AGAINST rising insurgent activities in the North-East, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Sunday, assured that the country will be liberated from its present challenges, as he pointed out that other nations went through even worse situations in their history.
Speaking at an interdenominational service to round off the Centenary celebration of the country, at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, he asked Nigerians to show love, “even where it hurts most,” adding that he was confident that “Nigeria has a bright future that the children will be proud of.”
The president added that “the road has been rough, the challenges real, but with God on our side, the future is sure and Nigeria will surely be liberated by God’s grace.
“Few days ago, all our leaders gathered and our nation honoured them for their labour of love. I see a new Nigeria filled with love. I see a new Nigeria with determination.
“I appeal to all of us to show love to one another more than ever before, regardless of tribe, religion or race. Let us show love, even when it hurts most.
“We have our challenges but definitely, we have more opportunities in this country than challenges. Our challenges are very ephemeral. Other countries have passed through even more difficult challenges.”
Jonathan defended the celebration of the centenary, saying if other countries were celebrating less important issues, such as 200 years of ending wars by Sweden, Nigeria had every reason to celebrate and thank God for His mercies upon the country.
In his message on the occasion, the retired Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Sunday Ola Makinde, implored the Federal Government to expose the sources of funds of the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Without enemies within, enemies without cannot strike. Wherever they are, God will expose them, wherever they are, God will wage war against those waging war against Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, noted that the reconciliation achieved after the Nigeria Civil War was second to none.
He thanked all those who laid down their lives to keep Nigeria one, which made it possible for the country to celebrate its centenary.
Notable personalities at the event were the wife of the president, Patience; Chief Ernest Shonekan, Chief Tony Anenih, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, service chiefs, among others.
Attorney General Eric Holder is set to give a speech to the Swedish Parliament on Tuesday on gay rights.
According to a Department of Justice press release obtained by Newsmax, Holder will “discuss the global struggle for LGBT equality as well as other civil rights challenges shared by the United States and Sweden.”
Holder is visiting Sweden as part of a European trip to attend a G6 ministerial conference in Poland. Professorsblogg claims the main reason for his visit to Stockholm is to discuss the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with his Swedish counterpart Beatrice Ask.
Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past 18 months, is wanted in Sweden on allegations of sexual assault. Assange has claimed that is a front to allow him to be extradited to the United States to face charges for releasing thousands of classified documents.
According to Professorsblogg, Holder may be hoping to receive assurances from Swedish authorities that they will follow any such U.S. extradition request, as the Scandinavian country has always done in the past.
Assange went on TV last month to attack President Barack Obama, after the president had announced plans to reform the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. “It is embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing,” he said during an interview with CNN.
President Barack Obama will urge the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to do more to help poor and middle-class Americans move up the economic ladder.
Both Obama and congressional Republicans view that issue as a high priority, a rare point of agreement between the two sides. But the Democratic president and Republicans disagree on the remedies, setting up a debate that Obama will discuss in his State of the Union address to Congress.
In the speech, scheduled for 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Obama will push an agenda for increasing economic upward mobility and propose aid to the long-term unemployed, an increase in the minimum wage and an expansion of early-childhood education.
After Obama’s speech, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, will deliver a response on behalf of her party. She will likely emphasize free-market ideas for improving prosperity.
Senator Marco Rubio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, two Republicans who are both seen as potential 2016 presidential candidates, spoke this month on proposals for helping people climb out of economic hardship.
Rubio has suggested shifting responsibility for many federal benefit programs to the states. Ryan has floated the idea of providing a single benefit to low-income families, modeled on one in Great Britain.
The problem of economic stagnation is expected to be a theme in congressional election campaigns this year.
Analysts said social mobility was a potent political issue because the United States has long seen itself as a place where anyone with grit and determination can succeed.
In recent years, however, the wages of many low- and middle-income workers have held steady or fallen on an inflation-adjusted basis. The slow growth after the 2007-2009 recession has exacerbated this trend.
At the same time, the wealthiest and most highly educated Americans, referred to as the “1 percent,” have grown more prosperous.
Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about studies showing that economic mobility in the United States lags that of some other industrialized economies, calling into question the nation’s reputation as a land of opportunity.
More than 40 percent of American men born into the poorest one-fifth of earners remain there, a 2006 study led by Finnish economist Markus Jantti showed. In Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, only about 25 percent of such men stay in that income segment.
American sons of low-income fathers are more likely to remain stuck in the bottom tenth of earners as adults than are Canadian sons, University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak said in a study published in 2010. In the United States, 22 percent of men born to low-income families stayed in that category, while the same was true of only 16 percent of Canadians.
In 2012, former U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger published a study that linked income inequality with low levels of upward mobility. He devised a chart he named “The Great Gatsby Curve” after the fabulously wealthy protagonist of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It showed the United States toward the upper end of the range of both inequality and low economic mobility, along with Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. At the opposite extreme, with low inequality and high mobility, were Denmark, Norway and Finland.
A study from a group led by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty added a new wrinkle to the debate with its finding that American children’s chances of moving up the economic ladder had not changed much in the past few decades. The study also made clear that children’s prospects were tightly linked to their parents’ socio-economic status – more so in the United States than in some other leading economies.
“It’s not so much that we’re losing the American dream,” said Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, one of the study’s authors. “It’s did we ever have it, and do we want it?”
The focus on economic mobility builds on a pledge Obama has emphasized over the past two years: to improve the standing and security of the middle class.
The theme is newer for Republicans, who failed to capture the White House in 2012 in part because many voters perceived their party’s candidate, Mitt Romney, as dismissive of the struggles of the poor and working classes.
But analysts say a promise to boost economic mobility could resonate across the ideological spectrum.
“The idea of the United States being exceptional in its ability to promote economic opportunity or the notion of the nation being suited to help people rise is very much part of our national ethos,” said Erin Currier, director of economic mobility for the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“Americans feel strongly that the United States should be the land of opportunity.”
We are living in a day and age where billions of dollars are being spent using technology to attach the computer and its myriad smart devices to the human body . This merging of man and machine is known as singularity. We believe that internal smart devices, accepted by mainstream society, is only 18-24 months away. Our conditioning for the acceptance of technology to completely dominate every aspect of our livesis nearly complete.
WASHINGTON – The bedtime ritual of a child putting on pajamas, cuddling with a parent, while reading a bedtime story has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
Smart PJs are storytelling pajamas, that use mobile technology, similar to a QR code, to display bedtime favorites on a smartphone or tablet.
Every step of technology draws us closer to the merging of man and machine – singularity.
“Being a parent of 6 kids myself, I know kids like bedtime stories,” says Juan Murdoch, founder of Smart PJs. Murdoch came up with the idea while using QR codes in his real estate work in Idaho.
QR is short for Quick Response Code – the two-dimensional barcode consisting of square dots – that is easily scanned. The bedtime stories are contained in the polka dots on the child’s pajamas, which are available in pink or blue.
“You scan one of those dot patterns on the kid’s pajamas – there are 47 different ones – and each one of those dot patterns is a bedtime story,” says Murdoch.
To choose a story, parent or child launches the Smart PJs Stories app (free, in Apple Store for iOS, or Google Play for Android), and holds the device’s camera over the dot patterns.
“You take the picture, and it automatically launches the story,” Murdoch says. Murdoch says most of the stories contained in the app are in the public domain.
“It’s all the classics,” Murdoch says. “Cinderella, The Gingerbread Man, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty.” Murdoch hired voice actors and artists to record the stories and illustrate the slides that correspond with the story.
Since many children practice reading while reading books at bedtime, Murdoch says he attempted to make the app educational, as well as entertaining.
“We put the actual words to the story on the screen,” Murdoch says. “As the narrator is reading the story you can actually follow along.”
Murdoch says despite being interactive, the pajamas are comfortable. ”Some people think there might be wires that are hidden in the pajamas, but that’s not the case at all,” Murdoch says.
While the comfort of Smart PJs might surprise some, the washing and care instructions will seem familar to most parents.
“The pajamas are 100 percent cotton, so they might shrink a bit,” says Murdoch. source – WTOP.
A major storm has hit northern Europe, leaving at least four people dead or missing, causing transport chaos and threatening the biggest tidal surge in decades.
Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland, while rail services were shut down in several countries.
One of Europe’s longest bridges – connecting Sweden to Denmark – closed.
Tens of thousands of homes were also left without power as the storm hit.
Winds of up to 228 km/h (142 mph) battered Scotland, where a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle was blown over near Edinburgh. At least two other people were injured by falling trees.
Police have confirmed reports that a man has been killed by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.
The storm has affected people across northern Europe, including Rotterdam where those venturing outside received a buffeting.
In Scotland, a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle blew over.
Preparations for a tidal surge are going on across several countries. Here, firefighters fortify an embankment in Cuxhaven-Sahlenburg, northern Germany.
Two sailors were reportedly swept overboard from a ship 22 km (14 miles) off the southern Swedish coast, and air-sea rescue services failed to find them.
A storm surge is due later on Thursday, coinciding with high tides in many areas.
Britain’s Environment Agency said tidal surges could bring significant coastal flooding, and the Thames Barrier was being closed to protect London.
British authorities said they had evacuated homes in Great Yarmouth, eastern England, adding that it could be the biggest storm surge for 60 years.
In the low-lying Netherlands, the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier has been closed off for the first time in six years. Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning for four areas in the north and north-west of the country.
The BBC’s Anna Holligan reports on heavy winds in the Netherlands
Germany reinforced emergency services in and around the northern port of Hamburg and cancelled lessons at several schools.
The storm was causing transport chaos throughout northern Europe.
Dutch airline KLM cancelled 84 flights from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, while about 20 were cancelled at Hamburg airport.
Weather presenter Matt Taylor explains how a storm surge happens
Flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland were also cancelled.
Rail travel was badly affected, with all train services in Scotland cancelled because of debris on the lines and damage to equipment, and services in northern England were also hit.
The Oeresund road and rail bridge between Sweden and Denmark – which links the Danish capital Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmo and features in the hit television series The Bridge – was due to close from 1500 GMT.
Railway lines in Sweden and Denmark were closed, while Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruption across a swathe of northern Germany.
Ferries to Germany from Sweden and Denmark were cancelled.
The new strain of the virus that causes AIDS, called A3/02, is a fusion of the two most common HIV strains in Guinea-Bissau. It has so far only been found in West Africa.
“Individuals who are infected with the new recombinant form develop AIDS within five years, and that’s about two to two-and-a-half years faster than one of the parent (strains),” said Angelica Palm, one of the scientists responsible for the study based on a long-term follow-up of HIV-positive people in Guinea-Bissau.
Recombinant virus strains originate when a person is infected by two different strains, whose DNA fuse to create a new form.
“There have been some studies that indicate that whenever there is a so-called recombinant, it seems to be more competent or aggressive than the parental strains,” said Palm of the study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The strain was first discovered by the Swedish team in Guinea-Bissau in 2011.
According to researchers, the speed with which A3/02 leads to people falling ill from AIDS does not impact on the effectiveness of medication on infected individuals.
“The good news is that as far as we know the medicines that are available today are equally functional on all different subtypes of variants,” Palm said.
The study warns that such recombinants may be spreading fast, especially in regions with high levels of immigration, such as Europe or the United States.
“It is highly likely that there are a large number of circulating recombinants of which we know little or nothing,” said Patrik Medstrand, professor of clinical virology at Lund University.
Some 35.3 million people around the world are living with HIV, which destroys the immune system and has caused more than 25 million deaths since AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s, according to the World Health Organisation.
Existing treatments help infected people live longer, healthier lives by delaying and subduing symptoms, but do not cure AIDS. Many people in poor communities do not have access to the life-giving drugs, and there is no vaccine.
In 1628, the king of Sweden was Gustavus Adolphus. Intimidated by the great naval powers of Europe, he decided Sweden should burst onto the stage with a resounding statement.
King Adolphus commissioned the Vasa ship and ordered that it be one of the greatest seagoing vessels of the day. Furthermore, he wanted it to be a veritable work of art, a ship so beautiful that his neighboring monarchs would see what a sophisticated and creative nation Sweden was. Of course, he also wanted the ship’s ordinance to be so impressive that his contemporary monarchs would get the message that Sweden’s king was a power to be reckoned with.
The Swedish designers, artists and artisans lent a whole new meaning to the phrase “spare no expense.” I have seen the restored Vasa ship in an impressive museum in Stockholm, and it is absolutely incredible. Every inch of the ship is decorated elaborately, and its 64 gun ports bristle ominously—as many guns, in fact, as I have ever seen on a sailing vessel. It looked like what it was: a fabulously flamboyant work of art armed to the teeth. It was like a massive birthday cake with ominous artillery amidst the icing. At a cost that very nearly bankrupted Sweden, the incredible warship was at last finished.
The night before it was to launch, a naval engineer decided to conduct a “run test.” Such a test is exactly what it sounds like. He put dozens of sailors on the deck and had them run back and forth, measuring how badly they rocked the ship. He saw it immediately. Badly was hardly the word for it. He told his colleagues that if the rows of guns on one side of the ship were fired at once, the recoil would likely sink her. No one actually doubted his report. The problem was not with his evidence. The problem was political. Who would tell the king?
The answer turned out to be no one. The next day, when the Vasa ship was christened and launched with pomp and circumstance, she sailed brilliantly for less than a nautical mile before the guns fired a salute, tipping her exactly as the engineer predicted, and she sank. Among the lives lost were families of officers and dignitaries who were on board for the tragic maiden voyage.
When senior leadership is inaccessible and unapproachable, catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Executives who gain a reputation for shooting messengers with bad news rapidly lose track of institutional reality. Who wants to tell that kind of boss the truth and take a bullet? Employees and followers would rather lie low and let his ship sink.
Great leaders seek the truth, keeping lines of communication open to hear all the news, all the facts, all the dangers, all the problems. Petty tyrants want sycophants who will tell them how smart and talented and brilliant they are and that their plans are sure to be a resounding success. Great leaders put the word out and honor their word: Tell me the truth. Plead with me to wait, to go another way, to build it smaller or better or differently. But tell me the truth!
One of the fundamental rules—a truly basic rule—of quality management concerns new product rollout. When prudence and speed to market collide, as they often will, the answers to several questions are of utmost importance. The answers to these questions will—and in fact must—preside over the time frame for rollout.
1. What is the risk of failure?
How confident are the people who really know the product? Not the sales staff. Not the PR people. Especially not big shots who, way too often, make decisions out of some hidden agenda without regard to the “little people” who have to try and make sense of the senseless decisions of senior management. The “nuts and bolts” people have to express confidence in the product and in its readiness for market. They have to be assured they will not be punished for sincere opinions that run contrary to what senior management wants to hear.
Until and unless an atmosphere of honesty without retribution is fostered, the people who know if it’s a train wreck waiting to happen will keep their heads down and their mouths shut. They reckon exposing themselves upfront is an unwelcome risk. They figure they are more likely to survive the train wreck than express any honest appraisal that slows the project management is hot to trot out. The problem is they are probably right.
2. If it fails, how bad can it get?
Will a failure bring ruin on the entire company or church or whatever? Or will it rather be a minor embarrassment? Will the recall be huge and massively expensive? Or will it damage the confidence of our customers and constituents? The answer to this is of critical importance. The bottom line is: Will it cost us more to delay rollout or to fix the mess once it fails to meet expectations? Here is another question along the same lines: If you don’t have time to get it right, when will you have time to fix it?
3. Why are we hurrying?
This is the most challenging of all the questions in the path to rollout. What is the rush? Are we afraid the competition will get the drop on us? This is a genuine issue, of course, but it is not necessarily the final answer. Yes, it’s nice to be first to market. However, caution may allow us to avoid some mistakes the competition will make and may give us time to put out a better product.
4. Do we have all the facts from all the right people?
The wise decision-maker wants to hear from everybody, especially the real people, the ones who know if the wheels are likely to come off. Wisdom lies with upfront institutional reality, even if it is not what I want to hear and slows down the announced timetable. A little embarrassment over delay is nothing compared to a sinking ship.
Answer to Question 1: The risk of failure was obvious and had to have been obvious to many tech-savvy people involved in the Obamacare rollout. There is absolutely no way that intelligent IT folks didn’t know the risk of exactly what has happened and the huge tech embarrassment. Furthermore, they must have known the website shipwreck would be as bad as it has been. I am absolutely certain there were knowledgable people involved in the website who went home to their spouse at night and said, “This stupid ship is going to sink.”
Answer to Question 2: The Obama administration has become so confident in its salesmanship—especially in its senior salesman—that it failed to answer question number two. They did not believe it could cause the kind of PR nightmare they are experiencing now. Companies that underestimate the negative reaction to an underprepared rollout do so at their own substantial risk.
Answer to Question 3: The failure of the Obama administration to confront question three honestly lies at the heart of the rollout debacle. Politics. Politics and ego. Beat the Republicans. Delay might give our opposition ammunition. This is our signature legislation, so we cannot delay. We are who we are. No matter what anyone says. We never fail at anything, and we won’t fail at this.
Companies and organizations that begin to think they cannot blow it are prime targets for a shipwreck. Prime targets!
Answer to Question 4: Recently, the Obama administration temporarily shut the website down and called in experts from the best tech companies in the private sector. Why didn’t they do that before the crash? The reasons are twofold. They were arrogant enough to believe they needed no help, and like so many, they did not really want to know the truth.
It is the worst of detached management to shove a massive, nationwide undertaking constantly downward, not ask enough questions, not get the right people on the task and be arrogant enough to believe it will just turn out all right. This is us. This is the beautiful people. We cannot possibly fail. And if we do, no one will really hold us accountable. That is just asking for a catastrophe.
I have no prediction to make about the future of Obamacare. I am merely commenting on the failed rollout. I will say this: I am confident that whatever hiccup delaying the rollout might have caused, it would have been far less damaging than the pain of this mess.
Ready to roll out a new plan or program or website or whatever? Ask yourself and your team the questions above and demand honest answers. And then ask yourself this final question: Which is better—a slightly embarrassing delay or a shipwreck?.
Written by Mark Rutland
Dr. Mark Rutlandis a missionary, evangelist and ordained minister of the International Ministerial Fellowship. He is the founder of Global Servants, an organization centered on missions and evangelism around the world.