Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

 

Published December 12, 2013

FoxNews.com

 

A man being criticized by sign language experts for providing fake interpretations while standing close to President Obama and other heads of state at Nelson Mandela’s memorial says he becomes violent “a lot” and was hallucinating during the event.

Thamsanqa Jantjie did not describe his qualifications for being a sign language interpreter, but told The Star he works for an interpreting company that paid him $85 for interpreting Tuesday’s event, according to The Associated Press. He told Radio 702 on Thursday he’s receiving treatment for schizophrenia and had an episode while on stage at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I startrealizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I get violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me,” Jantjie said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing his hallucinations.

“I was in a very difficult position,” he added. “And [I] remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I’ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn’t embarrass my country.”

Asked how often he had become violent, he told The Associated Press “a lot” while declining to provide details. He also did not say which president he was referring to, but did apologize for his performance and admitted he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than a year.

The statements from Jantjie raised questions about the security at the three-hour event. Jantjie stood three feet away from Obama and the other leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while they were speaking at the lectern.

When asked about the matter on Wednesday, U.S. Secret Service Spokesman Brian Leary told FoxNews.com that the department was aware of it, but declined to elaborate.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing that he wasn’t aware of any securityconcerns with the man being so close to Obama.

“I think my only reaction to that is that it’s a shame that you had a service that was dedicated to honoring the life and celebrating the legacy of one of the great leaders of the 20th century, [and it] has gotten distracted by this and a few other issues that are far less important than the legacy of Nelson Mandela,” he said.

A South African deputy Cabinet minister said “a mistake happened” when Jantjie was hired for the event.

Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said Thursday that government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Jantjie, SA Interpreters, but that its co-owners “have vanished into thin air.”

Bogopane-Zulu also apologized to deaf people who were offended around the world by what they say was Jantjie’s incomprehensible signing.

She said an investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie received a security clearance.

Jantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment.

He said he did not tell the company that contracted him for the event that he was due for the checkup, but said the owner of SA Interpreters in Johannesburg was aware of his condition.

AP journalists who visited the address of the company that Jantjie provided found a different company there, whose managers said they knew nothing about SA Interpreters. A woman answered the phoneat a number that Jantjie provided and said it was not for the company, and another phone number went to a voicemail that did not identify the person or company with the number.

Jantjie said he received one year of sign language interpretation at a school in Cape Town. He said he has previously interpreted at many events without anyone complaining, and insisted he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches on Tuesday.

But Bruno Druchen, the Deaf Federation of South Africa’s national director, and three other sign language experts said Jantjie was not signing in South African or American sign languages and could not have been signing in any other known sign language because there was no structure to his arm and hand movements. South African sign language covers all of the country’s 11 official languages, according to the federation.

“He didn’t follow any of the grammatical rules and structure of the language. He just invented his signs as he went along,” Delphin Hlungwane, an official South African sign language interpreter at DeafSA, told Reuters.

“There was zero percent accuracy. He couldn’t even get the basics right. He couldn’t even say thank you,” she added.

For his part, Jantjie said that while voices in his head impaired his ability to interpret what was being said on stage, he was unable to leave and continued to sign things that didn’t make sense.

“Life is unfair. This illness is unfair. Anyone who doesn’t understand this illness will think that I’m just making this up,” he told The Star. “There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry, it’s the situation I found myself in.”

Ingrid Parkin, principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg, said she had received complaints from the deaf community from Canada to China about Jantjie on stage and how his movements looked “like he’s signing gibberish.” He also used no facial expression to convey the emotions of the leaders, a key element of sign language interpretation.

“This man himself knows he cannot sign and he had the guts to stand on an international stage and do that,” Parkin said.

The country’s deaf community and the ruling African National Congress said Wednesday they had no knowledge of who Jantjie was, despite him apparently appearing on television gesticulating alongside South African President Jacob Zuma last year, Reuters reported.

The scandal over the interpreter is another indication of shoddy organization behind the historic memorial service.

Other difficulties included public transportation breakdowns which hindered mourners from getting to the event and a faulty audio system that prevented many of the tens of thousands in the stadium from hearing the leaders’ speeches. In an apparent security failure, police did not search the first wave of crowds arriving at the stadium.

Bogus sign language interpreters are a problem in South Africa, because people who know a few signs try to pass themselves off as interpreters, Parkin said. And those hiring them usually don’t sign, so they have no idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she said.

FoxNews.com’s Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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FILE: Undated: State Sen. Neil Riser, left, and Vance McAllister in photos provided by their campaigns, in Louisiana.

Vance McAllister, a political newcomer with the backing of the popular “Duck Dynasty” TV family, was elected as Louisiana’s newest member of Congress Saturday night.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, McAllister led establishment candidate Neil Riser 59.7 percent to 40.3 percent — a difference of over 17,500 votes — with 976 of a possible 981 precincts reporting.

McAllister advanced to this weekend’s election to face off against Riser after an October contest with more than a dozen other candidates from both political parties — in what is known as a “jungle primary.”

The seat in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District was left open when GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander resigned this summer to take a Cabinet post in GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

The largely rural district along the Mississippi River delta is dotted with farmland and plagued by poverty. The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.

In last month’s election, Riser finished ahead of McAllister, taking 33 percent of the vote compared to 18 percent. But neither got the 50 percent needed to be declared the outright winner.

Many GOP races since 2010 have in some form been a Tea Party-vs.-establishment candidate showdown.

However, Riser doubled as both the establishment candidate and Tea Party favorite, promoting his experience but promising strident opposition to President Obama.

McAllister, meanwhile, embraced his outsider status, complete with an endorsement from his close friend Phil Robertson, the patriarch of television’s hit series “Duck Dynasty.” McAllister ran as the more measured pragmatist, criticizing Washington gridlock and hyper-partisanship, particularly on Obama’s health care law.

“Plain and simple, this was Riser’s election to lose. Riser was the favorite going into the evening. He had the dollars. He had the endorsement of the Republican establishment. He had a strong showing in the primary. Yet, he lost it,” Joshua Stockley, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, told the Associated Press.

An ally of Jindal, Riser had his campaign up and running almost immediately after Alexander announced his resignation in September. The timing prompted cries of favoritism, though Jindal, Alexander and Riser deny any collusion.

Riser touted his decades-long experience as a businessman in the funeral industry while arguing his insider experience has led to significant legislative accomplishments such as helping get a state constitutional amendment passed that strengthened gun rights.

“I see a very clear distinction in the fact that I’ve made the votes,” Riser said. “These aren’t just talking points for me.”

He was endorsed by the Tea Party of Louisiana and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party-aligned national political action group.

Conservative activists said it’s McAllister, who’s never held public office and noted during the campaign that he’d never even visited Washington, that they worry would be the go-along-to-get-along congressman who isn’t conservative enough.

McAllister, who spent at least $800,000 of his own money on his campaign, according to the Federal Election Comission, countered eagerly with his newcomer status.

“I am not part of the establishment; I’m just part of the district,” he said.

When Robertson endorsed his friend, he explained that McAllister has “the least political experience.”

Despite that profile, McAllister didn’t push the “blow the whole place up” mantra that some GOP primary candidates have offered in similar conservative enclaves around the country.

While he is critical of the atmosphere in Washington, he doesn’t blame it exclusively on Obama. He also points a finger at House Republicans’ 40-plus votes to repeal Obama’s health insurance overhaul.

“I will vote to repeal it if there’s a vote right now today,” he said in a recent debate.

“But the truth of the matter is you stand on a platform and pander for votes on something that can’t be repealed,” he told Riser.

McAllister says Republicans should show the president respect and that the best course on health care is to work on improving Obama’s signature law since he was re-elected and Democrats still control the Senate.

Both candidates described themselves as conservatives – opposing abortion, favoring strong gun rights and criticizing Obama’s policies generally. Both criticize the levels of federal spending and debt.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of difference in the policy, per se, because we’re both true conservatives both fiscally and socially,” McAllister said.

McAllister will take office in time to vote on the next round of budget resolutions in January and, almost certainly, a vote soon after on whether to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. Those votes were set up by an October deal to end a partial government shutdown driven by GOP opposition to the health care law.

Riser said he opposes efforts to raise the debt ceiling, saying spending should be cut instead. McAllister wasn’t so absolute. He conceded he’d be willing to raise the debt ceiling if the increase was coupled with federal spending cuts and a long-term deficit reduction plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/17/louisiana-voters-pick-between-two-republicans-to-fill-open-congressional-seat/


Fewer than 50,000 Americans have thus far bought a health-care plan on the problem-plagued ObamaCare website according to an insurance industry report, representing only a fraction of the half-million enrollees the administration apparently wanted the first month.

The number was reported first Monday by The Wall Street and confirmed by Fox News, which was told the final reporting day was Nov. 3.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a prompt response, saying officials could not confirm the numbers.

“We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time,” said agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters. “And, as we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated.”

Healthcare.gov went live Oct. 1 and was immediately plagued with such problems as slow response time, volume-induced crashes and supplying incorrect information.

Official have since called in private technical experts and have taken the site off line in non-peak hours to perform maintenance and improve the situation.

The federal site handles insurance enrollment for 36 states without their own sites.

The administration has set a goal of signing up seven million Americans for insurance by next March, when open enrollment ends.

The Journal reported the number of enrollees thus far could be as low as 40,000 and  that the administration’s goal of 500,000 enrollees in October is based on an internal memo cited last week by Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp.

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a statement the low numbers are not surprising because of the website’s problems.

“Whether it’s higher costs, fewer choices or simply website glitches, it’s becoming more clear with each passing day that this law isn’t ready for prime time and should be delayed,” Hatch said.

End of last month the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),Graziano da Silvatold participants at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen that every year an estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – around 1.3 billion tons. This costs around $750 billion per annum.

According to da Silva this would equal additional food to feed 2 billion people! This is unbelievable, isn´t it?

Reality, however, is that per capita food waste is around 100 kilograms in Europe and North America per year. At the same time FAO estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries. In general children are the most visible victims of undernutrition. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year-five million deaths! Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria.

Conclusion: The world produces enough food to feed everyone. At least in theory!

World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day according to FAO. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.

Possible Actions

1. Fighting Food Loss In A Holistic Manner

FAO noted that most food loss takes place in post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage. In developing countries, food waste is mainly related to inadequate infrastructure, while in more developed countries it is largely a problem in the marketing and consumption stages. Consequently investments in developing countries are needed in areas such as infrastructure, roads, and cold chains. Also improvement is needed in delivering more and better know-how to farmers on how to properly grow and market their products. In developed countries one priority should be to educate both companies and consumers to apply more responsible consumption patterns.

Fighting food loss and waste is clearly one area in which a strong partnership between governments and various organizations (companies, NGOs) is needed. Developing a global protocol can help provide clear measurements and indicators on which guidance on how to reduce food loss and waste can be based. FAO is working on such a protocal.

2. Stimulating Responsible Economic Growth

Besides climate change, political conflicts and certain political systems, poverty is the main cause of hunger. As a result economic growth plays a key role in reducing undernourishmnet. It is most effective in reducing poverty and hunger when it increases employment and income-earning opportunities that the poor can take advantage of. Sustainable agricultural growth is often effective in reaching the poor because most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for a significant part of their livelihoods. However, growth will not necessarily result in better nutrition for all. Policies and programmes are required that will ensure “nutrition-sensitive” growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices.

Economic growth takes time to reach the poor, and may not reach the poorest of the poor. Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, when properly structured, social protection also promotes economic growth by building human capital and helping farmers manage risk so that they can adopt improved technologies. Finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights.

3. Behaving And Acting Responsible Ourselves

Firstly, and most importanly, all of us can and should adjust their consumption behavior, i.e. thinking at least twice when shopping (what is really needed, who will consume it, by when should it be consumed, etc.) and before throwing anything away. We should act as role models and should try to positively influence our environment, our families, friends, colleagues, and others we´re inter-acting with. No need to blame others, if we´re not doing what we should be doing.

Have you ever heard of The Food Recovery Network in the US? It´s an organization which unites students at colleges and universities across America to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their college campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. Founded in September of 2011, it has since expanded to reach 23 college campuses and recovered over 160,000 pounds (72.75 metric tons) of food that would otherwise have been wasted.

Very similar, and much more known, is the Food banking system which exist in many countries in the world. Food banks acquire donated food, much of which would otherwise be wasted, from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and make it available to those in need through a network of community agencies. These agencies include school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and TB hospices, substance abuse clinics, after-school programs, and other nonprofit programs that provide food to the hungry.

Have you ever supported your local food bank or any similar institution?

Finally, and from a company perspective, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility is not new. Still, there is significant room for many more organizations getting involved, donating money, providing know-how, and “ walking their talk“ in regards of being serious about helping our society and our planet. In other words: How many companies do you know which have teamed up with organizations such as the SAVE FOOD project, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Think-Eat-Save, or with any other programe targeted to change wasteful practices, to fight hunger, and to promote responsible consumption habits?

What do you think? Looking forward to receiving your feedback. Join the discussion!

*****

Andreas von der Heydt is the Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany. Before that he hold senior management positions at L’Oréal. He´s a leadership expert, management coach and NLP master. He also founded Consumer Goods Club. Andreas worked and lived in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

Source:http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131107110059-175081329-what-a-shame-one-third-of-food-is-wasted?trk=tod-posts-recentPosts-psum

I coined a phrase to define this world we live in where everyone has an opinion and there are a multitude of ways to express that opinion. I call it, “The Feedback Society.”

Whether on a consumer review site like Yelp; in the ‘comments’ section of an online publication; or something as simple as calling your congressperson, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion and they are eager to share it with as many people as possible.

The vast majority of these are anonymous postings—or as I like to tell my celebrity clients, “Writing on a bathroom wall.” I actively discourage them from reading it knowing that they can be toxic, mean-spirited and just plain hurtful. As their representative I do take into account the whole of the feedback, so I have an idea of how a story is being received.

Certainly a public relations person is tasked with presenting a client to the public, but equally important is letting the client know what kind of environment they are stepping into and how their news is being received.

President Obama has access to some of the most sophisticated opinion analysts in the world. And while he can certainly take heart in the fact that his own approval rating held steady at about 44 percent during the government shutdown while Republicans were plummeting; it is equally clear that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been a real shit show.

His problems didn’t begin with the rollout; they began with a lame effort at selling Obamacare to the American people. His lack of clear targeted messaging and inability to get people behind it at the grass roots level made it easy prey for his political opponents.

Even people who clearly stood to benefit from provisions in the act expressed their hatred for it. His own ham-handed PR rollout was further denigrated by the opposition who took, and still take, every opportunity to demonize the law and its provisions.

Despite losing the PR battle, POTUS won the war. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. It has the added bonus of being vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court and found lawful.

The official rollout of the Affordable Care Act coincided with the shutdown of the U.S. government by Congress on October 1. Defunding Obamacare was the major incentive for shutting down the government and, ironically, opposition to the shutdown made the act more popular than it had been.

What was clear from the beginning of the rollout was that the online systems to handle a massive rollout of complicated and sophisticated data was just not in place and the system crashed.

Despite multiple news reports that 476,000 Americans have applied for the coverage, no one seems to have access to accurate information. Additionally, this bill was, in part, designed to simplify the health care coverage process.

The inability of the government to handle this system supported the opponents’ argument that it’s just too big and complicated for the government to handle and would be better dealt with by private industry.

On Monday, President Obama held a news conference, which some referred to as an ‘infomercial,’ to discuss the state of the law.

To his credit, he didn’t sugarcoat the problems and expressed his own believable and apparent frustration with the technical aspects of the rollout.

Not surprisingly, his political opponents are using the glitches to heir own advantage. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that a visit to the Obamacare website made a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles seem pleasant.

While millions stand to benefit from the provisions of Obamacare, the system is dependent on people, indeed millions of people, signing up for the system. When the system designed to manage that doesn’t work, the result is chaos, frustration and a huge political opportunity for opponents.

And if The Affordable Care Act cannot attract the critical mass it needs to make the numbers work, it could be a very costly program.

I’m glad the President owned the problem. But what’s more important is that he owns the solution. Because, unless he gets an effective and efficient system in place to access the new provisions, The Affordable Care Act and the benefits possible to tens of millions of uninsured Americans will go down as his greatest folly and a huge failure for any future government program that dares to think big.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Gartner reported that PC shipments totaled 80.3 million units in Q3. Subtracting an estimated 4.4 million Macs yields an estimated 75.9 million Windows PCs. (The total will be less than this as some PCs will not ship with Windows).

This total is lower than the total shipped in the same period of 2008.

The graphs above show the Gartner data and the split between tablets and PCs. (Tablet and Mac data for Q3 is not yet available).

If we include all iOS and Android devices the “computing” market in Q3 2008 was 92 million units of which Windows (including Windows Mobile or Windows Phone) was 90% whereas in Q3 2013 it was 269 million units of which Windows was 32%.

Any guesses on what this market will look like in 2018?

By Adam Pasick @adampasick October 10, 2013

Whistle while you learn. Reuters/Stringer

Updated with comment and detail from Foxconn.

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Foxconn believes that students are the future, at least judging by its deal with China’s Xi’an Institute of Technology to expose more than 1,000 of them to the educational experience of working on an assembly line (link in Chinese) for Sony’s forthcoming Playstation 4.

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Engineering students from Xi’an Institute of Technology were told that if they didn’t participate in the internship program, they wouldn’t receive six course credits, effectively making it impossible for them to graduate, according to Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily and the Chinese site Tencent Games, as translated by Games in Asia.

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Foxconn told Quartz that after an internal investigation it determined that the XIT students at its Yantai factory complex were assigned to night shifts and overtime, in violation of the company’s policies. “Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies,” the company said in a statement, including “reinforcing the policies of no overtime and no night shifts for student interns, even though such work is voluntary, and reminding all interns of their rights to terminate their participation in the program at any time.”

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Foxconn maintains similar internship programs “at many locations” in China, the company added, to provide students “with the opportunity to gain practical work experience and on-the-job training that will support their efforts to find employment following their graduation.” Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Even if the students are only working day shifts, the educational value of the internship sounds dubious. Students perform the same hours and work as paid Foxconn workers—gluing together parts, applying stickers, and boxing up cords. Foxconn says they also earn the same salary as entry-level workers.

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Foxconn has struggled with China’s shrinking labor force, and founder Terry Gou acknowledged this weekend that finding enough workers to fill his factories was becoming a major headache.

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“The young generation don’t want to work in factories, they want to work in services or the internet or another more easy and relaxed job,” he told the Financial Times. “Many workers are moving to the services sector and, in the manufacturing sector, total demand [for workers] is now more than supply.”

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Enlisting interns has become a go-to move for China’s largest private employer, which employs more than 1 million people. Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industries, was previously criticized for a similar deal in which students from the Huaiyin Institute of Technology were pressed into working on the iPhone 5 assembly line. Foxconn countered then, as now, that the students were “free to leave at any time.”