State acquires 20% share in only critical TV station, other threats to free expression

first_img Follow the news on Venezuela News December 8, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 State acquires 20% share in only critical TV station, other threats to free expression Two journalists murdered just days apart in Venezuela VenezuelaAmericas VenezuelaAmericas News Help by sharing this information Coronavirus “information heroes” – journalism that saves lives Organisation New wave of censorship targeting critical media outletscenter_img The Venezuelan government announced yesterday that it has acquired a 20 per cent stake in Globovisión, the only over-the-air TV channel that is still very critical of President Hugo Chávez after RCTV was stripped of its licence in 2007. RCTV was subsequently suspended from broadcasting by cable as well, and its latest attempt to return to cable broadcasting was blocked on 25 November.The state took over the Globovisión stake that was held by Sindicato Ávila, a company that has just been liquidated by the banking supervisory authority. The company was owned by Nelson Mezerhane, an entrepreneur accused of embezzlement whose extradition from the United States, like that of Globovisión owner Guillermo Zuloaga, is now being sought by Venezuela.The government has long had Globovisión in its sights because of its attitude during the April 2002 coup attempt against Chávez. Although never prosecuted in connection with the coup, it has repeatedly been threatened with suspension or closure and Chávez has regularly taken to accusing the station of wanting to killing him. If the government were to end up with a controlling share of Globovisión, it would completely dominate over-the-air TV broadcasting in Venezuela. But Globovisión has said the government’s current stake falls far short of the 65 per cent required to impose a new management. The state’s acquisition of a partial stake in Globovisión has coincided with a new series of controversial measures that threaten freedom of expression. They include a proposed new international cooperation law, currently being debated by the Nation Assembly. Some of its provisions threaten the independence of local NGOs.Another subject of concern is the proposed extension of the 2004 Radio and TV Social Responsibility Law (Ley Resorte) to cover the Internet. It is under this law that the government, or rather the president, forces all over-the-air TV stations to form a single network (“cadena”) to provide life coverage whenever he delivers one of his marathon speeches. The same law can be used to suspend a news media on such vague grounds as disseminating a report “liable to cause panic and public disorder.”The National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) has drafted an addition – about Electronic Media Services – to the Ley Resorte that would make the state responsible for ensuring that online content “is appropriate, especially for children and adolescents.” The wording has prompted concern that protecting children will not be its sole aim. It has also been suggested that amendments could be made to the existing Ley Resorte including a “catalogue of messages that could not be sent at any time.” But what kind of messages? What criteria would be used? That is the issue.It would be desirable if a broad consensus on communication policy could be reached in a parliamentary debate involving the opposition, which will represented in the National Assembly again from 5 January – the date that the legislature elected last September will begin to sit. It is highly questionable that the government is trying to rush through such major pieces of legislation in the last few days before Christmas, when the entire National Assembly is still pro-government.The only grounds for satisfaction have been an appeal court decision on 30 November overturning newspaper columnist Francisco “Pancho” Pérez’s libel conviction. Pérez, who writes for El Carabobeño, a daily based in Valencia, the capital of Carabobo states, was fined and, outrageously, banned from working for three years and nine months in June over a March 2009 column accusing Valencia mayor Edgardo Parra of nepotism. News Receive email alerts to go further RSF_en August 25, 2020 Find out more News January 13, 2021 Find out more June 15, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

Travelers Named a 2021 Military Friendly® Company

first_imgLocal NewsBusiness Facebook Twitter WhatsApp Previous articleNew Sensis Research Highlights Multicultural Boomer HabitsNext articleParo Joins OTC Markets Group’s Premium Provider Directory Digital AIM Web Support Travelers Named a 2021 Military Friendly® Company TAGS  Pinterestcenter_img Pinterest HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb 9, 2021– The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV ) today announced that it has been named a 2021 Military Friendly® Company by VIQTORY, publisher of G.I. Jobs. The designation is given to organizations that have robust programs in place to support the military community. “We have a longstanding commitment to assisting veterans and their families, and it’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts,” said Diane Kurtzman, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Travelers. “Our military-friendly programs are focused on providing a culture that enables transitioning service members to thrive in the civilian workforce and use the invaluable skills they acquired while serving our country.” Travelers has been included on VIQTORY’s Military Friendly® lists for more than a decade and has been named a Military Times “Best for Vets” company since 2014 because of its extensive military-friendly initiatives, which include:Offering an employee resource group focused on building awareness of veterans’ skills and experiences. Since its launch in 2013, the Military and Veterans & Allies Diversity Network has grown to more than 3,200 members nationally.Supporting American Corporate Partners, a national nonprofit that helps veterans discover their next career. Since 2010, Travelers employees have mentored hundreds of post-9/11 veterans.Providing comprehensive benefits for employees deployed on active duty. The company offers full benefits and supplements employees’ military pay for up to five years of their deployment. The company has also signed the Statement of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at both state and national levels and is part of the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership. The Military Friendly ® lists are compiled each year based on public and government data sources, as well as responses from a survey completed by each company. To learn more about Travelers and its commitment to recruiting military service members, visit Travelers.com/military. About Travelers The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV ) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $32 billion in 2020. For more information, visit Travelers.com. View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210209005681/en/ CONTACT: Media: Courtney Garro, 860.277.8719 [email protected] KEYWORD: CONNECTICUT UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA INDUSTRY KEYWORD: PROFESSIONAL SERVICES INSURANCE HUMAN RESOURCES FINANCE SOURCE: The Travelers Companies, Inc. Copyright Business Wire 2021. PUB: 02/09/2021 09:00 AM/DISC: 02/09/2021 09:01 AM http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210209005681/en WhatsApp By Digital AIM Web Support – February 9, 2021 Twitter Facebooklast_img read more

Provost Tour

first_imgWhitten also attended a graduate research event hosted by CAES, UGA’s Graduate School and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.“UGA’s annual economic impact on the state we serve is an impressive $4.4 billion, but there are some things you just can’t quantify,” Whitten said. “Seeing firsthand the impact of Extension and our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has been invaluable to me, and I continue to be inspired by the dedication of our extraordinary students, faculty and staff.” University of Georgia Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten helped shine a light on the role that UGA Cooperative Extension plays in the lives of Georgians and the state’s economy during a visit to Tifton, Georgia, this week.Whitten met with south Georgia-based UGA Extension professionals on the UGA Tifton Campus on Thursday to learn more about the research, teaching and outreach components that make up the statewide organization.“This was a huge opportunity for Extension and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for Extension. “Having almost a whole day to showcase the impactful, life-changing work we accomplish on a daily basis is a big deal.”UGA scientists Phillip Roberts, Michael Toews, George Vellidis, Stanley Culpepper, Jared Whitaker and Wes Porter updated the provost on research being done in different areas of agriculture, Georgia’s No. 1 industry. Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agents Stephanie Hollifield and Scott Carlson briefed Whitten on the importance of the delivery of research-based information from agents to farmers.Whitten met with members of the UGA Cotton Team, learned about precision agriculture and irrigation techniques, and visited different parts of the UGA Tifton Campus, including the Microgin, Lang Farm and the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory (NESPAL). Her tour was capped by a visit with Bill Brim, owner of Lewis Taylor Farms, one of the largest farming operations in Tift County, Georgia. “We are identifying needs at the local level and utilizing integrated teams to research the most pressing issues to solve problems,” Johnson said. “This work supports agriculture, the largest industry in Georgia, and is hugely important to the economy of Georgia. Visiting with a local producer allows us to demonstrate how the work of our college translates into real-life economic impact.”While agriculture comprised the bulk of Whitten’s time in Tifton, she also learned about other Extension program areas, like 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences. Melinda Miller, Southwest District 4-H program development coordinator, and Andrea Scarrow, Southwest District Family and Consumer Sciences program development coordinator, provided updates from their respective areas and touted the impact these programs have throughout the state.“Not only does Extension serve the agricultural needs of Georgia, it serves youth and families, so I wanted to include Extension personnel from all three areas,” Johnson said. “I wanted (the provost) to hear their passion, see their expertise and find out how they are changing lives and livelihoods.”last_img read more

Asset managers need a single point of access into a network of managed-account sponsors

first_imgWant to make life easier for asset managers? A single point of access into a network of managed-account sponsors allows asset managers to move effortlessly across multiple sponsor platforms. This approach to traditional, separately managed accounts and model portfolio distribution will help them easily implement, manage and monitor investment strategy and decisions.Without this modernization, asset managers may continue to cope with the challenge of having several open accounts on their screens, each requiring separate login and password information and each in danger of timing out while asset managers work. Imagine how frustrating the same scenario would be when reconciling all of your personal accounts – checking, savings, credit union, multiple credit cards – with several screens open on your laptop and all with separate logins.Asset managers, whose model portfolio or strategy is distributed to multiple wrap sponsors, must currently implement investment strategy changes made on their home platform across a multitude of sponsor platforms. Moving among screens with different navigations, logins and behaviors is just the first hurdle to overcome. When one sponsor is filled, managing rotating trades across sponsors and routing trades through to the next one can also be an issue. Or, if rotation is not needed, asset managers typically must use manual processes on each platform to get trades completed across all sponsor platforms. The headaches mount when you consider disparate file layouts and the need to download, potentially translate and upload trades.multiple sponsor platforms continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

No props for Arnold

first_imgLOS ANGELES (AP) – Voters on Tuesday rejected all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “year of reform” ballot proposals in a special election that turned against the celebrity governor. It was a sobering evening for a man once considered among the most popular politicians in America. The same voters who swept Schwarzenegger into office in a historic recall election two years ago defeated every element of his plan to reshape state government. Though Schwarzenegger tried to look past the defeats, it was clear that an election he had called in June only angered voters. Still, appearing before supporters at a Beverly Hills hotel, a smiling governor did not concede defeat and instead suggested he wanted to look past the defeats and a year of hostility with Democrats and labor unions. “Tomorrow, we begin anew,” Schwarzenegger said, his wife Maria Shriver beside him. “I feel the same tonight as that night two years ago … You know with all my heart, I want to do the right thing for the people of California.” Voters overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 76, the governor’s centerpiece proposal to slow the growth of state spending. Proposition 77, which would have redrawn legislative and congressional districts, was knocked down by a similar margin. Failing by slimmer spreads were Proposition 74, a plan to make teachers work longer to achieve tenure, and Proposition 73, which would have restricted political spending by public employee unions. The contest represented the biggest test yet of a faltering Schwarzenegger’s leadership – and the outcome clouds his chances of winning a second term next year. Poll after poll showed it was an election that Californians didn’t want, with a lineup of eight initiatives that didn’t connect with every day issues such as gas prices, housing costs and the war in Iraq. And voters carried their displeasure to a ballot that had four other propositions. Proposals on energy regulation and prescription drug costs were easily defeated, though one on abortion rights was narrowly trailing and too close to call. The special election pitted the Republican actor-turned-governor against two of California’s dominant political forces – public employee unions and Democrats who control the Legislature. It also attracted another celebrity in Democratic activist Warren Beatty, who dogged the governor in the campaign’s closing days. Schwarzenegger’s conflict with the unions made him a target for teachers, nurses and firefighters – whom he once antagonized and whose television advertising blitz helped push his popularity ratings to record lows. Union leaders and Democrats who opposed the governor chanted “sweep, sweep” at their Sacramento victory party. “I’m very grateful to Arnold Schwarzenegger for really working people up,” said Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association. Schwarzenegger’s proposals to curb spending and weaken unions inflamed passions on both sides, partly because of the election’s roughly $50 million cost in a state that repeatedly faces budget shortfalls. Tim Wong, 48, an independent from Belmont, called the election “a waste of the meager money we have.” “These propositions were a diversion from the important issues,” Wong said. “It’s all show and no substance.” Though some of the measures were complex, Schwarzenegger cast the election in simple terms: Support him and the state moves forward – vote no and protect a broken system of government in Sacramento. “I guess I didn’t do a good enough job to convince them otherwise,” the governor said of voters Tuesday night. Perhaps the most emotionally charged proposition wasn’t part of Schwarzenegger’s pitch. Proposition 73 proposed a constitutional amendment that would require doctors to notify parents or guardians when a minor seeks an abortion. It also would redefine abortion as an act that causes the death of an unborn child. With nearly all precincts reporting, it trailed narrowly but was too close to call. Another initiative was intended to reregulate part of the state’s energy market – but voters rejected Proposition 80 by a wide margin. Dueling propositions to lower prescription drug costs were soundly defeated in a battle that became one of the most expensive initiative campaigns in state history. Pharmaceutical companies had pumped in $76 million to support Proposition 78 and oppose Proposition 79, which labor and consumer groups supported. The cascade of campaign spending has been shocking, even in a state known as an ATM for political donations. Preliminary figures suggest that Republicans, Democrats, unions, big businesses, pharmaceutical companies and others could have ended up spending a combined $300 million – more than President Bush raised for his 2004 re-election campaign. It was the fourth statewide election in three years. Schwarzenegger’s Tuesday got off to an inauspicious start: When he arrived at a polling place near his Brentwood mansion, poll workers said he had already voted. He hadn’t. A quick call to the Los Angeles County Registar-Recorder Office turned up the problem – an unexplained mix-up involving an early voting test. After voting – for real – Schwarzenegger flashed a thumbs-up sign but didn’t speak with reporters. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Donegal Senator calls for support for hospitality workers “tips” Bill

first_imgSenator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to support a Sinn Féin bill which aims to give hospitality workers a legal right to their tips when it is debated at Report and Final Stage in the Seanad tomorrow.The Protection of Employee Tips Bill, introduced by the Sinn Féin group in the Seanad would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse.The Bill would also require employers to display their tipping policy either on their menu or in another suitable manner so that customers have transparency with regard to whom and how their tip is distributed. The Bill has received cross-party support to date and Sinn Féin are pushing for the Bill to be enacted in both Houses of the Oireachtas by the Autumn of this year.Senator Mac Lochlainn said “This is a simple Bill which would give protection to employees who work in the hospitality sector. Most people are surprised to hear that workers do not, in fact, have a legal right to their tips. The public are also shocked to hear that research produced in 2017 highlights that one-third of all tips are stolen by employers on a regular basis.“There’s a broad consensus in society that workers should have a legal right to keep the tips which they earn. The Sinn Féin bill has also received tremendous support from the trade union movement, particularly from ICTU. Good employers have nothing to fear from this Bill. There’s no downside to this for anyone, unless you happen to be a bad employer who dips their hand in the tip jar.“The bill already has full support from Labour, Civic Engagement, and many Independents. If this cross-party support extends to Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael, we can pass the Bill through both Houses of the Oireachtas by the Autumn which would ensure that workers’ tips are finally given legal protection”. Donegal Senator calls for support for hospitality workers “tips” Bill was last modified: June 11th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BilldonegalSenator Padraig MacLochlainnSinn FeinTipslast_img read more

Giants broadcasters Krukow, Kuiper reflect on death of mentor

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — Hank Greenwald stopped broadcasting for the Giants in 1996, but his voice echoes still.You heard him over the course of three World Series victories since 2010. You heard him over the course of these past two dismal seasons.You heard him whether you knew it or not. Because Hank Greenwald, who died Monday at age 83, lives on in the two smart aleck ex-ballplayers he mentored into becoming top-notch broadcasters.“Every time we saw him, we always thanked him for being the guy who …last_img

The Science Media Racket

first_imgScience reporting is a global racket that uncritically propagates nonsense with the imprimatur of science.Many in academia are concerned about unscientific ideas that go viral in social media. Perhaps they should set a better example themselves. Pure speculations that are demonstrably unempirical are published daily by Big Science and Big Media, with no rebuttals or caveats.Here’s how it works: a “scientist” or “researcher” gets a wacky idea that cannot be proved. Because they wear the honorable label of “scientist,” their opinions have presumptive authority. Their institutions (universities or labs), eager to promote what a great job their staff scientists are doing, enjoy opportunities to highlight their work. Each institution has a public relations department that is always looking for new promotional material. Their expertise is in watering down the “findings” for a lay audience, gathering quotes as needed, adding a catchy headline and some artwork or photos. The PR office then puts the feed out until the journal paper is about to arrive, labeling it “embargoed” for the Big Media reporters until the Big Day. This gives reporters in Big Media time to tweak the press release with their own headline and wording. When the Big Day arrives, the embargo is lifted, and all the Big Media reporters come out with the same “news” almost simultaneously, using the same artwork, but with their own particular wording and headlines. Other Small Media reporters quickly copy the story uncritically, and it goes viral.Who gets to ask, “Is this claim true?” Only independent sites like CEH, but they are swamped by the onslaught of internet packets flooding the world with the prepared copy script. Critics are only able to respond after the fact. This racket gives lone researchers with particular ideologies (like secular materialism) the advantage of a pre-emptive strike. Interestingly, social scientists from Italy, publishing PNAS, found a similar pattern of reception between conspiracy theories and science news (“The Spread of Misinformation Online“), but they did not consider the social dynamics of the science dissemination process.The propaganda machine works well with right-to-know situations about observational evidence, like the latest images from Pluto. Where it fails the public is when the machinery lets in unsubstantiated opinion masquerading as science, or interpretations unjustified by the evidence. Here are a couple of recent examples:1. The case of the globular aliens.  How could anyone possibly know that globular clusters host alien civilizations? On January 6, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics posted a press release,”Advanced Alien Civilizations Could Live in Globular Star Clusters,” featuring Rosanne di Stefano claiming that such clusters are good places to look. She doesn’t even know there are any planets there, but speculated that they would be good targets for interstellar space missions—something so far out it’s unthinkable with today’s technology. On the same day, though, the usual suspects had their uncritical copy script ready to go, with the very same photo of the very same globular cluster decorating their versions of the nonsense:Interstellar civilizations may thrive in globular clusters (Science Magazine)Advanced Alien Civilizations Could Live in Globular Star Clusters (Live Science)Star clusters could host long-lived technological civilisations (New Scientist)Globular clusters could host interstellar civilizations (Science Daily)Globular Clusters Could Nurture Interstellar Civilizations (NASA Astrobiology Magazine)Star clumps harbour ‘sweet spot’ in search for alien life (BBC News)A search on the key words “globular cluster” and “civilizations” in the past week turns up over 100,000 hits. The scheme gives tremendous power to individuals like di Stefano to air fact-free speculations instantaneously around the world, where it will be seen by readers who will likely accept it because of the public’s respect for “science.”Incidentally, the one case where SETI turned up a potential signal from an alien civilization has been discredited. Back in 1977, radio astronomers found an intense, short burst from space for 72 seconds. Jerry Ehman from Ohio State wrote “Wow!” next to a printout of the code. The signal was never seen again, but despite its mystery, the episode has been a selling point for SETI ever since. Now, according to New Scientist, an astronomer thinks they just saw one or more passing comets.2. The case of the dancing dinosaurs.  A scientist out walking in Colorado one day sees some impressions on the ground. What do they mean? Paleontologist Martin Lockley looked at them and had visions of dancing dinosaurs. He had an artist paint a picture of a T. rex dance party, the male trying to impress the female with its fancy footwork. Because the University of Colorado at Denver is mighty proud of their dino hunter, they put out a press release on January 7, artwork and all, telling reporters how wonderfully this supports Darwin’s idea of sexual selection—all from some impressions in the dirt. “Discovery shows dinosaurs may have been the original lovebirds: CU Denver researcher finds signs of dinosaur mating behavior.” When that hit the wires, all the world’s reporters were ready to go, artwork in hand:Mysterious footprint fossils point to dancing dinosaur mating ritual (The Conversation)Dinosaur Tracks Reveal Odd Mating Dance (Live Science)Dinosaurs may have danced like birds to woo mates (Science Magazine)Dinosaurs took part in building competitions to attract females (New Scientist)Dinosaurs may have been the original lovebirds, discovery shows: Researcher finds signs of dinosaur mating behavior (Science Daily)Dinosaurs may well have engaged in mating rituals, just like birds do. One thing is certain, however; Lockley never watched a T. rex dance. He just saw some impressions on the ground and drew a speculative inference. What’s troubling is that his inference, with the University of Colorado’s suggestive and speculative artwork, went out across the internet almost instantly with no contrary interpretations. A search shows over 100,000 hits on this story.Real science is messy. There is often intense debate about how to interpret data. Scientific claims in journals are also subject to retractions and corrections which, not being as “newsworthy,” don’t often get reported. When the public is fed one line of interpretation via a propagation apparatus that can flood the internet with one person’s interpretation instantaneously, the public is likely to get a very distorted view of how science works.I have a personal experience with how unfair Big Media can be. When a judge ruled against me in my lawsuit against JPL, an AP reporter typed out a story with his spin on the case, echoing largely JPL’s side of the story. This lone reporter’s take went out over the wires with all the presumptive authority of The Associated Press. I watched helplessly from home as, within minutes, the internet registered hundreds of hits as it reverberated around the world. Big Media, with all its affiliates from small towns to international markets, republished it uncritically, never once calling me or my lawyer to ask if I had a response. I started a little blog site to tell my side of the story, and a few friendly organizations supported my position, but how many millions of readers of the Big Media propaganda machine assume they know what really happened because of that lone reporter’s biased report?That was a case of legal misreporting, but science reporting is worse. The top-down reporting apparatus gives unreasonable power to any lone scientist who is on OK terms with his or her institution’s public relations department. The PR people have a vested interest in making their staff scientists look good. It’s an unholy union almost guaranteed to propagate nonsense with the presumptive authority of science. It’s true that many press releases accompany peer-reviewed papers in journals, but since Big Science and Big Media are in cahoots to reject any evidence of intelligent design, no matter how compelling, they get to use the propaganda machine to swamp the internet with Darwin’s interpretation.At JPL, I would sit in on press conferences and watch the reporters ask questions. Reporters came from Space.com, Astronomy Magazine, Sky & Telescope, and major newspapers and broadcasters. It was interesting to watch the social dynamics. The scientists were up on stage, the reporters down in the audience. Because of this social hierarchy, reporters would usually ask innocent questions to get clarification of what the scientists said. It would have been socially out of place for them to challenge a claim, even if the reporter was knowledgeable about the subject. The scientist, after all, has the PhD and access to the data. The setup allows a “scientist” like Jonathan Lunine to speculate about possible life on Titan at a press conference without fear of being challenged; reporters will likely just write it down and regurgitate it in the news.This is a very unhealthy way to do science. Scientists need to be challenged. They need to be called to account when they make evidence-free claims or offer mere opinions. They are scientists, not priests. It’s not just other scientists who should challenge them, but knowledgeable laypersons as well. Many reporters and observers have college degrees; they are not dummies when it comes to the subject matter, even if they don’t work as scientists in academia. As we often say here, science would improve if reporters would press them with hard questions the way they do to politicians, and if they had the guts to say, “But Dr. Scientist, how can you say that? You have no evidence. That sounds patently absurd.” The scientist would quickly shape up if he knew that reporter would actually say that in his story, especially if his university president complained about the bad publicity to the institution.Because of the gutless stance of reporters, the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, but there is always hope in the power of truth over falsehood. We provide a valuable service at CEH by showing how to critically analyze “scientific” claims. You can help by retweeting our tweets and sharing our entries on social media. Don’t complain about darkness. Shine some light. It’s the best disinfectant, after all.(Visited 211 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

William Kentridge wins Kyoto Prize

first_img11 November 2010South African artist William Kentridge has been awarded the 2010 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, becoming the first African recipient of Japan’s highest private award for global achievement.The awards, now in their 26th year, are regarded as Japan’s equivalent of the Nobel awards. Only three prizes are given each year, in the categories of Arts and Philosophy, Advanced Technology, and Basic Sciences.The prizes honour “significant contributions to the betterment of humankind” and each comes with a cash award of 50-million yen (about R4.2-million).Kentridge received the award in Kyoto on Wednesday. Speaking to Johannesburg radio station Eye Witness News, he said the year had been remarkable for South Africa as a whole and that this award had made him more proud to be a citizen.He was given the award for his insights into and reflections on human nature through his art.“Using a simple technique that he himself calls ‘stone-age filmmaking’ – namely, the laborious process of filming, frame by frame, a series of ceaselessly changing charcoal and pastel drawings – Mr Kentridge has injected the traditional technique of drawing into diverse media, including animation, video projection and stage set design,” reads the Kyoto Prize website.The judges continue: “In so doing, he has created a new contemporary vehicle of artistic expression within which various media fuse together in multiple ways. Although his works deal with the history and social circumstances of a specific geographic area, they have acquired universality through their deep insights and profound reflections on the nature of human existence.’It was felt that his work, “full of sharp intelligence and profound poetry”, continues to exert “great influence” on other artists, giving people worldwide “courage and hope that their attempts and practices may still be effective and fundamental, even amid the stagnation of our contemporary society, swirling with political and social unrest”.The prize was initiated in 1985, given by the non-profit Inamori Foundation, established by Dr Kazuo Inamori, the founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera and KDDI Corporation. Inamori believed that “a human being has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth”.So far, the prize has been awarded to 84 people, and one foundation, from 15 different countries. Laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most number of recipients at 34, followed by Japan with 14, the United Kingdom with 12, and France with eight.Dr Shinya Yamanaka received the 2010 award for Advanced Technology. He pioneered technology for producing induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells without the use of embryos.Dr Laszlo Lovasz received the award for Basic Sciences. He provided a link among numerous branches of the mathematical sciences, making “outstanding contributions to the academic and technological possibilities of the mathematical sciences”.Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Cementing peace in the DRC

first_imgA UN Stabilisation Mission in DRC soldier on Goma hill. It remains to be seen whether the force can ensure peace in the eastern DRC after the defeat of M23.(Image: Guy Oliver, Irin Photo)MEDIA CONTACTS• A MaswanganyeMinister-counsellorM ConradieCounsellorSouth African Embassy, Kinshasa, DRC+243 81 556 6586• Stephanie WoltersProgramme managerConflict Prevention and Risk Analysis DivisionInstitute of Security Studies, Pretoria+27 12 346 9500/2RELATED ARTICLES• Stateless Zim residents gain citizenship • Kilimo Salama farmers’ safety• Africa rising• Piracy decline gives Somalis hope • Africa’s turn to save the worldIrin NewsWith the predominantly Tutsi rebel group M23 routed and vowing to disarm, attention is shifting to how to cement and extend peace across eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and ease the decades-long suffering and deprivation of millions of civilians.Since 25 October, Congolese troops, backed by a new UN intervention brigade, have driven M23 fighters from their fortified strongholds in North Kivu Province, in a series of surprisingly successful operations.The triumph has raised hopes of better times ahead for one of the world’s most turbulent regions. Civilians in the area reportedly welcomed the M23’s defeat. A jubilant Martin Kobler, head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, was filmed shaking hands with smiling residents in “liberated” villages.But observers caution that the military triumph is only a first step towards stability in a region long plagued by lawlessness and bad governance, beset by ethnic and political tensions, and awash with weapons.“The M23 is only one of many armed groups operating in the eastern DRC,” said Stephanie Wolters, an analyst at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria. “There are many others that have long rendered the lives of the population in these parts a living nightmare, and that still need to be tackled politically and militarily.”Military muscleExperts say the reorganised FARDC, as DRC’s national army is known, and the newly offensive UN force must continue to work in tandem if the cycle of violence in eastern DRC is to be broken.M23 is just the latest in a series of ethnic-Tutsi led militias that have operated in the hills close to the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. As many as 45 other rebel groups are currently operating across the region, where the DRC government has little control.Militant groups have been accused of gross human rights violations, including executions, using rape as a weapon of war and conscripting children. Government forces have also been blamed for atrocities. The violence and instability have hampered efforts to extend basic services, including health care, and to alleviate poverty.DRC President Joseph Kabila shook up the command of the army after security forces put up no meaningful resistance as M23 gunmen seized Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in November last year. Having humiliated the government and the UN, whose peacekeepers proved equally powerless, the rebels withdrew a few weeks later.Military analyst Darren Olivier said the new FARDC commander in North Kivu has cracked down on ill-discipline, raised morale and turned his troops into a capable force. The troops were well prepared and supplied for their assault on the M23, he said.“This has interesting implications for the potential of FARDC to eventually be able to maintain a monopoly of force in the eastern DRC,” Olivier wrote in the African Defense Review.“In just four days, M23 has been dislodged from every one of the strongholds it once held,” Olivier said. “This surprisingly rapid reversal of fortunes for the group was unprecedented only weeks ago when most experts predicted that it would take significant effort to remove M23 from towns like Kibumba, Rumangabo and Rutshuru.“Despite M23′s claims that its withdrawals were intentional, the group relinquished heavily-fortified positions all over North Kivu that it had only recently reinforced after the fighting in August. While M23 is not yet fully defeated, there is little doubt that it has suffered a crushing military loss.”South African troopsCreating such a monopoly should prove easier with the support of the UN Force Intervention Brigade, the 3 000-strong unit deployed earlier this year in a demonstration of the international community’s determination to break the cycle of violence in eastern DRC. Unusually for UN missions, the brigade is mandated to carry out targeted offensive operations to help government forces eliminate armed groups.According to Olivier, the UN force played a crucial role in the battle against the M23 by allowing government troops to fight simultaneously on three fronts, dividing and weakening the rebels as they tried to defend their fortified redoubts north of Goma.Wolters of the ISS said the M23 defeat and the impact of the UN brigade (made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi) sends a strong message to other armed groups.“It may prompt them to consider the advantages of a negotiated solution over a drawn-out military campaign. If it really wants peace, Kinshasa will then have to react quickly to capitalize on this and to engage in robust negotiations that can bring a real end to the violence,” Wolters said.Negotiations and reformsHow Kinshasa deals with the M23 may indicate how willing it is to make concessions to other rebel groups in the name of a national reconciliation programme.Under a multilateral framework agreement signed under UN and African Union auspices in March, the DRC is committed to a far-reaching reform programme designed to tackle the root causes of instability and rebellion.“The M23 is only one of many armed groups operating in the eastern DRC. There are many others that have long rendered the lives of the population in these parts a living nightmare, and that still need to be tackled politically and militarily.”As well as pledges on reconciliation and democratization, the government promised action to overhaul its security forces, consolidate state authority in the east and prevent armed groups from destabilizing neighbouring countries. The plan includes detailed benchmarks at national, regional and international levels to measure progress.However, peace talks with the M23 in the Ugandan capital Kampala had dragged on for months and were already stalled when the military push changed the facts on the ground.Russ Feingold, the US special envoy to the region, said on 6 November that a still unsigned agreement between the government and the M23 contains detailed provisions for disarming and demobilising the rebels and for protecting them from other armed groups.French permanent representative to the UN Gerard Araud said DRC negotiators were reluctant to sign “a sort of agreement between equals” after the rebellion had been crushed.The DRC parliament also has yet to pass a national amnesty programme. Western diplomats are pushing strongly for those accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity, including several M23 commanders, to be excluded from the amnesty and held accountable.Feingold contrasted this approach with the failed peace agreement of 23 March 2009, from which the M23 movement took its name. While the 2009 deal “did give that kind of amnesty to people who committed major crimes… there’s no impunity in this, this time,” Feingold said. “The goal here is to make sure this can’t happen again.”He said a successful conclusion to the Kampala talks could open the way for substantive talks between countries in the region. “Without that, this is not likely to be a successful effort to get at the root causes.”The violence in eastern DRC has left over one million people displacedYet there is concern that success against the M23 could leave Kinshasa feeling less compelled to meet its obligations under the framework agreement and deliver on its reform pledges, which include the establishment of the special courts.With the M23 defeated, Kabila could “shake off some of the pressure on him to carry out national reforms and would be buoyed by the popularity such a victory would certainly bring,” said Jason Stearns, a former UN expert on DRC.Concerned neighboursWhile the enhanced capabilities of FARDC and UN were important in defeating the M23, some analysts argue that the rout also reflects a Rwandan decision to withdraw support for the rebels in the face of intense pressure from the international community.There is speculation that Rwanda has secured assurances that the next target of military action in DRC will be the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which includes ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.“They should have done this some years ago. I hope that this time they will tackle the FDLR. They have to,” said Rwanda’s UN Ambassador Eugene Gasana.If Kigali feels short-changed, analysts warn that it could reactivate the M23 or arm another ethnic Tutsi-led proxy force in DRC in order to protect its security and economic interests.France’s UN representative Araud said on 7 November that FDLR was “on the front line” of the rebel movements to be tackled next. Diplomats have named the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist group opposed to the Ugandan government, as an additional priority.Rwanda has accused DRC forces of collaborating with the FDLR, something that Kinshasa denies. UN experts have in turn accused Rwanda of supporting the M23, a charge rejected by the government in Kigali.On the groundSome observers warn that the ethnic Tutsi communities in Kivu will remain fertile ground for future rebellions unless they are given more social and political representation, and unless long-standing land and citizenship issues are addressed.A strong DDR – disarmament, demobilization and reintegration – programme for armed groups, including repatriation for foreign fighters, is vital in Kivu and elsewhere, DRC scholar Christoph Vogel said.Last week, Oxfam expressed concern that the space left by defeated M23 forces could simply be seized by other rebels.In the short term, the government and UN are keen to restore civilian control in the areas previously held by M23. In a gesture of goodwill, the provincial authorities reportedly vowed not to collect any taxes until next year.“It is up to the government to take responsibility and bring development to the economy as well as to the administration,” Kohler said while touring former rebel strongholds.Source: Irin humanitarian news and analysis, a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.last_img read more