Tagged: success

Commonwealth Games come to successful end in Delhi

The 19th Commonwealth Games have ended in Delhi with Australia topping the medals table, winning 74 gold medals.

India edged ahead of England to the second place on Thursday when Saina Nehwal won the 38th gold medal for the host nation in the women’s singles badminton final.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Indian capital, Delhi, Pradeep Magazine, a sports journalist, said: “The major thing which has saved the game for India is that [Indian] athletes have won record number of medals and that has pleased Indians quite a lot.”

“The games have been fairly successful because Indians didn’t expect much of it, people were fearing that there will be a lot of glitches, even a major mishap.”

Disappointing the usual suspects in the international media.

In the run-up to the games, the organisers of the games had come in for severe criticism over delayed completion of the athletes’ village and other facilities. Several prominent athletes had even pulled out of the event, citing health and security concerns…

A glitzy ceremony was held amid tight security at Jawharlal Nehru Stadium to mark the end of the games.

Mike Fennell, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, declared the games a success, saying that despite the late completion of the athletes village, lack of ticket sales and transport issues, the athletes enjoyed them.

India has proven themselves in the inevitably political judgement of international sports competitions. A step forward whether you like it or not. It’s part of acceptance as a global leader.

This is an an especially pleasing victory in practice for a developing nation. There was no helping hand from a colonial overseer. Indians accomplished this on their own.

Brockton High becomes education success story

A decade ago, Brockton High School was a case study in failure. Teachers and administrators often voiced the unofficial school motto in hallway chitchat: students have a right to fail if they want. And many of them did — only a quarter of the students passed statewide exams. One in three dropped out.

Then Susan Szachowicz and a handful of fellow teachers decided to take action. They persuaded administrators to let them organize a schoolwide campaign that involved reading and writing lessons into every class in all subjects, including gym.

Their efforts paid off quickly. In 2001 testing, more students passed the state tests after failing the year before than at any other school in Massachusetts. The gains continued. This year and last, Brockton outperformed 90 percent of Massachusetts high schools. And its turnaround is getting new attention in a report, “How High Schools Become Exemplary,” published last month by Ronald F. Ferguson, an economist at Harvard who researches the minority achievement gap.

What makes Brockton High’s story surprising is that, with 4,100 students, it is an exception to what has become received wisdom in many educational circles — that small is almost always better…

The liberal side of the political spectrum – in America – is as guilty as the conservative side of accepting a maxim which has value within a single issue and trying to make it a magic bullet capable of resolving every question.

Small historical note. Brockton HS grew large for 2 reasons – 1 good, 1 bad. By accepting a large single district, it was easiest to inhibit tendencies of schools to form around racial and ethnic real estate boundaries. That’s the good part. By having an enormous pool of students to draw from, Brockton managed to dominate Massachusetts high school football the way it’s done in the Permian Basin in Texas. A truly crap accomplishment.

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Afghan vote “success” = low turnout, violence and fraud

Donkeys delivering ballot boxes

Afghan officials hailed a parliamentary vote on Saturday as a success despite low turnout, attacks that killed 14 people and widespread fraud that could undermine the result and test the government’s credibility.

Taliban attacks and attempts at vote-rigging were reported across the country. While there was less violence, attacks were more widespread than during a deeply flawed presidential vote last year and reached into once peaceful areas…

A flawed poll would also weigh on Obama when his administration faces mid-term Congressional elections in November amid sagging public support for the war, with violence at its worst since the Taliban were ousted in 2001…

The Taliban had vowed to disrupt the poll and warned voters not to cast ballots. Their threats appeared to have an impact, with 3,642,444 votes cast, according to preliminary figures released by the IEC.

The United Nations’ top diplomat in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, told Reuters before the vote that a turnout of between 5 million and 7 million could be considered a success. The IEC has put the number of eligible voters at 11.4 million…

As well as the low turnout and violence, thousands of reported attempts at fraud threatened to undermine the poll’s credibility, and that of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The lure of graft is sufficient to guarantee on average 10 candidates for every seat in the lower house of parliament, the wolesi jirga.

There is no doubt of the number of candidates risking their lives for a democratic Afghanistan. Theirs is truly a story of courage – though perhaps taking place well before their nation, their fellow Afghans, are ready to support such a change. On their own.

Out-of-date FDA bureaucrats rejected Salmonella vaccine

Faced with a crisis more than a decade ago in which thousands of people were sickened from salmonella in infected eggs, farmers in Britain began vaccinating their hens against the bacteria. That simple but decisive step virtually wiped out the health threat.

But when American regulators created new egg safety rules that went into effect last month, they declared that there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick. The Food and Drug Administration decided not to mandate vaccination of hens — a precaution that would cost less than a penny per a dozen eggs.

Now, consumers have been shaken by one of the largest egg recalls ever, involving nearly 550 million eggs from two Iowa producers, after a nationwide outbreak of thousands of cases of salmonella was traced to eggs contaminated with the bacteria.

The F.D.A. has said that if its egg safety rules had gone into effect earlier, the crisis might have been averted. Those rules include regular testing for contamination, cleanliness standards for henhouses and refrigeration requirements, all of which experts say are necessary.

However, many industry experts say the absence of mandatory vaccination greatly weakens the F.D.A. rules, depriving them of a crucial step that could prevent future outbreaks.

Salmonella bacteria is passed from infected hens to the interior of eggs when they are being formed. The salmonella vaccines work both by reducing the number of hens that get infected and by making it more difficult for salmonella bacteria to pass through to the eggs…

The F.D.A. said it considered mandatory vaccination very seriously. “We didn’t believe that, based on the data we had, there was sufficient scientific evidence for us to require it,” said Dr. Nega Beru, director of the agency’s Office of Food Safety…

Unfortunately, no one decided to look beyond the prelimary studies from 1999. That seems to be as much a political decision as anything else.

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Plastiki Wraps Up an 8,300-Mile Voyage

The Plastiki, a boat made of bottles that set sail from San Francisco in March, glided past the Sydney Opera House at midday local time Monday in a grand finale to a voyage intended to highlight the problem of plastic waste.

“Overwhelmed! Wow! Need to breathe. Wow! Wow! Wow!” read one of the final tweets from the boat, whose buoyancy relied on the 12,500 plastic bottles encased in its hull…

Underlining the vessel’s mission, Plastiki estimated at its Web site that 8.7 billion plastic bottles, give or take, had been used in the United States since it set out…

Wearing a pink cap and a mariner’s full beard, the leader of the expedition, David de Rothschild, 31, strode up the dock at Darling Harbor to a welcoming ceremony that included the American ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich. “The journey of the Plastiki is a journey from trash to triumph,” Mr. Bleich said, in a nod both to the boat’s recycled nature and its path through a large garbage patch in the Pacific.

We posted on the start of this adventure back in March. We can stop worrying about the voyagers, finally.

And return to worrying about what we all do to this small planet.

Sony pulls the plug on OLED TV

$2000 for an 11″ TV set

Sony Corp has pulled the plug in Japan on sales of a next-generation flat TV due to sluggish demand, a setback for a product the company had trumpeted as a sign of its revival as an innovator.

Sony said it had stopped production of ultra-thin TVs using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology for Japan, just a little over 2 years since it launched its first set. It plans to keep selling the TVs in overseas markets, a spokesman said…

Apparently, Sony thinks everyone else in the world is too dumb to notice the price vs. utility.

Sony has aimed to become a leader in the technology and positioned the product as crucial in its drive to regain its reputation as an innovator after losing out to Apple Inc in portable music and Nintendo in video games.

“I want this world’s first OLED TV to be the symbol of the revival of Sony’s technological prowess. I want this to be the flag under which we charge forwards to turn the fortunes around,” then president Ryoji Chubachi told a briefing in October 2007…

Sony did not disclose how many OLED TV sets it has sold. DisplaySearch said it estimates worldwide shipments of about 2,000 Sony OLED TVs in 2009.

App army promises new software revolution

In line to enter the World Wide Developers Conference 2009
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A decade ago, San Francisco’s trendy South of Market district was the birthplace of hundreds of web design firms that have since gone under or been swallowed by rivals.

Now it is the turn of the “app army“, the scores of companies devoted to churning out small programs known as applications that run on Apple’s iPhone and rival devices, as well as on regular computers for users of Facebook and similar websites…

Indeed, veteran industry executives, investors and analysts are calling the shift to internet-capable devices and the apps that run on them a once-a-decade leap in technology, on a par with the great personal computing boom of the 1980s and the debut of the World Wide Web in the 1990s.

“The ramp [growth rate] of the iPhone and iPod touch in the first eight or nine quarters is more than five times the ramp for the internet,” says Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley tech analyst. These devices, and faster wireless networks, are both now reaching about a fifth of the global population, she estimates, which will drive much more rapid development : “Globally,” she says, “2010 is the tipping point.”

No company is more central to the shift towards the mobile internet than Apple, which enjoys a wide lead in distributing applications. More than 100,000 apps are available on its App Store and more than 2 billion have been downloaded in less than a year and a half.

To keep that gusher flowing, Apple has sought to inspire more outsider developers with the rare rags-to-riches stories — like that of Steve Demeter, a bank programmer who earned $250,000 in two months of 2008 after launching a simple game called Trism…

The advantages the bigger companies have over the smaller developers — scale, expertise and marketing know-how — mean there may not be any “app millionaires” in the years ahead, says Matt Murphy of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who runs a fund devoted to backing iPhone developers.

But small groups that have multiple successes will be pursued by bigger companies. “There will be teams of people who get a hit franchise acquired for north of $1 million,” Mr Murphy says.

Useful article. Beaucoup information.

As visionary as their leadership may be, this is a phenomenon that, after all, even surprised Apple.

The Future lies ahead, economy-wise

OK. So, I only stuck 2 cliches into the headline. You get the idea.

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, ending a string of declines over four quarters that resulted in the most severe slide since the Great Depression…

The positive GDP report is one more sign that the economy has likely pulled out of the deep recession that started in December 2007…But the stronger-than-expected growth is likely to lead more economists to declare that the economy hit bottom earlier this year and turned higher at some point in the summer…

Bill Hampel, chief economist of the Credit Union National Association, said it’s encouraging that the economy was able to grow at all without businesses actually rebuilding inventory. He said that is a positive sign of growth yet to come.

“The inventories still need to be replenished, and when they are, it will give us an even bigger lift,” he said. “I don’t think this report is a sign of a booming economy, but it does seem to be setting down roots that will be sustainable.”

There are negatives included to balance each of the positives in the article. Fact is, most economists are positive.

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Public support in Pakistan for the Swat offensive remains strong

Two months into a military offensive against Taliban militants, public opinion is firmly behind the civilian government and the military and it shows no sign of wavering.

Investors in Pakistani stocks have been unnerved by the violence, which has included a string of suicide bombs in cities and attacks on the military across the north. But investors and the Pakistani people in general wanted to see the offensive prosecuted to the end, and only then would their confidence be restored, said a stock broker.

‘It is absolutely necessary for the government to control and counter these terrorist elements and regain its writ to end the state of despondency among the people who had started to feel there was no one to protect them,’ said Asif Qureshi, director of Invisor Securities.

‘Let alone foreign investors, the success of this operation is essential for the restoration of confidence among local investors as well,’ he said…

Rashid Rehman said…‘It may be partly American pressure but it is certainly also an internal assessment that ‘yes, we’ve lost control of these guys and they’ve gone haywire, something has to be done’…

Everybody wants this filth wiped out,’ said retired school principal Nighat Anis. ‘The operation must be carried on so that no one like Osama (bin Laden) could dare come here.’

Some of the religious parties continue their political battle on the streets – trying to dissuade a continued excision of the Taliban. They have become closer to laughable than effective. I think they are not only tailing behind changes in public opinions, they may just be painting themselves into a corner.