were imbued with characters and plots from movies as recent as "The Da Vinci Code" and "Mission Impossible III" and as classic as "The Godfather" and "Scarface."

Much of the talk at behind-the-scenes workshops at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) centered not on game technology, but on story lines and character development.

E3 is in its 12th year, and with the gaming business booming, the event has turned into a important meeting place for industry movers and shakers.

Gaming business merchants streamed into pavilions representing peers in Britain, Korea, Australia, Canada, Singapore and other countries.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Singapore Towards A Creative City

Museums and culture can play creative roles in putting a city on the world map.

But that may not always be the case as some developments may not necessarily add to the creative process of the city.

This is the view of Charles Landry, the founder of Europe's leading cultural planning consultancy.

He was speaking at a lecture at the Singapore Arts Museum. A good city is one that is alive, adaptable and edgy. It is also one that responds to human desires and constantly pushes the boundaries.

Mr Landry said that building a creative city goes beyond land use planning, architecture and engineering. It is also about integrating arts and culture and creating "inclusive spaces" where people can interact.

A Fitting Farewell To Keane

Roy Keane returned to a hero's welcome at a heaving Old Trafford last night but refused to confirm whether his Manchester United testimonial might also be his Celtic farewell.

A staggering 69,591 and brought in around £2m in receipts for what is likely to be Roy Keane's last appearance last appearance at the Theatre of Dreams.

After 12 largely success-filled years with the club, there were plenty of United fans in the crowd but the near 23,000-strong Celtic contingent showed how much Keane is revered in Glasgow, even though he has only been at Parkhead for five months and will now go on a short holiday with his family before deciding whether to extend his career by one more year.

As predicted, Keane, who made his entrance through a guard of honour from both sides accompanied by his five children, played 45 minutes for each side.

By far the 34-year-old's most productive work came during the second period, when he was wearing the red shirt of United.

In fact, it was almost like turning the clock back a few years as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Gary Neville lined up alongside the man they shared so many glory days with.