Σάββατο, 29 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: A French film comedy is changing perceptions about...: http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_mid#/video/showbiz/2012/09/28/pkg-curry-disabled-comedy-untouchable.cnn cnn
marilena: 'Li-Fi' provides a light bulb moment for wireless ...: London (CNN) -- The light bulb figuratively suspended above a human head has long been symbolic of the eureka moment that every invent...
Παρασκευή, 28 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: PYROMANIAC JOURNALISM: WHEN THE AIM OF NEWS IS TO ...: Freedom? Responsibility? Fueling fire? The latest "double issue" from Charlie Hebdo By Christopher Ayad LE MONDE /Worldcrunch -Analysis-...
Since the beginning of the crisis provoked by the Islamophobic film The Innocence of Muslims, the media have written about it from almost every angle: Coptic extremism, the danger of Salafism, the "arrogance" of the West, the "backwardness" of the Arab world, the shock of civilizations between the Sacred and Freedom of Speech, the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, and so on.
In fact, they have written about everything except how this whole affair was treated by the media itself, given a boost in France by cartoons in the Charlie Hebdo weekly mocking the Muslim prophet. (On Wednesday, the magazine printed "responsible" and "irresponsible" editions - pictured above - to mock their critics)
When Egyptian television shows a video around-the-clock that was concocted by a handful of extremist Copts and fundamentalist Christians in California, when no one has ever heard of it on the banks of the Nile -- can this still be called journalism? The nonstop broadcast, followed by debates and talk shows, ended in the "desired" result: a violent demonstration in front of the American embassy by 2,000 people, not a great many in Cairo, a city of 16 million.
This pyromaniac journalism is the mirror image of the preventive journalism practiced on this side of the Mediterranean, which, during the evening of September 18, consisted of panicky alarms and a great hubbub of special editions and scary headlines announcing that trouble was coming because of cartoons in a satiric weekly that had not yet even appeared on the newsstands.
Predicting future events
In theory at least, consistent journalism consists of reporting facts as correctly as possible. In reality, it has largely gone off on a tangent, making predictions of future events, as expected or even unconsciously desired.
In Paris and Cairo alike, journalists announced the scandal more than they covered it, confusing a demonstration with a planned attack by al-Qaeda against the American consulate in Benghazi; demanding politicians react before trouble even started; forgetting to mention the very weak response to the appeals for protests.
The media, always looking for quantifiable facts, love to cite numbers, but it was as if the numbers suddenly made no sense. For once, the Arab world and the Western world spoke in unison. Unfortunately, there is no reason to be pleased about this.
Without handing out good or bad marks, we can point to a slippery slope, which consists of announcing events ahead of time for fear of missing them when they occur; and, in the end, by provoking these same events, for fear that they will not occur: for like Nature, the media abhor a vacuum.
Does no one remember the quasi-disappointment of commentators when the “Millennium Bug” turned out to be a flop? All that uproar over nothing, all those special reporters wasted, all those expert-predicted apocalypses harmless, all those politicians called upon to act, to announce measures and plans...
When information becomes a show, the show is at best disappointing -- but always bad.
marilena: PRETTY (YOUNG) IN PINK: BEAUTY SPA SAYS FIVE IS OL...: By Anna Fischhaber SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG /Worldcrunch MUNICH - The shelving is pink. The armchairs are pink. The bath salts are of cour...
MUNICH - The shelving is pink. The armchairs are pink. The bath salts are of course pink too. The air is heavy with a strawberry scent, and in front of the mirror sits Luisa, 11, having her long blonde hair combed. It must look a little like this at Barbie’s house.
Kerstin Kobus, decked out in pink, does not like this comparison. To the 41-year-old owner of the just-opened Monaco Princesse in Munich, Barbie is kitsch, whereas her establishment – Germany’s first spa for girls aged five to 15 – is not. Kobus offers beauty, well-being and relaxation treatments for the little “princess and those who’d like to become one” as her brochure says.
On this particular afternoon, an older lady is standing outside looking in the window of Monaco Princesse,in which a pink plush bear sits on a small pink chair. She is shaking her head in a way that suggests she thinks all this is going a little too far. "You only get two reactions," says Kobus. "Either people wonder whatis going on, or they think it’s awesome." She professes not to care much what the reaction is, because for her this is the realization of a dream. "It feels just right to me."
A tall blonde, the Frankfurt-born Kobus is a former model. When she was 18, she was strutting the catwalk for New York Fashion Week. But she gave modeling up after two years: she says it just wasn’t her thing. She and her partner went on to create a publishing business that has 250 employees. She had her first child at 40, when she says she also started to feel like taking on a new business challenge.
"I got interested in things for little girls because I was always on the look-out for great stuff for my daughter -- and not finding it," she says. Then on the Internet, Kobus stumbled across a New York beauty salon for little girls and decided to bring the idea to Munich. Kobus is certain she’s on to a winner: "You’ve got the clientele for something like this in Munich, people here are crazy enough to go for it."
Kobus’s daughter, now 19 months old, is still too young for Monaco Princesse. But there is a painting of her dressed as a princess hanging on the salon’s pink wall, near where the bubble bath and all manner of creams that smell like strawberries or lemons are sold. Other merchandise includes glittery pink Lego brick pendants, and Kobus’s own fashion line with dresses and blazers in pink and white. There are also matching mother and daughter (and daughter’s dolls) bathrobes.
Tips for little girls learning to be women
At the back of the salon is a gold-colored bench with footbaths lined up in front of it. This was tailor-made by the interior designer who designed the Versace children’s store, Young Versace, in Milan. In the hair-styling area, Luisa is now getting her eyelashes curled by Whitney Joesten, the salon manager and former participant on "Germany's Next Top Model," Heidi Klum’s show. Luisa says she doesn’t wear make-up at school, but she likes to play beauty salon games. When our photographer turns the camera on her, she gives a professional smile.
Anybody who thought that, for little girls, perfect nails or the right beauty care were not determining factors for a happy childhood will want to think that through again if Monaco Princesse has anything to do with it. Kobus sees her miniature beauty salon as a learning arena. "Girls are constantly confronted with the issue of being a woman," she says. "We need to give them the proper guidance." And she really seems to believe that. She adds that thanks to the special style of her salon, the girls also have fun.
Her brochure puts it this way: "Little princesses learn from a very young age how to deal with beauty products in an aware but also playful and pleasurable way." Monaco Princesse offers facials, make-up, manicures and pedicures and "glamorous and stylish Monaco Princesse haircuts." Hair coloring, however, is taboo. "Not for children," Kobus says – now that is going too far, her tone suggests.
It is important to Kobus for all products used in her salon to be organic and non-allergenic. She does some of her purchasing in Italy and France – the main thing is that items be exclusive, not the sort of thing you see everywhere.
Kobus also offers a Princess for a Day package: The Party Girl version for eight guests costs around 500 euros, or there’s the more exclusive Little Diva option -- that includes riding in a pink limo and catwalk training -- priced at nearly 3,000 euros. Launching soon is a monthly Mother-Daughter Day to foster the quality time so difficult to find in one’s hectic daily schedule, particularly for busy professional mothers such as Kobus herself.
And where do boys stand in all this? They’re not welcome, says Kobus. They wouldn’t have any fun. Also, she’s had another idea: to open a salon for the “little superhero” (and those who’d like to become one). All in pale blue.
marilena: MINI-SIZE ME: CONSUMER GOODS SHRINK IN VOLUME TO A...: Nestlé invents the "Popularly Positioned Products" - (NestlÃ©) By Laurence Girard et Cécile Prudhomme LE MONDE /Worldcrunch PARIS - F...
PARIS - For months, consumption has been stagnating, and purchasing power is not improving. Will the French, like the Spanish, start buying their yogurts one by one instead of in packs as a way to face the global financial crisis?
Remarks by Jan Zijderveld, head of European operations for the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, on the "return of poverty" to Europe had an explosive effect. He said in an interview that his company had begun to sell smaller packets of laundry soap in Spain, each packet good for only five loads of laundry.
Will this new sizing spread to France, and the rest of the West?
According to consumer sales specialists, the French market has not reached that stage yet, but "since the second half of the year, national brands have been losing ground," observes Yves Marin, from Kurt Salmon management consulting.
To keep their market share during the crisis, brands are experimenting at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, they continue to produce big packages with aggressively low pricing to keep their customers loyal, and on the other hand, they are developing new products with smaller sizes and low prices to attract new customers or bring back old ones who have abandoned the brand.
Businesses also need to take the offensive, said Delphine Mathez, an associate at consulting company Roland Berger. "For the past few years, innovation in major consumer products has sent prices higher," notes Mathez. "Now, companies are realizing that there is a gap. There are low-priced, unbranded products, and branded products that are much more expensive. In the middle, there is nothing. So the goal of brand management should be to get the middle classes back, who can't afford the brands any more."
The sales of major consumer products in the first half of the year, compiled by market research company SymphonyIRI, do not show any stampede toward smaller sizes, except for alcohol, aniseed drinks, and soft drinks, which were highly taxed at the beginning of the year. "Consumers have returned to more classic formats for those, whereas they had been buying two-liter bottles of cola, for example," says Jacques Dupré, consumer product specialist at SymphonyIRI.
France is nothing like the emerging countries in North Africa, Asia or South Africa, where many products are sold by the unit because of customers’ budget constraints, but also because their habits are different. "In Morocco, for example, packets are smaller and products are bought by the unit, especially because people do their errands every day. If they have a child, they will buy one yogurt, but they will buy one each day," says Mathez.
The situation today is also nothing like that of 2008, notes Marin. At that time, companies decreased the quantity of the product while maintaining the same price. "Today, the tendency is not to hide the loss, selling less of something for the same price. Now, the idea is to create products that make sense for a buyer on a budget." These prices are set using psychological thresholds, as in Auchan supermarket's campaign of 50 organic products for sale for less than one euro, or using smaller, less expensive sizes for consumers who limit themselves to specific purchases, or consumers who decide on their budgets at difficult times like the end of the month.
Several years ago, giant food conglomerate Nestlé started to think about changing its products and its supply to help consumers on a budget. The crisis of 2008 accelerated the pace of development, although the Swiss company says its response was not opportunistic. Now Nestlé started offering a range of "popularly positioned products" (PPP) to the most budget-conscious consumers in wealthy countries. The products were initially developed for emerging countries.
Low priced products
In France, for example, Nestlé has been selling individual Maggi cooking sachets, containing seasonings for fish or meat, for the past two years. The low price, below the psychological threshold of one euro, is part of the reason for the success of the product, which was originally developed for Eastern European countries. The Swiss company also offers a range of less expensive powdered coffee under the Nes label, with Mocha and Latte varieties. Herta sausages and Buitoni pizza are also in this low-cost category. Overall, these "popularly positioned products" represent 10% of Nestlé's revenue in France, and sales are growing faster than its other brands.
In France, Unilever is playing with formats to try to lower the face value of its products. The Anglo-Dutch giant is selling individual Knorr soup packets for one euro, and dishwasher tablets by packets of 20.
French yogurt company Danone does not plan to make a "Unilever-style announcement," saying it is still too early to reveal its overall strategy for dealing with the expectations of consumers whose wallets are getting emptier, and who are paying more attention to prices. For the time being, each subsidiary is reacting on its own to local fluctuations in consumption. Spain is on the front line. Spanish customers' loss of purchasing power caused Danone to sound the alarm in June. The French company has to deal with consumers who have stopped buying yogurts and other milk desserts in favor of cheaper products. It is still seeking the best response.
Πέμπτη, 27 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: Zara becomes most successful high street retailer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19749074 bbc
marilena: WinSenga: A mobile ear for pregnancy problems: (Courtesy: Fiona Graham) A new smartphone app aims to provide a cheaper alternative to ultrasound in Africa by bringing an old tec...
A new smartphone app aims to provide a cheaper alternative to ultrasound in Africa by bringing an old technique into the 21st century.
"We couldn't hear anything,” says Aaron Tushabe, recounting a trip with two friends to the maternity ward of the main hospital in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The student had been handed an ear-trumpet-like device called a Pinard horn, used to listen for the vital signs of a baby in a mother’s abdomen. Despite straining to hear against the murmur of the ward, Tushabe couldn’t hear any signs.
Luckily, the problem was not with the baby, but the combination of what he calls a “rather primitive device”, and his lack of training. In fact, thePinard horn, named after the French doctor who invented it back in the 19th Century, can be very effective in the right hands. It can determine the age, position and heart rate of the foetus, along with an indication of its overall health. But to do this consistently can take many years of practice.
Meanwhile, in developing countries, “a woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute”, according to the UN, while every year “eight million babies die before or during delivery or in the first week of life”. The key to saving those lives, the UN says, is “access to skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and the first month after delivery”.
These kinds of statistics, along with their experience of using the Pinard horn, got the three computer science students thinking about whether they could improve the design. “We saw that technology gap and started thinking about how we might bridge it.”
In developed countries, ultrasound is the answer. But these machines – responsible for those fuzzy black and white pictures that are liberally posted on Facebook, brought out at parties, and waived at co-workers when someone becomes pregnant – are expensive. Even if a hospital could afford one, few expectant mothers can afford the $10 scan in countries where many live below the poverty line.
And so, a new project called WinSenga was born to build what Joshua Okello, one of the other students who visited the hospital, calls "an enhancement" to the Pinard horn. The new device still consists of a plastic trumpet, but with a highly sensitive microphone inside. The souped-up device, which is placed on a women's abdomen just like a regular horn, connects to a Windows-based phone running an app that, as Okello says, "plays the part of the midwife's ear." The system picks up the foetal heart rate, transmits it to the phone, and then the phone runs an analysis. The app, developed in conjunction with medics for the UN agency Unicef then recommends a course of action, if any, for the mother and her unborn child.
"When I first heard the idea, I thought it was brilliant," says Davis Musinguzi, a medic and Unicef advisor. "But being software developers, they needed guidance on the medical component of the application." The doctor says he advised on the medical parameters, procedures and standards that needed to be part of the software. He also says he tried to ensure that the new device wouldn't disrupt the normal workflow of an antenatal visit, but rather help eliminate the bottlenecks.
The value of going mobile is pretty clear, allowing carers to visit mothers wherever they are. "We envision a midwife being able to travel to rural areas on specific days, and then mothers could gather in, for example, a local church,” Tushabe says. “Then, the midwife could administer the antenatal diagnosis to all the mothers."
Okello, Tushabe and their partner Josiah Kuvuma presented their idea earlier this year at an event sponsored by Microsoft called the Imagine Cup, which aims to solve pressing problems, particularly in the developing world. The event partly inspired the name. The “Win” part comes from the software giant’s own products, Okello tells me, while "Senga" refers to the local name for the aunt who used to help village mothers-to-be with their antenatal care and their births.
The team went on to win the regional competition before losing out in the finals held at Sydney. However, the loss has not held them back. The team says they have since been approached for potential partnerships and are currently looking for funding to launch a six-month field trial of their system. If that's successful, then WinSenga could launch as a product. The team says its too early to talk about pricing, but they are heartened by the fact that the cost of smartphone handsets is rapidly dropping across Africa, making their system much more attractive to potential clients.
While they wait for funding, the WinSenga team is far from idle. Despite the fact that all three team members still have busy university schedules, they have already launched an expanded version of the software designed to assist healthcare workers and mothers during labour. The group's website also promises a version called "WinSenga Plus", which would assist with postnatal care as well. And as if that isn't enough, WinSenga say they are almost ready to launch an Android version of their application, and will then start work on a version for iOS.
The apps are all part of a new movement, says Dr Musinguzi, which is gathering momentum.
"The use of mobile technology is a relatively new intervention to improving health services," he says. WinSenga and other devices and apps that are coming on to the market, he says, will have to prove themselves to healthcare professionals by "reducing the burden of doing what they have always done."
It will take training and investment, he says, but it "will pay off in the long run”.
It is a sentiment that Okello agrees with. "Communities that have healthy mothers are generally much more productive. It's all tied in."
Έως και 20 χρόνια ζωής κερδίζουν οι άντρες που έχουν υποβληθεί σε ευνουχισμό σύμφωνα με κορεατική έρευνα που δημοσιεύθηκε στο επιστημονικό έντυπο Σύγχρονη Βιολογία. Η μελέτη ιστορικών αρχείων κατέδειξε ότι οι ευνούχοι που ζούσαν στην Κορέα πριν από αιώνες, είχαν σημαντικά μεγαλύτερο προσδόκιμο ζωής σε σχέση με τους υπόλοιπους άνδρες.
Οι επιστήμονες εκτιμούν ότι οι ανδρικές ορμόνες ευθύνονται κυρίως για τη μείωση του προσδόκιμου ζωής ενός άνδρα, γι’ αυτό πιθανώς στις σημερινές ανεπτυγμένες χώρες οι γυναίκες ζουν πέντε χρόνια περισσότερα από τους άνδρες, κατά μέσο όρο. Η τεστοστερόνη φαίνεται πως καταστέλλει την αποτελεσματικότητα του ανοσοποιητικού συστήματος, ενώ παράλληλα αυξάνει τον κίνδυνο καρδιαγγειακής νόσου.
Ο βιολόγος επικεφαλής της έρευνας Κιουνγκ-Τζιν Μιν του Πανεπιστημίου Ίνχα, μελέτησε τα γενεαλογικά αρχεία των ευγενών της αυτοκρατορικής αυλής της κορεατικής δυναστείας Τσοσάν (1392-1910). Τα ευνουχισμένα αγόρια είτε έχαναν τα αναπαραγωγικά όργανά τους από ατύχημα (π.χ. δάγκωμα σκύλου), είτε σκοπίμως προκειμένου να εξασφαλίσουν εύκολη πρόσβαση στο παλάτι - μια πρακτική που ίσχυε έως το 1894. Η έρευνα διενεργήθηκε σε δείγμα 81 ευνούχων με μέση διάρκεια ζωής τα 70 χρόνια, κατά 14,4 έως 19,1 χρόνια περισσότερα από τους άλλους που ζούσαν 50,9 έως 55,6 έτη. Τρεις ευνούχοι πέρασαν τα 100 χρόνια, κάτι ασυνήθιστο ακόμα και σε μια σύγχρονη ανεπτυγμένη χώρα.
A Facebook user arrested on charges of malicious blasphemy and insulting religion appeared before a prosecutor on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old man, who was arrested on Friday at his home in Evia by officers from the police's cybercrime unit, is accused of being behind a satirical Facebook page that poked fun at the cult surrounding a deceased Orthodox monk.
Named Elder Pastitsios, the Facebook page contained doctored photographs of Elder Paisios (1924-1994), replacing his facial characteristics with pastitsio, a traditional Greek dish.
The prosecutor said the man had a criminal case to answer but released him pending trial.
A police statement issued on Monday announcing Friday's arrest said that the cybercrime unit had "recently" spotted the Facebook page after it had received "thousands of electronic complaints from residents from countries all over the world".
The arrest of the man, who works on a farm, came three days after a Golden Dawn MP condemned the Facebook page in a written question to the religious affairs minister.
The MP, Christos Pappas, appealed on the minister to instruct the cybercrime unit to take the page down and prosecute its creator.
According to reports, the man created the satirical Facebook page after a fictitious miracle that he had created about the monk was accepted as fact and republished on religious blogs and newspapers.
Under the penal code, blasphemy is considered a criminal offence. Article 198 says that "anyone who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years" while article 199 provides a similar sentence for anyone "who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerable in Greece". (Athens News/dmcu)
Τετάρτη, 26 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: REPORT: GREECE NEEDS ANOTHER 30 BILLION AND TWO MO...: By Cerstin Gammelin and Alexander Hagelüken SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG /Worldcrunch BRUSSELS - Greece needs at least two more years and an ...
BRUSSELS - Greece needs at least two more years and an additional 30 billion euros in order to be able to meet the targets set for it by the euro zone countries, European sources tell Süddeutsche Zeitung.
When – and indeed if – the country gets money from the second bailout package is unclear. In the words of one high-level EU diplomat: “We now have a fundamental problem.”
High-level diplomats confirmed on Monday in Brussels that Greece would remain for longer than initially planned on the euro zone financial drip. The country will presumably not be able to pay its way from 2015, as planned, without additional financial help.
Greece will also not be able to meet its target of being able to refinance its debt entirely on financial markets from 2020. According to both Brussels and European national banks, Athens needs "at least two years" more to get back on its feet, and they both put the new financial hole at "some 30 billion euros."
Meanwhile, the matter of whether (and if so when) the country, which is on the brink of bankruptcy, gets a further tranche from the second bailout fund remains open. That would put up to 130 billion euros of euro zone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) money at Greece’s disposal, but it is only supposed to be paid when Greece meets its targets, so that it can stand on its own two feet from 2020 onwards.
Should that not be the case, IMF statutes call for payments to be discontinued. However, were the IMF to step back, there would no longer be any basis for some single-currency-zone countries, Germany among them, to continue paying.
To try and find a way out, at a recent meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Cyprus, IMF boss Christine Lagarde proposed giving Greece more time to put into effect the requisite reforms, and that the euro countries take over the additional costs. This was refused by several countries including Germany.
European central bankers say that the underlying cause of the present situation is that crisis-shaken Greece has gone into the second aid package with a hole of more than 10 billion euros, and Athens is failing to implement numerous measures as planned -- for example, reformation of the tax system and the sale of state property.
And now Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is asking for two additional years to fulfill austerity requirements. Because of the catastrophic state of the Greek economy, which has been shrinking for five years, Samaras says it is not in the realm of possibility to cut government spending so quickly. He fears that, if he does, unemployment will rise even more.
According to central bankers, Greece’s standing as a euro zone country continues to be very iffy. While other member countries wanted to keep Athens in, public skepticism is making governments reluctant to come up with the extra money. And yet as one national bank source put it: "If Greece is to stay in the zone, the governments are going to have to come up with 30 billion euros."
The big worry now is that the governments want to push responsibility onto the European Central Bank (ECB) that made emergency funding of 3.5 billion euros available to Greece this past August and holds some 40 billion euro in Greek government bonds.
marilena: Greece set for anti-austerity general strike: Trade unions in Greece have called the first general strike since the conservative-led coalition government came to power in June. ...
Trade unions in Greece have called the first general strike since the conservative-led coalition government came to power in June.
Wednesday's 24-hour walkout is to protest at new planned spending cuts of more than 11.5bn euros ($15bn; £9bn).
The savings are a pre-condition to Greece receiving its next tranche of bailout funds, without which the country could face bankruptcy in weeks.
Large anti-austerity demonstrations are also planned.
Greece needs the next 31bn-euro instalment of its international bailout, but with record unemployment and a third of Greeks pushed below the poverty line there is strong resistance to further cuts.
The government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is also proposing to slash pensions and raise the retirement age to 67.Fears of violence
Workers from a diverse range of sectors are taking part in the strike, from doctors to air traffic controllers.
It was called by the country's two biggest unions, which between them represent half the workforce.
A survey conducted by the MRB polling agency last week found that more than 90% of Greeks believed the planned cuts were unfair and a burden on the poor.
The BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens says that, with demonstrations planned, many people fear a repeat of the violence that has hit the streets in previous protests.
Thousands of police have been deployed in the centre of Athens to prevent a flare-up.
Greece is currently trying to qualify for the next instalment of its 130bn-euro bailout, which is backed by the IMF and the other 16 euro nations.
The country was given a 110bn-euro package in May 2010 and a further 130bn euros in October 2011, but correspondents say its neighbours are reluctant to stump up more money.
Greece needs the next tranche of its bailout to make repayments on its debt burden. A default could result in the country leaving the euro.
Τρίτη, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: Youngsters living in a camp in Jordan describe the...: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2012/sep/25/child-refugees-life-syria guardian
Δευτέρα, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012
marilena: ΈΛΕΟΣ ΓΙΑ ΤΑ ΤΕΤΡΑΔΥΜΑ ΚΙΝΕΖΑΚΙΑ......1,2,3,4........: The parents of these 6-year-old quadruplets in Shenzhen, China, came up with a novel way of helping teachers and classmates tell them ap...
The parents of these 6-year-old quadruplets in Shenzhen, China, came up with a novel way of helping teachers and classmates tell them apart when they started school: They shaved the numbers 1 to 4 into their hair.
The parents of these 6-year-old quadruplets in Shenzhen, China, came up with a novel way of helping teachers and classmates tell them apart when they started school: They shaved the numbers 1 to 4 into their hair.
marilena: 20 Billion Euro Gap Troika Nearly Doubles Estimate...: Greece's budget shortfall now totals 20 billion euros, according to preliminary estimates by international lenders, SPIEGEL has learned....
Greece's budget shortfall now totals 20 billion euros, according to preliminary estimates by international lenders, SPIEGEL has learned. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has asked public-sector creditors to forgive some debt. Meanwhile, Berlin and the European Commission are divided over when the decision on Greece's fate should be taken.
The Greek government's budget deficit is bigger than expected and currently amounts to some €20 billion ($26 billion), according to preliminary estimates by the so-called troika made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, SPIEGEL has learned. The figure is almost double previous estimates.
The next tranche of EU aid can only be paid out to Greece when that budget gap has been closed. The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is believed to have made several requests for government creditors to forgo debt repayments. He is also hoping that lenders will give his government two years longer to fulfill his austerity program. In that case, Greece would probably require an additional €20 billion in aid.
Officials said on Friday that Greece and the troika had made progress in negotiations on an austerity package, but had failed to reach a deal at the last meeting before visiting inspectors from the troika left Athens last weekend.
Meanwhile a row has erupted between the German government and the European Commission over when the decision will be taken on whether Greece will get any fresh money at all.
The Commission wants a decision to be reached at the next EU summit on Oct. 18-19. But Berlin says there won't be reliable figures available until November at the earliest.
Failure to Reach a Deal
The talks are due to resume in a week when the troika inspectors return to Athens. So far, Greek officials have said agreement on €9.5 billion of the €11.5 billion package of spending cuts had been reached. That includes cuts to wages, pensions and benefit payments and savings planned from an increase in the retirement age.Greece, which is almost bankrupt, needs the troika's approval on the spending cuts to ensure the release of the next tranche of aid. Without that money, it will have to default and may have to leave the euro zone.
cro/SPIEGEL -- with wire reports
marilena: "THEY CALL ME A WITCH" - WHERE MOTHERS ARE BLAMED ...: Mother and child - (Arsenie Coseac) By Cosmas Mungazi SYFIA INTERNATIONAL /Worldcrunch GOMA - In the Democratic Republic of the Cong...
GOMA - In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mothers of disabled children, rather than being given the help they need, are typically blamed for the disability -- and often literally chased out of their homes.
Lingering local superstitions say that a mother is somehow responsible for her child's health problems -- and the consequences can be cruel. "They accuse me of being a witch and say it is my fault that my baby has a crippled leg," says Dany, a young mother, with tears in her eyes.
Françoise Walimwengu, 30, has been rejected by her family and forced to live alone with her disabled child. She had to leave behind her three other, healthy children, whom her husband wanted to keep.
"None of my ancestors were disabled. So why did my wife give birth to a child with a paralyzed arm and leg?" a man asks, after requesting anonymity. He explains that he made his wife and child leave his house, telling her, "I'm giving you this gift of love. That child belongs to you. No one will ever ask you for it. But you can forget that we are married."
Maggy, another woman, gave birth to a mentally handicapped child. Forced out of her home, she left her child at the doorstep of her ex-husband's sister's house. "Her husband had already abandoned her, and afterwards she abandoned the child. We became his parents," says Lydie Nechi Mungongo, who takes care of David, now six years old.
Such unhappy stories are legion -- and now a new organization is working to help these mothers and children escape from their social and economic isolation. "These mothers are alone and often illiterate. They make their living from menial jobs that bring in very little income," explains Étienne Paluku, president of the Association of Parents of Children With Brain Damage (APEC), which helps the most vulnerable women, especially with medical care.
Dr. Henry Tchongo Kataliko has treated many of these families. "It is regrettable to note that, almost always, and without any medical examination, the mother is blamed for her child's handicap."
One burden too many
Children born with a disability are above all a burden for families, because of all the money and time needed to care for them. "My child is eight years old, but does not study because nobody can take him to school. He needs help to eat, wash and go to the toilet," says Françoise Walimwengu.
"For the past five years I have not done anything. All I do is take care of my older brother's child, whose parents abandoned him," confirms Lydia, David's adoptive mother. Basic care is free for parents who are members of the association, says Dr. Henry Tchongo, a specialist in rehabilitation and physical therapy at the Center for the Disabled, who is in charge of their care.
APEC allows these parents’ voices to be heard. "For example, we had a demonstration in May, on the International Day of the African Child, to proclaim that handicapped children and their mothers have the same right to protection as everyone else," declares Clarice, a mother and influential member of APEC. She, too, was rejected by her family and her husband after giving birth to a disabled child.
APEC also supports women who want to go take their husbands to court for forcing them out of their homes. "Thanks to us, Jacqueline Kavira, a mother, won her lawsuit against her ex-husband," an APEC member recounts, proudly. The Goma justice of the peace required the family to give her back all her rights. However, the only payment ordered was for damages, and to date she has received nothing.
"Our goal is to eliminate discrimination and marginalization. We are often victims," summarizes Françoise Walimwengu.
"My father divorced my mother because I was born handicapped," says Béatrice, age 20. She learned to read and write through APEC, which helps some children who have no support at all to learn these skills. Béatrice believes that the best way to fight discrimination is for the courts to punish the guilty severely.
Unfortunately, Françoise adds, "my child's father did indeed promise in front of the judge that he would pay for all the child's needs, but he never kept his promise." To complicate the situation, "the government does not have any funds set aside for people with disabilities," says an official at the provincial division for social affairs. Yet these situations are not rare. In the past three years, APEC has registered more than 500 parents of handicapped children. Parents especially regret that Handicap International, for its part, is concerned only with handicaps caused by war.
marilena: AUTISTIC CHILDREN: CHINA NEEDS TO LEARN COMPASSION...: "Without love there is no education" - (KJM Imagine) -EDITORIAL– BEIJING - In the booming town of Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province...
"Without love there is no education" - (KJM Imagine)
BEIJING - In the booming town of Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province, a joint letter from 19 parents has forced a fifth-grade child to leave his school. What made these parents so hostile to a little boy?
The boy has autism. He has a relatively good IQ and a seventh-grade level in piano, and he is not aggressive. However, says the school, because of his developmental disorder he observes class discipline less than the other children. The boy had previously gone to a specialized school, but his mother transferred him to this one, thinking that he would be better integrated into society.
Unfortunately, some of his new classmates’ parents were intolerant. After a semester, they told the school, bluntly, that the boy should not have been accepted and that they would take action to make sure he left.
So, on the first day of the new school year, his teacher prohibited him from entering the class. When he finally managed to sneak in and sit in the last row, the school had his desk and chair removed. “He stood there upright, all alone against the back wall, just like a mushroom,” his mother said.
Chinese society is to blame
I cannot help being sad as I read this news. Not just for him, but also for his classmates. Whatever primary school children see and hear today is bound to have a critical affect on their future personal conduct, as well as on their value system.
What will this special child’s arrival and departure leave in their mind? What is the effect of such a demonstration? Should the world be tolerant or narrow-minded? Should society treat special or vulnerable groups with love, or isolate them and be hostile?
These parents might have gained a better learning environment for their children, but in the desire to protect them, they missed giving them a chance of an “education in love.”
Even though they have probably always taught their children about love and tolerance, through their own behavior they have shown their children that even in a minor conflict, it is all right to hurt the other person or treat them unfairly.
We cannot blame only the parents, though. The whole of Chinese society has ignored education in love for too long. We know plenty of declarations and slogans. But what we do not know is how to behave as we say we should. Our entire society has been running on a utilitarian track for so long that we have forgotten to leave a place for soul in our lives.
For the parents of these fifth-grade pupils, the priority is to obtain a place in a secondary school for their child. No time is to be wasted in the luxury of nurturing the soul.
But education isn’t just about academic achievements. What is even more important is to teach children about love. The children’s novel Heart, by 19th-century Italian novelist Edmondo de Amicis, was translated into Chinese in the early 20th century with the title Education in Love. It says that education without consideration or love is like a pond without water. Without water there is no pond, without love there is no education.
It is true. To have good qualities like inclusiveness, generosity, and integrity, you need to be able to love. These are the spiritual nutrients of life, which must be stimulated. A person without the ability tof love is like a person without a heart. A society without love has no soul.
Compassion and tolerance
In April, ABC had a special episode on autism in their “What would you do?” program. The episode was designed to test to what degree the public accepted a child when he or she displayed inappropriate behavior in public.
The scene took place in a New Jersey diner. A family of four, played by actors, went into the restaurant. After they were seated, the boy who played the autistic child started talking to himself, walking back and forth, and even went to pick up food from other customers’ plates. Nobody in the restaurant seemed to look at him in a particularly strange way. So on cue, since there was no public response to his behavior, another actor started to blame the boy’s parents and demand that they take him home.
This prompted the other, patient diners to break their silence and start scolding the man while also comforting the boy’s parents. Finally, the diners demanded that the man leave because he lacked compassion. Then the TV crew appeared and the people in the restaurant suddenly realized that it was all a set-up. One of the diners was asked why she came forward. She said: “I’m for that child.”
This is the result of imperceptible education since early childhood. For instance, American schools often encourage children to volunteer and do community service. This kind of experience is an important part of their growing up. By seeing various suffering in life, they understand better how to love and be tolerant.
We should not be too pessimistic. Yes, there is the boycott letter from 19 parents trying to exclude a child. But I also read another story where parents, along with their two three-year-old children, helped a classmate with autism.
Then, there was the autistic child in Beijing whose classmates helped him through six years of primary school. When he entered secondary school, the school even arranged for all his friends from primary school to be in his class.
Though slowly, China does progress.