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Reviving Kolkata - The city that got left behind
@ Jan 31, 2012
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http://www.economist.com/node/21542446

Can India’s original economic powerhouse get its act together again?

Jan 7th 2012 | KOLKATA | from the print edition

A NATIVE-BORN writer, Amit Chaudhuri, says that Calcutta should be compared to world cities like New York and Paris for its rich past and mix of influences. Yet ever since the Suez Canal was built in 1869, boosting trade in Bombay (now Mumbai), people have said the city (now Kolkata) has been going to the dogs. They have been right. Calcutta lost its title as India’s capital a century ago, and its status as the country’s industrial engine in the 1950s. By the early 1970s visitors were making apocalyptic predictions of plagues and starving, rampaging mobs, and by the end of that decade Marxists were in charge. Today Kolkata evokes Havana, beautiful but shabby, the last city to remain largely untouched by India’s 20-year boom. “I love the city, but am ashamed of its condition,” says Sandipan Chakravortty, boss of one of the few units of the giant Tata Group to be based there.

724b-Calcutta.png

Now West Bengal, the state which Kolkata dominates, has a new government, led by the redoubtable Mamata Banerjee. Her victory in an election last year ended over three decades of Marxist misrule. She insists that she will turn things around in the state. But she is also a figure of national importance, because her Trinamool Congress is a key ally of the Congress Party, which heads the ruling national coalition. Her rise will be a test of two things: whether the bits of India left behind can catch up, and whether a populist who depends largely on a rural base for support can still prove to be a reformer.

The incoming West Bengal government has inherited a mess. The finance minister, Amit Mitra, an economist and former boss of India’s main business lobby, stands in an office in Writers’ Building, once used by the East India Company. His desk is laden with the thick, string-bound paper dossiers beloved of Indian civil servants and cordially loathed by everyone else. “No one knows where all the files are,” he says, accusing the last lot of administrative chaos and unpaid bills. The state’s finances are rotten. Mr Mitra is trying to raise tax revenues, while seeking debt forgiveness from the central government. Reforming the bureaucracy is vital, too, amid claims that it is politicised. “They created a fascist structure while wearing the mask of democracy,” he says of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that used to rule.

How much economic damage the communists really did is contested. State-level GDP figures suggest a performance in line with India’s average in recent decades. Supporters of the communists point to progress in agriculture and services. But foes mutter that the state-level GDP statistics are assembled locally and of doubtful accuracy. And no one disputes that West Bengal has suffered deindustrialisation on a par with the likes of Detroit. According to the central bank, the state accounted for a quarter of India’s industrial capital stock in 1950. By 1960 it contributed 13% of manufacturing output and by 2000 just 7%.

Other measures are just as dire. Bank lending is below the national average. Calcutta’s population fell slightly over the past decade, no mean achievement in a rapidly urbanising country. Only one big non-state firm is based there, after an exodus that began in the 1960s. Most pitifully of all, West Bengal has received less than 2% of the foreign direct investment that poured into India over the past decade.

One explanation for all this is that Bengalis, whose large diaspora in India and elsewhere is conspicuously successful, make lousy entrepreneurs at home. “A Bengali thinks like a communist; he has it in his blood,” says one boss, while buzzing for a minion to come and light his cigarette. Like many of the region’s remaining businessmen, his family roots are in Rajasthan. But the prime culprits for industrial decline are the politicisation of land tenure, which makes it hard for firms to get space, and dreadful industrial relations. West Bengal has a lexicon of strife, with goons who flex political muscles on the streets and widespread gheraos (taking bosses hostage) and bandhs (general strikes).

Keeping a lid on strikes has been one of the new government’s first achievements. Now it is trying to love-bomb Indian businesses into investing again, in the hope of creating a virtuous circle of more jobs and tax revenues. Mr Mitra, the finance minister, says the signs are encouraging. Both TCS and Cognizant, two big technology firms, say they plan to expand operations in Kolkata, attracted by still-good universities. Tourism in Kolkata has potential, given the glorious colonial-era architecture, plenty of culture and an alluring nightlife. But first the city needs an airport that is not in the stone age.

Complicating things, however, is the ambiguous attitude towards business of Ms Banerjee herself. In 2008 she led the opposition to Tata building a big car factory in rural West Bengal, arguing that farmers were being exploited. Tata moved the factory to Gujarat, a booming western state, leaving, as an entrepreneur puts it, “a very heavy hangover”. In late 2011 Ms Banerjee failed to support both the central government’s plans to let foreign supermarkets into India and its latest attempt to pass an anti-corruption bill. Some worry that her relations with Congress have become so dire that her own Trinamool party may leave the coalition.

Local business folk also fret about too charismatic a style of leadership. In a typical recent week Ms Banerjee kept to a hyperactive schedule that included personally dealing with a hospital fire and an alcohol-poisoning scandal. They say a framework for long-term decision-making has not been put in place. The head of a business group says “a lot of people are paying lip service” to the idea that things are changing, but they continue to invest outside the state. An entrepreneur who runs a chain of schools is even more pessimistic. The new government is dangerously populist, with “no ideology, no vision.”

That is unfair, but if the government cannot convince local businesspeople, it has little hope of wooing capital from elsewhere, especially when other states, led by Gujarat, have well-oiled machines for attracting money and talent. The hope is that the new government will soon find its feet and turn its attention to reintegrating Kolkata into a global economy that it was once, long ago, at the heart of. Ms Banerjee may be in power for some time, so she has the potential to develop the kind of long-term strategy that is needed for success. The fear is that inaction combined with her popularity in the countryside will condemn the city to yet another decade as India’s capital of stagnation.

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Map of West Bengal state

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http://www.travelmadeeasy.in/kolkata.htm

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As Kodak struggles, Eastman Chemical thrives
@ Jan 31, 2012
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http://finance.yahoo.com/news/kodak-struggles-eastman-chemical-thrives-131648343.html?l=1

Reuters – Sat, Dec 24, 2011 12:16 PM EST

By Ernest Scheyder and Liana B. Baker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - George Eastman is best known as the inventor of photographic film and founder of Eastman Kodak Co, but his century-old legacy of entrepreneurship now rides on the lesser-known Eastman Chemical Co.

That was hardly the case in 1994, when Eastman Kodak spun off its chemicals business to help pay down debt. At that time, Kodak was still a colossus in photography whereas Eastman Chemical was a small player very much in its parent's shadow.

But because of a sea change in digital technology and different approaches to business, Eastman Chemical's stock market value has since increased 71 percent to $5.5 billion today, while Kodak's has plummeted 99 percent to about $185 million.

Interviews with former executives, retirees and analysts describe two companies that were polar opposites in many ways, despite their shared heritage: where Eastman Chemical was swift to move into new markets, Kodak rested on its laurels for too long; where Chemical had a management team obsessed with the bottom line, Kodak retained cushy employee benefits even when the advent of digital cameras caused film demand to crater.

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Speculation flared in September that Kodak was on the verge of bankruptcy, after the Rochester, New York-based company hired restructuring experts. Last month, Kodak warned that unless it could raise $500 million in new debt or sell some patents in its portfolio, it might not survive 2012.

"George Eastman's legacy will be Eastman Chemical and not Eastman Kodak," said Willy Shih, a Harvard Business School professor who ran Kodak's digital imaging business from 1997 until 2005. "I am absolutely convinced of that."

George Eastman, a high-school dropout from rural New York, founded Eastman Kodak Co in the late 1880s and built it into the world's biggest photographic film supplier and camera maker. He patented roll film when he was 30 and quickly became a wealthy man. In 1919, he gifted one-third of his Kodak stock -- worth roughly $10 million at the time -- to employees.

Eastman established a chemicals subsidiary in 1920 to supply acetic acid and other photographic chemicals to Kodak, a business that grew strongly in the next 50 years, gaining many customers beyond its sibling.

After Eastman Chemical was spun off, it continued to expand and innovate by staking out new niche chemical markets, such as fibers for cigarette filters and plastic free of bisphenol A, a potential carcinogen.

Kodak, on the other hand, invented the digital camera in 1975 when one of its engineers developed a prototype that was as big as a toaster and captured black and white images.

But it failed to capitalize on that innovation, and it was only when Kodak's film business began to decline a decade ago that it tried to catch up with rivals by launching mass-market digital cameras with the Easyshare line.

"We had something that was so good, but now it's deteriorated to the current state of affairs," said Bob Shanebrook, a former Kodak executive who ran the professional film business and retired in 2003. "We thought $40 per share was a ridiculously low stock price, but now it's below a dollar."

Kodak's five-year credit default swaps were quoted at distressed levels earlier this month, reflecting a 92 percent chance of default on its debt in the next five years.

The city of Rochester itself seems resigned to Kodak's fate. At one point, the company employed more than 60,000 people in the area -- now, that number is closer to 7,000.

A PATERNAL HISTORY

To be sure, Eastman Chemical has been fortunate to be in an industry that has changed little compared to the technology sector, which has forced other American icons including International Business Machines Corp and Corning Inc to reinvent themselves. The type of chemical products may change, but the science of producing them does not.

Nonetheless, people familiar with both companies give Eastman Chemical credit for a corporate culture change that has helped it eschew the Kodak legacy.

In March 2009, for example, Eastman Chemical asked all employees from the CEO down to take a 5 percent pay cut to prevent widespread layoffs. The tactic worked, layoffs were averted, and the prior pay levels were restored later that year.

"We needed to understand that we were not a family; we were a team," Brian Ferguson, who joined Eastman Chemical in 1977 and was chief executive from 2002 through 2009, said in an email. "We had difficulties dealing with these issues due to the paternal history of Kodak, which implied employment for life, benefits forever unchanging and general conflict avoidance."

Kodak, in contrast, was much more generous with its employee benefits. Even after the decline in its business forced massive layoffs -- it has 18,800 global workers today, down from 86,000 in 1998 -- the company offered lucrative severance packages.

"They could have just said, 'Thanks for coming, goodbye,'" said Shanebrook, the former Kodak executive. "Instead, they gave people at all levels separation packages based on how long they worked. They continue to provide medical coverage for retirees."

Kodak's U.S. pension plans, which cover 65,000 people, were underfunded by nearly $200 million at the end of 2010. The funds slipped into the red after a surplus of more than $2 billion as recently as 2008, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

When asked for comment, Kodak spokesman Gerard Meuchner said in an-email that the company has cut its post-employment benefits by two-thirds since 2005 and lowered its severance benefits from two weeks per year of service to 1.5 weeks.

CONTRASTING CEOS

The differences in Kodak and Eastman Chemical's cultures are reflected in the management styles of their leaders. Eastman Chemical Chief Executive Jim Rogers, a former naval aviator and corporate treasurer, has a reputation for being pragmatic and low-key. Kodak CEO Antonio Perez is known for his charisma, but some of his spending decisions have raised eyebrows.

Perez's liberal use of corporate jets has become a popular topic among Kodak pensioners on Internet message boards. Perez, who is on the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, flew with his wife in 2006 on a Kodak plane to a Super Bowl football game viewing party at the White House.

The plane was later destroyed when a hangar near Dulles International Airport collapsed after a snowstorm. Perez decided to lease another one.

In 2010, he racked up a $309,407 bill using Kodak's jet for personal travel, according to regulatory filings. Starting in 2011, the company said Perez would have to pay out of pocket if his personal travel bill eclipsed $100,000.

Rogers, by contrast, used Eastman Chemical's jet infrequently in 2010 for personal travel. The cost was so small -- less than $10,000 -- that Eastman Chemical said in filings it would not bother to report it.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Among the handful of Wall Street analysts who still follow Kodak, three advise selling the stock. By contrast, at least seven Wall Street analysts say the shares of Eastman Chemical are a good buy. StarMine, a Thomson Reuters data service that aggregates leading analysts' expectations, believes the stock's true value is nearly double current levels.

Earnest Deavenport, who was chief executive of Eastman Chemical when it first became independent, said the company would not have flourished if it had remained part of Kodak.

"The cash needs of the chemical group and the rest of Kodak were out of phase with each other," Davenport said. "Kodak did not see the global expansion of the chemical group's manufacturing base as strategic to the parent company."

As an independent company, Eastman Chemical had to learn to compete with Dow Chemical, BASF and other global chemical giants. It never grew complacent the way Kodak did with its near-monopoly of the photographic sector.

Kodak has been hamstrung by Asian competitors that have experience making cheaper electronics. In 2010, Kodak held about 7 percent of the digital camera market, in seventh place behind Canon, Sony Corp, Nikon and others, according to research firm IDC. Its position has slipped since 2007, when it was No. 4 in U.S. digital camera sales with a 9.6 percent share.

Kodak's spending on research and development fell 10 percent last year to $321 million. Eastman Chemical spent $152 million on research in 2010, up 23 percent from the previous year.

If Perez cannot find a way to revitalize Kodak, Rogers could soon find himself the only CEO of a company with "Eastman" in its name.

In 1932, sick and frail from a spinal disorder, George Eastman took his own life with a bullet to the heart, feeling that his legacy had been cemented by both the film and chemical businesses. He left a note, unaware that Kodak would one day fall on hard times.

"To my friends," Eastman wrote. "My work is done. Why wait?"

(Reporting By Liana B. Baker and Ernest Scheyder; editing by Tiffany Wu and Richard Chang)

(This story corrects to heart from head in penultimate paragraph)

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No. 4A Folding Kodak Camera

http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium2/pm.cgi?action=app_display&app=datasheet&app_id=684

724a-Kodak camera.png

The original No. 4A Folding Kodak Camera was manufactured for a short period by the Eastman Kodak company from 1906 to 1907. This camera was constructed with a wood front. This was a large Folding Camera that too 6 exposures, 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches in size on number 126 roll film. Body was constructed of aluminum and covered in seal grain leather. Features included a double combination rapid rectilinear lens, a Kodak ball bearing shutter with finger and cable release, rising and sliding front, two tripod sockets, brilliant reversible finder with hood and automatic focusing lock. Original list price was $103.00.

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Kodak Didn't Kill Rochester. It Was the Other Way Around

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577153053662634584.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The film pioneer invented the digital camera but couldn't escape the intellectual limitations of geography.

 JANUARY 14, 2012

By RICH KARLGAARD

The population of Rochester, N.Y., peaked in 1950 at 330,000. Its largest headquartered company, then and now, was Eastman Kodak. Two years later a popular radio show called "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" jumped to the new medium of television. Kodak sensed a winner and sponsored the show. Little Ricky Nelson liked to tote around a Kodak Brownie Camera, which sold for $5.95.

Kodak's successful run outlasted that of "Ozzie and Harriet," which went off the air in 1966, and that of its hometown. Rochester began to shed population rapidly after a race riot in 1964, and five years later its second largest company, the Haloid Corporation, decamped for Norwalk, Conn., later renaming itself Xerox. But Kodak, with its large flows of cash and a top global brand, thrived in the 1960s and 1970s.

Then, gradually, the company began to lose its way. Kodak's troubles first appeared not in stalled revenue but in gradually declining profit margins—a point a year for most of the 1980s. The company's first consumer digital camera appeared in 1995, but buyers preferred Sony, Canon and other Japanese imports. Kodak began selling its digital cameras at a loss to keep up.

The rout was humbling for Kodak, one of whose engineers invented the digital camera in 1975. Also humbled was CEO George Fisher. Mr. Fisher—an extremely successful manager and Ph.D. in applied mathematics who had pushed Motorola hard into cellphones before taking over at that company—became chief at Kodak in 1993. Yet even he could not stop the company's decline.

Kodak's erosion became a mudslide during the last few years. Buy a smart phone today, get a camera free. Sure, the iPhone's camera might not rival Nikon's—yet. But the history of digital technology is one of the bottom steadily catching the top.

724a-Kodak headquarters.png

Bloomberg

The headquarters of Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y.

If Kodak's looming bankruptcy closes the book on this storied company, much will be written about the company's blindness to digital cameras and then smart phones. Rubbish! Kodak knew the future was digital as far back as the 1970s and, with Mr. Fisher at the top, began hiring managers with deep digital knowledge.

Kodak's problem wasn't blindness. Rather it was that film was a fatally attractive cash cow. Even in its decline, the company's film business produced outrageous profit. That cash paid for Kodak's forays into digital, but the result was that Kodak's digital cameras never learned to run on their own two feet. Trust-fund babies seldom do.

Kodak's other structural problem is geography. When you study the history of great American companies that stumbled and failed, or only partially recovered, you see how difficult it is to overcome the mindset of your immediate surroundings. Businesses located in places where success is the norm, and innovation is built into the ecology, have a better chance of fixing themselves.

Intel almost bit the dust in the mid-1980s but came back to greater glory. Like Kodak, it faced ruinous Japanese competition. Intel didn't hesitate. It shed its memory-chip business and bet the ranch on microprocessors. That was a big bet and it was ruthless. Memory-chip factories were shuttered and people were laid off. That was, and is, easier to do in Silicon Valley, where the laid-off can more readily find new jobs, than in a small city like Rochester, whose population is now at 210,000 plus.

Paralysis can infect cities and regions, and not just small ones. It is still a mystery how the entire Boston-area-based minicomputer industry could fail so suddenly in the early 1990s. Digital Equipment, Data General, Wang, Apollo—all went poof. Each fell from the top of their industries to death in less than a decade.

The two kings of Route 128—Digital's founder Ken Olsen and Wang's founder An Wang—were stubbornly resistant to personal computers. Together, they cast a kind of omerta over the region: PCs must never be mentioned!

John Chambers, CEO and chairman of Cisco, cut his management teeth at Wang. Mr. Chambers tells a story about playing tennis with An Wang in the late 1980s. He tried to talk to Wang about PCs. Wang became so upset that he stormed out of the match.

IBM also nearly died during the early 1990s. But unlike the companies in Boston, it retooled and recovered. Why? I would argue that IBM, being a New York City company—okay, a suburban one—had a healthy disrespect for the status quo and zero tolerance for omerta. Tough-talking Lou Gerstner had no qualms about shedding a couple hundred thousand jobs.

What Mr. Gerstner did was difficult. It would have been infinitely harder to do in Rochester, because the impact on a small city and the multiplier effect of lost jobs, axed all at once, would have been a civic disaster. Of course, Kodak's slow bleed has turned out to be a civic disaster anyway.

The world might be flat. But innovation and adaptation remain local.

Mr. Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes and writes the Innovation Rules column for the magazine.

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Topics- PC, Internet & Information Technology
21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic (Updated 2012)
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://www.seomoz.org/blog/21-tactics-to-increase-blog-traffic-2012

722c-semoz logo.png 722c-Randfish.png

January 17th, 2012 - Posted by randfish to Content & Blogging

(Chronicle note: This is a very informative and interesting epic article describing how to increase blog traffic in 22 different ways. Due to space constraint, we are publishing only few of them. To view the complete article, please click on the link provided above.)

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It's easy to build a blog, but hard to build a successful blog with significant traffic. Over the years, we've grown the Moz blog to nearly a million visits each month and helped lots of other blogs, too. I launched a personal blog late last year and was amazed to see how quickly it gained thousands of visits to each post. There's an art to increasing a blog's traffic, and given that we seem to have stumbled on some of that knowledge, I felt it compulsory to give back by sharing what we've observed.

NOTE: This post replaces a popular one I wrote on the same topic in 2007. This post is intended to be useful to all forms of bloggers - independent folks, those seeking to monetize, and marketing professionals working an in-house blog from tiny startups to huge companies. Not all of the tactics will work for everyone, but at least some of these should be applicable and useful.

#1 - Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share

When strategizing about who you're writing for, consider that audience's ability to help spread the word. Some readers will naturally be more or less active in evangelizing the work you do, but particular communities, topics, writing styles and content types regularly play better than others on the web. For example, great infographics that strike a chord (like this one), beautiful videos that tell a story (like this one) and remarkable collections of facts that challenge common assumptions (like this one) are all targeted at audiences likely to share (geeks with facial hair, those interested in weight loss and those with political thoughts about macroeconomics respectively).

722c-Potential customers.png

If you can identify groups that have high concentrations of the blue and orange circles in the diagram above, you dramatically improve the chances of reaching larger audiences and growing your traffic numbers. Targeting blog content at less-share-likely groups may not be a terrible decision (particularly if that's where you passion or your target audience lies), but it will decrease the propensity for your blog's work to spread like wildfire across the web.

#3 - Make Your Blog's Content SEO-Friendly

Search engines are a massive opportunity for traffic, yet many bloggers ignore this channel for a variety of reasons that usually have more to do with fear and misunderstanding than true problems. As I've written before, "SEO, when done right, should never interfere with great writing." In 2011, Google received over 3 billion daily searches from around the world, and that number is only growing:

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sources: Comscore + Google

Taking advantage of this massive traffic opportunity is of tremendous value to bloggers, who often find that much of the business side of blogging, from inquiries for advertising to guest posting opportunities to press and discovery by major media entities comes via search.

SEO for blogs is both simple and easy to set up, particularly if you're using an SEO-friendly platform like Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla. For more information on how to execute on great SEO for blogs, check out the following resources:

Don't let bad press or poor experiences with spammers (spam is not SEO) taint the amazing power and valuable contributions SEO can make to your blog's traffic and overall success. 20% of the effort and tactics to make your content optimized for search engines will yield 80% of the value possible; embrace it and thousands of visitors seeking exactly what you've posted will be the reward.

#8 - Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others

The web was not made for static, text-only content! Readers appreciate links, as do other bloggers, site owners and even search engines. When you reference your own material in-context and in a way that's not manipulative (watch out for over-optimizing by linking to a category, post or page every time a phrase is used - this is almost certainly discounted by search engines and looks terrible to those who want to read your posts), you potentially draw visitors to your other content AND give search engines a nice signal about those previous posts.

Perhaps even more valuable is referencing the content of others. The biblical expression "give and ye shall receive," perfectly applies on the web. Other site owners will often receive Google Alerts or look through their incoming referrers (as I showed above in tip #5) to see who's talking about them and what they're saying. Linking out is a direct line to earning links, social mentions, friendly emails and new relationships with those you reference. In its early days, this tactic was one of the best ways we earned recognition and traffic with the SEOmoz blog and the power continues to this day.

Bonus #22 - Be Consistent and Don't Give Up

If there's one piece of advice I wish I could share with every blogger, it's this:

722c-visitor overview.png

The above image comes from Everywhereist's analytics. Geraldine could have given up 18 months into her daily blogging. After all, she was putting in 3-5 hours each day writing content, taking photos, visiting sites, coming up with topics, trying to guest blog and grow her Twitter followers and never doing any SEO (don't ask, it's a running joke between us). And then, almost two years after her blog began, and more than 500 posts in, things finally got going. She got some nice guest blogging gigs, had some posts of hers go "hot" in the social sphere, earned mentions on some bigger sites, then got really big press from Time's Best Blogs of 2011.

I'd guess there's hundreds of new bloggers on the web each day who have all the opportunity Geraldine had, but after months (maybe only weeks) of slogging away, they give up.

When I started the SEOmoz blog in 2004, I had some advantages (mostly a good deal of marketing and SEO knowledge), but it was nearly 2 years before the blog could be called anything like a success. Earning traffic isn't rocket science, but it does take time, perseverance and consistency. Don't give up. Stick to your schedule. Remember that everyone has a few posts that suck, and it's only by writing and publishing those sucky posts that you get into the habit necessary to eventually transform your blog into something remarkable.

Good luck and good blogging from all of us at Moz!


Feel free to copy and re-post this content or the graphics, but please do link back (or reference SEOmoz if using the images offline). Thanks!

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New Storage Device Is Very Small, at 12 Atoms
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/science/smaller-magnetic-materials-push-boundaries-of-nanotechnology.html?_r=2

722b-storage device.png

Sebastian Loth/IBM Research-Almaden

New research findings at I.B.M. allow for miniaturized data storage in atomic-scale antiferromagnets. The binary representation of 'S' (01010011) was stored in eight iron atom arrays.

By JOHN MARKOFF

Published: January 12, 2012

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Researchers at I.B.M. have stored and retrieved digital 1s and 0s from an array of just 12 atoms, pushing the boundaries of the magnetic storage of information to the edge of what is possible.

Sebastian Loth/IBM Research-Almaden

An atomically assembled array of 96 iron atoms containing one byte of magnetic information in antiferromagnetic states.

The findings, being reported Thursday in the journal Science, could help lead to a new class of nanomaterials for a generation of memory chips and disk drives that will not only have greater capabilities than the current silicon-based computers but will consume significantly less power. And they may offer a new direction for research in quantum computing.

“Magnetic materials are extremely useful and strategically important to many major economies, but there aren’t that many of them,” said Shan X. Wang, director of the Center for Magnetic Nanotechnology at Stanford University. “To make a brand new material is very intriguing and scientifically very important.”

Until now, the most advanced magnetic storage systems have needed about one million atoms to store a digital 1 or 0. The new achievement is the product of a heated international race between elite physics laboratories to explore the properties of magnetic materials at a far smaller scale.

Last May, a group at the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Hamburg in Germany reported on the ability to perform computer logic operations on an atomic level.

The group at I.B.M.’s Almaden Research Center here, led by Andreas Heinrich, has now created the smallest possible unit of magnetic storage by painstakingly arranging two rows of six iron atoms on a surface of copper nitride.

Such closeness is possible because the cluster of atoms is antiferromagnetic — a rare quality in which each atom in the array has an opposed magnetic orientation. (In common ferromagnetic materials like iron, nickel and cobalt, the atoms are magnetically aligned.)

Under the laboratory’s founder, Don Eigler, I.B.M. has explored the science of nanomaterials far smaller than the silicon chips used in today’s semiconductors. Dr. Eigler recently retired from the company but is a co-author of the Science paper.

The researchers now use a scanning tunneling microscope, which looks like a giant washing machine festooned with aluminum foil, not only to capture images of atoms but to reposition individual atoms — much the way a billiard ball might be moved by a pool cue with a sticky tip.

Although the research took place at a temperature near absolute zero, the scientists wrote that the same experiment could be done at room temperature with as few as 150 atoms.

As part of its demonstration of the antiferromagnetic storage effect, the researchers created a computer byte, or character, out of an individually placed array of 96 atoms. They then used the array to encode the I.B.M. motto “Think” by repeatedly programming the memory block to store representations of its five letters.

Moreover, Dr. Heinrich said, smaller groups of atoms begin to exhibit quantum mechanical behavior — simultaneously existing in both “spin” states, in effect 1 and 0 at the same time.

In theory, such atoms could be assembled into Qbits — the basic unit of an experimental approach to computing that might one day exceed the capabilities of today’s most powerful supercomputers.

“If you do this with two atoms, then they behave more like a quantum mechanical object,” Dr. Heinrich said. “This is why science is interested in this work more than the technology.”

In an interview in a small laboratory office here, he said he was planning to knock out a wall to create room for an expanded effort in exploring the quantum mechanical properties of the antiferromagnetic effect.

“This is really where we live,” he said. “If you step outside of the press release, we are trying to control the quantum mechanics of this spin behavior to coax them to do whatever we want them to do.”

Computer industry analysts said the I.B.M. effort heralded a new direction for nanotechnology and that it might offer a route to new kinds of nanomaterials.

“Nanotechnology labs are going to begin asking, ‘What else is going on down there?’ ” said Richard Doherty an electrophysicist who is director of Envisioneering, an industry consulting firm based in Seaford, N.Y. “The information storage side of this is fantastic, but this truly changes our ideas of the behavior of materials at molecular levels.”

Antiferromagnetic materials are now instrumental in two types of data storage products. They are essential for the manufacture of recording heads, which resemble phonograph needles and are used in today’s hard disk drives. They are also used in a new type of memory chip known as spin-transfer-torque RAM, or STT-RAM, which some view as a future competitor for DRAM and Flash memory chips.

Dr. Heinrich said that the tiny devices built with scanning tunneling microscopes would never be more than laboratory experiments.

However, he noted that many research groups are exploring ways of designing novel materials using self-assembly methods, including mechanical and biological approaches.

Industry executives said that as the semiconductor industry draws closer to exhausting the ability to scale down today’s circuits using lithographic tools that etch patterns on the surface of silicon wafers, an intense international hunt is under way for a manufacturing technology beyond microelectronics.

“The nation that discovers the next logic switch will lead the nanoelectronics era and reap the economic rewards associated with it,” said Ian Steff, vice president for global policy and technology partnerships of the Semiconductor Industry Association.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 13, 2012

An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to copper hydride “atoms.” It is a compound and its units are molecules.

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IBM Research Determines Atomic Limits of Magnetic Memory

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/36473.wss

IBM scientists create the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit using only 12 atoms.
First-ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures.

New experimental atomic-scale magnet memory is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.

SAN JOSE, Calif. - 12 Jan 2012: Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

While silicon transistor technology has become cheaper, denser and more efficient, fundamental physical limitations suggest this path of conventional scaling is unsustainable. Alternative approaches are needed to continue the rapid pace of computing innovation. 

By taking a novel approach and beginning at the smallest unit of data storage, the atom, scientists demonstrated magnetic storage that is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips. Future applications of nanostructures built one atom at a time, and that apply an unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism, could allow people and businesses to store 100 times more information in the same space.  

“The chip industry will continue its pursuit of incremental scaling in semiconductor technology but, as components continue to shrink, the march continues to the inevitable end point: the atom. We’re taking the opposite approach and starting with the smallest unit -- single atoms -- to build computing devices one atom at a time.” said Andreas Heinrich, the lead investigator into atomic storage at IBM Research – Almaden, in California.

The research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science

How it Works 

The most basic piece of information that a computer understands is a bit. Much like a light that can be switched on or off, a bit can have only one of two values: "1" or "0". Until now, it was unknown how many atoms it would take to build a reliable magnetic memory bit. 

With properties similar to those of magnets on a refrigerator, ferromagnets use a magnetic interaction between its constituent atoms that align all their spins – the origin of the atoms’ magnetism – in a single direction. Ferromagnets have worked well for magnetic data storage but a major obstacle for miniaturizing this down to atomic dimensions is the interaction of neighboring bits with each other. The magnetization of one magnetic bit can strongly affect that of its neighbor as a result of its magnetic field. Harnessing magnetic bits at the atomic scale to hold information or perform useful computing operations requires precise control of the interactions between the bits. 

The scientists at IBM Research used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to atomically engineer a grouping of twelve antiferromagnetically coupled atoms that stored a bit of data for hours at low temperatures. Taking advantage of their inherent alternating magnetic spin directions, they demonstrated the ability to pack adjacent magnetic bits much closer together than was previously possible. This greatly increased the magnetic storage density without disrupting the state of neighboring bits.

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Writing and reading a magnetic byte: this image shows a magnetic byte imaged 5 times in different magnetic states to store the ASCII code for each letter of the word THINK, a corporate mantra used by IBM since 1914. The team achieved this using 96 iron atoms − one bit was stored by 12 atoms and there are eight bits in each byte. 

IBM and Nanotechnology Leadership

In the company's 100 year history, IBM has invested in scientific research to shape the future of computing. Today's announcement is a demonstration of the results garnered by IBM's world-leading scientists and the company's continual investment in and focus on exploratory research. 

IBM Research has long been a leader in studying the properties of materials important to the information technology industry. For more than fifty years, scientists at IBM Research have laid the foundation of scientific knowledge that will be important for the future of IT and sought out discoveries that can advance existing technologies. 

For additional information, including high-resolution images and an animation explaining the technique, visit www.ibm.com/atomicscalememory

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Topics- Science & Technology
Photosynthesis Fuel Company Gets a Large Investment
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39488/page1/

Joule Unlimited will build a production plant for turning sunlight and CO2 into liquid fuels.

Thursday, January 19, 2012     By Phil McKenna

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Green tea: Joule Energy's SolarConverter turns carbon dioxide and sunlight into ethanol fuel at a pilot plant in Leander, Texas.

Joule Unlimited

Joule Unlimited, a startup based in Bedford, Massachusetts, has received $70 million to commercialize technology that uses microörganisms to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into liquid fuel.

The company claims that its genetically engineered bacteria will eventually be able to produce ethanol for as little as $1.23 a gallon or diesel fuel for $1.19 a gallon, less than half the current cost of both fossil fuels and existing biofuels.

The new funding comes from undisclosed investors and will allow the company to expand from an existing pilot plant to its first small-scale production facility, in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Joule Unlimited has designed a device it calls the SolarConverter, in which thin, clear panels circulate brackish water and a nitrogen-based growth medium bubbling with carbon dioxide. Inside the converter, the engineered microörganisms use energy from the sun to convert the water and gas into ethanol or paraffinic hydrocarbons, the primary component of diesel fuel.

Enclosed solar conversion systems are expensive and difficult to manage. But Joule Unlimited's technology could prove practical because its microbes produce fuel continuously and efficiently.

The company, formerly known as Joule Biotechnologies, claimed in 2009 that its organisms could in theory produce as much as 20,000 gallons of ethanol on an acre of land in single year. Company officials now say their target is 25,000 gallons per acre, and that efficiencies they have already demonstrated take them 60 percent of the way to that goal.

The achievement would put Joule's fuel ahead of cellulosic ethanol in terms of productivity. "Even at 60 percent of our ultimate goal, our productivity is still leaps and bounds above cellulosic ethanol," says Dan Robertson, Joule Unlimited's senior vice president of biological sciences. Cellulosic fuels such as grass and wood chips yield only 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, Robertson says.

The facility in New Mexico will consist of a five-acre "module" made up of multiple 100-meter-long rows of SolarConverters connected to a central processing plant that collects and separates the fuel. The facility, slated to begin producing ethanol this summer, is located near three natural-gas power plants, each of which can provide carbon dioxide. Joule Unlimited has leased a total of 1,200 acres at the site and says it plans to add additional five-acre modules over time.

In a peer-reviewed paper published last year in the journal Photosynthesis Research, Robertson and others showed that their process can achieve an overall efficiency of 7.2 percent in converting sunlight to liquid fuel. The figure is roughly seven times higher than the efficiency rate of systems that use naturally occurring microörganisms. The key to the increased efficiency, Robertson says, is that the engineered bacteria can secrete liquid fuels continuously. Nonengineered microbes produce oils that have to be harvested and refined into fuels, and the organisms have to be ground up to release the oils, so each batch yields only a single harvest.

The microbes that attain 60 percent of the company's stated productivity goal have been secreting ethanol in outdoor SolarConverters at the company's three-acre pilot plant for the past six months. To increase efficiency, Robertson says, the company will further manipulate the organisms' genetic makeup to limit all biological processes that compete with fuel production. For example, Joule has been working for several years to shut down genetic pathways that allow the organisms to keep growing. That should enable them to devote more energy to fuel production.

Robertson says that the company is optimizing production in its diesel-secreting microbes. It doesn't have long-term data about the productivity of these organisms. In one lab test, one strain produced fuel at a rate that would be equivalent to 10 percent of the company's commercial goal of 15,000 gallons per acre per year.  

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Topics-Art, Literature, Politics. Life Style, etc.
Pirate, colonist, slave
@ Jan 31, 2012
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http://www.economist.com/node/21541711

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Early colonial adventures

The admirable adventures and strange fortunes of Master Anthony Knivet

Dec 17th 2011 | from the print edition

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ONE cold morning in 1591 an English sailor found himself shivering on Ilhabella, now an island of yacht clubs and well-appointed weekend houses that is to Brazil what Martha’s Vineyard is to America. He had been left for dead—again—the fourth or fifth time Fate had deserted him in his short career as a pirate. He survived for eight days by catching crabs in his stockings and cooking them over a fire, and then for a further two weeks by picking at the carcass of a beached whale.

He was naked, alone but for the savages who lurked inland and a man-eating dragon he had spotted in the shallows, and far from Virginia, where England would subsequently found a colony: here was a man in the wrong hemisphere at the wrong time. Yet painful as they were to him, Anthony Knivet’s misfortunes offer a fascinating, if mostly overlooked, insight into an early stage of colonialism. Unusually, Knivet was both an exponent and a victim of it. He experienced both the thrill and enchantment of contact with remote tribes and the brutality of enslavement. And he recorded all that (with the odd embellishment) in his memoir.

Brazil at the end of the 16th century was an inhospitable place. Its original inhabitants, who had first encountered the Portuguese in 1500 when a group of sailors landed and claimed the territory for their king, were coming to the conclusion that their new neighbours made unreliable allies in intertribal wars. Even more off puttingly, the European newcomers spread smallpox, which proved fatal to people who had not had their immune systems tested by centuries of living with children and other animals under the same roofs.

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For their part, the Portuguese colonists—disappointed that the instant riches promised by the new world had proved elusive—were knuckling down to the hard work of oppressing the natives, forcing them to work in sugar mills. A majority of their settlements had failed, and in some cases Portuguese leaders had been cornered and ritually executed (the first bishop of Brazil must have tasted particularly sweet to the Caeté tribesmen who ate him in 1556). The memory of the very first encounter between Europeans and Indians, at which the two groups exchanged hats and waved their arms around to communicate, had faded.

To add to the problems of the Portuguese living in Brazil, the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns under Philip II made them a legitimate target for English privateers such as Sir Thomas Cavendish, the commander of the small flotilla of five ships that transported our hero to Brazil. Cavendish had already sailed around the world, crossing the Atlantic, passing through the Strait of Magellan at the tip of South America and then working his way through the Pacific, round the Cape of Good Hope and back to Plymouth. This success, which brought him fame and a knighthood, must have raised the expectations of Knivet and the other sailors on his expedition. Cavendish’s last crew had set off from England wearing wool and leather and returned dressed in Asian silks.

The voyage of 1591 started well enough. The boats sailed down to Portugal and on to the Canary Islands, then considered the easiest point of departure for a transatlantic crossing. Heading farther south they stalled in the doldrums—a zone close to the equator that can becalm ships and rattle aircraft—for nearly a month, before a sturdy wind carried them to Brazil in 20 days.

On making landfall the sailors began to fight each other over food. Knivet reports that when one man got hold of a good chunk of meat he would drag it off to a hole or to “the Wildernesse under some Trees”, and stay there until there was nothing left but bones. The long crossing, the distance from home, and the scarcity of comforts for men who must have spent the previous weeks dreaming of plenty, had eroded the conventions of polite society in just under two months.

Captivity and compassion

Their stomachs filled, the English plotted their first raid on a Portuguese settlement. The port of Santos—now Brazil’s biggest and home to a celebrated football team, whose black and white shirt was made famous by Pelé—was then a village with a collection of sugar mills attached. Knivet and his comrades waited for the church bell to ring for mass, then rushed ashore. They rounded up some 300 men, women and children in church and took temporary control of the place. Their stocks replenished and some sugar mills destroyed, they moved on to the town of São Vicente, burning mills as they went.

At this point a problem familiar to invaders of many lands, past and present, reared its head. The party was big enough to terrorise and capture some Portuguese settlements, but too small to hold on to them. The English returned to their ships at Santos and set off towards the Plata river, on whose banks Buenos Aires now sits. The Plata is navigable for hundreds of miles and would therefore allow Cavendish and his ships to explore inland, and perhaps find some of the gold and silver that always seemed to lie beyond the next set of hills.

A storm blew up and two of the ships collided. The weather was freezing; Knivet reports getting frostbite and twice almost being flung overboard by powerful waves. Their rigs shredded, the remaining boats limped back to Santos. This time the Portuguese were not in church. The Englishmen who went ashore in search of food were killed. Knivet, who stayed on board, escaped only to be shipwrecked again, and to begin his diet of crab and whale meat in solitary confinement on the beach.

With no prospect of returning home he could either surrender to the Portuguese—who might or might not execute him—or try his luck with the Indians. Sleeping by a fire one night, before he had made his choice, Knivet woke to find a tribesman by his side. This Indian led him along the beach to a headland, which the two of them rounded with Knivet, who could not swim, clinging to the man’s back like a child in a swimming pool. Once back on land, the Indian whistled to his companions, who appeared on the cliff top. There was a Portuguese too, the master of the man Knivet thought was rescuing him. He spared Knivet’s life, but sent him to work as a slave at a sugar mill in Rio de Janeiro.

Sugar was to Portuguese Brazil as gold and silver were to the Spanish in Mexico and the Andes, or as tobacco would later be to the English in Virginia. An earlier generation of Portuguese colonists had refined a system of forced labour to grow cash crops on the islands of São Tomé and Madeira. This model was replicated in Brazil, initially with Indians providing the labour in place of the Africans who had performed the role in the earlier experiments. Later it would spread to the Caribbean, and from there to the American South.

Turning a field of sugar cane into the granules that sweeten hot drinks is hard work. The cane, which must be cut back-strainingly close to the ground, contains sharp fibres that lacerate ungloved hands. Once the field is cleared the stubs of cane are burned, giving off a thick black smoke that hangs over the land. The cane must be crushed and its juices boiled until all that is left is a dense syrup, which can then be refined into sugar. Most of the slaves who did this work have left no written trace of their activities, so Knivet’s descriptions of the life of a mill worker are interesting. “I had neither meat nor clothes,” he reports, “but blows as many as Galley slaves.”

Passed from one master to a second, Knivet was eventually trusted to trade with the local Tupi-speaking Indian tribes. The story of first contacts between such tribes and the Portuguese was one of desire for metal tools trumping well-founded suspicion of white men. These exchanges were invariably the prelude to full-scale conquest, as co-operation between Indians and colonists broke down and conflict, slavery and land clearances ensued. In the first century of Portuguese colonisation, perhaps 90% of Brazil’s original population of some 5m Indians (according to the best guess) was wiped out through disease and warfare. Knivet would have taken some tools with him, along with other trinkets, and was expected to come back with slaves.

His first expedition took him to a village where he was ushered into a great hall and told to sit in a hammock. (In the 20th century, before such contact was frowned upon, anthropologists went into remote Indian villages and filmed similar halls: the roofs were made from finely woven palm fronds held up by poles, the floors covered in smooth red earth.) After some time waiting in his “net”, 20 women appeared, wailing. An elderly chief, his body painted red and black, followed. His cheeks and lower lip were pierced and ornamented with a “faire green stone”. He beat his thigh and chest and cried out. Then food was produced.

It is hard to know what to make of this ceremony, though it is possible that it marked the adoption of Knivet into the tribe, rather like the ritual performed by the Powhatans and misunderstood by Captain John Smith in Virginia a few decades later. If so, his affiliation proved temporary; he returned to Rio with around 70 slaves in tow.

The life of a slave trader was less grim than a mill worker’s, but Knivet was still a thousand leagues from Plymouth and as far as ever from making his fortune. When he heard that Richard Hawkins, son of Sir John Hawkins, an early slave trader and architect of the Elizabethan navy, was nearby, he tried to escape and join the ship. But Knivet’s small boat was dashed on the rocks and he was soon recaptured.

This time his punishment was harsher. Initially condemned to death “as a Runaway and a Lutheran”, his life was spared thanks to the intercession of Jesuit priests.

Neither meat nor clothes, but blows as many as Galley slaves

The Jesuits, who were also early colonists in Brazil, had a tense relationship with the Portuguese planters, who disapproved of the monks’ habit of herding potential Indian slaves into mission towns for the salvation of their souls. Spared death, Knivet was whipped in public, imprisoned and then sent back to a sugar mill with iron hoops tied around his legs lest he try to escape again.

 

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Close encounters

The manager of this mill beat Knivet repeatedly. “I grew desperate and carelesse what I did to end my life,” he writes. One cold night he fell asleep for half an hour by the furnace used to boil the juice from the sugar cane. The manager beat him so hard that Knivet thought his ribs were broken. He leapt up, grasped his master close, and with a knife that he had been carrying for the purpose “hurt him in the side, the backe, and the arme”. Convinced that he had killed the man (he hadn’t), and by now freed from the leg irons, he ran off into the forest.

Pursued by his captors, Knivet recounts that he hid in a tree for two days. Wandering alone along a beach once more, he met another man who had run away from his master, an Indian called Quarisisacupa. “Never man found truer friendship of any then I did of him,” he writes. Together they wandered inland, a journey through a wilderness supposedly populated by leopards (this is plausible, as jaguars do live in Brazil), lions (which do not), crocodiles (just about possible), sirurucus (a large, venomous cobra that now faces extinction) and other serpents.

The lion, like the dragon in the shallows off Ilhabella, might have been an irresistible invention by a writer whose audience would have expected travellers to the new world to come back with tales of exotic beasts. Or perhaps it was a hallucination—or merely a case of misidentification by someone who had never seen one before. In any case, the beast is a rare impostor in a story that otherwise fits with other contemporary accounts, even if no other witnesses to Knivet’s own wanderings have left anything by way of corroboration. Some other early writers about Brazil were far more imaginative: despite never actually existing, a fierce tribe of female warriors were reported so often that they have a giant river named after them (the Amazon).

Knivet and Quarisisacupa made their way back to the Indian village where he had been welcomed before and found the same chief in charge. They stayed for nine months, one of the longest sojourns by an outsider with a Brazilian tribe until the invention of anthropologists. Knivet gives frustratingly few details of what life was like, though it is clear he enjoyed himself enough to want to stay. At one point he made a speech to the tribesmen, denouncing the Portuguese for their cruelty and duplicity, and imploring them, like a tropical Henry V, to join him in battle against them.

When the Portuguese did come, to trade rather than fight, their knives and axes again proved too shiny to resist. This time Knivet was one of the goods traded in return for tools, despite entreating the Portuguese commander “to give me leave to end my life amongst the Cannibals”.

Bloudie crueltie and Heathen mercy

Knivet was pressed into service once more as a slave-gatherer. It might seem odd that someone who compared “the bloudie crueltie of Christian Portugals” unfavourably with “the Heathen mercy of savage Man-eaters” should use his understanding of tribal customs and languages to boost Brazil’s sugar production so barbarically. But slavery was part of the furniture of European minds until well into the 18th century; and besides, he must have had little choice in the matter.

This work took him farther afield, where he encountered stranger tribes: “when I saw them first,” he writes of one group, “I thought they had beene borne with feathers on their heads and bodies, like fowles of the aire”. Knivet drew on these adventures to write one of the earliest contributions to the ethnography of the continent, which forms an annex to his brief memoir.

He did eventually make it back to England, though not before another failed escape had taken him across the Atlantic, to Portuguese Angola, and back again. What became of him after his homecoming is unclear. But the story he wrote was published by Richard Hakluyt, a director of the Virginia Company and enthusiastic lobbyist for empire, in 1625. It has been oddly neglected by English-speaking historians: at the time of writing Knivet has no Wikipedia entry in English, a sure sign of obscurity.

His voyages belong to the first age of globalisation, before the success of colonial ventures seemed guaranteed, and before the borders drawn by European expansion hardened into the familiar form they have today. Knivet moved easily between the worlds of the Portuguese and the Indians: he greatly preferred the latter. His compassion for them and horror at their treatment forms part of a thin but tough thread of sympathy running through the colonisation of the Americas—from the sermon given on Hispaniola by Antonio de Montesinos in 1511, to Montaigne’s essay “On The Cannibals” in 1580, through to the movements to abolish slavery and, some would add, to modern conceptions of human rights.

Knivet’s tale offers a glimpse of how a different history—collaborative rather than repressive—might have unfolded. The timing of its publication makes it probable that some of the Puritans who took part in the Great Migration of the 1630s would have read it before they set out. If so, they might well have expected to make a better job of relations with the natives than had the horrid Portuguese Catholics. They didn’t.

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Topics-Education
China ahead of India in scientific research, says PM Manmohan Singh
@ Jan 31, 2012
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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/China-ahead-of-India-in-scientific-research-says-PM-Manmohan-Singh/articleshow/11349667.cms

Nitin Sethi, TNN | Jan 3, 2012, 01.00PM IST

BHUBHNESHWAR: The 'China versus India' debate continues to rankle the government at all levels was evident with PM Manmohan Singh noting that "India's relative position in the world of science had been declining and we have been overtaken by countries like China." He was speaking at the 99th Indian National Science Congress at Bhubhneshwar on Tuesday.

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The PM said the aim should be to increase the total R&D spending as a percentage of the GDP to 2% by the end of the 12th Plan period from the current level of about 0.9%.

His inaugural lecture meant to celebrate the scientific advances in India came tempered with some hard facts and some subtle hints of why research in India lags behind the world.

"As far as resources are concerned, the fraction of GDP spent on R&D in India has been too low and stagnant. We must aim to increase the total R&D spending as a percentage of GDP to 2% by the end of the XII Plan Period from the current level of about 0.9%," PM said.

He accepted that already one-fourth of the research contribution was coming from the private sector. But his suggestion that the contribution had to increase further was in part an indictment of public sector research centres across the country.

"We have to increase public private partnerships and catalyse significantly increased interaction between publicly owned S&T institutions and industry," Singh said.

"It is in some ways ironic that GE and Motorola have created world class technology hubs in India, while our own industry has not done so, except perhaps in the pharma sector," he added in a criticism of the science policy as well as the domestic industrial giants of the country.

While Singh did reaffirm that "India had moved from the 15th rank in 2003 to the 9th rank in 2010 with respect to the number of publications in peer valued journals" he also pointed out that India lagged behind on applied sciences and the focus was fixed more on fundamental research. .

Speaking before PM, the Union science and technology and earth sciences minister Vilasrao Deshmukh too had evoked a comparison with China to claim that India was lagging behind on applied sciences. "China publishes five times more patents than India for every billion US dollars of GDP," he said.

Manmohan Singh also reflected on how students of sciences shifted to other careers after education. "While it is true that science and engineering continue to attract the best students, many of them later opt for other careers because of poor prospects in science." He also referred to a recent survey of 2000 Indian women PhD holders in science which had found 60% of them unemployed. He noted that the main reason was discrimination and unlike the public image, 'family reasons' was cited by only a few in explaining their unemployment.

Speaking before him, the chairperson of the science congress Geeta Bali who is also the vice-chancellor of Karnataka State Women's University had noted that the number of women employed at the high end of research institutions and academia declined disproportionately.

The facts looked grim considering the theme of the congress this year is the role of women in science.

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China bankrolls R&D while India plays the miser

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/China-bankrolls-RD-while-India-plays-the-miser/articleshow/11417179.cms

Nitin Sethi, TNN | Jan 9, 2012, 12.42AM IST

NEW DELHI: Did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underplay China's superiority over India in the field of science, research and technology? Analysis of new data shared at the National Science Congress shows that China has been far ahead of India for a decade and the wide gap between the two has only deepened over past years.

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China investing about 2.5% of its GDP last year in S&T works out to $174 billion compared to India’s 0.9% which works out to roughly $16.5 billion.

India published a mere 233,027 scientific papers in 2010 compared to 969,315 research articles by China. This is data from Elsevier, one the biggest publishers of scientific research in the world. China recorded a 22.83% growth in publishing scientific research compared to 14.27% by Indian researchers.

Elsevier data shows that Chinese scientists are also much more up to date than the Indian scientific community. On an index of state of art science, China was placed at 0.86 with India coming on the negative end of the scale at -2.48 though the citation levels (how many other researchers read the papers) was higher for India than China on average.

The publishing giant also looked at areas of competencies or quality research and again came up with the vast difference between the two. India had 159 areas of competencies in different scientific fields while China had 885 such areas. While India is publishing more in chemistry. engineering, biology and biotech, China is publishing a lot more in computer sciences, medical specialties, mathematics, physics and health sciences.

The vast difference between the two is not just in published science but also patenting of technology -- taking pure sciences forward into applications. China patents five times more than India for every billion dollars of GDP and the growth in registering new patents has risen rapidly over past five years. In 2005, China had filed 93,485 patents and this galloped to 153,060 in 2007.

There is a reason why India is nowhere close to the Chinese scientific behemoth -- Indian government doesn't invest half as much as the Chinese state does in scientific research and development and the distance between the two is widening. China is going to target investing 3% of its GDP into scientific endeavours by 2020 while India is still 'aspiring' to ramp it up from the current 0.9% to 2% by 2017.

Percentages, however, do not tell the whole story. China's GDP is $6,980 billion as per IMF compared to India's $1,843 billion. China investing about 2.5% of its GDP last year in S&T works out to $174 billion compared to India's 0.9% which works out to roughly $16.5 billion.

By Indian government's own admission, even a decade ago in 2002-03, China had 8.5 lakh researchers producing 40,000 PhD theses in sciences compared to India's 1.5 lakh people producing about 1,000 PhD theses in R&D.

The route both countries have taken to enhance their prowess in the world of science is also different. While China invests heavily through state-run scientific institutions, it also pulls in a large amount of private investment from outside. It has nearly 100 international research facilities that have come up since 2003.

India's public investment in R&D has, in comparison, gone down with time and has been unable to attract partnerships with the private sector as well. The PM indicated in his speech at Bhubaneswar on Tuesday that he would seek to increase the share of private investment in S&T (an oft repeated comment) but that may not be easy unless the state is ready to put its own money in this long gestation, high risk investment.

In the end, what former President A P J Abdul Kalam advised students at the Science Congress on Wednesday may make more sense than competing with China: do your own thing.

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Topics-Health & Life Sciences
5 tips to reduce your risk of arthritis
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://www.usaweekend.com/article/20120106/HEALTH01/301060008/5-tips-to-reduce-your-risk-of-arthritis?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

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The Doctors: Arthritis Prevention Guide: The chance of developing many types of arthritis, including the most common, osteoarthritis, increases the older you get. Here are 5 steps you can take to protect your joints and reduce your risk of arthritis.

Written by

The Doctors

It hurts when you walk or climb the stairs, slice meat or brush your teeth — that’s the reality of arthritis. Family history plays a role in your risk, and so does age: The chance of developing many types of arthritis, including the most common, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, increases the older you get.

Those factors you can’t control. But you can take steps to protect your joints and reduce your risk of arthritis:

Exercise.

Regular exercise strengthens the muscles around joints, which helps keep them from rubbing against one another and wearing down cartilage; it also helps increase bone density, improve flexibility and ease pain.

Don't push your body past its limits.

Putting too much stress on your joints can accelerate the wear and tear that causes osteoarthritis, and injured joints, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis.

Watch your weight.

Extra pounds put extra stress on your joints, especially your knees, hips and back. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, people who are obese are 1.9 times more likely to report that they have arthritis symptoms.

Stand up straight.

Mom said it would make you look taller and slimmer; experts say It also helps protect the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.

Ask your doc about D.

We know the vitamin is essential for bone health because it helps your body absorb calcium. Studies also suggest vitamin D may play a role in joint health, and that too-low levels may increase the risk of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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About Arthritis

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001243.htm

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Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of arthritis. The body’s own immune system attacks a joint’s synovial membrane, which secretes fluid and lines the joint. The synovium becomes inflamed, produces excess fluid, and the cartilage becomes rough and pitted.

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Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. A joint is the area where two bones meet. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.

See also: Joint pain

Causes

Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.

Joint inflammation may result from:

  • An autoimmune disease (the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue)
  • Broken bone
  • General "wear and tear" on joints
  • Infection, usually by bacteria or virus

Usually the joint inflammation goes away after the cause goes away or is treated. Sometimes it does not. When this happens, you have chronic arthritis. Arthritis may occur in men or women. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. See: Osteoarthritis

Other, more common types of arthritis include:

Symptoms

Arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. Symptoms can include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Reduced ability to move the joint
  • Redness of the skin around a joint
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Warmth around a joint

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history.

The physical exam may show:

  • Fluid around a joint
  • Warm, red, tender joints
  • Difficulty moving a joint (called "limited range of motion")

Some types of arthritis may cause joint deformity. This may be a sign of severe, untreated rheumatoid arthritis.

Blood tests and joint x-rays are often done to check for infection and other causes of arthritis.

Your doctor may also remove a sample of joint fluid with a needle and send it to a lab for examination.

__________________________________________________

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A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

From the National Institutes of Health National Institutes of Health

Health Topics

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthtopics.html
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Why Placebos Work Wonders
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204720204577128873886471982.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 JANUARY 10, 2012

From Weight Loss To Fertility, New Legitimacy For 'Fake' Treatments

Say "placebo effect" and most people think of the boost they may get from a sugar pill simply because they believe it will work. But more and more research suggests there is more than a fleeting boost to be gained from placebos.

A particular mind-set or belief about one's body or health may lead to improvements in disease symptoms as well as changes in appetite, brain chemicals and even vision, several recent studies have found, highlighting how fundamentally the mind and body are connected.

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Is the placebo effect just the boost you may get from a sugar pill simply because you believe it will work? New research suggests there is more than just that to be gained from placebos. Emily Nelson reports. (Photo: Getty Images)

It doesn't seem to matter whether people know they are getting a placebo and not a "real" treatment. One study demonstrated a strong placebo effect in subjects who were told they were getting a sugar pill with no active ingredient.

View Interactive

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Douglas B. Jones

Placebo treatments are sometimes used in some clinical practices. In a 2008 survey of nearly 700 internists and rheumatologists published in the British Medical Journal, about half said they prescribe placebos on a regular basis. The most popular were over-the-counter painkillers and vitamins. Very few physicians said they relied on sugar pills or saline injections. The American Medical Association says a placebo can't be given simply to soothe a difficult patient, and it can be used only if the patient is informed of and agrees to its use.

Researchers want to know more about how the placebo effect works, and how to increase and decrease it. A more powerful, longer-lasting placebo effect might be helpful in treating health conditions related to weight and metabolism.

Hotel-room attendants who were told they were getting a good workout at their jobs showed a significant decrease in weight, blood pressure and body fat after four weeks, in a study published in Psychological Science in 2007 and conducted by Alia Crum, a Yale graduate student, and Ellen Langer, a professor in the psychology department at Harvard. Employees who did the same work but weren't told about exercise showed no change in weight. Neither group reported changes in physical activity or diet.

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Douglas B. Jones

Patients in a recent study were treated with placebos for an induced asthma attack. They reported feeling just as good as when they received an active treatment with albuterol.

Another study, published last year in the journal Health Psychology, shows how mind-set can affect an individual's appetite and production of a gut peptide called ghrelin (GREL-in), which is involved in the feeling of satisfaction after eating. Ghrelin levels are supposed to rise when the body needs food and fall proportionally as calories are consumed, telling the brain the body is no longer hungry and doesn't need to search out more food.

Yet the data show ghrelin levels depended on how many calories participants were told they were consuming, not how many they actually consumed. When told a milkshake they were about to drink had 620 calories and was "indulgent," the participants' ghrelin levels fell more—the brain perceived it was satisfied more quickly—than when they were told the shake had 120 calories and was "sensible."

The results may offer a physiological explanation of why eating diet foods can feel so unsatisfying, says Ms. Crum, first author on the study. "That mind-set of dieting is telling the body you're not getting enough."

Studies across medical conditions including depression, migraines and Parkinson's disease have found that supposedly inert treatments, like sugar pills, sham surgery and sham acupuncture, can yield striking effects. A 2001 study published in Science found that placebo was effective at improving Parkinson's disease symptoms at a magnitude similar to real medication. The placebo actually induced the brain to produce greater amounts of dopamine, the neurotransmitter known to be useful in treating the disease.

At times, a weaker placebo effect might be desired. In trials of experimental drug treatments for dementia, depression and other cognitive or psychiatric conditions, where one patient group takes medication and the other takes a sugar pill, it can be difficult to demonstrate that the medicine works because the placebo effect is so strong.

With depression, an estimated 30% to 45% of patients—or even more, in some studies—will respond to a placebo, according to a review published in December in Clinical Therapeutics. An additional 5% of patients were helped by an antidepressant in cases of mild depression, and an additional 16% in cases of severe depression. (The clinically meaningful cutoff for additional benefit was 11%.)

Fertility rates have been found to improve in women getting a placebo, perhaps because they experience a decrease in stress. A recent randomized trial of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome found that 15%, or 5 of 33, got pregnant while taking placebo over a six-month period, compared with 22%, or 7 of 32, who got the drug—a statistically insignificant difference. Other studies have demonstrated pregnancy rates as high as 40% in placebo groups.

Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, and colleagues demonstrated that deception isn't necessary for the placebo effect to work. Eighty patients with irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic gastrointestinal disorder, were assigned either a placebo or no treatment. Patients in the placebo group got pills described to them as being made with an inert substance and showing in studies to improve symptoms via "mind-body self-healing processes." Participants were told they didn't have to believe in the placebo effect but should take the pills anyway, Dr. Kaptchuk says. After three weeks, placebo-group patients reported feelings of relief, significant reduction in some symptoms and some improvement in quality of life.

Why did the placebo work—even after patients were told they weren't getting real medicine? Expectations play a role, Dr. Kaptchuk says. Even more likely is that patients were conditioned to a positive environment, and the innovative approach and daily ritual of taking the pill created an openness to change, he says.

Do placebos work on the actual condition, or on patients' perception of their symptoms? In a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Kaptchuk's team rotated 46 asthma patients through each of four types of treatment: no treatment at all, an albuterol inhaler, a placebo inhaler and sham acupuncture. As each participant got each treatment, researchers induced an asthma attack and measured the participant's lung function and perception of symptoms. The albuterol improved measured lung function compared with placebo. But the patients reported feeling just as good whether getting placebo or the active treatment.

"Right now, I think evidence is that placebo changes not the underlying biology of an illness, but the way a person experiences or reacts to an illness," Dr. Kaptchuk says.

Placebo can be more effective than the intended treatment. In a trial published in the journal Menopause in 2007, 103 women who had menopausal hot flashes got either five weeks of real acupuncture, or five weeks of sham acupuncture, where needles weren't placed in accepted therapeutic positions. A week after treatments ended, only some 60% of participants in both groups reported hot flashes—a robust immediate placebo effect. Seven weeks post-treatment, though, 55% of patients in the sham acupuncture group reported hot flashes, compared with 73% in the real acupuncture group.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of this article said that a study in the journal Health Psychology about appetite and the gut peptide ghrelin was published earlier this year.

Write to Shirley S. Wang at shirley.wang@wsj.com

_____________________________________________________________________________

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India marks milestone in fight against polio
@ Jan 29, 2012
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http://www.ajc.com/health/india-marks-milestone-in-1300191.html

By RAVI NESSMAN

The Associated Press

11:21 a.m. Thursday, January 12, 2012

NEW DELHI — India will celebrate a full year since its last reported case of polio on Friday, a major victory in a global eradication effort that seemed stalled just a few years ago.

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In this Sunday Jan. 23, 2011 photograph, Sanjana Shoba, a polio vaccinator, administers polio vaccine to a child in Tilkeshwar village, some 200 kilometers from Patna, India. India will celebrate a full year since its last reported case of polio on Friday Jan. 13, 2012, a major victory in a global eradication effort that appeared to be stalled just a few years ago. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

If no previously undisclosed cases of the crippling disease are discovered, India will no longer be considered polio endemic, leaving only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on that list.

"This is a game changer in a huge way," said Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization's global polio campaign.

The achievement gives a major morale boost to health advocates and donors who had begun to lose hope of ever defeating the stubborn disease that the world had promised to eradicate by 2000.

It also helps India, which bills itself as one of the world's emerging powers, shed the embarrassing link to a disease associated with poverty and chaos, one that had been conquered long ago by most of the globe.

The government cautiously welcomed the milestone as a confirmation of its commitment to fighting the disease and the 120 billion rupees ($2.4 billion) it has spent on the program.

"We are excited and hopeful. At the same time, vigilant and alert," Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a statement. Azad warned that India needed to push forward with its vaccination campaign to ensure the elimination of any residual virus and to prevent the import and spread of virus from abroad.

The polio virus, which usually infects children in unsanitary conditions, attacks the central nervous system, sometimes causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and, in some cases, death.

With its dense population, poor sanitation, high levels of migration and weak public health system, India had been seen as "the perfect storm of polio," Aylward said. Even some vaccinated children fell ill with the virus because malnutrition and chronic diarrhea made their bodies too weak to properly process the oral vaccine.

In 2009, India had 741 cases. That plunged to 42 in 2010. Last year, there was a single case, an 18-month-old girl named Ruksana Khatun who fell ill in West Bengal state Jan. 13. She was the country's last reported polio victim.

Part of the sudden success is credited to tighter monitoring that allowed health officials to quickly hit areas of outbreaks with emergency vaccinations. Part is also attributed to the rollout of a new vaccine in 2010 that more powerfully targeted the two remaining strains of the disease.

Under the $300 million-a-year campaign the government runs with help from the WHO and UNICEF, 2.5 million workers fan out across the country twice a year to give the vaccine to 175 million children.

They hike to remote villages, wander through trains to reach migrating families and stop along roadsides to vaccinate the homeless.

Philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation has made polio eradication a priority, hailed India's achievement as an example of the progress that can be made on difficult development problems.

"Polio can be stopped when countries combine the right elements: political will, quality immunization campaigns and an entire nation's determination. We must build on this historic moment and ensure that India's polio program continues to move full-steam ahead until eradication is achieved," he said in a statement.

Health officials are working to make polio the second human disease eradicated, after smallpox. But while smallpox carriers were easy to find because everyone infected developed symptoms, only a tiny fraction of those infected with the polio virus ever contract the disease. So while no one in India is reported to have suffered from polio in a year, the virus — which travels through human waste — could still be lingering.

That's why the country will not be certified as completely polio-free until at least three full years pass without a case. And it is why public health advocates warn against complacency in the massive vaccination efforts.

"We are at a threshold. If we take a long step, we may be in trouble," said Dr. Yash Paul, a pediatrician in the northern city of Jaipur who was a member of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics' polio eradication committee until it was dismantled last year because the academy felt it was no longer needed.

Paul also appealed to public health officials to begin switching from the oral vaccine, which is easy to administer but contains live virus that can cause the disease in rare cases, to an injectible vaccine that uses dead virus.

The last time a country came off the endemic list was Egypt in 2006. If India succeeds in getting removed from the list in the coming weeks, only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria will remain. All three saw a rise in cases last year over 2010, and Pakistan is suffering a particularly explosive outbreak, Aylward said.

In addition, 22 other countries that had eradicated the disease suffered new outbreaks. However, some of those outbreaks stemmed from polio imported from India, so getting rid of the virus here is expected to lessen such outbreaks in the future.

Dr. Donald Henderson, who headed WHO's smallpox eradication program and had long been skeptical of the possibility of eradicating polio, said Thursday he was now hopeful the disease could be conquered across the world by the end of next year.

"You look at a series of dominoes, this is the big one. The others are definitely easier. If we can do it in India, than I'm more optimistic that we can do it in these other countries," he said. "I'm celebrating a bit. I'll certainly drink a glass tomorrow ... and keep my fingers crossed."

Aylward hopes India's success will spur donors to dedicate more money to the polio fight, partly because full eradication could free up funds for other global health issues.

The WHO program needs another $500 million to fund operations for the rest of the year, and some programs could run out of funding by March, he said.

"If we fail at this point, it's an issue of will," he said.

___

Ravi Nessman can be reached at www.twitter.com/ravinessman

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About Polio

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002375/

Home > Diseases and Conditions > Poliomyelitis

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Poliomyelitis

Polio; Infantile paralysis; Post-polio syndrome

Last reviewed: August 24, 2011.

Poliomyelitis is a viral disease that can affect nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Poliomyelitis is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus. The virus spreads by:

  • Direct person-to-person contact
  • Contact with infected mucus or phlegm from the nose or mouth
  • Contact with infected feces

The virus enters through the mouth and nose, multiplies in the throat and intestinal tract, and then is absorbed and spread through the blood and lymph system. The time from being infected with the virus to developing symptoms of disease (incubation) ranges from 5 - 35 days (average 7 - 14 days).

Risks include:

  • Lack of immunization against polio
  • Travel to an area that has experienced a polio outbreak

In areas where there is an outbreak, those most likely to get the disease include children, pregnant women, and the elderly. The disease is more common in the summer and fall.

Between 1840 and the 1950s, polio was a worldwide epidemic. Since the development of polio vaccines, the incidence of the disease has been greatly reduced. Polio has been wiped out in a number of countries. There have been very few cases of polio in the Western hemisphere since the late 1970s. Children in the United States are now routinely vaccinated against the disease.

Outbreaks still occur in the developed world, usually in groups of people who have not been vaccinated. Polio often occurs after someone travels to a region where the disease is common. As a result of a massive, global vaccination campaign over the past 20 years, polio exists only in a few countries in Africa and Asia.

Symptoms

There are three basic patterns of polio infection: subclinical infections, nonparalytic, and paralytic. About 95% of infections are subclinical infections, which may not have symptoms.

SUBCLINICAL INFECTION SYMPTOMS

People with subclinical polio infection might not have symptoms, or their symptoms may last 72 hours or less.

Clinical poliomyelitis affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and is divided into nonparalytic and paralytic forms. It may occur after recovery from a subclinical infection.

___________________________________________________________________________

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Topics-World Affairs
Baloch plight attracts US attention amid tense ties with Pak
@ Jan 31, 2012
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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Baloch-plight-attracts-US-attention-amid-tense-ties-with-Pak/articleshow/11500201.cms

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Jan 15, 2012, 07.36PM IST

WASHINGTON: Baloch separatists achieved a significant diplomatic breakthrough on Friday, getting the US administration to recognize their grievances against the Pakistani state and persuading Washington to urge Islamabad to address their issues through dialogue.

At a time of tense relations with Islamabad, the Obama administration chose a social media platform to air its concern about the plight of the Baloch, whose complaints about targeted killings and other human rights abuse has gone largely unnoticed by the world. The State Department on Friday responded to a question on Twitter from a Baloch nationalist on the subject, saying ''This was a very popular question on our feed, so we wanted to make sure that we answered it today.''

''The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Baluchistan, especially targeted killings, disappearances and other human rights abuses,'' spokesperson Victoria Nuland continued, adding that Washington takes the allegations of human rights abuses ''very seriously'' and had discussed these issues with Pakistani officials.

The question from @cadet1081 was provocative, asking the State Department why the United States does not intervene in Baluchistan and help the Baloch achieve freedom. But Nuland was circumspect in her response, noting for now that ''This is a complex issue,'' and Washington strongly believes ''that the best way forward is for all the parties to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.''

Baloch separatists and nationalists, many of them targeted by the Pakistani state, have been slowly trickling into Washington DC (some of them through the political asylum route) in recent months and trying to highlight the plight of a region which did not readily sign up to Pakistan at the time of partition. They have had little success in a city of many competing causes, with hardly any lawmaker or analyst paying any attention to their issues.

Only Selig S. Harrison of the George Soros-funded Center for International Policy, a former AP and Washington Post correspondent in the region, has consistently highlighted their plight and supported their call for seceding from Pakistan. Another strategic affairs analyst, Ralph Peters, has also backed the idea of splitting Pakistan and creating a separate Baloch nation to weaken the Islamabad-Beijing axis and allowing U.S direct access to Afghanistan currently controlled by Pakistan.

But on Friday, far removed yet from the strategic strands, Baloch nationalists rejoiced in their diplomatic advance.

''Acceptance of (Twitter) question and the subsequent response from the Department's spokesperson is heartening,'' wrote Muatasim Qazi on the nationalist website Balochwarna. ''It should encourage educated Baloch youth to engage more in online activism and advocacy rather than mere futile political sloganeering or mud-slinging.'' One tweet noted: ''What an irony. Takes a superpower to convince us to look into our own issues.''

Resource-rich Balochistan has long been in ferment, going back to the 1970s, stemming from its forcible annexation by Pakistan at the time of partition from India, and its exploitation by the Pakistani military and the elite. Many nationalist Baloch leaders have been killed by the Pakistani army, and the issue of disappearances and human rights abuse of the Baloch, and reprisal killings of Punjabi settlers by the Baloch, has gradually come to the fore. But till this past Friday, Washington had not publicly recorded its views on the matter.

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http://www.balochwarna.org/

http://www.balochwarna.com/modules/mastop_publish/?tac=Baloch_History

Baloch Hisotry

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(Map of Baluchistan-http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2009/05/get-to-know-balochistan.html)

Balochistan is between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It traces its history from times immemorial. Before the birth of Christ, it had commerce and trade with ancient civilization of Babylon through Iran and into the valleys of Tigris and Euphrates. Alexander the Great also had an encounter with the Serbia tribe of Balochistan.
  A Balochi war song describes the province of Balochistan thus: "the mountains are the Balochi's forts; the peaks are better than any army; the lofty heights are our comrades; the pathless gorges our friends. Our drink is from the flowing springs; our bed the thorny bush; the ground we make our pillow."

Balochistan is a land of contrast. It has places with rugged mountains like Chiltan, Takatu, Sulaiman, Sultan etc. and plains stretching hundreds of miles. It has fertile land such as in Nasirabad and the tracks which are thirsty for centuries in the Pat section of Sibi district and the Makran desert zone. It has hottest places in the country like Sibi and the cool towns like Quetta, Ziarat, Kan Mehtarzai and Kallat where temperature goes below freezing point and these areas remain under a thick cover of snow in winter.

Balochistan (or Baluchistan), also known as "Greater Balochistan" is an arid region which sits on the Iranian Plateau in Southwest Asia, presently split between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The area is named after the numerous Baloch (or Baluch, Balouch) tribes, an Iranian people, who moved in to the area from the west some time around 1000 A.D. The southern part of Balochistan is known as Makran.

Before the arrival of the Baluch, the region was populated by Pashtuns and Brahuis. The Pashtuns are now concentrated in Sibi, Bolan, Quetta, Pishin, Killa Abdullah, Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Zhob, Ziarat and Harnai. Many Brahuis live in Kalat. Languages spoken in the region include Balochi, Pashto, Persian, and Brahui.
Recent History

Pakistani Balochistan was conquered by the British Empire on October 1, 1887. In 1948, it became part of Pakistan. Since then, some separatist groups in the province have engaged in armed violence, first led by "Prince Karim Khan" in 1948, and later Nawab Nowroz Khan in 1968. These tribal uprisings were limited in scope. A more serious insurgency was led by Marri and Mengal tribes in 1973-1977. They have a view of "Greater Balochistan," presently split between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan as one independent state ruled under tribal jirgas (a tribal system of government).
Accession Problem 1948

The ruler of the Khanate of Balochistan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan,might have been coerced by Jinnah to sign the document of accession. Balochi nationals support this claim, however critics dispute such claims as unrealistic and contrary to popular support for Jinnah, as the Khan of Kalat ruled even after death of Jinnah with the support of the government. However, The Khan was not an absolute monarch; he was required to act under the provisions of the Rawaj (the Baloch constitution).
The incorporation of the Khanate resulted in a few anti-Pakistani rallies and meetings in certain areas of the Khanate. To subdue the anti-Pakistani sentiments, the Army of Pakistan was placed on alert. The Government of Pakistan decided to take complete control of the administration of Balochistan (Khanate) on 15 April 1948. The A.G.G. in Balochistan conveyed the orders of Mohammad Ali Jinnah that the status of the Khanate, "would revert back to what it was during the preceding British rule. Besides the policy of the central government of Pakistan towards the Khanate, Jinnah also refused to give Autonomy to Balochistan."

In April 1948, several political leaders from Balochistan such as Mohammad Amin Khosa and Abdul Samad Achakzai were arrested. The Anjuman-i-Watan Party (pro-congress), headed by Samad Achakzai, was declared unlawful.
First Baloch National Resistance 1948

Prince Abdul Karim Khan

The refusal to grant autonomy and the continued existence of the Sandeman system re­sulted in unrest. Thus, on the night of 16 May 1948, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, the younger brother of the Khan, decided to lead a national liberation movement.
He invited the leading members of nationalist political parties, (the Kalat State National Party, the Baloch League, and the Baloch National Workers Party) to join him in the struggle for the creation of an independent "Greater Balochistan". Apart from his political motives, the Prince was a member of the royal family and the former governor of the Makran province; the recognition of Sardar Bay Khan Gichki as a ruler of Makran by Pakistan upset him.

Beginning of Movement and Allies

He decided to migrate to Afghanistan in order to get help and to organ­ize the liberation movement. Prince Karim wrote to the Khan on 28 June 1948 ex­plaining the causes of his migration.

Some of the prominent political leaders who joined him were Mohamed Hussain Anka (the secretary of the Baloch League and the editor of Weekly Bolan Mastung) • Malik Saeed Dehwar (the secretary of the Kalat State National Party) • Qadir Bakhsh Nizamami, a member of the Baloch League and prominent members of the Communist Party, Sind-Balochistan branch, and Maulwi Mohd Afzal, a member of Jamiat-­Ulm-e-Balochistan.
Plan of Action

The Baloch Mujahideen ( Baloch Holy Warriors), as they called themselves, entered Afghanistan and encamped at Sarlath in the Province of Kandahar. During their stay, the Baloch freedom fighters adopted the following measures to achieve their goal:

Sending of messages to the Baloch chiefs of Eastern and Western Balochistan asking them to join in the armed struggle;

Running of a truth revealing campaign in Balochistan, aimed at the educating the locals, teaching them to fight for their right,and fight as well as the enlistment of a national liberation force;

Searching for international support, particularly from contries who are supportive of democratic process and don't support army ruling over the country.

Messages were sent to Mir Ghulam Faruq of the Rudini tribe, Sardar Mehrab Khan, Sardar Mir Jumma, Mir Wazir Khan Sanjrani of Chagai, and several other chiefs. The propaganda campaign was to be carried out on two fronts: (A) The National Cultural Front. (B) The Religious Front.

Armed Struggle

Besides the cultural and religious campaign, the Prince also organized a liberation force called the Baloch Mujahedeen, consisting of the ex-soldiers and officers Of the Khanate’s army. The Prince was chosen as the supreme commander.

The Prince issued an appeal to personages to help with the recruitment. A person re­cruiting 100 men was offered the rank of a major and a person recruiting 50 men was entitled to the rank of captain. The Baloch liberation army had a secret agency called Jannisar (devotee), whose duty was to provide information, destroy the communication system, and watch the activities of traitors. In addition to this, there was a secret unit Janbaz (darer), to kill all traitors. The Janbaz were subordinate to the Jannisar. The headquarters of the agency was known as Bab-i-Aali (secret war-office) and headed by prince Karim. The total strength of Jannisar was recorded to be 30, while nothing is known about the strength of Janbaz.

Soviets and Afghans

However, the Prince did not start a war of liberation because of Afghanistan’s re­fusal and the silence of the Soviet Union concerning assistance. During his stay in Sarlath, Prince Karim appointed Malik Saeed and Qadir Bakhsh Nizamani as his emis­saries to contact the Afghan Government and to approach other embassies in order to get moral and material support. According to Nizamani, the Afghan authorities refused to provide any sort of help and told them either to reside as political refugees at Kandahar or to return. The Afghan authorities also re­fused to permit the rebel group to operate from Afghan soil. Nizamami informed the Iranian Embassy of the Baloch demands as well.

Iranian diplomats showed their concern but did not offer any assistance, though they indicated their desire to provide, asylum to the rebel group in Iran. The last hope of the Prince’s re­presentative was the Soviet Embassy. The Soviet diplomats listened to Nizamami carefully. Though they did not give any assurances, they did promise to inform Moscow. The Afghans, since the rise of Ahmad Shah, had treated Balochistan as a vassal state until the Baloch-Afghan war in 1758, when an agreement of ‘non-interference’ was signed between the parties. In the 19th century, Afghan rulers like Shuja and Amir Abdur-Rehman desired to occupy Balochistan. In 1947, the Afghan Government demanded the creation of Pashtunistan. Stretching from chitral and Gilgit to the Baloch coast in the Arabian Sea.The Afghan Go­vernment called Balochistan ‘South Pashtunistan’ in statements and publications. The Afghan expansionist policy reflected the economic considerations of a landlocked state. At the same time, it was impossible for the Afghan Government to neglect its own national interests and to support the movement of an indepen­dent Greater Balochistan,which claimed the Baloch region in Afghanistan. Stalin did not pursue Lenin’s policy in the East. Moreover, government of the Soviet Union was not ready to annoy the Afghans or the British, opponents of an independent Balochistan.

Prince Karim's Legitimacy outlawed

Meanwhile the Prince and his party were regarded as a rebel group by a Farman royal order issued by the Khan on 24 May 1948, stating that no connection of any sort with the Prince and his party should be maintained nor should they be helped with rations, and that if any member of the rebel group committed an offence, he would be punished. The Government of Pakistan moved the army to the military posts of Punjab. Chaman chashme,and Rastri near the Afghan borders aiming to control the rebels’ rations, which were being sent by the pro-liberation elements, as well as to control their activities or any attempt to invade. The Pakistan au­thorities confirmed two clashes between the army and the liberation forces.

To avoid popular unrest in Balochistan, the Khan sent his maternal uncles Hajji Ibrahim Khan and Hajji Taj Mohammed at Sarlath to bring Prince Karim back to Kalat. Khan made his return conditional . The Prince and the liberation movement failed to achieve internal and external sup­port. Moreover, the Baloch nationalists were divided into two groups.Anqa and Malik Saeed favored armed struggle in the form of guerilla war, while Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo and other prominent leaders wished to resolve all issues with dialogue.

The Return of Prince Karim

The Prince was forced to return to the Khanate and negotiate for his demands peacefully. On 8 July 1948, when the news of the Prince’s arrival reached Kalat, the Prime Minister, Mr.Fell, accompanied by a Kalat State Force, went to meet the Prince at Earboi to deliver the Khan’s message.

His Capture

Abdul Karim entered Balochistan with Afghan help and organized a rebellion against Pakistan in the area of Jallawan with the aid of Mir Gohar Khan Zahrri, an influential tribal leader of the Zarkzai clan. Further, it is stated that Major General Akbar Khan, who was in charge of the Seventh Regiment, was ordered to attack the insurgents and forced them to surrender. Prince Karim with his 142 followers were arrested and imprisoned in the Mach and Quetta jails. A detailed and interesting statement comes from General Akbar Khan, in his article published in the daily ‘Dawn’,dated 14 August 1960, under the title: “Early reminiscences of a soldier’. General Akbar confirms here that there was a plan to invade the Khanate and describes the clash between the Pakistan army and the liberation force headed by Prince Karim. Akbar says that Jinnah had issued instructions that this news should not be published in the press.

Trial and Sentencing

After the arrest of the Prince and his party, the A.G.G. gave an order for an inquiry, to be conducted by Khan Sahib Abdullah Khan, the Additional District Ma­gistrate Quetta. He submitted his report on 12 September 1948. His report was based on the activities of the Prince and upon the letters and documents published by the liberation force. After the inquiry, R.K.Saker the District Magistrate at Quetta, appointed a special Jirga (official council of elders) consisting of the following persons:
1) Khan Bahador Sahibzada, M.Ayub Khan Isakhel, Pakhtoon from Pishin;

2) K.B. Baz Mohd Khan. Jogezai, Pakhtoon from Loralai;

3) Abdul Ghaffar Khan Achakzai, Pakhtoon from Pishin;

4) S.B. Wadera Noor Muhammad Khan, a Baloch Chief from Kalat;

5) Syed Aurang Shah from Kalat;

6) Sheikh Baz Gul Khan. Pakhtoon from Zhob;

7) Wahab Khan Panezai, Pakhtoon from Sibi;

8) Sardar Doda Khan Marri, Baloch from Sibi.

The Jirga was instructed to study the circumstances and events which led to the revolt and was asked to give its recommendations to the District Magistrate. On 10 November 1948, the Jirga heard the testimony of the accused and gave its recommendations to the D.M. on 17 November 1948, suggesting the delivery of the Prince in Loralai at the pleasure of the Government of Pakistan and various other penalties. The D .M., in his order dated 27 November 1948, differed with the opinion of the Jirga and sentenced the Prince to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000 other members of his party were given various sentences and fines. Thus the Pakistan Government crushed the first armed struggle by Balochi insurgents.

Source Sarbaz.com

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