Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The San Diego, California suburb of Chula Vista has responded to the recent housing crisis with an aggressive blight control ordinance that compels lenders to maintain the appearance of vacant homes. As foreclosures increase both locally and throughout the United States, the one year old ordinance has become a model for other cities overwhelmed by the problem of abandoned homes that decay into neighborhood eyesores.

Chula Vista city code enforcement manager Doug Leeper told the San Diego Union Tribune that over 300 jurisdictions have contacted his office during the past year with inquiries about the city’s tough local ordinance. Coral Springs, Florida, and California towns Stockton, Santee, Riverside County, and Murietta have all modeled recently enacted anti-blight measures after Chula Vista’s. On Wednesday, 8 October, the Escondido City Council also voted to tighten local measures making lenders more accountable for maintenance of empty homes.

Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.

Under the Chula Vista ordinance lenders become legally responsible for upkeep as soon as a notice of mortgage default gets filed on a vacant dwelling, before actual ownership of the dwelling returns to the lender. Leeper regards that as “the cutting-edge part of our ordinance”. Chula Vista also requires prompt registration of vacant homes and applies stiff fines as high as US$1000 per day for failure to maintain a property. Since foreclosed properties are subject to frequent resale between mortgage brokers, city officials enforce the fines by sending notices to every name on title documents and placing a lien on the property, which prevents further resale until outstanding fines have been paid. In the year since the ordinance went into effect the city has applied $850,000 in fines and penalties, of which it has collected $200,000 to date. The city has collected an additional $77,000 in registration fees on vacant homes.

Jolie Houston, an attorney in San Jose, believes “Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.” Traditionally, local governments have resorted to addressing blight problems on abandoned properties with public funds, mowing overgrown lawns and performing other vital functions, then seeking repayment afterward. Chula Vista has moved that responsibility to an upfront obligation upon lenders.

That kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the United States during recent years, Chula Vista saw 22.6% growth between 2000 and 2006, which brought the city’s population from 173,556 in the 2000 census to an estimated 212,756, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chula Vista placed among the nation’s 20 fastest growing cities in 2004. A large proportion of local homes were purchased during the recent housing boom using creative financing options that purchasers did not understand were beyond their means. Average home prices in San Diego County declined by 25% in the last year, which is the steepest drop on record. Many homeowners in the region currently owe more than their homes are worth and confront rising balloon payment mortgages that they had expected to afford by refinancing new equity that either vanished or never materialized. In August 2008, Chula Vista’s eastern 91913 zip code had the highest home mortgage default rate in the county with 154 filings and 94 foreclosures, an increase of 154% over one year previously. Regionally, the county saw 1,979 foreclosures in August.

Professionals from the real estate and mortgage industries object to Chula Vista’s response to the crisis for the additional burdens it places on their struggling finances. Said San Diego real estate agent Marc Carpenter, “that kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.” Yet city councils in many communities have been under pressure to do something about increasing numbers of vacant properties. Concentrations of abandoned and neglected homes can attract vandals who hasten the decline of struggling neighborhoods. Jolie Houston explained that city officials “can’t fix the lending problem, but they can try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

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CEO Robert Klein of Safeguard, a property management firm, told the Union Tribune that his industry is having difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing local ordinances. “Every day we discover a new ordinance coming out of somewhere”, he complained. Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman from the California Association of Mortgage Bankers agreed that uneven local ordinances are likely to increase the costs of lending. Hobbs advised that local legislation is unnecessary due to California State Senate Bill 1137, which was recently approved to address blight. Yet according to Houston, the statewide measure falls short because it fails to address upkeep needs during the months between the time when foreclosure begins and when the lender takes title.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency said to support Taliban

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A report from the London School of Economics claims that the intelligence agency of Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the ISI actively provides the Taliban with services such as funding, weapons, and the training of troops. Additionally, the report, which is based on interviews with members of the Taliban, says that numerous ISI officials are part of the Taliban’s council of war, the Quetta Shura, although some Taliban commanders say that all Quetta Shura members have ties to the ISI. A senior Taliban official said that “[i]t is impossible to be a member of the Quetta shura without membership of the ISI.”

Taliban commanders said that the ISI has specifically provided support to or encouraged strategies such as attacking specific NATO military installations or infrastructure essential to NATO operations such as roads or bridges and assassinating specific individuals, such as high-ranking tribal officials or civilians such as doctors or teachers. The ISI is also alleged to have been the impetus behind the introduction of a type of explosive called a “plastic bomb,” which is undetectable with current NATO detection equipment.

The report said that “[a]s the provider of sanctuary and substantial financial, military and logistical support to the insurgency, the ISI appears to have strong strategic and operational influence—reinforced by coercion. There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign.”

The Pakistani government has denied the claims in the report; a spokesperson said that “[t]he allegations are absolutely baseless.” Another official, referring to an alleged meeting of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with imprisoned Taliban commanders, said that “[t]here’s no such thing as President Zardari meeting Taliban leaders. This never happened.”

Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Sunday, March 15, 2009

200,000 litres of oil leaked into waters off the coast of Brisbane from the Pacific Adventurer when their fuel tanks were damaged in rough seas on Wednesday. The figure is about ten times higher than the original estimate of twenty thousand litres of oil. The devastating diesel oil spill has spread along 60 kilometres (37 miles) of the Queensland coast. In addition, 31 containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser flew overboard during the violent storm.

Questions are being asked why the Hong Kong cargo ship was out in seas with nine meter waves caused by Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, as well as why the fertiliser containers were not properly secured. One of the overboard containers ruptured the hull of the Pacific Adventurer, causing between 30 to 100 tonnes of oil to spew from the severely damaged ship.

If the ammonium nitrate mixes with the heavy oil, an explosion could occur. None of the containers have been recovered. Some of these may float, but it is believed that they may have sunk which then may cause algal blooms.

Disaster zones have been declared at Bribie and Moreton Islands, and along the Sunshine coast.

The vessel’s owner, Swire Shipping, reported that a second leak began on Friday, when the ship began listing after docking at Hamilton for repairs. “As full soundings of the vessel’s tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer,” it stated. The ship was brought upright, and a recovery vessel was used to suck up the oil from the water. The leak produced a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River. Booms were placed around this oil spill so that a skimmer could clean up the second spill.

Swire Shipping could face clean up costs of AU$100,000 a day as well as fines up to AU$1.5million (US$977,000; £703,000) if found guilty of environmental breaches or negligence.

Sunshine Coast beaches are slowly starting to be reopened. The beach of Mooloolaba was still closed following reports of burning sensations from swimmers. 12 beaches remain closed; however, 13 have been reopened.

Over 300 state government and council workers are using buckets, rakes and spades in the clean up effort. Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbott says the majority will be gone by Sunday afternoon. The full environmental impact on wildlife is not yet known. One turtle and seven pelicans have been found covered in oil.

There are concerns that the drinking water of Moreton Island is at risk, as the island uses water from the underground water table near the oil spill site.

“Every bucketload of contaminated sand has to be removed from the island by barge, and each bucketload from a front-end loader weighs about one tonne. It’s just an impossible task,” said Mr Trevor Hassard of the Tangalooma Dolphin Education Centre.

The commercial fishing industry has suffered from the incident. Trawlers won’t resume operations until Sunday evening, and any catches will be tested for human consumption.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Tips To Maintain Your Aodd Pump

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Pipes

byAlma Abell

AODD pumps are generally not considered to be trustworthy in critical applications owing to its simple design and maintenance issues.

But, SANDPIPER pumpshave always been the most trustworthy, easy to handle and portable pumps widely chosen by the customers of varying industries.

In this article, we would be talking about the DO’s and DON’Ts of a SANDPIPER pump. This will help the customers in maintaining their AODD pump and also ensuring quick, handy solutions in times of need.

DO’s of SANDPIPER pumps:

  • Check Air supply pressure

  • Check suction piping to be sure that it is all connected and tight, all valves are open and ducting flooded suction, end of pipe is below liquid level (take care not to use piping smaller than pump port connections)

  • Do install the pump as close to the supply tank as possible

  • Do leave required working space around the pumping unit

  • Do use large, short and straight suction piping

  • Do Record pump model no and serial no. and file for future reference

  • Do obtain, read and keep maintenance instructions furnished with your pump

  • Do inspect (ESADS) Air distribution valve if found pump is not cycling

  • Do install flexible connectors and a pulsation dampener at the discharge side to reduce the pulsation in flow, keep the suction line length and number of fitting to a minimum

  • Do install pressure regulating valve to insist air supply pressure does not exceed recommended limits, please flush the pump after each use to prevent the damage when it is used for liquid/ material that tend to settle out or solidify

  • In freezing temperatures, pump must be completely drained between the uses in all cases

  • When used for toxic and aggressive fluids, pump should always to flushed clean prior to disassembly

  • When handling flammable liquids, pump, piping, valves, containers must be grounded, airborne particles and noise hazardous, do wear ear and eye protection.

DON’T’s of SANDPIPER pumps:

  • Don’t run pump at speeds faster than shown in catalog as per selected model

  • Don’t require pump to develop pressure higher than those shown in catalog for the model

  • Don’t operate pumps at temperatures above and below limits shown in catalog for your pump

  • Don’t stick fingers in ports of pump! Serious injury may result

  • Do not reduce the suction line diameter

To know more about SANDPIPER pumps, visit www.idexindia.inor call @ 1800 267 9955. You can also like their Facebook page for more information.

Indonesian authorities investigate after pornographic film screened on billboard in Jakarta

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Monday, October 3, 2016

Authorities in Indonesia initiated an investigation after a pornographic film was illicitly screened on a 24-square-meter (roughly 260-square-foot) LED billboard in the capital city of Jakarta on Friday, in full view of rush hour commuters.

The film, depicting a couple engaged in explicit sexual activity, appeared on the screen for several minutes — five, according to BBC News — during which time passerby took the opportunity to film the display and upload it onto the Internet. Following complaints to the South Jakarta Communications and Information Agency, authorities cut power to the billboard at about 2:45 p.m. to stop the screening.

According to a report on Saturday by Agence France-Presse, the film, identified as Japanese erotica titled Watch Tokyo Hot, was believed to have been transmitted to the billboard by a personal computer. Awi Setiyono, head of public relations for the police, said the investigative team for the incident includes a cyber crime unit, with the intention of determining whether the billboard was hacked.

Lestari Ady Wiryono, head of public information for South Jakarta, stated “The South Jakarta administration takes this matter seriously”. She said on Friday she had no information on the culprits or the source of the film. “We received the report and we immediately severed the electricity to there”, she said according to the Daily Mirror.

The billboard, located in close proximity to the office of the South Jakarta mayor, is owned by PT. Matapena Komunika Advertama, a private company, while content screened on it is the responsibility of PT. Transito Adiman Jati Transito Adverstising, according to The Jakarta Post. According to Lestari, following the incident, staff from her office along with the investigating cyber crime unit visited PT. Transito’s offices to gather information relating to the affected billboard.

The Indonesian government blocks access to pornographic websites in the country, whilst also subjecting scenes of romance in public broadcasts to heavy censorship. Under a 2015 decree, the government subjects content shown on billboards to standards of “public ethics, aesthetics, public order, decency, security and the environment”.

An interview with Jimbo Wales/Color-free

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Just five years ago, when Jimbo Wales founded Wikipedia, the project’s goal of 100,000 articles [1] seemed ambitious. Yet today, the project, now one of the top 25 websites in the world according to Alexa, is nearing closer 1,000,000 articles in English, and 3.5 million articles across all languages. This week, we interviewed Jimbo Wales.

Colored version

Wikinews: Raul654 asks: “Recently, there were revelations about organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. What is your take on this, as well as earlier reports of Corporate astroturfing?”

Jimbo Wales: The question is invalid. There were no revelations of organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. Not any evidence of “corporate astroturfing” of which I am aware. There was evidence that some congressional staffers edited Wikipedia in inappropriate ways. But the internal evidence of the type and style of these edits do not suggest “organized attempts”.

WN: Nichalp asks: “Budget permitting, are there any plans to increase the number of Wikipedia servers, specifically into the less developed countries?”

JW: We are always buying new servers. There are no specific plans to add servers in less developed countries, but we have looked into it as a possibility. We are particularly interested in doing so if it helps increase access and reduce costs for those users.

WN: An anonymous reader asks: “How much of a role do you feel the Wikipedia community (and the communities of its sister projects) should have in the running of the Wikimedia Foundation? Do you see an increasing separation of the organization from the projects? If so, do you regard that as beneficial or a potential problem?”

JW: The community has always been and will always be absolutely crucial to the running of the Wikimedia Foundation. We are increasing the community input and activity in the foundation through a new series of committees to delegate things to community members which have traditionally been handled by me or the Board. I do not see any increasing separation of the organization from the projects, quite the opposite. I consider the increasing integration of the community and the foundation as overwhelmingly beneficial.

WN: ALoan asks: “English Wikipedia is approaching 1 million articles, but less than 1 in a thousand are Featured articles. The list of featured articles English Wikipedia should have has few featured articles, and recent surveys of articles chosen at random show that many articles are poorly written. How can we get from here to an encyclopedia of well-written articles? Or should we not worry too much about coverage and content?”

JW: We should be tightly focused on the quality of our coverage and content. The goal of Wikipedia is to create and distribute a freely licensed high quality encyclopedia. The path to that goal will require us to be flexible and thoughtful. The first steps will come soon with the article review system, which will initially be used simply to gather data. After we have data, we can begin to work on how we will focus our attention to improve quality.

WN: GeorgeStepanek asks: “You’ve said that ‘Wikimedia’s mission is to give the world’s knowledge to every single person on the planet in their own language.’ But very few of the wikipedias in the languages of third-world countries are seeing as much activity as the first-world language wikipedias. Do you have any ideas on how this could be turned around?”

JW: I am a believer in outreach. I would like for the Foundation to raise money specifically to pay one or more minority language co-ordinators. The goal would be to reach out in a more organized way to professors and graduate students and expat communities who have good Internet access, to seed projects for languages where the majority of speakers have poor internet access.

WN: Jacoplane asks: “How do you feel we will be able to reach Wikipedia 1.0? The tools currently available for vetting our articles are crude at best. The Featured article process seems too slow, and the article validation feature seems to have died a quiet death. Are you planning a big push on this front?”

JW: Isn’t that the same question as the quality question? The article validation feature has not died a quiet death at all.

WN: Quadell asks: “Most important decisions on Wikimedia projects are handled with consensus. However, we sometimes have to deal with legal issues, especially related to copyright law. For instance, we as a community may need to decide whether to consider a certain use “fair”, or how to deal with conflicting copyright claims. Dealing with this through consensus is problematic, since we can’t do something illegal even if there is widespread misguided support for it. In general, how can we as a community deal with these issues?”

JW: I don’t think there is any real problem with this. The community is strongly in support of following the law. I don’t know of any particular cases of widespread misguided support for something illegal. In particular cases, there can of course be [dis]agreement, but I have never seen anyone in the community argue that we should not listen to the advice of our legal team.

WN: Raul654 asks: “Where do you see Wikipedia in 10 years?”

JW: I don’t know. My favorite answer to this is to say, the real question is: where will the world be after 10 more years of Wikipedia. 🙂 Seriously, I think we’ll eventually see a tapering off of new article creation in the large language wikipedias as more and more “verifiable” topics are covered. At this point, most changes will be expansions and updates and quality improvements to existing articles. But in 10 years, it seems likely to me that many languages which are now quite small will have very large Wikipedia projects. Our community will continue to become more diverse as more and more people worldwide come online.

WN: Kevin Myers asks: “The values reflected in certain Wikipedia policies (anti-censorship, neutral point-of-view) are problematic in cultures where freedom of expression is limited, as the blocking of Wikipedia in mainland China and arguably the Muhammad cartoons controversy attest. As Wikipedia expands internationally, do you foresee Wikipedia becoming increasingly controversial in countries where “Western values” are seen as a potential threat?”

JW: I don’t think that neutrality and objectivity are really controversial among most people of the world. It is true that the leadership in some places does not value these things, and may actually work against these things, but we can not deviate from our goals to accommodate them.

WN: On a similar topic, Vsion asks: “Are there currently any efforts being undertaken by the Foundation to address the People’s Republic of China’s blocking of Wikipedia or to alleviate its effect?”

JW: Beijing-area Wikipedians are working to have the block lifted. Our position is that the block is in error, even given China’s normal policies. Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information. We expect that the block will be lifted.

WN: David.Monniaux asks: “The Foundation receives daily accusations of libel from semi-well-known people who have an entry on Wikipedia or are mentioned in some Wikipedia entry. What do you propose? Would a strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims suffice, in your opinion?”

JW: Yes. I think that our current systems do a good job of addressing these sorts of complaints, although it is very time-consuming for us here in the office. What really works wonders is a very strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims particularly relating to biographies of living persons. The new policy on biographies of living persons is a very strong step in the right direction.

WN: Tony Sidaway asks: “In the past six weeks the number of userboxes on English Wikipedia has risen from 3500 to 6000 and, despite your appeals for restraint, the number pertaining to political beliefs has risen from 45 to 150. Can the problem of unsuitable userboxes still be resolved by debate?”

JW: My only comment on the userbox situation is that the current situation is not acceptable.

WN: Larsinio asks: “How can Wikipedia effectively explain to the public its open-contribution model without simultaneously worrying the public about inaccurate information?”

JW: I think we do a reasonably good job of that. The best thing is to point to our overall quality while at the same time pointing out that we are currently a work in progress. Over time, this answer will change as we move toward ‘1.0’. At that time, we can point to ‘1.0’ for those who are made nervous by the live editing.

WN: Rob Church asks: “Do you consider the encyclopedia to be ‘finished’? Do you think it ever can be?”

JW: Nothing is ever finished. Human knowledge is always growing.

WN: Raul654 and Pavel Vozenilek both asked, “What kind of cool new features/announcements can we expect to see in the next year or two?”

JW: I think this question is too hard for me to answer. I almost never “announce” anything, and features are developed publicly by the community. I think other people have a better idea than I do what will happen in the next year or two. 🙂 Ask Brion [Vibber].

WN: Celestianpower asks: “If you had not founded Wikipedia, and had just been referred to it by a friend, how active a contributor do you think you would be?”

JW: [I] dream fondly of such a scenario. I might actually get to edit articles then. Instead of spend the morning (this morning) documenting transactions and taking phone calls.

WN: OpenToppedBus asks: “The last fundraising drive was less successful than had been anticipated. Do you see a shortage of money holding back Wikipedia/Wikimedia in the short-to-medium-term, and are there any plans to bring in income from sources other than individual donations?”

JW: The last fundraising drive was more successful than had been anticipated, by a long shot. It was the most successful fund drive in our history. [Regarding a quoted goal of $500,000], Mav wrote something like that somewhere, in a scratchpad kind of way. That number was just a placeholder and had nothing to do with me or the official view of the foundation. He’s apologized repeatedly for it.

WN: Thryduulf asks: “What is your single greatest wish for Wikipedia?”

JW: I would have to just point back to our original goal: a freely licensed high quality encyclopedia for every single person on the planet. That’s what I remain focused on daily.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews member. See the talk page for more details. Interviews are translated through WORTNET.

What Having A Cdl Illinois Means

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Camping

byalex

There are three different types of CDL. There is Class A, Class B, and then there is Class C. Depending on how much weight the driver will carry will determine what class they need. A Class A is a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating should be 26,001 pounds if the vehicle is 10,000 pounds or more. Class B is for a vehicle that is less then 10,000 pounds. The Class C type is for any vehicle that does not match the requirements of Class A or Class B. These are made to carry over 16 passengers and may hall things such as hazardous chemical placards.

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Remember this is not home cleaning services but CDL services. So with that said you have the possibility of adding endorsements to your CDL licenses. There are several different ones available. The “T’ double or “T” triple is where you would be able to have two or even three trailers hauled on a commercial vehicle. To gain this endorse a driver must have a Class A. The test for this endorsement is a written test. Another endorsement that also has a written test involved is the “N” tank. This endorsement is need to haul liquids in large quantities. These are a few that will keep you from having to do in home cleaning. To find out more about these endorsements check with a CDL school.

A person that obtains their CDL will be able to open new career opportunities to themselves. There are many career fields that have opportunities for CDL drivers. The most common is truck driving of course. The truck drivers often have to travel to other states and sometimes across several to deliver goods. This will require a Class A and possible endorsements. A school bus driver needs to have a CDL license too. There are many potential jobs that can come to one that holds a CDL.

1960’s guru icon Maharishi Mahesh Yogi dies

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Indian guru who taught some of the 20th century’s most famous celebrities and created a multi-billion dollar spiritual empire has died. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, died at his home in the Netherlands. He is believed to have been 91 years old.

Known for his long white beard and tendency to giggle, he became a well-known counter-culture figure in the 1960’s. Members of the Beatles rock music band made repeated pilgrimages to the Himalayan foothills to study his meditation technique, known as TM.

Little is certain about the yogi’s early life in central India. His given name and birthday are disputed. It is known he studied physics at Allahabad University.

A professor of psychology at the school, Emmanuel Ghosh, says the guru’s academic training, combined with study under a Vedic swami, helped to make him accessible to those in the West seeking alternative answers to life’s questions during the socially tumultuous 1960’s.

“He had a rational approach,” said Ghosh. “He had a scientific background and he could tell the West that ‘You could test my theories through science.’ He was the first one who started this whole system of reducing stress by breath control, by meditation and you could measure it in objective terms.”

Maharishi also tutored other pop musicians, Hollywood actors and film directors. His TM movement attracted millions of followers worldwide who paid hundreds of dollars to receive a personal mantra to recite for 20 minutes, twice a day.

Professor Ghosh at Allahabad University says, despite his fame and success overseas, Maharishi was just one among many gurus in his native India.

“His influence in India has been negligible. Every guru is independent to propagate his own method of salvation or nirvana,” said Ghosh. “So he took off for a while [in India] as long as he was appreciated in the West.”

Perhaps his biggest legacy in India is the country’s largest chain of privately owned schools. Other institutes and universities based on his teachings also exist in the United States and Europe.

In later years, some of the guru’s projects and beliefs earned him ridicule, such as hoping to raise $10 trillion to achieve world peace and banish poverty and encouraging followers to learn what he called “yogic flying”. While many adherents praise Maharishi for propagating a scientifically verifiable ancient method to help them deal with the stress of modern life, some disenchanted followers considered TM a quasi-religious cult more interested in raising funds than spirits.

‘Davos man’ versus ‘Camp Igloo’; 42nd World Economic Forum convenes in Swiss alps

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Uncategorized

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel gave yesterday’s opening address to the 42nd meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is facing a distinctly different geo-political landscape from twelve months ago. Outside the WEF security cordon, in the sub-zero temperatures of Davos’ train station car park, the local incarnation of the Occupy movement are setting up ‘Camp Igloo’; but, with little hope of the archetypes of the 1%, ‘Davos Man’, arriving by public transport and seeing their sub-zero protest.

David Roth, heading the Swiss centre-left’s youth wing — and an organiser of ‘Camp Igloo’, echoes much of the sentiment from ‘Occupy’ protests around the world; “[a]t meetings the rest of society is excluded from, this powerful ‘1 percent’ negotiates and decides about the fate of the other 99 percent of this world, […] economic and financial concentration of power in a small, privileged minority leads to a dictatorship over the rest of us. The motto ‘one person, one vote’ is no longer valid, but ‘one dollar, one vote’.”

Roth’s characterisation of ‘Davos Man’, a term coined by the Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard University, is more emotive than that of the late professor who saw ‘Davos man’ as “[having…] little need for national loyalty, view[ing] national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see[ing] national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations”.

As Reuters highlights, many attendees will opt to make their way from Zurich to Davos by private jet, or helicopter, and the WEF itself provides handouts indicating the cost of such is 5,100 Swiss francs (approx. 5,500 USD, 3,500 GBP, 4,200 EUR). In contrast: travelling by rail, even when opting for first class — without an advance booking, is 145 Swiss francs (approx. 155 USD, 100 GBP).

Shifting fortunes see several past attendees missing this year’s exclusive get-together in the alpine resort; for a second year running — and now caught up in the UK phone hacking scandal being scrutinised by Lord Leveson’s inquiry — media mogul Rupert Murdoch will not be attending. Nor will the former head of financial services company UBS Oswald Gruebel, who resigned in the wake of US$2.3 billion losses incurred through unauthorised trading; likewise, Philipp Hildebrand, the ex-head of the Swiss National Bank, is absent following scandal associated with his wife’s currency trading activities; and, although the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dropped, having stepped down as managing director of the International Monetary Fund Strauss-Kahn will also be absent.

As the #OccupyWEF protesters were building igloos last weekend, an anti-WEF protest in the Swiss capital Berne was broken up by police, who stated their intent to prosecute participants in the illegal protest. Allegations of calls for violent protest action led to a high number of officers being involved. In the aftermath, charges of breach of the peace are to be brought against 153 people, with some targeted for more serious offences. At least one group involved in the protest described the police response as “disproportionate”.

At ‘Camp Igloo’ Roth says he is seeking discussions with the WEF’s expected 2,000 attendees; but his voice, and that of others in the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement, is unlikely to be given a platform in the opening debate, “Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society?” He, and others taking part in this Swiss incarnation of the ‘Occupy’ movement, are still considering an invite to a side-session issued by the World Economic Forum’s founder, Klaus Schwab; commenting on the invite Roth told the Associated Press they would prefer a debate at a more neutral venue.

As has been the case for several years now, the annual Forum meeting in Davos was preceded with the release of a special report by the World Economic Forum into risks seen as likely to have an impact the in the coming decade. The 2012 Global Risks Report is a hefty document; the 64-page report is backed with a variety of visualisation tools designed to allow the interrelations between risks to be viewed, how risks interact modelled, and their potential impacts considered — as assessed by the WEF’s panel of nearly 500 experts.

As one would expect, economic risks top both the 2012 impact and likelihood charts. Climate change is pushed somewhat further down the list of concerns likely to drive discussions in Davos. “Major systemic financial failure” — the collapse of a globally important financial institution, or world currency, is selected as the risk which carries the most potential impact.

However, “Chronic fiscal imbalances” — failing to address excessive government debt, and “Severe income disparity” — a widening of the the gulf between rich and poor, top the list of most likely risks.

At the other end of the tables, disagreeing respectively with the weight last year’s Wikinews report gave to orbital debris, and the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) fight with the Internet over copyright legislation, the 2012 Global Risks Report places “Proliferation of Orbital Debris” and “Failure of intellectual property regime” bottom of the league in terms of potential impact.

In 2011, with the current global economic crisis well under-way, “Fiscal crises” topped the WEF risks with the largest potential impact in the next ten years. However, perceived as most likely a year ago, “Storms and cyclones”, “Flooding”, and “Biodiversity loss” — all climate-change related points — were placed ahead of “Economic disparity” and “Fiscal crises”.

More mundane risks overtake the spectre of terrorism when contrasting this year’s report with the 2011 one; volatility in the prices of commodities, consumer goods, and energy, and the security of water supplies are all now ranked as more likely risks than terrorism — though the 2011 report did rank some of these concerns as having a higher potential impact. A significant shift in perception sees the 2012 report highlight food shortages almost as likely a risk the world will face over the next decade; and, one with a far more significant impact.

Attending the World Economic Forum at Davos is more than just an opportunity to discuss the current state of the global economy, and review the risks which face countries around the world. With such a high number of political and business leaders in attendance, it is an ideal opportunity to pursue new trade deals.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is, in addition to being a keynote speaker, expected to pursue improved relations with European and Asian trade partners at private meetings on the Forum sidelines. The Toronto Star reports Harper is likely to push forward an under-negotiation Canadian-European free-trade agreement, and hold closed-door discussions prior to next month’s planned trip to China.

Similarly, Canadian trade minister Ed Fast is expected to meet South Korean counterparts to discuss an equivalent deal to the preferential ones between the Asian nation and the US and Europe. Fast’s deal does, however, face opposition at home; the Canadian Auto Workers union asserts that such a deal would put 33,0000 jobs at-risk.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne are expected to discuss a possible increase of UK funding to the International Monetary Fund (IMF); however, with the UK responsible for 4.5% of the US$400 billion in the IMF’s lending fund, backbench MPs have warned that committing any additional funds could provoke a Conservative revolt in parliament. Tuesday’s IMF cut of predicted global growth from 4% to 3.3%, warnings of a likely Eurozone recession in 2012, and ongoing problems with Greek financial restructuring, are likely discussion topics at Davos — as well as amongst UK backbench MPs who see adding to the IMF war-chest as bailing out failed European economies.

South Africa, less centre-stage during the 2011 Forum, will be looking to improve relationships and take advantage of their higher profile. President Jacob Zuma and several cabinet members are attending sessions and discussions; whilst former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to moderate a session, “Africa — From Transition to Transformation“, with Nigeria, Guinea, and South Sudan’s presidents on the panel. Wal-mart’s CEO Doug McMillon is to lead a dinner session, “Shared Opportunities for Africa’s Future” — highlighting larger multinationals looking towards the continent for new opportunities.

Davos may also serve as a place to progress disputes out of the public eye; a high-profile dispute between Chile’s state-owned copper mining business, Codelco, and Anglo American plc over the 5.39 billion USD sale of a near-quarter stake in their Chilean operations to Japan’s Mitsubishi, prompted the Financial Times to speculate that, as the respective company chiefs — Diego Hernández and Cynthia Carroll — are expected to attend, they could privately discuss the spat during the Forum.