Statistics released by the World Bank indicate that food prices have increased by a staggering 83%(Image: World Food Programme) Khanyi MagubaneWorld leaders, starting to feel the pressure from disgruntled poor people, are taking the global increase in food prices and its effects seriously.On 22 April the World Food Program (WFP) hosted a summit on the food crisis in London. Josette Sheeren, the WFP’s executive director, warned that a “silent tsunami” of hunger is sweeping the world’s most desperate nations. She noted that the price of rice has more than doubled in the past five weeks and that China and India are currently facing an increased demand for their produce.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who co-hosted the talks with Sheeren, said the spiralling prices threaten to plunge millions back into poverty and reverse progress on alleviating poverty in the developing world. “Tackling hunger is a moral challenge to each of us and it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of nations,” Brown said.In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also voiced his concern over the increase in food prices, calling for both immediate and long-term measures to tackle the crisis. “We need not only short-term emergency measures to meet urgent critical needs and avert starvation in many regions across the world, but also a significant increase in long-term productivity in food grain production,” he said.French President Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested setting up global partnerships among financial institutions, governments and the private sector to tackle the main reasons behind rising food prices.Scale of the problemRecent statistics released by the World Bank indicate that food prices have increased by a staggering 83% increased by a staggering 83%The organisation says high food prices are threatening recent gains in overcoming poverty and malnutrition, and are likely to persist over the medium-term. “Poor people are suffering daily from the impact of high food prices, especially in urban areas and in low-income countries,” said World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick.According to a World Bank policy document entitled Rising Food Prices: Policy Options and World Bank Response, increases in global wheat prices reached 181% over the 36 months leading up to February 2008, and overall global food prices increased by 83%. Food crop prices are expected to remain high in 2008 and 2009.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also concerned. Head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn recently told French radio that soaring world food prices could have dire consequences, such as toppling governments and even triggering wars. The IMF chief says the problem could also threaten democracies, even in countries where governments have done all they can to help the low-income earning population.South Africa searching for solutionsSouth Africa has not gone untouched by the food crisis. Trade union federation Cosatu recently held a march in Johannesburg to protest against soaring food prices. They called on government to find a lasting solution to the problem.The government and the agricultural industry have also been in discussions to find ways to curb food-price inflation, which in recent months has seen the price of basic foodstuffs increase by 14% in South Africa.Government spokesperson Themba Maseko says the government is developing a strategy to address this challenge. He said the government is confident that the competition authorities, who regulate food prices in different industries, will continue to be vigilant and take strong action to curb negative practices that had also contributed to higher food prices.A researcher from the Institute for Security Studies, David Zounmenou, recently told the Mail & Guardian newspaper that in African countries where unemployment rates are high and social delivery low, an increase in food prices will certainly continue pushing people over the edge. “High food prices can only add fuel to this [unrest] and can be exploited by the opposition or other interest groups to create instability.”Other areas of Africa where violence has flared due to high food prices include Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.Useful linksUN food and agriculture organisationWorld Food ProgramWorld BankInternational Money FundDepartment of AgricultureDo you have any queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at email@example.com
New debris from MH370 found on Madagascar proves conclusively that the Boeing 777 met a violent end and that it broke apart on impact.Wreck hunter Blaine Gibson and some relatives of those lost in the MH370 disappearance handed over five pieces of debris yesterday collected by residents in Madagascar over the past year to Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke.Wreck hunter Blaine Gibson with a piece of floor panel from the Boieng 777The pieces had been collected over the past year.See our Concorde Coverage READ Crash investigators analysis of MH370 find“The debris proves two things. MH370 crashed violently and it almost certainly is in the Southern Indian Ocean,” Mr. Gibson said.The next of kin said they want assurances from Mr. Loke that the Malaysian Government would continue efforts to find a satisfactory resolution to the mystery of MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 aboard.One piece of debris found at Sandravinany, south Madagascar, has been positively identified using a fragment of a label still attached as part of a floor panel from a Boeing 777.“Don Thompson, one of the Independent Group investigating MH370’s disappearance, found the actual identification label for the Boeing 777,” Mr. Gibson said.An important clue was the piece contained a portion of a placard with the identifying characters WPPS61.Floor panel showing a small corner of a label with number VPPS61According to another IG member, Victor Iannello, Mr. Thompson was able to determine that the full placard number was BAC27WPPS61 and he found a similar placard on the floorboard of wreckage from MH17.Full Boeing 777 floor panel label“This leaves little doubt that the piece recovered from Madagascar is from MH370,” Mr Iannello said.The other pieces, while not identifiable as being from the missing Boeing 777, are positively aircraft debris.Mr. Gibson said that the five pieces were handed in as a result of a debris awareness campaign launched by the families of the victims of MH370.“Some of the families went on radio in Madagascar to plead with locals to hand in pieces of debris,” he said.“Locals tell me there are many more pieces of debris washed up but it needs to Malaysia to offer rewards.”Mr. Gibson has been giving locals small rewards.While the two extensive searches have not turned up the main body of wreckage, Mr Gibson believes that the main body of wreckage probably lies just outside the search area about 1800km due west of Perth.That main body would include engines, undercarriage, wings and the bulk of the fuselage.Malaysia has promised to resume the search but only if there is “credible” new evidence.“Suggestions that it is the Cambodian jungle are nonsense.”And there is a sinister side to the loss of MH370. Mr. Gibson – and Seven West Media – has been the subject of stalking with some Malaysian interests trying to discredit him.A secret meeting with SWM in Perth last year was reported on in Malaysia just 30 minutes after it took place.Mr. Gibson has even been accused of planting debris.However, most of the debris has been handed in by locals and Mr. Gibson has simply raised awareness and been the point of focus.
December 14th, 2009 Category: Enterprise Content Management ‹ Information Management: Innovative Information Access Companies SaaS and RM: Not Anytime Soon › In a break from the normal, but then not too much of a surprise, the 2009 4Q Forrester Wave for ECM report includes open source vendor Alfresco in the ranks of the top eight vendors in the ECM arena. Open Source companies for a long time have been omitted from research reports that rank vendors published by analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester. While reports from these analysts are always insightful and often do as much, if not more, in shaping industry trends as the vendors that they report on, the analyst firms have sometimes been accused of being biased in their reporting of paying clients and also sometimes not including other vendors for consideration.The top four vendors, as ranked in this Forrester report, are megavendors EMC, IBM, Oracle and Open Text. Microsoft is ranked as ‘making inroads’. Hyland Software and HP are ‘strong performers’. And Alfresco is a ranked as ‘contender’. Forrester commented that advantages of Alfresco over other vendors include lower cost and smaller footprint. (Oracle provides a complimentary copy of the Forrester report here.)The report comments: “Open source vendor Alfresco has been able to capture the attention of enterprises seeking an ECM suite alternative with a lower-cost and smaller footprint. Alfresco has strength in core document management and content services, provides a unified repository, and — as an open source product — excels in extensibility. Alfresco has also significantly invested in records management — historically a weakness — with new functionality set to be released in Q4 2009.” Leave a Comment
If you like classic two-for-one monster movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, then a new paper combining two bêtes noires of pseudoscientific scaremongers—mini black holes and the collapse of the vacuum—may appeal to you. Physicists working with the world’s biggest atom-smasher—Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—have had to reassure the public that, even if they can make them, mini black holes, infinitesimal versions of the ones that form when jumbo stars implode, won’t consume the planet. They’ve also had to dispel fears that blasting out a particle called the Higgs boson will cause the vacuum of empty space to collapse. Now, however, three theorists calculate that in a chain reaction, a mini black hole could trigger such collapse after all.Come out from under the bed; there’s a big caveat. If this could have happened, it would have long before humans evolved. “The thing you mustn’t say is, ‘Shock, horror! We’re going to destroy the universe!’” says Ian Moss, a theoretical cosmologist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and an author of the paper explaining the result. Rather, he says, the message is that some unknown physics must enter to stabilize the vacuum—encouraging news for physicists searching for something new. Still, Moss acknowledges that the paper could be taken the wrong way: “I’m sort of afraid that I’m going to have [prominent theorist] John Ellis calling me up and accusing me of scaremongering.”Stability of the vacuum is a real issue. Ever since the discovery of the long-predicted Higgs boson in 2012, physicists have known that empty space contains a “Higgs field,” a bit like an electric field, that is made of Higgs bosons lurking “virtually” in the vacuum. Other fundamental particles such as the electron and quarks interact with the field to gain their mass. However, particle physicists have calculated that, given their current standard model of the known particles and the Higgs boson’s measured mass, the Higgs field may not be in its stable, lowest energy state. Rather, it could achieve a much lower energy by taking on much higher strength. 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It turns out that to get to the lower energy “true vacuum” state, the Higgs field would have to get through an enormous energy barrier through a process known as quantum tunneling. That barrier is so big that it would likely take many, many times the age of the universe for the transition to occur. So, theorists generally agreed that the Higgs field is “metastable,” temporarily stuck in a “false vacuum” state, and that although the collapse is a problem in principle, practically it’s nothing to worry about.But now, Moss and theoretical physicists Philipp Burda and Ruth Gregory of Durham University in the United Kingdom contend that argument falls apart when you mix in mini black holes—microscopic regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. That’s because a mini black hole acts like a “seed” that can trigger formation of a bubble of true vacuum in a sea of false vacuum, just as a bit of grit can trigger the formation of a bubble of steam in boiling water, as they explain in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters.Without such a seed, a bubble of true vacuum would inevitably shrink. That’s because, even though the vacuum within the bubble has lower energy than the vacuum outside the bubble, the bubble wall at which the two meet has very high energy. So the bubble can lower its total energy by growing smaller and disappearing. For a bubble with a tiny black hole inside, however, it’s a different story. The black hole’s gravity can shift the energy balance, Moss explains, so that any bubble beyond a certain very small size could instead lower its energy by growing. Within a fraction of a second, the bubble would then expand to consume the entire visible universe, Moss says.Those black holes have to be small, Moss and colleagues argue, and they could conceivably come from two sources. They could be “primordial” black holes lingering since the birth of the universe. Or they could be microscopic black holes created within particle collisions such as those at the LHC.So should we worry? No, Moss says. The fact that the universe has been around 13.8 billion years shows that primordial black holes will not trigger such a collapse, he says. As for black holes at the LHC, even if they can be created they also won’t create havoc, he says. The proof of that comes from cosmic rays, which crash into the atmosphere and create even higher energy particle collisions than the LHC can. So even if such collisions spawn black holes, the black holes don’t trigger vacuum collapse, Moss says, or the cosmos would have vanished long ago.The real point, Moss says, is that theorists can no longer shrug off the problem by assuming that the collapse of the vacuum would take a hugely long time. By showing that—according to the standard model—the collapse should happen quickly, the paper suggests that some new physics must kick in to stabilize the vacuum.Others aren’t so sure the argument is persuasive. The theorists make a number of questionable assumptions in their mathematics, says Vincenzo Branchina, a theorist with Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics at the University of Catania. John Ellis, a theorist at King’s College London, questions the consistency of the calculation. For example, he says, it assumes that the standard model holds true to very high energy scales. However, he notes, the only way the LHC can make a mini black hole is if the standard model conks out and space opens up new dimensions at much lower energy, he says. Still, both Branchina and Ellis say that based on other arguments, they suspect that something does make the vacuum stable.As for the presentation of the argument in the new paper, Ellis says he has some misgivings that it will whip up unfounded fears about the safety of the LHC once again. For example, the preprint of the paper doesn’t mention that cosmic-ray data essentially prove that the LHC cannot trigger the collapse of the vacuum—”because we [physicists] all knew that,” Moss says. The final version mentions it on the fourth of five pages. Still, Ellis, who served on a panel to examine the LHC’s safety, says he doesn’t think it’s possible to stop theorists from presenting such arguments in tendentious ways. “I’m not going to lose sleep over it,” Ellis says. “If someone asks me, I’m going to say it’s so much theoretical noise.” Which may not be the most reassuring answer, either.
FILE Photo by: Tristan Tamayo/Inquirer.netSummoning its old, fighting form, the Philippines moved within a whisker of an AFC Asian Cup spot after salvaging a 1-1 draw with Yemen Tuesday night at Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha, Qatar.For the second straight game, the Azkals needed a late goal to secure a point against the Yemenis as Mike Ott struck in the 89th minute to keep the Filipinos in pole position in Group F, where the top two sides will qualify for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.ADVERTISEMENT With four regular starters out due to injuries, Dooley tinkered with his lineup, giving JPV Marikina defender Sean Kane a surprise start at central defense, while Davao Aguilas’ Simone Rota returned from injury and Daisuke Sato regained his leftback spot.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Argentine bishop appears at court hearing on abuse charges View comments Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim MOST READ Winter storm threatens to scramble Thanksgiving travel plans CIMB Classic: Pagunsan assured of P.65 million Trump to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups No more menthol cigarettes: New ban on tobacco, vape flavors LATEST STORIES “We’re going to close the deal in Nepal,” vowed Azkals coach Thomas Dooley. “We came here to win, but at least we didn’t lose. We’re very happy with the point.”“The team didn’t deserve to go home with a loss. The spirit was great, the preparation was great for this game. I’m actually satisfied overall.”Tawfik Ali put Yemen ahead with an opportunistic strike in the 63rd minute after the Azkals failed to clear a corner.The Azkals quickly brought more men forward with little effect until substitute Junior Muñoz showed grit and determination as he marauded down the right and cut the ball back for Phil Younghusband, who took a touch for Mulders.Ott managed to stay onside before showing composure to finish as the Azkals found the equalizer right at the death.ADVERTISEMENT The Azkals struggled to break down the Yemenis for most of the match until Ott, who plays for Angthong United in the Thai second division, got on the end of a clever ball from Paul Mulders and beat Mohammad Ayash at his near post for the equalizer.The result increased the Azkals’ tally to eight points, two ahead of Tajikistan and Yemen, which play against each other in November in Dushanbe.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingThe Azkals can seal qualification in the continent’s showpiece tournament with a victory over Nepal in Kathmandu on Nov. 14.With only a point to show from its first four matches, the Nepalese are virtually out of the running for an AFC Cup berth. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH