When more than 40 heads of state recently met in Washington for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, improving economic opportunities topped the agenda. The leaders could take pride in Africa’s recent economic performance. But the gathering also spotlighted a daunting obstacle to sustaining robust and widely shared growth on the continent: rampant corruption that robs citizens of billions of dollars every year.By one estimate, illicit financial flows from Africa amounted to US$1.4 trillion between 1980 and 2009 — more than the economic aid and foreign direct investment the continent received during that period. A joint report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Financial Integrity (GFI) found that a staggering 60 to 65 percent of this lost cash disappears during “commercial transactions by multinational companies.”The extractive industries — which take natural resources like oil and minerals from the ground — are particularly prone to corruption, because they generate huge wealth that is easily diverted to line the pockets of venal rulers or businesses. This can be devastating in resource-rich developing countries like the Republic of Congo, where the government depends on earnings from extractive industries for 85 percent of its revenue. The siphoning of Africa’s riches is an old story, of course, though today’s culprits are not European imperialists like Belgium’s King Leopold II, but unaccountable African officials and corporations, both foreign and domestic. The paradoxical result is the persistence of grinding poverty amidst apparent plenty, a paradox visible in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and a dozen other African nations. For too many Africans, improving governance of natural resource extraction is “a matter of life and death.”The sentiment is broadly shared among civil society groups across the continent. African citizens are increasingly aware that corruption and poor governance is cheating them and their countries out of billions of dollars. In a moving letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on the eve of the summit, civil society leaders from nine African countries declared that their children’s future depended on ending this destructive cycle:Our natural resources are an opportunity for us to create better lives for our future generations, but if good governance does not prevail, that chance will be squandered. And with oil, gas and mining, the one chance is all you get… We are fighting everyday to change our future. We risk arrest and intimidation to bring the issue of natural resources into the open. Where once silence reins people now debate in the streets how their revenues should be managed.Improving governance in the extractive industries would go a long way toward achieving the five goals of the Obama administration’s vision for the Africa summit: expanding trade and investment ties, engaging young African leaders, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, and gaining a better future for Africa’s next generation.Upon closing the summit, Obama announced that the assembled leaders had “agreed to step up our collective efforts against the corruption that costs African economies tens of billions of dollars every year — money that ought to be invested in the people of Africa.” The centerpiece of this effort would be “a new partnership to combat illicit finance,” based on “an action plan to promote the transparency that is essential to economic growth.”But where do we begin? Though it is an uphill battle, there are already a number of worthwhile international initiatives seeking to empower citizens to fight corruption and help ensure that natural resources benefit local communities. The authors of the abovementioned letter, for example, all belong to one network of NGOs called Publish What You Pay, which campaigns for transparency in extractive industries. The idea is that forcing companies and governments to publicly release information about their negotiated contracts and commercial transactions will discourage them from engaging in corrupt practices, and allow citizens to hold them accountable if they do.The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is another, increasingly influential coalition that requires participating governments to ensure that transactions between extractive companies and governments are fully disclosed to the public. To maintain their status as “EITI-compliant,” member countries must prepare annual reports about how they are implementing common standards. In parallel with this campaign, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released its own set of best practices, “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,” and the United Nations has produced its own document, “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”These are all welcome initiatives. But what has their impact been? And how might they be improved?Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
January 10, 2020
But City manager Guardiola, who was then on a sabbatical, has played down the idea Ferguson proposed the United job to him.“My English is not perfect now, but it’s a little bit better. But in that period my English was not good and maybe I didn’t understand him,” Guardiola said on the eve of Sunday’s Manchester derby.“But I don’t remember, when we were in a magnificent restaurant having dinner, that he suggested to me that I should go to Old Trafford. I don’t remember. I know he said that, but I don’t remember.“We spoke about life, about football of course, about the Premier League, but he never sent me a message under the table to say: ‘Maybe, you know, United will be involved,’ or something like that.“I don’t remember that. It was just two friends, two colleagues in football, talking about many, many things.“When he spoke really fast, it was difficult to understand him. But it was nice because he chose an amazing restaurant and of course he paid.”Ferguson stepped down at United at the end of the 2012-13 season, but by then Guardiola had already committed to join Bayern Munich.In any case, Guardiola said he wanted to join City and link up again with director of football Txiki Begiristain, with whom he had previously worked at Barcelona.– Ferguson achievements ‘magnificent’ –“I had already spoken to Bayern,” Guardiola told reporters in Manchester this week.“And in my mind, I was clear that I wanted to live that amazing experience in Germany.“Bayern Munich were the first to call me, alongside Manchester City. But I decided to go to Germany, to learn German and to live that experience.Pep Guardiola is pictured with Alex Ferguson during the UEFA Champions League final in 2011 © AFP/File / CARL DE SOUZA“From the moment Manchester City approached, I decided that if I were to go to the Premier League, I would go with them, because I know Txiki.“I met Khaldoon (al Mubarak, the City chairman) there in my last period in Munich and they showed more interest than any other club to pick me up and that was so important for me.“They said: ‘We want you, not just for the hypothetical titles you are going to win, or won in the past. We want you.’“That’s why I decided to come here. And believe me, I don’t have any regrets about that.”Guardiola retains plenty of admiration for Ferguson, who won 49 trophies in 26 and a half glittering years as United manager.“Definitely. Definitely,” said Guardiola. “Just imagine, 13 Premier Leagues. That’s why he’s ‘Sir’.“It’s magnificent, what he’s done. I said many times that sometimes you are lucky to be manager for one period when you have a group or generation of amazing players and you win a lot of titles.“He had a generation, out. A new one and win again, out. New one and win again. That is so complicated.“To maintain that for a long time and be there winning with attractive football, scoring lot of goals and not just in ‘Fergie time’, but during the games… I respect his long career.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Pep Guardiola said he wanted to join Manchester City and link up again with director of football Txiki Begiristain, with whom he had previously worked at Barcelona © AFP/File / Oli SCARFFMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 10 – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City were always his first-choice club when he decided to come to the Premier League, despite Alex Ferguson’s attempt to lure him to Manchester United.Former United manager Ferguson wrote in his 2015 book ‘Leading’ that he asked Guardiola to contact him before accepting his next job during a dinner in New York in 2012.
December 27, 2019
Following a pitch inspection at Healy Park this afternoon, there is currently surface water on the playing surface and the weather forecast gives more rain tonight. Brewster Park is also unplayable.Subsequently, the Ulster Under 21 Football Championship game between Ard Mhacha and Dún na nGall has been moved to Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan with the slightly later throw in time of 8.30pm. DONEGAL’S U-21 GAME WITH ARMAGH MOVED TO CAVAN was last modified: April 2nd, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
December 24, 2019
Drake Game Notes Story Links Live Stats DES MOINES, Iowa — The Drake University football team is coming off its bye week and hosts the Campbell Fighting Camels on Saturday at 1 p.m.Saturday’s contest will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and the Camels. Drake leads the all-time series, 5-1, with Campbell earning its first win over the Bulldogs last year. The Bulldogs enter Saturday’s game with a 3-4 record and are 2-2 in PFL play after losing to San Diego on Oct. 15. The Camels have lost their last two games and are coming off a tough overtime loss to Stetson, 30-24. Senior running back Conley Wilkins is one of the best in the PFL. He ranks second in the PFL with 968 all purpose yards and third with 586 yards rushing. Wilkins has found the end zone five times this season and has scored at least one touchdown in six of his last nine games, dating back to last season. For the second straight year, fifth-year senior Eric Saubert is leading the Bulldogs in receiving. This season, he has racked up 475 receiving yards on 41 receptions and five touchdowns. Last year, he caught 55 passes for 506 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Defensively, fifth-year senior Taylor Coleman leads the Bulldogs and ranks fifth in PFL with 61 tackles. He recorded a season-high 16 tackles in Drake’s setback at Dayton on Oct. 1.Campbell has a pair of outstanding skilled players, running back DeShawn Jones and wide receiver Aaron Blockmon. Jones is one of two PFL running backs averaging more than 100 yards rushing per game and ranks second in the conference with nine touchdowns. Blockmon ranks fourth in the league with 79.0 receiving yards per game and third in scoring with 6.3 points per game. Campbell’s defense is one of the best in the league. The Camels lead the league in third-down conversion and rank fifth in the nation, holding teams to just a 27 percent conversion rate. Campbell also leads the PFL in pass defense and ranks sixth in the country allowing only 157.7 passing yards per game. Print Friendly Version Tickets Audio Live Video
December 17, 2019
frederic lardinois Starbucks just launched two iPhone apps. One app, myStarbucks, allows users to find stores, build drinks, and browse the coffee chain’s menu and find nutritional information. While this is interesting, the second app is far more exciting. Starbucks Card Mobile gives users a virtual Starbucks Card and in 16 select stores in Silicon Valley and Seattle, users will be able to use this app to pay for their drinks. The app will display a barcode that the baristas at these stores will be able to scan. In addition, the mobile payment app will also allow users to check their card’s balance, reload it with any major credit card, and view their transaction history. For now, this feature will only be available in these two test markets, which, according to Starbucks, were chosen because of the high usage rates of iPhones and Starbucks’ loyalty cards. After this trial, Starbucks will decide whether it will bring this feature to other markets.While similar and more sophisticated payment schemes that use mobile phones have already become relatively widespread in other countries, the US is still lagging behind, though some interesting mobile payment projects have already made it to the market. Just last month, Nokia announced its Nokia Money service, but it remains to be seen if this service will be able to gain any traction.Starbucks, on the other hand, already has a large user base for its Starbucks Card and given that customers have to use their card to get access to Starbuck’s Wi-Fi network, customers already have a pretty strong incentive to use the card and the app. Related Posts Tags:#mobile#news#web What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology
December 16, 2019
Back in March I reported that I would be taking leave from this blog as I embarked on an eight-month sabbatical. With support from the Hanley Award I received last year, I was able to take an unpaid leave from BuildingGreen for some rejuvenation, reflection, research, and writing.I did all that, and my colleague, Tristan Roberts, kindly (and ably) took over this blog while I was out of commission. Now I’m back, invigorated by the time off and inspired by my work during the sabbatical. An old bicycle, panniers, and a handlebar bagStarting in late March, I bicycled through the major desert biomes of the American Southwest. I flew with my 12-year-old Cannondale bike, four panniers, and an assortment of gear (including a new ultra-lightweight MacBook Air computer) to San Diego, California. With the help of a friend, I reassembled my bike the night I arrived in my hotel room and the next morning packed up all my gear into the front and rear panniers and handlebar bag, and began an adventure that would take me 1,925 miles over six weeks.I won’t say that the trip was easy. I have been a commuter bicyclist for decades, but I don’t think I had ridden more than 25 miles in a day for 25 years before I started out. Some 30 years earlier I had participated in a 600-mile trip to raise money for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, of which I was executive director, but that was long ago, I was with a group, and we had a support vehicle. On this trip, I was alone, a lot older, wiser (well, maybe not), and self-contained. Time to thinkIn the academic world (with which I’m only peripherally involved), sabbaticals are intended to be times of recharging, but also opportunities to delve deeply into one’s area of focus. A microbiologist might conduct research into the role of enzymes in regulating cell metabolism. A classics scholar might write a book synthesizing new perspectives on Greek society.For me — someone who has been involved in energy conservation and green building for 35-plus years — this was an opportunity to think about where we’re heading with green building and how to bring about the dramatic reductions in energy consumption that are needed if we are to head off the worst impacts of climate change.I did a lot of that — and will discuss my emerging perspectives over the next several weeks. But first let me discuss the rejuvenation part of my sabbatical. Only one flat tireAmong the challenges I faced:â— Getting drenched by cold rain on my second day as I rode out of Alpine, California. (I would later come to long for some of that precipitation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, where I saw scarcely a drop of rain.)â— Riding through a tunnel on Highway 60 going uphill after I left Superior, Arizona. There was no shoulder, and the Adventure Cycling map I had with me warned of the dangers. In the middle of the tunnel, a dozen Harleys passed me with throttles wide open and mufflers modified to be extra loud. I learned later that it was Motorcycle Week in Arizona.â— Keeping warm camping at 6,000 feet after crossing a pass near Three Way, Arizona, as I threaded my way through a section of the western Rockies. I had a very lightweight down sleeping bag and even with virtually all my clothes on in my bag and in my solo tent, I was really cold. I didn’t have a thermometer, but a water bottle I had in the tent with me froze pretty solid that night!â— Getting blown into the road in Hatch, New Mexico where winds coming out of the southeast were a steady 30-40 mph, with gusts as high as 60! The dust blowing across the road blocked visibility to such an extent that the New Mexico Highway Department actually closed the highway between Deming and Hatch!â— Competing with traffic and exhaust on the seemingly endless strip of fast-food restaurants and gas stations in El Paso, Texas as I skirted the Mexican border.â— Fixing a flat — my only one! — near Sierra Blanca, Texas, in the middle of nowhere.â— Breathing the smoke of West Texas fires and getting stuck at the McDonald Observatory for a second night due to wildfires in the area. (Staying two nights at the observatory was a great thing, but the fires were a bit disconcerting!)â— Surviving unseasonably hot weather in West Texas; it was 104° when I biked into Langtry, which is a dirt-poor, dust-dry town of just a few tens of residents that was made famous by Judge Roy Bean, who famously took things into his own hands with his “law west of the Pecos.”â— Nursing my sore knees on the endless miles of Texas, where the only food would be at gas station convenience stores (and their packaged white-bread sandwiches) that might be 50 miles apart. I pedaled over 1,000 miles in the state!â— Making my way down to Houston, Texas, where I ended my trip, on a six-lane frontage road to an eight-lane highway. 1,800 miles without a drop of rainBut, those hardships were really pretty minor. Overall, I had an amazing time, exploring from the ground level a part of our country that few of us ever get to know. I had no falls or run-ins with vehicles. The big-sky vistas and rolling highways were spectacular. I met wonderful people, especially members of the Warm Showers network who graciously open up their homes to bicyclists.I visited nature preserves with verdant springs hidden deep in the desert. I dipped my toe into the back-road towns and forgotten highways of the rural Southwest. And I got a taste of political attitudes that are quite different from what we have in Vermont — let’s just say I wouldn’t have wanted to be riding through Texas wearing an Obama tee-shirt!And while I got less of the reflective time than I thought I would on the bike trip — instead of wiling away the miles lost in thoughts about the future and solutions to our energy problems I was mostly thinking about my knees and my butt and how good a Gatorade would taste about now as I labored up yet another hill, and whether I would really make it to the next town, still thirty miles away — I did come away from the experience with new, fresh perspectives on the challenges facing us.Biking through the Southwest, where for about 1,800 miles of my trip scarcely a drop of rain had fallen since the previous fall, I thought a lot about our most precious of resources: water. I saw first-hand how great our dependence is on the rivers and aqueducts carrying this precious commodity from mountains many hundreds of miles away — and how vulnerable we are to droughts and shortages.That experience informed much of my work during the remainder of my sabbatical, when I was focused on “resilient design.” I’ll be addressing that over the coming weeks.Alex Wilson is the founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. in Brattleboro. To access archives of his daily blog on this bike trip, visit Alex’s personal website. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can follow him on Twitter.
December 15, 2019
December 12, 2019
The mystery and thrill of Alfred Hitchcock‘s MacGuffin: What it is and how it can be utilized in your next film and video project?It’s odd to think about at times, but what is the purpose of film?The earliest iterations of moving pictures, film, and cinema were just meant to entertain. However, as the years went on, more practical uses for film and video developed. From documentaries to corporate videos to YouTube Vlogs to blockbuster movies, the medium has an endless amount of styles and uses.Yet, if you go back and look at classic cinema, or even modern mainstream movies and television, we’re still watching stories that feel like they’re simply meant to entertain and pass the time.At the heart of every narrative film, play, or book are many different storytelling devices and technique. And thanks to auteurs and film theorists like Alfred Hitchcock, we have one device that’s a powerful tool for not just understanding how stories work, but making them compelling.What Is a MacGuffin?From the official Wikipedia definition, a MacGuffin is “an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself.” And while the term is most often associated with Hitchcock (more on this below), it was actually originally coined by the English screenwriter Angus MacPhail — a contemporary and collaborator of Hitchcock’s.In layman’s terms, a MacGuffin is that magical “thing” that advances the plot, builds the narrative, and helps push the story forward. It’s closely associated with mysteries and thrillers — Hitchcock’s bread and butter — but viewers can find it in all style and manner of films, as well as other story forms.Alfred Hitchcock’s MacGuffin TechniqueHitchcock used the MacGuffin technique in many of his films. Image via Wikicommons.The reason Hitchcock’s name is synonymous with the MacGuffin is due to the director’s heavy use of the device. Hitchcock also gave a series of lectures in which he would often talk about MacGuffins and how he used them. Hitchcock explains,It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?” And the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin.” The first one asks, “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “it’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers, “Well then, that’s no MacGuffin!” So, you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all. For many of Hitchcock’s films, the MacGuffin was a meaningless “thing” in the narrative that moved the story forward in the first act, only to be of little to no consequence later.Other MacGuffin ExamplesThe Ark of the Covenant was used as a MacGuffin in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Image via Paramount.Hitchcock taught that the MacGuffin was meant to be of little significance. However, modern filmmakers adopted the technique and experiment with having the MacGuffin as a central piece of the film’s plot.From the Dude’s rug in The Big Lebowski to R2-D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope, having a meaningful MacGuffin device at the center of the narrative as an object, place, or thing in which all other characters are interested in can be more effective if the MacGuffin’s presence remains strong throughout the story.Other notable MacGuffin examples include (but are not limited to):The suitcase in Pulp FictionThe ring in The Lord of the Rings“Rosebud” in Citizen KaneThe Maltese Falcon statue in The Maltese FalconThe Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost ArkMacGuffins aren’t just things either. Anything from a person like Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan to the knowledge of Hamlet’s father’s death in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.How to Use a MacGuffinImage from Star Wars (via Warner Bros).Determine early on in your creative process if and how to use a MacGuffin in your film or video projects. It’s also worth exploring whether or not a MacGuffin already exists — chances are it does.Understanding what a MacGuffin is, and how the technique was used both traditionally and recently, can be a fun way to view your story and film narrative. If the MacGuffin is something you’ve seen many times before, it might be helpful to explore other objects, people, places, or things to put the emotional weight of your film into.Cover image from The Maltese Falcon (via Warner Bros).For more film theory and filmmaking advice, check out some of these cool articles below.What “The Righteous Gemstones” Teaches About Directing StylesThe Prototype Rigging of Vintage Lenses in “Ford v Ferrari”The Ad Astra Editing Team on Creating “Quiet Intensity” in the EditFilmmaking Lessons from the Making of the Sci-Fi Horror Classic “Alien”7 Filmmaking Interviews with Real-World Career Advice
December 2, 2019
For four interminable years, the Bush administration has held America hostage to a bogus war on terror, decimating the country’s lofty traditions of civil and political liberties and time-honored ideals of equality, individual liberty and personal dignity.Whatever temporary powers a state may need to fight terrorism, holding suspects without charges, trial, access to lawyers or courts, for four years and counting, fails to meet even rudimentary standards of fairness and decency in a democratic society. One can understand the occasional need to detain suspects for a few days or weeks for investigation, but placing them incommunicado in indefinite detention is draconian and has all the hallmarks of a Soviet-style gulag. At the very least, the government is obligated to identify its prisoners and the grounds for holding them.Likewise, the Bush administration has dodged around the Geneva Convention’s prohibitions on the abuse of prisoners of war by drawing facile distinctions between soldiers and enemy combatants. To evade the constraints of international treaties and domestic law, it has transferred terror suspects to countries with an abysmal history of human rights abuse for torture to extract information.The Bush administration has violated international law, falsified and fabricated intelligence and lied to the world and the American people in its headlong rush to war in Iraq for which the country and the world is paying a heavy price.No liberty is too precious, no cost too excessive and no life too innocent in Bush’s war without end, time or place on terror.The indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, for exposing a covert CIA agent lays bare the extent to which this administration will go in its vindictive campaign to hound, vilify and intimidate its critics, even at the expense of its own vaunted national security interests.Bush’s pit bull Dick Cheney and his reactionary right junta seek to browbeat earnest critics by questioning their patriotism. But it is patriotic in the grandest American tradition to challenge arbitrary governmental authority and abuse of power. What is decidedly un-American and unpatriotic is for the Bush administration to abuse state power to systematically intimidate, harass and persecute critics.The celebrated French philosopher Jean Baudrillard recently remarked, “Even if there were no Americans living in the United States, there would still be America. France is just a country; America is a concept.”Whatever invective the pretenders on the right might spew, a true American is American not by nationality, but by deed.For far too long, the Bush administration has used the bogey of terrorism to undermine this country’s most cherished values and to intimidate those who raised a lonely voice in protest.It is time for Americans to rise up to rescue the country from the terrorists of the American soul who are holding the country hostage to their self-serving and imagined nightmares. Related Items